Monthly Archives: December 2012

writing our way into the music

This morning, all the grey outside feeds me, and I am grateful for the birds at the feeder, grateful that the man outside with his cart has on what looks like a raincoat, grateful for the decaf in my cup and the xmas music coming from the speakers on the computer.

Good solstice to you today. Here it’s the shortest day of the year, and the longest night. How will you honor all the good dark around you? How will you welcome the returning of the sun? I’m into the music and the sweet difficult of it today. Continue reading

the calculus of resilience

graffiti of green balloons, a person grabbed on to one, next to the words "schnapp dir auch einen!"

(grab one, too!)

In my dream I had signed up for a tennis tournament, even though I 1) didn’t have any clothes to wear for such a thing, and 2) didn’t actually know how to play. I put off and put off letting them know that I couldn’t participate, and wasn’t at all sure that I wouldn’t take my turn, let my ass get kicked, and then just be done with it. In my dreams, as in my real life, I often like to wait and see what’s going to happen.

I am moving through a small depression here, one that has allowed me to rally for workshops and love, but still sinks down into my bones when I’m alone, that brings with it the messages of persistent failure and sadness. I had such big plans for the months of November and December, such bright visions for the first part of 2013, and now everything has changed. I’m overwhelmed by the work emails and phone calls that are waiting for me — it’s almost time just to wipe the decks clean and start over — and I’m missing the friends and community I’ve been mostly out of touch with since the back spasm at the beginning of November. Physically, I am worlds better than I was even a week ago, and I can see light at the end of this tunnel — but that means it’s time to get back in the saddle, and that still hurts.

This morning, however, my little orange apartment actually feels like Christmas. There are bunches of wrapped packages of cookies, homemade xmas cards, wrapping materials (both new and saved/scavenged), a small rosemary bush snipped into the shape of a fir tree (draped with small Tibetan prayer flags), and a few cards from friends and family. Continue reading

do we really want to protect “our” children?

child runnning over graffiti of flowers painted on brick Good morning this Tuesday morning. Today I’ve got a cup of half-caf coffee, and the big mug warms my fingers as they fumble in the morning light, trying to find a rhythm again on the keyboard.

This morning I am thinking about six- and seven-year-olds who get shot at school, and about how (or if) we as a culture can grow/evolve to a place where such violences are actually unthinkable. I want to be hopeful, but today I am filled with doubt. You out there who are parents, you have my highest regards — I cannot imagine how you send your heart out into the world, unprotected, every day, knowing what violence awaits them right outside the front door, and I can only hope and trust that those children know that they are safe inside with you. Continue reading

learning to deserve release

what do I want to tell you this morning (this barely-still-morning morning)? The ache has lodged itself in my muscles at the center of my body, that I am learning about the physicality of unrootedness, that I’m not at all sure that I’m ready to write about this yet.

I woke up today thinking about what it means to have to (get to) be so tender and slow with this body that I have driven hard for all these years. What does it mean that in October I had to spend so much time and energy thinking about my breasts (with the mammogram, then biposy), and now here I am tendering to my butt (where the still-left spasms have lodged, where the soreness still lives). All on the right side of my body. One website tells me that the right side of the body is the feminine side, the yin side. Another site explains that the right side of the body expresses our masculine side, and our material/money/job concerns. My body just tells me that the right side is the one that hurts most right now, and it’s ok now to listen to those hurts and attend to their backstories. Continue reading

writing the hurt

graffiti of hands forming the letters o u c hThese days hurt. These days it takes me hours to get out of bed, months to stretch enough to risk putting my right leg on the floor, years to walk the dog half a block and back home again. During our walk, I stop repeatedly to bend over double, easing the pain in my leg. I stand up again, I take deep breaths, I keep moving. I know it’s necessary for me to take this walk if I want the rest of the day to get better.

After that first walk, though, time changes, de-elasticizes, returns to something that feels more like normal. After that first walk, something shifts and opens. I have to show my body (yes, my own body; this pain body that is mine) that I’m willing to walk in on with the fire. After that first walk, I lie face-down on my bed again and let the muscles and nerves relax (such as they do). Sometimes I take the bedspread into my teeth and chew. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I just breathe and scratch the puppy’s neck — she comes in to check on me, to be where I am. She is patient, no longer tries to wake me at 6 or 6:30 — we have a new normal now.

I don’t want this to be my normal. I’ve lost my morning writing time because it takes so long to get out of bed and get to a comfortable enough state to be able to sit at the computer or sit with the notebook. I am watching too much silly tv these days — I have (re)discovered what tv is good for: occupying the mind. When I am pushed into the bright colors and constant stream of someone else’s story, I do not feel as much pain. TV as pain medication; sometimes it’s necessary.

I don’t know this pain body. It’s not yet familiar to me, even after a month. I feel like I’m walking in someone else’s skin, trying to move their skeleton — it’s not mine; that’s why it doesn’t fit. That’s why my hip hurts so much, right? How could it be my body dealing with this? Why, after a year of powerful re-embodying, am I having to shape myself inside these new bones now? There’s a heavy and consistent nausea riding just at the top of my chest, at the lowest part of my throat, that feels fully connected to this ribbon of pain/ache/weirdness that has (for this moment) taken over my right leg. Why wouldn’t I be nauseous in response to this embodied disembodiment? It’s been a long time since I’ve so strongly wanted both completely out of and more fully into my own skin.

I am thinking about the embodiment of identity. How do we stretch our creative selves to accommodate unchosen or unwelcome changes in how we do our work, how we write or otherwise create? How do we allow ourselves to hold on to who we know we are when we can no longer do what we have consistently defined ourselves as able to do?

Every one of us has to engage this question, repeatedly, in our lives. Our sense of ourselves is always shifting, even as we (maybe you don’t do this, but I do) try to hold on tight, make ourselves certain. But we are uncertain. We are always in flux. How many times will I have to learn this lesson? Maybe, if I’m very lucky, a hundred hundred more times.

Yes, there is this pain, and yes, I am lonely, and yes, I am scared about the future. Also, I am in a space of sheer delight and wonder about my life and love. How to allow both realities to exist in flow against each other, to feel the pain shunting itself alongside the joy, to allow the joy to ribbon through and around the pain?

My prompts are few and far between in this just right now. For the workshops, I come up with ideas. For me, they look like this: Just sit. Just write. Just take as many minutes as are necessary to write out your three daily pages. Get up and stretch if you have to, lie down on the floor and take the notebook with you. Yesterday it took me an hour to get them done. Ridiculous, but done. Painful, but I know I have to take that walk if I want the rest to flow.

Keep writing. Keep breathing all the pain and all the magnificence that is your very own tender body. Thank you for the bone and brea(d)th of your words.