Flexing and the Feminine

Flexing and the Feminine

In our art tent, we hear the same thing over and over: “Oh, I could never do that, I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” Boys and girls, we will attempt to dismantle that fallacy today. In the past weeks I’ve been trying to learn to paint, doing some drawing, things I haven’t done in a long, long time. I make my living making and selling mosaic art, but I am being very humbled by trying to learn a new set of skills. I like a challenge, and I love to learn, but it’s got me thinking a lot about the “muscle” of creativity.


I joined the Y last month and am using muscles that had been content on the sidelines, and for quite a while. My start there was also very humbling; I left in tears once, upset that I had let myself get so weak. I felt so disconnected from my younger, stronger self, like an old alien woman had replaced me. Done lost my mojo. But I came back the next day. And the next… Once I powered through the soreness, and shame… such deep shame….I eventually got to a place where I found new energy, new strength in my body.


We each arrive with a body, with a mind. Inside each of us is the ability to create, and some leaning toward a particular avenue of creativity. Some of us are word people, like to speak and write; more visual people are drawn to graphic expressions, others express themselves musically…and on and on. My belief is that we are created, inhabiting a created planet; it makes sense that we’d all have this gene. We can numb it, ignore it, or dismiss it…but it doesn’t leave. It is only dormant. Pick up a pen….a piece of glass…an instrument…follow whatever sparkle you’ve always loved. And yes, maybe cry a bit like me at the gym at your first attempts. But push through it, and you’ll feel that muscle begin to finally flex.


I’ve recently found myself, almost accidentally, involved with a group of women who happen to be, for the most part, awake to their latent creative chops. We’re in various states of disrepair; in other words, regular women. Some bear wounds that are very fresh. None of us are unscathed, of course. And what started initially as a social evening is beginning to organically develop into a haven of sorts. But what is really intriguing to me is that creativity seems to be an instrument of healing among us. One recently divorced woman is making her way through her confusion by writing words of great honesty and power…. I sit in awe of this process, my mouth hanging open in reverence…and delight. Another goes to several drawing classes a week, channeling her pain into pieces of art that communicate… STRENGTH. All of her work contains a fierceness that so encourages me. Another is a dear friend who shares my broken heart, also lost her son pretty recently. But her art journaling has been her path of healing, and watching this process has brought light into my darkness as well. In fact, I’m signing up for an art journaling class with some of these women. I can use all the healing and sisterhood I can get.


I so believe in the power of sharing. Lately, everything in the universe is pointing me toward the feminine. Those that know me well understand how unusual, and meaningful, this is to me. I am the girl with many male friends, or I was in the north anyway. Down here, it’s a little different…. And so am I, actually. But I didn’t like some female activities….and behaviors, to be honest. It didn’t hurt that I have a ridiculously overactive and immature sense of humor too; sorry, guys. However…. When I lost Zack, it was the sisters who carried me through. My guy friends were all terrified, I gotta say. But what’s weird is that this group of women all have had similar issues with females. And yet, we’re traveling together…. Probably with some fear and trepidation, but hey, we’re moving forward. And art and creativity seem to be the healing signs along our highway. I know in my spirit that something deeply significant is happening here. I’m excited about it, and grateful. Like I said, I love learning. Learning how wrong I was about women has been a great lesson to me, and I’m ready for more growth and creativity.


Shiny Stuff


It started with an innocent comment. My girlfriend said, in the midst of an already brilliant conversation (she’s very wise), “We need to start off 2017 with a bang, put that awful 2016 behind us definitively.” (I’m paraphrasing; I am far less brilliant). I was somewhat startled initially, she’s always pretty positive. After a moment’s consideration I was surprised to think, she’s right, at least about this past fall. Lots of relatively tough days for us Floridee folk. And I thought back to another girlfriend convo I’d had the day before, where a friend shared honestly of a struggle she’s in the midst of. More brilliance (my own genius lies in filling my life with amazing people) as she spoke of her will to fight her way out. Those conversations, those thoughts, have been percolating on my back burner all day, and now that I think of it, I realize something has been unfolding before me all week…. Wait, it’s been coming on for a while now….now that I think of it, all through this fall. A fall of hurricanes and illnesses.


I can’t even say it’s been a bad season. It’s had its rough days, fo sho. I cried for three days straight going through those dang water-logged photos…. But wait, I remember how on that last day, just as I had reached a fever-pitch of hysteria, a woman I don’t know well knocked on my door to tell me of a couch that was available to replace ours… she ended up staying for a few hours, we had the best visit. I discovered that although I was without a couch and most other furniture, I had made a fantastic new friend. (Yes, it’s amazing, she’s shiny too!). My husband blew me away with his dedication to putting our home back together, working around the clock for six weeks, and he did a great job. Two crazy girlfriends broke into my home to move my car out of the way when they saw trash trucks finally come into my neighborhood during my absence. I watched my beloved community come together in significant ways, and am even prouder to call St Augustine home. SO much good came out of it all.


So yes, even as we walked through some damp days, something warm was brewing in my spirit. Something redemptive and muscular, coming to the surface now as I sit and talk with strong women, creative women, inspiring women. And yes, some of them are speaking words of hope, dreaming of new avenues of expression, even while still on the battlefield. Because that is the message of the day, that is the way through it. Whether you’ve had a tough fall or not; your time is coming. Being a part of our communal healing is the way home.


Many women seem to know this instinctively. I sat with two other friends last week in a sunny courtyard, listening as one spilled her guts about her own painful situation, non-weather related, I know you feel me. We really didn’t have any words of wisdom for her, but we sat with her in it, listening, being with her as she spoke her truth. Let me add that this is a sister who’s been through it; a beautiful younger woman, she walked in on the cane she’s been using for years now. Her words spoke of being devalued by another but her spirit shouted of her strength and her open heart within. It was an honor to sit with her, to witness her, well, the word that comes to mind is glory. There is a glory that comes with being truthful, with exposing your pain honestly to trusted friends. There is symbiotic power in that giving while trusting your pain will be answered with support, encouragement and presence. She had texted me for prayer last week as she sat outside an office waiting for battle. There is power in that trust and I felt it as I read her text, and I knew the prayer I sent up was endowed with grace birthed within. I knew that her trust had jump-started something strong in me….and on…and on.


I’m using trigger words here, I know, but I’m not talking about anything churchy or religious. I’m talking about the Love that fills and drives and infuses the universe, seen and unseen. When women come together in solidarity, with open hearts and spirits, willing to listen and share and learn from one another….. stuff happens. Healing stuff, beautiful, messy, potent, unimaginable STUFF and I want more of it. So more and more is coming into my life, like a glorious tide of discovery and beauty. I find myself in conversations with women who want to write, who are discovering painting, who want to teach others to play and dream, who care deeply for the joy of the journey, and it’s no accident. This too is my autumn; along with the hurricane and stupid cancer, there are spiritual adventures and wonder. How am I gonna complain?


Take back your rough season. Gather women around you who are ready to wake up. Maybe they don’t even know it yet, maybe they just need presence, a safe place to be real. Especially in this Christmas season, a time of year challenging for so many of us. I haven’t made it through a Christmas yet without falling apart. I have a good feeling about this one, I feel like I’ve come a long way this year. I feel more like myself. Which is not to say I won’t cry. It’s absolutely okay if I do. But I know where to find some strong sistuhs to get me through if I need ‘em. And did I mention that they’re all brilliant? Christmas peace, yall.

Still Standin’

It’s all perspective, this I know.


I live in St. Augustine, specifically in Davis Shores, one of the two or three neighborhoods that was recently devastated by Hurricane Matthew. I’m not a whiner, but everyone in our neighborhood, like those in Treasure Beach and Crescent Beach, pretty much lost everything in their homes that was not lifted up above 2-3 feet inside. Which means all appliances, most furniture, kitchen cabinets, heating/air units, and then all of the countless items you use regularly without valuing until they’re gone. Who knew their blender was so vital?!


A bummer, yes, but if you’ve suffered real loss before it almost seems trivial. Material loss is so insignificant compared to other losses it almost seems ridiculous. My first morning waking up in my bed at home after a week away happened to be my birthday. We got lucky; the box springs were gone but we got to keep our mattress. It was a sunny day, by all rights MY sunny day, and I was ready to rock and roll. I am an optimist by nature, in the extreme, like everything else about me. We had lugged out everything wet to the front lawn, we had scrubbed and bleached, along with much help from many wonderful people. We decided to keep hope alive and didn’t cut our sheetrock. Instead we moved a semi-damp thrift store couch back in along with some lamps and plants and our living room looked empty but almost decent, if you ignored the floor and all the piles of family albums and books drying everywhere. To be honest, I really wasn’t that upset.


That night friends of ours were playing at a local pub, so we met up with some peeps I enjoy so, so much. We sat outside in the warm sweet air, listening to George and Dave crank out beauty, eating a delicious birthday meal. A number of friends who live elsewhere in summer had come in from out of town to check on their properties, and none of us had good news. Some had traveled from the mountains, some from Canada, and all arrived to some sort of shambles, as our little haven has really been hit hard. I was particularly happy to see one woman who, like me, has just gone through a rough couple of years. But also like me, she refuses to lay down, and we grabbed each other and exchanged knowing smiles, comforting hugs. I felt that more than anyone else here, with the exception of our men, she knew how little this really meant, in terms of life significance. It did me much good to see her warm smile, as well as the joy, laughter and love of all of the others. I do so love this little community and all of its magnificent people. We were all very brave that night.


Fast forward two weeks or so….. our initial optimism was unwarranted. We repented in ashes and sackcloth and tore out the sheetrock. More loud industrial fans, constantly, mind you. We had bought one new fridge, filled it with food, then came to realize it didn’t work; a second more insulting food loss. Same thing with the motor on the AC; paid for a new one, left the house for a weekend art show with house locked tight and the AC in war mode, chilling the mold to the death hopefully. Came home to a house eerily quiet and filled with a sweet stench; yep, the whole AC unit died over the weekend and left the house cooking in its own filth. More stories like that, times a hundred, as so many friends are going through the same struggles. Debris still in massive piles all over the house and the hood. And I find myself quietly… wilting. At first I think I’m just tired, but then I realize these feeling of loss and weariness are very familiar. I notice that when I run into friends in the same situation they too look exhausted, they mention unexplainable tears. ….I get honest with myself and cop to it: this stinks. Yes, it’s only material things but it’s tapping into buried emotions, and instead of crying about the loss of the washer and dryer I’m really missing something, or someone, far more important. That’s the thing about loss; you expend much unconscious energy daily not losing yourself to it, and then you suffer a far less meaningful loss, and those emotions get too close to the pit where you’ve buried the real pain. Exhaustion is not your friend when you’re fighting unconscious battles.


But… we moved here because we recognized the unique, very beautiful spirit here. It has played a huge role in my recovery from the loss of our son, and I’m so grateful that I was led here even before I knew how badly I’d need that solace. The particular beauty of the place and also its people is greater than the force of any hurricane winds, and I’ve seen so many instances of this power at work in the past few weeks. I will choose to focus on these now rather than the loss. The throngs of lovely peeps who showed up at our house immediately after we were allowed in, bringing fans and tools to help us lug out all our heavy soaking wet things; nasty work and yet we were turning people away who came to help, turning them on to our neighbors. The myriad kindnesses of strangers who traveled from near and far to drive up and down our streets offering food, cleaning materials, hugs. People who I don’t even know very well coming by with gifts of Home Depot and gift cards. The loving support and gifts from our dear artist friends and love from as far away as CA. The giant bags of candy sent by my intuitive sister. The home cooked meals, so very helpful. The friends who let us crash in their condo, and my daughter taking us in also. My girlfriend parking her camper in my driveway, allowing me to use its fridge and bed if we needed it. Friends who came by with lunch, flowers, prayers and laughs, both equally healing. Our neighbor generously picking up a dehumidifier for us when he got his. My crazy girlfriends who happened to be going by my house when the giant claw was picking up debris; seeing that my car was blocking them and that we weren’t home, they quickly called us, got into our house, found the key and moved the car in time! Friendship above and beyond! My sweet friend who came by to offer to help glue art with me so I wouldn’t fall behind in my work. SO touching! And then, the topper: offering us two tickets to see Bonnie Raitt this weekend! I’m telling you, I live in the best place! Matthew couldn’t TOUCH the love that resides in this town; in fact, he only inadvertently strengthened it.


I may be tired but I’m not too weary to know that the good here far outweighs the bad. If I’m going to honestly admit my weariness I’m also going to proclaim my hopefulness. We are StA strong, and it’ll take more than a hurricane to shut us down. I am thankful, and I am proud, even if I am a little grimy around the edges. Still standin’.hur

Checkin’ In


This keeps coming to me so I guess I’m gonna write about it, even though doing so may mean I will turn off various people, for almost opposite reasons. I’ve been thinking about humility for days now, ever since I spoke with a local pastor whose church I go to sometimes (there goes half of you). It’s weird cuz I don’t go there regularly, although a friend of mine speaks there occasionally on Sundays, and has begun to lead a weekly thing there mid-week. She and her following kind of invade this small, quiet church regularly, and those of us who attend when she speaks are SO not quiet. It’s an odd phenomenon and it fascinates me, mostly because of the reaction of this pastor. I’ve been going to church for many years now, have known many pastors, have even been married to one (surprise!), and I have to say….. I’ve known very few whom I’d consider humble (and there goes the other half).


And I don’t say that to be critical; it’s almost part and parcel of the position. Comes with the territory. Pastors, as we usually experience them anyway, hold an audience captive for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, while they speak on whatever they’ve determined people need to hear that day. Don’t even get me started on all the things I do not like about that scenario. But that’s not my point here. My point is that that arrangement easily fuels the speaker’s ego, sense of self-importance, and can over-elevate their role in the spiritual community. Or misdirect it, at least. An occupational hazard, if you will; hopefully less of a personal weakness. So when I meet and get to know a pastor who does NOT need to be the center of attention, who willingly and joyfully gives away his precious pulpit, to a woman no less, AND instead uses the time to serve the teenagers in the back room?!?! Oh yeah, that guy gets my attention. I do want to hear what he has to say. He has earned the right to be heard, in my book.


I could go on here about the biblical value of humility, of how Christ Himself modeled it, prized it, and taught on it…but I   won’t. Mustn’t pontificate in a piece on not pontificatingJ. Anyway, He pretty much nailed it with the whole washing of the feet thing, one of His last “sermons.” Gotta love a God who teaches by showing, on His knees no less. Many Eastern religions also wisely honor the act of serving as well. And in this very particular historic moment where we are bombarded by the hard sell of politicians who embody the religion of ego and power, the gentle message of service is especially appreciated. It is, in fact, a power move. The whole “the least shall be greatest” thing.


So yeah, this pastor blows my mind by behaving in a manner opposite of many clergy. But I mean here to talk more about the power of humility in service than the misuse of position, tempting as that is, LOL. I’m thinking of the many teachers, nurses, artists, firemen …….well, there really is no limit, is there? The young single mom who served you coffee this morning at Starbucks….the teacher heading into a classroom of kids resistant to learning….the nurse who encouraged you in the hospital when you were frightened and wearing a thin gown with an embarrassing slit…..the older guy who pumped your gas in the icy cold last winter (Jerzey peeps). Sure, they might not have been motivated by humility, but still. They were performing acts of service, worthy of our props and appreciation. I wonder if there is not some spiritual power in that, regardless of motivation….


I do believe there is power in our response to them. I do believe that when we value the person offering service to us, when we show appreciation to that checkout person standing on her feet for hours, we feed the world with love. I’ve had a weird attraction to checkout people for years, and that looks very odd in print but it’s true. Maybe because as much as I’ve worked some tough, crazy jobs, and I have, I don’t think I could stand in one place for long periods hitting those barcodes. My back couldn’t do it, my brain couldn’t do it, and I mean no disrespect; I’ve cleaned toilets for a living. So when I check out in a store, I can’t help but notice the checker, usually a woman, standing… standing…. oh wow, still standing and checking. That is a hard gig. Showing some love to her is an honor. Appreciating her standing chops alone is easy to do. And there is power in that. We have the power to lift one another up in the simplest ways. A kind word, a token of recognition and appreciation. It only takes humility, and awareness. And in this, the age of Trump/Clinton, don’t we all yearn for some significant power? Some way to heal the world, to ease the pain?


I see I’ve rambled a bit. I started by thinking of Jeff and how his example has stirred me. But that kind of proves my point. Seeing him serve teenagers joyfully rather than grasping his opportunity to be up front has moved me deeply. More than any words he might say, his actions taught me. Those are some lucky kids in that back room with him, and the power of his example of humility and service floats right through the walls to the front of the church. No pulpit necessary. And brought healing to a heart maybe somewhat desensitized by long-winded preachers. A true servant is a powerful force. We who appreciate humility and kindness and service are a powerful force, or can be. No matter what your faith, be a vessel of love and appreciation today, to a nurse, teacher, artist, fireman, or yes, please, those magnificent checkers! Power to the people, y’all. In the most unusual ways.



My husband and I are working in Ocean City for a month, the island beach town where we raised our four children. It is a very family-oriented resort, no bars or alcohol sold, and it JAMS all summer long, until Labor Day. School starts the next day and the transformation in this small city as vacationers leave is extreme. Streets that have been furiously overcrowded are suddenly empty; finally we can park again. The wooden boardwalk is once again pleasant, the ocean breezes themselves feel joyous. Pretty much everything whispers… they’re gone. The relief is palpable.


Our family had very few traditions, but the first day of school was one we never missed. For this one day, maybe, the kids were less reluctant about school. Especially when they were younger, there was a tiny element of excitement, curiosity. Once all four were on their various school buses, Paul and I always got on our bikes, headed to the boardwalk, and rode through the freshly empty town. We’d stop for breakfast at the tiny restaurant that we could never get into in the summer when crowds kept the locals at bay. We reclaimed our community and looked ahead with deep satisfaction to the life of a parent with kids in school. Sports, new friends, challenges….growing. Moving forward, back when time was kinder.


I’m not much for holidays anymore, so I don’t know if there is a more evocative day for me. The calendar is no longer my friend, lurking as it does with dangerous days and memories. It’s fitting that this day falls in September, rolling out hope of cooling air, promises almost tangible on the ocean breeze.  My bike ride this morning was still lovely…even though no longer brimming with those same expectations. Being back in this town where we lived for almost 30 years, where we raised four kids, and walked through life….and death… with many friends so deeply implanted into our hearts…feels at once familiar and foreign. We’ve been forever changed by recent events…by the loss of our son. Our transformation feels as radical, as blunt and dramatic, as these empty streets. And yes, they are a fitting metaphor for the hole within, the hollowness that never leaves…. But the air still feels ripe with promise; hope continues in the same streets, the remaining children, the same friends, and the life to come. There is both, always and concurrently. At home in Floridee, I never run into anyone who knew Zack, who can evoke or share memories…..and here, I do run into those who knew him, loved him, and remember. Both situations help… and hurt. I hang and eat donuts with his girlfriend, and it is glorious, and brutal. We laugh and love…and cry. I want her to be my daughter forever…but I remember that she has her own parents… her own life. And of course I want this for her. It is both. Everything is both, and today especially is deep with dreaming.


Paul doesn’t really like to come here, and I understand why. Just speaking logistically, it’s a rough go. We pay a boatload of money to stay in a shoebox. Parking is a nightmare, and the bed is so bad I sleep on the tiniest of couches, shorter than the length of my body. Everything feels a bit alien to us now in this place that was home for so long. But I will always want to come as this is also a place of great comfort to me, solid encouragement, a living reminder that we built a life. That like the undulating waves coming in and out of the shore, life has its own rhythms and rhymes and cannot be denied. My oldest son and his daughter still live here, although not together. Like so much else here, this is not the fulfillment of my dreams for him. His life has had as much coming and going as the tides, and the road before him is not one easily traversed. It fits about as well as my tiny couch. But I do sleep each night, and he does walk through the days. We keep going, because life, for all of us, is both.


I want to come each summer, to see him and encourage him. To ride my bike on an empty boardwalk and feel hope in the wind. To look at an enormous sky and know that Love is watching over us, and over Zack, and the waves and the road are still before us. Both coming in, and going out…. No one gets a pass. But we all get to ride, for how long we do not know. In some seasons the streets are filled with promise and pleasure; in others, the ride is more difficult. The bed’s too soft and the couch is too short, sleep is fitful at best. But get up and jump on your bike. Ride to the boardwalk and look out at that magnificent sea, at the waves endlessly unfurling. Embrace the coming in and the going out, the duality of it all, while you still have it. Tomorrow is not promised, but hope still rides the breeze.

Dare to Care


A week or so ago, someone said this thing to me, and now it’s killing me that I can’t remember who it was. He or she was telling me about some time they had just spent with someone new, and with the most plaintive look on their face said, “You know, the whole time I was with them they never asked me one question about myself.”  I was immediately fascinated by this remark, so taken aback that when they went on to something else, I missed the opportunity to dig into their meaning. Now I’m wondering, was it said with disappointment? We’re they surprised, or relieved? Because this, oddly, is something I think about a lot. I mean, like a lot. I wonder often if this is a cultural circumstance or a personal one. Are we less interested in others? Are we overly consumed with ourselves? Have we finally given ourselves over to a full-on selfie existence? And is anyone else noticing this phenomenon?


Freak that I am, I’ve had a life-long fascination with humans, and how they operate. Definitely in the bemused scientist sense rather than the nosy neighbor way. I was a people-watcher even as a child. My parents would take us to places where they’d drink the day/night away and try to forget they had kids; their one skill set:). But honestly, I don’t remember ever being bored. I would sit quietly for hours and watch everyone. Somewhere along the way I became convinced I was invisible. For years I continued the same behaviors, although less successfully. Note to self: people don’t like to be stared at. It took me a while to comprehend this. I’m embarrassed to say I have a memory from probably the fifth grade of a group of girls finally turning around and screaming in my face…. something to the effect of stop staring at us, you giant freak. Because yes, I was just standing outside their circle, unabashedly staring and listening to them. As if they were my own personal movie, with absolutely no awareness of how wrong/weird that was. It seems crazy to me now that I was what, 11, before that occurred to me?! Hey, it was SCIENCE, people! But it didn’t stop me, I just became a sneakier watcher. Still am, truth be told.


I wonder constantly what makes people tick. Why do they do the things they do, say what they say? It’s a happy day for me when I get to watch friends in their family setting. Seeing humans in their natural habitat, how much of their behaviors are familial, what are the group dynamics. And all of this information just intrigues me more, raises more questions. Which I then ask. Asking questions is a part of who I am. I’m less rude than my 11 year old self, more careful, but I still want to know. I want to know what you are like inside, what drives you, how did you get this way, what does it feel like to be you…. Geez, I sound horribly pushy and nosy in this, and I don’t think that’s the case. I’m just, well, I’m interested.


And there you have it. That may be the core of my inner freak, my deep and abiding interest in others. And this adds to my already high freak level because it seems to me that most people are not. I’ll be honest, my interest doesn’t always seem to compel me to authentic caring or kindness. I mean, I do try to be kind and caring but I think my success ratings are as mediocre as the next guy’s. Which is to say mildly. I’m more curious, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into any redeeming social value. Actually, I’m probably way less socially valuable, as I also seem to be losing my memory at a rapid pace. I hear constantly from my kids about all the things I forget. My friends are less harsh but I’ve had some soul-searing moments where I discover ways in which I’ve let friends down by failing to remember various plights and/or situations. Interestingly, I’ve yet to forget any party invites, LOL. I know, my friendship skills are beginning to fail, sad to say. If only curiosity counted!


Well, it counts with me. I think in this impersonal culture people are dying to be known. To have meaningful conversations, to get past the superficial. I believe that because of the reaction that I generally get when I do ask questions. I am sensitive to those who do not want to share, but for the most part, people enjoy looking within if invited by someone genuinely intrigued by the discovery process. We live each day in a mad, mad rush, every hour a blur. An interested friend can’t slow time down but they can help take your temperature, and that can sometimes make a huge difference. Of course, not everyone is introspective. But you know what they say about the unexamined life….


Do you wonder about the people in your life? You may know the ones in your inner circle, but how about the next circle? The ones you just met recently, or maybe you’ve known a while but on only the most casual level? Or do you ever feel like even those who know many things about you still don’t know YOU? The you that’s just below the surface, or your back story. I’m not talking excavation crew here, I just mean what goes on in your mind/heart on a regular basis but it never sees the light of day. And maybe how it got there. Think about all those reality shows people watch. They can’t possibly be interested in those lame plots, can they? I wonder if it’s more about watching unobserved, seeing how people run…. I dunno, I could be wrong. I could be the world’s biggest freak, and I’m actually okay with that. But I’ll go first and say this: I do want to be known. Sometimes I physically ache for it. I bet a few others feel the same way. Ask each other questions. Invest your time in knowing someone. Fight against the dying of the light, people.



Girl Overboard


I am a person of excess. Always have been, probably always will be. Just the way I’m wired, and I don’t think of it as good or bad. But I tend to do everything big. I feel things in a big way, I think deeply and often over-think. I eat too much, I jump in always in the deep end, I am loud in my self-expression. I do try to be sensitive to others and not suck up ALL the oxygen in the room, and I understand that some misread the intentions of those wired like myself, and I’m fine with it. I get it. It’s not easy to consider the makeup of others, and maybe they figure who’s got the time? Very understandable.


Sometimes my wiring is a positive. It’s taken me on some wild adventures; I think I’m living in Floridee because of an insatiable hunger for, what… more? More is the name of my game. Back in the days when I thought I’d have a tombstone, I wrote my preferred inscription: “Here lies Kevan. She always wanted more, and she finally got it.” Those who know me best or longest know my instructions about the memorial service, and okay, they’re unusual. They involve some climbing up on chairs and yes, there’s a bit of pretending the chairs are horses… I guess some might call that extreme… or a tiny bit controlling, I’ll cop to it. But only because I want so much to express myself even when I’m gone… you see, this is what I’m talking about. I may have a teensy problem.


Every so often, I just feel some crazy rising up in me, like a slow dark tide. I can ignore it for a while, sometimes a long while even. But then: something must be pierced, said, written, tattooed, or dyed. It’s just the law of the jungle: something’s gotta give. And once it does? Sighhhhhh… peace in the land. So you learn to just go with it. I do try, I swear, to factor in the needs of others, if their needs are unlucky enough to be connected with mine. I’m fortunate to have a man who couldn’t care less about the color of my hair, and trusts me to weigh the things that come out of my mouth. My daughter however, when she was in school, used to cringe at the attention my hair color brought her way, and I did feel badly about that. I ran into my mother-in-law in a grocery store one day and I think the shock of my purple head just broke her usual polite restraints; she stopped in her tracks and wailed, “Oh Kevan, why?!” Is it wrong that I loved that she broke through??


Why indeed? Because it is who I am. I don’t always love who I am, but I do try to. I went through a period of a year or two recently when my brain and heart were so broken, so rattled and dismantled and wounded, that I couldn’t always remember who I was, or reach that person. I’d leave the house as Kevan and wake up an hour later in a social setting huddled in a corner, dazed and confused, wondering where I went. And that can happen to us, when we’re not in touch with ourselves. Taking our temperatures, paying attention to our own lives, honoring our need to express ourselves. One of the best things about my recovery is that I do feel like myself again, like Kevan. I’m certainly changed by my experience, but I try to see that as a positive too. Life is full of changes; you gotta roll with it, grow and change and expand as needed.


Today I’m feeling a little of the black tide. It’s been a rough week, and I may be wishing today that I felt less. That I was better at shrugging things off. But that’s never gonna be me, and when push comes to shove? I’ll take me, over my purple head in the deep end. Just throw me a life jacket if you see me bobbin’ in the tide.