A Time to Set Fire & #VOWspark

Sparking has always been easy for me—or for at least as long as it’s mattered. I’m not sure that I’ve ever noticed it myself, but I have had it pointed it out on more than one occasion. I can come up with an idea on the spot. You can tell when something makes me feel alive. And I have no problem introducing myself and asking a question that means something instead our DC standard: What is it that you do for a living?

As an aside, it’s normally, What was the last great book you read?

I know my days are better when I get eight hours of sleep and an early morning start.
When I create.
When I sweat.
When I meditate, even for just a few minutes.
And when I spend time in a hammock reading just a bit of poetry.

The best days involve a conversation with my grandparents or my sister.

It’s took me 27.5 years to get a handle on who I am.
It took me 28.5 to understand what makes my soul sing.

What I still don’t know is who does.

I feel like my #OneWord2017 of Build has very much so far been about the former (as it should be)—knowing what sets me on fire—and I think the focus for the rest of the year will be about who does.

I think I’ve known, on some deeper level, that this was coming. That there was work to be done. But it didn’t click until this week, following a particularly rough weekend, a reading with my astrologer regarding romance and friendships (I’m sure Lin or I will at some point explain how astrology is not prediction of the future and that it—just like praying or a therapist—can be a tool), and a few texts with my sister.

Despite my best attempts to ignore that still small voice that I’m beginning to become familiar with, I’ve also known deep in my bones since January of this year that I haven’t found my person yet. I’ve known there is a reason.

The reason involves The Work that I’ve been putting off; The Work I’m finally ready to do. To take a good hard look at the men (and women) that have played a part in my journey to this point—what I learned from them and how I could have treated them (and myself) better along the way.

So here’s to

INVEST-ing.

And putting in the time this time.

Because as a writer I once knew quite well put it (words that I quote more often than she will ever know and in my List of Things to Build post):

At the heart of all this is the love of story. Because these letters, meals, parapets and gardens tell stories about time and how it is the currency of our hearts. The things that last are the things that are built–brick by brick–and planted–seed by seed–and then tended–day by day. And I like these things because they cost me something to invest in. If I pay the price, then it is worth something to me. It’s worth is only equal to what I am willing to pay for it.

There are some things in this life that take time to develop, things that are worth keeping sacred for the right moment. Things that will be more lovely if I pay the price of waiting and watching and sowing into it, even when I am uncomfortable and lonely and hopeful all at once.

Because anything worth everything will always cost us something. And this time, I’m willing to pay big time for it.


Steph’s SPARK mantra: I have always tried to make room for anything that wanted to come from within me. (Dr. Carl Gustav Jung)

Steph’s Song of the Week: Never Say Never by Tristan Prettyman

& Don’t Miss Lin’s #VOWspark post.

P.S. Lin posted first, and I think actually her explanation of tarot cards is similar to what I referenced regarding astrology. We #mindmeld like that.

Where You Look is What You’ll See: Reflecting on FOCUS

I find it funny that I have had such a hard time finding direction for this week’s post. It’s been lingering in my mind, a general idea of concept but I struggled to hone in and articulate my thoughts. And now I find myself posting a very belated essay and wondering if I have it in me to make an impact with my words.

Really, you could just skip this post and instead check out what Steph has recently drafted because she’s really been killing the vulnerability game lately — #VOWfocus from this week and #VOWrelease from last.

Despite our VOWs being posted online, I never really skip ahead and mentally prepare myself for our word until it arrives. Then I mildly reflect to see where I might want to direct my energies that week. Where do I succeed at FOCUSing? Where do I struggle? What do I wish I FOCUSed on that I don’t? What do I spend too much time FOCUSing on? So on, so forth.

Inevitably my analysis falls into two categories: work or romantic relationship. You, dear reader, can attest. I love both. One causes me insane amounts of stress for which I feel powerless to control. The other I am mindful to keep sacred (not to mention functional and fulfilling). But they do not make up my entire life and therefore should not comprise my representation on this blog.

It’s hard to acknowledge that with my relocation, most of my friendships have changed. And I’ve struggled with that reality because I cherish so, so many individuals. The affection has never changed. But keeping up with people is hard, especially when the conversations become more about catching up than building up the relationship. And I end up saying the same thing in the varied conversations that I bore of my updates and instead try to prompt for information.  To no fault of my friends, I know this, but I’m so far behind that bringing people to-date feels daunting. And exhausting. (Again, not you, it’s me)

I also tend to be an all-or-nothing’er. Meaning, I want to catch up with EVERYONE RIGHT AWAY. I overbook myself and make ALL THE SKYPE CALLS. And by the end of it, I feel shitty because I’m not giving my all to the person I care about. So I do what is normal in overwhelming situations — avoid and procrastinate. Which just makes reconnection even harder.  I know this so why do I do it?

I think that is where FOCUS comes in. Because you see what you look for. And when you’re not honed in at all, you end up missing a lot. And when I’m too focused on catching up the “right way” I end up being the person who moves away and fades into oblivion.

I’m sorry for being that person, friends. And I made a list (because when faced with any dilemma, that’s what I do) of everyone I want to correspond with. The list is long and it’ll take me time to get through all the names. Because when we speak, I want to be able to truly FOCUS on what’s important — you.

 

Next week I promise to have something a bit more exciting because it’s time that we EXPLORE

An Open Letter to My Heartbroken Beloved About #VOWfocus

My Dearest Friend,

I know so intimately what you feel at this exact moment. The difference is perhaps that I am a bottle of wine in, and you have likely opted instead for deep fried and paper thin….dealer’s choice.

That not withstanding, I know what you’re going through.

The emotional ache that you never quite believe is physical until you feel it crack your chest. The pain you know you’ve felt but can never for the life of you remember. The I’m Sorry for every little thing you think back on that may have altered our course and now seems just so insignificant. The self-loathing for the times you doubted us or let your mind wander to something else. The What If’s and Maybe’s that repeat like a Top 40 Carly Rae Jepson song. The panic that sets in when you mentally un-circle the dates on a calendar. When you start to un-build a life that only physically lacked the ring.

More than anything, I want to talk to you about that last part. Because, for some reason, I still think it’s what you need to hear. Or maybe I’m projecting, and it’s what I need to hear.

In our three decades (you give some, and I’ll take a little), we’ve both been here enough to know that the sun moves us on, willing or not. But that the times in between the sun, our skin stays marked (mine permanently and in ink considering your handwriting is tattooed on my arm)—it aches and flakes and tans and scars.

I just wanted to remind you, in the moment between the sun, that your focus can be your aloe. That you should let it soothe you. And let that brief respite be okay. Let grateful replace the guilt I…you feel.

Tonight, a half bottle in, I think it’s pretty remarkable what us humans can do. The ones who make a decision, conscious or seemingly unconscious (though we know—if not at first then always at some point—love is a choice), to give our heart to someone who could break it. To stand in the arena and wave a red flag at love. And the resilient ones, to do it again. And again even.

The lovers don’t get enough credit I think.

So I want to tell you how strong I think you are. For having done this before, legally even, and choosing to do it again. With me.

There is nothing in me but the deepest and most sincerest of gratitudes, for seeing in me, something that needed to be seen. And admiration, for choosing to enter.

I’m getting sidetracked.

I used to have this yoga teacher, who I wish I could tell how profoundly she changed my life. Anyway, in my Bikram class one day, she said, “When the climb gets harder, make your world smaller.” It’s advice I’ve gone back to again and again. And I return to it now, because it saved my life before.

Because my world without you seems vast.

Unformed.

I assume yours does as well. And I want to remind you, as you have so often done with me, to breathe. To focus on the next breath instead of the next day. And the next minute instead of the next week. And the next hour instead of the next month.

It’s okay to make your world small.

And when you let a painful minute just be a painful minute, it’s easier to let the next minute be one of pure love. And the next of pure gratitude. And the next of pure pain.

Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. It’s all good. (Thank you, Alia Khan).

And I think, in that third minute, that these three-minute cycles of grief are, truly, a pretty remarkable gift we’ve given to each other. So please, and I hope you will, be grateful. Know that I am. Grateful. In more ways and more words than I would ever pen here.

Above all else, I want you to remember, that you are what I started this letter with: My Dearest Friend. And that no matter what becomes of our story in your mind, in mine, and in the end, you will always be at least and at most (which is the highest regard with which Abigail Adams addressed her correspondence to her most beloved): My Dearest Friend.

And for now this is all the salve that I can give you. And for that I hate myself, but, for my own good, I let it be enough.

Because, you know me and you know, words have always been the thing I was best at.

I need to go drink another glass of wine for tonight, because I’m reaching the end of a three-minute cycle, and it just hurts.

But remember to focus on breathing. And that it’s okay, when you don’t have to anymore.

With the Heart I Hope You Would Still Love,

 

S

P.S. This week, we

EXPLORE,

And I make plans to head to the sea (and meet salt water with salt water) with Mermaid Jar funds (more to come).

 

A Time to #VOWrelease (& Never Read This Post Again)

I’ve been thinking a lot about letting go.
About the long list of things I need to release.

And let me tell you, it is quite extensive these days.

For the last month and a half, I have felt heavy. Both physically and metaphorically.

I’m struggling with my body again. To get out from under it. But my mind is hell bent on keeping me where I am, pinning me there with all its weight.

This isn’t a new struggle for me.

I’ve been back to the childhood journals to investigate its roots. And it started in earnest sometime around eleven, but the battle for my body began well before the first shot was ever fired. Years before I realized that my body looked different from what I thought it was supposed to look like, I watched my mother wage war on hers.

Back then though, while there is no doubt it stemmed from my brain, I thought it had only to do with my body. If I ate better or went for my runs consistently, it got better. And given that I was still living under my parents’ roof, I hadn’t yet had the chance to experiment with drugs like refined sugar, processed carbs, and wine.

These days, it’s not so easy.

Because I know too much but still somehow, not enough.

Now I know that when I wake up each morning and stand in front of my mirror naked first thing, inspecting and sizing up and pinching and deciding my worth based on that moment (and the two handfuls of the same that happen throughout the day), it isn’t a body problem. Because no amount of healthy eating and exercise fixes what you see in the mirror.

No doubt it helps, but, on its own, it treats a symptom, not the cause.

I’m heavy for other reasons you see. Deep wounds my parents and I have inflicted on each other that seem like they may never heal. Consistent worries that I will pass those wounds on or continue to pour salt in them. Lack of trust in a relationship that I don’t know how to fix but desperately want to. And a body (and in turn, a person) I want to quit sizing up by what I see in the mirror.

I was listening to a podcast the other day, and a woman said something about how she decided one day, she just couldn’t take it anymore. She couldn’t keep being just the right size and worried about gaining weight or not where she wanted to be and scrutinizing everything she put in her mouth. She wanted peace with her body.

So she set her mind accepting herself and learning how to eat mindfully. And let me tell you, that sounded so easy.

It’s not.

I mean I haven’t even tried it, and I am getting hung up on the thought. Learning to eat mindfully is one thing—though I will point out there is not a manual for that. But accepting your body for what it is? That just sounds like a recipe for continuing on and not caring.

And as my mind was starting to make the rhetorical rebuttals, she started speaking to them. Talking about how accepting your body doesn’t mean giving up. How it means starting to live in the way of the belief that the body you have is the one you already love. And how when you start to love your body for what it is, it’s hard to hate it, and it’s easier to treat it better.

I get it.
But it’s hard.
To let go of so very much.

And it’s more comfortable. In my bed. With streaming sitcoms and glasses of wine. And my self-righteous indignation.

But I know enough to know that it’s time to get out on my own or have someone pull me out, because this is not the person I want to be, and I’m slowly becoming her.

And that isn’t something I am willing to accept.

I’m a girl who likes to work for it, and it’s time to keep building.

And this is a post I don’t go back to proofread or I will never post it, so apologies for any typos.

This week, we

Focus.