Tuesday, January 31, 2012

lonely wounding

"Beyond its social dimension, shame also has a devastating personal complexity. When a person is sexually abused or raped, she often feels great shame at what happened to her. The strategy of such violence is to make the victim feel guilty and even responsible for what has happened. Sometimes this personal shame makes the victim silent and passive; consequently, the crime never becomes public. In some instances the threat of social shame further strengthens the decision to stay silent. Part of the essential work in healing such lonely wounding is to help the person see her own innocence and goodness and thus unmask the absolutely unwarranted violence of such intrusion and attack. When a person begins to see this, she often begins to awaken the force of anger within her in relation to what has happened to her. The fire of anger can be magnificent in burning off the false garments of shame." (John O'Donohue)

I've actually been feeling really good and happy lately but these words are ever-bolstering and I need to share them so they can make it out to whoever needs the ongoing encouragement. I came across copies of my marriage certificate yesterday and buried them in the front yard. I've burned things for ritual soul-cleansing - which is great for anger - but burying is also satisfying because it feels like a solid ending, and a way to acknowledge the total death and release of something to decompose into fodder for new growth. Now I am off to pay the $157.50 to get my maiden name back legally - I've changed it everywhere else I could but just had to wait till I had the money and my bankruptcy case was finished. I am SO HAPPY - I'm going to skip my way out of the court clerk's office...

Friday, January 27, 2012

feeling clever

I became a (basic) vitamin person while needing to supplement four pregnancies and nursings. I've kept it up on and off to help compensate for my not-so-great stressed mom nutritional intakes. However, I am not good at remembering to take them every day, and I am also lazy and hate unscrewing the caps off of every lid every time. But I can't stand the thought of an old-person pill box.

Beauty and ease help me, so shiny cupcake tins and getting the see the gem-like gels make it a lot easier to grab them while I'm making myself lunch. They don't go bad because I go through a pour every week or so.

I also need help with feeling lonely and chubby, so I've been killing two birds with one stone by downloading the occasional Facebook photos of friends in love or with their kids to put up in my kitchen, uploading them to Walgreens.com, and paying .25 per print - then walking the mile & back to my neighborhood Walgreens to pick them up. I get to buy something, see faces I love, and get exercise, all at once.

(Pictures like this.)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

accomplishing stuff, and snails.

While I think we Americans are perhaps a little addicted to accomplishment [UNDERSTATEMENT], when you are a mom in the middle of a work of art that will not be completed for another 10-15 years, it is helpful to periodically review things that you are getting done. (I have a friend who sits down with her journal every night for this. "I fed three kids three times today. I changed x diapers.")

I have been trying to consciously slow down, over and over, since last semester, during which point I hit a spot where I wanted to quit school and crawl into a hole and die. I was only taking two classes, but one of them was the most hazing of an acting class I've ever been to, and it took everything in me to drag myself to it every day, and I was running my part-time bed & breakfast on top of it, which involves a lot of cleaning, (and I was working my part-time accounting job, and I was working my part-time raising of 4 children, and I was devoting quality time to my boyfriend) - and we were still splitting weeks custody-wise so I was in a state of constant transition. Transition is d r a i n i n g .

So I took some snail months. My friend Maria and I call those days where you just need to NOT go to the YMCA and NOT run 3-5 errands and NOT talk to someone on the phone, "snail days." Slllooooowwwwwing it down days. (My mom happened to get me the Vera Bradley pattern with tiny little snails hiding in it for Christmas. She was in the Flow.) These are the days when you play hookie from everything. My mom used to call them "mental health" days and she would let us take off school every once and awhile for them, a tradition I have continued with my kids.

My last meal in Spain was a bowl of snails - an adventurous final meal for an adventurous excursion that tasted flavorful but incredibly slimy. (Try them once. That's all you need. It's hard not to gag as the little antennae are coming towards you.) Mmmm. I was consuming a symbol for what to carry out in the next year.

Here's what happens when you let yourself rest long enough: you start to accomplish stuff. I know, weird, right? But it's true. When you make enough room for your body and soul, cool stuff starts to surface from the deep-down parts of it. Since the semester ended in mid-December last month, I have:

. . . finished knitting a shawl for my sister, fingerless gloves for my cousin, and the most intricate, soft baby sweater (pima cotton and silk - drool) for my friend's firstborn son, born on my firstborn son's birthday ten years to the day! - which incidentally was knitted on size 2 needles with yarn that looked like thread, my first success with something that delicate. Don't know that I'll revisit that kind of accomplishment again for awhile, but I'm proud - when I started knitting, I never thought I'd have the skill or patience to create something like that. It just took 3 years of knitting gradually more challenging patterns.

. . . successfully maintained my accounting assistant job every morning and gotten my daughters to help me put stamps on the invoicing envelopes.

. . . voraciously read all of the scientific literature available on essential oils (I could be a certified aromatherapist with as much info as my brain is now holding; perhaps I will do so when I get a spare $500, hahaha) and wrote a primer on them which my bro & sister's home-based publishing house is going to publish for me under a pseudonym.

. . . applied my essential oil knowledge by making Sleepy Baby mixes for all the babies I know & love who have hard times sleeping (including my babies, who are no longer talking to each other for an hour after I put them in their rooms because they are sedated by nature's goodness within 20 minutes, nor crawling into my bed or waking up from dreams). I am also treating myself with them and my PMS has gotten increasingly better. Some of them heal trauma, which has also been good, and hard, but good. I warded off two or three major bugs that everyone else I love came down with over Christmas. Essential oils are magic, people, I'm telling you. Best-kept secret of modern medicine & nature.

. . . renewed my efforts to take care of my body. I'm treating adrenal depletion (which I think has been ongoing from all of the stressful years of my 20s) with essential oils & a great vitamin mix, which is giving me the energy to walk much more often than I ever have in the winter, and I'm remembering to take my Vitamin D3 most days, and I drink a yummy protein shake every morning for breakfast even though they cost $2 a piece. This all feels really good because it is the first thing to go when I get overloaded and then I feel shitty about myself and it just downward spirals.

. . . compiled my first draft of a small spirituality book, Wrestle the Angel. It's got stuff you may have read before on here, and stuff you haven't. Perhaps it will get published. Perhaps it will help people. I really like writing and it was completely invigorating to work on.

. . . redesigned my blog and written two posts in two days! Woot!

. . . started getting a renewed hankering for sewing that will probably begin next week when I don't have the kids (we've switched to a 7 day on/off schedule and it is so much better than 3.5). I need to finish some curtains for my boyfriend's room (they are awesome, they have little samurais and geishas in the mist of cherry blossoms - but I am counterbalancing their slightly feminine asian nature with dark brown canvas material). I need to sew some curtains for my living room because I'm tired of my windows feeling like the all-seeing Eye of Sauron at night. And I think I might make myself a spring jacket that looks something like Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey would wear if she was a woman today.

I put three pictures of snails on here so that the message hits home visually. Triune repetition for meditative profundity. Look at them. So slow and beautiful. It's fascinating to me that one of the slowest, smallest creatures carries a shell on its back that symbolizes growth of the soul - the same pattern as a chambered nautilus.
Slowing down speeds you up inside. This was the best aspect of homeschooling as a kid - you get your work done, and then you get to explore vocational and hobby stirrings for the rest of your day. This is what helped me become a writer at a young age. This is how grown-ups figure out how to make a career shift or how to create something to bless your little world and/or the big world: by carving out a little Nothing time and letting your heart lead you. Make sure you are wearing pajamas or loungewear while you're at it.

*p.s. My Vera Bradley pattern showed up in the New Girl tv show as something Zoey Deschanel's character owned. I was tickled by the benediction: creative spazzes, be bold with your florals! (the little snails are pink and are crawling just above the border...)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

feed your beauty

I want to write a book called that eventually. I read a really interesting quote from a modern mystic named Robert Johnson who said that the feminine soul is starved for beauty in the modern world. (This is the soul of each woman, and also the feminine in each man, and the collective Feminine in the world.) I keep mulling it over.

I think that's why I've always loved things like Anne of Green Gables and (recently) Downton Abbey. For awhile I thought it was because I was conservative by nature and I somehow loved modesty. Blech. Lately I've been deciding that's actually not the case. No, the women weren't as free (although the sufferagett movement was already happening), but man, did their souls have access to beauty. The architecture, clothing, aesthetics of those times were both highly developed and highly grounded. Even if you were a poor farmwife (which my women ancestors were), you were surrounded by land and glorious sunrises to help you with morning chores. I have pieces of clothing from over a hundred years ago that I bought for a song in forgotten Wisconsin villages, which I consider such treasures of beauty and works of art that I hang them on my walls. There is nothing that makes my heart beat faster than finding a vintage or antique dress that is visually appealing, fits me pretty well, and was worn by someone long ago who I'll someday get to have a conversation with.

Reading that quote from Robert Johnson gave me permission to seek beauty all the more. We are so, so divorced from natural beauty and the glory of our own souls. It's a time of great external plenty and great inner famine. Today I pulled over by the side of the road and just stared at a stream gurgling under a stone bridge. I wish I could surround myself with the heaven of things like this every minute of the day.

(Ella got in on the theme today instinctively, as she usually does - requested flowers on her cheeks from my eyeliner and created blooming body art herself. Send healing thoughts towards her lip - she bit it while it was numbed for a dentist visit and it's pretty gnarly looking. Ah well. When are healing wounds not part of the picture.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

staying with it till it passes

Thich Nhat Hanh writes about being with your feelings the way a mother cares for their baby. I've been trying to do this all over again. (I wonder if you ever stop being a beginner in "how to be an emotional being"?) My tendency is just to Shut It Down or be afraid of certain emotions (especially embarassment or any of the negative ones).

This morning it was loneliness. I didn't want to take the kids to school. I felt drained by the lonely. After three days of mostly being by myself with the kids I feel depleted and cold and like I've completely lost my social skills or ability to be open. If a friend calls it takes me awhile to warm up. It's an isolation marathon and has been for awhile. I know many stay-at-home parents feel it.

On the plus side, I've been using part of the time to connect through writing a rough draft of a book. Might as well turn the lemons into lemonade. It's the silver lining of being a shy book girl - writing is your safe link to others.

Friday, January 6, 2012


I fell asleep outside on my porch today because it was 65 degrees. My dad and kids were all happily occupying the house inside.

When I woke up something was hanging around the edges of my consciousness.

I walked in and asked my dad "Was I dedicated at a small white church when I was really little?"

"Yeah - Whig Methodist outside of Platteville. But you were really little. Like 2 or 3."

"Did we eat at a ranch-style house afterwards?"

"I don't remember."

My mom got home soon thereafter. I asked her the same questions. "Was I dedicated?"

"Yeah but you were 1 years old. How could you remember that?"

"Did we eat at a ranch-style house afterwards?"

"Yeah, Carson Culver's sisters house."

I stared off into space. Literally. "I think I was wearing a red dress? I remember feeling completely pretty, and I remember a nice woman saying to me 'That's Jan and Al's granddaughter' and I was so proud because I knew that was something good. I was in someone's arms - probably yours - and I think that nice lady or another one handed you a sealed envelope with a card in it."

Maybe it was the smell and feel of the air today and having my parents around loving me for three days that triggered the memory. But I am remembering my prof at Belmont yesterday talking about Chronos and Kairos time, how Kairos time transports us from ordinary time and marks something bigger and ceremonies are a part of it. "Like a wedding, or a birth."

Maybe that dedication to the Good God made my heart open to those happy feelings of beauty and pride and a joyful day. Maybe the brightness lingers and sears it into us and makes it possible for Kairos to be re-entered for a misty second when you're waking up from a nap when you're 30.