Saturday, August 31, 2013

Panic and Pauses (Road trip day 4)

I love the pauses, the breaks in busyness. Breathing happens there, allowance happens there. I've been listening to The Lord of the Rings on audio book during my trip and I find I have to pause it occasionally or allow my mind to drift and wander back. Tolkien was not a concise writer; the “and then” style of story telling can be long and exhausting as the reader or listener begins to count how many times “it seemed to be” and “as if the” and “felt as though” are used in a chapter.

When I was a kid I would read two chapters of that trilogy per night. I look back on that now and offer my younger self an impressed, congratulatory slap on the back. Over time I get used to the language and overabundance of words and description, but the initiation back in can be painful.

My point is, pauses are important if the norm is excessive flow. The reverse is also true. The mindless mental vomit of a “stream of consciousness” style of writing feels amazing, very much like puking when I have a migraine (sorry for the image, but the comparison is accurate). Pressure and tension are suddenly released, and a jumble of mental jargon escapes. After that release though, is another pause.

Friday was tough. I woke late. At first I enjoyed the laziness offered to me. No specific plans, a unique hotel suite (with not one, not two, but three beds), painting supplies perched on a side table, and a damned crick in my neck. You know the kind. “Oh, you want to look over your shoulder? Well, I think I'm going to make that movement as restrictive and painful as possible. When will I back off? Psh, like I'd give you that information. No, no, carry on through your day. I'll be here.”

I found myself in dark emotional spaces. Eventually I painted a bit. I ordered Thai curry from the restaurant on the corner. I tried yoga to release a body loudly complaining about long hours spent in a car. Then menstrual cramping kicked in while the road noise outside inscreased as the evening hours drew closer.

I could not describe what I felt in simple terms. My skin was crawling, I was panicking, I started to cry. Planning anything for the following day/days seemed pointless; I didn't even know what I wanted to do. I didn't want to be where I was, but didn't want to run anywhere. I didn't want company but I didn't want to be alone.

The couple people I texted that night, bless their hearts, wanted to offer support and help me figure out what was going on. I felt irritated; I didn't want to analyze or figure anything out. I don't think I could have. Eventually, after peeing of all things, I walked back into the bedroom and remembered that I didn't have to hold this anxiety so tightly. I could relax into it and open up the space. I didn't have to focus intently on it, staring through cages, but I could permit whatever It was to sit next to me on the bed. Allowance happens in pauses. I don't have to like you, I don't have to hold your hand. But you can sit with me.

Time and sleep claimed my eyes and night breezes blew gently into my hair. As far as pauses go, sleep is truly a blessed one.

I expect I will gently peel back my trip's significance over time. The harsh shift between spacious wilderness and crowded suburban/urban towns seized my body and spirit just as harshly. This is the importance of experience: we understand, first hand, what our needs are based upon evidence and comparison. I'm not yet certain of the deeper implications... I yearn for solitude, quiet, and direct connection with earth and trees unlike any passing fancy. I also find great ease and creativity in all these things, which surprises me. In the past I've clung to companionship and lost my center to insecurity in relationships. Now I enjoy my own space and do not painfully miss my loved ones or general company of people... yet I still greatly look forward to coming “home.” To miss something or someone and still be content with where I am in the moment... that blows my mind.  

Friday, August 30, 2013

Redwoods and Spiderwebs (Road trip day 3)

Pinkest of Pink in downtown Eureka
My morning on Thursday, August 29th, began with bagels. My friend walked me to a local cafe called Los Bagels. Garlic bagel topped with cream cheese, cucumber, sweet mustard and poppy seed/sesame seed mix? Uh, sure, I'll have one of those.

Reconnecting with my friend, even for such a short time, let the flow of my trip change. Old town/downtown Eureka has a humble quality to it I quietly slipped into. The ensembles of t-shirts, skirts and sandals. The fat woman with a mustache wearing black clothes as one hand clasped the leash ensnaring her accessory dog. Clean shaven men with crisp blue button-down shirts. Toddlers with sunglasses that seem to swallow their faces as they giggled and ran around in that trotting, bouncing sort of way. Just that collection of oddities and normalities that when poured together taste like something sweet. Where an organic tomato isn't a hipster thing, it's just another item on the menu.

I left Eureka with a full tank of gas in at least three ways.

Driving is a special place I can think freely in. Maybe I just have the practice; all those miles I commuted to and from school were training hours so I could tackle the harder stuff later on. Driving offers a different kind of perspective than walking or sitting still. I can still be in my body but I move through time and space in curious ways. I more easily see the ways in which roads and lives weave together, how small the world and our experiences are in the scheme of things. What matters in life, what I'm feeling or not feeling, blah blah blah. You get the picture.

Avenue of the Giants
The mulling spiraled as I approached the Avenue of the Giants (the drive-through scenic tour of the Humboldt Redwood State Park). Then it all kind of... imploded. I drove through canopies of impossibly tall trees that were old friends not seen for many years. I drove. I rolled down my windows. I stopped to walk and weave between fallen trunks, ferns, towering redwoods, and spiderwebs. I took pictures. I spotted more and more intricate webs and curiously patterned eight legged creatures that I desperately wanted pictures of but couldn't access without disrupting some other intricate, improvised home.

I kept trying to figure out what I felt. I couldn't identify any tangible emotion. Not awe, not sadness. I didn't miss those closest to me, I didn't ache for human touch or company, I wasn't panicking or reclusive or social. “Am I numb?” I thought. Why after all these weeks of deeply churning emotions, of aliveness, do I suddenly feel nothing? Then I realized.
Spider's web

I felt grounded. I felt home. I felt like I do in moments with a soul love, being in total fullness and at ease in myself.

There is one phrase a soul sister of mine uttered not long ago that haunts my heart in a kind, precious way. “I'm learning how to be alone.” Not lonely. Alone. Not to reject the company of others or to abandon intimacy. Rather, developing intimacy in all spaces. With lovers, with friends, and with myself.

For the first time in what feels like a very long time I felt okay being alone with myself. No music, no distractions. Just fullness and trees. How odd to be so at home in a wilderness. I find that concept to be a funny one, the wilderness. So often in mythologies and stories this space, forest, desert, or some other landscape, is a trial. A stretch of land or time that someone is meant to endure long enough until they reach the “other side.” Within the wilderness much is learned, so that the hero, or whoever, might someday be free of the lost wandering.

But doesn't that miss the point? I am always and forever will be in the midst of the wilderness. Many trees fall, others spread their roots wider to connect with other trees. Spiders weave webs torn by careless tourists, wind, twigs, or other creatures. They rebuild. Within their own space, rarely to trees concern themselves with what should or shouldn't be. A tree never forgets; the harsh years, the bountiful years, each one is etched into their bodies. The gouges, the lost limbs. If a tree survives all of this, even the harshest times are not “let go of.”

Humboldt Redwoods
Sometimes I think now of how many times I've heard and said a phrase like “Let go of what no longer serves you” or “Let go of the past that no longer defines you” and I feel like laughing.

Let go? Let go of what? Something that makes myself ME?

A tree incorporates and grows. Includes and expands. There is a difference between holding onto something, letting it stunt our growth, and allowing something to be taken in as a PART of growth. The scars and reminders will probably always be there. But my soul doesn't have to diminish for it. My soul can be bigger and more whole because of it. Even when I feel most broken. The spaces between those cracks fill in with something stronger and more vibrant should I choose to accept the cracks and pieces as a part of who I am. Those cracks are no less deserving of my compassion. Do I have to like them? No. I can't figure out any way to like self-hatred or shame. But there is still room.

I kept having to pull over to let other cars pass me because I didn't feel like rushing through the highway. Instead of trying to figure out what emotion I was feeling I tried to describe the sensations in my body. My chest felt like a pool of a deep, deep indigo interrupted by slender threads of white lightening strikes. Vertical lines, bearing down again and again, like the breaks of sunlight between thick, dark tree trunks.

One person's stormy sky is another person's sunlight. But it's all the same, really.

In time I arrived in Petaluma. I checked into the hotel and loved its quirkiness so much that I quickly asked if I might extend my stay another day. Now, as the main boulevard stretching underneath my window stills, the street itself listens to the crickets hidden amidst the weeds, gardens, and hidden corners. I'm alone. Blissfully, comfortably alone and I feel neither guilty or selfish for it. I think I am certainly alright for craving my own space along with quiet, or sometimes loud, moments with a lover, or friend, or friends. I crave simplicity in most forms so I might get lost in the echoing silence that pounds in my ears, or the gentle rush of finger pads skimming along a cheekbone and jaw. There is both deep sorrow and great joy in my lungs; if I may release this to the world, my heart would surely rejoice.  

Wind and Tight Spaces (road trip day 2)

Yesterday is proving hard to write about.

I can easily access and communicate the basic details. On the same night I got into Medford, my plans began to shift as I heard from a friend living in Eureka, California. I'd planned on staying in southern Oregon before driving scooping southwest towards Crescent City and finally Eureka, where my booked hotel room waited for me. But if I had other sleeping arrangements...

After much debating and waffling I decided what the hell. I would drive up to Eugene, have lunch, scan the sights, then cut across highway 126 to Florence, then straight down the coast to Eureka. What originally had been 3 hours driving suddenly bloomed into 8.5, but this whole trip was about exploration, right?

I'd had a hard time getting to sleep that night, so the snooze button didn't need to say much before I took advantage of its services. I still managed a fairly early start, all things considered, and after awkwardly navigating the unexpected (for me) benefits of serviced gas stations, hit the road again.

Oregon is truly beautiful in many places, most of my driving was scenic with sloping hills, alternating farm lands and woodlands interrupted by mini cities. Eugene is a college town, and like most college towns, there's a certain vibe. I guess I mostly felt discombobulated since so much of my travel time has been solitary. All of a sudden there was a high increase of people to square inch, and cars to square inch so my spacial meter went into overdrive. I enjoyed good food while observing the particular “look” worn by young, mostly white, city Oregonians. College kids. I am not that far removed from them, not by any means, but I could not wait to get away from the town. My hour spent left me feeling a bit panicky. I left somewhat quickly, watching the tightly packed blocks ease into less manicured sidewalks and convenience stores framed by overgrown weeds.

Highway 126, leading westward to Florence, is beautiful. Truly. Each tree and winding turn pulled me back into a softer state as the muscles around my gut released and the tendons in my fingers loosened enough to grip the steering wheel less tightly.

Bandon marsh
This stretch of driving proved to be longer than I expected; once I shifted southward along 101 I only stopped in a couple of spots to explore. One of which was Bandon's marshes. One residential road led me to a vista point where I was able to walk all the way to the edge of the marshland. I loved finding quiet, uninhabited spaces to enjoy the wind, mud, and tangle of brush and tree. I wonder sometimes why I so often seek to escape the company of people.

I also napped in my car at that marsh for over an hour. I woke up in that half-groggy, half-alert mind-fog realizing that I still had at least four hours of driving left. The clock read 5:15pm and I wasn't even out of Oregon. I wasn't even that close to the border.

This didn't stop me from pausing one or two more times. When fat, white letters on the road read “Ocean View,” what's a girl like me to do? Follow them, naturally. I found a beach spot next to a harbor that was, imagine that, uninhabited. Driftwood, crab carcasses, soft milky clouds and huge stones jutting up from the water's crystal cap like fists. Fine sand, too, a bit darker grey than beaches on the southernmost end of the west coast.

Then I drove. And drove. By the time I reached Crescent City the sky had blackened. I knew the ocean was directly to my right, but I hardly dared to lift my gaze from the road ahead even if I could have seen the long expanse of water. For many miles all I could only think of my lack of cell phone reception, the dwindling number of vehicles passing, and the isolating pressure of two black forest walls on either side. But my trip was uneventful, and I eventually tumbled into the welcome arms of my friend who graciously allowed me to sleep on her living room floor in a lovely, quirky apartment. The day's events still are unfolding for me, each moment spent offers a piece of me, I know. Putting the whole together is the patience game.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Roads, Rivers and Rocks (Road trip day 1)

I have a fun fact for you, I am on a road trip! I will be posting daily blogs while I'm traveling, so check back each day for something new (plus pictures). I'm currently camped out in a hotel room in Medford, Oregon; my body is wearily draped over the bed and my eyes ache. All those lines. Watching the lines go by, and by, and by. Flatlands, mountains, live crops and dead cows. No wait, I meant that the other way around. Those cows were definitely moo and munch crazy.

Thus completeth the first day of driving and sight seeing. Fair warning, I start acting a bit more sassy once I reach level 7 or so on the tiredness scale, so bear with me. This post might get a little rocky. But no rock slides, I promise.

I suppose a good place to start would be answering why I'm taking this trip. To which I respond, why the hell not? I'll back up and give you the short version: had an identity where-is-home crisis, a haven't-had-a-vacation-or-break-in-over-three-years crisis, found myself homeless (kinda anyway, I've got a generous Dad with a storage room plus mailbox address and a super wonderful friend who gave me a place to rest my head), and decided to go explore the other half of the state + extras. I've been “There and Back Again by Bilbo Baggins” all up and down the southern California stretch, but shit. I haven't been up in them hills in ten years or more. I grew up in a forest and lately I've see more primped golden beaches than towering woodlands.


Anyway, so yesterday I haphazardly threw a route together and spent hours agonizing over what hotels to book (because hotel beds give me the jeebie weebies). Today I picked up my maps, filled a bag full of fruits, veggies, nuts and hummus, slipped my sunglasses over a make-up free face and set out.

One of my big goals for this trip was to sketch and paint (and take reference photos for future oil paintings). A couple of points along I-5 had caught my eye so I planned on pulling off at least twice, but feeling free to stop off wherever was extremely important to me. National parks and campgrounds are all well and good but sometimes fees are required. Plus, you find hidden gems when you just start following random roads.

Sacramento River through Red Bluff
I pulled off at my first location, Red Bluff, because a road sign mentioned the state park. I never actually stopped at the park itself; instead I followed Adobe Road all the way through Surrey Village, this sorta woodsy riverside community featuring some swanky houses and mini mansions. The road runs parallel to the Sacramento River and I stopped at one point to walk and listen to the river lapping at the canal edges.

My second stop was pre-planned, Shasta Caverns a bit north of Redding. If I'd had more time and a more flexible budget I would have taken the Caverns tour but I drove back down the mountain, detouring off the various campground roads to explore a little. Nothing inherently exciting for me, the available stop points weren't my favorite and I forgot to stock up on dollar bills to pay for state park day use.

The third stop was a gem that I found purely by chance off Salt Creek Road in Lakehead. The road I eventually stumbled upon, Lower Salt Creek Road, runs along the Salt Creek Inlet to the larger McCloud River. I wound down, down, down until I found a fork: to the left was a paved road continuing toward a campsite while to the right was a rough, dusty off-shoot leading to a boat drop. Here's am overhead photo from Google Maps illustrating the creek, and railroad bridge stretching over it. The red line is where I drove.
Google Maps image of Salt Creek Inlet

So you can guess what I found:

Salt Creek Inlet near the old bridge, August 2013
This stretch of the river was almost completely dry. I was able to drive underneath the bridge and continue on a fair ways. The dirt was so soft and loose, really almost like a thin layer of fine sand. Once I got out of the car, even gentle walking kicked up little dust tornadoes. The rich layers of sediment were gorgeous, all stacking down to the soft, green bottom of the creek bed. The pathway of remaining water was littered with lost debris, who knows how long that stuff had been there.
Salt Creek Inlet near old bridge, dry bed

Salt Creek Inlet, dry bed

Old railroad bridge over Salt Creek Inlet, Lakehead, CA
After that, I didn't stop driving until I hit Medford. The belly of Oregon is gorgeous with its dips, windings and spattering of houses and farms tucked between trees. I felt weary, though. Once I checked into the hotel I sat for a while, unable to do much else except web surf and text my emergency contacts that yes, I was indeed still alive. I hunted Yelp to find something unique and tasty for dinner; I can say with certainty and enthusiasm that Kaleidoscope Pizzeria makes damn tasty vegetarian pizzas.

Also, thank you handful of friendly Oregon people I have briefly engaged with. You made my tired eyes happy-tired eyes.

Until tomorrow. Sending loves!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

I realized I have been a ghost in my own life for a couple years. Looking at that reality is incredibly challenging, and a bit horrifying, even as I've had time to reflect and examine myself. I feel as if I spent day after day looking into a hazy mirror thinking the mirror itself was foggy, only to finally realize that I was the transparent one.

Have you looked back on moments or situations (or years) and realized you weren't THERE? Physically, maybe even mentally and emotionally, you might have existed. But your whole essence wasn't fully present. A part of you didn't feel, didn't engage. I expect anyone who has gone through periods of depression understands what I mean. We seem to function alright in the midst of that hazy state. We might get things done. We have conversations, we experience emotions. But we're shells amidst many of our hours and minutes spent.

That's what I mean. I was a shell. I felt excitement, I felt anxiety, I smiled and laughed with people, I wrote and taught and sang, but I felt so exhausted and empty that many of my actions echoed in a cavern. I've heard some people describe the soul “leaving” the body when it no longer feels safe, but I'm not certain I engage that belief (despite all my talk of empty shells). Rather, I forget how to communicate and be present to my soul. Like any intimate relationship, I suppose. We can live in the same house with someone and yet never engage. Inhabit the same space but never connect. Our internal space is no different. The shell isn't necessary empty, but the internal is ignored as my attention flits outside my skin. A soul sister of mine summed it up beautifully: "I'm learning how to be alone."

The "aloneness" is not necessarily a lonely home.

My parents used to talk about cherishing relationships as “tending to each other's gardens.” In very real ways how we tend to ourselves can change how tangible we are. Self-care, sure. But in order to tend anything, to care for anything, I need to BE in that space. Be aware of it, be a conscious participant. If my attention is scattered and I have no energy left to be with people I love, to do the things that matter to me, what am I?

A shell.

I feel alive after just a few days. Last Monday a friend asked me what I planned to do on my break; how was I playing and enjoying myself? I sat for a moment, processing my to-do lists, my tightening schedule filled with teas, lunches, and “hangouts” with various friends. I thought of the road trip formulating in my mind (represented by squiggly lines on a mental map), of the drawings and paintings I wanted to start.

I plan to feel, to experience fully, to enjoy the people I want to enjoy and explore a world I really exist in. If I touch the window of this coffee shop, I'll feel the cool surface, hard and perfectly smooth. I'll look into a lover's eyes and see a moment shared and secret while the air hangs thick between our bodies like a heavy mist pushed by our breath. I'll drive along the wriggling coastal line of California and notice when the edge of the world catches my gaze, begging me to stop and draw its effortless (and effort-full) form.

Fresh starts are opportunities to exist in the world that begs for our attention. Mountains become important because they're mountains. Social justice calls for action because we're human beings, too. A kiss goodbye in the early glimpses of morning is a strong voice declaring love in silent seconds.

Even gardens can grow in absence; inevitably they will become much wilder in that time, waiting for someone to push away the dead twigs and leaves to find the forgotten bulbs below the ground.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Snapshots of Mountains

Yesterday we finally finished packing our belongings, haphazardly nestling the rest of the house into a car and a Uhaul truck. I sent my boxes and canvases to temporary storage a couple days prior, not knowing where exactly I would end up.

Yesterday I drove away. Away from the condo, the house I called “home” for five years. Even when I lived in different towns and apartments I kept the phone number to the condo listed as “home.”

Walking away from the condo was strangely easy. I ate, slept, studied, practiced yoga, painted, had sex, took showers, cried, and wrote songs under that roof... I even snuck in a drunken movie night with a friend. But memories aren't always trapped in walls; I took mine with me the second I shifted into drive and rolled out of the parking lot.

Before the condo, I lived in an old, rundown mobile home surrounded by red dirt, pine trees and meadows. Most of the childhood I remember unfolded in that house. Sheets of plywood stretched underneath sections of the carpet because the original floor had begun falling apart. In my mid-teens we used pieces of a metal bunk bed frame to create a ramp to the kitchen door; the original porch had sagged, leaned, and crumbled too much to be used safely. In winter, the wood stove often roared with a fire in its belly through the entire night. Central heating? Please. The firewood my parents and I lugged into the house made nice Trojan Horses for little wolf spiders. At least, the spiders that didn't manage to make their way into the house in other ways.

Was that mobile home a “home?” Perhaps. I don't clearly remember my feelings about moving into the condo; that move represented a very specific transition in my life and my family's life. But I've struggled to find a place I “fit” into for some time. I've struggled to find solidity and clarity in my own skin. The harder I fought against myself, the less the spaces around me felt like home. So I don't wonder I can walk away from the condo without a second thought.

What does a home look like, anyway? I think I find home in people more than I do physical spaces.

Yesterday we drove for hours, cruising the long, slender Highway 5. I noticed the distinct transition between Northern California and Southern California: the Chevron station asked if I wanted to use my “Vons” rewards, rather than my “Safeway” rewards. At 7pm I approached the bottom of the Grapevine, a familiar pair of outstretched arms. I had tucked my left leg under my right while my bare right foot lightly rested on the brake. I navigated between slow semi's with flashing hazard lights and overeager sedans zipping ahead but my eyes kept drifting to the swelling mountains. The line of rolling hills stretched out wide to either side before splitting to create the passage I would soon drive through. Rippling mounds caught the fading sunlight and shaped deep, stark shadows. I wish I could have caught a passing snapshot, but I don't think that could have done the moment justice.

Sometimes having the snapshot is important. Very important. The physical evidence functions as a reminder of long forgotten days. But when I close my eyes I can feel the curve of that landscape as if I were running my fingers along its golden flesh. The memory will probably fade in time just like the smiles and faces of old friends or the touch of old lovers. But that moment will become its own reminder, a little spark imprinted on my mind and soul. Next time I drive through the Grapevine I might remember when earth's sloping face stole my attention. Next time I see sunset and shadows dancing together I might remember. No guarantee, but I might.

We don't always need a physical “thing” to make our lives matter more. The condo was a temporary bookmark where moments unfolded but that doesn't make the moments less special. My not having a photograph of those mountains doesn't diminish the experience I had, either. I so easily clutch onto small pieces in time. Seconds. The past seconds still matter but I don't think they OUTweigh the breath I'm taking now or the fingers I'll clasp in days to come. The same lips will taste different next week. The same experiences can still be fresh.

Old homes can be new and new homes could remind me of old, loved spaces... of shabby houses or clean boxes. These spaces matter less than the lives we create within them.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Cider, Bank Statements, and Relationships

A bottle of my favorite Fox Barrel pear cider is sitting on the coffee table next to my propped and crossed feet. Ginger and Blackcurrant, crisp and delicious. The olive green label reminds me of the T-shirt a friend wore yesterday. The shirt (and friend) remind me of what I did, who I saw, where I went, what I felt and thought yesterday. An eventful day, to say the least.

So I'm having trouble concentrating this evening... As I write this I feel exhausted at a deep, deep soul level.

Moving will do that to you.

Not just moving. The whole transition, the change, the transformation, the purging, the letting go, the releasing. Oddly, sorting my possessions has become a therapeutic metaphor for all the other emotional shit. This afternoon the heap of my belongings dwindled while the “throw away” or “donate” piles swelled. While I'm not very sentimental about my stuff I unconsciously attach much of my identity to it. This is a part of my life's footprint. What will I be remembered for, what legacy am I leaving behind, how do my belongings describe who “I” am? And how many old bank statements do I have? Holy shit, so many

Believe me, I'm aware of how narcissistic this all sounds.

My point is this: as I process the end of certain relationships and find closure with old paradigms, letting go of the material things gets easier. As my focus shifts to what I want to create, what kind of mental and emotional space I need to dip into my life with a soup ladle, the old stuff naturally drops off. Not to say I'm forgetting or stuffing that old stuff. Far from it. But obsessively focusing on a broken machine can constrict or bloat it until it's the only thing I see.

So this is a balance between the letting go and the creating. What a revolutionary concept.

Sometimes those processes (destroying the old, creating the new) happen simultaneously. Or they overlap. Maybe a relationship ends first so healing can begin before the next one. Maybe we discover an opportunity but in order to reach for it we realize that something else has to give.

I'm uncovering how I want and need to be in relationship with others. Intimate, romantic, friendly, casual, in passing, all of it. What does it mean to be in an equal relationship? When do we hold each other at arms length, when do we put on the masks, when are the masks necessary, when do we say no, when do we say “fuck off,” when do we say “I love you,” and do we really really truly mean it?

In that whole clusterfuck of thoughts, I have to acknowledge just how many objects, thoughts, people, and hopefully habits, I'm letting go of. What a bittersweet process... Each of us has a perspective, a set of feelings, a set of opinions, and a set of justifications that follow our actions. There's nothing inherently wrong with this. All those aspects of ourselves weave, tangle, break, mend, grow, cross, and sometimes separate permanently. Even when the “right thing” seems so illusive, I'm so grateful for what I have and cherish. Like Fox Barrel cider. Not exactly cherish worthy, but still damn tasty.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Swells of Sadness and Love

Lately my impending move (from this house, this town, this community, this life) feels like a bone-crushing weight.

I'm reminded of all the lessons and questions I offer students in my yoga classes. We can numb and hide through lack of action, surely. But we can also avoid ourselves in mental or physical busyness. We can “push” through to keep from feeling. Sure, we get stuff done. We act. But what am I ignoring?

The humor isn't lost on me. During the yin yoga training I led recently, I asked the participants to notice what sensations and emotions they feel when the body is still and quiet. We can be so scared of what we experience and allowing all that sensation to wash over us is intense. There's no getting around that.

One lesson I learned very early is: when we offer questions or insight, we probably need those wisdoms ourselves. Sometimes the circumstances are already in effect. Other times, the question I ask my students shows up in my life not two weeks later.

I resist admitting I feel scared or sad to others. Usually I don't fight sadness within myself, but I haven't wanted to succumb to this grief. Friends have asked me, “So, are you excited about the move?” No, I'm not really excited. Then I feel awkward because they're excitement for me suddenly deflates. Or they continue with the common follow up question: then why not just stay here?

I taught my final yin yoga class at the studio—one of the Sunday night classes. Often as a gift to send with them I sing or chant while everyone is relaxing in savasana. This time, my song represented a final goodbye. I felt the air pricking my skin and a soft pressing on my chest. I knew I wasn't the only emotional one, but one person packing up let her tears fall more freely. We embraced and held each other for a long time, and she murmured in my ear: “It's the end of an era.”

A couple nights later while clasping hands with an intimate soul lover I tearfully expressed the grief I felt. I haven't wanted to feel this, I haven't allowed myself to. To feel this sadness means letting go of an old life. Not completely, these years are still a part of who I am. But leaving the yoga studio, leaving the house I've inhabited, leaving the town I've existed in (it has never really been a home to me)... Initially I just wanted to escape from this place. But in the last few months the same soul whose fingers were now tangled in mine reminded me that the things, the goals, and the people that are important to us, they matter. How we spend our time matters. Being vulnerable to ourselves and the people who matter changes who we are, inspires us to run toward something beautiful.

If I choose to run, I want to run towards something, not away.

During that night I repeatedly wiped my cheeks to make room for the next wave of tears. The loving soul in front of me sat quietly, tracing the lines of my fingers and palm. I truly wish and hope that all of you find safe spaces to be with the upheaval inside of you and release it. Yes, it requires trust and vulnerability, but when that space can be held for you, or you hold that space for someone else, that is sacredness in all its glory.

I'm sure in time, as plans form and intentions and goals are recreated and discovered, excitement will begin to set in. But in many of these moments, terror and grief blossom deeply in my throat and behind my eyes. As days draw closer to some form of final end, this is my reality. After choking on a rush of sobs, I whispered, “I don't know how to honor that.” But that is how I can honor it. I ask my students, “What does it feel like to be in your body right now?”

It feels painful, and sad, and beautiful. I feel loved, I really do. Even with this gravity, there is still love here.