KikiBeachStretch

Soon

When your lashes unlace to greet the light. Your body uncoils, unwrapping your flesh from her thread-count comfort. You discover reassurance. It’s close to normal, this sacred breadth you’ve reclaimed as your own. You stretch, allowing your lungs to expand and release within the space of familiar. What’s old is slowly new again.

You are singular but not small.

When brushing past a stranger in a crowded room, their fragrance leaves a familiar trace – something happens. You inhale detailed Technicolor memories – setting the dragon free from slaughter. There’s no use in sleighing the visions of who you were with them. You unleash the reality, welcoming their face, their hands on your body, their taste on your tongue. Falling among the trace of tears that struggle to emerge are fragments of your smile.

You are longing, but embrace living.

When driving home isn’t met with worry. Anxiety falls into the lap of acceptance. There is no one on the other side of the door. Your phone is silent. You curl up to the empty space, making peace with alone.

And a song is just a song.

Soon.

Soon you will find the familiar reflection. Your smile, unorchestrated without agenda. Free-falling within the space of your heart, you find yourself. Your laugh laces her fingers with acceptance and time.

When you slip under the covers. Your eyes slowly drift. Your thoughts aren’t far behind. They whisper. Soon. Soon. Soon.

Forgiveyourself

Forgive WHO?

We’ve all been there. Turned into that person we don’t recognize. Our brains hold our happiness hostage, giving pain where pain doesn’t need to exist. We unknowingly sabotage our hearts because our perception of reality is altered thanks to a heavy dose of What We Wish To Be The Case.

Perception is horrifying when the lens we choose to view from isn’t based in what’s real. The trick is knowing that we are choosing to stay in the clouds.

Red flags are not welcome signs waving from across the field. We aren’t bulls who need to charge at the first sign of danger. Seriously. Danger doesn’t equal excitement. Healthy doesn’t need to be boring (is this just a drug addict thing?).

I can’t speak for any other PTSD-Drug Addict-Sex Abuse Survivor-Ex-Stripper, but for me – the lessons in reality come at a lofty price.

Between planning a huge life-changing move, my story-telling series, and licking wounds from a recent breakup (talk about being in denial), it’s all I can do to keep it together.

So how do we get real with ourselves without beating our hearts up in the process? For starters, we need to forgive. Not the ones who’ve hurt us - but ourselves.

We can point the finger all we want, but let’s face it – at some point, when it comes to living through pain based on patterns we keep repeating – we need to look at our own choices. Once we realize we have more power over our happiness than we realize, the best thing to do is wrap our hearts around our loving souls and forgive us.

There are so many things I’m not proud of about myself. So many actions I’d love to take back. Tomorrow is another day. Another chance to get it right. New beginnings that shed old patterns. How lovely it would be to have a clean slate with the one person who matters the most, who we are always the hardest on – us.

So tell me – What do you forgive yourself for?

 

yoga

Ch ch ch changes

I’m not one for change. I like what I like, and that’s it. Even when I think I’m happy, turns out, I’m just content with the way things are. Content is all well and good, but it doesn’t scratch the itch we all have in terms of personal fulfillment.

Content may be the symphony, but Happy is the dance.

Have you ever said “I’ve always wanted to…” and never found a way to make it happen? What about that thing you’ve been putting off because you just don’t have the time or energy, but it’s still on the front burner of your mental dream list?

When a friend passed unexpectedly last week, I literally felt shock waves throughout his circle of friends and family.

Tragedy has a way of waking us up.

MarkusQuote

Markus D Manley

I wasn’t terribly close with Markus, but that’s the thing about him – you didn’t need to be to have his influence wash over you. He was and continues to be a light of unparalleled energy and intent.

From our very first conversation, I felt his vision and passion for the arts. I saw myself in him; the way our eyes lit up when exchanging stories and professional plans. He was a visionary and person of substance.

As so many of us have and still do, I looked up to him as a dude who got his shit done. What he wanted, he sought and conquered. What he envisioned, he created. Check out his legacy WE Labs. Is there anything more RAD?

On the heels of such a monumental life change – the loss of someone so young (39) and so inspiring – I’ve decided to channel my inner Markus and go for it.

I’ve been on the fence with these changes for a while – but have finally taken the steps to make my own shit happen.

I’m moving from Orange County to Long Beach, which is much better suited to my personal and political taste. I’m adopting a dog (I’ve been wanting to do since moving to California in 1996). And after much influence, discussion and inspiration from my new Guatemala family of warrior women  – I’m founding my own storytelling series (think: The Moth & Lip Service).

Bring. It. On.

imagesAm I freaked out? Fuck yes. Will that stop me? Not a chance.

Stay tuned for more. I’m sure there will be many learning lessons along the way for everyone’s entertainment, least of not mine.

If there’s anything that the sudden passing of a loved one teaches us, it’s that tomorrow is promised to no one.

We must drop kick our fears of the unknown and allow the light of our passion to lead the way to our heart’s fulfillment.

We must dance – unabashedly - in the face of personal freedom. And in doing so, we honor those whose lives were cut short, but not without profound purpose.

I’m so ready for a change. Who’s with me?

 

nb

A Narcissist’s Harem: Are you in one?

* After reading these two brilliant pieces: Narcissistic Harem’s In A Nutshell – Why it’s time to stop envying the ex and various hanger-on’s ; The Narcissist and His Harem: Why You Should Decline Membership - I picked my jaw from the floor and felt compelled to share:

 * * *

Let me start by saying that although my tag line states that I’m in recovery from narcissism, the term is a very tongue-in-cheek way of saying I’m a recovering addict.

Addicts are narcissists in our own delightful way – in that when we’re using – it’s all about us. Hopefully, after we pull our heads out of our ass, this darling trait dissipates and a much more level-headed, compassionate and thoughtful person emerges.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, the purpose of this post isn’t to gab about my addiction or recovery from drugs. I’d like to shed some light on something I’ve been working through after a recent personal heart-wrenching experience I really brought on myself. Again. Familiar heartache induced by my own denial that somehow, if I were enough – my prince charming would change.

As I alluded to in yesterday’s post, thoughts of:  I’m old enough to know better! creep in whenever  I trip myself up, having not learned the valuable lessons the universe keeps trying to teach me. I can’t seem to get a clue. Or worse, I know exactly what I’m getting into (when I relapse, date the wrong man…), but my “fuck it” switch is on – and I don’t care how much pain I’m serving myself on the back end.

You don’t need to be an addict to date the wrong person. We’ve all been there. Maybe the chemistry is too strong, they’re so much fun, or they live right up the street and it’s too convenient NOT to date them. Whatever the reason, we dive head first.

Fast forward to the moment we realize – somewhere between the snorting laughter and multiple orgasms, we’ve lost ourselves. Our world is smaller. We become obsessed. Every thought, action and daydream is about how we can serve our love. Our friends tread lightly, showing us the obvious red flags, but they know we’re in too deep.

MSBWNot every person we’ve dated who was clearly wrong for us is a narcissist, but check out these basic characteristics and see if any ring true:

1. Extremely confident.
2. Charming beyond compare.
3. Has many friends of the same sex (a “harem”) – most, if not all are previous lovers.
4. Requires excessive admiration [regularly fishes for compliments, and is highly susceptible to flattery].
5. Plays on sympathy – “All I am is me”
6. Is the life of the party. Always “on” – a “people person.”

This list sums up just about every man I’ve ever been involved with.

There’s a catch-22 with dating a narcissist - they are so much fun and charismatic, it’s hard to see underneath it all – that they are manipulating our hearts to serve their hungry ego.

To be fair – the last man I dated isn’t a monster. If anything, we’re so much alike in terms of our personal history and struggles. He used to tell me I was the female version of him and I beamed with pride. The issue isn’t how much of an asshole a narcissist is (my guy was actually quite dear), it’s that they don’t realize what pain their behaviour causes because they are so wrapped up in their own turmoil.

Narcissists aren’t evil. Like every human being, they have a story. They didn’t wake up one day and decide to manipulate, lie to and cheat on the people they are closest to. They’re protecting themselves against what they fear the most – intimacy, abandonment, heartache. Reasons aren’t excuses, though – so even when knowing our partner doesn’t mean to - doesn’t make our staying with them okay. At some point, we need to take personal responsibility and move on.

I remember early in our relationship, my ex-lover invited me to meet he and his friends for drinks. When I arrived, I met them - all female – and already knew he had a sexual history (and current status) with at least two of them. I held my cool, and at the end of the night as he walked me to my car, I hugged him and told him I wasn’t going to be part of his harem.

On the drive home, I felt proud. I finally held my ground and stood up for myself with a man I was dating.

Three days later he was in my bed.

As much as I knew deep down I was in for heartache, I listened to his confessions of love and adoration over and over again, trying to ignore the constant texts from numerous women at all hours. I knew he was still meeting women via on-line dating sites, sleeping with others. I still stayed.

So why, after knowing all of this did I fall from my self-esteem soap box? It’s easy, when you’re co-dependent and struggle with feeling ‘not enough’. We think “If I’m pretty, skinny, sexy, funny, smart enough – more than any of the others – he will pick me.”

cbAfter a few months, my insides began to rot. I finally had enough. After meeting a lovely women he invited to join us for drinks, I got the last wake up call I needed. When he left for the mens room, his new lady friend asked if he and I were dating and she was floored to learn we were still lovers. She was me, six months ago.

It’s been a few weeks since having any contact with my ex. I don’t harbor any resentment or blame with him, and I hope we can circle back and reconnect one day. I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t miss him – but what I don’t miss is the feeling of being in a competition with his other harem members. I don’t miss the needy, insecure person I was turning into, who I’ve fought so hard – for so many years to change (I’m still fighting).

For some, standing up for ourselves and never settling for disrespect is natural (when your lover shows his friends naughty pics of you on his phone, that’s NOT respect). Then there are people like me, who are still learning to believe we are worth so much more than what we’ve ever allowed ourselves to feel.

Sometimes holding on give us strength. But when it comes to dating a narcissist, we only get stronger when finally letting go.

Thoughts?

elephants

Objects may seem larger

“Dear, it’s no good feeling sorry for yourself. You’re gonna have to overcome these difficulties. And you might as well do it with some style.” – Doris Mann (played by Shirley MacLaine)

Shirley MacLaine is my girl. I’ve loved her ever since The Apartment, and when she rocked Doris Mann in Postcards from the Edge, my adoration exploded.

Doris Mann bubbles over with the type of moxie only movie screen legends seem to pull off. Such is the beauty of cinema. Somehow a morning vodka-banana protein shake doesn’t seem that tragic in the land of make-believe within the context of dry humor.

Denial is fun. Until it’s not. Kinda like when our “fuck it” switch goes off when we chose curtain number three, against our better judgment. And when you’re an addict, well, all bets are off. What’s fun about making the right choices? How will my brain be stimulated with such vanilla flavored normalcy?

The older we get, the smarter we’re supposed to be. In theory. Then there are times when when our fuck ups are so epic, it’s hard to believe we’ve evolved past term papers and learning permits.

It’s a well known fact that the age we start using drugs is where our emotional and mental capacity shuts down and stops evolving. In many ways, I’m still very much a teenager on the verge of a mid life crisis. The moment life tends to feel like it’s normal – like everything is as it should be – I whip up a huge batch of chaos in my favorite flavor of denial.

My non-addict friends are left scratching their heads.

“If something or someone is bad for you – why do you continue to go there?”

“It’s fun.”

“Is hurting yourself fun?”

“I know. It’s fucked up.”

“It is.”

“I’m fucked up.”

“No, your’re an addict.”

“Same thing.”

The hardset part about an addcit falling on our ass is owning the fact that no one tripped us. No one forces us to fuck up. Our brain is sick and we tend to make all sorts of fun choices when faced with the universe’s temptations.

Ever taken a piece of birthday cake at the office because your co-worker is passing them around – and you’re trying to lose weight? It’s the same thing. Sort of.

So chaos is created, and we fall on our ass. Now what? Feeling sorry for ourselves is the usual modis operati quickly followed by self-hate and shame. How could I be so stupid? I’m old enough to know better! Once we get that out of our system, the real work begins.

It takes a lot of balls to talk about the elephant in the room; especially when you’re the one who keeps welcoming it back. The good news is that we can learn to switch the wiring in our brain. We can choose to treat ourselves with kindness and love. No one’s really buying our bullshit but us anyway – so we may as well come clean.

The sooner we get real in knowing our chaos is self-induced and understand why we create it in the first place, the faster it will go away. Drama doesn’t equal fun. All it does is create a distraction from the kind of life we all deserve.

Your thoughts?

 

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Divisible by love

*In loving memory of a friend I only just met, but left a profound impact. His creative passion, humor, spirit and support with all he’s known will live on forever. Here’s to you, Markus D. Manley.  You vision will live on.

The next person who tells me everything happens for a reason is getting punched in the face. At the very least an eye roll.

We get it. Life is hard. Shit happens. We are exactly where we’re supposed to be.

Fuck off.

When the rug gets pulled from under us, leaving our bones shattered on the floor and our heads trying to figure out the why – a big “FUCK OFF” to the universe is warranted.

It’s been a few weeks since returning from my writer’s workshop in Guatemala and I’m looking forward to sharing the life-altering ride. Timing has not been kind as of late.

As if my Central American adventure wasn’t enough to knock me on my ass, I returned home to the kind of news that flattens you. We know this pain. It’s the type of agony that leave the fragments of what was once your whole and happy heart to suffocate your faith in the quiet space of an empty room. A place where you once breathed in love, and now sit with in solitude and wonder of how you fell so hard.

We’ve all been there. Hit with insurmountable pain, not knowing why. Still, is the fact that we’ve all experienced anguish enough to earn the knowledge of why? Collective entitlement. Works for me.  There are some kinds of pain we never overcome. We just learn to live with. The irony that we don’t learn why – if we ever do – until the sorrow weaves her way into our blood is nothing, if not cruel.

Ask anyone who’s lost a loved one to an untimely death. Free and happy one afternoon, then you get the call – they’re gone the next. Talk to a parent who buries their child. A lover who witnesses the loss of her partner’s life after lacing fingers with them, wrapped in love just moments before. There will never be a why. And ever if there was, does it even matter? They are gone.

Fuck you.

I read a quote today that resonates. “Grief is divisible by love.”

Nothing will ever dilute the pain when our hearts ache. Not even knowing the why. We are all so fucking fragile and life is insane and fleeting.

Instead of looking for answers, maybe it’s best to let go of the questions.

Surround ourselves with, when true and real will never escape us – what peels us off the floor and holds our hearts with one another in times of suffering  - simply, beautifully, Love.

Grief is divisible by love.

DQ

Blow on this

Introspection is no picnic. Much more fun to live in the clouds, breathing in the intoxicating vapor of denial and frivolity. Getting high on the life we pretend to live has its moments, but there’s no mistaking the gnawing jabs in our gut when we know at some point, we gotta come clean. Bottom line – it’s never as good, or bad as we think.

 “The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change ” ― Heraclitus 

Part of getting real is accepting change. She’s a fickle beast, cloaked in promises of new and exciting, but beneath her veil, lives the weight of logistical responsibilities and emotional adjustments. Nothing like the vibe of uncertainty to pop a pin in our balloon.

There’s an article in the Huffington Post currently circulating on Facebook called “The 18 Worst Things About Hawaii” which is pretty spot on. Being born and raised on O’ahu for 30 years, I relate to all eighteen, but number five hits close to the vest these days:

gb5. It’s a revolving door 

There is a lot of turnover in Hawaii; people move here for an adventure and then go back to “reality.” While this means you are always meeting new people, it also means that friends are constantly leaving. Be prepared for going away parties to be a social staple.”

Even though I’ve been living off the island for years, the pull on my heartstrings when a loved one moves away still carries weight; it takes me back to feelings of loss and longing I struggled with as a teenager.

Compound the fact my biological father bailed when I was a toddler, and you’ve got some serious abandonment issues. Even if you didn’t grow up in Hawaii, and dad was around, farewells are never easy.

So how do we come to terms with change when it comes to loved ones leaving our inner everyday circle? For starters, it’s a good idea to remember – it’s not all about us. Sure we’re affected, but let’s be honest – most things in life have very little to do with us. We just get caught in the fallout. Our world needs to adjust – and whether we like it or not, it eventually does.

Once you pull your head out of your ass and realize the universe has her master plan no matter how much you fight reality, you realize it’s time to step up. Show a little more support and compassion for your loved one who’s starting a new chapter. It’s never easy starting over – and wallowing in our feelings, instead of wrapping our hearts around the person who’s taking a leap of faith with their life is never a good color on us.

Here’s the thing – when it comes to the loves in our lives – whether they’re platonic, romantic or family – no amount of distance will subtract your bond, period.

I recently embraced one of my favorite people, bidding him farewell. As we held each other I felt the loss immediately. We’ve grown accustomed to folding our arms together, in-between wiping tears and snorting laughter. No longer will there be impromptu movie nights and pajama parties – wine soaked kisses and spontaneous Ferris Bueler days. What skin will my fingertips graze subconsciously as the hours float by in comfortable silence?

As our bodies let go and we collected our breath, he looked in my watery eyes, kissed the top of my head and spoke softly to my heart: “It’s just another zip code.” Even in his departure, he made my life easier.

As I write this post, I’m reminded of that scene. That this sacred, beautiful life of ours is to be explored with the very people who ignite our soul. The sooner we stop trying to understand it, the closer we are to really living – no matter how far apart our zip code.

MGR

Like a Record, Baby.

“I hate news and information and anything that threatens to puncture the bubble of oblivion in which I live.”  ― Augusten Burroughs
 
I’m not a fan of merry-go-rounds. Never have been. Something about the incessant moving and turning and not really going anywhere. Let’s not get into the haunting organ music. It’s highly possible I’ve seen too many slasher movies as a kid, but still – to me - creepy.
 
 
It’s been a couple of days since re-entering life as I know it, after being in Guatemala for ten. Time was spent creatively and with purpose. I wrote letters. Made life-long writer-friends. Devoured my reading list. And, in true romantic fashion – turned out some Grade-A poetry that would clog your arteries, they’re so cheesy.
 
 
One of the things I adore most about my heart is her capacity to pump the corniest, most childlike illusion through my body while I’m knee-deep in the fantasy of being in love.
 
 
There’s nothing wrong with having fantasies; they keep us flying above the day-to-day bullshit.  What gets us in trouble, though, is when the line between what’s real and our delicious daydreams become blurred, we pretend we know what we’re doing. Seriously – when it comes to love – do any of us know?
 
 
When on the merry-go-round of yet another wake-up call, when we know it’s time to hop off and run far away from the creepy slasher music, why do we continue to stay? Is it fear of changing course? Do we secretly like the stability of knowing exactly what’s around the bend – even if it’s not what we want?
 
 
One of the hardest things to do is stand up for what we deserve – even when we don’t feel worthy.
 
 
On this Valentine’s Day eve, if any of us are spinning on our own personal merry-go-round, not feeling we’re getting exactly what we want - let’s ask ourselves why. It’s so easy to point the finger at the person operating the ride, but remember, it’s WE who make our own choices. Owning our shit in the harsh light of reality may be pulverizing at first, but in the end, our fantasies will serve our hearts more than ever – knowing we refuse to settle for anything less than what we are worth.
 
 
I’ll always be That Girl. The Romantic. The Dreamer. Never giving up on the one thing I keep at bay because I’m too afraid to feel it. With each relationship, I’m getting closer – and the amount of love and gratitude I feel for those experiences are immeasurable.
 
 
We learn so much by taking chances – even when the deepest part of our being already knows the end result. We are better for having loved deeply. And even stronger for surviving the fallout.
 
 
Sometimes, instead of getting back on the horse, it’s entirely possible we just need to find another ride.
 
 
sstones

Letting go, holding on

One of my girlfriends posted a question on her Facebook page asking about favorite quotes. Call it the bloggy-writer-poet-romantic-dreamer in me, but I do love me some killer dialogue - especially ones that leave an indelible mark.

I don’t remember when I first came across the one I shared  – one of my all time faves - but there was no question this quote was my choice:

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” – Henry Ellis

If you follow my Twitter feed, you’ve heard my running joke – the devil and angel on my shoulders always have three-ways with my voice of reason. What usually breaks up these tumultuous trysts are moments when I come up for air, realizing I’m once again, making the same choices that cause me to take two steps behind when I should be trying to evolve in a forward, positive motion. Breaking rules instead of blazing my trail and writing my own. So I dust off my ass, kick experience and memory to the curb and press ahead.

The good thing about tomorrow – it’s always a clean slate.

.

I don’t care if the blood pumping through your veins is the oil straight from a Normal Rockwell painting – living inside every one of us is our very own saboteur – and they’re always down to party.

Careers, relationships, even emotional baggage that weighs us down; we know we should be letting go, but our fear of the unknown serve as cinderblocks, pulling us deeper into a sea of regret and longing.

So what do we let go of, hang on to, and how the hell do we know when to turn the page? It’s easy to look at anyone else’s world and offer up the typical advice. Let go of the bad, hang on to the good; but reality isn’t a twenty-two minute sit-com where resolutions are made and all is tied up in a bow as the credits roll.

Sometimes shit is so simple, we try to find ways to fuck them up.

We stay in relationships we know are toxic. We talk ourselves out of a career move because we listen to our fear. We hold back – hanging on – even with bloody fingers, because the only thing scarier than staying with the darkness, is free-falling into the unknown.

If only we had a guarantee that what we’re falling into is better than where we are now; but when has life ever been easy?

What I’ve come to realize lately is that even if what lies ahead isn’t what I hoped for and takes me farther away from my dreams – it’s always better than holding on to something that keeps me from going after them.

Moving forward into the unknown will always trump staying where you aren’t happy. Yes, there are no guarantees that what lies ahead will serve our soul - but the fact we have the courage to keep trying is a helluva great start.

mirror

I’ll see your denial, and raise you…

We all have them. Those adorable imperfections we don’t like to talk about, much less believe they exist. Some of us are so far into the denial-that-we’re-less-than-perfect trap, we don’t see that by not accepting our ugly underbelly of what makes us unique, we’re coating an even more unattractive layer of falsehood over ourselves.

At the moment, I live in Orange County and I gotta say, if you’ve ever checked out The Real Housewives of OC, those inflated lipped, overly botoxed Barbie Doll Babes are real and walking among us in the light of day, usually with their toy dogs in tow.

Here’s the part where I struggle to convey that although I have zero judgment (opinions? yes…) with the BDBs of the world, I can’t help but feel that in over-doing the plastic surgery, there’s a part of them that doesn’t want to accept something deeper about themselves that they feel is unappealing.

When I was struggling with an eating disorder in high school, I learned a common phrase used among doctors when referring to anorexia/bulimia: “It’s never about the food.” My 16-year-old brain didn’t quite get it, but it makes total sense to me now. It was about control.

Some of us won the hot mess jackpot in terms of childhood upbringing. We were raised with an emotional deficit under a parental umbrella of dysfunction, which makes it so easy to get lost. We’ll do anything not to be found, but in a strange way, we still want to be heard. It’s the same way with control. We know that we have zero power, so we bleed our boundaries over into self-destructive and sabotaging territory  – just to feel in control. Naturally, the outcome of our behavior is a spinning vortex of chaos, and we wonder how the hell our lives got so messy.

Life is nothing if not a continual contradiction of behavior and thought.

I’m no stranger to plastic surgery. Call it occupational education in my stripping days. I was privy to all things boob-job related and within two months of making the decision to get my own pair of fun bags, I was under the knife. My underweight frame welcomed those glorious C cups and I made a ton of cash. By the time I was in my 30s and long after my final spin on the pole, my body settled into womanhood and with a much healthier silhouette, I chose to take my implants out and embrace the curvy bod I didn’t even know I was meant to have. Did I feel in control with my rockin’ stripper bod back in the day? Hell yes. Do I feel comfortable and stabilized with my middle-aged figure now? Minus the body fat I’m working hard on trimming (more on that later), absolutely.

My face is another story.

A few weeks ago, I was at a party in Los Angeles and the subject of my blog came up. I was asked the ever so common “what do you write about?” question. Upon revealing my answer, sharing that I’m working on a book about stripping in my twenties, the dude looked me in the eyes and very matter of fact replied, “really? with that fucked up face?” I was on a first date, and the dude I was with was frozen in shock (he knew my story and sensitivity), and I can’t blame him.

Mr. Charmer continued, pointing to my cheeks, “no, really, what is this from?” After picking up my jaw from the floor, I replied. “I had a skin disease as a kid. Those are scars. Oh look, there’s someone in a wheelchair, you gonna ask about their fucked up legs?” My little quib let the air outta the room and we all shared a laugh. The dude was such a drugged up mess, I knew his question wasn’t meant to hurt my feelings. Besides, I wasn’t about to allow the night to be shot because of one guy’s insensitivity.

I held my shit together enough among company, but when I climbed into bed a few hours later, the amount of tears that flowed was enough to fill the room.

This is never going to stop.

Within the space of one night, and because of one person’s remark about my scars, all my years of therapy and surgeries were suddenly gone. I was Freddy Kruger (high school nick-name) all over again. I felt anything but in control.

After a long sleep and a much-needed therapy discussion, I circled back from self-pity to confident – reminding myself how far I’ve come, and that no matter how many surgeries I have, these scars on my face are permanent, so I better just deal.

Which brings me back to the nature of the beast: acceptance of our flaws.

Of course there are things we can improve with our appearance. Taking care of ourselves goes a long way. Then there are those things we’re born with and need to find a place within our hearts to accept. Too short, too tall, big-boned, petite, curly hair, freckles, pale skin, you name it, someone has it and is bitching about it.

So how do we settle into ourselves and cut the slack so badly needed in order to find our self-worth? For starters, it’s good to remember that every single solitary person in the universe is flawed; even if you don’t see it.

The other night I was talking with a friend and he gently cupped his hands in my face. He knows what a huge deal it is for me to allow anyone but a doctor to go there; but I was comfortable and felt safe. He looked into my eyes and said one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard: “Everybody has scars. Yours just happen to be on the outside.”

There it is. Talked about. No denial to hide behind. The old Christine would’ve been embarrassed, ashamed even. I would’ve tried to break my fear by cracking a silly joke. Instead, I threw him a knowing smile filled with gratitude for his honesty and grace; and then, without skipping a beat and before I could get my big mouth talking – he kissed me. 

Allowing myself to be real with someone in the moment – vulnerable and raw – made me realize something. When we embrace our “ugly”, we take away its power over us to make us feel anything less than beautiful - and when you think about it, really – what’s more flawless than that?

 

Here’s the part where you tell me – what flaws do you have and have learned to accept? Please share in the comment section below.

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A safe place to land

When I was in high school I was obsessed with the writings of 60s composer and poet, Rod McKuen. Call it drama queen kismet, or just another typical teenage literary crush, but when I curled up with this man’s words at night, I was home.

My English teacher, John Ashburn used to mock my adoration, always reminding me what with the James Joyce’s and Lord Byron’s of the world, how limited my mind seemed by landing on the hippy-dippy, oh-so-drippy Rod. This, from a man who used to offer up “bogus bonus” points if we could recite (and analyze) the second single on the 1983 album Synchronicity, by The Police. To Ashburn’s credit, I still dig me some Greek mythology stirred up by Sting’s ravishing voice. Mephistopheles is not your name. I know what you’re up to just the same.

But I liked McKuen’s vibe; the way his feelings left nothing behind, no convoluted sentences to shield his longing. He left it out there, sometimes dripping off the page, and it was beautiful to see.

So beautiful, in fact, I never took it upon myself to actually return my borrowed library books that year. Or the year that followed.

RodBooksPoetry, like all artists’ creations, is subjective. We see what we want to see, which is sometimes far from where the artist was living when they poured their souls out for us. It leaves everything to the imagination, unlike real-life. In our everyday lives, there’s little room for error – and when the inevitable mistakes are made – the consequences can be game-changing.

So unlike a carefree brush stroke or writing sprint where nothing is held inside, the rest of the non-artist world keeps their feelings close to the chest. And the older we get, the tighter our grip. Until we feel free to catch our breath among trusted loved ones, in the arms of their safety and shared solitude.

These people we wrap ourselves with; they are our life rafts in a sea of uncertainty. They allow us to settle in with our feelings without the slightest worry of judgment or shame. They are a safe place to land – which is one of my favorite lines from all of Rod McKuen’s works.

So whether you’re an artist, or simply enjoy the arts, it’s so important to know that with this new year ahead – letting go of whatever holds you back is all part of it. That it’s really ok to have no idea what lies ahead (sorry, list-makers). Focus on the now. Lose yourself in the beauty around you – a melody that carries you, a movie or book that shakes you up, the morning dew on a eucalyptus leaf (thanks for that, M.S.) – it’s all living, breathing poetry.

Remind yourself to take time and space for you. Savor your company. Satiate on the unknown. And when life’s ebb and flow pull you under, remember you have those special loved ones who’ll lift you up, just as you’ve done so many times for them.

We may not know where we’re headed, but with life’s poetry and our safe places to land on our trail, the journey can be a lot less scary.

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.” — T.S. Eliot

Happy New Year,

CS

Estuary

There’s always a moment. When pause gives birth to reason and our breath whispers simple truths. As we form the words, our circle of trust unruffles its corners, allowing another loving soul into our guarded solitude.

Through connection, we shed – leaving only our most exposed selves to exist within the comfort of friendship. And what was once feared, now serves as our greatest ally, carrying us beyond the threshold of horror that who we are is never enough.

Those precious moments furnish the birthplace of love. We feel safe, kick back with one another, feet up, belly laughing through tears. And we embrace with gratitude, how incredibly lovely it is to just be.

We are always enough. Even in the darkest corners of who we once were. It’s true of us then, and even more so today – because we’re all born from wreckage. And it’s the beauty of such chaos that gives us our shine.

When we find those special moments – where our veil of uncertainty is lifted, and we shift into who we truly are with someone - something magical happens. Each story of our history bleeds into our current of Now, moving the tide forward. And although we navigate slowly, the ride is nothing short of extraordinary.

With a new year on the horizon, it’s easy to get caught up in the kaleidoscope of then and now. Even more so, to cling to the uncertainty of the unknown, and all its weighty expectations. But what if instead, we all collected our moments and allowed the current of Now to take us where we’re meant to be? We’ll lace our fingers with stride and fortitude and through those tender moments, because we allowed someone in – we are reminded that we are never alone.

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Coming clean

Back when I drank and drugged my hot ass into oblivion, waking up covered in a dirty film of “how could you?” was a typical afternoon occurrence. My denial and narcissism was a brilliant excuse for such hideous behavior. The constant lying. All the cheating. Even stealing from my own family members to get high.

Shame, shame, how could you?

When all you’ve been is a royal class fuck up, it’s easy to fall back on the title when you do actually fuck up – again. But when does the revolving door of “how could you?” finally kick your ass out in the real world of “I know better”?

When do we [addicts] stop using our disease as a crutch and start using it as a tool? To respect our struggles and learn from our behaviors, not use them as excuses. What a concept.

As I’ve said in my interview with KirstyTV, “I’m such a work in progress, I should have orange cones for earrings.” Adorable, right? It would be if it weren’t so true.

In the past few weeks, I’ve come to learn that not only am I a work in progress, sometimes I make such colossal errors in judgment that only a stick of dynamite could make things right. But wiping the slate clean with my most recent fuck up would be the healthy thing to do. Sure, owning my truth sounds like a plan, but there’s an awful lot of shame buried under there. So instead of doing the right thing, I ignored the gnawing pit in my gut and allowed my “how could you” to perform grandiose claims of absurdities.

It wasn’t until a friend called me out that I realized – the only way to make this better, is to own the fact that I’m the one whose making things worse. Even if my friend would have never said a thing – I knew this sick, familiar feeling wasn’t going to disappear on its own. I’d have to be the one to break this shit down in order to rebuild my self-respect.

So, without further adieu, I’m here to light this mofo and come clean.

I recently had the opportunity of a lifetime in that a major publisher was interested in reading some pages of my book. After months of edits and rewrites (with the help of a tireless, selfless dear friend in the biz), I submitted my work. After receiving the rejection letter, I sunk into a vast darkness of self-doubt and regret.

Why didn’t I stay true to my voice ? Why couldn’t I have just gotten out of my own way? How the hell could you ruin this opportunity? And on and on.

One of the reasons noted in the Pièce de réjecion letter was that I didn’t have a large enough platform, which is another way of saying “you’re not a Real Housewife, TMZ doesn’t follow your ass, and Wikipedia has never heard of you.”

The same day I realized I was this “nobody” in the world of publishing, I received an email offering up miraculous marketing ideas and promises of fame and adoration. Part of this marketing scheme was building one’s platform in social media; an ‘If you build it, they will come’ approach. For less than a hundred bucks (and as a birthday present from mom) my social media status would go from “nobody” to “she’s the one to watch.” But was this ethical? Was this the thing now with artists trying to be seen?

After speaking with friends and reading some articles about the pros and cons of this new marketing maneuver, I relented. With the click of a mouse I did something that no one talks about but so many people do: I purchased Twitter followers.

As soon as I made this choice, I knew it was a mistake. After years of proving my word with my friends and family, here I was, faking an audience. But like so many missteps in life, we can’t un-do the things we regret.

Life has a way of serving you lessons that only become fully realized when wrapped with a bow of shame.

But even when we’re called out, it takes a bigger person to come clean. I wasn’t that person a few weeks ago when publicly backed into a corner on Twitter; in fact, I was enraged by the very accusations (that I purchased Twitter followers) which were thrown in my face. It didn’t matter this person nailed my error in judgment – but it was MY mistake, and the fact that I didn’t have a choice to process this and come clean on my own was the thing that threw me over the edge.

So in that very ugly Twitter-war-high-school-bullshit-banter way, things were said and although I deeply regret playing my part and the way I handled things – what stings the most is how I disappointed the people I love, who had my back.

You’d think I’d be pissed off at my Twitter nemesis for coming at me and calling me names (which, I still think was a dick move). But like most of the ugly shit we’re faced with, there’s always some lovely goodness buried within. I’m not a victim, just as this person isn’t an on-line bully.

Within the next few weeks, I’m sure my purchased spam-bots will fall off, and my “Followers” number will steadily decline. But as this goes down, my self-esteem will keep a steady climb in the right direction. Even a handful of real followers is better than thousands of fake ones, purchased only to inflate my sinking ego.

I’m still processing the shame of my choices but all I can do is keep trying to be a better person than I was yesterday – which includes being a better friend, staying on a healthy path, and wiping up the shit I make when my choices hit the fan.

Besides, tomorrow is a new day. We’re almost in a new year, which will be filled with many delightful fuck ups I’ll make, I’m sure.

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Reminder this Thanksgiving

When we’re in traffic because of an accident. Having to work on a holiday. Annoying relatives at the dinner table. It goes on and on.

We all have moments when we find ourselves bitching about – well, the things we all bitch about during the holidays.

Perspective is one of those things that come in handy this time of year. Here’s a quote that helps us keep some. Continue reading