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.

Monday, October 15, 2012


    Today, tired as I am, I am having a feeling of peace and satisfaction with what is going on in my tiny corner of the world. I see life falling into place for those I love, and this makes me nearly speechless with sheer and utter delight. I see my beloveds finding their way in the world, navigating life, finding love and happiness, success, and it is all I can do to contain myself and resist the urge to run down the road singing in jubilation. There is a tightness in my chest and the pricking of tears, but not from stress, or pain, or Melancholy, but out of overwhelming joy and happiness. It seems as if so much is falling into place in my life and the lives of those most important to me. I can't quite pinpoint the moment when it seems that we truly turned the corner into a new world. Maybe it started last winter, but I just couldn't see it through the haze. Maybe it was with the coming of spring. Maybe it was in August when The Bean made his glorious entrance into the world. Maybe it just happened, as the final pieces fell into place creating a wholeness, an alternate reality, a wonderful new chapter. I don't know when it happened, and it doesn't really matter. What matters is that it has happened.
    Yes, I know that there are days coming when I will doubt this occurrence, this is why I write. I put these thoughts to page so I can read and remember. So in the cold, dark days of winter I can remind myself of the glory of my life. When the demons are hissing in my ear, riding my shoulder, I can keep them at bay with my own words, my own assurances. I will know then, as I know now, that on this day all seems right with my world. Even if it is a fleeting moment, I cherish it, hold it tight within my heart, rejoice in the reality. Today, life is good. Today, Life is as it should be, and all is well with my world. I cannot ask for more.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What is Right

I know what I want.
I know what I need.
I know what is right for me.

    One would think that these are comparable, complimentary desires. They are not. What I Want and What I Need can be opposite ends of the spectrum. My wants are often beyond my reach, beyond my scope, and frankly, often impractical and potentially injurious to my psyche and well-being. My needs are simple, though not easily met. And What is Right for Me is a whole different concept entirely.
    Over the last year or three I have tried to become more cognizant of what is Right for Me. The path I personally need to follow, the course I must steer to stay true, the proper combination of Want and Need. It is not easy, to stay true to what is Right for Me. My own Wants often get in the way of Right, hindering, waylaying, and absolutely jamming up my attempts to find my way.
    Wants are alluring, tempting, grandiose, colorful, flamboyant, fantasy, a culmination of desires, often the reaction to bitter disappointments. There is nothing wrong with Wants, unless they are unrealistic, detrimental, or reactions to the sordid past. To want, to desire, to dream, is essential to well being. Want makes us strive to attain lofty goals, to push beyond our self-imposed boundaries, to step outside the norm, to stand up to those that tell us, "can't." But Want can intrude upon Right. Want can overpower both Need and Right. Want makes me headstrong, emotional, illogical, impractical, contrary. Want can easily oppose both Need and Right as I pursue vicarious, immediate thrills and instant gratification, irregardless of the price or potential damage to my psyche. Want gives me blinders, obscures the truth, excuses lies, allows ill-treatment, and so I have suffered from my blindness and acceptance all in the name of Want. When I hear, "the heart wants what the heart wants," it can trigger memories best left buried, exorcised, subjugated. Want is not always a true friend, but can easily be enemy in disguise.
    Need is nearly self-explanatory. The basic Needs of life: oxygen, food, water, shelter, sleep. I Need these for basic Life. I Need my cozy home, my ridiculous dogs, my furball cats, my garden. I have learned that I also Need my art, my writing, to be able to create, to bring beauty into my day. I also Need love, kindness, compassion, a strong shoulder, a warm hand, a soft voice. True many of my Needs are not necessary to live but they are necessary for Life.
    What is Right For Me? To know my own strengths, to appreciate how far I have come, to respect myself,  to stay healthy in mind, body and spirit. I have to follow a path that keeps me true to my own moralities, my own understandings of the world. I have to continue to pursue peace, and understanding of self. I must choose to spend time with those who love me, are kind, accepting, understanding. I must distance myself from those who berate, belittle, mock, attack my sense of self, damage my self esteem, cause emotional chaos. I know What is Right For Me, though I often seem to forget, to pursue a Want with my head down, ignoring inner voices, ignoring visceral warning signs. I have stumbled off of my path all too often. Stumbled, fallen hard, sat and cried, finally picking myself up, climbing out of the ditch and continuing forward as best I can. I stumble, fall, cry, carry on. Over and over. Sometimes feeling as if I must be dense, scatterbrained, stupid, to be continually making mistakes. But mistakes are how we learn, how life teaches us truths.
    I feel as if I have returned to my Path, and have a clear view of the next few paces. So, with my head up, eyes clear, I will attempt to continue forward, on my way, moving ahead, one step at a time. I am trying to rein myself in, just a little, not charge recklessly ahead as I usually do. But it is not easy. It is not my nature. Caution and I are, at best, casual acquaintances. But I know the consequences of my nature. I know the pain and angst of my repeated failures. True, I will continue to fail throughout my life, because I try. To try is to court failure. But it is What is Right. To risk, to try, to continue moving towards whatever life has to offer, this is What is Right. What is Right For Me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The First Forays

    It seems to early in the season for me to be needing to dig into my vast stores of weapons already. But despite the lingering sunshine, or maybe because of it, I am feeling the first forays by the invaders already pecking away at my defenses. It was a beautiful morning, the sun barely cresting the hills, vibrant, radiant tangerine, the perfect orb, illuminating the eastern skyline. Low mist, laying thick over harvested fields. Flocks of geese rising en masse, quickly falling into formation as they drafted off each other in that mysteriously goosey way. Horses watching geese. Geese watching other geese. Birds on wires. Cows grazing. Pastoral peace. I tried to guide my mind to the zen of my drive. I could not. Demons, long somnolent, raised querulous voices. Quiet, yes. But insistent. Brain rose up against them, attempting to cajole them back into hibernation. But the voices ran in gibbering circles inside my skull. There is no reasoning with them. None. Reason and logic have no say in the matter. Finally, in an attempt to quell the noise, or at the very least, drown it out, I turn up the music. Loud, louder. Bone thumping bass. Even this fails to soothe the reawakened tormentors. I am hoping it is only fatigue, a long autumn with no down-time, too much to do and never quite enough sleep. I am hoping that I am merely exhausted. Even this is problematic as the best weapon in my arsenal is pushing my body beyond previous limits, finding new limits and surpassing them. Facing challenges and being triumphant. But I have had no down time for what seems like too long. I know I need to rest, but I cannot. Resting makes me feel lazy, slothful, indigent, unfocused. I revel in my physicality, rely on it as a haven for my fragile psyche. To take even a day or two away from my normal regiment makes me fearful that I will lose much of what I have fought to win. But I am so tired, worn thin, frail, fragile. I chose to think it is just for today, that I am just tired, just for today. Tomorrow, I will be rested, ready and back on track. Tomorrow. I just need to get through today. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My Nemesis

    Funny how I can feel It lurking just behind my eyelids. I know It is there, just as it knows exactly where to find me. Not only find me, but toy with me, taunt me, poke at my psyche. The underlying fragility is undeniable, I can feel the spiderweb cracks that lace across the surface. Hairline fractures only needing a gentle nudge to split asunder. The brittleness never truly leaves, It lives in Brain and Spirit, waiting, patiently. It is such a familiar entity that It is like one of the family, one of Us. Gabba gabba we accept you, we accept you, one of us. The fragility and brittleness, though potentially devastating, in truth makes me who I am. I accept this. One of us. But when I feel It lurking just out of sight, hovering over my shoulder, an unintelligible whisper in my ear so close I can feel the sound, I can't help but worry. It is there. It lies in wait.
    It tried to rise to the surface just yesterday. It knows when I am tired and susceptible to It's machinations. As is often the case, although I am a full participant in these interactions, I am also able to step outside of my skull and act the casual observer. It is an interesting scenario, watching my own inner workings, my struggles, seeing the armor of my mind be strapped into place. Watch as I chose which weapon will be most effective for this particular bout. I can watch, with eerie detachment, as Brain and Spirit join forces with Body to keep the trinity whole and unmarked for yet another day, another struggle, another battle. This was just a flirtatious little visit from It, a testing of the waters, a gentle probing, a mere caress. But It was there, the detached Me looked It in the eye, and knew It for what It is: the Nemesis that has made Me who I am. Every super hero, every great warrior, has had the Nemesis, the Arch Villain, the Battle Royal, that made them who they are, let them be great, epic, historic. The key to such epic endeavors is to be the victor, last man standing, the triumphant. To withstand the assaults and survive despite the odds, or because of them.
    So, as the fragility and brittleness lurk, as It flaunts It's existence, I gird my loins. I buckle armor into place, hone my weapons, fortify my position, prepare. I lay in wait. Hide in defilade. Set snares. String trip wires. I will not be taken down by It. Despite my fragility and brittleness, I will not crumble, I will not shatter. I will flex, bend, and fight back. I am stronger than It can imagine. I am far stronger than It. I know my Nemesis, understand It, know It's weaknesses even better than It knows mine.     

Monday, October 8, 2012

Choices, Dreams, Coincidence

    Though the blue skies and sunshine belie the fact, the truth is that the dark days of winter are approaching at an ever increasing speed. Just this morning I noticed the sun had not crested the horizon as I headed off to work. I know it was there on friday, a gloriously radiant globe suspended just above the foothills. Today, it was not there, its presence only verified by a fiery glow. It is a nagging reminder that the dark and cold will soon crowd me, and nudge me towards possible Melancholy. Oddly, I am not dreading the Melancholy with  my usual soul dampening apprehension. Instead I am looking ahead with patience, acceptance, and the feeling of solid footing. Instead of seeing the winter months stretching ahead, full of cold evenings, lonely nights, grey days, feelings of hopelessness, I feel an optimism that is unusual for me at this time of year. I marvel at the sensation, and in my usual Poke-it-with-a-stick mentality I am wondering why the difference. I can chalk it up to a wide range of factors. Some of which I take full credit for, others that are happy coincidence, and some which are from choices made and dreams realized.
    Heading into winter in my own home, my sanctuary, my fortress from the world, has had a huge impact on my well being. True, the financial burden of home ownership can be a strain, but it is negligible  I would be paying to live somewhere, and here I have control over what I do. I am feeling a bit of pressure to get ready for winter, put aside some supplies, make a few changes to improve my comfort. I have played the grasshopper and not the ant this summer, playing away my weekends instead of keeping nose to the grindstone. I don't regret this fact, but now I am under the gun to get some major things accomplished before the weather turns against me. But it is good, I feel safe in my solid, little hacienda. This is a factor that I take full credit for, a choice made, dream realized, and by my own determined effort.
    I am working towards a few ideas to reignite my art. I must prepare myself to create, get my creative brain on track, envision, design, make images become reality. I need to get back on track to attempt to bolster my income with my own creations. I have a few irons in the fire, but need to start pushing ahead, now. This again, a choice to be made, dreams to be realized.
    The depths of winter will be my true step into the ranks of firefighters, a brotherhood, family, haven. Academy starts in January, and will keep me so busy that I will not have time to notice the grey skies and long nights. I will be learning, practicing, using my brain and body to extremes. I know this will propel me through to Spring, getting me through what has been traditionally my bleakest months. Again, a choice and dream realized.
    On a happy coincidence, a marvelously, deliriously, joyously, happy coincidence; The Bright Bean. My grandson. The beautiful, perfect little human that restores my soul with every meeting. To hold his warmth in my arms, bestow kisses on his brow, inhale the fragrance of vibrant, new life. His energy is so pure, so glowing, so bright. Every cell in my body loves this tiny man in a way both marvelous and overpowering. I never thought I could love another as much as I love my sons, and then along came Bean. Love truly is limitless, and expands exponentially. My heart swells to near breaking just at the thought of this next generation, a legacy to the love of my children. It is amazing, and makes all else pale by comparison.
    This year I head into winter feeling as if I have found a Safe Harbor. That I have someone at my back, comfort, protection from the world, a strong helping hand, a voice in the darkness, kindred spirit, a beautiful mind, a shoulder to lean on. I feel as if I have allies, true allies in my fight against the darkness. It is comforting, calming, and miraculous. This has been happy happenstance, but brought about by my own desires to reach out, make connections, find kinship, love. I have people I can turn to, if needed. This year has brought special people into my inner circle, connections that I have desperately needed, but been without, for too many years. I may be an Introverted Isolationist but that does not mean I can thrive lonely and alone. I need love and affection as a plant needs soil and water. I have found this, through choices, coincidence, dreams sought after and realized, karma stepping in and lending her hand. This is My Year, My Decade, My Millennia, My Life. I step forward into My Life, to live, love and thrive. This is My Time. Finally, My Time.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Return To Center

    My life has been a chaotic rollercoaster ride for so long I had nearly forgotten what it feels like to have solid ground beneath my feet. Admittedly, it is taking me a bit to get my land legs under me again, and every now and again vertigo takes a swipe at me. I have been riding a pendulum, from one extreme to another, on every level, in nearly every aspect of life. But my life is beginning to feel as if it is finally Returning to Center. Am I too optimistic? Am I jumping the gun, again? Seeing through rose colored glasses, as I am wont to do? Or could it be true that my life is finally starting to smooth out, fall in line, take solid form? It has been such a rocky ride, and I am sure I do not face clean, smooth pavement from here on out (but then, that would be predictable and boring). But for the moment, I am feeling an inner sense of calm that has eluded me for what seems an eternity. It may be fleeting, the gods know that with winter coming my finances will be stretched beyond their limits, and the rains will come, and the dark days. But it is quite possible that if I am shored up beforehand, feeling safe, on solid ground, that I can weather the looming winter with my chin up, a fiery glint in my eye, and my heart strong. It will be the first winter in many a long year that I am not looking ahead to long, dark, cold, lonely days. The first October that I don't feel the crushing weight of my Aloneness. The first time in a decade that I don't feel as if I am looking down a long, dark endless tunnel, feeling queasy and unsure of what lay in wait in the oily black depths. Yes, the tunnel is there, but there seems to be sunlight filtering in through breaches in the rock. In one hand is a powerful flashlight that will penetrate the gloom, in the other hand a smooth hardwood baton to fight off demons. I may not be quite as physically and financially prepared as I would like, but I am definitely mentally and emotionally prepared, at least today.
    It has been a rough ride. I have swung too long at the end of a long rope, waiting for the swinging to stop so I could get on with my life. One extreme to another, to another, to another. A life of extremes. Rarely calm. So now, as the swinging stops, the world slows, my life stabilizes, I feel the peace of finally being allowed to Return To Center.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

King Corn

    Brain is all fired up today, and it all started with a field of corn. Yes, Corn. I drive through farmland on my way to work. It is a perfectly pastoral commute, and inspires many a wondrous fantasy. But today, Brain decided to yank my reality chain, force me to look at the details as well as the big picture of what may well be a major factor in the downfall of our concept of civilization. Corn inspired this? Corn, at the root of deep, grim thoughts? Yes. As I drove past the verdant field, Brain was already fretting about the financial burden of driving a gas guzzling, over-sized, pig of an SUV. I was watching the gas gauge, fretting over how far $40 of gas does not go, crunching numbers in my skull, unhappy with the answers no matter how I calculated and tallied. Brain was scrambling to come up with ways to cut financial corners, not quite moving into the Robbing Peter to Pay Paul arena, but skirting the edges for sure. What does this have to do with Corn? Passing the aforementioned cornfield I had a fleeting thought, wondering if the corn would be harvested for human or livestock consumption, or, more likely, biofuel.
    Biofuel. The ecological dream concept; a renewable, clean, American source of fuel for our gas guzzling masses. As great a concept as this is, few seem to be looking at the Big Picture. Let me play a bit of the Devil's Advocate here. Corn permeates our society on nearly every level. It is used in almost every packaged food on the shelf wearing a variety of faces: cornmeal, corn flour, corn starch, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, and the demonspawn high fructose corn syrup. It is in cereals, processed meats, salad dressings, condiments, soups, beans, canned fruit, jams and jellies, dairy products, creamer, snacks, main courses, desserts, breads, crackers, the list is infinite. It makes things thick, sticky and non-stick. It is the main source of food for our food: beef, pork, poultry, eggs. It quite literally permeates our entire society and our way of life. Corn makes us abundant, wealthy, over-fed. It is the maligned culprit behind our obesity epidemic. We export it, store it, stockpile it. Our currency and global trading power factors corn into the numbers. And now we are putting it in our gas tanks.
    Corn seems like the Hero Superfood, it can do Anything. Now *cue demoniacal laughter* comes the Devil's Advocate Part: can we truly afford to pay the price? Here is where I will lose most people. Isn't Corn easy to grow? Don't we have millions of acres planted in Corn in the Mid-West? Hello, King Corn? Let's start with basics. Corn is what is known as a "heavy feeder," it requires massive amounts of nitrogen and water to grow and produce heavy yields. To achieve this, the farmers, okay, not "farmers", the mega-farm corporations rely on huge amounts of chemical fertilizer, as well as heavy doses of pesticides. This may be a huge bone of contention for the majority of the environmentally minded, and it is indeed a concern. Another bone, Genetically Modified varieties. Long gone are the days of saving seed corn for next year, and I won't even dip my toes into the quagmire that surrounds this particular subject. In days of yore, there were hundreds of varieties of Corn. Today there are Seven used for commercial production. Seven. Yes, there are  a few hybrids and heirlooms that you can special order from your favorite seed catalog, but none of these are "profitable." So, we are consuming and being consumed by plants that have been created in the lab, genetically modified to fit very specific parameters, altered in ways that may or may not be harmful to our health. Studies have linked genetically modified Corn to health issues including increased rates of cancer. Most of Europe has banned the growth and import of GMOs. Well, there goes our import powers. And still the Mega-Farms plant and grow, harvest and sell, cram it all down the throats of an unsuspecting and/or uncaring population.
    You would think that the previous declarations would be enough to make Corn a hair-raising terror. But wait. There's more. Wait for it. Wait for it. Water. Water, H2O. Two hydrogen atoms bound with one Oxygen atom to form the basis of All Life on our planet. Without water, I would be dead in a few days. Certainly there is enough water to grow our food? Well, yes and no. We have converted the dry plains of the Heartland into millions of acres of lush, verdant growth by draining rivers dry, and tapping into ancient aquifers. Aquifers, Ground Water. Sink a well, draw out all the water you need, right? Well, Right Now. We are draining these ancient underground sources at an alarming rate. They do not readily refill. This is water that percolated through the rock over a millennia. It will not refill in our lifetime. So, we are using massive amounts of water to grow genetically modified and potentially dangerous corn so we can fill our guts and drive gas guzzling SUVs. In every sense, we are depleting our water so we can live a life of gluttony. We are using an invaluable resource, the most important resource, so we can pay a little cheaper price at the pump, drive our big cars, and not invest in alternative, clean, truly renewable energy. There are untapped resources just waiting for the impetus to make them viable and accessible. What are we waiting for? Waiting for water to become the next rare commodity? Waiting until we are living no the verge of savagery as barbaric tribes fight for water rights? The popular consensus it that biofuel is our salvation, our freedom from the shackles of oil dependency, our savior from the stranglehold of imported oil. Instead, Corn based biofuel is one more step towards the complete, manmade breakdown of our ecosystem. And no one sees it.
     Where did all these grim ruminations get me? Besides heartburn? It lead me further up the path, to Conservation. Moderation in all things. Learning to vilify conspicuous consumption. If we, as individuals, made conscious choices to not buy into the corporate mythologies. If we used the voting power of our dollars to intentionally choose viable alternatives. But we won't. Most people cannot see beyond the narrow scope of their own existence far enough to even notice their own declining health, the damages being inflicted on their own microcosms. Most people are incapable of seeing the ramifications of their actions. Or they simply do not care. We are living in a time of ennui. So many don't notice the world, don't care what will happen tomorrow, much less next week, next year or the next decade. They live in the immediate of the now.
    The choices we make not only reflect who we are, but effect who we are, who we know, where we live. Our choices define us. Our choices can redefine the future. But inertia steals impetus. And all this, these ideas, connections, correlations, all because I drove past a field of Corn.

Monday, October 1, 2012


    Brain is firing on all cylinders, racing ahead, careening from one random thought to the next at mach speed, diving into curves and rocketing out the other side. Brain kicking into manic mode and poor, tired Body stumbling about in a vain attempt to keep pace. Poor, poor Body. Overworked and underpaid, sleep deprived, run through the mill, pounded to a pulp, bruised, sore and aching. And all in the name of Fun. Yes, Fun. Fun, the nimble Imp, elusive zephyr, rare butterfly, holy grail, the tiger in my tank. Brain feeds on fun like a kid eats cake; both hands, mouth full, icing smeared from ear to ear. A sugar coated rush of elation. Fun send Brain on a joy ride of endorphin and dopamine fueled Mania. Brain rides Body like an overeager jockey. Body pushes beyond sane limits in an attempt to experience all the fun Brain leads us into.
    Eventually, the adrenaline wears off, energy levels are incapable of keeping apace with the demands, Body reluctantly slows. Poor Body, used, abused, bruised, worn to a frazzle. Body, tired, clumsy, awkward as a teenage boy at his first school dance. Brain, smug and sharp. Body, struggling through the morning, muscles sore, joints complaining, fumbling to get coffee and Aleve into bloodstream in an ineffectual attempt to counter lack of sleep and so much play. Brain smirks, already planning new adventures to torment Body. Brain schemes, plots, twirls mustache with a dastardly chuckle. Body is too tired to notice the machinations of Brain. Too tired to notice, too tired to care. Stupefied Body barely notices as Manic Brain peruses the web for events to to test resolve, mettle, strength, endurance, stamina, fortitude and attitude. Body, footsore, weary, navigates the day on autopilot relying on routine and muscle memory to prevent injury or catastrophe. Brain giggles.
    The only option? Feed Body. Let Body heal, rest and recuperate. For a week at least. For a few days at the very least.For two days minimum. For today anyway. Maybe until this afternoon. Manic Brain rushes forward. Body presses against physical restraints to join the melee. Fun is as Fun does, as Brain well knows. And despite it all, despite the abuse, aches, bruises, Body loves Fun. Body craves the endorphins and dopamine every bit, if not more, than Brain. Body loves Fun.  Body will not be denied.