Confessions of an Over-sharer

Confessions of an Over-sharer

Subtitled: Get Over Yourself. I’m really trying to figure this out. I think it may be the latest lesson sent from the Land of Both. Here’s my process: I get up most mornings and walk a few miles, usually by myself. Most of the time my brain is flooded with thoughts…feelings…questions. Which I try to figure out as the day goes on. Lately my thought life has felt very directed, to the point where I’ve come to believe I’m being led on some sort of spiritual quest, and I shared some of that last week. Even as I posted it, I acknowledged that a part of my brain was fighting me on it, telling me it was presumptuous and vain. Not so much the posting, but the thinking that anyone would have interest in it, or be willing to join me in sharing the journey. That got a bit worse a few days later, as my brain attempted to punish me for my ego… yes, all who mentioned my overthinking nailed it; I cannot deny it. There are occasional moments when I wonder if I’m having some sort of breakdown and rather than writing about it, I should be calling a doctor. For realz.


BUT. In the Land of Both, I’m learning that something can be both horrifying and wonderful. This has much to do with wiring, I think. The way I’m wired, there is much percolating below the surface, until these thoughts slowly begin to rise like overripe bubbles. Sometimes fully formed, sometimes more nebulous, presenting as more of an urge than a specific feeling. If left unattended they may spill out as pink hair or crazy bangs, an easy solution and a real release. See, that’s also a glitch in my wiring: I feel a real release when I get this stuff on the outside of me. Regardless of the results, my payoff comes in the release.  I feel better for having expressed myself, even if it ends up embarrassing me. This may be an artistic wiring, or it may be true of everyone, I dunno. It’s taken a while to learn this, but I no longer fight against my own wiring.


However, after the release, when I’ve gone on with my life and am now moved on to calmer thoughts, different adventures…. If I have occasion to go back and consider some of my more public releases… blogs…conversations…I am honestly sometimes horrified. Stunned by… the ego of it all. The oversharing. The fascination with myself and the assumption that others are equally fascinated. LOL. See, even writing this is making me laugh, it’s so….ridiculous. It is funny.  I am funny. We are funny. This whole life thing….. it’s vanity and laughter and struggle and seeking. It’s lessons from the Land of Both.


I’m never gonna have it all together. I’m going to struggle with what to do with all these questions, thoughts…especially when I’m in quest mode. I want to adventure, I want to grow, I want to do better. In my heart of hearts, I want to do this in community. I’m a lover of people and their stories, I’ve always been fascinated by the human experience. And yes, keepin’ it real, I think I’m also someone who doesn’t completely grasp publicly accepted boundaries, social media-wise. In a nutshell, I overshare.


I went out with three girlfriends the other night, got dinner, did some art walk. I have some hard stuff going on in my life, and much of it involves another person. My husband. Who is also going through his own seriously hard stuff, way harder than mine. Being an oversharer, I ended up blurting out my stuff at dinner. My feelings in a difficult situation, and I didn’t hold back. My motive? To get it OUT. Out of my head. To figure out some of what I’m feeling through talking it over with trusted friends. Honestly, I do feel a beneficial release from this; it is helpful just saying some of it aloud. BUT. Was it right to do? To expose my husband’s private struggle for the sake of my own relief? I don’t know… I do know I regretted it the next day, and sent an apology to all three. I did regret telling his stuff, to a degree, and I felt badly about the position I took that night. It was a bit selfish, lacked compassion…. the very quality I publicly sought just earlier this week!! I was, yet again, horrified.


BUT. I also felt blessed by the revelation of my own dark heart. Yes, I publicly shared just one week ago that I was on a quest for more kindness and compassion in my life. Ha! Within a few short days, I revealed myself to be the very antithesis of this; rather, I discovered great selfishness and ego ruling in my heart, at the expense of the one I love most. A dark day indeed.


HOWEVER. This self-knowledge came as a result of my openness. My oversharing. I didn’t see it at all until I exposed myself, and my man, to the light of day. And I needed to discover this for my quest to continue.  I guess all I’m saying is that this is how I learn. And I’m very much trying to learn here. I also believe so strongly in the power of community, and want to be a part of that giving/sharing/sustaining process with others. So I’m spilling my stuff all over because I guess I believe that ultimately the benefits outweigh the embarrassing side effects. A friend once offered me a brilliant solution: a small sign that read “I’m weird.” I could just raise it as a coverall, a kind of public explanation/disclaimer. We could then move on to other topics…. Doesn’t that sound freeing?


It’s all pretty circular, isn’t it? The signature sign of overthinking. Actually, now that I think of it I overshare, I overthink, I overeat… I’m very much an OVER person, a person of excess. I over express. But again, it goes back to wiring. You can’t fight city hall. Get yourself a Weird sign and do the best you can.


PS: Wrote this, left it open on computer to marinate, and meanwhile got a call from my son, the one most like me, poor kid. What did we discuss? Overthinking, its charms, and forgiving yourself. Ha! I’ve reproduced. And the beat goes on…..



A Hopeful Journey

A  Hopeful Journey

The name of the game is JOURNEY for me right now. It is becoming a deep focus for me lately, kind of unexpectedly, and I’m not even sure how it all started… A friend lent me a book this past fall, for the quotes at the end of each chapter, he said. I’m always looking for great quotes to build art around…Took me months to pick up “Buddhist Boot Camp” but it’s been blowing my mind ever since….turns out it’s not even really about Buddhism. Then in the past few weeks I’ve had a few things on constant repeat: I’ve probably watched “La La Land” a good ten times so far (or parts of it, a movie about dreamers) (yes, I have a lot of insomnia; trying to make it work FOR me), and the HBO “Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling” have amazed me with their wisdom and insights. Also downloaded “Heretic” recently, the new documentary about Rob Bell; it is so thick with ideas and philosophy it also calls for multiple screenings. Which is not to say that I’m letting popular culture lead me spiritually, but it is the sea in which we all swim, right? I’ll say this: I’ve been moving toward a fresh understanding of compassion and inclusivity for a while now, and it only makes sense to me that the Universe would cooperate in that journey. I recently shared on Facebook my excitement about a confirming dream sent to me in the midst of all this. I want to grow in kindness, in understanding how that might look in my life, and how it might take root in my heart so as to flow more freely. I know, it sounds so simple… it may be indicative of my own heart’s darkness that I find it so… compelling and complicated and challenging.


I am a person of connection, and I am used to experiencing my spiritual journeying in community, alongside others. Let’s be honest: I am also very verbal. Read: I like to talk. A LOT. Those two things being said, I’m thinking I may share this journey on Facebook. I know, I know, you just threw up in your mouth a little. But before I lose you completely, let’s talk about the Book. I started on FB back in like 2006, when I was writing for music websites. Bands had started using FB like Myspace, and in order to research them for interviews I had to create an account of my own. So I was there when it was all young people and college students, and I was there when their parents started joining and they all left. Since then some of the ‘rents and others have become disillusioned and dropped out, and of course people often go in and out with it, depending on how they handle it themselves. For me, it’s always been a useful tool; for communication, for exploration, for information, for laughing… I’m not someone who loses time with it, because I pay no attention to the extras. I get the information I want, and I’m done. I live a thousand miles away from many dear friends, and I love feeling connected to their lives, and to those in my current community. But I love connection of any kind, so to me the Book is a useful tool. I adore technology, and any tool that has the potential to draw us together, I’m down.


But I’m not unaware of the down side of social media, so lemme just say this, in the most friendly, straightforward way: I am not seeking the approval of anyone. If you think I’m going over Niagra in a barrel, if you think I’m wasting your time, if you think I’m endangering my mortal soul, if you think I’m a narcissistic blabbermouth…. you may or may not be right. Feel free to ignore me, block me, or defriend me; I’m totally fine with it. If your worries are sincere, please reach out to me privately and let’s talk. Of course you’re welcome to publicly express a different perspective as long as it is calm, respectful, and contains no name-calling or snide superiority. This must be said as I’ve recently found myself playing unwilling referee among friends duking it out politically on posts that started out quite innocently. The experience has been very uncomfortable and I’m determined to avoid a repeat. I didn’t shut those discussions down (although I was tempted to) because I do value the exchange of ideas, but they were often the very antithesis of kindness and I will have to if hijacked on this topic.


Of course I’m reading this all as I type and it begs the question: who do you think you are that people would be that invested or interested, Kevan, that you have to post rules of behavior? That actually does come across like a narcissistic blabbermouth LOL. See, I said it could be an accurate description, I don’t deny it. That possibility is actually part of the reason I’m so interested in exploring my insides, and trying to reach a place less selfish, more altruistic. If I’m being honest this has to be considered, and I’m willing to, because I want it that badly. I may be completely alone in this; it wouldn’t be that shocking to me. But who knows? I may not be. You may have things to teach me, and I invite you to join me. I want to learn from you, from anyone also interested in exploring a more compassionate way to live, a way to encourage others to find and affirm beauty in other humans. It seems especially crucial at this time, a season where ugliness is perceived as a virtue and the ego is king. I need rescue from this culture, this message. In some vital ways, I may need rescue from myself. I’m dreaming of a truth-filled journey, where we may post pictures of our art or our writings or our questions or our songs that lead us further into the adventure of exploring KINDNESS. Feel free to share, join in, ignore, pray, post, or any other soulful response. I’m eager to learn from you. I may NEED to learn from you.

Drink Me

Drink Me

We’ve been up in our home town for the past few weeks, doing some art business and visiting with family and friends. It’s always a very reflective time, and sometimes morphs into some serious soul-searching, a process which can feel like a house of mirrors to me. Very Alice in Wonderland, and the DRINK ME potions make me feel small and then tall in the most confusing ways. Do you ever have those times, when you try to figure out who you really are or what you’re feeling, and everything looks distorted and uncertain?


The past few years have been a process of weeding my way through various grief mazes, and now that I’m out of the worst of it maybe, I realize how distorted some of my thinking was along the way. I didn’t know it at the time, of course. In the midst of it you think you’re handling it, doing okay, but you’re mercifully out of touch with the reality of how you’re REALLY behaving. I had moved to Floridee shortly before my process started, so many of my Floridee friends only know that Kevan, the stunned, deer in the headlights, shell of a Kevan. I sometimes wish I could post a public disclaimer, or wear a sandwich board proclaiming “Do Over!” or “That’s not who I REALLY am, I swear”…. but I guess maybe part of it must be? I don’t know, and therein lies some of my current confusion.


It’s like trying to grab those tiny pieces of eggshell from the yolk. Your fingers feel all fat and overgrown, and the shell pieces keep moving just ahead of you always. At a party the other night, someone whom I’m really coming to dig deeply said he liked my writing for my “vulnerability,” and I thought really? Came home and started reading in this very blog…. starting being the operative word. I could only get through the first entry and half of the second. Took me like two hours and I was completely overwhelmed… slightly horrified… kind of embarrassed. And yes, my most present adverb companion of late, CONFUSED. Honestly, I have little recollection of writing those words. I felt like I was reading a book from the library, a very intrusive, in your face kind of book that followed me home, snuck into my reading pile, and then leapt into my consciousness without my permission. But then, that does kind of sound like me.


I think sometimes our feelings churn and brew inside in a smoking cauldron, noxious fumes rising, with eye of newt and frog’s legs poking out occasionally….until we have to finally, blindly RELEASE. This is usually when my hair gets dyed purple or blue. Because the process isn’t always malevolent or even negative. Sometimes it’s just passion or creativity percolating and rising to the surface. And I don’t even feel like my written words were bad or necessarily problematic. They were just so…naked. And maybe uninvited. You know, you’re reading a blog thinking maybe you’ll pick up a few good recipes and then you realize the writer has slit her wrists and is bleeding profusely all over your bright sunny morning. It’s not BAD, but it may be a bit presumptuous of me to think you’d WANT to deal with all that blood and guts while pleasantly scrolling through Facebook. I basically stripped without an invite. But then, that’s kind of me too…. (I know, forgive me for that image I just planted into your poor brain. See what I mean, LOL?!)


These thoughts were running in the background all week, and then this morning I had the opportunity to meet a woman whom I’ve been hearing about for a while, hearing enough to know I was gonna like her. I knew she read my blog and she must have gotten a similar build-up from our generous mutual friend, for her first words to me were about “kissing the ring.” I’m inclined to love anyone who starts off with a wisecrack, and soon we were right in the thick of it all, discussing the challenges of parenting, i.e., keeping parental pain secret vs. being open in the hope of healing. I love someone who gets right to it. Yeah, I’m definitely back in jerzey.


Both of these two sisters encouraged me in my “naked writing,” and their timing couldn’t have been better. (Or worse, if you’re a reader who cringes at my over-sharing. And if so, I feel you, I really do.) Because now I’m wondering if even this journeying, this stumbling down the road but still moving forward kind of step, if maybe this is just what it looks like to go on. Maybe many of us walk this way (Aerosmith howl), maybe limping is the human condition. Or maybe it’s more of a baffled-human condition, but if so, that’s okay too.  If I’ve learned anything in recent years, it’s how little I really know. I used to think I had so many answers all buttoned down tightly in my head…now I’ve come to realize maybe my whole head was just buttoned too tightly, period. Now I’m letting some breeze in, airing out some cobwebs. I vacillate between confidence and fear, trust and shame, but at least I’m moving. More of a crablike skittering, but hey, I’m in jerzey. It kinda works.





Badass Wannabe

Badass Wannabe

minerI had to laugh out loud today when I googled the definition of “badass”: ‘a tough, uncompromising or intimidating person. “One of them is a real badass, the other’s pretty friendly.”’ Which of course begs the question, can’t a badass be friendly? If so, please sign me up, sir.

I’ve been feeling drawn to that word a lot lately, especially since it is now so often used in a feminine context. This morning a friend sent me an article describing Helen Mirren as badass, apparently because she’s older, sexy, and very comfortable with herself. Yeh, now I was really digging it. No mention was made of her friendliness. My friend, myself and a few others have been reading a book together and hanging out periodically to discuss it, and our lives, our spiritual journeys, and… you know. We’re women. We talk about it ALL. It’s a beautiful thang.

I’m older than the other women, but that’s usually the case for me anyway, and actually always has been. I’m older than all but a select few apparently, and have gotten used to it, for the most part. It helps that I’m immature and sophomoric. I’ve shared in another blog that when I turned 60 I had an extremely adverse and some might say psychotic reaction, but at the time I was making my way through some other very deep waters as well, and I think that had more to do with my psychosis than just the flip of that decade digit. Or that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. Since that time I’m further down the recovery road, and hit a few more notches on the age belt too. My body and my mirror convince me on the reg that this is a battle I cannot win, so I’m less inclined to rage. On a good day I concentrate more on my spirit than my physical fadings, and I consider what it might look like to “age well,” or sanely, or….as a badass.

As the North American dictionary defines it, am I tough? Well, I’m still standing. And that’s not chopped liver, believe me. Hang around for 63 years and some hard times come down the road. Geez, just the past year alone politically has brought enough shock, shame, and sorrow to show up any other decade, and I’ve already seen one president impeached. When I came in late last night my husband had fallen asleep with the TV on, and I saw a banner scrolling across the bottom of the screen announcing the latest mass murder horror, 22 young people killed at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. I confess to you that I quickly turned off the set, because I almost cannot bear to watch the news at all anymore. Call it denial, call it hiding… this world overflows with things that break my already weary heart. Maybe I’m not tough….

How about uncompromising? Am I unbending and inflexible? In a word, no. Much of last night’s conversation actually centered around all that we are un-learning, the shifts in our thinking from certainty to openness in some areas of our experience that had once seemed permanently locked down. Ahh, this is one of my great joys at this juncture of my advanced age… throwing up the window and letting some fresh air in to my heart and mind. To reconsider ideas and philosophies that have been so treasured, even life-saving to me in my own story. I will be forever grateful for the particular trajectory of my story, for I was truly lost and truly found, and would never have made it to 63 years without taking the paths that now seem a bit overgrown to me.  Not all, not even most, but definitely some. And the adventurer in me is enjoying reexamining things, like a decrepit miner kneeling on ancient knees by a stream, shaking his pan for the gold. Hope never dies, and there is always more to learn, more growing to do. That’s what this group of women is about, journeying together. And there is no compromising that. I want to grow to the very last minute.

The last one is interesting: intimidating. Not on my best day. I wish.  If I’d had any powers of intimidation I’d have whipped them out on scary parenting days, or when those thugs mugged me on the street years ago, or when that girl stole my whole paycheck out of my purse and we BOTH knew it. Dag, I wish. But I am completely lacking in power moves, and have to fight my battles on other levels. Any good badass has another holster, another trick up her sleeve. Maybe I am a badass, because I’ve been a fighter from jump. My guns were holstered for a few years, quietly rusting, but I’m on the way back, baby. Maybe I’ll grow into my intimidation chops, who knows?

Or maybe I’ll be the badass’ friendlier sidekick, mentioned in the chatty dictionary illustration. That may match my skill set more. I’m not sexy Helen Mirren, it’s true, but I’m definitely still in the game. I’m still journeying, still believing, still playing. Don’t count me out yet. If there’s a secondary path to badass, a side alley that is maybe less about intimidation and more about mining for gold on creaky knees, look for me there.  Just don’t expect me to look like Helen.

Periscope Up. Like, All the Way Up


I’m someone who tries to pay attention. To people cues, to that small inner voice, to signs from the Universe. So when I couldn’t get my conversation with my sister out of my head, it got my attention. She and my brother had gotten into a snarky little phone hassle, which really had nothing to do with the issue at hand, and everything to do with the baggage they both carry from our…. how they say, formative years. What a loaded word that is. For some of us anyway.


Then I’ve had company for a long weekend, a blast from the past. Sandy is someone I ran the streets with in my twenties. Yeah, she knows where all the bodies are buried. Probably my oldest relationship outside of family. We were doing the girlfriend endless chat thing yesterday when she said to me, “You’re the only one who asks me these questions. “How do I feel about that? What impact did that have on you”?” And she wasn’t lookin’ all that thrilled when she said it. To be honest, she isn’t the first one who has said this to me, wondered why I’m inclined toward the deep end of the pool so often. But yesterday must have been the magic hour, because it really got me wondering too…


I’ve shared often here about my passion for people, my fascination for what makes them tick, my predilection for watching….and how sometimes that used to cause problems, for myself and those I watched. (Nothing freaky, just general yelling and a lot of ‘scram, get outta here’s). And while I no longer stare at people with my mouth hanging open in fascination, I am still quietly captivated by the inner workings of those around me. Probably because I understand how significant my own processes have been. Formative years indeed.


Without being all pitiful, I will simply say that there was a lot of sadness in my years with my family of origin. There was also much rage, desperation and occasional violence, but mostly there was sadness. And man, did I hate that! We lived on a dead end street (of course) and my bedroom window looked out to the corner, where a larger street intersected, a road that ran wonderfully AWAY. I’d spend hours at that window as a child, just staring toward that road, repeating the same mantra over and over: someday I will get out of here and I will be happy. Often stated while blowing smoke rings out the window. After the age of 12 anyway, when my mother’s smokes became fair game.  My younger sister started at 8, LOL, so precocious we were.


That’s a sad image, a young girl hanging out of her window, smoking her way through her miserable youth, dreaming of a better future. But like the man said, those are the formative years, baby. And in repeating that mantra to myself, day after day, year after year, I was forming my escape plan, I was dreaming of better possibilities, and unknowingly, I was shaping my destiny, or the emotional landscape of my destiny anyway.


Because it’s true, I left that dead end street with a fire in my belly, a drive to pursue happiness that was like a heat-seeking missile. My sadness tank was filled to the brim, and I was eager to padlock that baby, throw it in an abandoned garage somewhere and chase down some joy. Ultimately, those early years of despair and confusion set the stage for the remaining years of my life, the life I chose and pursued and created out of my own longings…as we all do. I am now grateful for the youth that I had, because it shaped me into an optimist, if only in defiance of my old destiny. Come to find out, defiance is my saving grace, who knew?! That stubborn resistance has made me someone who refuses to stay in the pit, who believes deeply in joy. Difficulties, even tragedies, enter our lives that must be endured… processed. And process is the word of the day, thanks for playing, folks. My process is….yeah, this is hard…how can I get to the other side and come out happy? Or at least, not as sad. This has stood me in good stead in recent years, and yes, I am GRATEFUL. For the good and the bad.


But enough about me. I’m curious as ever about YOUR processes. That’s why I’m asking all these questions. What shapes you? What drives you? Or are you like my brother and sister, still letting the old signals rev up those less than positive transmitters? (Is that the correct science analogy? Highly dubious.) Do you think about the path you took in becoming you? Or if you had to identify your inner mantra, that thing you repeat to yourself or return to in a crisis, what would it be? Could you identify it? If not, what does move you forward? Or maybe it’s all random. You just drift through and let circumstances mold you daily… I did that for a while… before I identified what was quietly percolating beneath the whole time. It’s in there if you listen for it. And I’d love to hear about it, if anyone is willing to share? C’mon in, the water’s fine!



Drinking Deeply


Oy. I have one of those minds- always, always going. Not by choice, just a case of wiring. I don’t fight it anymore, I don’t really fight too much against any of my wiring anymore. Call it the wisdom of old age. Just don’t call it that to my face.


I wake up in the middle of the night in mid-thought. I’m always asking the questions below the question. I’m distracted watching a show because I’m wondering about the back story. My mind is just always going, like a cat’s steady purring, below the surface. And I don’t hate it. I’m curious about other kinds; my husband can just sit and rest his mind. Nothing in his hands, nothing in front of him. Just staring off into space, resting. I’m fascinated by this….and find it a bit horrifying too, to be honest. But that’s his wiring, so it too is fine.


What am I always thinking about? I’m realizing lately that I’m mostly considering relationships. People. How they work, how they work together, what it’s like to be them, where that might lead, what’s it all about, Alfie? I’ve always been fascinated by people. Even as a child, I’d people watch for hours. Stare, really, let’s be honest. I had no idea it was wrong, or weird. But it is, I see that now. I can recall a handful of incidents, some as old as junior high, when people I’d been staring at would finally fly at me in anger, screaming something along the lines of “go away, freak.” Yeah, that’s weird, I know. I guess at that point I just went underground, learned to keep it hidden. Because I didn’t stop. Gonna take more than a little playground humiliation to shut this weirdness down.


I’ve always had the odd ability to “get” people, to see beneath the surface to some of what drove them. And let me quickly say that it was not an infallible gift. I made plenty of mistakes in my own relationships. Strangely though, it wasn’t usually because I misread people, but more often than not it was because I ignored what I knew. Especially if they made me laugh. Oh baby, if you could make me laugh, I’d throw ALL insight and wisdom out the window fast. My Achilles heel, fo sho. Explains some of the insanity of my 20s. And oh yes, my 40s and 50s, who am I kidding?


You’d hope that this insight would make me a kinder person, a gentle person who made room for the weaknesses and wounds of others. I don’t know that that was always the case. I think in my younger years I was as merciless as the rest, as selfish in my orientation as everyone else. I just didn’t recognize it as such, even when I became a more spiritual person. At that point I may have learned to disguise my own ego, hidden it from myself and others. But of course periodically it would show itself, standing up in crowded rooms to announce its magnificence to all, whispering its malignant presence in dark nights of the soul. I’m sure my closest friends saw it, but their own kindness allowed them to overlook it.


We’re all on the journey, making our way down the road with whatever light we’ve discovered along the way. Maybe they just didn’t call me on my stuff. I have a strong personality, and I know that sometimes “protects” me from truth-tellers, unfortunately. I would LOVE to have someone tell me the truth about myself as they saw it, someone who really knew me and loved me enough. But that is a forgotten art in our culture, an undervalued gift. Don’t you always wonder about that kind of thing? It’s like hearing your own voice on tape; you’re shocked at the sound of it, while others maliciously testify to its authenticity. I wonder if the same is true with our personalities. See, this is what I’m talking about, the overthinking, the constant wondering…..


If you’re close to me, you know I’ve been fighting the aging process tooth and nail. Well, not always. I really didn’t even notice for the first 60. But I admit, rounding the corner into this decade was a shocker of the highest, blackest magnitude. Like, an earthquake whose tremors would not STOP. I think my overreaction had a lot to do with other things happening in my life at that point, but I gotta admit: I handled it as poorly as anyone I’ve ever seen. Or heard of. Or imagined. I mean, I carried ON, y’all, ain’t gonna lie. I yelled at people at parties, I fought with innocent young southern men who called me ma’am, I cried actual tears about my growing insignificance. For a few years. As other pains began to recede, or mellow a bit, this one did also. I recently saw a picture of myself on Facebook where for the first time, in my ego-driven mind anyway, haha, I looked like an old lady. I literally gasped out loud, like some sort of aging southern belle, involuntarily. Then I laughed at myself for gasping, and figured, oh, whatever. Now THAT is an improvement, baby. That is growth.


Which brings me back around to my original topic. My aging seems to have softened my insights as much as it has my poor body. Much less cruel. I’m still overthinking, I’m still always watching and wondering. But the things I see are far more beautiful, and yes, I mean, beauty-full. I see the same things but they are now covered with grace…deeper understanding of the human condition…kindness. No room for judgment, for condemnation. I’m way too flawed myself. We all are, and I’m seeing the deep and profound beauty of that. Every day brings news of human goodness and splendor. Yes, I overthink but if I didn’t maybe I wouldn’t notice the beauty of my new friend who fights valiantly against the sorrow and grief of her divorce. She writes her way through her pain, and her words, each of them, are a volley of hope flung against the darkness. She will one day help others making their way down this bitter road. This I KNOW. She already helps me each day as I see her strength, her willful bravery, each word written a testimony of courage.


Or maybe if I wasn’t so captivated by humans I wouldn’t recognize the sheer bliss of hearing from my nephew. We’ve never been close so it took a lot of guts to reach out to me and tell me that he’d recently been given a CD of my son’s music, and of how much he’s enjoying it. He’s a very talented young person, just beginning to dig deeply into his own great giftedness, so it meant a great deal to me to hear him speak of seeing the same in Zack. We live a thousand miles apart and yet we’re both learning to draw and paint, we’re both excited about music and life, and discovering this fact was a deeply meaningful highlight of my week, a gift I recognize that is about SO much more than the music. Yes, I overthink, but it brings me so much incredible joy….and life….and meaning.


So yeah. I’ll lose sleep to my overactive brain. I’ll miss details of the movie as I try to imagine the story behind the scene. But I’ll see the beauty before me and drink deeply, and gratefully, at its well. Sleeping will come soon enough.



The Shiny Life

I’m thinking about my aunt this morning. I didn’t know her all that well, or anyone in my family actually. That kind of thing was not encouraged; oddly, it was actively discouraged. No talking at the dinner table. Go into your room after eating. Even better, get out of the house. I have a sister, in fact, who has not spoken to me for over thirty years. No one knows why. That’s just the way they are. 

I was in junior high when my parents finally, blessedly, split. I never saw my dad or any of his family again until after I left home at 17. Every few years after that he’d blow into town and we’d go out and drink. That was our activity, I guess the only one we both felt comfortable with. And on those occasions I’d often see my aunt; sometimes we’d go to her house and start the party there. Connie was different than other women I knew, and keep in mind that in my late teens/early twenties I barely knew myself. I look back now and wonder how that was even possible… but I think I was just waiting all those years to get out of that house, to begin to live. To breathe, to BE. So I was late catching up to myself, and to fully appreciate the wonders of Connie.


Both she and my dad came from the school of I don’t give a sh*t. I know, it sounds disrespectful to say, to write especially. I’m sorry. You’d have to be from our family to get this. On my dad, it just came across as admirably selfish; you couldn’t even hate him for it. Once he came by my house to pick me up for something, and my first two children were downstairs playing. I asked him if he wanted to meet them, and without the slightest shame he replied, “No, thanks.” No embarrassment. It was just who he was. And I came to appreciate his self-acceptance, his blithe carelessness. I am far less damaged by those who are honest about who they are.


My aunt liked to go out and party as much as anyone, and they both loved to laugh. I am much more like my father and his side of the family than any of the other members of my family of origin, and I find that kind of fascinating. The genetic inclination toward fun, for laughing, for independence. I’m grateful for it, and consider it a wondrous legacy. Connie wasn’t as selfish as my dad, and in fact went on to raise a beautiful family, one that seems to overflow with deep caring, true love. When she passed away this past November, she and her amazing husband had been married for 51 years, and the love that surrounded them came off them like a force field. I’m a little fascinated by that too, as I knew her parents, of course, and it was no Ozzie and Harriet. (I’m dating myself but it works here, trust me). And yet….could it be that we arrive on the planet with our story already written, to some degree, just waiting to unfold? I think of my own family, the four kids that Paul and I raised and loved deeply from day one. Love doesn’t seem to be an indicator of a life without troubles, does it? And an absence of it doesn’t always predict drama. We’ve all seen kids raised in the darkest circumstances come out as shiny as new pennies.


For some reason, while I was brushing my teeth this morning I remembered a Facebook post one of Connie’s sons had written before Christmas. Something about how he didn’t feel like hanging Christmas lights on the house, but he was doing it because if she was here she’d be bugging him to get it done, and he missed that. He said he hoped they were bright enough for her to see. I’m a thousand miles away from him, but they seem very bright to me. In fact, they’re bringing tears to my eyes.


I didn’t come from a family that knew how to love. But it was arranged for me to have Connie in my path, even peripherally. We look alike, we laugh alike, and I would be so happy if it were true that we loved alike. My story isn’t written by my circumstances. If it was, it wouldn’t be the joyous raucous tale it is. I think we are given the gift of life, and in its meanest conditions it’s always the greatest of gifts. If you are placed in a dry barren field, and you’ve been wired for a trajectory of overcoming, and laughing, and learning to really value love wherever you can mine it, is that not still a great gift? What is better? Connie, I don’t know why but you are burning a hole in my heart this morning, and I am driven to give thanks for you today, for your superlative example of another road taken. For the way you snorted sometimes. For the kindness you showed a young girl who rarely experienced it. For the triumph that was you and Joe for 51 freaking years…. Girl, you killed it. I am forever grateful.