Friday, December 28, 2012

Apathy Apocalypse?

    Apathy breeds apathy. It is a perpetual motion machine that feeds upon itself, and drains energy from its surroundings. It grows exponentially. Expands at a slow yet alarming rate. It is the Eater of Souls, the Destructor, the Planet Killer. Apathy. One would think that by its nature, being apathetic, that it would be self-defeating, inert, inconsequential, confined within its own shell. Sadly, this is not the case. Apathy is a slow, steady killer of all that is good, and an active participant in all that is evil. The very act of not acting has dire consequences. And apathy can spread like a virulent plague, effecting all it touches. Apathy may very well be the Apocalypse we have all been predicting.
    Apathy, dire as it may be, is not hard to combat, if you have the fortitude, strength, stamina, optimism. It can be deflected, and in some cases cured. The effects of apathy can be fully flushed from the system with a little work. I am confronted daily by apathy in some of its purest, darkest, vitriolic strains, and there are days when I feel the beginnings of an infection. I can feel it, like the scratchy throat that signals an oncoming flu. But I have a medikit full of preventatives and remedies, as well as an ironclad immune system. The best vaccine against apathy is action. Do something. Anything. Anything but sit by as the world passes, complaining bitterly about the world passing you by. Anything but see where you can make a difference, and chose to turn a blind eye. The best preventative is to work towards bettering yourself, even if it is an inch at a time. The best cure is to move, make changes happen, look to the future, tend to the present, learn from the past.
    Do not let apathy get a toehold in your soul. It cannot be allowed to happen. Fight against apathy with every fiber of your being. If we can beat back apathy there is no telling how far we can go, what wondrous things will happen, what glorious truths we will learn about ourselves and our world. Don't just turn away from apathy, step up and eliminate it, fight it, behead it, banish it. Begin with yourself. Be not only the vaccine but the cure. Apathy cannot hold true in the face of optimism, action, momentum, change. Do not let Apathy be the Apocalypse.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2013: The Year of Grand Adventures

    With Christmas now one for the books, mellow, casual, and loving, it is time when we all start thinking of the New Year that is mere days away. I am not one for Resolutions, haven't been for many years. Resolutions always seem more like promises to self, promises that are hard to keep and often broken. Instead, 12 years ago I made a vow to myself that every year, on my birthday, I would be healthier than I was the year before. I have kept faith with myself on this. Every year I improved physically, but there were more than a few years when my emotional and mental health were on the decline.
    As a fledgling Triathlete, I see the same approach to life as I do to training: Find your weakness and work on it the hardest, while just trying to keep the other disciplines steady. True, I have always worked on my physical fitness and made it a priority through most of my life, but I let it leap to the fore this last year. Once I was on line with the new physicality I knew I needed to bring everything else up to speed, to gain balance and health in all things. Now I feel well rounded, Body, Mind and Heart. I have readied myself for the Event of Life. The Epic Event of My Life. I feel poised at the starting line, waiting for the horn to sound, and then I will be off like a rocket.
    Looking ahead, I can't help but look back and review. I have decided to have no regrets from 2012. Yes, I made some hard choices, fought some major battles, spent time in the abyss, walked through fire and was cleansed by it, wept, laughed, loved. Wonderful, loving people have come into my life, including several beautiful, wee ones who will call me "Oma." I have discovered great new things about old friends, and discovered great new friends. I have pushed myself on so many levels, and feel that I have only just touched at the fringes of what I am capable of. I have begun new adventures that will test my mettle and fill my soul, and plan on even grander exploits ahead. I can't even fathom just how far I will go in 2013, it boggles my mind. The true beauty of it is that I have loved ones who encourage and support me in every endeavor. These days I am far more likely to shed tears of joyous disbelief at my great fortune in the people that love me, and that I love, than to shed tears of grief and lonliness. Truly, the more we love, the more we are loved, it grows until it is almost unbearably bright and delicious.
    2013 will be full of surprises, antics, adventures, exploits. 2012 was The Year of Win, and it did live up to that moniker, far beyond my wildest dreams. I think 2013 will be the Year of Grand Adventures.

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Heart

    Last night I was plagued by graphic dreams. One, involving my Mom, really pounded on my feelings of inferiority. It was a harsh dream brought on, no doubt, by my recent pondering of the inferiority complex that I struggle to overcome. It is one of my more persistent Demons. Fortunately, Brain stepped in and rescued my subconscious. In the next dream I had been hired as a running/track coach for a small school, and even though I knew my experience was not great, I knew I was up to the challenge. I woke at 4am from the scrambling I took because of these dreams. Wide awake in the chill, black of the Winter Solstice. I lay in the dark, thinking over the inner-workings of Brain, wondering what exactly it is telling me. I wanted to get up and write, mull over thoughts in black and white, but my bed was warm, and my desk was not. Bed won out. But Brain was not going to let me slip back into the forgetfulness of sleep, so I realized that there was more to my dreaming than random weirdness.
    I thought over the dream with my Mom. First, you must understand that my mother is a loving, supportive woman who is a wonderful role model. In my dream, however, she was very harsh and critical of everything from my clothes, to my housekeeping, to my overly rambunctious dogs. Yes, I have been acutely aware of the fact that I have been neglecting my housekeeping in order to put time and energy into other, more worthy efforts, and my house is stressing me out. Obviously, since I was dreaming about being criticized about it. As for my dogs? I have been feeling neglectful there as well since life seems to be propelling me forward at such a chaotic pace, and it feels like I am always running, never home, and they are the ones to suffer. But what was most noticeable in my dream were my feelings of failure, inadequacy, and inferiority. This is deep rooted, and does get brought to the fore by circumstances more frequently than I would like. In part, it is from feeling as if I have never really been in a relationship where I was appreciated for who I am. I have always felt like I have fallen short in some way, no matter how I try. This is all changing, but I still feel the echoes of my past too keenly, the echoes are fading, though slowly. Also, I keenly feel my lack of formal education and career. I am surrounded by so many people successful in these areas, and I tend to feel like the blue collar, country mouse surrounded by white collar, techno-mice. I know I am being totally unfair to myself, but there is no rationality involved, these are visceral, self-doubting, lizard brain thoughts, beyond logic or an easy fix.
    The second dream counteracted the first. Me as a track coach is definitely a stretch, but Brain knew exactly what it was doing. One arena that I often do quite well in is the self-motivation of physical fitness and nutrition. No matter which activity I choose, I am willing to be devoted to honing my body as best I can. True, I do change directions now and then, forcing me to start all over again as a newbie. But this has given me a fantastic understanding of so many aspects of training. My current regimen for triathlon has me researching and implementing new exercises, workouts, schedules, nutritional tweaks. I am pushing myself every day. Brain decided to throw this back at me, when I was faltering from the previous dream. Brain stepped in and showed me where I excel, showed me where I am not a failure, inadequate or inferior. True, I am not a top tier athlete, but I am a dedicated one. I may not be the fastest, or strongest, but I have Heart.
    Heart. That is one arena that I do not feel inadequate or inferior. If I fail at everything else I ever try, I know my Heart is strong, loving, dedicated. I was once told, when I was at an absolute nadir, that I always, "lead with your Heart, strong and true." It is my greatest strength. Recently I was told I have a "Hero's Heart," this is probably the greatest compliment anyone has ever given me. I blush thinking of it, but am warmed by it. So despite a deep rooted Inferiority Complex, I do know I have Heart. My Heart will always keep me getting back up and moving forward, it will not allow me to succumb to grief, inadequacy, or failure. I will keep getting up and moving forward because I have a strong Heart. I do Lead With My Heart. I always will.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Puzzle Pieces

    In the ongoing effort to quell my nagging Demons I am a bit of a workout freak. It is the most effective means of beating the little bastards back into their catacombs. Last night, as I was out running, bundled against the cold, thankful that the sleet had abated, I began dissecting a few of my little bastard Demons. I tend to dwell on the past, especially past relationships. Not in a pining way, not in a wistful way, but in more of an analytical way. This includes all relationships, casual and otherwise. I do feel regrets, how can you live a long life without some regrets? My regrets hinge on the knowledge of pains I have inflicted, not intentionally or maliciously mind you, but some things are just painful. But I digress, my thoughts last night were not on regrets, pain, or suffering. I was thinking of how people move through our lives. Some for a lifetime, some for a month, a day, a moment. Our lives are effected by each of these encounters, and what we take away from the experience is wholly up to us. How we chose to react, respond, grow.
    I believe that some people come into my life at the right moment, to help me with one piece of the puzzle that is me, and then they move on. Piece by piece, building a lifetime of memories, lessons, skills, understanding of self. I do not chose people for the purpose of extracting that puzzle piece that I need, I am not a user or abuser, but I am a realist (also an idealist, but that is a whole different can of worms). My life is a puzzle that will never be complete, I know this as fact, but as I fill in the pieces I can begin to see the picture in all its complexity, vivid hues, contrasts. I am thankful for the people who have moved through my life, helping me to learn and grow. I think over past relationships and pull out pearls of wisdom, lessons that were hard taught, painfully learned, but adding to the depth and breadth of Me.
    I also believe that some people come into life when they are most needed, and will always be an integral part of life. These are the kindred spirits, family born and family found, friends, brothers, sisters, lover. These are the people that form the core of our existence. In my case, the very few people that form the foundation of my clan. I do not allow many people into the inner sanctum, the number can be counted in single digits. It is truth. I don't know if my selectivity is directly related to my introverted nature, or my empathic abilities that leave me raw to abrasive or hostile entities. Or am I just so difficult to get along with that no one stays? I like to think the latter is not the case. Whatever the reason, the few I have found are all the more cherished because of their rarity. And not to be taken for granted.
    My life is better because of the people that have moved into my sphere, whether they stayed or moved on. I choose to take the puzzle pieces they offered and attempt to fit them into the massive jumble that is Me.  All the edge pieces are in place, and large chunks of the center. I am seeing the picture more clearly with each passing day. It is a lifelong work, a true puzzle, but also a work of art. one piece at a time.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Out Swimming Demons

    There were days past when my Demons were such constant companions I was more likely to notice when they were absent, than when they were pestering me. They had become so commonplace, so banal, mundane, pedestrian. Oh, don't get me wrong, there were many smackdown, hella cage-match fights between us. And I was not always the victor. But my Demons have been relatively quiet for some time now, I had nearly forgotten what it is like to have one riding my shoulder, flagellating me with its sibilant hissing. Nearly forgotten, but not really. Freud said, "We do not forget. We chose not to remember." It is truth. I chose to not to remember. I am not sure what allowed one to slip back into my world, but it was there today, just behind me, whispering in my ear, finding the cracks and prying them open with taloned fingers. This time of year, I am careful to keep my workout agenda packed and tight. I plan ahead, and do not let myself falter. Tonight my swim bag was packed and I had my fees in my wallet. I would swim despite the Demon battering on my self-esteem. I admit, it took me a solid ten laps before I could even find my rhythm, and then it was a battle to keep on track and moving smoothly. At one point I became so distracted and distraught that I had to start counting strokes to bring my mind back to center. Counting laps, counting strokes. Rolling side to side, breathe in, breathe out, stroke, stroke, breathe. Letting the sound of my bubbling exhales soothe my jangled mind. Stroke, stroke, breathe. The rhythm, the exertion, focusing on making making every stroke the same. The simple monotony is hypnotic. As long as I kept counting all was well. But falling into my normal habit of mind working in overdrive while body swims lap after lap was not the safe route. Not tonight. I swam 2.27 miles, until I was out of time. I wanted to swim longer, I had not yet out swam my Demons. They were still riding my back, like stowaways. Vicious, petty stowaways. But I swam. And swam. I did manage to dilute my Demons in the chlorinated water, bleach them out a bit, leaving them pale and pruney. But they are still here. Maybe I am just tired, susceptible to imagined slights, fatigued, raw, oversensitive. It has been a rugged week, I feel heavy-hearted and drained, vulnerable, delicate, fragile, brittle. I am glad I swam, even if I did not out swim my Demons, it will help me sleep, and that is probably exactly what I need. And maybe the best I can hope for. Trying to out swim Demons is a hard fought race that I did not exactly win tonight. But maybe it was a tie. Time will tell. For now, I just need sleep.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


    We are the Guardians of our world, those of us who feel any compassion, attempt to understand, cry, weep, challenge the gods. At times it feels as if there are far too few Guardians, and far too many opposing troops laying siege to our bastions of hope. The truth is, there are not all that many invaders, but there are far too many apathetic onlookers. Life has become a series of battles, hard fought, not easily won, and overcrowded with bystanders. As we struggle, mired in the trenches, needing reinforcements, supplies, weapons, we turn to those who watch with jaded eyes, blank stares, averted glances. We turn to them for help and succor but they merely turn away, pretending not to see, acting as if all is well, life is grand, peace reigns supreme. The onlookers chose to remain neutral. There are times, when the battle is at its height, when the carnage seems too much to bear, that some of these bystanders have the scales fall from their eyes and they truly see the reality, and then chose to take up arms, throw their shoulder against the wheel, and begin to soldier on with the battle weary forces. Why should it take an act of extremes to force action? Is it not better to be proactive, instead of reactive? An ounce of prevention versus a pound of cure? There are those in the world who have girded themselves for battle with the forces of Satan, and feel let down that Revelations has not given them the chance for glory in the final battle of Good versus Evil. To them I  say, and have actually said, are you sure the forces of Evil haven't already infiltrated the world around you? Better to have small, simple struggles than an all out, end of the world, final battle where humanity's survival hangs by a thread. Better to meet the enemy, understand their motives, and bring them over to the side of Good. I believe in Salvation, not in a biblical sense, but in a compassionate sense. There have been enough stories of violent offenders who were won over to the side of Light by the power of Love, Compassion, and Understanding. It is not so hard a concept to find the source of the anger and violence and find the key to transformation. Not a difficult concept, but the reality is far from simple. But the Idealist in me, the naive, gullible simpleton that resides in my soul, believes in this transformation. I can't help but believe, despite the odds against it. I can't believe that there are so many people out there who are beyond redemption, this includes, especially, the apathetic bystanders. Can we have become so far removed from love, concern, and compassion as to doom   humanity? This I find impossible to believe, despite the evidence that thrusts itself into my face far too often. I won't believe that we have sunk so far into apathy, detachment, and passivity to allow our world to crumble into the savage wilds that we crawled up from in our dark past. We are Guardians, every single one of us, Guardians of our world, our future, our children, and our children's world. We are the Guardians, and we cannot fail in this. We are Guardians, every single one of us.

Friday, December 14, 2012


"When I was a boy, and would see scary things in the news, my Mother would say, "Look for the Helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my Mother's words and I am comforted by realizing that there are still so many Helpers -- So Many caring people in the world."  Fred Rogers aka Mister Rogers

    The tragic events of today have reinforced my desire to become a firefighter. To become one of Mister Rogers' Helpers. This is not a fantasy of heroics, fame, excitement, recognition. It is my deep rooted desire to help. It is nothing new, it has always been an integral part of my nature. From childhood attempts to rescue baby birds that fell out of their nests and bringing home sickly strays, to adult endeavors to provide sanctuary for children, and attempts to rescue baby birds that fell out of their nests and bringing home sickly strays. Not much has changed in my lifelong attempts to protect the small, weak, injured. It is my nature. I have fostered animals, and taken in teenagers. Now, as I get older, and maybe a little wiser, I am able to see the world from a new perspective. When I had children at home my focus remained closer to home, as should be. Now that my children are grown and with families of their own, I can widen that focus, look beyond the needs of those nearest and dearest to me. I can finally realize a long held dream. It is unlikely that I will ever be faced with an event as grievous as what occurred today, and far more likely that I will be continuing in attempts to rescue baby birds that fall from their nests and bring home sickly strays. But as I roar against the pain and suffering, the tragedies and injustices of the world, I know that I must do more than make the noise. I must stand up and do what I am able. I cannot close my eyes or deafen my ears. I must Help.  

They Were Just Babies

    Today our world was faced with a tragedy that I cannot wrap my mind around. A man walked into an elementary school and opened fire on a classroom of children There are 26 confirmed dead, 18 of those are children. My mind cannot get past the thought that They Were Just Babies. Babies! How can such horrific events occur? Anywhere? How can it ever seem right to kill children? It goes against instinct to kill children. Is it another indication that our world has slipped beyond the point of salvation? No, I am not speaking with any religious belief tied to the thought of salvation. I am wondering if humanity can be salvaged, or have we reached a tipping point? Yes, horrible things happen to children every day, and have for a very long time. They are the weak and innocent and so are easy prey for the vicious monsters that lurk in the shadows. I find this abhorrent, despicable, degraded, evil. But for a father to walk into a school, armed with two guns, and shoot children? That takes disbelief and shock to a whole new level. I have begun to despair that we will not be able to pull out of the tailspin we are in. Civilization is on the decline, we are rotting from within, our souls are being ravaged and under constant assault. We have become more accepting to the lower levels of violence, to the point that we can turn a blind eye, thinking, "It could be so much worse." But how much worse does it have to become before we all rise up in protest and fight back against the blackness that seems to be consuming humanity? We cannot continue along mired in our own abject apathy. We need to look beyond our own narrow sphere, open our eyes, see they misery around us and strive to change. What could have caused such irrational, devastating violence against babies? Will we hear how he was, "a normal guy, quiet, kept to himself." What were the signs that people who knew him refused to see? We close our eyes to anything we do not want to see. We walk past dejection, hopelessness, tragedy. We walk past and do not see. We cover our ears to block cries of help. We won't reach out a hand, offer a shoulder, make even the smallest gesture. Why? Because it makes us uncomfortable? Because it makes us become aware of our own unhappiness that we try so hard to sublimate? It has become a time of despair, dejection, and feelings of failure for so many in our nation that it is not terribly surprising that violence seems to be on the rise. People who feel they have lost everything also feel they have nothing to lose. This has got to stop, or things will only get worse. And in reality, they could get so much worse. It is easier to stop the flood when it is a trickle, than to try and stop a torrent. We, as a whole, as a family, have got to rally, to rise up and fight the despair and darkness, bring back hope, bring back our humanity.
    All these barely comprehensible ramblings are a scrambled attempt to comprehend the tragedy. An attempt to make sense out of something so senseless that it defies description. An attempt to bring the world back into focus, balance, regain equilibrium. I am weeping for the babies that were slaughtered today, unable to make sense of it no matter how I try. I have not even let myself touch on the grief of the families yet, that is too painful, too raw. They Were Just Babies. Please let this be a catalyst, if nothing else, let it begin to bring about the change we need. They were just babies.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tower of Babel

   Brain slips gears so easily, and suddenly my mind is like the Tower of Babel, with dozens of voices expressing their individual ideas, each in a different language that none of the others can understand. The chaos is deafening. And confusing. Trying to sort through the noise is nigh on impossible. Often all I can do is try to drown out the voices with louder, more impressive noise. But since my day does require a certain amount of functionality and interaction, sitting in a warm room blasting The Ramones at mass decibels is not really an option. Instead I have to try and cherrypick ideas, weed out the teasel, separate the chaff, sift out the weevils. It is difficult at best, and always exhausting. I want to let Body take control, to run, swim, lift weights until physical exhaustion sets in. When Body is pushing the limits, working towards trembling fatigue, then Brain can slip into the relaxing task of counting repetitions, steps, strides, strokes. Counting calms the Babel chaos. Numbers are a universal language that all the voices understand. Counting equals calm. Counting brings quiet. Music also helps quell the incessant noise. Music, the beat, the lyrics, all give Brain a focal point, a distraction, an alternative to listening to the voices all trying to incomprehensibly out-talk each other. So I do have methods, remedies, weapons against Babel, but they are not available to me during my working day, so I have to soldier on, do my best to pull out needed information, calm the masses, quiet the chaos, interpret the voices. It is not easy, my Babel, but I endeavor to do my best.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Self Improvement

    Earlier today, as on many days past, I was walking in the rain and thinking of how hard I have worked towards self-improvement. Not just physical improvement, but mental, financial, spiritual, emotional. I have worked to build my self-esteem and self-worth. I have struggled to move forward in all aspects of my life, every single one. And I have succeeded. As I was walking, in the rain, I was thinking not just of myself, but of others that have trod similar paths, some just a few steps behind me, some just beginning the journey. It is a sign of strength, determination, and sometimes sheer cussedness, to be able to walk through fire and emerge cleansed and more powerful. When life has crumbled, imploded, roiled in a shitstorm of stress and chaos, that is when true strength emerges. It is a matter of necessity, you either rise to the occasion or get trampled beneath the stampede. So many are willing to be tossed about by the shitstorm, blame life, cry that it is not their fault, make excuses, hide in their shallow cave, refuse to fight back, refuse to grow, refuse to accept the challenge. And then there are the warriors, those who will fight back. Those who see the shitstorm as an opportunity for growth and change, a test of their mettle, a battle worth fighting. These are the people who will become stronger, sharper, flexible and yet unbending. These are the swords being tempered by white hot fire, pounded between hammer and anvil, the proverbial rock and hard place. Fire, Hammer, and Anvil leave their marks, marks recognized by those who wear similar scars.  Swords; sleek, slender, strong, honed, bright, beautiful, deadly if need be, a weapon against the forces of the dark. This are companions I know, kindred spirits that recognize me as I recognize them. We each tread a path, a difficult traverse, an arduous climb, that builds endurance, stamina, speed, strength, makes us dynamic and near to invincible. We chose how we act and react in the face of adversity, of major life implosions, it is our choice to either cry at the unfairness, or to fight to move forward and improve. Our choice: Defeat, or Self Improvement. I choose Improvement.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Always Moving

    Another week passed with very little in the way of down time. Week after week, month after month, this seems to have become the standard operating procedure for my life. I feel as if life is a mad dash, a madcap race, a pell-mell pace, always moving. As I hit the pillow every night, late, exhausted, I look at the clock, do quick math, realize that once again I will be getting too little sleep. Every morning when I wake, groggy, fuzz-brained, still tired, I promise myself that tonight I will get to bed early. It never happens. Even on the nights when I find myself sitting for a few minutes with one cat draped over my shoulder and purring in my ear, and another sprawled across my lap, with sleep just a head nod away, I will get a surge of energy that must be expended. So once again, I will find myself crawling to bed too late to get my allotted 8 hours of sleep. Day after day, night after night, charging ahead at full speed until I drop.
    I fantasize about having a week or two off from work, and being able to sleep as much as I want. Sleep all day if I want. But I know that even if I had the time off I would likely not catch up on my sleep. Why? Why do I push myself at such a breakneck pace? I ask myself this, and there is no easy answer. I do wonder, especially at this time of year, if I race forward to keep myself clear of the abyss. My Abyss. I know it is there. I feel it. It never truly leaves, but currently it is just a tenuous feeling, a wisp of cold vapor, a gloom barely hinted at in my peripheral vision. Do I keep moving forward so diligently so that I can maintain the distance that I have fought so hard to obtain? Fear of backsliding the whip that lashes my back? Every winter for what seems like an eternity I have visited My Abyss, and on a few rare occasions I have even made a mid summer jaunt to the edge. Every winter, like being forced to go visit a despised relative for a prolonged stay. I have become quite adept at minimizing the impact of these trips, through rigorous preparation, diligent nutrition, vigorous physical activity. I feel as if I am in arduous, daily training for an endurance race. Point of fact, that is not far from the truth. I realize how often I rely on physical and mental toughness to get me through tough spots, rough patches, over the hump, past the wall, another mile.
    The dilemma is the double edge of my management system. I workout hard, work hard, push myself, stay fit, maintain Body, protect Brain, keep plunging ahead, work myself to exhaustion. This is good, it gives me little time to fret. The downside; lack of sleep, exhaustion plays right into the hands of The Abyss. Fatigue makes me susceptible and potentially overemotional. I become too reactive, and lose my ability to be proactive and logical. It is a delicate balance, my desire to push myself harder and faster, and my need to rest. I am far better at pushing myself than I am at taking down time, relaxing, resting. I always feel the need to be moving, doing, accomplishing. There is so much to do and so little time, and I do not want to disappoint myself.
    So where do I go from here? Rushing headlong through life, chasing my dreams, ignoring The Abyss that soughs my name with chill breath, moving ahead, pushing, always pushing. Am I running away from, or towards, life, sanity, reason, dreams? I like to think I am moving forward. And at the very least, I know I am moving, not stagnant, not inert, not running in circles. I have come far from where I was, but have further to go. So I keep moving. Always moving.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


    My physical focus has been excellent as I head into the dark days of winter. But then I have always made an honest effort to have workout regimens solidly in place by late summer, so that they are such a habit that it is unlikely that I will fall off the wagon as Brain watches the shortening days with what amounts to abject dread. Body is humming along nicely. Brain, on the other hand, seems to have gone on holiday. I have been incredibly spacey, unable to mentally focus on any task, scatterbrained, loopy, inattentive, and flighty. I have bursts of energy and am able to power through necessary tasks, as long as they don't take longer than half an hour. I have projects left half finished. Even my writing is plagued by constant distractions... oh look, is that a Corvair? Halfway through a sentence Brain taps me on the shoulder to remind me that I need to pay the mortgage, then as I reach for the checkbook and bill.... sweet, it is a Corvair. There is many a moment when I feel I should just bow to the gods of A.D.D. and join the cult, but I know I can force the issue, rein myself in, hold Brain firmly by the scruff of the neck, or by the Medulla, as the case may be. I know I can, by sheer force of will, master my tendency to leap from topic to topic. I have never been quite sure if my A.D.D. is a side effect of being borderline bipolar, or if it is an entity unto itself. I do know that as I balance on the brink of the cold, winter abyss, my attention deficit kicks into high gear, derailing some of my efforts to accomplish anything other than physical feats. Fortunately Body stays on track with an intensity that can be alarming. Brain is on and off the track so much it might as well be an off-road vehicle with swamp buggy capabilities. 
    As I said, physical focus has been excellent, which has me in good stead as Firefighter Academy nears. But I need to be able to get Brain on board with this as well, since there will be much studying and memorizing to do. Memorizing is difficult for me in the best of times, torturous at times like this. I am lucky if I can remember my own damned phone number. There is also the alarming tendency to space out, Brain meandering aimlessly, unfocused, as we drive past freeway exits, or even (and yes, this did happen) drive past my own driveway. My own damned driveway! Seriously. Brain, what the hell are you thinking? Dear gods, at times like this I worry for anyone I come into contact with. And trying to remember appointments? Crikey, if it isn't written on the palm of my hand, it might as well just not have been made. Yes, I make lists. And lose them. I write directions down, then leave them at the computer. It really can be a struggle at times to present a normal facade with such internal ineptitude sabotaging my every effort to function in the real world. It does make me inclined to want to hide out in my home and do physical workouts until I am completely exhausted. This, at least, gives me an excuse for being unable to complete a task, or start one, for that matter.
    Body is moving ahead, guiding Brain to remain focused on fitness. Which is something, I guess. Body has become so intent on its objectives that Brain can't help but be drawn into the obsession. This is good, in the sense that it does make Brain have to focus somewhat. But I am scatterbrained, nonetheless. To the point of distraction and dysfunction... it was a red Corvair. Brain may be turning to mush, but Body is rock hard.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


    Changes do not come easy. Most are hard fought battles with Self. Some feel like hard fought battles against the world. I believe that the struggle to change is well worth the pain, suffering, bruising, deprivation, blood and tears. I know I am inclined to fixate, become OCD, to have such a narrow focus at times that the rest of the world blurs into unreality. It is how I am, how I do things, I know of no other way. The hardest part is to aim that focus instead of letting it aim me. I have gotten better over the years, especially this last year, as I shed many restraints that seemed to fetter me in inertia. Another difficulty is trying to split my focus, exert energy into several different objectives. I become so intent on one track that I eagerly throw vast amounts of energy at the current fixation, often to the neglect of even the day to day necessities. Again, it is how I am, how I do things. This has held me in good stead this year, I will say. I have achieved several things that had been lingering pipe dreams for so many years I felt as if they would always remain vapor, smoke, fantasy, unfulfilled dreams. Now, I can look at both past and future and see changes, growth, opportunity.
    As fixated as I become, "never doing anything by halves," as I have been accused, it is an astonishing way to achieve goals. Yes, I may steamroll over anything in my path, oblivious at times to my own intensity. Yes, I may seem self-centered, self-absorbed, over the edge, engrossed, crazed. As channeled as I seem, it only intensifies as winter settles in, as if the darkness feeds my fascination, my preoccupation, my fixations. Some changes come with a heavy price, some with a steady payout, a mortgage of energy. Others see the change itself and do not consider what price I pay day to day, week after week. But as I said, changes do not come easy, I fight for them, pay my pound of flesh, struggle, weep, berate. Pain is a constant companion, a quietly nagging friend, there to remind me of what I owe, and what I willingly pay out. Interesting to stop and ponder just what I am willing to spend of me, myself. But it is repaid. No, not exactly repaid, it is more like dividends earned, an exchange of goods and services, sweat equity.
    As winter looms I am hopeful that this year, being cognizant of what I need to do, where I need to go, current changes that must be maintained, future changes that must happen, that I might be able to divide my attentions, split my focus. I need to learn to steer my fixation, guide it for precision strikes, aim it for maximum payoff. Being aware, being self-aware, allows me to have some measure of control over the rudder, despite which way the gale force wind blows. I will, must, channel my fixation. There is too much to be done with life to allow my nature to run away with me.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


    How much sharing is too much? When does it move from sharing to TMI? Days when there are things banging on the inside of my skull, refusing to be silenced until they are released on the world, days such as these I can't and don't really care if I am giving out To Much Information. The alternative is explosive decompression. Which would be messy at best. From the moment I awoke, even in dreams before I woke, Brain has been in full blown panicspaz. Spirit is sliding from the chair and into a puddle on the floor. Body is hanging in there, solid, as usual, but so tired, anemic, and yet all a-jitter with nervous energy. It is not a comfortable state to be out in public. I do have the stoic mask in place, looking in a mirror I look placid and care-worn, but without a flicker of the inner turmoil. This is a good thing, it lets me get through the day without having to explain myself to anyone. But I see beyond the mask, the passivity, the calm demeanor. The mirror hides nothing from me. I can see beneath the skin, behind the eyes, to the chaos, the maelstrom, the tempest. Eyes closed is even more revealing as I tune in to the clamor and cacophony of incomprehensible noise that echoes in a seemingly empty skull. Echo upon echo, until the din takes on a life of its own that can be felt pounding into flesh, coursing through veins and vibrating me to the marrow. I force myself to write, to bring order to the chaos, to make comprehensible the cacophony, an attempt to restore order and calm. To force words into logical sequence, to form solid thoughts from shapeless handfuls of grey matter as an artist works in clay.
    So, is this TMI? Should I, dare I, share so much of the inner workings of me? It feels as if the choice was taken from me long ago, as if my only option is to flay myself open for the world to see in order to regain a modicum of control. To release it all into the universe with the hopes that all will coalesce, evolve from primordial ooze to sentient being. For now, the ooze is in charge, leaking from my ears, spilling out over my life, slowly absorbing all around me. So, flayed, vivisected, excoriated for the world to see, for me to see within myself. It is all I know to do when dissonance drowns ataraxis, when serenity is subjugated by pandemonium, when confusion and bedlam reign supreme. I do what I can, messy as it is.

Caught Off Guard

    I think I knew what was coming after my recent plunge into panic, anxiety, and struggling to put a brave face on life. It was lurking just around the corner, waiting for fatigue to give it a chance to slip in like a grey cat sneaking in the door. It came on feather light feet, stealthy, silent, insidious. It is here now, whispering in my ear, quietly reasserting a cold grip, a malaise, dejection. I know it for what it is, and am usually more alert to its approach. This time it has caught me off guard. It may be the cold, the grey, the wet weather that opened the door a sliver, just enough to let in the frigid fingers of Melancholy. Maybe it is merely fatigue, I have not had a day off, down time, in so long I have lost count. So much to do, so much to see, so little time, so many expectations. I understand the old adage, "burning the candle at both ends." Sometimes I feel as if I am burning it in the middle as well. It is overwhelming. And my spirit pays the price. Brain becomes brittle, over-analyzing the smallest, insignificant details, reading between the lines, seeing dilemma where there is none, feeling hurt by a breeze, loneliness and tears threaten like a roiling storm. It is far easier to stave off Melancholy when I read the signs of its approach. I have so many tricks in my bag, so many workable solutions, remedies, therapies, but they are more a preventative than a cure. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." It is true, and I feel it profoundly at times like this. If I can head off Melancholy, stop it where it lives, lock the door, barricade the windows, then I can regroup easily and return Brain and Spirit to a state of calm. Once inside my skull Melancholy grips me with tentacles invasive and pervasive, brutal and belittling, draining and damaging. Now comes the battle to regain control over my own emotions, sense of self, self esteem, without withdrawing from the world, as is my wont. Yes, I do have weapons to fight the good fight, but having the strength to shoulder them, the willpower to use them, the fortitude keep a brave face, is not easy when tears burn hot and threaten to leak between my lashes. I have to struggle for control, breathe in breathe out, focus, shut out the pejorative whispers. I know I will not plunge to the depths of previous winters, I have too much going right in my life, too many reasons for Melancholy to take an extended leave of absence. I know I am battling my own chemical makeup, my Nature, even my own past, but I am so tired of this particular foe rising from the ashes, even when I know it is weaker than in the past, I am heartily weary of this fight. But as always, I soldier on, let the world believe that everything is okay, that I am okay. I am good at pretending, it is what gets me through each and every episode, pretending until it become truth. I will be okay, I am okay. I'm okay. Really.

Monday, November 26, 2012

No Fear

    I realize that I often scare the shit out of myself. No, not in a scary-guy-in-mask-leaping-from-the-shadows kind of way, but more of an oh-dear-gods-what-was-I-thinking kind of way. I find I often set myself up for grand and epic potential failure. I put myself out there, in far over my head, and just hope to all hell that I will have the moxie to not run screaming to the horizon, or curl up in a fetal position under my down comforter. I don't set out to step outside of my comfort zone, or in some cases leap outside of it. That is never my intention. What seems to happen is my imagination takes off, thinking of all the adventures I want to experience, and then Brain and Body just have to follow along. My imagination takes me far afield. I can visualize things in my mind more vividly than if they were playing out in technicolor and surround sound in a home theater. The film festival in my skull has led me astray, lured me into the fog, nudged me over the edge more than once. It is a frequent trip, actually. And every once in a while it will sink in, what I am doing, where I am going, what I am expecting of myself, and I will freak. I will panic. I will be hit with the knowledge that once again I am stepping up to the plate to have 120mph fastballs thrown at my head. And it scares the holy hell out of me. I am on the cusp of some major shit right now, epic adventures, a leap off the edge into the unknown. I am risking the potential for major failure, not only of my own, but letting others down as well. I am getting ready to embark on a new avocation that is beyond hobby, far beyond a casual fling. I will be pledging my body and spirit, my time and energy, a pound of flesh to be one of a few, select individuals who are willing to be first responders, the ones who run in when all sane people are running out. I become overwhelmed with the reality, the responsibility, of what I am promising. It really does scare the hell out of me when I think how much others will be expecting of me, how others will trust that I have their backs, that I will be there, and be brave and strong. My self doubts assail me, on this and other dreams, hopes, ambitions, objectives, plans and schemes. So much that I want to do, to try, to prove to myself. But reality strikes and I am terrified. Terrified that I will not only let myself down, disappoint myself, but far worse, that I will disappoint others, that I will not make the cut, that I will fail. What to do when panic and fear clutch at my soul? I certainly cannot back out now, so there is nothing left but to keep moving forward. Pretend to be brave long enough that my excitement and enthusiasm can return the fire to my imagination, and then I will be off again. There is no time for fear. So I must just ignore it, and it will go away. Ignore it and it will go away. No fear. Just my imagination.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


    Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, our national holiday commemorating the earliest days of our nation, when the handful of European settlers were saved from starvation by the native people, who were later laid to waste by land hungry Europeans. But, it is a day to give thanks, to spend a day with friends and family, feasting and overindulging. This year led me down a path of reminiscing back to one year ago. Where I was then versus where I am now. Last year, I was trying to buy my little house, and should have been moving during the four day weekend of Thanksgiving. Instead, closing had been delayed, again, and I was furiously packing and cleaning with the hope that I would be moving the following weekend. It was a remarkable stressful time. I was only 2 months out of a long term, toxic relationship, feeling alone, stressed, depressed, anxious, and thoroughly overwhelmed by my life. It was all I could do to keep my head up, and keep moving forward one painful step at a time. One year ago, instead of happily baking for friends and family I was clearing out my kitchen, packing, scrubbing, focusing all my pent up, nervous energy on cleaning everything to perfection. The task of moving was letting me avoid turning my mind's eye inward to the turmoil, pain, anger, frustration, and bitterness that had built to the breaking point. The downside of ignoring such pent up emotions? They do not allow themselves to stay imprisoned and they will break free in a horrific, chaotic, devastating, cataclysmic flood. But that was still a month or two in my future.
    I look back, and see with clarity where I was, how I was coping and marvel at my strength and fortitude. It would have been easy to relapse, apologize, try to make amends and "fix" a relationship that was really damaged far beyond repair. I knew then, as I know now, I could not take that step. "Easy" has never been my style. Granted, not long after, I was trying to make amends, trying to regain the relationship that really only existed in my imagination, because I was so desperately alone, and felt I had no where else to turn. The reality? The relationship I was trying to recapture truly only ever existed in my hopes and dreams, it was never really more than smoke and shadows, promises, vapors, insubstantial. I know this now, as I learn more of reality. As I learn more of myself and what I deserve, what I am capable of, where I am and where I am going.
    This year, Thanksgiving has been exactly that, a time to give thanks for what I have, what I have achieved by strength of character and sweat of brow. Thanks for my family which grows by glorious leaps and bounds, and the love of those around me who truly do cherish me as I cherish them. My life has become a fantastic adventure, that is satisfying, wondrous, exciting, loving, fulfilling. Yes, there are areas that still need work, but life is always a work of art in progress.
    To look back one year, one short year, and see just how far I have come amazes me. Truly, deep down, to the core, stunningly, amazes me. Some would say it is like having woke from a bad dream to find you are safe in your own bed. I say it is more like having fought a long, dirty battle, against greater forces, and won victory after victory on sheer cussedness and determination  even as defeat fluttered around the edges. This was not so simple as waking from a bad dream, and to say so would be doing me a great disservice. I fought and won. Fought hard, so victory has been all the sweeter. For truly, anything worth having is worth the price.
    Now, I sit on the cusp of an even greater year to come. I had long ago dubbed 2012 as "The Year of Win," and it has lived up to that moniker on so many levels and in such a wide realm encompassing all my loved ones. Now, as 2013 nears I am making my To Do List. Life is too short to not make plans, goals, reach for new heights and scheme on epic adventures. 2013 will be rife with adventure.
As I look ahead my To Do List is starting to fill in:
Attend and graduate Fire Fighter Academy
Get Passport, get stamp in Passport
Get SCUBA certified, dive in foreign Country
Learn Rappelling through the Fire District
Compete in Olympic Distance Triathlons
Complete a Half-Ironman
Run a Half Marathon
Do the Portland Tri and Firefighter's Stairclimb on the same day (again) and totally Kick Ass
Climb a Mountain (there are so many nearby to chose from)
Learn to Rock Climb
Flying Lessons
And of course continue to work on my awesome little house, which was a catalyst for so many changes, and for filling me with a solid sense of accomplishment.

I have said it before, and I will say it again and again, because I mean it with all my heart: I Love My Life!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Notes To Self

    As the weather shifts towards wintery conditions, coats are being pulled out of the closet that have not seen the light of day for 8 months. I am inclined to jot down thoughts, quotes, ruminations, while out and about, and shove them into pockets where they become a crumpled wad of insight. Finding these notes, so many months, and an entirely new life later sheds some interesting light into my own dark ages.
    "The problem with chasing the storm is that it wears you down." A quote from a movie character. I don't remember when I wrote this, but I know why it struck a chord. The last few years had worn me down, fighting the good fight, struggling over what seemed to me insurmountable obstacles, and alone, always alone. Which inspired a self revelations, and another note, "I have myself, I need no one else."
    It is all too easy for me to think back on last winter, the cold, grey days that seemed unending. The melancholy that wrapped me in its dark, clammy embrace, refusing to release me. Depression brought on by the sheer, overwhelming nature of major life changes. The birthing pains of a new life and love of self. Days and weeks that turned into months of crying. I lost track of how many days passed without a single tear-less day. And then slowly, oh so slowly, I began to have 24 hours with no tears. Then several days without sinking into the black morass. Soon, crying returned to its regular status of rare and justified. During this phase, my return to sanity, my notes were encouraging, "It is not what we carry with us, but what we leave behind that defines us." "If you do not like where you are, change it. You are not a tree." "I am Me. No excuses. No regrets. Simply, inexplicably Me." "What I want. What I need. What is right for me." And, "I will become who I was meant to be all along."  Yes, it may seem like so much happy horseshit, blithe cliches. But there are times when words can help reinforce vague notions, support shaky ideals, protect the child within. Sometimes we need to be soothed by platitudes, even when self inflicted. We need to be reassured that "Everything will be okay, you will be okay."
    Some of these catch phrases became mantras to ward off demon attacks, and as a way to quiet Brain when it was gibbering and running in circles. Yes, my most often used was nothing more than, "I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay..." over and over and over, until I could breathe again. Sometimes, lying alone through the night, staring into the darkness, passing time until I could justify getting out of bed and hitting the treadmill is when my phrase, "I have myself, I need no one else," would pound on the inside of my skull.
    The point of all this rambling, and there was one, is that I find these Notes To Self written last winter, and am made mindful of how far my life has come in a few short months. I have long stopped hanging my hopes on the actions of others, and have taken the helm firmly in my own hand, the mistress of my own destiny. I don't let the failings of others rule my life. I feel as if I am in a whole new world. As if I am a new Me. As if all the jagged shards of my life finally formed into cohesive pieces of the complicated puzzle that is the Life I Deserve. I am piecing together my world, my reality, my own Nirvana. The task is not complete by any stretch of the imagination. It is a work in progress, and will remain so throughout my life. But now I feel as if I have enough pieces in place that I can see the overall picture, with my imagination happily filling in the blanks. Yes I am a work in progress. Life is  work in progress. But my Notes To Self remind me of just how much progress I have made.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Specialize in Weird

    Amazing how a series of unconnected events can skew my reality, derail Brain, and make focusing on even the most trivial of tasks to be an arduous endeavor. This has been a week of skewing. It has shrouded Brain in a preoccupying, pensive fog. Even a quick foray for groceries ends up a rambling, disjointed trip through aisle after aisle, wandering, distracted, dysfunctional. It is possible that the series of unconnected events just happens to coincide with one of my naturally occurring episodes of muddled mental musings. I am the first to admit that Brain goes on vacations with alarming regularity as the sun dips lower on the southern horizon with the approach of winter. Maybe Brain is a Sunbird? One who travels south once the weather takes its inevitable turn into the short, grey, wet days that seem to stretch on for an eternity. Irregardless of they whys and wheretofores, I find myself desiring escape from reality, a chance to hide away and absorb data. There is so much swirling about me, events far beyond my control that still effect my life at a deep level. Not in the negative, mind you, but definitely in the weird. I am well equipped to deal with Weird, even as it skews my reality. One could say that I have specialized in Weird, it seems drawn to me, or I to it. Weird knows that I am accepting and nonjudgmental where Weird is concerned. I do not readily dismiss an idea, notion, concept that ranks high in the Weird spectrum, if anything it makes me more open and willing. But this last week or two has fallen outside of what I would normally perceive as Weird, and into a category that I can only think of as skewed and reality changing. Let me reiterate, not for the negative, at all, but something quite different. Different enough that I do not know how to categorize or name this. I do not like being unable to pinpoint a name, a diagnosis, a definition. To know something's name is to give one power over it, a modicum of control, a path towards better understanding. As it is I feel as if I am floundering about in my own fogged mind trying to lay a hand on the specter that flits about, just out of reach, and almost out of sight. I catch glimpses, believe I may be reaching an understanding, and then it is gone like a wisp of vapor. Is it me? My Brain? Or is it the new reality that seems to be crystallizing around me? Is it the events that are skewing my reality? Or my perception that is doing the skewing? Until I can take hold, and name this corporeal concept I will not know. I think I must sit still, stop wandering the fog, let it press in against my skin, find stillness, watch and wait for events to play out. But waiting, patience. stillness are not in my Nature, foreign concepts, difficult. But I will try, as I specialize in Weird, and try to find understanding.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


    Clarity, a gift and a burden, freedom and prison, wings and shackles. To see the world with clarity can be a beauteous experience. It can also feel like an assault on raw nerves. I see the insanities of those around me, those who are unwilling to admit that they are anything but sane and normal. Is this an easy route to calm? An easy path to feeling sane, despite incontrovertible evidence of crazed behaviors and eruptions of psychotic breaks? I see it happening to others. I see their crazy hiding just beneath the surface like demon possession waiting for the watchful priest to succumb to sleep. Yes, I keep my lunacies on a tight leash as best I can, but I am cognizant of their presence, aware of the warning signs, watchful for the early schisms that can forewarn a pending episode. I watch, carefully, and act accordingly. I possess the clarity of inner vision, insight, awareness that allows me predict impending erratic behavior and shelter myself and others. Does this make me sane? Or does Clarity lie at the heart of an episode? To see what goes on around me, see what others willfully ignore, see the rough beast slouching towards Bethlehem. To be unable to turn a blind eye, it is an assault on my senses, on my sensibilities. And so I watch with horrified fascination, the crazed actions and reactions of others, the downward spirals that I am unable to rectify, unable to mend, unable to halt. In their deluded insanities they are unwilling to accept even the slightest aid, not only unwilling but made hostile by even a hint of assistance. What can I do against odds like these? Nothing. Nothing at all, except to try and protect myself from the eventual backlash, explosion, implosion, psychotic break. But Clarity and Empathy make protection impossible. I will feel the angst, bitterness, pain, hostility, blame, apathy, inertia, feel it all down to my marrow. The best I can hope for is to be solidly grounded enough that it will wash around me like foamy surf, and not knock me off my feet to tumble in the waves, nostrils full of sand and sea water.
    The gift of Clarity makes my world multidimensional, every sense alive to input and stimulation. I taste.touch.smell.feel.see the world with Xray vision, penetrating beneath the surfaces to see inner beauty, radiant life, spirits coalesced and intermingled. I taste the sky, breath in the glory of trees, see the life force of earth, feel the air like a lover's caress. If I open my heart and eyes to my life I am filled to overflowing with the grandiosity, love, warmth. If I can withstand the barrage, hold myself upright and strong, absorb the perfection until I can hold no more, then be allowed to retreat and assimilate. That is the key, selective assimilation, the ability to retreat and process, a chance to let my overworked nerves rest and be at peace.
    Gift or Burden? I choose Gift, the other is the price I pay to live life with eyes wide open, senses honed and vibrant. Is is sanity or insanity? Are my lunacies the result of Clarity? Or is my ability to manage my Lunacies, lessen the carnage, protect those I love, because I see deeply into my own soul? Cause and effect? I do not know, I may never know. What I do know it that Clarity and Empathy are cornerstones of my foundation, my nature, they are a huge part of who I am. For better or worse, Clarity is mine, forever.         

Monday, November 12, 2012

Oh So Alive

    My life keeps propelling me forward at a pace that is nigh on impossible to maintain. Or so I keep thinking. I am awaiting The Crash, burnout, exhaustion, depletion, but so far there is no indication that it will happen. My stamina amazes me. As I race forward, busy, frenetic, sleep deprived, I can't help but feel smug with my ability to keep apace. Just when I think life will slow to a mundane pace, another factor gets tossed into the mix. And I admit, I am loving it. Yes, I am often tired, but manage to keep fatigue at bay through sheer force of will until it is time to crawl into my cozy bed. I am falling behind on the mundane tasks of life, they seem so banal, pedestrian, and common. But they are relevant aspects of life, chores that must be done,  elements of life that are, in reality, essential to my peace and comfort.
    A distinct advantage (or disadvantage, depending on P.O.V.) of life in high gear is that it makes it nearly impossible to sit still for any length of time. I work, workout, get home and find more things to do. I gleefully go until I drop. How long can I go? How far will I get? Will it end? Will I find overdrive? 
    Sometimes I do wish for a few moments of silence, calm, nothingness. To sit still and let life wash around me, warm waves lapping at my feet, soft breeze warm on my skin, eyes closed, listening to silence. Such moments do present themselves, and I taste test them, relish the flavor for a moment, then Body and Brain insist I get up and start moving. There is too much living to be done.
    So I allow life to shoot me forward, breakneck pace, high gear, screaming RPMs. I hang on for dear life, eyes watering, teeth clenched, pulse pounding, adrenaline surging, riotous, exciting, innervating, thrilling. Tiring, true. But, oh so Alive.      

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Managing Demons

    I so often find myself surrounded by negativity, pessimism and defeatism, that it can be nigh on impossible to maintain my eternal optimism. I won't lie, I have my ups and downs. I have bouts with self-doubt, panic, melancholy, mania, low self-esteem. There are times when I want to hide my head in the sand and let the chaos and uncertainty of my world swirl about me ignored. There are days when all I want to do is curl into a fetal position, wrapped in my down comforter, and cry silently into my pillow. Yes, all this and more. But I do not allow myself the luxury of such self-pity, defeatism, sadness. When bleakness threatens, I fight against it with all the weapons in my Bag of Tricks. When melancholy wraps frigid digits around my heart and soul I seek out ways to break the grip of those merciless fingers. I have developed a vast array of weapons, an arsenal, a veritable munitions warehouse, my own cold war missile silos. And I am not at all adverse to pulling out all the stops in a full frontal attack. I choose to be happy. I choose to be strong. I choose to stand up to all the foes that would vanquish my sunny disposition if for no other reason than that Misery Loves Company. I say No. I will not be companion to Misery. True, I struggle against my own inner Demons, my own Melancholy, my own Chemistry. But I am not at the mercy of my nature, and most definitely not at the mercy of the nature of others. We choose our own paths. We can choose to perceive our lives as good, happy, satisfying. Or we can chose to feel the victim of events beyond our control, influenced by those who swirl around us. Yes, we have people in our lives that we must associate with, maintain connections with, that may be the root of animosity, stress, depression. But it is our choice to decide just how much we will allow the actions and reactions, choices and moods of the incidental people within our sphere to effect the spark that is sheltered deep within each of us. I protect this Vital Spark, tend to it, shelter it from storms that rage,   shield it from dark rains that would extinguish it. It is within my power to protect myself from assault, from darkness, pervasive gloom, dark anti-matter. I may not always be able to fully protect myself from myself, but I damned sure can and will use every available skill and tactic at my disposal to protect myself from the demons of others. I will manage my own Demons, thank you very much. But keep your's to yourself.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Did It

    This year Life seems to be filled with milestones, large and small, sweet and painful, debilitating and healing. As the year progresses the milestones have turned far from the negative, and into the great and positive. I have written of many of the great moments; the birth of the Bright Bean, joining the fire department, weddings, physical triumphs, mental victories. In this, The Year of Win, there have been so many moments of triumph and joy, that I can look back at the long winter and the deep, cold abyss that nearly consumed me, and it feels like a fading dream. My journey to the abyss has become nothing more than a nocturnal aberration, fast disappearing in the morning sun. As I stride forward into my new dawn, new day, new beginning, I let past troubles fall away until they are nothing but dusty cobwebs of faint memories. It seems I find another moment of revelation, another personal victory, with the regularity of the moon. Some great and glorious, others small but filling me with pride. I have come so far in so short a time. As if I were held back as my life moved forward, pulling away, stretching into the future, then released with the suddenness of a catapult. Vaulted forward with eye-watering speed. Propelled with the pent up energies stored, held close to the heart, finally exploding forward in a rush that was not to be denied.
    Another milestone met and passed with ease this last weekend. One that had loomed over me, as a dark pillar, shadowing life. When faced it turned to nothing but ash. It crumbled before me, blown away on the winds of growth and change. It was a sweet moment, a conquest, a triumph, a delicious victory. I felt my own strength and power grow and swell as I faced the colossus and it revealed itself to be a hollow, fragile husk of insignificance. I was truly and deeply amazed at the ease in which this behemoth fell before me, with no aftershock, no painful backlash. I was amazed at my strength and stability.
    This last year has led me along dark pathways, through bleak tunnels, over massive obstacles, but I have come through the victor. Stronger, healthier, saner, stabler than ever before. I did it. Me. Myself. I did it. And I am proud.  

Fall is Here

    Fall is here. Despite the deception of warm days and gentle nights. Leaves are thick on the ground, emitting their pungent spice. Fields are harvested, plowed clean, and either lying fallow or planted with winter wheat. The winter wheat graces fields with bright, tender new growth, an echo of Spring. Livestock show shaggy coats, dappled with mud. Gardens with skeletal tomato plants, maybe the orange glint of a pumpkin forgotten. The sky grey and soft today, mist falling, saturating all, silvering grass with fine spray. Fall is here, time to reflect, restock, relax a bit, look to Winter.  

Friday, November 2, 2012

Up To The Challenge

    Some things must be done alone. Faced alone. Dealt with alone. Maybe it is my nature, I am freakishly independent, and prefer managing on my own most of the time. Yes, this is an ingrained behavior that I am trying to unlearn, but years of practice makes it like a muscle memory. Even now, when there are special people who are more than happy to lend a hand, or shoulder, or strong back, I am more than likely to go it alone. Emotionally, mentally or physically, I go it alone. I know my Introvert nature makes me inclined to go solo more often than not, but I am trying to allow myself to seek assistance when needed. Even so, there really are aspects of my life that I must do alone, for my own sense of self.
    Heading into the greyness of Winter, I am inclined to be filled with a certain sense of dread, isolation and emotional fatigue. Oddly, so far this year I am not feeling as if I am looking down a long, lonely, unlit tunnel peppered with pitfalls, shadowy lurk-lurks, boobytraps, and creepy-crawlies. I feel as if I can see into the Winter with a peace and clarity that has eluded me for an eternity. Part of this comes from facing my demons, beating them into submission and banishing them into their own darkness. Part of it comes from the love and support of friends old and new, kindred spirits that have come into my life this amazing year. Part if it comes from knowing I am facing a Winter of pursuing dreams, chasing childhood wishes, making long held secret desires become reality. My life has been moving towards ripeness, filling out with the succulence of time and age, becoming full-bodied and robust like a well aged brew.
    And still I know I am facing certain journeys and challenges alone. But it is because I choose to face them alone, to prove my strength to myself. To myself, no one else. I know that I am strong, healthy, powerful, but occasionally I am faced with a challenge that inspires me to prove it to myself once again. I have been actively seeking challenges, feats of strength, innervating experiences. Seeking and facing them alone, because I feel I need to. I have long struggled with the difficulties of being an Introvert in an Extroverted World, feeling outcast, stranger in a strange land, alien, awkward, the outsider. It has made so many simple things be difficult, painful, frightening, even terrifying. I am learning to face these challenges, rise to the occasion, prove to myself that I am not to be held captive by my own nature. I push beyond my fears, quell the panic, approach my fears with a calm facade. "You are what you pretend to be, so you had better be careful of what you pretend to be," Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. And so I pretend to be calm, self-assured, relaxed, comfortable, and it becomes so. It becomes my reality. I am what I pretend to be. I make this happen because I face terrifying challenges alone, proving my strength to myself. To myself, and no one else. It is how it must be, how I must do things. It is my nature to attack solo, to overcome, to learn, to grow, to become stronger with every struggle. I am stronger, healthier and more stable than I have been in an eternity, and I am up to the challenge.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


    Where do I go from here? The options seem wide open, and yet I am limited by reality. I pursue childhood dreams with reckless abandon, excitement an ambrosia filling me to overflowing. I lead with my heart, throttle wide open, the risk of crashing a delightful innervation. Brain is roiling with ideas. Body surging with energy to burn. Life is propelling me forward. Delirious. Enticing. Alluring. But reality is flagging behind. I am pursuing dreams, but my reality has yet to catch up. My day to day life is still a struggle, a battle against dark forces that try to drag me down with the mundane, the banal, the tedious. I want to cast aside the frustrating realities that hold me down. Cast them aside so I can fly. I stand, feet on the ground, eyes to the sky, the dream of flight as fresh, firm, pungent  juicy and raw as a sun warmed tomato. I can see/taste/touch/smell the freedom of flight as a tangible force. I want to bite into life and let the juices dribble down my chin. I know I can fly if I can lose the fetters of reality. I need to break loose of the shackles of tedium. I need to find a release from the mundane workaday world that drains me of time, energy and creativity. Life has so much to offer. I see the potential, I see my potential, as a living entity striving to grow and flourish. I watch with enraptured eyes the pulsing, verdant growth. I will nurture it, protect it, cherish it as I wait for it to reach fruition. Until then, I shall keep looking upwards, feeling the wind, flexing my wings, waiting for the shackles to fall away. I am ready, eager, for the freedom to fly. I am ready for flight.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Method To My Madness

    I think I am beginning to understand. To understand the strange behaviors of Brain and Body over the last few weeks. Brain has been leaping from intense focus, defining dreams, forming plans, to being scrambled, fogged, dreamy. And Body? Body has been afire with energy, active, flying, until the Crash, and desire for 10 hours of sleep. I have felt the rollercoaster, the highs and lows, the extremes. Day to day, I don't know where I will be in any given hour: High, Low, Focused, Dreamy, Energized, Somnolent? I was getting concerned over the extremes. Granted, I should be used to extremes within my own Brain and Body, it is my "Normal." I do believe that the last few weeks are the result of my high energies taking charge, blasting ahead, gathering input, making plans, and then stepping outside of the breakneck pace to ruminate, rest and recover. High energies take their toll. There is so much going on with Life these days, so many options, choices, pathways, dreams, desires, possibilities. So much to ponder that Brain becomes overwhelmed and begins to block out the incidentals, the unimportant, the mundane and plebeian. Brain narrows the focus, ignoring everything but the task at hand, the task Brain chooses to deem important at that moment. The only way I can think to bring Brain back into the present, is to focus on the future and make plans accordingly. I know I need to relax and go with Brain's Master Plan, accept the inevitable, enjoy the ride but hang on for dear life. Brain knows where we need to go, even if Brain is not in a sharing mood, and prefers to keep us all in the dark at times. I know we are moving forward, I just am not sure where we are going.
    Body, on the other hand, is focused and insanely energetic. Body knows exactly where we are headed and is infused with drive and motivation. Body pushes forward, excited, strong, willing and eager. But even Body has limits, and we hit the wall every evening, when there is still much to be done. Hits the wall and crashes. When the crash comes there is no recourse except to crawl to bed and sleep, and it never feels like we get enough sleep. There is too much to do, too much fun to be had, to want to waste time sleeping. But Body does insist at times, and then there is no arguing, Body wins.
    So where does all this lead me? It makes me realize that there is a Method To My Madness. My lunacies are not random. Instead I have realized that my lunacies are going to be my salvation if I can continue to work to understand myself, my actions, my own inner workings. If I can continue to allow Brain, Body and Spirit to act and react as need be, instead of trying to force alien behaviors, unnecessary actions. I must conserve energy by not fighting against my nature, my skewed, lunatic, artistic nature. Let Brain take the lead, trust instincts and reactions. Trust myself, release my creativity, let energy flow. I must believe that there truly is a Method To My Madness.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Inside My Head

   I once had a friend say to me, "I've wondered what it would be like to get inside your head, and then realized that it is probably a scary place." I laughed it off. What else could I do? But it is often the truth. I like being inside my head, even when it is alarming, weird, scattered, turbulent. It is my Mind, after all, and I am used to it. Used to it the way an experienced horse owner learns to manage a skittish, high strung horse without getting their head kicked in: approach carefully; make soothing sounds; touch gently; never make sudden movements or loud noises; handle with care.
    Lately I have become a bit concerned over my apparent inability to multi-task. I get focused on a project and all else falls away. I am getting behind on bill paying, and other grownup tasks, merely because I just don't think about them. My Mind is on other things, far removed from reality at times, and often far less mature than I probably should be. I feel driven to do certain things, and nothing else. I can't seem to change directions, and pay little heed to anything other than what my Mind deems important at the moment. If I try to work on something, anything, that my Mind is disinclined to want to do, then the task becomes nigh-on impossible to elicit any focus whatsoever, much less be done to completion. So, I let my Mind choose the path, instead of fighting it. I give my Mind the lead, and just go along for the ride. Much like letting a horse amble forest paths, letting the reins hang loose, just a warm body in the saddle, relinquishing control. I may not be accomplishing what I think I should be, but at least I am accomplishing something. It is the best I can hope for at times like these.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


    Thoughts are so scrambled. I can't maintain any linear thought. Instead Brain bounces me around, taking me into places I really don't want to go, flirting with the edges of Melancholy, then yanking me back by the short hairs. Conflict reigns supreme at times like this. I become contrary in nearly every thought and action. Even I don't know where I will end up in the crap shoot of upheaval. I try to pull myself back into a semblance of rationale and logic. I remind myself of what I want, what I need, and what is right for me. I come back to this concept. A thought that originally coalesced late one night, in the dark silence, just as I was about to slip into sleep. It struck me, and echoed around inside of my skull with such clamor that I had to turn on the light and write the words, just so they would pipe down and leave me alone. What I want, what I need, what is right for me. It has become a mantra. A focus. A way to shepherd Brain, slow the thoughts, corral the chaos of Brain on a tear. I need such weapons to quell Brain at times like this, or it will spiral out of control, feeding on itself, a maelstrom. I can't allow that. Not Now. Brain is not easily quieted, not easily calmed. But I whisper the new mantra, it is more effective, more focused, than my previous mantra. The days are gone when all I could do was whisper to myself, "I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay." But when thoughts scramble, when Brain is like a runaway horse, stampeding across the countryside, it is all I can do to form any comprehensive thoughts, any at all. So I hold my rebellious head in my hands and ignore the yammerings, subdue the panic, quiet the voices, and try to remain focused on what I want, what I need, and what is right for me. But there are times when it is not enough. When nothing is enough. Times like these all I can do is ride it out, minimize damage and hope for the best. Hope for the best. Forget what I want. Forget even, what I need. And focus on what is right for me. And hope for the best. It is what is right for me.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Little Stillness

    I am having a difficult time connecting with the real world today. Instead, my third eye is turned inward, focused on the surreal, unreal, creative, meditative, mist shrouded world that inhabits my mind. I believe this is the result of so much socialization, input, data, interaction that has yet to be fully processed. And so my mind draws away, retreats into the sanctuary that exists within my skull. I retreat and process, withdraw and ruminate. So much has transpired in the last few weeks, months, that I feel the need to sit back for a while and let events and thoughts catch up to where I am. I am beginning to feel out of synch, but not in the panic inducing, fearful, stressful, exhausting, defeating way that enveloped me the last year or three. Now I am feeling like I have run so far down the path that I need to stop in a sunny spot and wait for the rest of my world to catch up. So, I sit in the sun, eyes turned inward, reflecting, contemplating, visualizing the future. My future. I am not sure where this winter will take me, but then, no one really knows where they will be even a few hours into the future. I don't know if this next year will bring cataclysmic change, or subtle growth. Metamorphosis or quiescence. I know it will not bring inertia, I am done with inertia. But will the events that surround me, and effect my reality, cause monumental shifts? I feel the need for another quantum shift. Shall I force the issue? Or let it come to pass on its own? I think I shall watch and wait, nudge when needed, jump when appropriate. As much as I am inclined to Leap Before I Look, I think this will be a time for me to practice a modicum of patience as I align the game pieces of my life. So many pieces in play, so many balls in the air, so many thoughts tumbling around inside my skull. I need quiet, stillness, solitude to let Brain sort through the jangling mass, prioritize, contemplate, develop ideas, discard chaff. Life has been pell mell for so long I almost forget what it is like to sit in stillness. Pell mell but wonderful. Chaotic but vivacious. Frenetic but delicious. Quirky and tempestuous. Crazy and delirious.  Careening wildly. Joyous. Blissful. Such a pace cannot be maintained forever, without rest, without recovery. I know that after every race, every tough endeavor, I owe it to Body to rest and recover. I can't deny Brain the same courtesy. Brain needs to recline and review, coalesce, draw conclusions. So Brain and I withdraw just a bit, turn away from the world, retreat to our sanctuary to allow time to process and understand. It is not an option, it is a compulsion. I cannot but comply. It goes far beyond choice, and if ignored will merely carry me further into seclusion. Brain and I just need a little time, stillness, a bit of quiet. Just a little stillness.

Small Magics

    Chance conversations so easily send my mind down random pathways. Today, a missive from a faraway friend triggered thoughts also brought on from conversations with other friends over the last few weeks. All random, different, unconnected conversations. Unconnected except for the vital spark of Small Magics. I am not one to think that I have a grand and glorious destiny. And I do not think this because I have a low opinion of myself. On the contrary, I think it because I have a high opinion of my ability to do the small magics that make a difference in day to day life. In my life, it is less important that I have a grand scheme, a life mission, a driving desire to do good on a global level. I believe that would lead to disappointment, feelings of inadequacy, failure. Instead I believe in the magic of small gestures; a smile, a touch, good food, a strong shoulder, a helping hand, making a child happy, comforting a friend, giving of self selflessly. These are the Small Magics that make my life a success. I can look around me and see the effect I have had on the world, in simple things. Do we truly understand the healing power of acts done with love and compassion?
    Food made with loving care, served with warmth of heart, shared gladly, the comfort of a full belly, can renew hope, restore calm, heal mind and body. I know that a simple gesture can release a flood of pent-up emotion, freeing the mind and spirit, uncluttering the soul. How is that not magical? The smile of a child. The penetrating warmth of a baby held in loving arms against chest swelling with pride. A familiar voice in the dark. A warm hand. Concern on a dark day. Just the offer of help. An invitation to break bread. These are Small Magics. Important Magics. Powerful Magics.
    Too often we hide behind the drive of doing great things. Becoming so focused on the giant picture that we lose sight and touch with all the colors used to create that picture. We stop being the artisan wanting to bring simple beauty into a few lives, and become overwhelmed with the enormous task of bringing something, anything to the masses. Small Magics let us bring our focus away from the horizon and onto the people standing right in front of us. Yes, we need to think globally, understand how our actions can effect the world. But we really need to live close at hand, see the joy we bring to those around us. This is Small Magic. Small, but infinitely vast.


    Big, black horse. Little, white sheep. Grazing close in comfortable companionship. Blissfully oblivious to their differences. Only seeing their similarities and friendship. Fog lending a Hallmark surrealism to the scene. Sends my mind along the path of companionship, similarities, comfort. Happy to be feeling as if I am finding my niche, my family, my tribe, my place in the world.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Beyond Dreaming

    I am feeling like Brain and Body have kicked into high gear of late. Ideas, plans, schemes, are churning, frothing, forming, coalescing, fast and furious. Body is keeping pace with energy off the chart. Is it Mania knocking at the door? I don't think so, because, oddly, emotions are raging all over the map. Mania does not allow room for anything other than elation. Why are the random, erratic emotions manifesting? They are at odds with Brain and Body. Maybe it is just an overwhelming, explosion of all energies, all pent-up emotions. All the strong, amazing emotions that race through me pell mell, no brakes, no restraint, damn the torpedoes. When emotions rage, expect the good with the bad, light and dark, sweet and salty. That being said, emotions are not hindering the creative juices that are spurting through my grey matter, heat innervating muscles, electricity shocking mind to action, fire in the blood, passion in heart. I am flaming, afire, comfortable within my whirlwind.
    My Whirlwind. The question is, can I steer it where I want/need to go? Whirlwind is not inclined to listen to me so very much, taking on a life of its own more often than not. But I feel more focused, more cognizant of what I need, where I want to go, how I want this chapter of my life to pan out. My dreams are more on point, less scrambled. In the past, my dreams often were vague ideas of "a better life." How indistinct is that? Those dreams were borne of a need to pull myself away from same old same old, and onto new and improved. Now, as I move through new and improved, I am learning the importance of focus, striving for specific goals. Not merely Dreaming, but reaching for the Dream.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Juggling Act

    How wrong is it that I wish I were unemployed? I know, it is not a pleasant row to hoe, and I have many friends who have been struggling in the current chaos. I don't want to be unemployed, robbing Peter to pay Paul, facing winter with even more uncertainty. But I would love to not have to spend so much of my precious time enslaved to the workaday world. To spend hour after tedious hour shackled to a desk, making money for someone else, dealing with issues for others, remaining bright and cheerful, the only optimist on the premises. It wears me down. No, it is not a soul killing job, but it is energy sucking, and without challenge or fulfillment.
    What would I do if I didn't spend the bulk of my waking hours working for a pittance? What wouldn't I do?! Oh dear gods, the things I could and would do. I know, so many people say this, and instead learn the joys of hours spent with Judge Judy, The View, Oprah. I can guarantee you, that would not be me. If I could spend time, real time, solid blocks of time, focused on creating, I can only imagine what would come of it. Creating what? Everything. I would write, paint, draw, sculpt, sew, cook, garden. I would make silk banners, totem animal plaques, Pookas, gloriously painted floor cloths. I would finish my shop, my gym, my patio. I would paint murals on my walls, refinish floors, clean my gutters. From the fantastic to the plebeian, the fun to the profitable, I would do it all. My mind scampers down the path of "If Only" on a daily basis, dreaming, hoping, wishing. For a few brief months I worked part time, and loved it. The feel of semi-retirement from the real world, the fabulous hours spent on my own pursuits. It was absolutely dreamy.
    I have so many visions, creations, words, projects, artworks, floating around inside my skull, waiting to burst forth upon an unsuspecting world. So many, that in the brief time I do have to work on my pleasures, I am nearly dysfunctional as they all try to come tumbling out in a discordant mass. Jumbled together, no cohesion, simply chaos. It takes time to sort through all the ideas just to get a grip on the one that is beckoning, begging to be worked on, ripe for the plucking. Being gainfully employed often seems like so much energy expended, so much time wasted, so much creativity quashed.
    How am I to ever develop my own arts into a way of life, a way to make a living, if I am forced to focus so much time and energy working for The Man, living paycheck to paycheck? I imagine I could do it if I decided that I did not want to have a modicum of a real life. No fun. No companionship. No playdates. That is not an option. And so I plot and scheme, let my mind wander the paths of "If Only," squeeze in a few moments here and there to unleash my creative mind. My life is a juggling act of epic proportions at times. Difficult. Busy. Frantic. Chaotic. Fabulous. Amazing. I do love my life.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Faith In Me. Faith In Myself.

    It is no surprise that after a weekend of great company, stimulating conversation, not enough sleep, too much food, and constant laughter, that I am starting my rainy, grey, work week with the optimism usually reserved for early summer weekends. My mind is whirring with ideas, thoughts, plans, schemes, on a foundation of love, understanding, encouragement. Hours spent talking, laughing, learning, sharing, dreams, fears, passions. Surrounded by family, friends old and new. Invigorating interplay. Energizing interactions. Fire of youth, Wisdom of age. In a setting of Ponderosa forests, high desert, frosty air, clean breezes, Nature adding her powers to fan the flames of creativity, joy, love.
    It would be nigh on impossible to walk away from such a weekend without knowing that the path to change, achievement, triumph, personal victory, lies within. Within my own heart and mind to affect change. Yes, I have always known this, and this last year I have proven it to myself over and over. But to have the knowledge reinforced, encouraged, lets me know that I am still, and always will be, the hand at my helm. At times I get tired of pushing through the difficulties that life likes to throw in my path. I work long and hard, to exhaustion and beyond, driving myself forward until I feel I can not take another step. I try and fail, try and fail, over and over until I reach the point when I feel it is futile to keep trying. Then, despite the odds seemingly against me, I stand up, stare life in the eye, and refuse to be beaten. Often, I am the only voice talking me off the ledge, the hand reaching down into the abyss to pull me out, my own lifeline. Times like this last weekend make me understand to the very marrow that mine is not the only voice telling me to move forward. Intelligent, encouraging, loving voices. There are strong hands when I need them. Strong arms, strong shoulders, strong minds, strong hearts. All there for me, if I need them. But I also know that I, too, have strong arms, strong shoulders, a strong mind, and a strong heart. By surrounding myself with those that have faith in me, it is easier to continue to have faith in myself. Even if it was just a weekend, a long, glorious, fantastic, hilarious weekend, it was more than enough to refuel my soul, energize my spirit, reinforce my belief in my shining future. I need these words written, penned, published, saved for future days, to be revisited when the darkness crowds in on me, demons whisper in my ear, the dank air rises from the abyss. This is a letter to Me, a Note To Self, a future reminder that I am capable of following what path I chose, and if that path dead-ends, I can and will find another. They have faith in me. I have faith in myself.

Friday, October 19, 2012


    I had an odd, and unsettling flashback last night, all because of a sweatshirt. yes, a sweatshirt. After showering I pulled out my favorite sweatshirt, fresh and warm from the dryer, and slipped it over my smoothly scrubbed skin. The flashback? 9 months ago, on a dark, frigid winter night, I donned the same sweatshirt, warm from the dryer, preparing to climb into my cold bed, in my cold house. I was overwhelmed with the realization that it was the closest thing to a warm, hug I had felt in over 5 months. I cried. Cried out of despair, desperation, abject loneliness. Alone. So alone, and fearing I would be alone forever, that I was not worthy of a warm loving embrace. Yes, I had hugs from family and friends, and love, but that is not the same as being cradled in loving arms. I climbed into my cold bed and wept. And wept. I can't say I cried myself to sleep, because I was not sleeping much at that time. I can't even say I cried myself into exhaustion, because I apparently have superhuman stamina when it comes to abject weeping. I can't even say that this was an unusual or atypical scenario. It is no great secret that night after lonely night I lay in my dark room, silently crying, sobbing, body wracked with shuddering spasms of grief and loneliness. I was bereft. But that moment, the warm sweatshirt induced despair, sent me along a path that only prolonged my grief. It led me to a misguided attempt to recapture what was long past and dead. My fear of eternal loneliness dredged up feelings that were best left alone, untouched, past and forgotten. But fear makes people do astonishing, and unwise things. I can't say I am sorry for my actions over the ensuing month, I do not regret my misguided attempts. But I am honestly grateful for my failure. This turned into a prime example of failure being the best possible outcome, allowing me to have a deeper understanding of the path that was right for me. My True Path. It finally let me step clear of the rutted path I had been slogging along on for far too long, in endless circles, revisiting the same scenes, straining against the same obstacles, exhausting myself, expending far too much energy to get nowhere at all. But that night, in the warm sweatshirt, I felt as if my life had been drained of color, energy, warmth, affection. And I wept. Bitterly, painfully, disconsolate, despondent, defeated, abjectly heartbroken. I wept through the night.
    Last night, in the warm sweatshirt, all this came flooding back. But without the visceral impact it might have had even a few months ago. Instead I remembered that night, what now seems like an eternity ago, almost as if it happened to another person. It came back more like a scene from a movie, or paragraph in the story of a fictional me. It did not evoke strong emotions, just the realization of how far I have come. Where I am now versus where I was then. It is a different life for me now. A new life. Far removed from the forlorn, demoralized, weepy mess that lay in the darkness feeling abandoned and alone. I stood stock still for a moment, marveling at the difference, the 180 change. What I was, where I was, who I was, a few months ago. And now, having returned to my true self, my true being, on my true path, leading me into a new life, a new world, new adventures. I was, quite honestly, amazed and thrilled to be reminded of just how far I have come in such a short time. Amazed at how far I have come, what I fought through, the tough choices, the brutal impact of those choices, my Trial By Fire. At times like that, I amaze even myself. I do love my life.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Station One

    Tonight was drill night. Not an epic night. No gearing up and riding in a fire engine. No playing with hoses. No Darth Vader-esque breathing through the SCBA. It was a long meeting in a warm room, following on the heels of an arduous workout, hence making me drowsy and muddled. Sitting in a room with forty people, listening to them express their opinions, agree, disagree, agree to disagree, and feeling the overall sense of camaraderie was pleasant and satisfying. To know that any one of these people, strangers a few short months ago, any one would have my back and be there when I needed. It is overpowering. After the meeting broke up, I got to visit my engine, help with rig check, climb around her checking fluid, breathing in her familiar fragrance. Talking with my fellow probies and the Lieutenant about inconsequential pleasantries, joking, learning a little more about each other, checking SCBAs. It has become a familiar and homey routine, calming, relaxing. I know I come off as a total dork about the engines, and I honestly love the trucks. Honestly. Love them. But the true pleasure of Station One is that feeling of acceptance, I am One of Us. One of the family. Accepted without question. Without judgement. Without Bias. I feel as if it is something I have been seeking without knowing that I was looking, that I have found a part of me I didn't even know was missing. It is frightening, and fantastic. Station One.


    I understand my own Lunacies. I go toe to toe, look them in the eye, stare them down, try to keep them in check. At the very least I have learned how to minimize damaging blow-back, protecting those around me when I go into meltdown. I think that what saves me from being clinically insane is the fact that I do understand my psyche, work to maintain it, and when it is spiraling out of control I roll with the punches until things simmer down. I do not repeat the same action over and over expecting a different result. I have learned that if one path does not work, find another path, and another, and another, until one leads me out of the darkness. I am often confronted by those who are every bit as dodgy as I am, if not more so, and are totally unaware of their insanities. How can this be? How can you move through life, sabotaging yourself, raining angst down upon those you profess to care about, spreading malaise, draining the life force from your surroundings, causing mayhem, and be totally unaware of cause and effect? I do not understand how a person can be so blind to their own psychosis. But there it is, people all around, blinders on, blundering through life, vitriolic, hostile, finger pointing, feeling blamed and blameless. These people refuse to accept any accountability for their actions, their effect, their anger, their mistakes, their own failings. Every day I am faced with it, surrounded by it. When I screw up, when I fail, I step up to the plate and admit it. I will look you in the eye and say, "Yeah, that was me. I did that." To fail, make mistakes, is how we learn. How we hopefully learn, anyway. I believe it is how we grow, change, adapt. It is what gives us depth.
     My problem truly lies in the fact that since I understand my Lunacies, and since I am willing to face them, I want to help others understand and face their own inner crazy. I want to lead people to a better understanding of the reasons behind their actions, reactions, and to face down their demons. This leads me into trouble, since most are not even willing to acknowledge their culpability, much less admit to failings, and, god-forbid, deep rooted psychosis. Instead I face hostility, denial, anger. I need to stop trying to help those that do not want help. I am learning to disengage, walk away, separate myself from the issues of others. Their problems are not my problems. Their issues are not my issues to fix. And quite frankly, their crazy can exacerbate my own. My oft times fragile inner being cannot handle frontal assaults. I must disengage.
    I am learning. For my own health and sanity, I am learning to remove myself, disengage, walk away. I have to even as it goes against my nature to want to lead people from the darkness into the light, away from the abyss, into peace. But I cannot make the journey for another, only for myself. And so I walk away. Disengage.