We All Need Someone To Stay

I catch a dusty glimpse

of light dance across

Your face

               And I am called

               home again in your

               smile.

I can so easily drift

away in laundry and

the smell of cleaning spray.

But you call me back

in the sweet groove

of the song on the

kitchen dance floor.

I may say—Well,

I will say

Many of the wrong things.

But I will always stay.

I will show up.

I will hold your hand

for as long as you

will allow.

Because we all need

someone to stay.

It will be messy

and bedraggled at times.

We will loose our way…..

          But I will always stay.

As I watch you grow,

I breathe and revel

in the marvelous human

you continue to become.

And when it’s time

to move along — live

a more separate life;

I pray I will always

Be YOUR Champion

And Perhaps from time to time….

groove on the kitchen dance floor

Cry tears of joy

And gracefully rail

against lifes’ weights.

And Smoosh our faces

in the scent of clean

laundry.

Because we all need

someone to Stay.

I’ve Only Got One Love

You are someone I thought

only existed in my

silly teenage dreams

~

I would be your rebellious

drummer girl and we

would eat cake on

top of glass tables

~

But, with rising whispers

of two simple

Hallmark cards

~Love Appeared.

~

It was readily enmeshed

with awkward kisses

on thrift store couches

in those early days

~

We had nothing to possess

but what we chose to

grow and nurture

in Each Other.

~

I had no idea you were

my one love

until separation felt much

like I had forgotten

how to breathe.

And your return was

all bedazzled and shiny

–catching glimpses of

shiny smiles

and

Intertwinement

~

You are my sanctuary.

In your presence ~

my world could disintegrate

and I know….

You will stay and hold me up

when nothing else can.

~

And when I am wild

and my passion becomes

ghastly

(and let’s face it, it really does).

~

You are the quiet

Gentle tug

that calls me back to myself

–asking me with a simple look

To Re-Ground.

Come Center.

~

You ask me to Grow

Change

Be. Come.

~

You cherish my wild

independence and

know that my whimsy

has its own way

~

You are my One Love.

~

With each day and

each passing breath,

We are ALL called back

to BE what we LOVE

To Honor who and what we Love.

~

I am not brave and beautiful

Because of you

~ but as long as I am those things

with you,

I am steady and confident

in the ME

that continues to grow

with this One Love.

~

Perhaps we can all grow in

our beauty,

Standing tall in

Our Own One Love.

~

Creating Sacred Space

Wherever We Go.

(even when she cusses

and fusses like that

rebellious dreamy teenager).

~

May we all be called home

in one Love.

Transforming and Transcending

Renewed each day with

Our One Love

And Perhaps.

Perhaps Tap in.

Touch the Divine

In You.

And In Me.

~

One Love.

*This Poem was Written and Shared at My Birthday Yoga @SouthernSoul Yoga, Macon

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I’d Like To Place a Recall on Mother’s Day

Happy Fierce Woman’s Day

This is your official notice. You have less than 24 hours to return that Mother’s Day ridiculoisty and pick up a new holiday. I‘m calling it, Fierce Woman’s Day. I understand I may not be popular with some, but this day (which we will no longer speak its former name) has been officially kicked off the island.

I will never forget this moment crystalized while joyfully celebrating a birthday; just me my kiddo and a friend. We had breakfast in bed and laid around watching TV all morning. With wild hair and dressed to return to bed as soon as possible, we schlumped down into the lobby dragging ourselves to the car only to find an alternate universe waiting on us. For a moment it felt like I was watching everything through a holiday glass window at a department store. There were so many pretty people dressed in dazzling white dresses carrying white plates with brunch and mimosas. Beautiful children tugged and whined in their beautiful outfits. Everyone was equally bleary-eyed with a side of rouge and struggling with their life decision to have brunch on their so-called day.

I couldn’t believe it. Who in the hell picked this as their celebration as a fierce woman? Why would I EVER choose to spend my damn day paying for brunch? I remember staring inappropriately for a few moments bewildered with no words to describe the tragedy before me. I kept thinking, ‘if you want to celebrate me, don’t you dare ask me to get out of my pajamas!’.

So many of us had the privilege of a good enough parent. But that is simply a made up bullshit fairy tale for so many others. Their version of ‘mother’ sucked ass leading the offspring to want to hide, run and absolutely pretend this Hallmark Holiday could actually get a recall!

What kind of card do you get the sucky parent? “Hey, I didn’t die on your watch…..that was good right?” How about, “It really would have been better if you made other choices.” Or here’s my favorite, “I am participating in my obligatory duty to acknowledge that I came out of your vagina.” Could someone please make that card? Since when is motherhood so superior to womanhood? Moms can be serious badasses, but you’re no real woman unless you have kids? Last I checked, there are plenty of us who had NO business putting THAT on life’s agenda.

Life is already so hard. Really hard. Why do we need to have something else shoved in our face if it is not something to celebrate? I propose on this day to celebrate a Fierce Woman in your life instead. Find your special way to turn up the music in a woman’s life that you love. Show her just how fierce and powerful she is in this wild world of ours.

As for me and my day, I did NOT have a kiddo just to force her into expensive celebration with overpriced eggs and orange juice (that’s what my birthday is for).

So to All the fierce women in my life; I love you and could not do this life thingy without you. I send you my love and bright shiny disco lights so you may dance with abandon in your pajamas.

Juuussssstttt……. before you take a long nap.

LIVE.OUT.LOUD.

Screen House Rules

On the eve of our kiddo’s thirteenth birthday, we collectively decided she was ready for the wild and sometimes emotionally dangerous road of the SMART PHONE (insert the ‘Duh-duh-DUHHH’ sound bite). We had spoken over time about the pitfalls and responsibility that comes with allowing something so potentially pervasive in her life. This took place as needed over the past year and concluded with her reading a great book called Good Pictures, Bad Pictures by Kristen Jensen that discusses the problematic invasion of pornography on the internet and the larger issue around how much of what we use on our phone is purposefully wired to make us addicted. Collectively, we agreed on ground rules that would, in general, apply to everyone in the house to ensure we did not allow our devices to take away from the most important aspect of us as a family- our ability to connect. I share our credo as a way to consider and explore your relationship with devices as well as how we can work at both recognizing and engaging with technology in a more responsible way.

Screen House Rules

As a family, we agree that our smart phones and other digital screens can distract us from real connection. With that, we mutually agree on guidelines to maintain healthy use of our digital devices.

  1. We agree to stop looking at our screen (phone or Ipad) when another person is talking to us and make eye contact. If we need to complete some task we are doing, we will ask for a pause so we are not attempting to listen and write/read at the same time.
  2. If someone is sharing a story/interacting with you, we will not text or pick up our phone until the interaction is done.
  1. We agree that if you are under 18, no screens will be used in private areas to protect from others who may intend to infiltrate your life inappropriately. This also helps reduce unhealthy behaviors like needing to repeatedly check the phone, even in the middle of the night and immediately upon waking.
  1. We agree that if at anytime another person is harassing, sending inappropriate photos or experiencing any pressure or bullying; we will share it without any consequences. We will support each other in keeping the internet as safe as possible.
  1. We agree that all our social media will be mutually agreed upon and the ability to see what each other post will remain open to each other. If anyone disagrees with a post, it will be discussed and potentially removed. This could include any photos or information that make another person uncomfortable.
  1. We agree mutually to have reasonable limits on our social media screen time and will consider an App limiting our time to ensure we do not overuse distraction. In general, we will actively work to remain below averages.
  2. We will stop all screens when we each move towards ending our day and getting ready for bed. That time may vary, but will be accountable to ourselves and each other.
  1. It is understood that privacy is important and each will respect privacy overall. However, to ensure healthy and appropriate online behavior is sustained, parents will occasionally check the child’s phone.
  1. With #8 in place, no history or text streams can be deleted to ensure proper and appropriate use of smart phones and other digital devices.

The Legacy of O’Riordan

My sweet spouse looks in my direction this morning and makes a sigh that closes in on the room for just a moment and tells me she is gone. At just 46. An icon and anthem to our college years; my ongoing love for boots with dresses and even a secret wish I could pull off a bleach blonde pixie cut came from her. One of the few reasons my husband learned to play the guitar was to make their music. He can still strum out some of their chords with pursed lips and pained finger tips. The loss of Dolores O’Riordan is yet again another long list of losses (most likely) for the same damn FUCKING reasons. I would like to be wrong, but I’m not.

O’Riordan was a sexual abuse victim.

She attempted suicide in 2013 recognizing her history as part of her struggle.

Now, another member of my survivor tribe is gone.

I am heartbroken. She had this wild robotic wide legged ‘dance’ only an Irish girl could get away with. She could sing, dance, play guitar and call down an audience with her heavy rock rhythm like so few women in rock could. In today’s cultural moment of women empowerment, her lyrics of “you’re so pretty the way you are” were some of the foundings of the beautiful ‘lovin yourself’ moment I continue to be inspired by. You almost wonder how could this person who appears like a baby thumbnail in my music play list have made such a powerful impact on my life.

And yet, The Cranberries was the first song our daughter ever heard

as we traveled home with her from the hospital just days after her birth.

How’s that for music memories?

And here She is. Gone. Sexually abused for years while a child, suffering mental health issues most of her life. The therapist in me wishes I could have scooped her up, held her in my arms and beg her to see the way home. Why is it that I could and not her? I will never have an answer to that.

I want to be bitter, swallow a thousand limes and puke on every image of a perpetrator I can muster in my mind. I want to scream and be ugly. But instead, I vow, with every single cell I will ever make- I will make every SINGLE effort to get in YOUR FUCKING way.

You want me to be quiet- forget it.

You want me to be pleasant because it makes you uncomfortable- NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

I am taking up too much of your space and my presence makes you want to look away- BYE Felicia.

You think the cussing and loud clothes are not lady like- I eat your lady likes for lunch.

Perhaps this one life of mine will not account for much, I will never be a Dolores O’Riordan, but I will carry the legacy of her life and I will never forget that she was a surivor just like me. I can tell you the one beautiful, crisp bright spot to his horrible loss was watching my Donovan listen to her videos and playing her live concert in Paris today on the television while playing right along with her, strumming his guitar. To see a man not just listen but truly celebrate the beauty and magnificience of women remains astounding. Many of the female feminist musicians I love today were found, shared and revered first by him.

Dolores, you may have physically left us today; but two little people in a small town called Gray, in the middle of nowhere Georgia, celebrate you. We will hold both you and your sweet children deep inside us- Forever. Watch for the clouds. She makes her music from there now.

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When I am Declared Queen Of Christmas

When I am declared Queen of Christmas, we are SO doin’ this shit differently. And before you get all fussy about whatever part you like, it will not be a complete cut up your credit card kinda cancellation, but definitely a moratorium on the crazy. Perhaps some would be deeply disappointed by my changes. Of course people in the business of participating in the great giveaway would be deeply annoyed. I’m sure a few lawsuits would swiftly be on the way to attempt a return to fluid consumerism.

But the truth is- We Have Lost Our Way.

Every year from about mid-November to the New Year, the anxiety and pressure to perform according to our made up expectations (that seem to climb exponentially) creates a kind of emotional vibration culturally unseen at ANY other time. Our therapy practice bears witness to the rising tide of anxiety soup, choking all the joy out, including an ability to recall why we celebrate. Not until the New Year arrives at the stroke of midnight do we sigh the only sigh of relief-oh-joy in a month! We have somehow forgotten to take in the beauty and depth joy can offer us and instead it gets convoluted in just being glad things are over. May I suggest a moratorium on the crazy? All the scrambling to meet the culture of scarcity’s expectations, when we step back, makes utterly NO sense.

We already have enough because We Are Enough. Our incessant need to fight over the pie leads us to forget it is really PIES (plural) of endless compassion and not at all attached to stuff. Compassion does not tie itself to the prettiest lights or biggest tree. Not the bestest nativity scene. Not all the most elegant wrappings under the tree. Compassion is a verb of choice that is driven by the love we offer one another. I desperately want us to be able to give up what does not serve us. If slogging out thousands of ornaments and garland makes you cringe, LET IT GO. If cooking for an entire army (and frankly most of it gets wasted) makes you unhappy, then can we just stop?

The vibration of the season may be best served through our ability to get quiet. Setting our intentions on recalling and being a part of what we love will free us from this season of stuff. I fear that without focusing on remembering where love resides, we will be forced into allowing others to reign over your holiday and we shall not ever remember our way home again. If I were able to provide a detailed picture of the kind of loneliness I witness in my treatment room during these dark months, leaving the holidays behind as we know it would be the most logical and compassionate answer we may have to the crisis of depression and anxiety that plagues Americans.

I want instead to give gifts that are lasting and matter. I want to slow down the moments of decorating and cooking. I want to relish the experience of who I am sharing my time with and not the requirement of a quantifiable mass that I pass out to others. And since I personally have so much to offer, I want to spend time with the lonely and offer my most precious gift of time and smiles. What would it be like if we left behind the strange expectation of the ‘hottest toy’ and pulling out the most expensive china and instead recalled that family and serving in a way that feeds us is the greatest gift we have to offer? I keep waiting and hoping that our sight will return and we will relieve ourselves of the madness that has become this holiday.

In the deep dark of winter, while the light is short, we are called to quiet and yet somehow we have used this holiday to distract ourselves from our own needs. We do not need more lights. We do not need to add to the glow (as we are glaring instead of glowing) and certainly we do not need MORE busy. We crave the quiet in the dark and when the loneliness is great, we have the ability to offer an honest gift; one of the light in our eyes and in our smile. This needs no wrapping paper or blinky lights.

Perhaps we return from this terrible distraction and come back to ourselves and each other. I will offer my hand and my warmth of presence during this dark time. And when I am Queen of Christmas (which will likely be never….) perhaps there will be lights, mangers and food, but offered in the spirit of Self Love first, something bigger than money can buy.

So I ask, during this holiday, remember the lonely and in our ability to be present, perhaps we can let go of this maddening distraction of stuff and offer something of substance– our wholehearted presence.

When Father Comes Around, Part II

He’s Alive. And despite the permanency of death, it may have allowed me to finish the grieving process and move on. In that moment, I am afraid I regret he still exists. And for those who may have believed my brain has only room for compassion, be prepared for a major disappointment. I wasn’t prepared to invite him back into my life. I was prepared to send a card and tell him I was out there and happy, thank you very much-Bye (add vigorously waiving emoji here). I was NOT ready to open the door to relationship.

Get ready. There are lots of screaming capital letters and cussing.

Walk away now if you want pleasant.

I once AGAIN had to come to terms with the fact that my family history is so fucking complicated. I couldn’t be sure if I wanted yet another layer to it! REALLY!!! Really GOD, GODDESS, UNIVERSE, WTF!!!?? Now I have to talk to him. Oh wait. Can he even talk? I dunno. This was a call from a head trauma ICU after all. I am a complete asshole and I don’t care. This shit is a protruding fucked-up mess.

I paced around the house before remembering to breathe and then dialed the number. I quickly understand the alternative of just not knowing would leave so many things lost and dangly. How many thousands of children would give anything to just see their missing parent? I’m certain my hesitation makes me a little selfish, but then perhaps if I had a father who decided to fucking grow up and show up, maybe the years of sexual abuse I endured would not be the most prominent lens in my life. AND…and…and IF I invite this NOW sick person into my life, it would mean I have to give something I may not be willing to do. Hell- I may NOT want to and then who is the runaway asshole now?

You see; it gets thorny fast. I warned you. Now ya in and stuck with me.

Esther shared with me (once we passed through the HIPPAA keyhole) he had a stroke and was currently paralyzed on his entire left side. There were attempts at rehabilitation but he had been lying in a hospital bed for months. The Board & Care home kicked him out for being too sick, dumping him at the hospital. Now who wants to take in an angry paralyzed convicted felon? I am not even sure if I emotionally want to.

So we speak for the first time and he cries. He’s depressed and lonely and now the only human who will consider showing up for him is me and guess what—I AIN’T SO Sure! What kind of fuckery is this? Like seriously, who in the hell dealt these cards? Damn it. FUCK IT.

It’s my job to show up in this life even if I decide to kick God off my team.

Not REALLY, but DAMN.

Jason was homeless for many years in Northern California. I learned quickly how incredibly smart he is sharing how he created a way to power his television (in his tent) using solar power and how he showered everyday (in the woods) with his own hot water system. He even built a custom deck to keep his house-tent dry. Of course, this came along with regular methamphetamine use in between years of prison. I swear, I cannot make this shit up…even though it sounds like I did, even to myself.

Once the police caught him squatting deep in the Red Woods, he eventually got out of jail (again), got clean and sober for several years before the fateful day. Now biking 20 plus miles a day and living with a roof overhead, he had a massive stroke while biking and was subsequently hit by a car.

Yeah. I don’t know whether to be like ‘Hand over my mouth’ or ‘Holy shit. Karma.’ I cried touching my deep sense of compassion and wonder if anyone deserves this outcome? Permanently paralyzed and has burned every bridge from here to Egypt. That quickly dissipates returning to ‘What in the FUCK have I gotten myself into?’ I have reunited with the messy Jason-Father I knew I always had. The question lingered, what do I do and can I even see him if it is possible?

As I shared this unfolding story, my Mother shared how he was never without a paperback shoved into his back pocket. She was deeply saddened to hear of his physical demise but recalled knowing how awful his family was and the drug use that ensued even while he was an adolescent. Nothing surprised her more when I asked her to go visit him. She cried and was flooded with the sadness of our past. Jason was abusive and mostly unavailable to my mother, just a teenager herself. Unfortunately, I did not know when I would return home again since I was just there and I wanted someone I could trust to lay eyes on him and tell me how he REALLY was doing. Funny how I could be suspicious of even hospital persons. My lack of honesty with this man runs deep.

After some consideration and an honest ‘You CAN say No’ from me, she went. And my grandmother. AND MY DAD. And I revel in knowing that when all is said and true about the wild crazy that is my family, here is the heart of who they are………

Each one of them showed up, spent time and brought him chocolate cake. My Dad and I were texting while he was just outside Jason’s door, informing me that my Mom was there and he would not go inside the room. But he did. And in a most powerful moment I can only witness in my mind, my Dad stood in front of my Jason-Father’s bed and told him what he missed out on. PURE GOLD.

My mother was genuinely so sad about the state of what had become of his life that she wanted to know what he needed. She wanted to send reading glasses and books and has from since that time kept tabs on how he is doing. She even told me she was proud of me when he got pissed off when I didn’t call him on Father’s Day later that year and my response was “What am I going to say Jason? Happy Father’s Day?” I stood my ground in that he had met my DAD. I finally opened myself up to a relationship, but there were certainly limits.

It’s funny how courage is born;

Sometimes born out of the composted love we have buried

in roots way underground while others,

appear in the cracks of an aimless sidewalk.

This change opened me up to love my parents and grandmother more than ever. And as for Jason, we are friends and although so many more stories to tell, we have reconnected on my terms and will do my best to see the rest of his life through. What vibrates sweetly in my ear is the unexpected moment of gratitude from my family. I asked them to show up for me.

And they did.

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