And check out my joint blog with the love of my life and writing partner Dmytry Karpov: Kimberly ♥ Dmytry

Then his blog: Dmytry Karpov

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Tire Angel

Today was a day of miracles. A renewal of my faith in the Universe, in myself and in my fellow human beings.

I took my car in for regular maintenance. I had a free certificate from the place I bought it, so I was willing to drive an hour for this. They also cleaned my car and fixed my wiper for free. Great people. Great service. The surprise came at the end.

"So, everything OK with my car?" I asked.

I'd only had it 6 months, and though not new, it was in good condition. I don't drive much.

"Engine's great. All looks good," the man said. "But the back tires are shot. You need new ones immediately."

"What?" I almost started sobbing right then and there. I'd already had to replace one blown tire two months ago. I had $11 in my account and my ex hadn't sent his regular child support payment that was normally due by now. I was broke and had no prospect of having any more money in the near future. I didn't know how I was going to pay my household bills or buy food, let alone buy new tires.

"Well, how long do I have? I mean, I can at least get home and get around town until I can get some money, right? And I've got a doctor's appointment in Santa Rosa today," (two hours from the auto shop and an hour from my house.)

"If I were you, I would go across the street and get them changed now. You're not likely going to make it home on those. Especially the back right one. It's the worse. But the left back tire isn't far behind. I wouldn't risk it."

I spoke to the manager who sold me the car. Explained that I hadn't had it long enough, or driven it enough to warrant three new tires in six months. There was nothing he could do except call across the street and ask Gary to give me the discount they normally got.

So, I drove my newly cleaned, kid-food free car across the street, trying to figure out how to make $11 into several hundred in the next 10 minutes. Nothing came to mind.

Gary checked the tires and confirmed it. Even I could see the damage once it was pointed out. The rim was showing in a way it apparently is not supposed to, or something along those lines. I told Gary I needed the cheapest tires possible. I explained to him that I have three little girls and no money and I was desperate. Then I went around the corner of the building where no one could see me and had a mini nervous breakdown.

All my faith vanished. All the work I'd done on believing I could get through this painful part of my life was crushed. I couldn't even get home without writing a bad check in hopes that I could find the money to put in my account before the check was cashed, or beg my bank to honor it and charge me the fees until I got more money. I hated either option. I called my bank again. Still no deposit from my ex. He always paid something every month, even if that amount was getting smaller and smaller. I still assumed he's send something. Apparently not. Or at least not yet.

I wiped my tears and went back to Gary with my checkbook, asking how much I owed him. The guys were already putting on both tires. Gary was on the phone. He shook his head at me, "It's on me," he said. "God bless." He held his hand to his heart. My heart swelled.

That was it. My car was done, they gave me the keys and my new tires and sent me on my way. I went around the corner again and cried some more, this time for an entirely different reason. I had been hopeless moments ago. Convinced I was in serious trouble. And then this tire angel comes out of nowhere and gives me what I need without charge. What are the odds of that happening? I've never even been able to get out of a speeding ticket, let alone get shops to give me free tires.

But his gift to me was more than tires. It was hope. And belief in the human spirit. He showed me that there are many ways for God and the Universe to work and that I just have to trust and believe that when I exhale, my next breath will be there. That I will always have what I need, when I need it.

On the way out, I grabbed his card. He needs to know that he was a messenger of the Divine today to me. He needs to know that he saved me. He needs to know that he gave me more than new tires.

Thank you Tire Angel. For everything you showed me today.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Is Marriage the Answer or the Problem?

I just read a fabulous article written by an author who went through divorce after a very long marriage. I won't rehash all the points, as you can click on the link yourself, but it brings up some thoughts I've been having about marriage myself.

I'm divorcing my second husband and I'm 33. My first husband was right out of high school and 10 years older than me. (I was mature for my age.) He was the good boy, the stable, nice, ultimately boring roommate of a husband. We had divorce papers in hand shortly after our failed 1st anniversary celebration in San Fransisco. I wish him all the best and hope I haven't ruined him for some truly nice woman who will appreciate his many wonderful qualities.

My second husband came many years later after some college, some travel, and a long-term live-in boyfriend that had the talk of marriage but no follow-through. When I met husband #2, I really thought he was the one, damaged as he was. I was going to save him, fix him, find the diamond in the rough. Huh!

I ended up scratched and dirty and nowhere closer to the diamond eight years later than I was at the beginning, unless you count our three daughters. They are definitely diamonds. The best cut.

I also recently discovered that my college mentor who seemed to have the perfect egalitarian marriage, has been separated for a year. I knew them both, they were friends after I transferred to a different college, and I couldn't have been more shocked.

Many conversations with my best friend have been about the nature of love, relationships with the opposite sex and the role of marriage. In this article, she has some great quotes about how America is the most religious country, with the most pro-marriage voice, and yet has the highest divorce rate of any other country. We seem to be a living contradiction in our proclaimed values verses our actual lives. Hm.... Something is clearly not meshing.

I'm not sure if I'll ever get married again. Probably not. I'll likely engage in at least one long term commitment, if only to sort out my patterning and feelings about men in general. Sounds romantic, I know. But it will be a relationship with mutual values, spiritual practices and a path that is understood by us both. That's not to say it will be lacking in passion. I'm also hoping for some fabulous sex.

I do know I'm on a man-fast for at least 3 years, and that the most damaging thing I can do for my girls is parade a string of men in and out of their lives. Studies show they'll do fine in a single parent home, especially since I'm very conscious of how I'm raising them. Of diet, lifestyle, community, routine. I've created a good home for them, and it's getting better everyday.

I'm also very committed to the idea of the village influence, as I've mentioned in previous posts. They know many of the store owners in our small town and are always welcomed fondly. They are close to the principal of the charter school, and other adults in my spiritual community who are guides and mentors for them. They are surrounded by love and role models. People who meet different needs and serve different aspects of their growth, and mine.

The part in the article that I've copied here, takes a stab at looking at life from another perspective.

On marriage: Let’s call the whole thing off - TODAY: Relationships: "As far as the children are concerned, how about the tribal approach (a natural, according to both primate and human evolution)? Let children between the ages of 1 and 5 be raised in a household of mothers and their female kin. Let the men/husbands/boyfriends come in once or twice a week to build shelves, prepare that bouillabaisse, or provide sex."

Not a bad idea, and certainly anthropology, biology and history seem to support this as a healthier, more natural way of living. Americans and their ideals fall short of reality, and its' not working. Kids aren't happy or healthy, which isn't such a shock given the state of the families in which they are emerging. So, let's start thinking outside the box. What could it hurt? We're already pretty low on the poll as it is. Why are we so attached to outdated modes of marriage that are doing more harm than good.

OK, now go ahead and prepare the stones, and the tar and feathers, but while you do so at least consider my words, and the words of others. I don't expect you to agree with me, I just hope this gets you thinking. And talking. So, let it rip.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wishing on a Star a poem by KA Kinrade

Breathing in the Stillness of the Night
I let go of the nightmares of my life
You used to be my world

Taking in the Magic of the Stars
I make my wish and hope and pray
I used to have more dreams

Moving toward the Moonbeams of my Memory
I shut my heart and lock it up
I used to want to live

Now, I wait for the final promise of death

Friday, June 26, 2009

Slaughtered Hope, a poem by KA Kinrade

I walk the minefield of our broken dreams
Navigating to the other side of fear

An invisible body bag has moved into our home
Hiding the remnants of who you were

They returned to me your body
But your empty eyes reveal your slaughtered soul

I bleed out on the battlefield of our marriage
Wondering what awaits me on the other side of death

I cock my gun and take aim
How do I kill the empty spaces left in you?

Mothering Mommy

I've been a mommy for 6 and a half years. I have three little girls I love more than life itself. It's been ingrained in me, socially and biologically, to put their needs, and indeed everyone's needs, ahead of my own. I tried that for a long time. It nearly killed me.

Now, don't get me wrong. If my child's in danger, my life is nothing in comparison to saving them. If they are sick or need immediate medical attention, my health and problems take back seat to getting them help. If they need me, or a hug and kiss, or a cuddle at night, I'm there. But even mommies need mothering. I'm learning this.

As a single mom this posed a problem with two children home all day. My doctor and best friend finally convinced me that I needed mommy time. Alone time. Self-care time. Health care time. So I found a wonderful woman to entertain and care for my children while I heal my body.

I prepare all my special allergy free food. I make green drinks. I do special stretches to strengthen my core and reduce my pain. I practice a simple QiGong exercise to stay centered and improve my weak muscle tone. I take baths in baking soda (to balance my PH) and sea salt, (to ease muscle pain.) This is after I spend 30-40 minutes with a flannel cloth soaked in Castor oil covering my abdomen under a heating pad. This helps with my innards and scar tissue and a bunch of other stuff.

I also have a nap time. Yup, just like preschool. I have art time to relieve tension and express my creativity. I meditate. I read spiritually enlightening books to aid in my understanding of my place in this world and to help me stay non-reactive to the harsh pushes and shoves of life.

Then there are my appointments. I have 2-3 doctor's appointments a month, over an hour away. But he's the best doctor ever, the only doctor who actually believes I'll get better, so it's worth the drive. I do acupuncture 1-2 times a week. Massage (as per doctor's orders) 1-2 times a month. I'm on hundreds of dollars of supplements to heal my gut, my adrenals, my thyroid and my liver.

I spend all day taking care of myself. Before my children come home and I get to be mommy to them again. Enjoying their smiles and love and kisses, knowing that I got to take time for me and now I have energy and attention to give to them without exhaustion or resentment. (Most of the time.)

Even in just a few months of this self-mothering, I have discovered how much I needed it and how very sick I was and still am. I hid it so well for so long that I had no idea. I still don't know what it feels like to feel healthy and normal, but I'll get there. If I keep to the plan and keep taking care of myself. If I don't push myself. If I learn to say "no" to others who do not need me as much as my children and I need me.

I can see a future of health now, where once I was resigned to pain and misery forever. Pills. Pills and more pills. Not healing supplements but pain pills. Antibiotics. Pills that began to damage my liver and reduce my bodies capacity for self-healing. I have a long way to go, but at least I'm on the right path.

Some days it's hard for my children. It's hard for them to understand why mommy isn't able to ride a bike with them or go on walks. But those days are becoming fewer and fewer and now nearly everyday we at least go for a walk. We play. I'm more present. To them, and most importantly, to myself. I'm finally learning to become present and healthy in my own life. And that is the greatest gift I can give to myself, and my babies.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Don't Let Perfection Be the Enemy of Good

My best friend has to keep reminding me of this. If I can't do it exactly as it should be done, then I tend to give up entirely.
For example, I recently had to make MAJOR changes to EVERY aspect of my life. I moved to a new state. My husband left me. I'm having to come up with creative ways to financially survive. And I've had to RADICALLY change my diet because of major health problems and severe food allergies.

I'm allergic to:
Yeast (all forms)
Wheat (in all forms, including gluten and giladin)
Eggs and all forms of dairy

What's left to eat? You ask. Nothing on my previous diet. That was my diet. So, now this is my diet:

Green drinks (a blend of green leafy veggies (such as kale, collard greens, etc.) with 40% fruit, sea weed, avocados and different oils, (flax seed, cod liver oil, flax seeds...) then blend. and drink. I'm up to 1-2 litres a day. I eat some meats and fishes, fresh fruits and veggies and occasionally bake homemade cranberry bread made from gluten free flour as a treat. I make "butter" from Olive oil, coconut oil a bit of sea salt and a bit of vanilla. It hardens like butter and is yummy on bread.

But, when I first started this diet, I somehow missed the "corn" allergy. When I discovered it I nearly had a break down. EVERYTHING I had been eating on my "good" diet had corn in it. I went off my diet entirely and ate whatever and became sick. My best friend said it was better to keep corn in my diet and keep doing what I was doing, then to give up entirely. And I'm not as allergic to corn as to other things.

She was right and I gradually gave up corn too. Check your labels. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to buy food without these ingredients.

Eventually my doctor says the lesser allergies will likely go away as my gut heals, but I will never be able to eat gluten, wheat or yeast. I'm off the charts with those and one step away from Celiac Disease, which is not fun!

These food allergies have wreaked havoc on the internal workings of my body, causing my fibromyalga, colitis, IBS, chronic fatigue and they have prevented me from losing weight because my body is so swollen. It's like being allergic to bees and being stung by tons of bees everyday, only it's all on the inside of my body.

The changes I've had to make have been radical. I'm still not good at charting when and how I spend every penny of my money. I still am reactive to my ex when he tries to control me or push my buttons. I still have a long way to go. But this one mantra, to not let perfection be the enemy of good, has helped me to stay focused and forgive myself those many times I don't get the dishes done, or the laundry piles up, or I get angry and hysterical at something my ex has done, or whatever.

I'm learning to be gentle with myself, and love myself. And to take it one step at a time, celebrating my small victories as they come. Because honestly, I'm doing a lot better now than I was several months ago, even if I haven't reached perfection. Ha! And who has?

So I encourage all of you type A's and anyone else who tends to be all or nothing, let it go. Do the best you can in that moment, even if you know it's not the ideal best. Celebrate the fact that you're moving in the right direction. We're all going to fall down and skin our knees in this walk through life. That's OK. Stick a band aid on it, let it heal, and learn to avoid the next rock that's positioned to trip you up.

And keep going.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sister, Sister

I've recently reconnected with a sister I was only vaguely aware existed but had never met. We share the same genetics on our father's side, whom I only met once.
I went down to So. Cal to visit my parents and other siblings (a brother two years younger than me who I love more than words, and a sister who's 11 and I adore her) and I joined them at their church on Easter.

After the service, a beautiful young woman with eyes the same bright blue as mine and the same high cheekbones walked up to me and said "Hi. I'm Heather, your sister."

Needless to say we were both in shock. We'd both wanted to meet each other, but there was a lot of secrecy keeping us away for reasons neither of us understand. Now we're connected. She's 25. I'm 33. We also have a little brother. She's used to being the oldest and now has an older sister. I can only imagine how weird that would be to no longer be the oldest of my siblings. There's a lot of hoopla about birth order. Does it count when you're not raised that way and only realize your birth order as an adult.

My little sister was born after my brother and I left the house, so she's been raised as the youngest, as an only child and in some ways with all her nieces and nephews around her but younger, as the oldest child. When I'm rich I'll set aside money for her therapy.

In the meantime, I have the opportunity to connect with this awesome woman who has overcome so much and dealt with so much. Our mutual father died from Multiple Sclerosis complications. She cared for him quite a bit. I admire and respect what I've learned of her so far. And I'm so happy to be in her life finally, and have her in mine.

We share certain things, much of our looks, our gift in singing and our ability to rise from the ashes of broken lives and make something more of ourselves. We're fighters and we don't give up, even when we feel we've hit rock bottom.

Blood does not make family. I have a friend who is tighter than blood, bonded by spirit. But respect and sharing and love does make a family. And she's family.

I don't have the answers on nurture vs. nature, but I do know that some things we do inherit from the gene pool, and some things we bring in ourselves. It's a mix. And while we may not be able to choose our eye color, or cheek bone structure (without surgical intervention) we can choose what choices we make with our lives. There's no shame in falling down into the abyss. The strength lies in crawling back out of it.

In Buddhism, courage is not a lack of fear, but to follow through despite the fear. To use the fear to spur us to greater action. That is what she has done and I'm so honored to know her.

Now, we have a lifetime of catching up to do, one phone call and email at a time.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Beating the Bullies

I always considered myself strong. And in many ways I am. But I'm recently discovering just how susceptible I am to bullies. I cower and cave-in and feel threatened and scared and lose my ground under such threat. Not when it's from a stranger. I've stood up to strangers. But when it's from someone close to me. When someone I have invested my love and care into turns on me, and turns everything around to make me the bad guy, I start to doubt and question myself. I start to wonder if maybe something is wrong with me, even when the truth is in black and white where everyone else can see but me.

I'm not going to let this keep happening. I don't want to be bullied. Or threatened. Or abused. Or hurt. Or controlled. Or manipulated by those who turn it around and make it sound like I'm the one doing all of this. It's a tricky situation. Both parties probably feel in the right and justified. And both parties probably have friends and family who will agree with them and side with them. I guess the proof is in the pudding, as they say, though I don't really know what that means. What does pudding prove exactly?

But the point is, results. Reality. Truth. It's self-evident in a hundred different ways if I get my head out of the sand and care to look. All aspects of life, from self-care, to money, to diet, to child care, to home care, to responsibilities, to emotional health, all can be seen through a relatively impartial light in many ways. And it's this and many other things that keep me from getting sucked in. Of course, the fact that my best friend gives me a figurative kick in the butt whenever I wander down the path of hysteria and self-pity doesn't hurt either.

After all, bullies can only be bullies when they have a victim. Well, I'm officially retiring from that role in life. They do what they do to asuage their guilt and try to make themselves look right in the face of all the ways they hurt and manipulate the people around them. They can't admit what assholes they are, so they turn the table on their victims. But only if the victims allow it. And fighting back by throwing mud isn't usually the best way to handle them. Then you're playing their game and it will just go back and forth, getting no where fast.

Sometimes, the best response to bullies is to step back, say nothing, and let them blow their hot air at themselves for awhile. And then go dancing.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Unwritten Fairytale 11-12-07 copyrighted KAKinrade

Can a mermaid and a man find love?
Or a monster and a girl
The sentiment of sharing the same sky,
seeing the same moon,
or wishing on the same star
is trite, unless it's not true
We live in different worlds
and yet through love I can't lose you
I feel you with me, in me, around me, everywhere I go
I don't know how we'll be together
but we can never be apart
Having taken you in and given my heart
I know my life needs you.
We are a fairy tale waiting for it's story to be written
For in the fairytale lies the magic to make the impossible real
To give a happily ever after to a mermaid and a man,
a monster and a girl
Or even you and I
It may take time, longer then we'd like
But this love is worth the waiting
For I know that someday my prince will come
and he will be you.
And then we can look up and know that we share the same sky
see the same moon
and wish upon the same bright star
and that wishes do come true.

Note from author:
While I still believe in magic, and love, I no longer believe that I need my prince to come to be happy and complete. My prince turned out to be inside me all along, not separate at all. No wishing stars needed. I'm now writing my own fairytale. And I get to pick my own ending, without waiting for others to fulfill my wishes.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

First Impressoins, Final Expressions

It's hard to let go of the image you might have of someone, whether good or bad. We tend to put people in easily understood boxes and expect them to stay there. We villainies or canonize those in our lives without giving much thought to the complex make-up of their character. We also expect that others live by the same moral or ethical code as we do. The Golden Rule of treating others as we wish to be treated doesn't always apply. Mostly it's a nice concept, and good for beginning a friendship. But there eventually comes a time when you must learn what rules they are playing by, and master their game if you want to keep from getting slaughtered.

This is the lesson I'm learning. Part of it has to do with personal boundaries. Part of it has to do with letting go of my feelings of betrayal from people I thought of as friends. I'm learning to see people as they are, not as I wish them to be. To see all the layers of them and understand that most people are going to chose the easy route and act in their own self-interest when the shit hits the fan. I've recently discovered this of people I thought were my friends. It's a painful but important lesson to learn.

On the flip side, I'm also learning to value those true friends who do have my best interest at heart and are protective of my heart. Who love me and want the best for me. Who value me for me, not for any accomplishments or degrees or services I provide. It makes it easier to let go of the pain of rejection by those who never really cared, when I'm surrounded by people who really do care, in a way that is meaningful and true.

It's also made me appreciate the concept of the village. I live in a village where everyday people pop up in my life in the most unexpected ways in order to offer me some form of love and support. I'm seen as me here, not through the eyes of those who are tainted by anger and fear. It's freeing and wonderful. I finally have found the place my heart has always longed for. I've finally found home.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Seasons of Life 11-12-07 copyrighted KAKinrade

When the last leaf of fall lands on the earth, my love for you will die
As the cold winter snow buries it deep for the season, then tears of joy I'll cry
For our love felt the heat of a summer too long, and now it is time for a rest
But fear not my dear, soon the warm rain of spring brings out the leaves of the best
And then we will know if our love can survive through the birth and death process of life
And if it cannot, and our tree remains bare, then we'll know I'm not meant as your wife

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Landscape of War 11-17-07 Copyrighted by KAKinrade

The savagery of war has destroyed the landscape of our pleasant little life
Where once lived love, and a future with a hope,
now existed a cold forgotten battlefield littered with the carcass of earlier dreams.
Dreams born of naivety, idealism and fairytales.

What becomes of hope when it can no longer stands strong?
Where does it go to die?
How do we grieve the loss of an ill-defined intangible quality?

When love must stand alone, it's no longer enough
to create the world in which I need to live.
But it might be enough to get us through
this mutilated landscape that was once our life
Once we've reached the other side, then we will know the extent of our causalities
Then we will know if we survive.

But as we step over the carcasses of decomposing dreams,
and avoid the minefields left to destroy the threads of our existence
We hold hands and hope that whatever awaits us on the other side
Will offer some hope to us both.
A tempered hope--without the naivety, idealism and fairytales.
A mature hope.
But still. A hope.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Promise of Death 11/27/07 copyrighted KAKinrade

The last spark of magic inside my soul is dying
Without you here to fan the flame
I'm falling into myself again
Into the darkest Shadows of my life
Where even anger cannot find its footing to stand
I exist within myself alone. Apathy my sole companion
Haunted by the parade of shadows and light
Dancing to the dying beat of my heart
Constantly fighting for the chance to lead.
I can no longer see you in my mind's eye
Arms reaching out to hold me
A flicker of a memory taunts my soul
But is gone before I can catch it.
This place of isolation felt safe at one time
A sanctuary to mend my broken dreams
But it has since turned into a prison
Enslaving me to the drama of my illusions
How can I find my way back to you?
How do I reclaim the life I once imagined?
The will to find that door is waning
and soon I'll be left with nothing but
the lingering scent of lost hope.
Alone and trapped, I wait for death to come.
My last chance for liberation.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Rites of Passage

Today my eldest daughter Madelynne graduated kindergarten.
This may not seem like a major milestone to some, but to her it was. She had been in a Waldorf kindergarten for nearly two years, and then transferred into a charter school mid-year with an entirely different curriculum.
She acclimated wonderfully and quickly learned all that had not been taught at her prior school. She made friends, bonded with the teachers and staff and endeared herself to other parents.
As she walked to the podium with her paper red graduation cap accenting the red in her dress, she looked beautiful. Her glossy brown hair fell straight to her shoulders and her back was tall and straight. She smiled big as she accepted her "diploma." As an added honor, each child was awarded a beaded necklace that spelled out a quality that was particularly prominent in them through the year. Madelynne received the word "thinker" and was publicly praised by her teacher for her ability to think through problems, to contemplate her learning and lessons and to reason through challenges. She has an incredible mind, surpassed only by her heart. Adding those traits to her charm, friendliness, warmth, spiritual curiosity and beauty makes her a remarkable being. I am honored to be her mother and guide during this phase of her life, and hope that my choices and example will aid her as she grows into the incredible woman I know she will be.
We all need rites of passages. We all need to moments to contemplate what hurdles we have crossed, what lessons we have learned, what strengths we have gained through these efforts. These passages may not all be public. Our culture does not often value such public passages unless to celebrate achievements in sales records or work performance. Rarely do we take the time to honor our own internal growth as beings of the Universe. Rarely do we stake stock in what where we are in the state of our being, rather than in our external accomplishments.
Her graduation wasn't just about learning her ABC's or doing her homework, it was about perseverance, dedication and reflection. It was about Madelynne overcoming many obstacles in order to journey to a new phase in her development in life. She has moved three times in less than a year, lost a father to distance and divorce, lost friends and lost a school with very different values and rhythms. She lost her dog, her favorite secret castle, her large home with big backyard, her climbing tree and her neighbor friends.
But she gained so much more. She learned adaptability. She learned that all in life is transient and we must move with the flow of that life and allow it to be our guide and teacher. She is learning to take each new situation and use it as an opportunity to improve the state of her soul, mind and heart.
She is my teacher, just as I am hers, for these are my lessons as much as hers. I'm proud of her today, just as I am proud of all three of my children, for doing much the same even if they have not received a graduation cap and necklace.
If I had to give a word to each of my children at this time, Bella would receive "tenacious". She never gives up. She loves to help and give and learn. She fights for her beliefs and is strong willed and stubborn. She looks out for others and is a defender.
Lexie is just barely three, but already is showing how highly intelligent and creative she is. She would receive the word "articulate." She processes and understands ideas, concepts and information that just doesn't seem possible for such a little one as her, and she can articulate that in a language better suited for a fifth grader, at least. She uses her mind and her words to communicate in ways many adults have not learned to do yet. She will be a voice for many.
And I am proud of myself. I too have travelled through dark nights and come through to morning stronger. I too have suffered the pain of loss and change, broken hearts and broken homes. I too have had to grow stronger and in so doing have gone through and continue to go through my own rites of passage. And I have my necklace, with my word. It is "Da" which is Sanskrit for "the Giver"). The Name is hidden in the Upanishads, the venerable scriptures of India, in which "Da" is the syllable uttered by the Divine Voice in thunder, and the central syllable of "hr-da-yam", which means "the Heart", "the Divine Condition of all". The Name "Da" also appears in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, where it is defined as "the one who bestows great charity", "the very personification of the great Way of Liberation".
This is my word because my focus in on my guru's Dharma to stay focused on God-Realization and let all of this pain and difficulty bring me closer to God.
This too is a rite of passage, one I am still on and one my children are on as well. It is the greatest rite of passage imaginable. It is about more than just learning, or doing, it is about experiencing the truth of our connection to the Divine spark of Life. Our true identity as One with God.
And so our lessons and journey continue. In the world of ABC's and in the world of the spirit-heart. All are notable and worth contemplation.
I urge each of you to spend a few moments each night reflecting on your day, on how it has changed you, and whether that change is aiding you in your path or hindering you. Begin to make conscious choices about the shape your life takes, and celebrate those rites of passages when you move through the pain and challenge into a new phase of understanding, wisdom and insight.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Do We Belong?

My middle daughter, 5 years old and a force of nature, recently has had a series of melt-downs about her place in her world. She's been through a lot lately. Losing her father to divorce and distance. Acclimating to a new life and world. Moving from a space of chaos and stress to a more stable and rhythmic home environment. Also, she's now on a more consistently healthy and whole foods diet. All of this has led her to a form of release and rearrangement in her body and inner being.

She's questioning life and her place in it. Her place in this family. She's articulating at 5 years old what most adults don't fully understand to be their fundamental concern, her fear that she is separate from everything around her and that she doesn't belong and can't connect to those around her. Her fear of being alone and lonely. Of not having a place in the cosmos. Of being lost in the larger context of life. She's scared that there's no place for her to be herself and be loved just as she is.

She's a strong-willed child and many have butted heads with her in an attempt to bend or break her to their will. To make her obey. To make her conform to their idea of who she should be. She doesn't take well to that. I don't blame her. I didn't either, and still don't. She's a defender of the weak and innocent, a superhero without a mission. A unique soul with eyes to see what others don't, but without the maturity and age to be taken seriously.

Her struggle are profound and universal. It is the essence of suffering and dis-ease among all. The feeling of fear that the world is against us and we are but victims stuck in the web of hostile territory. Most close their eyes to this and pretend it doesn't exist. They ignore it. At 5, my Bella is facing it head on, wanting to know what it means. Why does it feel like this? Why is she feeling so sad and lonely and scared?

So we talk. And I share with her my belief that there is no separation. It's an illusion. It's something we've created as we've let fear corrupt the truth of love and oneness. This oneness is not meant to be some new age feel good bumper sticker idea, but the truth of being a part of the Mystery that we all withing. The truth that our hearts, souls and energies are all a part of a bigger vision and that it is impossible to be alone and lonely, because there is no me and other. There is only the Mystery, God, the Universe. Whatever you want to call it. This is not something I easily experience or understand. We are learning together. She is helping me articulate it myself. She is voicing my own pain as she shares hers, and so we are able to help each other.

We remind each other to keep our hearts open to the Mystery. To Love and God. We remind each other that to contract is to give in to fear and sadness and suffering.

And so I learn from my child how to stay connected to the Universal Mystery of God and Love. I learn how to voice my fears and face them. I learn how to see the web for what it is, an illusion that can be easily shred when I stay open to Love.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Threat to Marriage, Myth or Morality?

Why is our country so terrified of same-sex partners having the same legal rights as opposite-sex marriages? What is so scary about this? Will the fact that Joe and Bob get to visit each other in the hospital or claim each other on taxes really jeopardize the more conventional marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Conservative? Seriously? What will this do that is so damaging?
Conservatives claim that these laws will undermine the sanctity of marriage, somehow corroding the very nature of the spirit of what marriage was intended to be. But what was marriage intended to be? Let's look at this. Marriage, biblically and historically, was a property management arrangement. It was also a way to keep peace among people and to use their daughter's as bartering chips for favors or alliances. It was a way to keep lands within a certain set of people and to keep the running of those lands under the guidance of men.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-marriage. I've been privileged to be around some very wonderful, magical, spiritual marriages. But these marriages that I admire so much are not based on roles, property control or any functional way of setting up society. They are based on mutual respect, love and the desire to help each other more deeply connect to God.
In many ways, same-sex marriages often function in a more healthy way than conventional. In many same-sex marriages I've seen, both couples support themselves financially, they hold separate bank accounts, they are not together for financial support or security. (This is in my experience, not a statistical statement, I'm sure there are many dysfunctional marriages of all kinds.)
In most marriages, both historically and even now, though it's slowly changing, the female in the partnership is financially dependent on the male. The finances are blended, rendering the female powerless should anything happen. The conventional marriage union is set up so that the female cares for the young and the male brings home the bacon. The problem with this is the inherent instability of this. If something should happen to the marriage, death, divorce, disability, then the female and her children are helpless and vulnerable.
I'm not saying all mom's should be out working and leaving their kids in child care. I'm suggesting we look at the entire way marriage and family is set up in our culture and reevaluate how best to structure it in order to allow for stability, safety and love for our children and parents. A system that allows both partners full participation in the experience of loving and raising children, and gives both partners the financial means to care for themselves. A system that takes the burden off the men to make all the money, and the burden of the women to take care of kids and home all the time. A system that balances everything for the betterment of everything.
What does this have to do with same-sex marriage? Well, it's really about our countries tenacios hold on values that no longer serve or work, but values they are scared to let go of because they know no other way. I don't have all the answers, though I have some ideas. But really, the point of this blog is to get you to think about what might be if we let go of what we think should be.
Even if you hate every word I've written, a wise person will at least consider the words of their opponent. I did debate for many years in college, and the first thing I learned was the ability to argue either side effectively, because I never knew which side I would be asked to defend. It's not an easy thing to fully and completely argue something you don't believe in. But it taught me a lot. I urge you to do this now. Pretend we're in a debate, only the tables have turned. You now have to argue the opposing side of your beliefs, whatever they are. What would you come up with. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Theater of Passion

Theater of passion

It was one of those moments. An experience of drama that makes my heart race with anticipation. I crave the taste of it again. The theater of the forbidden. The theater of passion. Like a secret kiss in an alley. A dangerous liaisons. Like being in a Moliere play. It’s magnificent. The tension, the tenacity of the subtext to make itself heard. Maybe we are in a Moliere play. All of us. So, what’s the next line? How does it end? Even knowing, I do not really know. In a good play, and this is a great play. Dramatic, intense and sexual. Full of controversy and desire. Of the desire. It’s making me mad. Desire and fantasy and cravings and obsession. Theater is about obsession and the obsessed. An obsession to create and control. To give birth to ourselves in different forms. To be reborn with each play. And it is a compulsion. WE are compelled to tell our stories and show our stories and recreate them one by one. WE are compelled to bring others into our drama. Like telling a friend a dark secret. They don’t need to know. We need to tell. Compulsion and obsession. And so, the fire rages inside me. I crave theater, like a loner. I supplement my life with scraps of drama left for the audience after the process is complete. I will live on the scraps until I can once again embrace the theater and take it into me fully. Open myself up to its surreal magic of displacement.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Unruly Barfly

The Unruly Barfly 11-6-07

The Unruly Barfly flaps its wings, creating a general flurry
Plops itself into the thick amber liquid of denial and lost memory
Swimming in delusion, basking in the glow of superficial joviality
The Unruly Barfly surrenders itself to the shallow existence of intoxicating slumber
Hoping to the end that this liquid anesthesia to life’s pain will last longer than reality…
And knowing it will not.

For tomorrow will come and the Unruly Barfly will open its eyes to the sober experience of living
Ill equipped to handle the bright light of morning, the Unruly Barfly, bleary-eyed, covers its head and prays for the cloak of night to hide its secrets and sins
For the Unruly Barfly never really learned to fly at all.
It crawls through life, grabbing what it can, to take it from one moment to the next
Using and discarding those around it to justify its own painful existence.

And so night comes.
And once again the Unruly Barfly flaps its useless wings, and plunges into another lost memory

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Writer's Mind

A writer’s mind

Is this the mind of a writer? That every experience I have, good or bad, I immediately think of it as if I’m writing it down. Just now I was sitting out here enjoying the wind on my skin, the sound of the chimes, the leaves rustling – even trying to pinpoint the different sounds each type of leaf makes when it dances with the wind. And I was looking at the mountains and marveling at their solidarity, their permanence. I found some comfort in knowing how dwarfed and insignificant I seem in comparison. How temporary. But that’s ok, because I can sit and contemplate that. I find joy in knowing I can do that. But all the while as these sensory experiences and thoughts are flitting in and out of my mind, I am trying to confine them to words. That is what we do, I think, as writers. We try to take these living, breathing, organic experiences of life and capture their essence in little blots of ink. To be able to do that well is glorious, and while I certainly do not always do that well, I think I have my moments. It’s those moments that give me hope. For I’ll never not write. It is in me. I am constantly narrating my own life. I always have. I remember as a little girl I would look at the cottage cheese ceiling in my room, and instead of finding the man on the moon or the dog or the elephant, I would find words. It’s a silly thing, really, but rather telling, don’t you think? Words, such power they have.
I once saw the movie “Gosssip” with my brother. A movie about the power of words. Words shape our perceptions, thoughts, ideas. They challenge us. They create worlds, or rather we create worlds when we use them. It’s so challenging to write. The difference between thinking, talking and writing is that the process of writing forces you to take these abstract symbols and concepts and structure them. I can have brilliant ideas, I may even be able to give voice to them, but can I bring it to the page and maintain the integrity of the thought? That’s the greatest challenge.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Small 'lily feet'

Small Lily Feet

Small ‘lily feet’
So broken for beauty
They bound you in ribbon
And made you so lovely

Small ‘lily feet’
So crippled and useless
That beauty now traps you
And keeps you so ugly

Small ‘lily feet’
I know how you feel
They broke me for “truth”
And bound me in pain

Small ‘lily feet’
I’m crippled and useless
I’m trapped in their “truths”
And going insane

Small ‘lily feet’
I unraveled the truths
And saw them as lies
Now what should I do?

Small ‘lily feet’
Can I ever be healed?
Or am I condemned
To be crippled like you?

Author Note: Based on ancient asian practice of binding women's feet called "lily feet" until their feet were so deformed they could only walk a few steps at time without stopping. This kept them from ever escaping or becoming independent. A woman who's mother didn't bind her child's feet would not be considered eligable for marriage.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Once Upon A Time

Once Upon a Time…

Once upon a time there was a girl who was very smart, but was very scared of love. She worked very hard and was accepted at a very important school on the other side of the lands of her birth. This girl studied very hard and made many friends, but her heart was still hidden. Then one day while looking for a very special book in a book store, a young man bumped into her. “Pardon me miss, I thought you to be a chair,” he said. She found the boy very charming and kind and so she called him.
The next day he arrived at her home, braving the snowy winds. She was so happy to see him again that she cooked him a meal, even though she hated to cook. That night they spend hours in her bed talking, laughing, and making love. The girl had been with other boys before, but she knew this one was different. The next morning he called her and the sound of his voice brightened her day.
On Tuesday it was Halloween, and once again he called to wish her a good day. By Wednesday the girl was very anxious to talk to him again, but she wasn’t sure which number to call. She dialed one number, then panicked and hung up thinking it was the wrong number. But, knowing how badly she wanted to talk to him again, she called another number. His father answered, but she didn’t panic. The young man was very happy to hear from her, which made the girl very happy.
They talked for four hours, and would have talked longer, but the girl had much work to do, as did the boy. However, they couldn’t seem to end their conversation. They told this to each other with awkward pauses and giggled. They talked in hypotheticals about their lives. “So, hypothetically speaking, of course, were we to marry, would I have to convert to Judaism?” she asked the boy. “Any, again hypothetically, would I need to change my last name?”
The boy and girl talked about many things…drugs, sex, religion, children, holidays, and family and in the end they had to decide, “So, what are we?”
There was a long pause as they both thought about this. Both the girl and the boy were terrified of love and so they were both very scared about being in a relationship.—Not that they were in love, mind you. It was much too soon to bring the “L” word into play. They did talk about dating other people, but why? They asked.
“If I have the choice between going on an awkward first date with some stranger, or fucking you, there’s no choice,” the girl said matter-of-factly to the boy.
He agreed, and so they resigned themselves to the terrifying but exciting rollercoaster ride relationships.
So now she has a boyfriend, and he has a girlfriend, and they are both really scared, but also very excited. They feel different when they’re with each other. The girl knows that the boy will be honest with her, even when it hurts. She believes she can trust him. She was never able to trust anyone before. And while this trust is limited, it’s a start. She’s not sure what makes this boy different, but while she’s scared, she’s also happy, and so she wonders what will happen next? What is to become of them?
There are many things they have yet to learn about each other, but in time those things will reveal themselves. For now they are just trying to keep from panicking as they enjoy the excitement of being with one another. But, the girl needs a new phone plan or she’ll be broke by Christmas.

Alas, this boy was not so different, and by Christmas he became one of many memories of relationships doomed to failure, though it ended on a mutually pleasant note of a feigned friendship that never manifested. Nevertheless, thereafter the girl was never again mistaken for bookstore furniture, and she continued on her quest to find love and trust in a world full of fear and betrayal. She is even now still searching.