Posted tagged ‘relief’

celebration

January 5, 2011

The other day, I had an overwhelming urge to call a girlfriend that very moment. I obeyed my intuition. When she answered, she shared some of her troubles. Valid, heartbreaking, heavy; she’s struggling for clarity and worn out. She doesn’t want to set another intention, make a list of goals, reflect on her vision.

Understand: this is a woman who sets standards for competence and generosity. A mentor, a leader, an inspiration; her intelligence, wit, ambition, creativity and awareness and kindness make her as beautiful inside as she is outside. With an incredible list of accomplishments proving her power and worth, I’m a little bit in awe of her. She sets her mind to something and makes it happen, but she does so while also raising up everyone around her. She nurtures friends, business partners, clients, family–she finds a way to connect which is genuine and so positive–which, it seems, is a common thread among my friends. I am blessed.

I look at other friends: balancing personal goals and career; raising incredible children, negotiating marriages and relationships, finding the humor in each day. They carry dreams for themselves in pockets filled with tissue, receipts from the grocery store, worn out lipstick tubes, stray crayons or legos and a to-do list bigger than Obama’s. They bring casseroles to friends with new babies on their way to one more PTO meeting/kids practice/appointment/meeting. They host holiday dinner parties and end the night loading the dishwasher while a sulking partner surfs the net. They face their demons with courage and honesty, humor and some therapy. They endure illness without complaint, except to say that it’s difficult sometimes to ask for help. They run marathons and teach yoga and coach and sing and play in the band.  They get advanced degrees while working full-time and raising a family and still manage to put a hot meal on the table each night. They get on another airplane to another gig in another city and leave each place better than it was before they got there. They take on a second job or stay home for a week straight because the kids are sick, or whatever else is required, because it’s just what you do. They take the high road more often than not, encouraging and expressing gratitude. They love their friends and family with passion and loyalty. I am amazed by what these friends accomplish. I am amazed by how generous and loving and spirited they are.

I want to throw every one of them a party. A moment for each to see each accomplishment and blessing as it is. A moment to let go of things undone. A moment to forget the negative and focus on the ripples of light and love from each positive they’ve inspired or created. A moment to shut off the chatter in their heads which criticizes or holds their feet to the fire relentlessly. I want to create a ritual for each one of them, to acknowledge their power and strength. I want to grant a wish which would bring them true satisfaction and contentment and a sense of pride in a life well lived. I want to sing them a love song of verses meant to encourage, comfort, thank each one for her gifts to the world. I want to whisper to each that it’s okay to celebrate. Take a deep breath, sit a minute in the glow of your beauty. Shower yourself with the affection you give so freely to others. Give yourself permission to gloat, brag, accept some well-deserved praise for your wonderful-ness. Go ahead, revel in the wonder of life in this moment, it is too soon gone.

 

eggnog french toast

December 25, 2010

I wake with feathers which

never keep me warm the way down

should

I’m angry

You and your greasy girl take it down the road a piece

Past this broken-down lingering loneliness

I fed my soul to

you and you and you and you and you infinity

and I don’t want to look at your teeth right now, bared

a smile

I don’t want this falseness or the why why why infinity

It’s never quite what I think…

anyway

the bacon is perfect

and the eggnog in the toast batter

truly inspired

a year of live music

October 18, 2010

Big Head Todd and the Monsters brought me back to life.

It wasn’t that I was without music.  My house was full of music: songs on the radio, kids singing in the backseat, lullabies while rocking the baby and my own voice, full of song and sound.  It had just been ages since I’d seen a show live.  I didn’t even realize how much I was missing it until that February night at the Paradise in Boston.

The Paradise is a funky, intimate club.  In my memory, everything has an aura of red: the stage lights, the carpet, the chair cushions.  We found a spot along the rail to the left of the stage, crowded, dark, loud.  Big Head Todd and the Monsters have been playing live together for a long time; they are tight onstage.  The man I was with had been doing his best for months to hold me together with kisses while things within me fell apart.  He stood behind me, arms around me.  We danced with the crowd as lyric, melody, bass combined to create that mystery of energy we call music. I closed my eyes. Connected for a moment to these strangers; Big Head Todd the thread tying us together, having fun and grateful for it.  There, in that moment, I came fully into myself for the first time in far too long for memory.

Thus began the year of live music.

Next was Leo Kottke; phenomenally talented on the guitar. A pleasure in itself.  It is his storytelling, though, which blows my mind.  His guitar becomes an extension of his words and wit as he plays and sings and weaves tales I don’t want to end.

Then came Alison Krauss and Robert Plant with T. Bone Burnett, supporting their incredible collaboration. I’d gotten tickets for my son for his eleventh birthday. I love Alison Krauss and live, she is brilliant. It was Robert Plant, though, who made me giddy.  Both Zeppelin fans, my son and I, struck speechless by his version of “When the Levy Breaks”. Well, we just stood dumbfounded throughout the show, disbelieving the chemistry and joy of the whole affair.  After the show my son told me “until my own children are born, seeing Robert Plant will be the highlight of my life”.  The man has still got “it”–that charisma and voice.  Combined with T. Bone and Alison Krauss, “it” was magic, indeed!

I spent that summer going to local shows in Gloucester.  I was in love with a bassist and those shows were less about the music and more about friendship and romance.  We had an awesome party full of music when the guys from Brian Wilson’s band came to visit overnight.  We played a game trying to stump one very talented encyclopedia of music named Probyn and gave up when he busted out a perfect version of “My Pal Foot Foot” by the Shaggs.

I took my best friend to see George Michael that summer.  It was a birthday gift for her, which was really just a gift to myself!  One of my guilty pleasures, George Micheal, creating the backdrop to time spent with one of my favorite people.  George Michael holds nothing back: enormous light show, video, sixteen piece band with six back up singers.  He’s all fun and light.  We danced in our seats and screamed like teenagers.

Then there was Weezer and every moment was nostalgia and present thrill all in one.  Not long after, I spent a fortune for floor seats to the Killers. That was just a party I’d attend every day if I could.

I reconnected with a dear friend who is an incredible singer and songwriter and spent lots of time at local pubs and venues drinking Guinness and singing along. Mercuryhat is the soundtrack to memories of girls’ night out with some of my favorite people; laughter and connection and a platform for loving and being loved exactly as we are.

And I realize that as much as I love creating and hearing and seeing and participating in music, as much as I would wither without it, it is just this which truly brings me to life: the connection. Music as a pathway to time and place, memory and emotion, yes. But also, music itself creating the energy which draws me in with my eyes closed and my heart open; having fun and grateful, tied to the moment, loving and being loved.

waves

September 26, 2009

What is it about the ocean? 

I woke up in a funk this morning.  I was feeling fragile and working hard not to begin the day in a mess of tears.  There was no reason.  It’s grief or it’s happiness or it’s fear or it’s gratitude; doesn’t matter.  In those moments, I struggle to stay present lest I be lost in emotion.  Then in other moments, I am so present I get overwhelmed.  There is no balance between grace and the horrors of this world.  Grace always wins. 

I had the good fortune of being near the ocean this morning.  Sky and water bouncing into each other in a dance of fluid light. Soft sand still warm enough for bare feet, defying the coming of fall. Waves, the constant motion,fall09 069 a lullaby. I had an urge to fling myself onto the ground and make angels in the sand.  I think it was a desire to hold the earth and sea with gratitude for its gifts.  There is an indescribable peace in such moments.

When I was five, my sister Debbie took me into the waves at York Beach.  She was twelve.  I worshiped her.  The waves were solid, bone-numbing they were so cold, huge.  Debbie took me out to where they were breaking and held me in front of her. She would yell to me “here comes a rumbler, get ready!”  I was terrified and thrilled as a wall of water well over my head crashed with enough force to knock us both backward.  We tumbled in the white water.  Sometimes, she would hold onto me all the way in and we would end up in a heap on the shore.  Most of the time, we got thrashed violently; held down and spun like seaweed so that we couldn’t tell which way was up until we were thrown onto the sand.  I learned to surrender to the waves.  Fear gave way to thrill once I realized that eventually, I would crash onto the beach, find my breath, stand on solid ground. 

I realize now–this memory, which I love so well, is part of what binds me to the ocean.  On the surface, it is me and my beloved sister playing on a summer day.  It is innocence and laughter.  It is me trusting my sister, without question, enough to allow her to hold me facing waves: scary and uncontrollable.  It is learning to allow the ocean to cradle me as it overpowered me.  It is understanding that eventually, it would deliver me to solid ground.

Deeper, this memory, like the ocean, sustains me. I am drawn to both.  At the beach, I cannot be trapped in my head.  There is no will or need to cope or to seek or to struggle.  Some part of that five year old surfaces and I am trusting and innocent and allowing the ocean to carry me.  I see now that it was up to me to determine how long I waited on the shore and recovered my breath and balance before I went right back into those waves.  I see now how it has become a metaphor for life.  My anguish, my questioning…the tender ache of life’s bittersweet blessings…grief, happiness, fear, gratitude:  I am learning again to trust that each wave will eventually return me to solid ground as long as I surrender to it.

dropping stones

September 11, 2009

IMG_0845This morning, sitting in my quiet house with a cup of tea, I heard the church bells from the church on the corner tolling over and over.  At first, I thought it was the bells from the Academy up the hill, calling the kids to class, but that bell happens earlier in the day and only rings once or twice.  This was persistent.  The slow cadence was sad and ominous.  Then it occurred to me: it is September 11. 

I sent a prayer in that moment.  Blessings to those whose grief is tied to this day.  Peace to an endless conflict with eight years of countless victims.  Gratitude for safety and abundance in my own day-to-day.  I sang a song.  I remember…

That bell signaled the rhythm of the day.  It has been a day of reflection on grief and change.  When I have these moments of consideration, I imagine that I am swimming.  As I swim, I carry a bag full of burdens; stones which weigh me down and threaten to drown me.  As I meditate on a circumstance or acknowledge a care, I imagine dropping a stone into the depths.  Usually when it lands, it kicks up some emotional sludge and muddies the water so that I must stop swimming for a  minute lest I be lost.  Eventually, things settle again and I can resume swimming. It is easier as I drop my stones, easier as I release my worries to the universe with the faith that eventually the water clears and things right themselves again and I can swim unburdened. 

  I had a very long conversation with my former husband about our children and our co-parenting and our hopes for the future.  I told him his resentment is a burden for me.  He told me he is sorry for that.  I let go of that stone.

I had someone ask me if there is any possibility of reconciliation with a lost love.  There is not. I re-read letters he wrote to me and then I put them away for good.  I let go of that stone.

As I was cleaning out files and putting papers in order, I came across journals written two years ago, when my world changed so drastically and so suddenly that I am still catching my breath.  I cried tears of compassion for the woman who wrote those pages as she tumbled about in an angry ocean of grief, illness, uncertainty, loss, anger, exhaustion.  She is me, yet removed enough that I can read of her pain without experiencing it again.  I cried tears of relief that I can see the scars and remember the injury but that I know the healing and the lessons and the blessings.  I did not drown in that ocean.  I am a powerful swimmer.  I let go of stones for every circumstance and every fear that did not come true in those deep and despairing days.

And tonight, sitting in my quiet house with a cup of tea, I wait for the mud to settle and the water to clear.  When it does, I know I will move forward with intention and integrity into the blessings of this journey.  They often arrive on unexpected currents.

Rage

July 20, 2009

He speaks of rage with a soft voice.  A voice which occasionally cracks with anguish and shame as he leans against the wall and stares at the ceiling.  It is as though meeting our eyes would grant him permission to sob and so he avoids that intimacy.  He was sixteen when he worked as a camp counselor.  That was the summer he first smoked pot.  That was the summer he beat the kids–one so badly he chipped the boy’s tooth.  That was the summer he realized the power of his anger; released now and binding him to addiction. 

Now, perhaps ten years later, he speaks–whispers–of throwing his two year old into his crib when the baby wouldn’t go to sleep.  He speaks of screaming at his five year old daughter.  His suffering is not a physical need for substance.  His suffering comes of being controlled by rage.  His substance abuse is not an escape, rather a spark to engage the all- consuming fire of abuse within him.  He suffers.  As he speaks, he flogs himself with words of repentance, shame, grief, self-hatred.  He pleads for help–God, inner strength, resolve, magic, release.  

Several listeners speak after he is finished.  Advice from others who have seen their own demons manifested in the wounds they’ve inflicted.  Kindness from strangers who suffer.   Acceptance without judgement softens him, allows him to meet our eyes for a moment.  Go back and meet that sixteen year old boy.  See that he is a child himself.  See what has wounded him so badly.  See him make a choice to escape into substance.  See with compassion as he seeks relief and release and finds rage and rage and rage.  Hold that sixteen year old boy.  Soothe him with words of acceptance.  Rock him in strong arms which contain him for a moment.  Whisper forgiveness to him for hurting those children.  Love him enough to release his grip on now. 

Rage keeps him running.  He spins and spins inside his thoughts.  He’d rather be anywhere else than trying to lull his daughter to sleep.  She is not cooperating.  His frustration swells as his chest tightens.  He shakes with effort trying to rein in this familiar terror.  Fear, consequences, madness, shame, guilt, torment, heat, hatred: tornado within.  No substance fuels this.  There is no will to conquer.  Exhausted. 

He surveys this moment.  What is happening?  His wife is downstairs with a friend.  He feels cheated by the demands of this child who will not go to bed.  She wants a story.  They are on vacation.  He wants adult companionship, wants to win, wants compliance.  She wants comfort, wants a familiar bed, wants him. 

Surrender.  He chooses a book, climbs onto the bed with this little girl he loves.  Surrender.  He reads, controls his rage-tight voice.  Surrender.  She responds to him with gladness.  Surrender.  He is not hurting her.  Surrender.  They laugh together at a silly part.  Surrender.  She snuggles into him.  Surrender.  He holds her, strokes her hair, whispers to her.  Surrender.  She falls asleep.  Surrender.  He is calm.  Surrender.  He finds the address for a meeting in the morning.  Surrender.

One day at a time.