The person I called Lars

People knew him as Lars, Lair, Larry, and other aliases, in several languages. He will forever be Lars to me.

Things I’ll remember:

Worn-down pull-on brown work boots. Not tough enough to withstand a direct axe blow, though. Emergency on Comida Way! Because you were you: excited, hurrying in your sinuous, slouchy way, endearing, beautiful companion.

Virgo with OCD rising. Bossy as hell. And sensitive as a babe.

Capturing each other and everything in Topanga Canyon and Decker Canyon on old-fashioned emulsion film.

One of my Drama Traumas, as I called the group of drama majors who delightedly and delightfully insinuated their way into the jazzers at NTSU in the ’60’s.

Dropping out of our lives for 30 years. Gargantuan parties when you reconnected.

Knowing that you HAD to do your whirlwind, Virgoed-up visit to damn near every European capitol when you did. Which reminds me and our cohorts that every day is precious.

Having the courage to practice what you preached. Pwning Costa Rica. Ranting on the Unofficial Wendy Davis for Governor of Texas page. Letting me talk you down off the ledge and refocusing you on our goal. Gotta be impressed with 48,000 likes! And most of them are still there, waiting for November, remembering. You political hothead, you! For all the right causes.

I am so not through processing all of this. Might never be. In the meantime, I’m struggling with tech puzzles, or I’d have included some photos I’ll cherish forever. However long that may be. So I’d best get on it.

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Bite-sized pieces of life

Meticulously inserting the small lead into the yellow marker.

I find it fascinating to watch/hear children acquire language. I once wrote a paper on Wittgenstein’s theory of language and justice as my daughter began talking. These days, I get to hang with this little one as her words blossom. It furthers one to observe how to build any skill one step at a time, at a comfy speed. Simple does not always mean easy. At least that’s what the “Karate Kid” franchise suggests.

Deconstructing huge gargoyles of fear can also help people with wounded souls figure out the next healthy step. What tools do you need to dig yourself out of the hamster cage of indecision, confusion, depression? Sometimes we need professional help, including pharmaceutical assistance. No shame in looking for that help. It’s so much more “normal” to want to get BACK to “normal,” whatever that looks like. This is not to say that it’s OK to expect someone else to do all the heavy lifting in getting better. You have to put the time and effort in yourself.

Creative people can sometimes drift into irrational thinking. It is possible to approach obstacles with a rational format for untangling the knots. We can think our way through any quicksand armed with the right tools. Cognitive behavior therapy gives me the tools I need to find a more objective perspective and at least take the edge off of an uncomfortable event or situation.

Practice makes possible, not perfect. Taking just 10% of the sting out of a confrontation or conversation that went south is a much bigger step than I could expect 20 years ago. Thought records help me do that. Describing the situation, how it made me feel, reframing the effect, checking back in with my feelings, and assigning a percentage to the “before” and “after” reframing has become second nature. Even if you don’t notice an immediate difference, you have a tool you can use to keep swinging away at the problem. That’s better than sitting in a pool of dither, I’d say.

Looking for beauty is another tool to heal a wounded spirit. First steps might be to acquire an inexpensive digital camera and just start snapping. Keep it nearby and record anything and everything that catches your eye. You can always delete the lot of them. I’ll wager that something will pop out that makes you feel a little bit better. Save that photo of a blade of grass shoving up through the concrete, the pile of weather-grayed wood, the early robin on your back fence. In no time, you will accumulate a storybook of pictures that can bring a ray of light to a dark day.

Writing is a time-honored tool for healing. Write a letter to your hurt, your injury, be it physical or spiritual. Dump it all out on paper (or word processor). You’ll be surprised at how it lightens your load. You can then burn it, delete it, show it to a trusted friend, or collect it all in a compilation. It makes it much easier to let go of the hurt.

Burning stuff is particularly satisfying for me. BE CAREFUL with fire. I melted a stainless steel bowl burning love notes from a lover to my husband. I also damned near burned down my back deck when I lit up old letters from my ex to me–I neglected to douse the fire, and after smouldering all night, it burned a hole through several 2X4s. Needless to say, I did not get my deposit back when I moved house.

So be creative, and make sure any conflagration you may indulge in is OUT–totally out–before moving on to the celebratory portion of the exercise!



Tearing off scabs

Photo of a large fluorite crystal and an avocado plant

I grit my teeth. Especially when I think of terrible things I’ve done in my life. Abortion. Euthanasia. Killing an unborn baby and puppies. It was rational to do so in each case, but I hated it. I just couldn’t afford to allow myself to think about it. I had to keep moving forward, for my daughter and for myself. Life was hard back then. I was a single mom with a five year old, taking on a double music major graduate degree and working a full time job.

I’ve always had music in my life. Music is my heartbeat, religion, my soul. I am most alive doing music. I’m good at it. Which makes it that much more satisfying to do. I am certainly not perfect. I agonize over how inadequate I am to render the world’s most gorgeous music. I am a human striving to communicate with Spirit. It’s the hardest thing that I most love to do.

All the more imperative to investigate these unmusical, Kali-like events I’ve buried for so long.

Overwhelmed with fear, shame, rejection…struggling to pay rent on a shack, put food on the table, deal with student insurance, alcoholic ex, insane in-laws, and deep East Texas scary, mean people. I was in survival mode. I truly felt I had no other choices. Still, it was so staggeringly antithetical to my character and psyche.

At the time, I was a wild, wounded animal. And I inadvertently drove myself deeper into the tiger’s lair. I went to ground in deadly soil.

I remember my father knocking bats down from the eaves and beating them to death when I was a child. That was the way of the hardscrabble Texas farmer in the 40’s and 50’s–killing for food, or protection from physical harm. My father put a shotgun in my hands when I was just six years old. He meant well—he believed I needed skills that would help put food on the table. I fired the gun once and ran crying back to the house.

He continued to take me hunting after that, but just as a helper–I never shot any living thing. As I field-dressed the quail, dove, rabbit, or fish, whatever was in season, I imagined I was doing penance for taking that creature’s life. I strongly connected with Earth and Spirit–my Cherokee blood bade me honor the sacrifice.

True to his roots, my father took his own life with a gun.

I have not paid my respects to those whose lives I took. I have not properly grieved. Perhaps that is why those events remain so painful. Concoct a remedy. Dr. Kloss’ Back to Nature is great for physical illnesses–formulate a compound to heal the soul.

Write about it. Explore the nooks and crannies of the scenario, not just the tired, old story that’s been a band-aid stopgap to gain resolution/absolution.

That would mean talking about the rape. The showing up at midnight, insinuating himself into my bed, insistent, overpowering me, prying my legs apart; me not wanting to physically fight him with our young daughter in the next room.

My uterus was scarred from prior pregnancies. There was no place to take root. Mild but disturbing cramping, spotting, pricks. I envisioned months of mounting pain, drugs, enforced bed rest, missed work, no income, being further bound to an abusive man…

And so I rationalize. The baby would not have survived, and I would be in physical and financial ruin. My existing child would be dangerously deprived, and possibly taken away from me if I couldn’t support her. I could not let that happen. I believe the unborn being was aware of everything and simply enfolded back into spirit. The actual medical procedure served merely as ablation and prophylaxis. I didn’t really, truly kill that being—its soul had already vacated the womb.

That would also mean talking about assisting five other beings into this physical plane over the years since then. Perhaps that’s why I’m drawn to that work. I would call it atonement, but the joyous flow of labor and delivery doesn’t fit my old perception of what atonement means. Balance? Karma? Then why do I still grit my teeth?

That would further mean forgiving myself. No cover story, no rationalization, just convince myself that I’m not a monster. Tough situations sometimes force tough choices. Breathe. Relax. As a mother comforts her child, gather that gentleness for myself. Resolve. Detach with love.



Babies with iPads

And grand-aunt as well. This cutie and I are learning my new iPad2 together. Lucky us. Today it was photos (both ways) and our next project is FaceTime. She’s been FT’ing her parents since she was born. I’m the one just now catching up. Just so’s you know how we roll vis a vis education, she dearly loves her books, and perceives the iPad as just another kind of book. She still needs, we all still need books and oodles of other things. It’s a Big Deal to learn about life in this universe, especially for a 20-month old. Or a 792-month old, either.

The children of this decade will communicate in a radically different way. The UX generation. Gesture-based navigation and Siri are going to change the world as we know it, especially usability. This stuff is cross-generational. And that’s of vital importance. If we are to go about helping and healing, we need to be in the full flow of humanity, birth to death.

I believe we will create things we need together quicker and less hassle if we pool everything. Including ideas from 8-year-olds to septuagenarians. The way we create living spaces, transportation, education. I believe it will keep the arts alive, as well, as awful as that sounds. We’re not doing such a good job of supporting the arts and arts education. This is important because it fosters the kind of creative thinking that leads to peaceful solutions, healing solutions. We have to learn to be kinder to each other, and sustaining creativity is crucial in finding this.

Learning the iPad2 photo program.

Self-portrait. Interspersed with pics of Daddy sitting on the couch watching the ball game.

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The Winter Solstice and Healing

Sunrise at Stonehedge on the Winter Solstice

Today, December 22, is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, and the longest–some say darkest–night of the year. Celebrated throughout the world over the ages under different names, it is most associated with death–the loss of light in the world, bespeaking a cold, stony, dark place in the soul. This time of year has additional meaning for me as a Capricorn, ruled by iron-hearted Saturn, with the image of a fish-tailed goat, struggling up from the rocky depths, step by step, eyes focused on the lofty peak.

Equally important, the winter solstice marks the return of the sun, a rebirth, a time for great celebration. One of my favorite solstice traditions takes place at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. A spectacular event, it features the Paul Winter Consort, dancers, as well as other special guest musicians. This solstice experience is an ever-renewing thrill––hearing the great, magnificent organ rumbling into the lower registers, depicting the journey underground in bone-shaking waves of sound; watching the massive, brilliant sun gong slowly ascend twelve heart-stopping stories with its player to the vault of the cathedral; joining in the cathartic “Howl-eluia Chorus,” wrenched from thousands of throats echoing throughout the massive stone structure, with its seven-second long reverberation. More than a date on the calendar, more than an astounding concert, this event embodies the deeper meaning of winter solstice: death and rebirth.

This year’s winter solstice marks the 25th anniversary of my father’s death. He took his own life on December 22, and we buried him on Christmas Eve. I was overwhelmed with guilt and pain for letting it happen on my watch. In truth, I had no power over his actions, and it has taken many years of intensive work to finally accept that truth and heal. I have journeyed from dis-ease to feeling a seed crack open in my heart, sending out a tendril of hope that will not be denied. I’ve put one foot in front of the other on the long road from darkness to light, and am stronger for it.

I believe that to a great extent, we humans can heal from the pain of loss, guilt, anger, and abuse, especially with the help of others who have also experienced and healed from these feelings. It is my passionate desire to create staggeringly beautiful signposts for you that point the way to hope, light, joy, peace, and love.

Every journey begins with a single step. This is the first step in sharing my story of returning to a full life from the pain of abuse and loss. For me, the key is tapping into the power of creativity, in all its myriad forms. Bringing color and music back into your life. Honoring the seasons of your soul. Cultivating love and joy. Healing. Rebirth. It can happen, one step at a time.

It will be OK.


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