Tag Archives: life

on the hook

I don’t expect to get profound life advice from How I Met Your Mother reruns, but life advice can come from anywhere I suppose.

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Me. Totally On The Hook.

The Urban Dictionary has the following listed under “On The Hook”

A person who is “on the hook” will be overly infatuated with another person. The person who is the desired generally takes little notice (and often complete advantage) of the person who is on the hook.

Often times the person who is on the hook is a back-up.

Signs that you are on the hook:
1) giving foot rubs
2) making mixed tapes/cds/play lists
3) making chocolate cake
4) dropping everything at a moments notice to be with the other person.

Ted: “Lisa came over last night and I gave her a foot rub as we watched a move.”
Marshall: “Are you guys dating now?”
Ted: “No, she is still with her boyfriend, she is just looking for the right time to break the news.”
Marshall: “Dude, you are so on the hook.”
My own signs:
1) being overly infatuated with him
2) he took little notice (and often complete advantage)
3) was his backup / strung along /rebound person
4) giving foot rubs
2) trying to learn Spanish
3) obsessive checking of WhatsApp
4) dropping everything at a moment’s notice to accommodate his whims
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Well damn.
Dammit.
Dammit.
And Dammit All.

ghost

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I love you

I got a call from a ghost today.

The call display said Montana, and  I almost didn’t answer, I don’t know anyone from Montana. The call was from a father that I didn’t know. A father that I will never meet. He told me his son was dead, and for a moment I had to think which dead son is this, which dead child is this about.

Then I understood.

This was Kevin’s father. Kevin who was dead. Kevin, the young man who made a small party my son’s first birthday in Arizona, far away from home. Kevin, who arranged for a decorated ice cream cake and twenty candles. Kevin who ordered pizzas with everything that Graham liked on them. Kevin who took pictures of Graham blowing out the candles and sent them to me because he knew how sad I was about not being there for his birthday. That Kevin who took care of my son when I could not. That Kevin who within six months of the party had relapsed, and shortly after had died.

I had sent his phone a text after he died. More of a prayer in text form. It read something like I’m so very sorry, and thank you. I was so sorry he had died, and still so grateful to him for taking care of my son. I sent it, and like a prayer, I never thought anyone would ever know about it.

I do understand that to his father when he finally got his dead son’s phone that my message would be a mystery. I imagine how many times he must of read it before he worked up the nerve to call me and ask just what I meant texting a dead person.

Today he called and we found out about each other, although we never even exchanged names. I told him that I was so sorry, that his son had been kind to mine, and kind to me, and how much that meant to me. I told him that my son was still alive and still clean and sober. I don’t know that was comforting or painful for him. I think it could be both. Maybe I should  have said in October my brother, John, and many years ago my father, Alan died of the same disease his son did. Maybe, but that’s not the same as a child. Nothing could be that.

He seemed content enough to have his mystery solved and we said goodbye, and then I sat there and cried for all of us, for those who have died, and for those of us who loved them. I cried, because there is nothing else I can do for Kevin, for John, for Alan, for any of the dead ones.

For the families and loved ones left behind, sorry is not ever going to be enough. Sorry can’t heal the kind of pain this is, but is all we can do. We say sorry and we then hold space for someone’s pain. We say sorry and we hold space in our words, in our actions, in our lives, and in our hearts for them. We let them feel their pain without judgement. We surround them in as much love as we can. This is what we do for the living,

because there is nothing more we can do for our dead.

game face

images-4“There will be bad days, Times when the world weighs on you for so long it leaves you looking for an easy way out. There will be moments when the drought of joy seems unending. Instances spent pretending that everything is alright when it clearly is not….” Shane Koyczan, excerpt from “Instructions for a Bad Day

21451861There will be days where your best is not crying, at least in front of everyone, at least not for extended periods, at least not to the point of boogers running down your face (save that for the car where you have tissues), that your best is not crying, and not curling into a ball wishing the world away. Some days that’s all you’ve got.

When I quit drinking 10 years ago someone said to me that I would feel better, that I would feel everything better, pain, joy, happiness, anger, sadness, you know everything. She also told me not to believe everything you think. Solid advice that still applies.

houseToday I am feeling all of the things, emotionally, mentally, physically, metaphorically…. (note: I feel most things metaphorically, writer thing… maybe, not sure… actually I have no bloody idea and am freestyling this bit). Medically, things have been a bit rough. So much so that I have four new prescriptions and more doctor appointments than I would prefer (I would prefer zero appointments, but still). Everything hurts, well not everything, just the things I’m focusing my attention on. I feel a bit like a House episode, minus the curmudgeonly doctor. My doctor is very nice, and quite firm, which is why I’m sitting here looking a gaggle* of pill bottles. *a herd? a cluster?  a bevy? what do you call a collection of medication bottles? I even googled it, apparently it’s not a thing.

And then, because I’m me, and I swear this stuff just finds me  when I’m sitting innocently being responsible (you know, and not crying, and not assuming the fetal position, and doing all the grown-up things that I don’t feel like doing) I find this little bit of music, this tiny lyric.

Vair me o, ro van o
Vair me o ro ven ee,
Vair me o ru o ho
Sad am I without thee

1008012I find this little bit of music, and there are no oatmeal raisin cookies in my house, no lightly frosted lemon scones, no dark chocolate truffles with caramel and sea salt, none of these things, so I have to sit here and feel all the feelings, which is still not my favourite. I’m even out of lemons for my tea.

Shane also says in his poem “There will be bad days. Be calm. Loosen your grip, opening each palm slowly now. Let go….”

Okay. Okay. I’m on it. Letting go. (for extended thoughts on letting go, with lots of pictures and convoluted thinking click here ), putting on my game face (the one that says “I ain’t bovvered”), and making tea without lemons, but with lots of honey.

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field of f

It didn’t happen when I turned 50, but sometime after I turned 51 I stopped caring so desperately about what people thought of me, and I have to say that it is really fucking awesome (yes, I will use profanity when I want to – Sorry. NOT sorry, who am I kidding).  I still have moments where I grab the “rock of really giving a fuck about what you think about me” I used to wear like a raincoat, and haul it around for a while, but I just can’t be bothered to carry that weight anymore, ya know? In one way the “swirling shit storm” of my life the last several months (years, really) has helped me let go of many things simply because they are too heavy to keep carrying.

There are things I will not apologize for anymore, and if you don’t like me because of it, I’m really, really super-fucking-okay with that.

You don’t like my politics? Great!
My life choices? Fucking Awesome!
My tattoos? More power to ya!
My sarcastic, sassy and profanity laced language? I will somehow manage to carry on without your fucking approval.
Can’t decide if  I’m worth dating? Sayonara, Adios amigo, Caio bella, sich verabschieden, d’adieu, tchüss. (because I totally AM worth it, ‘Slaying Dragons For’ kind of worth it, and I can’t spend my time with someone who doesn’t think so).

There also things I will apologize for, because like most humans, I can be a self-centered asshole on a remarkably regular basis. Those things I try to be accountable for and apologize. Things like running about 5-15 late on a staggeringly regular basis. I do apologize for this, but I haven’t suffered enough negative consequences from this for me to alter my behaviour yet. That and forgetting your name, I have a smooth spot on my brain where people’s names are stored, it’s not you, it’s me. Really, really.

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Then I read Mark Manson’s Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck and was forever changed. Well not quite, but damn.

The point is, most of us struggle throughout our lives by giving too many fucks in situations where fucks do not deserve to be given. We give a fuck about the rude gas station attendant who gave us too many nickels. We give a fuck when a show we liked was canceled on TV. We give a fuck when our coworkers don’t bother asking us about our awesome weekend. We give a fuck when it’s raining and we were supposed to go jogging in the morning.

Fucks given everywhere. Strewn about like seeds in mother-fucking spring time. And for what purpose? For what reason? Convenience? Easy comforts? A pat on the fucking back maybe?

This is the problem, my friend.

Because when we give too many fucks, when we choose to give a fuck about everything, then we feel as though we are perpetually entitled to feel comfortable and happy at all times, that’s when life fucks us.

And life will fuck you over, and over, and over, that’s just the way life is. It is also beautiful, tragic, sacred, messy and glorious . Our big mistake is to think the world, that life, that God owe us something. That we are supposed to be, #happy, #blessed, #blissful and need to share this with all our Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Wordpress followers all the fucking time. Seriously?

Here’s the thing, the world, life, the universe, God and everything else you want to call it, do not owe you one single solitary fucking thing, got that? Does Not Owe You. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Pas du tout. Nichts. We are not here to be entertained, to be taken care of, to have all our superficial and egocentric whims catered to. Life does not owe us. Life does not owe us a certain lifestyle, a six pack, an adoring partner, lots of money, an easy go of it, and when we caught up in the Super Sucky Vortex of Entitlement and we think that somehow we deserve these things, that we deserve all the stuff, all the fucking junk that we have been told over and over that we should have, when we get stuck in that vortex of really giving a fuck about the stupid shit, that is when we are most miserable.

tumblr_mmm3xfqWTM1snu8fxo1_500Okay, so my title may be slightly misleading. I do give a fuck about somethings, not about what you think of me, or my life, my family or any of that, I  give a fuck about what’s truly fuckworthy. In my 20’s I gave the most sincere fucks about the stupidest things. I tried, I tried so damn hard to be what I thought people wanted me to be. It made me fucking miserable.  As I aged, and occasionally matured, I found I didn’t have the energy to give a fuck about anything that wasn’t worth it. The clarity about what is important, what is worth giving a fuck about is what has liberated me. I am not apathetic, I am simply not will to waste my time and my fucks on anything unimportant.

Which is what exactly? We are here to give back, to be of fucking service to our fellow humans, to those who hold no power over us, to animals, to plants, to our mother, the fucking earth. What we need to do is to take care of each other. Is that so hard? Because it sure seems like it’s really fucking hard for people. And this is where I actually do give a fuck. I give a fuck about that homeless guy that you pretend you don’t see. I give a fuck about the recycling you just tossed in the street, about the dog you left in a hot car,  about the plastic floating in the ocean, about being kind to the person who seems to least deserve it, about feeding people who are hungry.

I give a fuck about a lot of things, just not what you may or may not think of me. Hasta la vista.

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not in never falling

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A repurposed necklace, the charm is mine, the cord was part of a gift from someone I loved (the original charm, it went the way of the love – gone)

I can’t find the right words to describe this. This feeling that comes when I least expect it. The feeling, as Rilke would say, of pushing through solid rock.

 

It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock
in flintlike layers, as the ore lies, alone;
I am such a long way in I see no way through,

and no space: everything is close to my face,
and everything close to my face is stone.

I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief
so this massive darkness makes me small.
You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in:
then your great transforming will happen to me,
and my great grief cry will happen to you.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke (Translated by Robert Bly)

 

“Our greatest glory is in rising every time we fall.” Rising. I’m working on that, because I fall a lot. I fall all the time. And I rise, I do, but it’s exhausting

There’s a hollowed out feeling when I think of you, there’s sadness and anger too, but mostly I’m  hollow.  I can usually distract myself, with sleep, with TV, with work, with art, with words, with movement, with anything handy. The thought of actually sitting still with myself still overwhelms me, so I move, or I sleep. When that doesn’t work, when you bubble up unbidden, on those days, I run the same circles in my head, the same tiga786edce21585b714a56abbaa981ffafht circles that loop back on themselves and spin faster and faster.  I tell myself I’ve been an idiot once again for loving people who leave, for banging my head and my heart against your rock wall, constructed to keep people like me out. I sometimes think a different version of me might have been enough, could have make it through your emotionally unavailable barracks, but that’s not true. Occasionally I feel like throwing a rock,  a brick, or smashing a plate, perhaps that would at least get your attention. I won’t, but the thought remains attractive, if only for the moments I pick it up and hold it, pass its weight back and forth between my hands.

 

You huddle in, becoming
the deathless younger self
who will survive your dreams
and vanish in surviving.
– Self and Dream Self excerpt, by Les Murray
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It’s not just you, of course, it’s been a brutal fall. Somedays, all of its hurts lay on top of each other and weigh me down. I thought we were connected, but we weren’t, that was me telling me stories and you telling me your well practiced lies of convenience. That level of connection, of honesty, was the last thing you wanted.  At my core sits a small hard bit of certainty that if I love, you will leave. My head and my heart know somehow this is not correct, but my bones know that it is so.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything 
That is how the light gets in.
– Leonard Cohen
There isn’t a light coming in, at least right now. It’s cold and it’s dark and it’s empty. He  also said “The Heart beneath is teaching / To the broken Heart above”, maybe that’s what this is, healing.
 
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“Into the pit” – aptly named

I don’t think you’ve ever allowed yourself to be opened, to let someone break your heart, your shell is too hard, too thick, too well formed to allow that to happen. Or maybe you did, once, and then swore never again, and that is why you remain frozen, hard, hidden and clinging to that past trauma that you will never release. You turn your focus on yourself, withdrawing into your shell if anyone gets too close, only pretending to connect, to engage, to care. If that doesn’t work  you manipulate, gaslight, play controlling games, run tests, that will always set you up as the winner. You don’t know how to live openly, you don’t know what it is to fall, and to rise again, only to withdraw and hide. There is no glory for you, only more hiding, more controlling, more walls.

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall
– Confucius 
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I do know the feeling. I once had walls. They had a hollow sound behind them, but they were solid. With them in place I could play happy, charming, funny, but was just acting. Taking the walls down was excruciating, and also exhilarating; still, there are days I wish I still could hide behind my walls.
And so, I’ve fallen, and risen, and fallen again.  I’ve fallen into this mess that I have to push through (not go around, not go over, or go under). I will, push through this.
Ten Things I Hate (Love) About You / The Taming of The Shrew
10. The cold way you looked at me (the warm affection in your eyes).
9.   The way you’d protect yourself from me (the way your arm moved to protect me).
8.   Waiting hours for you (the way you greeted me).
7.   The way you made me cry (you made me laugh).
6.   Your lies of convenience (your lies of flattery).
5.   The part of you that understood me and then left  (the part of you that understood me and seemed to want to stay).
4.   The drive-in (sneaking into movies).
3.   The plans you never meant to do (the future plans we talked about).
2.   Waiting for your call (your goodnight texts).
1.    Blowing cigar smoke in my face.
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The truth is my struggles, my demons, all come from, and aim directly at the very things I am most insecure of, mainly not being lovable, being abandoned, and when they strike up the band and start to play my thoughts and emotions get sucked into that spinning wheel where no good ideas ever emerge. Don’t believe everything you think, don’t believe everything you think especially when you are tired, hurt, raw, emotional and generally broken up inside. Those are the times when throwing the rock, or smashing the plate seems like the best idea ever. Those are the times where you, as Pema Chödrön says, have to lean into the sharp points, the pain, and the discomfort, even when, especially when, this makes it hurt even more.

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Which means this won’t last forever.  I will emerge.  I might even grow a little.  Maybe not today, today is pretty awful. Today I am pushing through solid rock. Maybe another day this won’t be so heavy. At some point you do free yourself, and take your power back – flaws and all. Someday.

dear me

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Dear me,

Get up.
Place your feet on the floor,
one after the other.
Breath.
Stand. Walk. Wash your face.
Get up.
Rise and Shine.

Get up.
This is not over.
You are not over,
you are only just beginning.
There are no fat ladies singing,
the credits have not rolled
your movie has only just started.
You have words to write.
There are breezes lifting kites, blowing leaves
that need to be noticed;
there are songs
that need to be heard.

Get up.
Drag your pen across paper.
Write (dammit). Write despite of your broken hand,
in spite of the lifeless fingers.
Write (dammit)
with your teeth if you have to.
Get the words out.
Write about fire, stars, water,
Just write (dammit).

Stand.
Defy gravity.
Do not give them your power.
Do not give
One. More. Moment to those
who called your hopes and fears drama that they didn’t have time for.
Do not.
Do not make yourself small for other’s comfort.
Stand. Defy gravity, even as it pulls you to the earth.
Stand. Inhale. Exhale. Shine.
Be yourself,
your messy, dramatic, beautifully flawed, your lovable self.
Just be.

Stand.
You are who you love,
You are not who loves you.
Define yourself.
On a cool night walk to the beach and make a fire
burn the letters. Take
the card you have clung to and
burn it.
Give them to the fire.
Burn them all
Get up. Look up. Walk away.
Look at the stars, borrow as much light as you need.
Listen to the waves.
Walk into the arms of your friends.
Let go. Let go.
Let the rest go.

Shine.
Walk into your garden and
plant a new seed.
Stand. Shine. Watch it grow,
watch it defy gravity.
Pull the weeds.
Burn them. Burn every last weed
(like the card, like the words, let go, let go, let go)
every weed
that would choke your seed, steal its light,
hinder its growth.
The world will tell you to stop,
to dim your light.
Do not.
There are people that need more light.
Make extra.

Shine.
Feast
on chocolate, on love, on every moment of your life.
Breath.
Deeper than you’ve ever dared.
Stand.
Place your feet on the floor,
one after the other.
Walk.
Walk into darkness, into nothing and
trust each step you take.
Save your own life. One breath,
one step, one word, one seed
at a time.

Dear me,
There is no other moment.
There is only right now.
Live.
Right now.
Get up. Stand. Walk. Shine.
Be that which is you, and only you.
You are enough.
You are what you love.
You are.
Start there.
Breath.

well adjusted

SAMSUNGIt’s been a challenging week. The details I’ll leave for another time. I can be, very occasionally, a ‘well adjusted and functioning adult’ but more often than not I’m a ‘flying by the seat of my pants making this stuff up as I go along’ kind of person. I have some healthy coping mechanisms, like yoga, art, wonderful friends, and music, and I have some not so healthy coping mechanisms, like not eating, not making the bed, talking to inanimate objects.

Here are my top 10(ish), or maybe 15 coping mechanisms for the last week, in no order what so ever:

  • took out a live wasp’s nest, with a bat, during the day when they were around, it was a Lieutenant Dan kinda moment
  • allowed myself to chew off exactly 1 fingernail, my left pinkie, it looks dreadful, I’m only allowed to chew another when my pinkie grows back
  • curled up on my couch with my daughter, ate pie and ice cream and watched animated movies (The Incredibles and Wreak It Ralph), cried in a somewhat dignified manner
  • curled up on a friend’s couch and watched movies (Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Sliding Doors), cried in a rather undignified manner (waterproof mascara that can hold it’s own through a hot yoga class crumbles and runs down your face if you cry long enough, especially the undignified type of crying)
  • reached out to friends, cried, and laughed and made horribly inappropriate jokes (inappropriate humour being a major coping mechanism)
  • made art, did not cry on the art (involved quick tissue reflexes)
  • talked to my steering wheel, cried on my steering wheel, sung to my steering wheel, drummed on my steering wheel; my steering wheel knows all my secrets
  • talked to my dog, talked to my cat, my fish, my garden, the lizard, but not the snake, the snake doesn’t listen
  • sang and hummed to myself, a lot, I mean for hours, I think the dog liked it, but it’s so hard to tell with him
  • didn’t make the bed for 3 whole days, also picked clothes out of the dryer instead of folding and putting them away
  • did yoga, got sweaty and breathed deeply, felt MUCH better afterwards
  • various forms of retail therapy –  expensive yoga pants that make my ass look fabulous, little balls to roll away the tension in my neck, dark chocolate with cherries, so far….
  • narrowed my diet to pie (now gone), toast, coffee, and the odd bowl of cereal (lost 5 pounds, I do not recommend this diet)
  • played sudoko on my phone for extended periods of time (which I justify as a exercise for my brain)
  • poetry, lots of poetry, because I’m a word nerd – a small sample of poems below

I will live, have lived through worse, so I’m pretty confident “this too shall pass”, but I keep wondering when will I finally become that elusive “adult” who has all this junk figured out. The one who can balance a cheque book (who knows where the damn check book is), plan a menu that doesn’t involve the microwave or popcorn, gracefully juggle work/family/life/the universe and everything, always have clothes on the right way out, has a happy well adjusted marriage, never puts their foot in their mouth for weeks at a time, or overreacts in dramatic and super embarrassing ways, and never ever has orphaned socks? You know that mythical creature known as the well adjusted, mature adult. I’ve heard of them, even think I’ve spotted a few, but ultimately those ones turn out to be just as flawed as the rest of us.

And so it goes.

Life, crammed full of messy, undignified, embarrassing, humbling, glorious and sacred moments, full of enough sorrow for us to appreciate joy, and enough ugliness for us to appreciate beauty, and gratitude, because in the end it’s a beautiful world, full of kindness and love.

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crappy picture, but I made this

swinging

Swung for love,
flung in-between
sound earth and sky’s embrace
green willows as my garland.

My sadness, in degrees does soar away,
and whispers back again.
My heart belonging
to faraway horizons.
Time so briefly spent in tumbling clouds
divides more wide than from tides to moon,
but still my flight will not wait
for breath
or sight
as I swing from sorrow
and back again.
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made this too

sound

do not think
that you can
know me
for I am only
one heart
beating
in a world
too full
with sound.

Enough
Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.
Until now

– David Whyte, Where Many Rivers Meet

The Guest-House

This being human is a guest-house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you
out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

– Say I Am You: Poetry Interspersed with Stories of Rumi and Shams, Translated by John Moyne and Coleman Barks, Maypop, 1994.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you have ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

– Derek Walcott, Collected Poems 1948-1984, New York, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1986.

The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

  • Theodore Roethke