All You Need Is Love. (And a bunch of other stuff.)

love wingsPeace comes when you stop fearing the unknown, and start living in the moment. In the end, when we look back over our steps and decisions in this life, we are going to remember the moments, and for those whom we leave behind .. that is all we can truly offer them of any worth… moments of our time. Pieces of our life.

Speaking for myself, I doubt I’ll have the passing thought that I should have worried more. Took less time off and worked harder. Somehow I doubt any of us will look back and find value in having climbed social ladders, or the prestigious contacts we achieved.. or anything else quite so meretricious and shallow… like the number of friends we have on Facebook that we never really took the time to honestly know.

sad birdPeople are silly creatures, aren’t we? So quick to judge, jump to conclusions, assume and join the majority vote. When did living turn into a political one-upmanship?

When you really break it down, none of that has anything to do with existing. And simply existing isn’t living. What if the whole point, the deep philosophical meaning of life is just that … to live. To be born, discover our families, help each other through our troubles, and treat our love as though it were the sole commodity, or currency. To offer it out as though it were pulled from an endless well, so that others could find a measure of joy in their own lives. Given generously so it could multiply, not hidden behind greed, or agendas, or favors. Freely given, gratefully received. And in the end when our time has come, to move on with the knowledge that we did indeed love, and we did it the best we could.

Nobody takes anything but memories from this life. Make sure your’s are worth remembering.

winter birds shareGranted, I understand this sounds a bit like a fairy tale… but is it really? Have we all become so jaded that we can’t leave open the possibility that it is ours for the taking? Because love is also a choice. We chose what we love, and whom we love… and we go to great lengths to protect that which we do love. That’s fact… not a fairy tale.

So if we find ourselves in this life we are living, without the measure of love each of us needs and deserves, we have the choice to accept that way of living, or to seek out a new path. Find a way to love ourselves enough to open our lives up to hope and possibility.

But, it’s not guaranteed. More than likely we’re going to have to work hard for it. Forgive to make room for it. Move forward so you’re not swallowed by the past. If you want a life with love in it, seek it out, but first understand that in order to feel it, you have to own it. Accept that you are worth loving, love others without condition, and understand that love doesn’t always equate to passion. Love has no boundary. No gender. No relationship status. It simply is.

Beautiful-Bird-ocean…. Being the flawed creatures we are, we’re going to slip up sometimes and do or say things that are harmful. (Read: Amazingly and abundantly stupid.  I’ve got this trait mastered!) That’s okay… perfection isn’t a prerequisite to a joyful life. Acknowledge what the cause was, forgive, and move on. If you can’t forgive, then you’re only limiting yourself… so very cliché, but true. … and sometimes the person we need to forgive is ourselves… keep that in mind.

This.  All this, is where I’ve found myself at the end of a day that started with a lot of angst. Indecision. Hesitation and fear. It was an email from a friend that brought me around. I’ve been trying to come to terms with this new direction in my life… fear, uncertainty, and guilt still firmly anchoring me to the past.  And as silly as it sounds, just reading it, hearing if from someone not in the thick of it, flipped that switch inside.

“Futures. The same things can be as scary as hell or thrillingly exciting. The only difference being attitude or approach. You know this.”

Owl-Bird-NatureAnd they were right, I did know this, I had simply buried it behind my mountain of “what if’s” and thickheadedness.  Which is why I’ve chosen (Yet again.. it’s starting to be a theme around here.) to change my attitude, and approach this future of mine with anticipation in place of worry. I will try to move forward from here on out with love. … and buckets of forgiveness… because until I truly do – forgive myself and others – I will remain anchored (and have issues with burning people’s underwear), when what I really need to do, is fly.

Life may not always go the way we want, or planned, or anticipated… and that’s probably the best thing that could ever happen to us.

Run with it.

-Jane

bird-branch-trust her own wings

Posted in Hope, Mental Health, Motivation, Positive Reflection | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blow. Then I get to make a wish.

Warning:
This post may contain sarcasm and a slightly bitter slant.  And fire.

blow off wife's birthday-burn

Rather than describe in vast detail how the birthday weekend went down, and risk turning this blog into a wailing wall over the state of things around here, I’ll offer a summary.

The day of my birthday I stayed in bed. It wasn’t just that I had a visit with a few kidney stones … they were small, and not nearly enough to keep me down … but I used them as an excuse to not have to get out of bed and deal with people.
Why?
Because every year my birthday turns into a fiasco.  Someone, who shan’t be named, either forgets altogether, or does nothing… then makes a point of telling me why they had to do nothing.  Then they’ll get mad at me for feeling like crap when they behave this way .. which makes them feel like a cad, and thats not nice.. Or they’ll buy something they would like, then wonder why I’m not impressed.  Clearly I have some shaping up to do behavior-wise, because making people feel bad on my birthday is just shit of me.  Absolute shite.

(Note: It’s amazing how saying nothing can turn into me making people feel something.)

Delicious Power, I had no idea I owned you!

Maleficent

 

So the weekend ends, and as per the norm I’m left with mountains of laundry to do. More specifically, I’ve got a mound of someone’s dirty under-things needing to be cleaned.

If you could get to these that would be great.
Thus, I smile sweetly, blink my gigantic eyes and say, “I would be happy to.

Clarification for the masses; If I am unhappy with you, and you then ask a favor of me and I smile sweetly and agree to do it …. perhaps you should question the wisdom of having asked me in the first place.  (Universally NOT a secret.)

I did better than wash them. I sanitized the holy hell out of them….

the-burning-of-the-underpants

Dirty underthings: ✔ Lighter fluid: ✔ Matches: ✔

roman candle

Happy Birthday to Me!

Make a wish

Then I got to blow it out and make a wish. It wasn’t for a new washing machine.

 

Okay, I didn’t burn all of them, I’m not that horrible.  Some are still on the floor… mostly because I didn’t want to have to buy someone a gift for my birthday.

-Jane

nah!

Posted in Cooking, Decoding Marriage, Housekeeping, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

On being 21^² … this body is NOT at rest.

Washington state beautyMy time in this place of cedar draped peaks and salmon filled seas is coming to a close. The bustle of Pike Place, the spice market, the fish throwers, and the unshaven friendly hippies that hustle rolling papers and clay flutes along the ever rising tide of Seattle’s waterfront …. will all be yesterday’s memories within a month.

I’m trading this life for the smog laden, Salt Lake City valley where life is packed into cookie cutter neighborhoods like warm, mustard coated sardines. Where buying a cola product containing caffeine is enough to get you banned from the neighborhood BBQ. …. Where once, many years ago when I was a teenager, I watched as a neighborhood mother actually shielded her child’s eyes with her hands as my own mother … the bishop’s wife no less, was being rung up for not one, but three bottles of Barq’s root beer.

SLC-Inversion-gross

The land of milk and honey .. more honey hued smog it seems than milk.

(Barq’s has caffeine y’all. …. Quick! Circle the wagons and make ready the tar and feathers! The bishop’s wife done be commitin’ a sin of the beverage!)

Despite my use of countrified bumpkin slang, it’s a true story. I will concede I made up the part about circling the wagons. People in Utah don’t use wagons anymore, that went out of vogue about 200 years ago. These days they’re called “Shuttle buses”, or as they’re locally known, “Family Vans”.

My parents owned several of these 12 passenger vans over the years. And since my father worked for the government, they were often times …. well, always …well used older vans.
That broke down frequently.
At the most inopportune times.

One in particular brings back traumatic teenage memories that have scarred me for life. It was the pearled yellow-green van with shiny green tinted windows (half of which were either missing or stuck open) and … brace yourselves… had faded orange dingle-balls lining the front windshield.

ugly green van

Not ours, but it’s certainly close… this actually isn’t as ugly as ours was.

You think I’m kidding, or you will be in about three seconds…. I assure you, I am not. They picked it up in Tijuana, and what sort of connections a Mormon bishop had in Mexico … I couldn’t tell you, (Maybe that’s where the family got hooked on caffeine) but it’s where that particular family van came from. This also happened to be around the time my perpetually pregnant mum began wearing muumuus. Her favorite being a hideous tent-like one in various shades of dark green and road-apple brown.

I remember watching a cow chew its cud once while I was still fairly young. A trail of brownish-green slobber trailing from its nose to its mouth, and continuing down in a long, bead threaded string of snot-drool, to pool around its manure caked hooves while it stared with dim eyes at the world going on around it. This is still the image that comes to mind when I remember that horrible muumuu.

pretty cow with daisy

Did you really want to see cow snot? … I didn’t think so.

…. I’ve gone completely off point here, which was why I started this post in the first place. So follow me back around if you will to Seattle, and my swiftly approaching exit from the beautiful Emerald City into the land of root beer bans and cow cuds.

I am going to be completely lost. There is a part of me that simply thrums with light and joy when I smell the change of tide. When I hear gulls crying in their lonely way over snug harbors and rooftops streaked white with their blessings. The call of fishermen fresh in from Alaska with a boatload of Copper River salmon. The food. The people. And yes, even the rain.

This will be the second time I’ve had to leave this place my heart knows to be home, and the first time I’ve returned to Utah as a resident in over twenty years…. to move back in with my parents. It is as though time has folded back on itself. The prodigal daughter returning. Defeated … ruined … but never beaten.

wonder-woman

(My blog, my daydreams people.)

I am trying with everything in me to find the silver lining. To dig into my well of reserves and pull out some of the steel that has gotten me through so much in the last fifteen years. Yet there is still so much further I need to go to find solid footing again. My life exists in that moment of weightlessness between out of control, and impact, when everything is flying by at warp speed, yet you see it in excruciatingly long spans of infinite time, and in extraordinary detail .. just before it all comes to an abrupt and messy halt. The pain only waiting for cognizant recognition before slipping in, as unavoidable as time itself.

But I will get through it. I have the knowledge born from experience; no matter how messy it gets, how traumatic the injuries, nor how excruciating some moments may be .. I will get through this. With the hope and dignity I’ve had to discover buried inside this person I am. I will allow myself to make mistakes, and then forgive myself for them. I will accept that others will make mistakes, and will feel pain, and have their lives changed as a result… and I will (I hope) choose to be gentle with them, and remember their precious humanity. I also hope that in the end I find myself surrounded with love. With people who can stand my back when the cards fall… and who can run with me from the deep sorrow I see coming, and find a mountain high enough to touch those silver clouds with like minds and open hands.. fingertips trailing in the liquid silver of possibility. Life, within reach yet again.

This is where I leave off today. I’ve a weekend to contend with, and my 21st birthday^² I’m avoiding…. and avoidance demands attention.

(For the math geeks; the current body is at rest, and I would prefer a decrease of body mass similar to that of 21, so in my convoluted way it stands.. sort of. Work with me here.)

See you on the other side of the week.

birthday cake fire-Jane

Posted in Olympic Peninsuala, Photography, Sarcasm / Humor, Seattle, Writing, Writing about mental health | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I am The Prize, not the consolation.

Crescent Lake stormA dark sky warring with the sun, legions of fleecy clouds pouring in from the Pacific’s chilly and tempestuous heart, crashing … tumbling .. scorching the sky with their brilliance. And I, diminutive, determined, and racing towards an invisible finish line, the very air encouraging me with every move in a forward direction. I struggle to get my mind ahead of the fray, and finally, when I least expect it, I break through. Understanding and clarity scour the dusty trail before me, stopping me mid-stride…. I am literally at a standstill, nothing but life and fire touching me with delicate fingers.

I had gone with the husband on a bike ride around a lake so achingly clear and beautiful it whispers of eternity. He’s been home about a day, and already the fibers have unraveled further. Every attempt to draw him out, raise a smile, offer an olive branch .. has been met with scorn, and insults, and words that curdle around the edges for all the vinegar in them.  Words that terminate that eternity.

clouds- Crescent LakeMy world becomes silent when he’s home, a lingering hesitation to speak out loud and a swift retreat when I forget myself. I will be interrupted, cut off, put down. And it doesn’t matter what I say, nor the tone I use … he can’t hear my words for the bitterness inside of himself.

I know the anger has grown from frustration, a lack of direction .. an absence of courage. Where I have come through the last few years stronger. Brighter. Bolder. He has felt his own shadow expand to encompass him, and has forgotten how to live in the light. He lashes out at anything that approaches him.. so we have all left him to his sorrow, and today, he has left me behind.

We started on this path together, but I found him deliberately and quickly sprinting out in front …. he doesn’t like it when I lead. So I watched him vanish into the trees, around bends, and eventually, all together. I sat gazing at this path in front of me that he was no longer on. I knew he wasn’t going to slow down, or look back …. or last very long at that pace …. so I stopped chasing him all-together…. took in the silent and empty road before me. Choices. Opportunity. A solo venture into a tangled and often times darkening forest, and I embraced it.

storm over Crescent LakeThere were dancing and weaving doubts wrapping themselves around me… but there was also peace. I spoke out loud into the silence, “I am done.

I said it again, louder, “I Am Done.” Letting my voice carry…. finishing a sentence without being choked off…. a relieved smile creeping onto my face.

I AM DONE!” I yelled into that open and empty path before me. Resolute. Firm.
Somewhere a bird responded… the air became lighter, and the sky opened up, illuminating the path with a soft inviting glow. … my way is clear.

mountain bike crescent lakeOn the ride to and from the lake I had spoken no more than the occasional yes, or no, and simple “Mmmhumm”. Even then, he found plenty to chew my ear about…. my “Mmmhumm” apparently in a tone unforgiving to someone being ridiculous. Which is why on the ride up I was feeling broken, and little, and utterly at a loss. But the trip back was bittersweet… because my story is changing, and as a result his will too… but not for the better. What he has forgotten behind all the chaos that has carved our lives the last fifteen years, is that my love was the prize …. not a mere consolation in this game of life.

I am far from perfect and will admit it freely, but I can usually laugh at my mistakes instead of attacking those around me. This perspective doesn’t make me better, it makes me lucky, because from where he stands, he has allowed his mistakes to define him. Swallow him. Haunt him. In ignoring the problems instead of working to resolve them he has never figured out that every problem is defeatable. Every solution waiting for an opportunity to be found… but you have to be willing to work for it. Fight for it. Cherish it. Want it.

When I walked back in the door to this shabby rental in the middle of nowhere after this long ride of mine…. of his… but not ours, I began mentally breaking down this marriage into more manageable pieces. His stuff. My stuff. Kid’s stuff. Garbage. And with every item I didn’t have to embrace or own, I felt lighter. Free.

hiking trail crescent lakeI’m not fooling myself thinking this path isn’t going to be rough and bumpy. I know it will be. You don’t take 22 years and dissect it into nothing more than history without a few painful amputations and bleeding outs. And I know I will have to do it all, because he won’t participate. Follow through. Engage. … He will ignore it, or simply become further enraged, so I will need to toughen up. Be prepared for the animosity. The feigned shock at where things have gone… because I already know how he fights. He will want to hurt, and do so as deeply and painfully as possible, and I’m sure it will steal the breath from me at times … but I know at some point I won’t have to live with it over my head every day, every second… dreading the weekends and hiding my voice behind his anger. At some point I will reach the end of this particular path and have many more unfolding before me. All I have to do is move forward with courage. Let go my own anger and fears so they don’t keep me from seeing the opportunities before me… And then, when I am at that precious point, I will walk boldly in the direction of my life. Embrace whatever beauty may find me, and understand that I am enough… because I too need to understand that loving myself, even when no one else can or will, is also a prize.

 -Jane

clouds over crescent lake; WA

Note: This was last weekend.  I am not saying my husband is a bad person, as I have clarified time and again. But he is a person who has let life guide his behavior, as opposed to the other way around. The point is, life will give us all challenges, and sometimes beat us so thoroughly we can barely see straight. If we let that determine how we treat others we will find we only end up shorting ourselves… and we shouldn’t be surprised when those others began treating us like we treat them… or leave us to our miserable selves all together. Misery may love company, but company isn’t quite so fond of the other.

Posted in Decoding Marriage, Mountain Biking, Olympic Peninsuala, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Life is not black and white. It’s chocolate.

Depression treetriggerwarningIt moved in with the fog, this dark shadow of mine. Rolling in from somewhere cold and fetid, almost frightening in its stealth and direction. For some time I’ve been doing rather well, surfing a wave of lightness and clarity as energetic as the sun. Luminous. So to wake with the weight of it all upon my back, kicking and squealing fit to burst a saints sanity and patience … wasn’t what I saw coming.

It seldom is. At times I can feel the sinister lick of depression hissing at my heels, jumping and snapping at my every move, freezing me into immobility with the threat of a lightning fast strike… and I wait it out. Watch it. See where it’s going so I can move away from it. Other times it arrives with absolutely no warning. Not so much as a hitch or bump to alert me of its arrival. Deadly in its silence.

depressionI’ll level with you, sometimes I get incredibly tired of writing about this stuff. Talking about medications and the wearying paths my brain is taking…. but someone has to. Sometimes the only thread that keeps us tethered to this reality, to our life, is the knowledge that we aren’t alone in our nightmare. So I’ll take up the laptop and hammer it out as it comes to me. Trying to reach out. Stabilize…. because often in the writing about it I can conquer it, and if it helps someone else at some point, then that’s a bonus.

The medication I’m taking, Nortriptyline, has proven to work incredibly well .. which was a surprise to me, as so much of what’s out there doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what it is that preys on people like me. But with every golden ticket comes a price, and the price for this one is steep. The lows aren’t simply a mellowing of joy, but more of a sudden drop from a thousand foot cliff, and on the way down – on that rise from slumber into consciousness, the echoing cries of the past come back to life in frightening reality. Things I thought long-buried and gone… some entirely forgotten, and for good reason. They flash like quicksilver before me, depositing their vile memories and emotions in that brief second of recognition before being filed behind the next rush of fresh torment.

lost in depressionA mind has little recourse but to retreat, behind walls of safety pitted and scarred from previous battles …. and sometimes those walls fail. Crumble into sooty piles at our feet that leave us exposed and trembling.

Today my wall of self-worth has fallen. The lingering pulse of images, past abuses bruising and breaking me at their will. The impact of hitting; walls, furniture, the floor … anything solid. That snap of fear racing white-hot through your body that leaves a chalky cloud of instinctive knowledge that something important has been broken …. and it isn’t always your body. A few moments of numbness before the pain creeps in… so you let go. Follow the mind into its foxhole and wait. The pounding may continue, but at some point it doesn’t matter… what was important has been lost to chaos.

That is where I awoke today. Revisiting the lower bowels of hell, alone, and aimlessly wandering. The intensity of this revisit can only be attributed to the new medication, as life has been going rather smoothly .. even with the state of some relationships. The lows I’m experiencing are new to me… because I’ve been in the bowels of hell before, but never has it been so in the moment. Time usually adds a layer of protection. A lack of detail. But it’s all there, right in front of me, leaving the skin as hot and tingly as it was when it happened…. the fear as real and fresh … the retreat as swift and acidic around my skull, spiking down my spine before falling flat into my stomach, and leaving me shaky. As tired as the weight of battle is heavy.

surviving treeBut I’m not broken, and I can figure this out. Experience has taught me I’ll get through this; everything is temporary. These shades of depression and self harm can be circumvented. Waited out. And, unlike when it creeps in slowly .. so slowly I don’t notice I’m infected until it’s too late, the swiftness and violence of this new route and way the depression strikes puts me on the defensive. The fight response is triggered, and I’ll duke it out.

But.

I need space. Time. Peace. … which sometimes is hard to come by around here. I’ll retreat and use silence as my means of recuperation, and that usually upsets people … even when they know why I’m doing it. And the timing …. it’s almost comical…. the husband gets home today, as opposed to the usual Saturday evening – leave Sunday morning thing he does. I sometimes feel like life is laying down events just to stir me up some days…. Normally when I need him, his help and support, he’s nowhere to be found. However, at these weird times when the best thing for me is isolation and peace. Silence. … He’s here, wanting to follow me from room to room, insisting I engage even when he comes home in a bad mood. … Why, I wonder, can’t he ever just bring home chocolate instead? It doesn’t even have to be expensive.

black-and-white-candy-chocolate-kissesSome days. …. SOME FREAKING DAYS …. I guess I can’t have it both ways, eh?  Damn.

Time to run off on the bike then. I need to be well-worn out by the time the house is full of people tonight. Need the ability to retire early into the unconscious embrace of sleep.  And thankfully this medication responds extremely well to the effects of exercise.  Not many do, but this one … it knows how to grab those endorphins and boost them.  It’s been a good thing.

So today, make a point of being nice to someone, even if they come at you ornery or sad or outright stupid. You never know how much kindness can change someone’s day, and someday, it may be returned when you really, desperately need it.

24-Rough-Hands.jpg-Jane

In defense of the husband, he’s not a horrible person.  He’s a person who is struggling to work through a few things, and some people deal with trials horribly… he is one of them.  This isn’t right or wrong, it just is what it is.  That’s all.

Update

I’ve returned from the ride.  It was a real challenge to keep going, to push myself to the end, but I did it, and as a result my mind has improved quite a bit.  I’ve still got a ways to go but I’m no longer bottoming out – that is always a plus!  Glad I went.

Posted in Decoding Marriage, Mental Health, Mountain Biking, Trigger Warning; mental health, Uncategorized, Writing about mental health | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Burning Down the House… to kill a spider. TRUE

Shoe TreeWe’ve all heard it, the urban rumor that somebody somewhere knew someone who burned down their house to kill a spider.

If you haven’t heard it yet, you’ve not been spending nearly enough time with the teenaged population in your town. The same population who do things like create a shoe tree with all of their friend’s expensive Nikes.  Or videotaping cinnamon challenges, and concocting general mischievous stunts meant to give authority the bird and shock the older generation…. Such as painting an iconic town attraction, like a chainsaw carving of a trout walking about in trousers, flesh-colored. (Evidently the powers that be who OK-ed the public “artwork” in the first place, had no idea of its slang based sexual suggestiveness, despite the overall weirdness of the carving in the first place.)

"Is that a trout in your trousers, or are you just happy to see me?"

“Is that a trout in your trousers, or are you just happy to see me?”

So back to point; a house, a spider, a fire, an overreaction to a simple problem. It just so happens that yesterday that very thing occurred up here in the sublime Northwest.

I kid you not.

Yesterday, on July 15, 2014, a man in the southern part of Seattle, Washington used a can of spray paint and a lighter to kill a spider trying to escape into a cranny in his washroom. The plan, I imagine, was to create a blowtorch, roast the spider, and feel incredibly smug and clever when later relaying the event to friends over a joint and latte at the local Starbucks.

Disclaimer: Starbucks does not, in fact, have anything to do with marijuana.

Disclaimer: Starbucks does not, in fact, have anything to do with marijuana. Sorry Washington.

The unfortunate outcome was less half-baked and more blazingly stupid, as the spokesman for The Seattle Fire Department, Kyle Moore, explained.
The spider tried to get into the wall. He sprayed flames on the wall, lit the wall on fire, and that extended up to the ceiling.” He also added, “I don’t want to encourage people to do this, but that’s what he did.” He then went on to elaborate, should anyone question the effectiveness of such a method, “There are safer, more effective ways to kill a spider than using fire. Fire is not the method to use to kill a spider.

Good to know.

But more importantly, did the man actually kill said spider? Moore answers that probing question too.
I’m pretty sure the spider did not survive this fire. The whole wall went.”

(You can read the entire article by Phuong Le of the Associated Press for The Kitsap Sun here: Man starts fire using “blowtorch” to kill spider.  They even have pictures.)

And now we can collectively get on with our lives, safe in the knowledge that we now know someone first-hand (As first-hand as reading Kyle Moor’s statements is) who was witness to someone, somewhere, burning down their house to kill a spider.  Though I should probably mention it wasn’t his house.  He was renting.  So someone somewhere burned down someones house to kill a spider.

Welcome to Washington people! If this doesn’t convince you I live an a strange and creative locale, nothing will.

And.

You’re welcome.

-Jane

Posted in Social Climate, Baking, Sarcasm / Humor, Writing, Seattle, Olympic Peninsuala, Stupid People, Odd News | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment