Friday, May 22, 2015

Today's "Conscious Challenge" was crazy appropriate (5/23/15)

"Watch how you judge yourself Notice the ways you judge yourself. Where did you get those judgments? Who or what decides that you are worthy or not? Observe how judging yourself affects your behavior, your relationships and your life."

It was a hard day.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

"A life lived in chaos is an impossibility . . ."

". . . for the artist."

Madeleine L'Engle wrote, "A life lived in chaos is an impossibility for the artist." Tonight I was flipping through the many tabbed and dog-eared pages of Walking on Water and enjoying notes written in it over the past 10 or so years, when I happened to open to a page lacking in any of those markings yet there at the top was this quote. How strange to find it!

Strange because I have it written somewhere and every time I see it I find it upsetting. That is until tonight. Oh, the beauty of context and time! Stumbling across it I now see how it makes sense and holds true (I also found that I had left out "for the artist" which is quite key to the purpose of the quote). All the years that I have read it I never wanted it to be true. I have lived in a state of chaos for so long. Clung to the notion that life is a sort of controlled chaos and that since chaos, or at best controlled chaos, is all I know so this cannot be true. For me it is more than a state of being, it is what I am. It is me.

Controlled chaos is how my high school art teacher described me. During the critique of our final projects, self-portraits, she looked at mine and said that it did very much describe me. That in concept this fractured picture (a painting on the top page cut open in the middle to reveal a layered and messy self on the inside page), and my identity are like a Van Gogh, expressing a controlled chaos. So this quote from my beloved Madeleine L'Engle has always been vexing. If it was true then what I thought was one thing is very much not, the entire concept ultimately misunderstood. And much, much worse, it felt like that means that the fractured girl I presented in my senior year of high school was describing a brokenness that not was not a place to live, yet I still identify with it in my adult-self. And that all of that means that Patty Post's words that were so magical, have turned sad and I am more stunted than before. (That's a lot of power to give to 8 words!)

Though perhaps I have been wrong. Perhaps it is both a trap and a construct. A prison that I have built for myself. A fairy-tale'd existence in a child's mind that is more Rapunzel's isolating and door-less tower, than the fantastic world I find in Van Gogh's skies or the cobblestoned street of Cafe Terrace at Night. This type of existence is glued together by a belief that within the crazy there is a calm. But there isn't. In the calm there is a calm and in the crazy--in the chaos--there is a beauty of a million moments strung together as twinkle lights and swirling life, but those moments are pieces to the whole. They are not the whole and not all of our moments should live there.

I flee from the calm for it scares me. Yet I long for it. I must find my way to it. Summon the courage to choose CALM over CHAOS. Even though it is nearly always in motion and there is an ugliness growing as more and more I slip between an uncomfortable edginess with an increasingly upsetting land of exhaustion and disarray, and the cold damp bottom of the well (another story). The ugliness is still what I know and there is a safe-ness in that. However it is becoming much more work to live within it, not the good work. The kind where I am always treading water and losing the hopefulness that I need and that belongs inside me.

I have been to the calm and I love it there. But it takes a very different sort of work to get and stay. This includes discipline and focus. For me it has to start with the courage to truly move out of the crashing and consuming storm and into the present moment. Tonight I have started to believe that in the calm I may find the energy to create. Through the years and amid the madness that I thought once drove the artist in me, stifles her. I have all but stopped creating. Is it possible that walking out of the storm and into the stillness, will lead me to the home I yearn for?

I have glimpsed something in the calm, and I am starting the believe that it may be where I can again connect more clearly with my faith, and maybe even find the belief in a future (at all) that I have lost. Maybe I can walk my path in chronos time, yet dwell in kairos experiencing truth and beauty. Believing for myself the joy and hope I believe for others. I think I would like it there.

Friday, April 10, 2015


I wake up in pain.

I go through the day and find these gorgeous moments surrounded by dysfunctional, mildly paranoid chunks of time. 

Then I leave feeling surprisingly okay. Until I melt. Crying and fragile.

The night washes away until finally I'm so tired that I cant even get myself to go to bed.

I love and I dread. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Sometimes I wish I were that part of myself, that other self who never really was. The one who is 22 and sitting on my front porch listening to the waves of cars. Sitting there I'm agitated for probably plenty or no reasons at all. Smoking cigarettes and crushing them out into the cold cement steps until all the shining orange embers disappear. Save for one, because there is always at least one that remains.

I never actually smoked, hate the smell and taste, but I want for that feel of the cool summer's breeze opposite a stick of burning paper and poison placed between my lips. Not romantically like a 1960s French film--not living my life by the direction of Godard. Not with an air of beautiful crazy. No. Just the gritty, real. Just a bare bones girl in a messed up world existing in close proximity to other messed up people.

Now in my grown up life where I work my 12 hour days in a job that does not lack in meaning rather in a realistic amount of work for one to do. In that "grown up" office I have a framed quote about how there are no perfect people but essentially only deeply flawed ones who are still worth loving.

Back on my pre-grown up front porch with rushing traffic on the 5, I spend my nights working in a bookstore, my days (in the somewhat fictionalized self) playing guitar. I'm happy in a bitter, surreal sort of way. I'm the haunting echo of Moon River in the night. Just a little too broken.

And like the real me, she (me/we) took and take life for granted. Too many meaningless relationships simply to avoid the real ones. Too much philosophy and poetry and abstract art. Too in love to love and illogical to make sensible choices. But she felt. The me who never smoked or had that porch, within that version there's the girl with the reds and the shattering and all the feelings a raging river could ever hold. She felt big. She felt broken and out of place. But she felt. She was the Skin Horse.

But now I wonder, was sensible best or better?
Would it matter? Now or then?

Here I sit on this small ledge in my bathroom, feet propped up on the sink, and I see her there. Behind wrinkling skin and tired eyes, the bittersweet girl with an always broken heart, painting, writing, thinking, laughing and crying. And though afraid, she was always a little bit fearless.

There on that porch or in the small one room apartment with the borax lined walls, she was dreaming of a world she would never find. Not often appreciating what she had. But sometimes. Sometimes she did as she lived in her spectcular moments.

Work has sucked in many ways, save for lovely moments. But I'm behind. Bullying has started, calls need to be made, everyone needs something now and everything is a top priority. The list goes on, and I'm so I overwhelmed that I want to scream or throw things.

Then I come home after 12 hours to resume my work here and I talk to my mom, which I never get to enough. And only then do I  remember real life.

Sure what I do is "important" and is way more responsibility than I want to carry. But that work, that is not all there is in my life, or in the other lives in my small corner of the world, and so very far beyond.

I forget the "now". In the way that we can forget there is a now, time limited, present and finite. Always thinking memories are just happening, but when I am not really living, then I have a sort of snapchat life, it exists momentarily and then it fades. I forget. I forget what I didn't know was even there to remember.

And I fear the truth, fear the reality of our finite humanity. I fear and I cower. And so I work.

I find myself thinking of the ever so wise (and allegedly final) words of  Simon Bolivar: Damn it! How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?

Where, or what, ever your labyrinth may be, I think we either need to embrace it as our portion and our lot, or find a way out and maybe just keep going.

They say, "it's hard to leave--until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world."

I don't know. I have been a runner (metaphorically) all my life. But as far as I have run, I have wanted to run home for so long, and it is the hardest goddamned thing to do.

Perhaps I got lost in these words. Perhaps I will close my eyes and become my black and white self. Maybe play some imaginary records, and maybe feel so fearless, and so big that when I wake up in the morning that 22 year old will just take over. But without the cigarettes.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Confused / Heart Broken (November, 2012)

Today I am sad and angry. I hate God. I am so angry at Him. I don't care if it is rational. I don't care if some people think it's blaspheme. Because the strongest hate means that I am clinging more to Him. He is bigger than my greatest hate & like any good parent or care taker He can wait with me, in this space in between my brokenness and Him. God can let me yell or blame or cry. Let me feel so much anger and target it at Him.

I am mad at doctors and even the conceptual bigger version of the world. My father-in-law, an amazing, kind, pretty young, and healthy man, passed away this morning. I love him so much. I can't believe this. I cannot. And I cannot believe the pain that Kyle and everyone else who has been lucky enough to know him for so many years, can possibly feel. The impact from his graciousness and being such a role model of patience and peace to me, has changed parts of my heart. And that is just over a few years.
 To help me process I have to think of what I and don't know or believe.

So. I know these things:

I know life isn't fair.

I know God didn't cause this.
I know God isn't at fault.
I know that bad things happen to even the most wonderful people
I know that God & the Universe are bigger than a mortal can grasp when seeking reason
I know the 4 themes of existentialism, but not what they mean to me today
I know the 4 agreements by Ruiz, but do not know how to use them now
I know that our hearts are both fragile & strong, but broken

I don't ...

I don't believe this is part of God's plan.
I don't really believe He has a plan because I believe in free will.
I don't believe that God looked down at us today & said, "That one. That good & loving man. I'll pluck him out & take him here to me."
I don't believe that he's (my father-in-law) watching over us right now. Or I don't know about it.
I don't believe things always work out for the best.

I do ...
I do believe in love
I do believe in grace
I do believe in freedom  - of emotions, of choice, of forgiveness, of self
I do believe in healing - though not completely because I think some shards will always remain
I do believe in support
I do believe in the power of baking
I do believe in commitment
I do believe in grieving together

I mentioned a bit of this above but I am mad at the bible too.

I think the letter to the Exiles in Jeremiah 29:11-14 isn't about having some concrete plan, or about things always working out for the best. I do not want to hear that this is part of God's plan or that my father-in-law is in a better place. This was where he was supposed to be still - HERE on earth.

Grief is blinding. Grief is wounding. Grief pulls you into yourself and out of the real world. Grief embraces darkness. Grief strikes out against all joy and hope.

And that is what I feel, the strangling arms of grief constricting me - my heart, my body, my hope.

The counselor in me says that grief can be processed. That I should trust the process. That Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross was right. That THIS is part of the process. This crying & denial & anger. But words of comfort will fall on deaf ears for many days - especially today. And yet I am sure they will come from my lips too. Because we want to love on each other. We want to support. And it is hard to do.

Grief is not meant to be tolerated alone. Otherwise the strength that can be saved from it will be overshadowed by the darkness inside it. Tonight I will try, so desperately, to wear the mask of a strong & supportive wife, family member & friend. I will awaken the ability to be calm in crisis. To be the person who though part of the family, I can try to be outside enough to recognize the needs of others. That I can come in and act on things. Help, hug, DO.

Because that is the role I am best at. That is who I want to be. Until I am alone, then I can return to being broken. Of course I won't pretend to be okay, or as if this has not affected me to my bones, but I will try to summon the strength. I will use my favorite quotes to propel me forward, to be stilts raising me up & keeping me above the rising pools of sorrow. The words like, "Keep calm & Carry on", and "Life is not what it's supposed to be. It's what it is. How you cope with it is what makes a difference" and Frankl, Barrie, Salinger, Austen and Green. Words to carry me through & help me HELP them.

Okay, about that verse.
Jeremiah 29:11 'For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[b] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

I have many a sentiment on this. But I also have other things to do.

If you read this, thank you. Writing it was really helpful. That and lorazepam.

I love you my friends and family. My life is blessed by having you in it. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Things I Forgot This Morning . . .

Lately I have a hard time remembering things. The sort of things you should not forget. And it happened again this morning . . .

Now today it is more understandable that I should forget because at 7:30 I was coming back from an hour at the gym and had not (still have not at 9:09am) gone to sleep yet. Nonetheless this is an odd and recurring problem. I . . .

I keep forgetting what season it is. Like what month we are in. I think it is fall, but then realize no, that's not it. Sometimes I will think it's winter. Also no. Spring? No. Oooohhhhh. Summer. It is June. Right. June.

How do you disconnect from what month it is?! I blame unemployment.

Sadly when I realized that I have forgotten this I thought about the fact that I had forgotten a lot of things lately, but now I cannot remember what they were.

I think I need to get some sleep . . .

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Top 8 Benefits of Depression: See! There's (almost) Always A Bright Side

Once the pathetic self-pity began to lift (okay, as it is beginning to lift) I have tried to gain some (not really) perspective & find the, er, close-to bright side of it all. That is to say that I have found some of the the perks of being pathetic & depressed.

My Top 8 Are Below (not in any particular order):

1. You get to see more sunrises. (on account of the insomnia)

2. You get a little high school summer-time flashback by sleeping until 11 or 12! (on account of the awake 'til sunrise 5 nights in a row)

3. Weight loss! I have lost at least 4 pounds in less than a week. Even if when I do eat it is primarily crap (sans Kyle making me eat real dinners most nights), I hardly eat at all - so that is a TOTAL plus. (granted I am just storing fat & losing muscle, but I have SO little muscle to lose that it has to be some of the chubbiness falling off -- so says my jeans at least)

4. You catch up on your "stories" - even if they are complete seasons of shows that you have watched over & over, it's okay! Now you can pick up on ALL the nuances you missed the first (second, or third) time(s) around!

5. You really catch up on facebook. Because there is not really enough of that in the average day, this way you can seem like the crazy status post-er that you always aspired to be.

6. (and this one is important) You renew your love for music from your youth, like listening to The Cure, Depeche Mode, & Morrisey.

7. You have more time to devote to your obsession with Nathan Fillion (or insert the name of your favorite actor).

8. You improve the healthiness of your skin & hair because you stop putting on make-up or styling your hair with product, blow drying & a straightener. (who needs that stuff when depressed? No one. It is really oxy moronic to be truly pathetic & depressed AND look nice. I guess if you're leaving the house you can smack on some lipstick, but really isn't nearly 20 years of making an effort to prettify before leaving the house enough?)

There are probably more, but all this cheeriness is really exhausting. I should save something to do at 3am.


**Like the Phoenix I'll rise again! Wait, I don't want to do that. The damn bird has to burn to death first! Although he has the whole rebirth, renewal, immortality thing going, so that's cool.**

About Me

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Portland, OR, United States
I am a daughter, sister, friend, wife, counselor and colleague. I am a work in progress. There may be some pieces out of place and things might be messy, but it's okay. I would rather accept that I am still unfinished than think that this is it. You can find my comments on faith and spirituality on my blog: And my comments and anecdotes on life at:

Books That Matter. Well, some of the many that matter.

  • Magical Shrinking: Stumbling Through Bipolar Disorder, Chris Wells
  • Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • An Abudance of Katherines, John Green
  • Dave Pelzer
  • Franny & Zooey, J.D. Salinger
  • I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Sloane Crosley
  • The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris
  • The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are, Daniel J. Siegel