Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. - Clarissa Pinkola Estes
I am alone.
Three words that used to touch the rawest place of my being. Used to devastate me. Used to make me cry frequently. Used to make me think I was not wanted. Used to make me feel like something was wrong with me.
I am alone.
Three words that now fulfill me.
It’s coming up on two years since I’ve been single and fabulous. Two years since I’ve been a-l-o-n-e. The thought of that a mere twenty-four months ago was nothing short of crushing. Well, eighteen months – the other six months were spent whaling songs of freedom while partying like it was 1999.
So, eighteen months of straight-up solitude. Flying solo. Taking care of number one. I have to admit. I’m damn proud of where I’ve arrived.
I mean, sure, don’t get me wrong – if an amazing knight in kind-of-hipster-but-not-really armor who had as much intellect as he did love for hip hop, social impact, and Life arrived on the scene then I’d be down to throw in my single and fabulous card for good.
For now though, I’m absolutely content sitting in this stillness, listening and learning about Jenny.
Because within this solitude I’ve found my solid.
In this undistracted TV-less, internet-less, significant other-less, career focused-less, achievement obsessed-less space of sacred alone I’ve actually leaned into, and learned to sit still in, a place that started out more uncomfortable than monthly braces adjustments and more terrifying than the mullet that I had in 5th grade.
And, OH! how the sirens were screaming – but I refused to surrender. And it’s a damn good thing I didn’t because I’m pretty sure that I’ve finally touched (with the very tip of my pointer finger and for at least a good 30 seconds) my True Solid Self.
A True Self that knows that:
I am enough alone.
I am fine alone.
I am unshakable alone.
I am happy alone.
I am fulfilled alone.
I am productive alone.
I am gracious alone.
I am strong alone.
I am stable alone.
I am centered alone.
I am whole alone.
I am SOLID alone.
A True Self that knows one day – guaranteed (manifesting much?) – there will be another strong, unshakable, centered, fulfilled, productive, and whole solid alone someone to match my solid alone and we’ll be contently, solidly alone – yet together.
But for now, I’m totally down with enjoying this nice class of red, next to my journal, in this dim light, on this orange, mid-century modern & actually comfy leather couch, with no bra on (workout top – ha! gotcha!), listening to the hum of DasheyPoo’s (the world’s greatest kitty) water fountain, and the Fast and the Furious ‘cool kids’ out dragging Douglas Avenue tonight…completely undistracted.
Ugh for last Wednesday when it all started with the ‘yeah, even my pjs are freaking soaking wet’ night-sweats.
Ugh for last Thursday when I had a moment (aka meltdown) in the YMCA parking lot – balling on the phone about feeling like a lost failure to my BiFf while simultaneously yelling at Wichita’s finest to shut their no-it’s-not-any-faster-with-those-racing-stripes-Camaro and it’s offensively loud carburetor up.
Ugh for last Friday when Ani Difranco opened the ‘ex’ file leaving me in free-flowing studio tears for over half an hour.
Ugh for last Saturday when my mind was so cloudy and fuzzy, yet completely restless, that I could barely keep my thoughts and emotions in check enough to work – let alone go enjoy an art exhibit with my parents.
Ugh for last Sunday when I woke up from a miscarriage/ex-husband nightmare (yes, soaked) determined to not let my emotional self overtake my rational self until I finally couldn’t hold it together anymore and called my mom to cry it out – bless this woman – you’d think after 32 years of crying it out she’d be sick of me…not the case, but as we joke – I’ll pay her back when I’m changing her diapers one day.
Whoa, man. Hormones are a bitch. Literally.
And to think, I was SOOOOO damn joyous when I finally got my period back after my eating disorder. Now I’m screaming Take it BACK, Take IT BACK, TAKE IT BACK!
*Insert shift in perspective here*
Ok. Here goes…*clears throat*
Calm JV voice: Every 28 days the great tsunami of hormones (I may be the most ‘blessed’ woman I know in this area. I swear.) that overtake my body provides me with a wonderful opportunity to realize my connection to Great Mother Earth while also gifting me beautiful insight from the deepest, darkest, depths of my soul.
Yes. Yes, this is me practicing gratitude for being in the ‘red tent’ as my psychologist put it. Apparently, this is some type of society like Girl Scouts. I’m considering letting my membership lapse.
Here’s my April HorMOAN list of curious observations, insight, and life lessons:
I am a human-being NOT a human-doing.
Just consider these night-sweats a form of detox.You know…like hot yoga!
The more you open up and share your story & struggles the more you give others permission to do the same. I shared my drama/trauma with my students. They all immediately opened up which led to an amazing and authentic conversation on Life, work, college, goals, happiness, achievement, and what it truly means to each of us to Live.
You can still be very much in love with someone even though you know that it’s not in anyone’s best interest – especially your own – to be married to them.
Sometimes all a girl needs are her two middle school besties, a punk bar, a dirty pole, and a Blue Moon.
Hugs from mom always do a soul good.
Pounding some (soft)balls can cure even the most intense cranky.
Lastly, there’s really nothing that a course assigned night of chinese food, wine, Pema Chödröon, a snuggie, a huge college hoodie, and nag champa can’t cure. Really. Yeah – I’m that teacher who assigns her students a photo-essay on life because she secretly knows that she needs to do the assignment more than any of them. *see selfies above.
Ugh. Ok period, I surrender. Again. But deargodplease not for another 28 days.
“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake.”
~ Francis Bacon
Let’s talk about strength.
True Strength – capital S.
The kind that comes from within. The kind that can only be claimed – not received. The kind that is guaranteed to exist but is never readily apparent.
The kind that is often abound and infectious in other people leaving us both inspired and ripe with envy.
The kind that can’t be received but can rub off – as long as you’re surrounded by the right kind of people.
Melissa. Now, Melissa is my right ‘rubbing-off-strength’ kind of people. We became kindred spirits when she was gifted to me as my Victory Kid for the Victory in the Valley 2014 Kids Art Calendar. Last summer, we spent a beautiful day together making CutCake collages, eating pizza, trying on funky hats at Hatman Jack’s and chatting Life.
Here’s where I must admit to being complete fraud. I was supposed to be Melissa’s art teacher that day – but it was she who did most of the teaching – about Life, about happiness, about the power of a smile, about laughter, and about strength.
We’ve kept in close contact since our crash course in Art and Life and I’ve loved hearing how Melissa and her family are thriving and that she is now in stage three of her cancer treatment and recovery.
I was nothing short of stoked when Melissa’s mom contacted me to see if they could stop by the studio on a Spring Break trek to Wichita this week. I should have known (when is this going to become my default mode of understanding?) that the Universe would be working overtime in it’s timing and gift of Melissa and strength once again.
It’s been a heckuva few weeks in my working world. I knew that starting my business wouldn’t be easy – but I in no way anticipated the amount of shear mental (leading to physical) exhaustion that has knocked me on my bum while plotting the right business for me, ideal customer avatars, and eliminating the competition.
This week, I needed Melissa to drop some of her magic ‘strong’ dust on me more than ever. And booooooyyyy!!! Did she deliver – as did lil’ sis Dylan and mom Katie. Three warrior women that I will forever be grateful to have in my life.
We spent yesterday afternoon making linoleum prints together. When Melissa arrived I told her that we needed to pick a word for our day – a word that inspires her when she feels down, when she’s frustrated, when she’s tired, when she’s angry, and even when she’s happy.
Her word: STRONGER. *heart explodes out of chest*
Melissa’s family lives by the affirmation “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When I asked her and lil’ sis what image we could put with ‘stronger’ they both agreed that a heart was the only option. *annnnd…heart explodes out of chest again*
Two designs, discussion of slumber parties, pencil lead everywhere, laughter, intense window-tracing, words of hope and encouragement, and linoleum cutting later the world was doused with a bright lot of straight-up magenta STRONGER – four pages and 36 prints to be exact.
Yes, this is True Strength.
Strength that is unyielding – in the face of great challenge, in the face of determination, in the face of struggle, in the face of joy, in the face of defeat, in the face of survival,
And in the face of Melissa – the great Light, Leader, and rubber-offer of STRONGER in my Life.