Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Birth, Death, and the Nonsense In Between

I grew up watching Perry Mason and Ellery Queen, before detective shows and crime dramas became popular and gritty. Many snow days, I snuggled in with a cup of darjeeling tea and my dad's volume of Sherlock Holmes mysteries. It's safe to say I idolized him, found a lot in common with him. Maybe not the pipe or the rampant experimentation with mind-altering substances, but the violin playing and bathrobe wearing we shared.

My first class in college was anthropology, simply because it was the one discipline that hadn't been offered in high school. I adored the professor, an Oliver Sacks type who had worked with the coroner or as the coroner or something and taught us ways in which the skeleton holds important data, like ancestry and the secrets of how you lived.

And died.

It's in your bones.

I fell in love, with anthropology and the professor, and a year later I took forensic anthropology and felt all sorts of spiritual fireflies in my peripheral vision saying YES, THIS is your path. Start smoking a pipe and get a funny hat, Sherlock, because you've clearly found it now. What I didn't know was that these sparkles were just a preview, a prelude to the real premonition.

It's fascinating to look at various bones and determine things like diet, age, parity, race, gender, and even the cause of death. Bones are living tissue and they respond to the subtle stresses of life, the habits and patterns we carve, the missteps we take. We carry in the core of us a record etched with secret code, hieroglyphics that I was learning to read. 

And then, there were the children.

You see, as it turns out, not all stories end at age 80+ having borne children and eaten wholesome food. Some stories end violently. Some end early.

The worst are both.

The day that changed my life was about determining old trauma that didn't lead to the death and new trauma that might have. Healed trauma. There was a slide, a three-year-old's skull that had been retrieved from a sewer. We were studying it to learn how to diagnose long-time trauma and abuse, seeing fractures heal and how the terrain of the bones changed with trauma, healing, trauma, healing.

Bones of young children are funny, in a way. They heal quickly. Maybe because they're used to picking themselves up over and over again? Maybe because that's how we survive, by diverting as much energy as possible to healing physical wounds. Their skulls look different, alien. A huge cranial vault and a tiny jaw.


How many times was your nose broken, little one?

That class changed the course of my life. 

Because instead of working in forensics and criminalizing women who do those terrible things after they've done them, instead of counting broken noses and documenting ages of abuse, I decided to time travel and focus on preventing the crime. I firmly believe that we women - we humans - do our best most of the time. We make terrible decisions because they are the best option apparent to us at the time.

So long, Sherlock. 

I thought maybe I could be part of education or options that would prevent toddlers from short lives riddled with tremendous and unspeakable abuse.

So I worked at an abortion clinic.

There is so much heat about this topic, and believe me I get it. It has been suggested to me on a number of occasions that my work in the clinic is what has rendered me infertile in this life, which is bullshit that has created its own weeping wound that never seems to fully heal. Perhaps this is my penance or my karma, but more likely it has to do with other peoples' poison.

I don't – and won't - debate the worthiness or the deplorable ripples of this horrible act. I've been there hundreds of times, holding hands as a fellow woman made the best decision she could at the time, given the circumstances. 

I resisted work as a doula for many reasons, but one was that I'd already done it countless times. Walking alongside a woman, to the edge of motherhood, as she released her fears, her sadness, the unbearable fruit of someone else's crime, her impossible choice without interjecting my own opinion. Watching as she stood alone, toes curled over the edge of the cliff, and returning a different person for the sake of her older children, her health and safety, to keep herself one step back from skeletons in the sewer. 

We make the best decisions we can with the information and resources we have access to.

I didn't work there long - 8 months or so - and so clearly I have no evidence, statistics, or really anything else to justify those services except these two things:
- we have agreed, as a country, as a community, that these services are legal
- it is a far more compassionate choice than beating and holding a child in restraints that rival the workings of Medieval torture.

You can feel that in your bones. 

We - you and I - made agreements by coming into this body at this time in this country. By remaining here as adults and participating in the community, we uphold these agreements that decisions are made in community. Sure, there are faults in the system, wrinkles to work out, corruption and a few other discouraging trends. But the beauty of this system is that there is a way to instigate change. In fact, there are many, and they are available to all of us, regardless of our educational background, political leanings, or religious and moral derangement.

The yogis say our thoughts become words, our words actions. The trick is, we don't have control over how these words affect others. Sometimes, words pacify, other times, they activate.

We never know who or what will be activated.

So we speak the truth, regardless of whether or not our opinions are requested. And we are mindful of the ways in which others will hear our stories. If our goal is to increase discord and dysfunction, all we have to do is think it. Then that poison solidifies, and we're one airport delay away from letting that fear and anger run from our lips. We use this most powerful tool to spread venom rather than disengaging from the terror and transmuting our own experience into some flavor of peace. 

So this now comes full circle for me. 

When I worked there I found it ironic – eerie – that I needed to know secret security protocols and work behind bullet proof glass. But now. Now I get it. We silence and shame these women, and our hate falls on the ears of those who don't seek the full story but rather bathe in confirmation bias. Then they buy guns – assault rifles – and reign their pain and misery out, spreading that poison.

And the wrong people die.

Others become orphans.

Leaving only their bones to tell the story. 

Sat Nam.

Friday, November 13, 2015


Someone asked me this morning what I would write about Paris.

I have no idea. I didn't realize Paris was on my to-do list today.

I have a surprising number of things to say about Michael Jackson and pumpkins (not together), about loneliness and the uncanny resemblance I bear to Eeyore this morning. But apparently, that's not what you want to read from me.

As someone who only started traveling internationally in my 32nd year on Earth, Europe hasn't made it onto my passport yet. I know precious few things about France in general, despite my mother's insistence on pronunciation and my early infatuation with Bizet's Carmen.

(I think it was the strong female thing. Or the sex work thing. Another essay, I'm sure.)

What I know today that is different from what I knew yesterday, is that none of this is about France, and that if I all of a sudden start binging on trivia, I'll do no one any justice. Even though I'm really quite good at memorization, no amount of study will reanimate anyone who shuffled yesterday. No matter how deeply I dive into the media frenzy or the social media melancholy and group shaming, it won't make a lick of difference.

All I can do is change me. 

This is one of the things that happens when we try to change the world by changing other people - it never ends well. It doesn't change them, it rarely changes us, and everyone gets rather huffy. Sometimes people act out, and when those who want to act out have access to high-impact technology, like weaponry or the internet, we have big waves to surf while we wait for the tide to settle in again.

Oh, bother.

One thing I've realized in the last couple of years, is that I'm actually capable of anything. And I don't necessarily mean that in a good way. I used to say things after "I'll never..." and I thought that I meant them, but in fact, I did not. "I'll never be a doula, I'll never own a yoga studio, I'll never get a divorce... " Three strikes, and those are just examples I feel cozy publishing on the internet.

I was recently at a retreat where someone told me they visited a place where it is incredibly rude to say "no." If you want to indicate a negative response, the best you can do is say, "not yet."

Are you a doula? Not yet.

Are you divorced? Not yet.

Are you a terrorist? Not yet.

This is powerful. Because when you think, "I would never commit acts of such violence," you're being rather presumptuous about yourself. I am guilty of incredible violence, most of which I have directed at myself. But I am not my behaviors, neither the ones I'm punishing myself for nor the punishment. I'm made of stardust and so are you, which is excellent news. I can choose to stop hurting any time, choose to turn off the TV any time, choose to stop shaming myself for thinking the hundreds of negative things I think before breakfast. And then, once I'm off the couch I can walk outside and be present with the next person for a minute.

I do this every day, with every extra ounce of pixie dust I have, which most days is just a speck. I do it one hundred thousand times a day, because that's where I am. You might be surprised to learn that I spend a lot more time cowering on the bathroom floor than one might expect, or cemented in between the layers of blankets on the couch. One half of my personality is always nudging the other half to move or to hold still. To love or to fear.

This is why I practice yoga. For one hour a day, whether I'm moving or holding still, wailing or flailing, I'm practicing remembering that thing I seem so apt to forget: 
I am already perfect.
I am responsible for myself, which includes my own suffering and my own happiness.
I must put on my own life preserver before helping others.
My commentary about other people is a waste of everyone's time.
My love is contagious.
So is my fear.
I am already perfect.
(so are you).

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Business of Yoga

I'm sitting down to refresh my lecture on The Business of Yoga.

It has changed in recent years.

Sure, there are things to know when migrating into this industry, like reasonable expectations for payment, various credentials and opportunities for continuing education. I'm sure these things are helpful to know, and they make up the vast majority of my "lecture."


The longer I'm in this "industry" the more I realize - recognize - reveal that the Business of Yoga is the same as the business of anything else. The people "at the top" are just people, with bright spots and shadows. Sometimes they're there because they worked hard, or because they knew the right person, or because they slept with the right person. Their credentials or time in service tell you very little about who they are as a teacher. As my ex-husband used to hear in nursing school, "C's make nurses."

We do not buy credentials, we earn them. 

I'm saddened by the number of us who were raised with star charts. Not maps of the sky, but lines of boxes where we got to add a star for brushing our teeth, for turning in our homework, for having reasonable behavior. Incentives for good behavior make us expect a reward for good behavior, and I'm afraid that many of us still think, incorrectly, that having more stars makes us better.

My parents are both PhDs. They have two bachelor's degrees and two master's degrees a piece. BUT they earned these degrees because they were legitimately interested in chemistry and physics, not because they wanted more stars on their charts. I have a master's degree because I felt like it was an expectation - like I wouldn't be worthy of love (or employable, which is virtually the same thing) without it.

If you believe that I am a yoga teacher, then I want you to know that I want you to care more about my private life than the initials after my name. I want you to know that I ate a bag of chips for dinner last night and that - so far - I've resisted the urge to have a cup of coffee today. I lay down halfway through my asana practice yesterday, and I meditated through tears rather than sending a vile email earlier this morning. Yoga is a practice for me, not a badge. And my life isn't unicorns and rainbows - it's a daily struggle with depression and anxiety. It is a delicate dance with addiction. 

It is one day at a time.

My credentials cannot tell you that - but paired with the training I've received comes the practice I have implemented. The synthesis of the material. I've never stopped learning, but the lessons I've learned recently don't come with a certificate to hang on my wall.

Neither, my darling, have yours.

If you seek to be in The Business of Yoga, you have an important choice. To business-ify yoga, or yogify business.

I believe everyone should take a yoga teacher training, because through this process you learn more about yourself. I don't believe everyone should then teach asana classes. Instead, I believe the world would be better if we all took that practice into daily life. If we set the masks of credentials to the side, dropped the curtains on the real story and met one another as we are - a collection of stardust, entangled by stories of this life and the last.

You are made of more stars than you could ever imagine, could ever line up, could ever earn.

Act like it.

That. That is the business of yoga.

Friday, October 30, 2015


Adele is killing me.

You might not know this about me, but everything I write has a soundtrack. I know visual artists who do this, and I supposed I used to do it when I was drawing and painting. When I'm working on a piece, there is usually a song on repeat either in my mind or in my ears.

My medium has shifted, and so has the soundtrack.

The sentiment is the same.

Tonight, Adele is killing me.

Does it hurt you, too? Do other people feel this way? I wonder.

I see people in this coming-and-going orbit, people who seem happy to be where they are in relationship to the sun, who are blissfully unaware of their contrails of space dust. And others who are dragged along in the mess of debris, too bound up by love or addiction to break free from the gravity.

Sometimes I feel like that comet - bright, fast moving. Dragging lots of tiny, swirling memories. Outrunning the emotions that are moving a million miles an hour, chasing me down.

And sometimes, I'm the dust.

Pulled in a direction I'd rather not go, retracing a path that isn't mine. Too timid or fearful to break from the pack and fall out of orbit.

Tonight, I can't tell who is in control. Who is piloting this alien ship.

But I know who is singing.

Tonight, Adele is killing me.


Last night I had an "episode." Not like the West Wing landed on my couch, but more like I had a convulsive writhing, thing somewhere between my head and my heart.

I spend so much time overwhelmed. There is a lot to do. I have bills to pay and mysterious water leaks to resolve, people to pray for and a Squash Situation in my refrigerator. My 1,000 brilliant ideas for inventions and books will eventually need to escape from my brain, and oh - there's Christmas shopping to be done.

You know that I am writing a book right now. It's actually a pretty awful and gruesome process - not entirely unlike giving birth. Sure it's pretty in the end, if you take a few well-placed, well-timed black and white stills, but in the youtube video you can hear some disquieting animal sounds.

I have written a lot. Some of the better pieces have strong titles, like Million Dollar Baby, while others are in documents cleverly titled "Untitled2" or "writing bits" or "disorganized ideas." In my file "unpublished" I have 50 of these beauties, while the file titled "Name of my Book" has one big ol' file in it that meanders from story to story.

This is overwhelming. As is my intense desire to eat anything covered in cream cheese icing, including my computer.

(this is why people make microwave cakes in mugs)

Women do amazing things when someone is in labor. They boil water. They light candles. They deflect inlaws and wrangle wayward cats. They prepare food.

They hold space.

I put out a plea on the FB, because I believe whole-heartedly that Facebook is really a forum for modern prayer, and lots of my women friends answered: how can I help? What can I do?

These are wise women.

I spoke about holding space yesterday - an idea that is mostly lost on us as we lop memes at one another. Quotes which may (or may not) have been spoken or written by the proposed author superimposed on peaceful scenes of running water or sunsets or someone calmly appearing to meditate near running water or sunsets.

This is not holding space. This is memeing, which, for the purposes of this post, is here-to-for a word. Memeing is the cousin of should-ing and the step-sister of shaming. It requires assumptions. And I'm so grateful that the women who are my friends do not thoughtlessly attempt to solve my myriad problems with a 400x400 pixel prayer-bit re-hashed and re-written and (wrongfully) attributed to Buddha or Dr. Wayne Dyer.

Acknowledge. Ask a question. Let me come to my own answer.

(or bring me cake).

The Desert (again)

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our own discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled.

I wrote this awhile ago... years ago, when I first started working on The Desert curriculum. I stumbled on it again tonight, while re-reading theflotsam in my dropbox.

(Maybe it's time to start again)?

"Desert sand is unlike beach sand. On the beach, if you dig a few inches below the surface, your toes hit cool sand, sheltered from the sun. Smooth sea glass floats to the surface, and signs of life and death surround each step. In the desert, the sand is baked into hot slabs. Dry grasses poke towards the sky and cactus defend the little moisture they have found. Cracks crumble. Nothing moves. Where the ocean breathes rhythmically, the desert holds her breath.

Everyone spends time in the desert. You find yourself there, one day, awake and lost. Each day in the desert unwanted burdens and extra weight fall off. As it is said, “In learning, every day a new thing is added. In the practice of the Tao, every day, something is removed.” Films of people lost in the desert show them removing items that no longer serve as they’re no longer headed where they had planned. Eventually, everything falls away and they emerge a new person, or die trying.

Life has a desert, and we try desperately to stay away from it. We board the "education train" as children, and soon learn that if we get off of the mainline train, that we might step right into the heart of the desert. So we remain in the safety of the train car, unnumbered, with an unending line of cars both ahead and behind. 

We go to college, we go to graduate or medical school, and we get married and buy a house in the suburbs. When we wake one day, unexpectedly in the desert, we panic, we resist, and we try to go back to sleep. But once our eyes are opened, it is impossible to follow the monotonous, thoughtless steps that have kept us on the train for so long..."
desert road
LoveRoots Photography

Are you with me?

The Best

I have had the great honor and privilege of teaching at Cambio Yoga since the very beginning, way back in 2009. It felt like an honor to be invited to teach at a locally-owned studio, especially after I had been expressly un-invited to teach at a large corporate studio. Sure, I'd been teaching for years, but this was my first time teaching at a Real Studio. Before that, all I had done was teach in the fake places, like homes and elder care facilities, schools and parks. Even though I thought a donation-based studio would probably fold in three months, I felt like THIS was IT. The BIG TIME. When THE REAL TEACHING would begin.

No one came.

(To my first six classes)

And it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

The first week, I just did my own practice. I taught myself the class I was planning to teach the mysterious students who had apparently not received the Invitation from the Universe to come take My First Real Class.

The second week I felt a little worse, but still did the practice I had planned. I had made up an entirely new sequence, just in case the first sequence that I hadn't actually taught to anyone was bad juju.

The third week I cried.

I had thought that this opportunity would be the beginning of something grand, that people would love me and that I would instantly become famous and people would publish my book and I would have a baby and....

(trust me, it only gets more ridiculous).

The fourth week I didn't even go into the studio. I sat in my car and waited to see if anyone would pull up. And then I cried again.

The fifth week I thought about throwing in the towel. I was driving like a madwoman across town to wait for a big ol' goose egg. It was humiliating. Didn't people know that I had been teaching for awhile? That I'd been practicing for a really long while? That my EGO was on FIRE?

I walked into the studio and sat on the floor in the middle of the empty room. It smelled like fresh paint and hope a day or two past its expiration date. I sat. I stared. The mirror stared back. I dedicated that hour to my practice, to what I needed. Not a preconceived, pre-set notion of who would be there, but who was actually there.

I showed up for the student in the room.

(It just happened to be me).

I said the things I needed to hear, which is all any of us teach anyway. I moved a little, I meditated a little. I had a great practice.

And you know what? The next week, I had more students. And I never had an empty Wednesday night class again.

This year, cambio. turned six. Six years of Wednesdays, give or take a few. Six years of showing up for whoever was in the room, teaching whatever it was I needed to learn.

(How's that for ego?)

cambio. was voted "The Best" again this year... it's been many years that this has happened, and part of me has a big ol' sense of pride and part of me has a big ol' sense of WTF. I don't believe that one studio is the best, or that one teacher is the best, or that anything is really "the best." We just happened to be judged by a group of people who think that the Earth is flat, and that only one studio can be at the front of the pack.

We forgot, we forget, that yoga is a circle. The Earth is round, people, we're all in the front, and we're all tied for best.

Teach to the people in the room, wherever the room is. In studios, prisons, churches, schools, the park, or the privacy of your very own potting shed. Be the best, because - well - you are.


An instructor gives you what you ask for, what you want. A teacher gives you what you need, whether you want it or not.

A guru shoves your shadow into the spotlight, illuminates what you've tried to conceal beneath layers of makeup and social constructs. 

And they may not even know they've done it.

I question anyone who calls themself a guru, truly. We choose our teachers, they do not choose us. We stalk them by soaking up their words, their classes, their very essence and then - if we're lucky and we've done a bit of work, maybe with their help - we graduate. We transcend that relationship and move along.

Sometimes kicking and screaming, and sometimes, without a thought.

When I teach teachers, I'm often asked how people can teach things they can't do - and I like to answer out of both sides of my mouth. 

On the right: If you are instructing asana, you can easily instruct someone through the contortions of the body without asking your body to do that very thing. And earnestly, I believe that performing an asana for someone to replicate is often mistaken for "teaching" by both the teacher and the student. We believe that those whose poses look sexy or perfect or accomplished on Instagram to be great teachers, simply because they can lick their elbows or dangle precariously over the edge of a cliff wearing incredibly tight pants.

(It helps to have a tight a$s).

This is not teaching. It may be art - either performance or photography - and it has some merit in that sense. But it is not teaching, and it is not yoga.


On the left: You cannot ask a student to meditate if you do not. You cannot teach lessons you have not learned. You cannot remove darkness when you remain in shadows. Teaching involves having been there - as in, the place where the ego roams, or the sadness stews, or the desperation runs free.

This is not a double standard. Let me tell you why.

You can be skilled at teaching and know only a small number of things. This can make you a great teacher.

You can be terrible at teaching and know ALL of the things. This will never make you a great teacher.

I have learned this lately, as I realize that what I teach has evolved from the basic asana, the rudimentary anatomy into the synthesis of material and integration of everything I've experienced so far.

A guru is a person who shoves you into the spotlight - often by accident - and never, ever, because it will make you bow down to them and call them a guru.

My guru is a 13 year old boy who has never spoken a word or taken a step. My guru was a ridiculously amicable divorce. My guru was a 6cm polyp named Polly.

What is yours?


Today, I was charged with holding space for a dear friend. Holding a story close and building a damn and a filter between what needs to be held back and what can trickle through. I'm accustomed to telling the truth - the whole truth - and helping you see the detritus in your life by showing the flotsam in mine.

But today I cannot. Today's truth isn't mine to share, and that is hard for me. 

And it is a privilege.

I always joke that I'm writing a book, because you cannot MAKE THIS $HIT UP. In fact, it's because I'm the filter between the whole truth and the tiny pieces that need to come out is paper thin - page thin. My life makes me think that the writing staff on Grey's Anatomy are just lazy, because reality is truly stranger than fiction. Life is hard enough without major failures of mass transit and rogue icicle accidents - birth and death take us to our knees with our foreheads pressed against the cold tile of the shower, because any wall can stand in when the wailing is too much for the heart and Israel is too far away in time or space or faith.

The plainest and commonest of experiences are truth enough.

I've been holding many stories while I wait patiently for others to unlock the deep and otherwise private secrets of those closest to me. Many of us do this like spiritual ventriloquists; we throw our voices and dance wildly in the streets to pull focus from a wound that's not ready to air.

A story that hasn't found it's own words yet.

Our words cannot dispel another's grief. Spoken out of turn, we shine a light on the tender flesh that is trying to heal and even when the light is cast out of love, it can burn.

So today, I feel for you who keep secrets for others. Not out of shame or fear, but out of respect that their story is theirs and that it will emerge in time. Let me encourage you that after that time, your story will follow. Your experience of a story IS your story, whether you think it belongs to you or not. You know where you were on September 11th, even if where you were was a top-tier college dorm huddled around a 10" television and not running barefoot through the plume.

My story is valid because I have lived it, even if it sparked from burning embers that flew in across the ridge - and so is yours.

And it can wait.

Spirit Vomit

I did the worst thing ever.

(well, for a yoga teacher).

The thing I say I'll never do, that just can't be done, because it is the very basest thing.

I vomited all over a student, right after class.

(spiritually speaking)

For whatever reason, I apparently taught a kick-ass class on Wednesday evening. People raved about it, despite the fact that no one seems to be able to tell me why it was a good class. I can tell, because the spirit was speaking through me. I wasn't forcing things, I was just doing that thing where the spirit moves through you - like you're a really well informed back-up dancer for the universe, even though you didn't realize your body knew the steps. Someone else is dangling your puppet strings and you're just in sync.

And then.

The marriage vomit happened. 

I got divorced. You know this. It happened the same way a car accident happens - slow motion, with lots of back pedaling and neck tension and plenty of lookie-lous commentating on what went wrong. Spirit moved through me in the terrible way, the gut-wrenching, soul twisting way that it does when you realize that the things you're doing are completely outside of your control.

The pain in my body so desperately wanted to protect my friend - the one headed for marriage - from the excruciating pain that results from The Bad Thing. The unexpected ending of the perfect union, that I couldn't contain or filter or funnel the ectoplasmic spirit vomit GetAPrenupNowEvenIfYouLoveHim blah, blah, blah, worse, worse, worse.

So I'm saying here what I wish I had said then, knowing that the venom is out there and that it will be my karma to get that back right in the ass, right when I'm staring down a great life transition. This can't undo, or take back, but it will help me the next time I have to grin and bear, when I don't want to lie but I must support.

1. Do not let your wedding day be the best day of your life. Let it be the best day of your life, so far. Make decisions in every moment to enjoy it, and practice living like the star of the show. And then let better days come, don't let the best land in the past and the rest slide downhill.

2. Do not let anyone have the power to ruin your day. Everyone has their stories, and sometimes they are on hiatus from attending weddings, out of protection for themselves and for you. Do not take that personally. The only people who must be there are you and your beloved (and whatever squirrel is officiating).

3. Let me be a landing place for you, and know that I will always love you as you are, without regard to whether you are married or separated, struggling in secret or crumbling in public. I will hold you in dark moments and light, and I will never cower from whatever darkness may ever come your way.

Love is like four turtles swimming in opposite directions.

And I am the ocean.

Monday, September 28, 2015


After my surgery I asked the nurse if I'd ever get married.
(This from the girl who has sworn off that and all other sacraments. And Catholicism.).
They say medication makes you say things you wouldn't otherwise say, that surgery makes you face your mortality in fun and exciting ways, and that jello makes you curious.
(I may have made the last one up).
I can (and will) assert my 5th amendment privilege here, despite it's irrelevance. It's basically none of your business.
Oh, right. Who am I kidding? I have literally no idea why I would have asked that. Or even if I asked that. Maybe he's pulling my chain because he knows how sore I am on the topic of marriage these days. Maybe that's the scopolamine talking.
I'm in the gooey center right now, between friends who are newly (and probably - possibly) happily married and those who are recently or soon to be divorced. It's an awkward place to be - a place I had never considered - based on my marital privilege. I just figured you met someone who could tolerate your midnight tongue-clicking, your occasional bursts of ineptitude, your bizarre fear of slipping on the stairs and not being discovered for days and you tied the knot. Put a ring on it while THE END scrolled down the movie screen of your mind.
There is more to the story.
And this part is uncharted. I don't have a template, because Disney ends before the s#it gets real, because my parents (and their parents) stayed married forever, and because my crystal ball is still in the shop and my magic 8 ball keeps saying "ask again later."
My perfect marriage ended perfectly, but just as I can feel the scopolamine and the versed and the god-knows-what-else still coursing through my veins, I can still feel the venom that lead to separation, divorce. I skipped out on the wedding of the century this weekend because I still need to lie down without warning. Many friends told me to be "gentle with myself" post surgery, because recovery can be sneaky - episodic - on again, off again. And I ignored those warnings several times, with nearly disastrous results.
The same is true, I fear, in recovery from divorce.
Surgery changes you. They cut you open and take out something that you grew - something that was you - that is you. Divorce is similar. It cuts you, leaving you vulnerable to overheating and over-sharing in the worst of possible situations. And if you deny the pain and push forward, put on a show and let everyone believe that you're alright, you do a disservice to yourself and to anyone who looks to you as an example. You neglect the healing - the grace - the gentleness that is required to become comfortable as a new whole.
Nothing will replace what was removed. Nothing will repair what was once there - once part of you - but I think (I hope) that with grace and gentleness (and a few tantrums and unscheduled breaks along the trail), that the new whole will someday feel like home.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


It's still right now. Unsettling things are sometimes called disquieting, but the stillness – the quietness – it's a bit much on it's own this morning. Eight years ago it was windy, and last year was unseasonably warm.

Today is my anniversary, and what I've learned is that the longer I live, the more anniversaries I have. The more meaning and history saturates each day:
April 4th – Bad News Day
May 10th – Start Something New Day
November 11th – Coulda Woulda Beena Birthday.

I'm fortunate enough to have had mostly good Christmas mornings. My birthday has been a mixed bag.

 Today is the best.

 And the worst.

 Eight years ago I woke up with my head pointed in one direction while my heart pointed in another. Ditto last year. It's getting to the point where now when I see golden aspen leaves in the hillside or on social media, I start to cringe, to buckle down and anticipate the coming of the darkness.

 I should have gotten married on the spring equinox rather than the fall, because then my anniversary would point me towards longer, warmer days rather than settling me into darker, windier nights. Equality seemed like a good message for a wedding, but that message wasn't the kind of magic that ends in happily ever after.

But there was magic in it.

Ten years ago I was on a train to the top of Pikes Peak and the wind rustled the billions of golden aspen leaves to the same melody that was playing in my heart. I was sure – certain.

Eight years ago I marched down the aisle after my heart had taken a dangerous tumble down the road less traveled. Less sure, but determined, nonetheless.

Last year I walked into the courthouse alone, the thunder of my heels clicking ARE YOU SURE? with each step.

 When my doctor's office called me to schedule my surgery, I thought I'd get a handful of dates.

 But this was the date that they offered.

 I've run the gamut on this date, from absolute certainty to maddening indecision. Knowing this, I've given myself complete permission to back out at any minute, something I perhaps should have done eight years ago.

Something I should do every day.

But days like today are carved inwards like scars, each passing year offering its blade to the etching. Whatever time has healed reopens. This day is more than the equal weight of sun and moon, it has a gravity for me that I can no longer overlook. My ex-husband suggested that I stay in next year with the shutters closed, sealed in against the ineffable fate that will rain down on me, like the Universe has it in for me on this day.

I see it differently.

I think that this date is an invitation for me – like the one day a year the wormhole opens and I have the opportunity to walk through, or peek through, or click through and see the future. Or maybe just see life as it is without the layers of foggy memory and sad memories.

Today I get to walk into a building as one person and walk out with a new identity. I have done this before, thrice, on this very same day, from this very same vantage point to the sun. But this time I know who I am.

And who I'm leaving behind.

Eagle Medicine

Tomorrow is a big, big day for me.
For the past three years, I've dealt with a difficult and debilitating diagnosis. While I get that Unexplained Infertility should be the most minor of complaints - like going to Universal Studios and then learning that Harry Potter Land is closed for renovation - it's still disappointing. There are LOTS of other rides out there, people. Plenty of other adventures.
And yet.
In the past several years I've tried on dozens of different healing modalities. Western Medicine says I'm "totally fine and ovulating like a rabbit," so I've tried fun list of things.
I've tried doing everything right. Then I tried doing everything wrong. 
Through this, several things have bubbled up to the surface, including the idea that problem is not in my head. Whatever your frustration is, I promise you that it exists both in the real world and in your head. Maybe it started one place and migrated to the other. I'm not sure what the case is in my instance, just as I cannot tell you what it is in yours. What I can say is that you do not deserve whatever malady ails you. It isn't fair that Harry Potter was on vacation the one weekend you made it out to visit. You are as in charge of your own destiny as the universe is.... you are dealt cards and then you have to play with them. Or walk away from the table. The control you have in this life, at least, is in making those kinds of decisions. Riding the water ride or heading off to the beach.
(I always choose the beach).
I'm not able to fully support myself through this. I tried, for a long time, and I'm the stubborn girl who used to hold my breath until I passed out (and still didn't get my way). I've accepted the suggestions and tried everything on. I was a VEGAN, PEOPLE. And now I eat therapeutic meat.
I spent so much money on my health that I neglected my happiness.
This was my biggest mistake. 
Rather than trusting my intuition and soaking in healing waters, gifting myself ample beach time and excessive massage, I ate seaweed and turned my life into a science experiment with an obsession not unlike Frankenstein, with equally monstrous results.
My biggest lesson? We make our own medicine. Everyone has an idea, a treatment, a solution. There is snake oil around every corner, and most of it works. Just not for you. For medicine to work, you have to believe in it. Which means that sometimes you have to make it for yourself. A few weeks ago I started binging on healing services, in preparation for The Big One. The anesthesia scares me the most, followed closely by the lack of control and my inability to take anything in with me. No friends, no tokens, no jewelry or images as I've done in times past. I can't even repeat a prayer or a mantra while I'm under. And while I understand that we're all on the same team, the surgeon, the anesthesiologist and I, it's a level of vulnerability I'm really not comfortable with.
A few weeks ago I spent time with a healer who mentioned something about eagle medicine - perspective, long view. It rolled around in my head with the kind of resonance that means something to me, and the next morning in my meditation I saw an image of a woman with an eagle tattooed on her chest, a seedling in one hand, ashes in the other. I wanted to draw her, except that I haven't drawn anything in a long time, so I just sketched her out in my journal. And later that week, when I had essentially decided I didn't want the surgery, my perspective shifted. I decided to allow this surgery to be more symbolic than practical. Sure, it's possible that Dear Polly is causing lots of my uncomfortable symptoms in addition to my "unexplained infertility," but what is more important to me is giving over control and allowing someone else to remove the psychic burdens that I've been carrying myself. Psychic surgery, where the thoughts are concentrated into their physical manifestations and removed.
This has given me a moment of peace (so has giving myself permission to back out at any moment). But I still needed to take something with me, something more than the good wishes and intentions that everyone is lopping my way.
And so I'm taking this eagle. My friend, a gifted artist, came and drew this totem on my chest as I had seen it in my vision, in henna, the only medium allowed into the operating room with me. This is my medicine. A shift in beliefs. Asking for help. Listening to what I really need.
What is yours?

I'd Vote for You

When did the American Presidency become a booby prize? 
I'm not sure. I was allowed to take a crash-course in American History over the summer, so I learned six weeks worth of primarily useless information, like President Taft got stuck in his bathtub. My civics class was worse, as my civics teacher was more invested in his (and our) Christian beliefs than - say - civics, which is why he was fired mid-year from my public junior high school. Second semester we covered the judicial branch, so I really have no idea how this process works. But somewhere, somehow, this process appears to have changed.
Sometimes I joke that you (yes YOU) would make a better choice than the vast majority of the candidates out there, except that I'm not confident that I'm joking. You, my friend, have many of the qualities it takes to lead the free world. Maybe you couldn't explain the electoral college in 100 words, and maybe you don't know anything about defense. Perhaps your understanding of geography is similar to mine. I once knew all of the state capitals by heart, and I'm very familiar with every country in the world, as the world was in either 1945, when the globe at my house was painted, or in 1993, when I took geography and had to memorize everything. But I believe a few things give you a leg or two up on several of the folks I've seen flash across my newsfeed as I try (desperately) to scroll past.
Reasons I think YOU should be President:
1. You know how to ask for help. Maybe you don't think you do, but I know you do. I've heard you do it. If you don't remember the precise capital of Illinois (it's tricky), I'm willing to bet you'd google it or phone-a-friend. Do this more. Ask for help daily, like a prayer or a mantra. Say "help me" and my vote is yours.
2. You love someone or something more than money. Maybe you fixate a bit more on what you have (or haven't got) in the bank, but my guess is that you have a few standards when it comes to money, time, and energy. You are working on it, I know. You spend more on coffee or fluffy socks or scratch-off tickets than you'd like, but there are a few things you wouldn't do for money. You know that money is a made-up thing that is necessary in the world, but that it is less valuable than real things like people, plants, and even cool rock formations.
3. You can say, "I was wrong." You do this with some frequency, I know it. Maybe your interval is rather long, as is my mother's. She will go 10 years without needing to admit she made a mistake, but that's because she's nearly perfect. My father says it many times a day (this may be the secret to a successful marriage, although I'm not sure because it didn't work for mine). The more you say it when it needs to be said, the easier it is to make up and go play hopscotch.
Maybe you're not an American, or maybe you're under 35 or even possibly a felon, and all of these things disqualify you. But please don't focus on them, because they don't matter. You have all of the qualities that matter, and the more you execute them, the better the world feels for everyone. 
Also, you share your bananas, which helps.
Keep sharing. Maybe the sentiment will trickle up?


I feel like I've run out of time. I'm heading into surgery on Tuesday (maybe... I think so... in all likelihood) and I feel like it's a momentous event, the excision of Polly the Polyp. 
I also feels like it is an end.
It doesn't help when the nurse on the phone reminds you to bring your ID and health insurance card along with a copy of your advanced directives. And not to bother bringing anything else of value with you. Like St. Peter doesn't have use for your moderately old, helplessly out of date iPhone or your favorite lip gloss.
There's so much I'd like to do in this life, so many more things to write. I've been writing with reckless abandon for the last three weeks as though the sands are all in the bottom half of the hour glass and there are just a few grains clinging to the glass above with a tiny bit of static and a prayer.
But I have more to say, please hear that. I hope I haven't used up all of my good lines. I hope I sleep soundly for three minutes and then pop back into the soundness of mind that I've appreciated to date.
We speak of time as though it is a thing we have, or have had. As though the reality is that we contained the time and kept it captive and not that it had run through us graying our hair and weathering our skin. But that is the reality. Time cannot be contained any more than spirit or gravity. You don't get to cash in your good karma or your 401(k) for an extra few minutes, no matter how many great last lines you've still got up your sleeve.
Time is long at the dentist and short in Hawaii, and no matter how long or short it is, you will never have it, and it will never be enough.
So look at your agenda today, tomorrow, next week and realize - recognize - that this electronic screen or paper schedule is an illusion of time in a cage, of control of what will come. Fill your days with experiences that make time feel short, that steal your breath, not long, grueling tasks that make you hold it. I'm serious. I've been self-employed for three and a half years now, and while I sometimes get to the bottom of my bank account, living this way has not done me wrong.
Time is short today, and for that, I am grateful.
When time is short, I'm running with the tide, not against it. And wherever it goes, wherever it takes me, I am grateful that I'm not in line at the dentist or the DMV, that I'm not tediously recounting all of the miles I've driven in a year.
I would rather live my life in the sunset - the brief moments that pass too quickly that can never be captured. I would rather be inspired by time than held captive by it.