Explorations of mind, paths, and life

Unfurling (March Thoughts)

Posted on April 14, 2015 - Filed Under self reflect



April 1 Flight…

I haven’t felt too inspired to write much of late… pictures are easy, and the movement of wheels in my head shifted by a plethora of play and distraction. There is a deep part of me that doesn’t want to move back into the world the way I have existed in it. I reflect on what has been over 30 years of “working, working, working.” The story of late has been around heartbreak and losses. I have moments where I just breathe in the air and watch the sky, lost in the movement of nature beyond the edges of my skin. I rock in the hammock, grieve, smile broadly, laugh. My feet are bare, my skin exposed to the sun. Eating has fallen away, finding nourishment in being…

Some ideas have been snapping into place about my life that I hadn’t quite seen. After the loss of my father, my job, and of love, within moments of each other, I spiraled. I began to wonder about the purpose of these events in the scope of how I come to know the world, or the meaning that I make of it. What purpose, what synchronistic anomalies, have bounced into play to pull me through these bundled events to this moment, or this one… or this one?

Love cradled me through the heartbreak of my father. My job loss made me cognizant of my father’s passing, the lost communication that indicated something was wrong. My father’s passing nudged me into wandering and essentially, adventuring, through my grief and self awareness. So many connections, such blessings, such heartache.

In the early morning, before consciousness pulls the blankets from my quiet, reflective mind, I discover these lucid little morsels of awareness about my existence that a regularly assiduous day buries under the sand of “being busy.”  I turn around, in my mind, failed love, successful love, the art of work, the art of play, who I am, who I have become, where I am to go… This all churns under the unconscious guise of sleep. I have been on the brink of throwing up my hands and announcing, “fuck it!” while running wildly through the untamed flowers of my own dreams. There is a strong desire to just explore all the things “I didn’t” during the work laden days I pressed into my being, shrouded in the idea that somehow this created in me a sense of worth. My over-responsibility, my constant “doing,” often for others more than myself, the record that played about being a burden unless I did, and did more, and did the most. Suddenly, there is no need to work so hard. Suddenly, I feel as if I have a choice. There is nothing to lose, because things will be lost. It is inevitable. Death rides the edge of life, until one day it jumps the tracks, and there we are – with a pile of stuff and a few souls grieving the loss. What is the point other than taking life a bit more adventurously, because I have no idea how much time is left to play and explore.

I’ve had a strong desire to clean out, purge my space, of all the things that mean nothing if I am not here. I’ve been looking at things and asking how they bring me joy, or what purpose they have in my world. If none, then it goes in a bag to be gifted, donated, or destroyed.  I am stuck on a few piles… like the piles of drawings and art I created in my 20’s, the love letters between Gary and me, and the pages of poetry and stories I wrote when I was on fire with creativity. I think about repurposing them into my art, or letting them fall into the firepit for a burning of the endless thoughts and serenades my heart spilled into the arms of others so long ago. All of these moves into the edges of my own creativity…

I think about creating – and yet my inspiration is shifty. I don’t seem able to hold it steady, once I sit alone with a page, or a canvas. What if the world wants more? What if  I am expected to create more… What if I can’t? What if I am empty?

And I hear her, the creative part of me, she says, “You do what you can, THAT is your pace; like the pattern of your breathing, the pattern of your heart lobbing and moving life energy through you, it evolves as you do. It moves as it does. There is nothing more or less to do.”

All of this is important because I am very aware that I am refilling a well, long emptied and ravaged by the drought that my “work-worth” had created. I am aware that keeping myself on the hammock, by rocking and taking in the clouds, by exposing myself to nature and movement, I am filling that well. Travel and hiking and eating and art and taking the world in, is doing more for the repair of my being than anything else I could venture into.

“There is nothing more or less to do…”

Poetry in February

Posted on February 24, 2015 - Filed Under imagery, poetry

IMG_7977this is the way we type away our days and lives
we fly
we land
we talk
we breathe
and somewhere along the way a story is created

it can encompass the horrific
the endless days of nothing
the twisted thread of lives
unravelled like an umbilical cord
tied to our center
severed and bleeding
full and nourishing
messy and empty

it can unfold in the mist of sandy days
breezy ignorance
selfless meanderings
the passing of twitterings and electronic lives
oblivious to the tender souls begging to be seen
beyond the screen
the tear of glass and solvency of images

it fills
it empties
it can be the skin
it can the bone
it can be the hairless amniotic state of quiet
it can be the shadows of trees at dawn
a freshly painted amber wall
a broken paintbrush of dried cerulean bristles

and somewhere in the daybreak of the story
words tumble and smudge along a page

~ E

Confidence in the Mechanics

Posted on September 10, 2014 - Filed Under 2014, breathe, fear, feelings, frustration, gratitude, self reflect


I am sitting in the dark in my Florida Room, listening to the rain pop on the ceiling and the storms moving through in waves above. The cicadas are warming up to the pause in the turbulence outside, and I am masticating again on the shifts and changes in my life. The door to the backyard is wide open, with just a few whispers of a breeze that make it around the corner of the building. My breath, slow and pensive. I couldn’t feel more blessed in this little house. It warmly opens its arms to me at the end of each day, speaking safety and containment from all the rest of the world. At night it softens beneath me, cradling my body and quieting my mind, the crackle of its age like gentle kisses on my psyche. In the morning, it lets in the light so that I know we have another day together, and releases me out into the many adventures I can find within a few miles. I smile when I return at night, its porch and borders lit up by the white christmas lights I keep on a timer all year.

I sit in this home. Alone. Grateful. Easy. There is nothing that interrupts that space unless I welcome it. Here.

It is out into the world that I find myself sighing a lot lately, a sigh of defeat and disappointment on the trails of what I know are unfulfilled expectations – something I should know better not to have. They creeped up on me when I wasn’t looking, with affirmative and soothing encouragements, and promises flooded by the busy-ness of being needed. They wrestled their way into my daily living, pushing me to do more, to prove myself, to earn a badge, to make me indispensable… yet, I forget that I am, dispensable. 

“My sense of confidence in the mechanics of working life is unravelling quickly!” I shouted online, “I think my fingers are clammy and numb!” My sister remarked, “Unclench those fingers and let it go!” 

My “career,” if that is what you call the part of my life that earns me wages, has shifted. I feel myself attending to all the pulleys and anchors and sails of a ship, disjointed in thought from the captain and some of his crew… each one attending to a small pile of netting in their lap, or a spot on the deck, but not fully making meaning of how the whole ship is sailing. It feels like my former marriage. It didn’t matter how much I loved it, how much I loved him, I was frantically darting to all the challenges on the sea, and no one else was looking but me. I feel scared that my hard work may crumble into a mechanism that is counter to the culture I have enjoyed. I have a few supportive crew who watch me sigh, and I expect, they feel helpless as to HOW alleviate my unhappiness with the decisions being made. I, myself, know my tired face does not help them either.  I want to feel differently, but I am unable to detach enough to trust that ship to stay upright. I know it can, but the signs in my turbulent mind are not good. Again, the strategies I learned early in life to navigate the world are in my own way of finding ease. 

I got approval for unpaid medical family leave… and I have two months of work before I can head to California and support the people I love. This break from working life also gives me time to regroup. It has been a year of immense gifts and blessings, and so many losses. I am whirling and dizzy from the battery of goodbyes. I am tired. I do too much. 

Walking with trusted colleagues, I remarked, “Perhaps I am just a bad sport.” Essentially, the idea that I would even believe that remark is maddening. I am in a world where the very nature of my being makes me less “worthy or valued.” I was advised today to, “prove my worth, make myself indispensable,” by the very company that has utilized every facet of my gifts and abilities. And how did I come to believe in the opportunities that really were not intended for me? I shudder… I let expectations creep up on me.

So the rain comes down, hard. I stand at sunset letting it bounce about my feet and soak my legs. The wind blows and I cling to my big umbrella, tossing my shoes off so I can feel the ground beneath my feet. In this spot, the clouds dark and encompassing, and the light of the sun slowly being consumed by storms, I feel the joyful lull of gratitude. I have this. I have THIS for all my hard work. I have a place to peddle away my stress, and trails to lose my mind in. I have neighbors that include the locals at a restaurant, or neighbors with their dogs bounding down to the water’s edge to check for dolphins and sunsets. I have this, the quiet serenity of my casita, with its gleaming cold terrazzo floors and walls filled with my artwork. I have the pop of rain on the Florida room roof, as I sit, drenched, staring out into a forest of a yard bouncing with the light of thunderstorms. I have friends eager to see me, dancing or eating in their company, keeping me connected and loved. I have co-workers who remind me each day of why I go back, and who I am supporting with the work I do. I have conversations that ease the ache of this “career” enough to make me laugh and reflect on my positive influence.  I have rain, and clouds, and photography, and people I love so deeply and so much. And the wind blows the clouds in, and eventually, it blows them away…

Stagnant airports

Posted on April 3, 2014 - Filed Under self reflect

Sitting in the stagnant Tampa Airport awaiting a flight to California, I find myself reviewing the memories tucked in broken (hidden) pages on this blog. I wonder how many pages I have truly written on my life and adventures, feelings and parenting, losses and grief. There are underlying themes in the stories, tasty morsels of information like bread crumbs to where I am standing now… I read them, considering where I was in that moment, not knowing where I would be. I feel curious about the reflections that so clearly pointed HERE! How is that possible? How did my inner guide know all these things would provide me space for what was to come?

Perhaps the favorites include stories of Justin as I wander the mysteries of his development and self expression, and stare wide eyed at the stories I could be telling… There is longing in the safety of some familiar memories, a sense of loss for the friendship I have left behind (or has left me), and a sense of delight in the delectable tales of playfulness and adventure. Regardless, I still find myself reading them, like an old book on the shelf that I have revisited time and time again, wondering who the author is that sounds so familiar, so well tuned to the story of my life. And I pine for all the stories I have let tumble and become buried among layers of other experiences like leaves before the peak of winter sleep, whose scent is muffled and “feel” layered by many other textures.

Each visit to see my son, I am vaguely aware of shifts into manhood. I see the kid, yet hear the man in the manner in which he speaks to me, and the tenderness of his willing hugs. I see his eyes, bright with self awareness and a world of adulthood, open and breathing, and yet closed to the things he does not yet realize I already know. I don’t feel I need to do or say anything other than offer an open hand at times, not because he needs it, but rather, so he knows it is still there. And I feel gentle about the desire he has for privacy, yet sometimes wildly desperate to know what he thinks about this new world in his eyes. I wish to dive into that fabulous mind and know the universe the way he does right now. I want to feel all the calculations and planes of thinking that make him so brilliant and yet so different from those in his peer group. I don’t think I have ever been more in love other than the day I first held his squealing little body to my breast, and stared into his eyes until I was lost in the innocence of the creature I had just brought into the world. And the pains of that labor worth every bated breath and agonizing tear.

Perhaps I am just getting older, and the revel of what I no longer have seeps into the fabric of my identity and can not easily be separated despite the ways that he continues to take steps away and into his own life. I am now, like a tree, whose arms are bent and long, and he a seed taken by the wind.

I am hopeful, one day, we can sit and have long conversations as he watches his own family dance before him. I am hopeful he will offer me insight into his world, his experiences, his love and agony, and his dreams and disappointments… Only so that I can hold different stories than the ones that I know within the lens of my own experiences. So that I know him more deeply. I can only hope he will trust me enough, to hold those stories, without judgement or imbalance, so that I can share regard for all that he has become and the paths that have lead him there.

It is hard to sooth the sense of protection I shoulder for him. I know it serves no purpose other than to attempt and control my own anxiety, to impose on him advise or direction because I am afraid. I have to continually remind myself to trust his inner guide, that knows what lessons he is to learn, that gives him the optional paths and allows him to make each journey a part of all that he will become. And, I recognize the ways in which I have endeavored, held to conscious parenting as best I could, so that he might have some semblance or sense of whimsy in navigating the world. I am unsure how to write my stories of him now, conscious of his need for privacy. Yet how I experience him is my story as well, and I hope not to lose more of the gentle leaves of experience amidst the layers before the next winter comes… All this in a stagnant airport, with nothing better to do but tumble and stretch in the leaves of my retrospections.

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A Different Realm (Written in Layers)

Posted on March 4, 2014 - Filed Under self reflect

I have had some huge transitions in the last 6 months, transitions filled with mobius shifting on so many levels that I have felt as if I have been holding my breath before the fall on a roller coaster ride. The acquisition of a new home, and the blessings around it, a kid off to college, a new car, and the rise and fall of different relationships evolving and enlightening me to myself… all in a different realm of my internal dialogue. Navigating all of it has required me to seek some clarity about who I am, what I need, and where I am going. It has drawn on me to look at my triggers, review my history, and masticate  the fragments of my self that have not always been clear or easy. As the new year approached, I had felt more determined and anxious to get clarity and set boundaries, and found that ignoring that inner voice was to trigger the digestive distress that has become part of my experience the last few years. And, as always, when I do not follow my “gut” it will eat at my insides until I have gotten the message. …(written on January 21st…)

InspirationAnd now February, and still more shifts and a wall. A wall that feels like a burden, a protection, and a facade. I am not sure what to make of it at all, but there is a definite theme rotating like a slide show on the surface. I watch the triggers float by, the protections dance and distract, and I am lounging, like a bored observer watching movies in the park, curious and unemotional. I feel very odd – unemotional – unattached.  WHAT is that? What is THAT? I keep asking myself, what IS it?

If I get quiet enough to listen I am suddenly hit by all my parts in a jumbled cacophony of distraction. Anger, mistrust, anxiety, abandonment, compliance, expectation, expectation of others, managers, “self-ishness,” and this quiet creature in utero who already knew she could never meet the expectations of world outside – left to over-compensate and give up her “self” in order to survive. I see her there, all constrained by that tensile wall – pushing and stretching. Constrained by the roles, the demands, the battle to be seen for who she is, and not for who others want her to be, want to see her as, or demand of her to become. Has she ever had a breath, a single breath in which her core attachments didn’t expect her to compensate for their own insecurities with HER energy?

I don’t know what any of it means. All I know is I keep wondering what is WRONG with me – and I know it is an absurd question. The early morning wake up to a fast sense of vibration that I can hear through the feathers of my pillows.  The midnight wake up and flashes of images that make no sense… The turbulence that is my gut… The question should be, what is that little committee nestled in my reactions, my breath, my feelings – what are they really trying to get me to understand? (…written in February)

And now March turns the corner. I have had a wonderfully stirring weekend among P3 family, I’ve spent time crying and laughing, and crying once again. I have spent time sitting silent in a room of chanting Buddhists, found camaraderie among an IFS (Internal Family Systems) group of learners, taken long sun-filled bike rides, nested deeply beneath the pillows and blankets of my bed, listened to music, painted.  I have grieved and struggled with one “love’s” decisions about her world, and approached my dad with a gentle gratitude for the ways in which I know I am “enough” in his universe (whether it is true or not).

Then today, I arrive, gleaming, to the Nude Nite venue, with artwork tucked lovingly under my arm. I approach, and state my name – hesitating on the “Dufner” that follows my name – feeling out (as I always do) the one inherited piece of my identity that keeps me tied to his universe. Changing it feels more a social/legal hassle, and yet I am reminded of him every time I say it, hear it, write it…

“Oh,” she says, “You are dropping off Gary’s work?”

The anxiety that has had me plugged into a socket for weeks now heaves from my heart like a boulder, and I look at her confused. “No,” I say, “I am here to deliver MY artwork.” My brain and heart are suddenly tangled.

“Ah, are you related?” she asks, a beautiful smile placing a gentle sort of energy on all of it.

We chat a bit about what “all this means” and I share with energy that outlines how much I miss him (“great, so you will get to connect with him here!” she says.)  How worried I feel that he is still so angry with me (“…and I know that is my perception, and I can enjoy this experience without being in that space,” I say.) How different and blessed my life is (“Oh, this is my second time being invited!”)  How eager I am to celebrate his artwork, (“..something I have loved since the day I met him.”)  and how intimidated I feel about his attendance (“… I’ve always loved how dynamic his work is, and I feel so intimidated as I just emerge into art again…”)  She encourages me, lets me know he is happy, how amazing his artwork is, how perfect this all is. “Make sure to dress up!” she tosses into the mix.

I AM FLOODED – I take in her eyes, ask her name again, thank her for her enthusiasm and easiness and hope for healing in this encounter – and I walk my flooded self to my car and drive away (my pass, my tickets, and my flooded little committee).

I cry half the way up on the 90 minute drive to work, trying hard to keep my makeup intact. I cry for the scared I feel. I cry for the friendship I miss. I cry for the “little fish” I feel in the “Big Pond” that has always been his footing in the world of art, music, exposure, training, and creation. I cry for the part of me that hates the disconnect – because there was no other way to get myself back. I cry for the part of me that was left behind with him. I cry for the journey I graciously, GRATEFULLY, take in my life right now – so different from what I had expected – and that gratitude is just as profound as the grief, the scared, the confused, the excited, the strength. I arrive to work and sink into the tasks that keep me steady…

I cry the last 30 minutes back home after work, drinking in how I have “lost” two of the most significant men in my life. I’ve been grieving Justin’s change of “place” as he moves into his own life (Oh, how wonderful that is!! and OH how I miss him). And now I am aware of all the art that has passed between Gary and I… (spending two Sundays shuffling through the salvage of my “memories” after the “flood.” – Good ol’ water heater explosion!) Not only art we created in a playful connection during our friendship, but the art we created for each other over the years… and his knowing me enough that at least I was always “safe” in his heart.  The photos, the children’s books, the messages tucked in little places among my books and music. I feel how sad saying goodbye to that has been, and all the ways in which the residual invades my ability to connect with others NOW. The fear of the weight of other’s needs. The anxiety over other’s expectations for me. The trembling in my core if I have to consider ANYONE more than myself right now. (Eager to bury myself into my nest…)

And some of those “return home” tears were for the flickers of support that I can feel and see in my friendships. The love that others carry for me, collectively so much bigger than I’ve been able to fathom. Encouragement floating along – and hands extended. And I realize, I do have an enormous family that has my back, that loves me as I take these baby step into my art and self-expression… as I move through MY LIFE. People who see me – and in some ways – are offering these shining, healing little pebbles of warmth and support, just by being witness to my growth…

“I think you have someone to hold your hand every night you’re there. We’ve got your back!”

“Thursday!  (I’ll be there) You’re strong and capable!”

“You are amazing Mama.. Stand strong and let your authenticity ooze from you! Love you!!”

“Strength of spirit…that is definitely what I think of when I think of you. Sending good thoughts your way.”

“I will be there Friday night, my love, RIGHT UP YOUR BUTT!! Or, you know, just by your side if that’s what you prefer!”

And, I feel loved… not so alone. I feel I can hold each hand along the way when I need to steady myself, when I need to feel safe, or just to remind me just how loved I am. All these little awarenesses. All those little committee members working so hard to keep me safe, and the ache of growing, learning, and showing myself unabashed! Grateful… Grateful… And there is nothing wrong at all… it is just as it needs to be.


Twisted, Illogical Canvases

Posted on September 10, 2013 - Filed Under art, fear, feelings, healing

I am back to searching… in the midst of a twisted, illogical canvas, filled with color and direction that doesn’t find its place, I feel like I am missing something. I see a word… errand, errant, err… and I jump to my bedroom looking for the list. I pull down journals – days, months, years of words, memories, ideas, feelings, thoughts, stagnant on my shelf. Pieces of my life sitting collecting dust. Somewhere, I feel, as I brush through the pages, is a piece of myself I am missing (missing as in longing for? missing as in lost? missing as in not aware of?)

The memories in word tumble through the canvas of my eyes – glimpses of sunrises and sunsets in my life, the taste of withdrawal, confusion, joy and creativity. I smell him for a moment in those pages, peppered with illustrations of dreams, fears, and hopes. I want to shake all of it, shake it hard until what I am looking for falls to my feet. Longing to pick up something familiar and hold it close.

Instead, the feeling is thick like honey. I feel like I can’t move. My iPhone reminds me, as I note my shift in mood in the last 24 hours, to “expect tears for fears.” This is the notice I set to remind me that all this muck is the normal shift in hormones that leaves me feeling sad, detached, and solitary. A gentle reminder that I am ok, and can stay present despite the wave that comes. This is when I crave my space the most, not having to do for anyone, sitting in a melancholy puddle with a vacant gaze.

I sit again in front of my canvas, Justin’s room slowing shifting into an art studio. Tubes of paint scattered like bodies in a field of green plaid material. Bonobo Radio rhythmically boxing at my ears. The paints are stacked, oozing color onto my palette, calling to me to apply the paint regardless of the direction, regardless of whether I like any of it, and I listen to the call. I don’t care how ugly it is – I destroy the canvas with a rage of colors – wishing they were words I could find somewhere in my body.

Somewhere I feel angry. I want to spew a breath of hatred I feel at him for leaving me before I ever left him, or is that a breath of hatred I feel at me for leaving him before he ever left me? And yet, I don’t want to go back to any of it, so much so that I don’t think I am capable of going back into ANYTHING new either. I am aware of a depth of grief and loss I have spent the last 3 years covering up. Anyone I let into my intimate space feels foreign and I am confused.  I don’t want my heart to ache for nights, or the pain of walking away from someone I love, or the distress of conflict, or the walls of disagreement, or the fear of the unknown.
Do I have to learn this all again?
Why am I so scared?
What is real?
I am so tired of words … I just want something familiar and safe, a space warm and easy. But relationship doesn’t feel warm and easy. It does for small moments, when my eyes are closed and I am held close, and my skin is stroked, and I hear careful tender words… and then I wake up and my head is spinning, and that little voice is saying, “am I supposed to let you in?”

It might hurt, again.
I thought I knew that. I thought I decided that was OK, what else is “living” for?
But today I am shaking, uncertain, wavering in the breeze of possibilities.
Damn hormones. Damn that part of me that has her heals dragging in the sand as the rest of her heart says, “yes, please, come along…”

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On Strike

Posted on February 17, 2013 - Filed Under 2013, daily life, frustration, Photography, work

It’s late, and I just got home from dancing at Zendah and started down the rabbit hole or reading the creative efforts of others online, wondering, LUSHIOUSLY, about the creaking creative tickle I have had the last two weeks. My camera has moved from her dusty spot on the floor near her camera bag, into the back seat of my car. She sits like a neglected puppy, smiling at me when I happen to glance back at the floor. She is begging me to pick her up and do something. Instead, I have grabbed my paint, or my dance shoes, and plotted a course of doing some-other-things. But, I am aware of her back there, waiting.

I have gone on a psychological strike, feeling tremendous resistance to giving, giving, giving – except where it isn’t asked for. At work, on Friday, I announced my position.

“I’m on strike!”
“What, really? (eyes wide, but skeptical) So can you ******* for me?”
“Nope, I’m sorry… strike.” (I smirk)
(Forlorn face – a pat on my shoulder) “I hope you change your mind on Monday.”
“I’ll think about it…”


I even left work 15 WHOLE minutes before my NORMAL overtime.

And let me just say, whether I like it or not, I put in an additional week each month in drive time alone… I answer calls, check email, discuss school issues on the drive, but NONE of that counts for the 9 hour work day (nine hours, because I am supposed to take a lunch, but secretly keep eating at my desk while I work, hoping that I can count 1 hour of drive time and leave an hour earlier.) So, 9 hours a week, plus 2 hours a day of driving, equals NO TIME to get things done during regular business hours…

And tomorrow is Presidents day. All my friends are talking up plans about what to do on their day off. I stare at my calendar – and work is written all over it. F**K! I am going on strike tomorrow! Except, someone has to feed Napoleon (the fish). He has been in the dark all weekend, and probably feeling quite starved. Maybe I will make him a picket sign and the two of us will announce our strike. Write a letter of demands. Ask people to honk if they support overworked single mom’s who give too much.

I think Napoleon would agree. He figures he might get more than blood-worms if I had a little more oomph in my paycheck for the teenagers impending college adventure. He might be right. We are making our signs tomorrow!

“Hold, Please”

Posted on January 22, 2013 - Filed Under self reflect

I am not sure where to start… that has been what has been causing me pause lately, this visceral holding ground, elevator music, the breath underwater just before the exhale, the standing in a busy room amidst the noise and not knowing which direction to head or what conversation to engage in. It isn’t a complaint, more an observation, that I am sitting a bit uninspired, uncertain, and waiting. I am not sure what I want, or where to go, or how to pursue, but I am gaining clarity on what I don’t want, and some ideas about the options that are growing.

2012 has been a year full of unexpected changes, a constantly moving ball of anxiety grabbing and tossing parts of me as it snakes in and out of days. Not a day I am not grateful for, and yet lots of days I felt uncertain and charged about work, relationships, and general finances. I was pleased with the turn over to 2013, hopeful that with my frail handle on superstition,  I might break free of the consuming complacency I feel. Hopeful I can break away from the wait for my subway while John Lennon sings “Imagine” as I pause on hold.

I’ve neglected my camera. I have held on in a space where I exist on the perimeter, pained by the lack of passion, yet holding. I smile at the friendly advances of friendship, unsure I can add one more thing to the banging, hair-wrenching anxiety that creeps in when I am most tired. I drive, and run my brain, and work, and sometimes meander a dance… still on hold. I stare at a half-finished canvas for 3 months, on hold. UGH, I sometimes drive myself nuts in the holding patterns I get into, wondering what keeps me here?

What keeps me here? Comfort? Predictability? Familiarity? Avoidance? Fear of the unknown? Fear of being unlovable? (yes, yes, yes… and there it chimes, “imagine all the people…”) I wander in and out of conversations with myself, trying to make sense of my experiences, trying to assign meaning so that somehow it feels comfortable, or better yet, predictable. If I know what it all means, if I know what to expect, I can better control my comfort level. Yet 2012 (and especially my job) has done nothing but toss change and force adjustments on me. On the opposite side, my “intimate” relationships (or efforts to have them) have instead been emotionally monotone, with a lack of vibrancy and color that has left me feeling sadly discouraged. I climb into my warm cocoon of a bed – alone, quiet, and wishing for a conversation that gets me out of my head and into my heart. Wishing for a hand on my face, and a tangled connected gaze that assures me I am seen. Wishing for guidance instead of an open window for my ranting complaints about the bully in the office, or the appreciation complex I seem to have as I work like a horse to no end.

I need SOMETHING to help me reframe my thinking patterns – something to take me out of a holding pattern and finish a piece of art, or write in my blog, or make passionate “love” in the world, or laugh till I cry, or cry until I have lost my voice and can only laugh.

And so I get a cold, and do NOTHING for two days. And on day three, like a GOD inspired to do something, there is a small light that tells me to finish my painting, just start there… and I do.  A little voice says, “Stop what isn’t working” and I try that on for size.  I wheeze, and cough, and paint, and sing a break-up song, and listen to music, and cough again… and finally there is something there of expression. It is full of color and movement. It makes no sense and makes perfect sense. For a brief moment, I am taken off hold and hear, “Thanks for waiting…” For a moment I see myself, and I feel relief for letting her out instead of smothering her in the complacency. I wonder if I can write, and I do. I smile, tenderly, and shake myself off, and hope that I will rage a bit against losing her again. I am, for a moment, hopeful that I will find a laugh that makes me cry, or that I will have opportunity to make passionate love in the world again. I know, as I stare at my creation, regardless of how much or little I like it, or how complete or incomplete it feels, that everything in my world is an evolution of my being, a part of the journey. I see that nothing is static, everything changes, and as scary as that seems, that is one certainty I can hold on to.

Always Change, 2013Always_Change

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The Embrace

Posted on October 28, 2012 - Filed Under fear, feelings, self reflect

I have been sitting on my writing for weeks, recording clips of thoughts on the long drives to Spring Hill, and ruminating on a concept or two. I am stuck in another cycle of avoidance, whose contagion has spread to my photography.  “Things” have been feeling profoundly more difficult, regardless of their form. Stressors have exacerbated what should be easy. So I sit in my bedroom, after a movie by myself, and finally put down the unending, mindless solitaire game I play when I am bored with [avoidant of] my internal chatter, to listen a moment. I listen, although I don’t feel very brave about it, feeling skeptical about its possibilities here. Feeling timid, knowing the level of sensitivity I have been having – at work – in life – and the aching uncertainty as I stare day-to-day into the eyes of my existence. There is something missing and I can’t quite grasp it, seemingly out of my reach, yet I smell it, I feel it brushing against me when I am wandering through my day. I hear it, and I am grazed by melancholy for being in this space again, saying “I don’t know” when my core KNOWS, and the rest of me fills the spaces with mindless solitaire.

I remarked one night, in a text message, that sometimes I feel insignificant. The remark was a splinter from a much deeper thorn of sentiments I have carried… a bottomless pit of a feeling that no amount of proving myself seems to fill. No matter how good I am at trying to meet others needs, no matter how carefully I listen, how deeply touched I am by life, or how much I cry, the desire to matter in this world is not met by any amount of logic or self soothing. It isn’t satisfied by a parade of words by those who love me, whispering their regard for me, or the growing list of achievements. I judge myself for being “needy,” for wanting to have the kind of contact in the world that at least pats me on the head and says, “I see you.” I rationalize with and reprimand the little girl in me that wants to be seen, and beyond everything I know intellectually, I understand the cruelty this imposes on me… and yet, she still dances in circles hoping somehow to be touched in a way that says, “I see you, Evelyn, I do.” I recognize her in so many people I encounter that I charge breathlessly to soothe them, thinking this will fix my needy and tired insignificance.

Then, last week, a friend of mine returned to town, and I found him on the dance floor, prancing and playing as he always does. I tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention and was met with an embrace.  I am hugged all the time, however there is something distinctly different about an embrace, with its enveloping sort of energy that cups my being in a delighted, present sort of way. His embrace blanketed that needy insignificance for a long quiet moment, completely present, slow, genuine, unconditional, soothing.  It triggers in me a desire to fall to pieces until all those pieces are done scattering themselves about. I realized that whatever that connection is, whatever that present enveloping energy is, I feel for a moment my significance. I seem to come fully into my being, and feel seen. He does not know me well, but I appreciate those embraces, and all the embraces I get from my soul-siblings who know me enough to say “I love you” with an embrace that isn’t rushed or timid or uncertain. An embrace that allows me to feel their breath, feel the movement of their being, hear their hearts reminding me just how fragile we humans all are, and I am not alone.

I am uncertain about where I am with so many parts of my life right now. I like the certainty and routine of work each day. I like moments of sunshine on my face, or heavy blankets over my tired body. I like the invitations to come play when work is done, and the option to dance with friends in a tangled blur of hands and feet. I like the cooler weather that leaves me nesting, watching the shadows of leaves against the curtains when the wind blows. I like the little greetings I get through the day, and cup of warm tea. And, sometimes I am good at embracing myself, and sometimes I fall short, awash in anxiety that lately feels unmanageable, scary, and exhausting. Either way, I know that there are embraces out there that will hold me for just a moment, and I try to carry them with me, pieces of them, in my being.  … A small article about the healing of hugs…

But He Was Stubborn…

Posted on August 1, 2012 - Filed Under 2012, mind, self reflect

“…but he was stubborn and refused to be thrown by anything I lobbed at him.” (Jenny Lawson, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)) … And suddenly I realize I connect so well to this thought because I am doing the same thing.  I test the waters of a potential relationship with briefly acrimonious or even benign stories of my experiences, and then gaze at him and ask, “have I scared you off yet?”

I am curious about this behavior in me. What kinds of waters am I really testing? And what could I possibly come up with what would make me undesirable? Why would I even think such a thing about myself… And as that question floats around my tired monkey mind (as i sit exhausted already on the second leg of three flights, of which two were NOT what I booked, on my way to California) I hear the little chants of my early belief systems suggesting that I haven’t gotten much of what I thought I needed because there is something fatally wrong with who I am. And how, or why, would I even cater to such a thought? …. Because I am scared.  Because what if this doesn’t work, what if I give myself up, what if I find myself paralyzed again, what if I don’t see the “signs”??? What if we stop communicating, what if it gets too comfortable and I am back to nights of television and exhaustion? What purpose do I serve for him? What if I have another broken heart, or have given away the last fragments of my youth and die alone?  What if  I fall in love with co-sub-step-parenting and he walks away with her. What if Justin doesn’t like him, what if he doesn’t like Justin? How the hell is this going to work? And as my sweet bear of a friend, Josh, would remind, “Hey, great job “what if-ing” it to death before it even really gets started!”

I suffer from a profound need to know what is going on in my world as vividly and predictably as possible, because in that way I am (inaccurately) safe. And damn, if the world isn’t set up so that I can’t control the idiosyncrasies of the rest of the humans in it. So, once again I am faced with the challenge… Leap, or hold back. Whatever the circumstance I usually don’t feel like my monkeys are any more sane when change is underfoot. And to challenge me further, I hate to hold back and yet stand at that ledge, counting “1…2…3… Ju…., okay, one more time, you can do this, 1… 2…” looking down at the perilous possibilities of worst case, survival stimulated, possibilities (meanwhile, there are probably luscious snowflakes, and breathless loving exchanges, and Captain’s Butterscotch ice cream, and winged fairies, and rainbow burping purple unicorns in that amalgamated concoction I perceive as perilous.) and when have I ever really known what life would bring? And have I regretted any of it yet? The answer is “no.”

What I find interesting is that I make the request of the universe and here it tosses me, during an unexpected tropical storm (I don’t have TV) this gentle, warm, goofy, well matched guy… And I keep fluctuating with so much apprehension, and he just keeps holding my hand. That I would hang on, tenaciously, to my apprehension when I feel so at ease around him. That I tell myself to run, run like hell, and instead I show back up on his doorstep, to the gentle trill of a soft melodious “hi-eee” and kisses, and then walk right in as if I had been doing this for years. That I would show up, on a second date in jammies, hair frazzled, not a spot of makeup, to curl up on his couch and eat bowls of cereal, and laugh and rub feet… how unconventional! That his steady, quiet, a little vigilant, yet open and attentive personality would warm me so much that I keep asking, “but… but, what’s ‘Wrong’ with you?” which should be a question to me… What is wrong with me?

The answer, “Nothing that isn’t anything more or less than any other human be-ing out there.” I like myself… when I am alone. I am not sure about myself in the wake of someone (potential partner – relationship) else’s presence. No, to be more specific, I am not sure about myself under the  gaze of someone who I don’t know the depth of yet, and who is making decisions about me that I CAN’T SEE! (and the monkeys start shedding at the very thought.) Better yet, I like the way I feel – he doesn’t make faces at me like a curious bystander when I hike up my skirt and start dancing in puddles on the beach with his 3-year-old under the moonlight. Or maybe he IS a curious bystander – until I slink over to a steal a kiss – then carry on with my business. Maybe I am good entertainment. Ultimately, what I am trying to persuade my monkeys to see is that it doesn’t matter HOW many times I re-arrange the cage furniture, a fresh batch of flowers and a new scent is not toxic, and how else are we all going to learn to get along in here if I don’t add something new to explore and chatter about? And NO, I don’t need television – it only makes my monkey mind more agitated watching stories and getting ideas about what life SHOULD look like, or what a train-wreck society currently is. It adds to my what-ifs.

So I guess I will keep lobbing myself at him in different ways, and hopefully I can still rest my head in his hands every now-and-again. And secretly, because I think I can read minds, he may be going through a little of this himself (if he was asking what’s wrong with her, I think he would be “running like hell” at this point.) I will take all my polka-dotted learning experiences (seeing that nothing has been a failure in my life – EVEN a divorce) and tuck them under my arm, and stand at that edge, counting “1…2…3… Ju…., okay, one more time, you can do this, 1… 2…”

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