Carl & Other Thoughts On BIPOC LGBTQIA Liberation

It took Carl guts to publicly announce his sexuality. But at the end of the day Carl Nissab can physically, financially, take care of himself. He has the support of the NFL. There’s Democrats in office and most of all he can be a Pride month show horse for convenient capitalism. The NFL is also banking on White Privilege to support Carl’s homosexuality. Someone had to do it eventually. But what if a Black or Latinx player wanted to come out? There’s a lot of cultural and political reasons why that probably wouldn’t happen. How would that have played out on the home field?

So we’re into football now. 🤣 Congrats to Carl Nissab for openly owning his sexuality!! Representation is super important, but one white player declaring their sexual orientation doesn’t change the rules of patriarchal games.

Raiders Defensive End, Carl Nissab

It doesn’t negate the fact that it’s ILLEGAL to be LGBTQIA in 69 countries. #ironic. Or that many of the people who watch Carl play, voted against trans youth from playing in them/they/their sports.

Teen suicide rates have dropped since marriage equality was legalized. But LGBTQIA youth are 8 times more likely to kill themselves than their heteronormative counterparts.

You may not see it, however social workers & counselors see kids who are still being told they are wrong for having same sex attractions or non-binary gender identifications.

White men have also colonized the narrow pelvic arc & declared private acts immoral except for ones they like themselves. 🎤

It took Carl guts to publicly announce his sexuality. But unlike many in the LGBTQIA community Carl Nissab can physically & financially take care of himself at this point. There’s a slim majority of Democrats in office. Finally, he’s kind of a convenient Pride month showhorse for the NFL Corporation.

The NFL is banking on White Privilege to support Carl’s sexual orientation. Someone had to do it eventually. But what if a Black, Asian, or Latinx player wanted to come out?

There’s a lot of cultural context and personal considerations to unpack with any decision like this. There are unfortunately very religious, financial & political reasons that wouldn’t play out on the home field just yet.

The same could be true for myself, friends, for many of us out there in the adult gay community. As difficult as it was for us to grapple with our sexuality, we’re still benefitting and from being Caucasian. It’s not a condemnation. It’s just something White gays need to be aware of.

You don’t get to just show up tipsy to 1 Pride Parade and that’s your Queer “Couture of Duty” for the year. 🤣

Just like Our Black Drag Mothers use silhouettes & songs to elevate the community- we must use our privilege & platforms. We must look out for our LGBTQIA+ fam lacking systemic access, relatives, or support networks.

Follow @HeyMissZarah on Instagram!

There are kids of all races and backgrounds living in foster homes, social work offices, in various places all across the world and country who may never have the opportunities to be openly queer, or to transition without fear of retaliation, or being abandoned, or feel safe enough to use a bathroom.

We’ve been conditioned to think “maybe it’s okay for a pop-star or an artist to be gay.” Yet homosexuality in sports is portrayed as gross and morally wrong.

LGBTQIA & BIPOC individuals are silently shamed into compliance at every societal level. So we’re flipping the script and creating cultures of equity, solidarity, & empowerment for all of us.

It’s as if fragile male identities would be destroyed if they found out a guy who works out & wears spandex might be punting for the same team. That has everything to do w/ the spectators than it does about being a “real” cis-gendered male. They still won’t let women play ball unless it’s off the field.Just like electing one Black POTUS & 1 female Black, Indian, & Asian VP are historic steps- they come 400 years too late. His important declaration doesn’t derail the religious & systemic oppressions which caused him or us to “come out” in the first place.

Unless we uproot the sources of racism and homophobia we’re only severing branches. We gotta stop paying lip service to the idea of queer & BIPOC liberation & own it.

You are free within your mind. The false dichotomies exist to divide us. Those in power conquer us while we squabble against one another. You have the ability and freewill to determine your emotions. You have the ability to deprogram yourselves. Personal transformation occurs in purposeful action by individuals, the establishment, & society.

Maybe more queer kids would play more sports if we had felt safe on the team. As Carl said, “representation and visibility are so important. I actually hope one day, the whole coming-out process won’t be necessary.” It’s the hope many people share. At least we know Carl’s out there on the field and he’s not alone. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜🖤🤍🤎

Setting the Record Strait Part 2

I was at Mt. Shasta writing about one of the most surreally difficult nights of my life, right before another strange event occurred on this mountain. Truth can be a stranger dance than any of our fictions.

You see, I slipped through the trapdoor of my mind after a BLM celebration, on the night of Juneteenth 2020. Transported through ethers after being intentionally drugged, without my consent or awareness.

Two days prior I had spoken out against local Proud Boys who had intimated protestors, and which I had also experienced firsthand. Now here I was getting dosed and later threatened, in my home, by several gay men who refused to denounce white supremacy- one of whom I had briefly dated.

A Fuckboi’s still a fuckboi- even if you’re locked together during quarantine.

I quickly learned a few things things that blurry night.

1. Racism can surprising extend past the reaches of sexual orientation into White superiority & Proud Boy territory.

2. Being dosed was not as fun as I used to hypothetically inappropriately joke about.

3. Feeling unsafe in your own home is a different level of fear. One which I had seen clients deal with as a social worker, but now it was happening to me while in duress. I didn’t know who to trust.

After three weeks of protesting & defunding the Portland Police by $15 million, the Black community threw a celebration and commemoration of Black freedom on Juneteenth 2020.

It was also the first day the Covid restrictions had been lifted. I decided to throw a small gathering because there had been much to celebrate that day. Whatever merriment was to be had quickly turned into a nightmare I could not get out of.

During that dosing I felt rippled through multiple timelines. Awake, slightly out of body, and far away from those moments. Wavering in and out of my present consciousness and through to possible past lives.

I could see myself and the other people I was talking to from above my own body. It sounds so strange but the words being said and emotions being felt were not mine alone for a few hours.

I still replay that evening’s events trying to understand what happened during that state of altered consciousness. For several months afterward, I came back a different soul briefly transported to another dimensional plane.

Was this all just a side effect of being in an altered state of consciousness? Did I have a shamanic experience that night or was it a brief psychosis triggered by a series of recently traumatic experiences?

Are these all just intriguing scenarios to explain the earthly and devastating reality of what happened during and after this night took place?

Returning to the present moment, I was witness to a surreal experience at Mount Shasta. Was this strange calling to follow the mysterious woman on the trail actually real or just the product of an overactive slightly stoned interpretation?

Were these true mystical experiences or do I just want them to be? Aren’t we all just seeking answers somewhere between reality and just beyond the veil?

I was over this Lemony Snicketts existence. The joke of reliving certain patterns and unexplainable circumstances, and bearing the weight of consequences that just took different forms in intricate and complicated ways.

To what purposes do signs show themselves to give only half of an answer? We are the faulty transmitters of subjective experiences. We bring all of our past programming along with us. And also our new understandings if we open ourselves to other possibilities.

During this mountain hike, I asked the Universe for a sign. Then a sudden awareness came into being.

Perhaps we are all living through multiple realities and passing though unseen dimensions in every moment.

The skeptic in me found this premise difficult to deny as the next mystical journey began to subtly unravel on Mt. Shasta & before my very eyes. I’m still on the quest to untangle these and many other mysteries in my life, Earth, & the Universe.

Quarantine and Chilled

Can you believe it’s been a month since the US quarantines began? Though we’re very much affected by everything going on- we’re not as much in freak out mode as we were. We’ve become a bit more adjusted to a world who has shuddered its doors and is staying home working on hobbies. #grandmavibes

You may be going a little stir-cray, in need of a new do, a paycheck, a lay, a hospital room, essential needs met- we’ve mostly come to accept the present realities and future uncertainties. Perhaps we are collectively living in the present moment more than we ever have in centuries. Deepak and Eckhart Tolle be praised.

It’s almost poetic justice that a virus, something we cannot see, invisible to the naked eye and imperceptible to the 5 senses has shuddered the world’s doors.

More people are tuning into healthcare & societal problems because now America is finally dealing with systemic issues & injustices that haven’t been working for DECADES.

It wasn’t until the world literally stopped, people were awakened to what marginalized and dependent members of society have to deal with every day.

As a social worker I’ve been advocating for vulnerable children and adults for 8 years. The disruptions we are experiencing are situations people who barely make ends meet go through all the time.

Systemic oppression infiltrates all segments of society. Abuse and neglect happen in every class and people group.

However, the historically oppressed and financially marginalized are the groups significantly affected by the institutional, civil, and political inequalities within America. And who bears the consequences of this imbalanced system?

Those enjoying the spoils of accumulated generational wealth and consolidation of power aren’t getting a midnight knock on their door from law enforcement and CPS.

The people being squeezed out of their neighborhoods, losing benefits, & falling through the cracks of our highly manicured IG feeds are the ones getting doubled down on oppression and blame.

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I’ve tried to add my small two cents writing about the decades-spanning systemic inequalities and foundational problems Bernie, Warren and many other less political figures talk about. Okay, I’m not an economist. I can barely file my taxes but it doesn’t take someone long to see-

The global economy and American industry policies are built with a consumption mentality that only works if it never stops. One now everyone is starting to see is wholly unfair & unsustainable.

We never stop producing, never stop buying, just keep Swiping and Priming until the next person, online deal, designer purse, or man-kini gets your jollies off. (Hopefully there’s not too much of a market for the last example- but no judgment here, bb!) It seems resources will last forever because they appear ubiquitous.

Can’t help but think how symbolic it is that we’ve been undone by lack of toilet paper & face-masks. We are actually having to deal with our literal shit in a way we haven’t had to as a planet maybe ever before.

All it took was a virus to shudder the Earth and make politicians work for the people. Think about how much more we could intentionally do to better ourselves and the world than has a virus?

Now, that we collectively are on pause we have the time to mediate, express gratitude, isolate, re-examine how we are doing things as a society, as companies, as a family, as individuals. In this “Waiting” is our time to recalibrate, focus, & get ready to begin. And we will get through this!

It’s been bizarre and shocking that basically everyone in the world is experiencing a glimpse of what many people and some of the clients I work with experience most every day. It’s almost an echo, a not-too-distant reminder of when I unexpectedly hit the hardest fall of my life.

As bars, restaurants, salons, gyms, and school classrooms closed their doors, as hospital rooms are filled to capacity, as people are sick and dying; as my friends, my mother, our neighbors, our roommates are struggling to make ends meet; as we grow weary of social distancing; as nations and agencies are scrambling each day on how to react, coordinate resources, direct agencies and address the populace;

As I continue to work at an essential job as the world is losing its collective shit; Part of me wonders, “am I doing enough to help others?” And another thinks “of course this is happening after I just started to get mine back together.” Got 99 problems and irony ain’t one. 😂

After a whirlwind of travel and writing in 2018, I experienced social isolation, was battered with mental health issues, jobless with finances dwindling, temporarily living with family, and tempted by suicidal ideations at the beginning of 2019.

I also had 2 months to sit with myself; to examine and ruminate to see the ugly and beautiful truths about my actions, motivations, and desires, to form a new plan for my life.

Not to mention a whole lot of masturbation, self-care, Netflix & chill. Because of similar hardships many are facing now, I am becoming the best version of my highest self and my hope is the same for each person too.

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How can we be taught to “look within” when our society doesn’t value physical, emotional & mental health? We’ve been fighting for those basic rights in a country where justice/prosperity are to be for all.

Instead we are lulled away from our dreams & introspection, to quit speaking up for our rights and for other humans because “it’s not going to happen anyway.”

We have collectively been way out of sync for decades. The faster production and consumption speed up, the more strain and wear we have put upon Nature, each-other, and our souls.

Sometimes we have to be humbled to move forward in the direction that is in balance with the rest of our lives, our Earth, our futures.

When there is no way out you go inward. You ruminate in the deepest parts of yourself. Fleshing out the bitter roots in order to intentionally create the life you want- one that actually works for your highest good and for all humanity.

 

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The Long Ride Home pt. 1

In 2017 I told myself, “When I move to Portland, I’m going skiing after work.”

I moved here one year ago, and for the past 2 months I’ve been gratefully skiing on the Earth’s mirror, scarcely believing this is home now.

It was one of those dreams we all have like building a house, visiting some far-flung land, getting married, working a great job, wanting to be happy. Often the dreams we most want start from a small place of desire without resistance and without knowing how or if it’s all going to come together.

Initial desires seem far-fetched at first, but the mere possibility that a dream could actually come into being has spurred on almost every piece of music, and war, building of homes and skyscrapers, each knitting together of a family that has ever existed.

When you’re young you must depend on another to provide your needs and desires. What if there’s no one there you can trust or depend on to make this happen? What if you grew up without a suitable parent to trust? And those of us who did have that initial trust wish we grew up with a trust fund. As we get older all of the responsibilities lay on our shoulders.

Doubt in our ability to attain goals, and relationships, our states of being, begin at a young age because certain experiences ended in a bad way for us, or we watched it end badly for others, or were told of it in Bible stories and political propaganda.

Or because of dead-end jobs and life in dead-end states or series of failed dates and families have shown us that we don’t get what we want. That dreaming is wasteful. That it is easier to live that life you were born into and the chip on your shoulder you’ve been given. The kids and parents I work with often feel this way and they’re not wrong for feeling so. They’ve been betrayed by family members and country for generations.

When I moved here a year ago, my life had recently devolved into chaos and loss. A published book and traveling adventures came at a huge cost. Mental health issues that had been wading in darkness were finally brought forth into light. That glaring light shone upon the frayed sutures holding my life together. I discovered they weren’t there at all.

Relationships fell apart at seams that seemed unbreakable. Upon reflection I was trying to keep together a life that had not been fulfilling with some relationships where I was pouring into others without much in return. It felt like I was pouring myself into others whose wells were bottomless and insatiable. The water ran dry within myself until there was nothing left to give and finally snapped.

I came up here not knowing what was going to happen or if I was actually going to make it. “What if none of this works out?” I asked myself. I could not handle another devastating blow in any sense of the word.

There was literally nothing physically left in my physical possession save my car and everything I had taken on my cross-country road trip and to Mexico. The plans made and money saved to make a smooth transition from Texas to Portland were unintentionally torn asunder by my own two hands and addled mind.

The first 2 months of 2019, were spent in Texas taking stock of what was left and what had ended. Most of what was still true of my life actually remained. Family and friends still loved me. I still loved to hike and be amongst open-minded kind people.

With the proper diagnoses you can then utilize the tools which can help you live a vibrant and authentic life. Medication, therapy, being enveloped with nature, starting almost completely from scratch were some of the tools in my new wheelhouse.

The West had been calling me forward for a long time. Years before the recent schism. So I asked myself, “What if moving to Portland actually does work out?” Some callings are greater than our circumstances.

Slowly, the same two hands and a properly medicated mind created the life I now find myself living. Everything brought me to Now, and I am happy. What good is it to curse the former difficulties?

I strive to make decisions for the highest good, maintaining boundaries I had so easily let be taken of advantage of in the past, pouring into others while keeping enough in my own well. Positive friendships and relationships have blossomed and have begun to flourish. And as is the way of life New challenges are always on our horizons. Sometimes the horizon itself has literally shifted due to where we find ourselves geographically in the world.

PNW winters challenge the hardiest of souls. To go weeks with cold rain and without sunlight cause many of to withdraw inward. The respite was welcoming at first. But as the perpetual gloom lingered I went into nature less and less. Being in nature was part of my healing process and I stopped going outdoors because of the wet and weary weather. Then I went skiing for one of my roommate’s birthdays and remembered how much I loved this winter activity.

At the end of January, I took new stock of my situation and realized “this life up here is working out and I like it.” When you have recovered from difficult periods you begin really appreciating the reasons that make you live. The shift happens when you begin to seek them out.

So I bought my first ski season pass, skis and gear, and it’s unexpectedly changed parts of my life. Skiing has become a passion and one I often do on my own. Learning new skills help to imbue oneself with confidence that translates into other areas.

I’ll be speeding 40 mph down a black in exhilaration and wondering how the hell I didn’t crash.

Then I tell myself, “I’ve done this before, I know how to ski on piste, and how to talk to this client, and I know how to get out of bed and out of debt. I’ve done each many times before.” And I get out of my own way.

There are times I do bite it, are not as scary as the first time and it happened and now I know how to more easily correct myself when shredding powder or craving on ice.

Skiing is a fluid conversation with the mountain. It’s a mind-body, seasonal and multi-elemental connection. Finding ourselves upon mountains, to ski upon them, is honors the mountain within.

There is nothing more alive than when you feel the thrill of living. It’s as close to flying as we can come. The closest to breaking the bonds of Earth- of our frailties and also of our courage.

Nothin’ But Time part 1

It’s almost been one year since embarking on the eloquent adventure/disaster that changed the landscape of my life. I keep coming back to Mount St. Helens- a mountain who is no stranger to spewing new effigies upon the land.

It’s the geographically closest and most accessible of the great 5 mountain peaks of I now live by. The gem of the PNW mountain range has now been reduced to 2/3 of its original height and glory. Magma began filling the mountain increasing its mass for a year and eventually reaching 400 yards a day prior to the explosion. How oddly relatable.

Mt. Saint Helens Before & after 1980 eruption

The pressure rose in St. Helens’ until that fateful day in 1980 when this sleeping giant hurled lava, pulverized rock, a side of the mountain outwards, killing 57 people, melting several glaciers and created the largest mudslide ever recorded.  Calamities millions of years in the making only took seconds to raze foundations entire ecosystems and collapse empires.

Yet 40 years later this mountain is now replenishing itself. Life is returning with hundreds of new habitats, ponds, and waterways in this ancient place.  

Which version of Mt. Saint Helens is the real mountain?  A gem reduced to ashes. An antagonistic foe looming in the distance biding time until its next eruption? A ticking-time bomb drowsing until the pressure builds to a crescendo and Saint Helens wildly flings destruction to all in its vicinity? A haven for life, a peak which glacier water flows down providing the source of many rivers? A mother, a place of beauty, a liability a home?

Are you the you who had it all together or are you now the person that is left after blasting your life into fragments? Are you something else altogether?Each perspective is valid but binary conclusions fail us so much of the time. The mountain, the aftermath, the you before and after are all of those things the good, the ugly, and the authentic self.

The volcano where I was unknowingly rapid cycling through a manic-depressive breakdown is also the mountain that has brought me back to life. A cataclysm of eroding glaciers within oneself.

Just as this mountain has done countless times over the centuries. Re-shaping and forging the land through destruction and setting the stage for new creations. Sometimes caused by brutal natural calamities, at the hands of others, at the hands of yourself.

Nature vs. nature is an antiquated paradigm. For It is within nature we find nourishment and true being as we have since time began.

The more we connect to the Earth the more we begin to connect to our truest selves. The false self begins to peel away the false self the egoic nature craving and never at peace.

You realize aspects of your personal identity – the job, the relationships, the home, coping mechanisms, habits, and patterns of self were aspects of the false-self. How many of us cling to externalities to validate and explain who we are?

The egoic nature craves and screeches to satiate desires- to fulfill the idealized version of yourself. Buddha said, suffering is caused by desire. Suffering is also caused by looking for things outside of us to determine our self-worth.

The dizzying thrill of an unrealized manic high was exhilarating. I felt like a rockstar. Everything all my dreams were within reach and anything was possible. Nothing and no one could stop me. Mania is the closest thing to being a superhero and a supervillian at the same time.

Mania mirrors some narcissistic qualities. Writing a book that partially included my life was misinterpreted by some as overly ambitious or egotistical. Those who judged my first book as a vanity affair didn’t even crack the cover.

Yet my personal worth began to be increasingly tied to social media, gaining followers to build a writing platform, and with each gain I began validating myself and experiences with things outside of myself. But mania causes a sort of inner Stockholm Syndrome daring you into climbing stratosphere’s into mountain peaks you would not dare to travel in your right mind.

And when it all stops and you’re left to confront the emptiness and then to build your life the way you really want it. With the first step, the first trickles of snowmelt you begin again. If you’re still alive you still have time to forge the life you want.

When you’ve reached bottom the only way is up from there. We finally start seeking out the people, places, activities & thoughts that are good for us the more we believe in our own worth.

Sometimes it takes losing everything to find who and what is really worth fighting for. And eventually time will reveal the things, the people, the mountains left standing after the dust has settled. You’ll be surprised about how much remains and how much space you have to gain.

Running Up That Hill

She spoke out of the side of her mouth on a sunny Seattle morning,  “I lost 4 kids to the state. I was the one who wasn’t supposed to make it, but I did. It took two decades and finally my fifth child to get it all together, and now I help parents who are in the exact place I was in. I went to rehab and all the classes. I did everything it took to get my son back. I was clean and sober but still toxic inside for a long while.” #relatable

A room full of social workers sat quiet and stunned by this woman’s incredibly powerful story. Her vulnerability was buoyed by the steely strength reflected in the angular ridges of her sharp cheek bones. She was made of true grit, borne with cards stacked against her, and full of personal tragedies scattered throughout her life.

She didn’t talk about many generations of societal oppression, decades of prejudice, inequality, poverty, denial of rights, betrayed promises, lack of resources that are disgustingly common to so many Americans & people around the world.

And If she only could, would she make a deal with god? Would she want to shout profanities to the mountains too? How many of us have done the same only to hear the resounding shrill of well-meaning Christians but not the voice of god. The void of silence is deafening. At least it is quantifiable. As much as it sucks at least silence is real.

The hardest part about social work is that there are just too many underlying factors that have brought families to their lowest points. There is often a lack of knowledge of the resources available not to mention the Manila and brown folder bureaucracies sidestepping the way to freedom.

Parents and caregivers are often depicted and treated as villains– when in truth they are often using substances to self-medicate, to just get through the day, to function in a world that sees their disabilities and mistakes as another reason they are unsafe, unfit, worthless, unsalvageable. There are those who have committed unspeakable acts against vulnerable children and who should have no access to their children.

Washington has a ton of resources available to aid parents and children- related to housing, mental health, medical care, counseling, dietary needs, summer camps, and programs that work to strengthen parental skills and personal development. The strengthening of our most vulnerable populations should never be seen as a handout. There are millions of people who have not been afforded opportunities that so many of us have taken for granted because we lived in two-parent households and graduated from school districts that reflected a certain tax bracket- or those of us who barely made that echelon and have been trying to keep up with the Joneses and the Richers, who often live a very guarded and gilded lifestyle- putting the blinders on to the plights of people living across town and sometimes just across the street.

But now I have felt the harsh judgement from people who used to be closer than family. The darkness enclosed like a coffin, like an abusive lover holding you down along with your shame. And then I held myself in the lair of guilt and self-recriminations. I will make sure my clients don’t go it totally alone.

I’m the one who made concessions and apologies but have not gotten any in return. I didn’t hold certain people accountable for being there for me when I needed them. I let them off the hook now. This bitterness does not serve me. The reminiscing over the wounding only infuriates the healing. It takes a while to get your life back on track. Especially when you’re the one responsible for the fuck up.

Part 2: A deal with God

Not gonna lie, this transition has been amazing, but quite solitary; it’s not terrible it’s just different than I imagined. It’s also just the beginning.

I had been living in patterns of devolution for months. A persona unrecognizable to others who knew me well. I hit upon a rage that had never been expressed and a volatility of shockwaves that rippled beyond the bounds or intentions of my person. It all had to burn away before I would have accepted a bipolar diagnosis and that I needed help- that I needed to change some ways of living.

Moving is an inherently solo journey- one I’m so fortunate to be complaining about. Things could be seriously so much worse. I’m very thankful they are not. I’ve been lucky to have a lot of amazing people & friends physically present in daily life.

I wish could take back and redo a lot of last summer. I wish I was over it all. Most days I am. For awhile it was all I could think about. Now I’ve accepted that it’s all part of the ebb & flow of healing.

Sometimes you wonder if you’re alone because you want to be or b/c you’re the problem. Maybe it’s your time to “work on things,” but when does the working cease? When is someone finally worthy enough?

The annoyingly spot-on answer- You’re the only 1 who can determine that for yourself. And in case you want to argue spoiler alert- the fact that humans and this Earth even exists is a 1 in a quadrillion chance miracle. *don’t @ me on that math. 😂

A client told me if he had known what would have happened he’d have done it differently. Wouldn’t we all? He strangely didn’t seem completely remorseful couldn’t figure out why at the time. Then it hit me- he’s accepted the reality of awful circumstances that led him here and apart from his family. I’m grateful the stakes have never been that high for me.

This current journey into social work is much different than it was in Texas for many reasons. I now know what it’s like to feel out of control, embarrassed, regretful, alone, sober, forgiven, in treatment, and finally becoming the best version of oneself.

The ones who have seen the error and changed course- those are the ones who are worth fighting for, and deserve the resources to get their life on track, to get their children back.

How many times have you regretted an action and let it play out over and over in your mind? You remember the events that led up to certain actions and thoughts. Your body revs with anxiety as you relive the event in your mind. When recounting or thinking about a trauma the human body cannot qualify whether that action occurred in the past or present.

Whatever you focus upon will also reflect in your body as your neck tenses, heartbeat increases, etc. In essence we are reliving that past trauma every time we talk about it which often causes involuntary physical reactions. It feels like a haunting at first but distance from a problem or a helps one to see things w/ perspective. Never underestimate the power of your breath in a chaotic situation & therapy to address everything else.

It’s true you can’t win every time. You can’t save everyone and there are some relationships not worth saving (which is tough b/c I’m a life long friender.) My sister gave me the gift of being present while I confronted the personal beasts raging in my head and heart. She gave me the gift of family. My dad gave the gift being there without me even knowing it. So many friends have done the same.

All we really need is someone who will stand with us between the raucous & silent phase of darkness. Western skies are filled to the brim with nights made of stranger diamonds.

There is a beauty in new beginnings- wildflowers blooming in wind. Fragile miracles embedded in the tomb of dirt and earth. We are plants bursting through soil. That initial thrust must have been initially painful, but so worth it now that everything has bloomed. Trust the process for if you are trying- the harvest will eventually bring its bounty.

 

It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over

Waterfalls offer a perfect metaphor for the continual impermanence of existing. Still they perpetuate the illusion that this beauty, this earth, that life will last forever.

The technological achievements of the modern era have allowed humans to live in inhospitable regions in deserts, remote space, Antarctica, inner-city neighborhoods and rural get-aways. A flipped switch sends electricity coursing through miles of cables enabling us to conquer darkness, boredom, reheated meals.

Yet there are consequences to our immediately gratifying lifestyles and Amazon Prime conveniences. We don’t want to wait or work through things. Swiping right and on to the next one is so much easier. I do it too.

The facades are compounded by the small deceptions of perfectly manicured social media presences. It’s easy to get caught up in the wrapping and maintain the illusion of prosperity and of having it all. Making it seem like you have it all together when you don’t takes an exorbitant effort of its own. In the end you realize you’re only competing against and with yourself.

In a weird way I’m more free since I’ve dropped the trappings and need to seem like I got my shit together. It’s created a space of honesty, even more authenticity, and a willingness to face the shadow than I’ve ever expressed before.

We forget it’s okay to wait. That there is a beauty within silence and not getting your way. We don’t mean to get caught up in the material excesses; which have become so ubiquitous we view some privileges as inherent rights. Yet human rights are still negotiable because humans are a commodity to be sold as a commodity and mined for votes.

Follow Nature’s lead and embrace the silence. Move past the pain and you will come to acceptance.

You will eventually begin thriving in your secluded forests for resiliency is the building block of Nature.

How many things I’ve taken for granted because I got used to having all of my needs met and more for most of my life. Within the stripping of people, of material goods, of social statuses, of broken dreams you can find yourself broken as well. But in that desolation is a calling to go farther inside of yourself to find the source of your struggle and to find out who you really are.

Truthfully, nothing stays the same. These temporal trappings are not forever. No matter how good, bad, ugly your present is- it is not forever. All we have is the current moments which began building your future. We are taught to look away from suffering, ignoring the houseless human beings scraping just to get by.

We often ignore and repress our own inner turmoils and often we can survive even thrive without ever having to do any deep self-work. The unexamined life begins to feel hollow for everyone whether they know it or not.

There is nothing wrong with having or wanting to have nice things. But when we assign our worth and identity to the acquisition of Name-brand bags, shoes, relationships, anything outside of ourselves it is then we are doomed.

How beautifully strange and confounding that all of the things which truly matter- connection, laughter, bonding, boning, love are things you can’t see, can’t like on IG, can’t hold tangibly. I am striving to be the best version of myself daily. I think that most of us desire and are making progress to do exactly the same.

Each drop of water seems paltry and insignificant on their own. A waterfall is just another cliff without a collection of trillions of water molecules coming together in cascading torrents. Each step on our journeys add up.

We have to stop judging ourselves for not being immediately radically successful and enjoy each embrace, each pound lost, each morning we awake to begin another day until the next one comes. Cause baby, “It Ain’t Over ‘Til it’s Over.”

Avalanche Gardener or The Slow Migration of Change

The slow migration of change sometimes begin within waves which look like endings. Or in this case snow tracks on a northern slope that suddenly descend into hardy dirt paths- overlooked & abhorred for their non-eloquence.

But sometimes the dirt is where you find yourself standing. There’s nothing particularly pretty about soil on its own. Wonder if the first gardener decided to plant flowers and shrubbery because they got tired of seeing a bunch of brown earth and manure everywhere.

Sometimes the dirt and the shit is the only way to intentionally plant blackberries, ferns, a life that will give back and grow.

I got tired of putting up with other people’s collective shit so I left them and left a state that I had never really felt home in. Yet in the barrenness I found piles of my own bullshit and self-serving actions.

One good thing about breaking down in private is that left alone for long enough you start to really see your own toxic behaviors and ways of thinking that led you to act in ways you didn’t think you could. Sometimes you find the reason for your behaviors are linked to a specific abuse or unaddressed mental and emotional health issues. No matter how you got there your issues and setbacks, your faults and your traumas are your responsibility.

You find out who you really are when you finally accept exactly where you’re at. Real change comes when you accept the shit heap garbage person you can be without hating yourself for it. You must love yourself enough to fight for the good parts about your self and life.

It’s even easier still to track the cessation of a habit with apps that count the seconds, weeks, and years since that last sip, smoke, or snack. What about the last beating, the last puff, who measures the distance between god and the last time you stepped in church? The last time you saw your parent, your lover, your ex best friend?

I was the most stable I’d ever been at the onset of last summer- or so it seemed. You can travel the ends of the Earth and still not know wholly who you are until you’re too broken to keep running. Until you finally ask for help. Maybe that’s what this amazing fucked-up year; all these breakdowns and breakthroughs were about.

The heart and mind are each our greatest evolutionary inheritances. Without which we would be relegated to live like our first ancestors in tightly bound clans around caves and bands of forested rivers. But there is a wild peace in the barrenness. You learn who you really are when stripped from luxuries, designer brands, designer boyfriends, and endless cars & credit. I never really employed any of those for my own.

Travel and the search for authentic people, the wild experiences, raw expanses of landscape and personal truths are what set me & my finances constantly forward then back. Hopefully I’m richer for the wear rather than the other way around.

Your people are your modern-day tribe. Instagram stories are postmodern oral histories passing through 24 hours of dedicated finite screen time. We used to spend those days together. Why do our callings and wanderings leave us spread out so far apart from the people we most want to be with?

The college nights raged with best friends in glorious abandon? Those nights out on southern sun scorched patios filled with drunken laughter and chain smoked conversations? We often don’t realize how lucky we were when our best friends, our family, our lives were nearby.

The constant irony is that we’re hardly ever present for our lives as they’re being lived until the friendship, the love affair, until the blissful time is over. We lament because it feels like things will never be right again. So easy to forget when you’re living it that the Earth is supposed to go dormant in winter.

“A soil, exhausted by the long culture of Pagan empires, was to lie fallow for a still longer period.”

The fallow period of the soul lasts not forever. This ending is just a different knot inside beginnings.

Feet stomped through snow lead closer to new lands with every aching step. It felt like I’d never be happy again. I am almost back to my usual self, trimmed up and a bit more quiet around the edges.

Behind the Sun

Behind the Sun-

I wasn’t ready for things I once wanted. It’s a weird sigh of freedom An aloof relief comes after losing.

Drink alone from your inner gourd. Reach out; Stretch past the belly of your breaking.

Shove your nude emperors out into the forests Out of your front doors. Holographic victories Fall hollow & not at all.

We want the life that sticks together. You found life in the back pair of wings.

Silence gave me room to give. Love is mana we must breathe.

I saw the world in golden ringlets. Will you grasp things behind the sun each & every one,

with me?