December 3, 2016

i'm okay with not being okay

Okay, so that title is a little dramatic.

I'm okay with that, too.

We're leaving this driveway soon. We know that. Warmth, among other things.
The anxiety spikes of driving this rig, while towing our breaking van, are intense.
We don't know where we're going. Where we belong. Where we fit.

I'm feeling painfully vulnerable.
Abandoned and displaced.
Alone. So completely alone.

More then 6 months ago, my husband walked out on us. Again. As painful as it was, it was actually the absence of passionate emotion that rang the loudest. This time, without ever "thinking" about it, I knew I was done. I've said it before, and I really did believe myself all of those times. This time, however, there were no thoughts. No lists. No struggle with feelings. No words. Nothing extraordinary. Looking back, I can guess that that was because I wasn't trying to convince myself of being done. I wasn't manipulating myself into feeling emotions that weren't yet ready to surface. I wasn't ignoring, ridiculing, or dis-validating myself by trying to strong-arm the "right" emotions in me. This time I just held myself, allowed the pain to flow through, and I knew. I knew I was done holding on to, and being responsible for someone else's trauma.

6 months ago.

He stayed close-ish by for the kids, so travel days, as daunting as they were for me, were still wrapped in a (thin) layer of bubbly cushion. I knew I wasn't alone out there on the open road. With an RV that has had numerous engine problems, among other things. And an older salvaged van, that he picked out, that has proven to be a money sucking pit of anxiety for me. That thin layer was very comforting

6 months ago.

It's been nearly 6 weeks now since he decided to move out of state.

And so, as my two younger boys and I prepare to leave the sanctuary of a friends driveway, and head South to, well, we really don't know ... that layer of bubble wrap that I had to land on, if I needed, has been popped.

And so many emotions are resurfacing over and over and OVER again.

Some days it's hard. And really heavy.
And some days it's empowering. And beautifully light.

The road trip (in just our van - the RV stayed back) that the boys and I recently went on, to Niagara - through Canada - to Milwaukee - and back, was that empowerment manifested. He was leaving that week, and I wanted to be gone for that. I also wanted to prove to myself that I could do this alone. I could be out there, on the open road, sometimes driving through cities where we knew no one, with children to take care of, and we'd be okay. We'd be more then okay! The kids and I would rock this... together.

And we did!
It was amazing!
I felt strong. And capable. And hopeful. And excited.
And safe. And held. And so very much in love with our life.

And then we were on the "and back" part of our trip, and our van started slowly dying.

She's continued her slow death since. As much as it's empowering to learn some mechanical skills as we go; I am having a really hard time with the anxiety of putting my babies in a car that may or may not get us to where we are going. May or may not have us broken down on the side of the road for hours as we work to fix her. May or may not end up being fixable. May or may not leave us stranded.

Left alone.

And... we're getting ready to leave here. Driving a giant RV that's engine may or may not be fixed. Towing a van that I don't trust once we get to wherever we're going. Potentially being in a place with no-one to call if and when that abandonment happens.

It's hard. And painful.
And all of that empowerment that I worked to obtain feels, some days, so so far away.

That's the thing with growth.
You'll be given plenty of opportunities to continue to validate and strengthen it. To validate the strong. And the capable. And the hopeful. And the excited. And the love. And bigger yet... the safe and the held. Always always held, as one, all-one. Plenty of opportunities, because until you've truly peeled back all of those layers of healing (is there even an ending layer?), obstacles will seem to continuously pop up, laying way for you to practice these re-kindled gifts of self love and trust. And sometimes you'll fail. You'll stare an obstacle in the face, and drop to your knees. Crying inconsolably. Doubting yourself. Victimizing your life. Giving up. And projecting your pain in hurtful ways.

I'm in the trenches right now.
Some days are sunny.
Some oh so cloudy.

As we prepare to leave here I'm being given the opportunity to practice my empowerment, my self love, my trust ... OFTEN.

And I'm not always hitting that mark.

And... mostly, when I pull back and gain perspective, I'm okay with that.
Because life isn't a straight line.
It's a crazy beautiful jagged ascent full of peaks and valleys.

An ascent.

I *am rising.
even while I'm on my knees crying; right now.


***but I'd still like a newer car ;-)

November 9, 2016

i choose love

As so many of us are working to make sense of the outcome of this presidential election, I, too, am turning to the written word as my outlet.

There was a time in my life that I would have been Angry. Disgusted. Vulnerable. Helpless. And I would have taken those powerful emotions, and turned them into blame. I would have blamed those that didn't vote. I would have blamed those that voted third party. I would have blamed those with so much hate in their heart, and greed in their veins, that they would willing choose to support someone like Trump.

I would have blamed, and cried, and blamed, and cried.

I would have turned to the written word to call-out each and every one of them. Expose them. Shame them. Expect answers. Expect apologies. Expect.

Going into this election, I would have been driven by fear. I would have been working tirelessly to prevent what I didn't want. And in the end, I would have berated myself for not doing more to prevent this. For seeing hindsight so clearly, and being so naive to not take "the right" action(s) sooner. I would have victimized my own perceived shortcomings. I would have blamed myself. Outed myself. Shamed myself. Publicly. Privately. I would have let this define me in this moment.

I haven't said much publicly about this election. But I did write this yesterday ...

  • "I may have been quiet about it (shocker 😉), but yes, I did vote. It was a struggle for me. I've mostly shielded myself from social (or otherwise) media platforms in regards to this election, but the bits that have leaked through indicate this struggle was/is widely felt. I've always held the (strong!) belief that our votes are sacred and ought to be used wisely. The dominant two party system we have in place ensures the guarantee that either the republican or the democratic nominee will win. You may not like either of them, and there may be a third party nominee that you more closely align with, but you must use your vote wisely. Pie in the sky antics will at best be a wasted vote, at worst be the equivalent of a vote for the "other" side. The scarier side. The "oh hell no" side. I've written blog posts about this belief. There was no one that could reason me out of it. And then... this election. There has been so much fearful energy circulating. Even through the protective bubble I set up, my empath soul was feeling SO incredibly heavy with it, from every direction. Causing my head to race; and confusion set in. I breathed. I meditated. I walked. I danced. And the fog lifted. My heart, this time, not allowing me to make choices based on, or out of fear. I choose love. It's all we have. We may not see the *direct results of that this election, but as our global consciousness continues to re-awaken, however slowly, love will eventually triumph over fear. Thats what I live. That's what I choose. That's what I vote.  #election2016 #chooselove #notfear  #loverising#wevegotthis #bethechange #love"

I choose love. I chose it yesterday when I voted. I chose it last night as I watched the results coming in. I chose it as I woke this morning to the check mark indicating that Trump, did in fact, win this election.

I cried.
and I chose love.

My gut feels like it's been punched. My muscles sore from universal tension. My skin aching to even hold on. My eyes blurry and trying to "wake up". And yet, I understand this outcome. I don't agree with it. But I understand it.

As a whole, our people are fed up. We are all so completely fed up with our current political system. I share that opinion wholeheartedly. And while I choose to act, react, and express my utter dissatisfaction in very different ways, the message, when you get right down to bare bones, is the same. We're DONE! We want change!

And because I know just how easy it was for me in the past to launch myself into the blame pit when something as seemingly big as an election not only didn't go in my favor, but instead favored the side that I was working SO hard against. The side that I was sure was "wrong". That I was sure was "ignorant". That I was sure was going to damn us all to hell, and corrupt our planet, and kill our neighbors, and fuck our kids over. The side that was "my enemy". Because I know how strong those feelings can be, needing to get them out, put them somewhere, anywhere, I understand the uprising of someone like Trump. We are a nation of Fed Up people, many, right where I used to be, ready to blame and shame and out, and he gave us many targets. If you didn't like or share the opinion of one target, there was another just around the bend that might grab you. Not that one either? Not to worry, there's another. And another.

Fed Up people.
blaming and shaming and trying to make sense.

We acted and reacted in very different ways.
Different pieces of our hearts, our egos, our perceptions were triggered.
We all hold lights and shadows inside of us.
Fear and Blame surfaced in some.
Love and Unity surfaced in others.
All in the name in change.
We're ready for it.
We want it.
And this election proved that we are now demanding it... even if very poorly executed.

Common Ground, it's there, even if you have to dig really, really deep to feel it.

I choose love.

I'm not naive, or lacking in compassion for the real fear that so many of my brothers and sisters in this country are feeling today. Felt yesterday. Are prepared to feel tomorrow. Have felt for generations. Those wounds passed down. Healing so desperately needed. Begged for. I can't fully to my depth understand just how deep and blood stained those rivers run. I feel you. My heart so deeply feels you. I'm not a christian, and I have a vagina ... but the whiteness of my skin grants me many protections in this country. I know that. My sexual orientation and gender based identity grants me more as well. I know that. Being a Mama to just boys grants me certain safety and calm. I know that, too. I can be disgusted that that kind of privilege exists, but that doesn't erase it. This election threw a giant spotlight on just how indisputable and far reaching our fear based separations still go as a nation. And I cannot fathom the depth of it for you. But I can extend love. I am safe to do that. And you, my brothers and sisters, are safe with me.

I choose love.

We have been given the opportunity to open our eyes to the extreme depth of darkness, fear, and separation that still runs rampant in our nation. And we can shine our lights on it.

The power resides in the people; not the establishment. Somewhere a long the way we gave that power away, and we are now demanding it back. Lets start with that common thread, build from that common ground. 

Fear will not win.
Not for me. 
won't let it.

I choose love.

In love we will rise up.
In love we will overcome.
In love we are all one.

I choose love.

August 8, 2016

i don't want to fight a deer

We did it. We're out here. On the Appalachian Trail. In a hut. Just me and the kids. With four other random hikers. It's smelly in here. And cold. And quiet. So quiet I didn't want to disturb our early to slumber bunk mates, so I opted out of blowing up my sleeping pad. As the minutes tick by, I'm realizing just how HARD and COLD the hut flooring is. We hiked 3 miles today. And while that may not sound impressive; it really was.

We got a late start. Very late. We left the house around the time we expected to stop for the night! We were preoccupied watching a black bear all morning. Up in an apple tree. Munching away. For hours. I don't know which was more of a feat... that he could eat apples for hours, or that we could remain completely captivated, watching him eat apples for hours. As such, it took up our entire morning. On to yoga, smoothies, clean-up, fill pack water, and we expected to be set. We flew through the first three, but that last one stopped us in our tracks. Holy Hell! Our heavy, but still pretty easily managed packs became solid bricks. Unmovable. Temperamental. A couple more hours flew by as we adjusted, changed packs, adjusted more, changed packs back, safety pinned, hoisted, rearranged, complained, and then decided to eat a very late lunch.

Fuck packs. Fuck water. Fuck hiking.

We ate. And complained. And ate some more. And after laughing at all of our ridiculousness, we loaded our packs in the van. We're doing this whether they fit or not! One last long, emotional conversation with Nick, and we were finally off!

At 4:30pm.
With an hours drive to our drop off point

Since it was already so late in the day, we picked a drop off point different then what we originally planned. It added a few more overall miles to our trip, but positioned us closer to reaching a hut for the night. It also brought us a mile from Hawksbill Summit, the highest point in Shenandoah NP at just over 4000ft.

We side-trailed up the STEEP summit to check the view. And I do mean STEEP! For us! Shit! Legs were on fire almost immediately. Lungs pumping. Breath labored. Backs aching. Shoulders chaffing. What have we gotten ourselves into?! For crying out loud... we're actually CHOOSING to do this?! For fun?! Why?!

The mile long accent felt more like five!

But at the top... Oooh, it was glorious. The expansive 360 view was nothing short of breath-taking. The sweetest breeze blowing through cooled our sweaty skin. And the adrenaline high we were all riding for having conquered such a formidable (1 mile) beast was empowering.

We soaked in that bliss for a bit, and then decided we really needed to hit the trails to get to our hut, another 1.5 - 2 miles away, before night fall. Nick walked with us up to the summit. Parting is hard, even now. We're apart, separated, heading for divorce - but it is still hard to physically walk away from him. To experience life and form memories without him. To move on. It's hard.

After a few tearful goodbyes, we were back on the trail. We walked 0.7 miles on Salamander trail, a side trail trek that was pretty level and easy going. It felt SO good after that steep accent. We CAN do this! And then there she was. The white blazes of the Appalachian. We all squealed and whooped and roared, and then... walked on. One of us exclaiming, every 20ft, how amazing the level trail felt. Praising ourselves for our decision to hike up to the summit right out of the gate. Now, everything will feel like gravy! We're a bunch of geniuses. And so modest, too.

As we got closer to the hut, we all hoped it would be empty. At least until we settled in and acquainted ourselves with hut life. A slow, calm, conscious breathing in of the experience. With a busy morning, we were looking forward to a slow evening. We rounded the corner, saw the hut, squealed again, and then saw people peering around the building. It was already occupied. Well, there goes that settling in in solitude ... switch gears to party mode. We sauntered up, exchanged hellos, dropped our packs, and hit the ground. Exhausted. Sweaty. Out of breath.

After just 3 miles.

And so began our first hut experience.

The four other hikers filled up the bottom floor (who knew there was a bunking system in these huts?!). They were all either finished with, or finishing up dinner & bedtime routines by the time we descended upon camp. It was obvious camp "lights" were about to go out. We quickly got our dinner prepared. Soup; homemade & dehydrated, then re-hydrated and heated on our new butane stoves. The picnic table was full, so we squatted on the ground, near the fire pit, probably looking like shifty eyed squirrels as we devoured our rather bland (note to self, add more spices next time), yet triumphant soup. We then hurriedly packed away dinner equipment, stowed our food in the bear canister (again, who knew?), took a potty break, and finally brushed teeth.

The moment bristles hit teeth, a young buck emerged from the woods about 20 ft away. We stared at each other for a moment, his ears twitching, eyes fixed. Skittishly, he began walking toward us. I mean ... RIGHT toward us. No more then 2 ft away at this point. I could have reached out my hand and touched him. His warm, musty scent swirling in the air. My calm, loving, peaceful bliss bubble about sharing space with this beautiful animal quickly turned into a low grade panic as scenes from "Are We There Yet" played through my head. Do we seem threatening? Should we retreat? Will that startle him more? Is he going to charge? Those smaller antlers were looking bigger and bigger by the second. I don't want to fight a deer! But he just looked. Deep and soulful. Right into my eyes. And then, just like that, he scampered off.

The sun set, and our roomies were already snug in their bags. We hoisted our gear up to the top bunk (there are no ladders in these bunking units). Working to be quiet, considerate. I can tell you right now, there is NO way to quietly hoist packs and selves onto top bunks in hollow, echo-ey wilderness huts. There is even less way to roll out sleeping bags and arrange selves & stuff quietly. I was warm at that point, and the bunk flooring didn't feel too uncomfortable, so in a gesture of good hut etiquette, I made the decision to forego unpacking and blowing up my sleeping pad. A decision I regretted almost instantly.

With no insulation on the bottom of my sleeping bag (hello, that's where the pad is supposed to go), my body temperature was dropping rapidly. I was shivering within 5 minutes. My hips and shoulder bones (I'm a side/stomach sleeper) rattling against the cold, hard floor. I slowly, quietly tossed and turned for hours. And I had to pee. Bad! Just then Rylan whispered that he had to use the bathroom, too. Shit! We're on the top. People sprawled out all below us. It's pitch black out there. Hold it! Lets just hold it! Another hour later and I'm about to burst. Rylan working so very hard to forget he is, too.

Fuck it. Move over, roomies, we're coming down. We tried to position our bright ass headlamps away from the hut, out into the wild, but we still lit up the entire shack. Our quiet, considerate decent from the bunks produced much bouncing and thudding, praying we'd miss landing on body parts splayed out. No time, or noise allotment to find our shoes, so we ditched our socks, and tiptoed, barefoot, up the cold, damp path to the privy.

Oooh My God!
Instantaneous bladder relief.
Thank the heavens!

We tiptoed back. Gingerly shimmied our way back up to our bunk (and did I mention it was pretty high? With no ladders?). Rocking the entire hut with each shimmy. Waking every one up. Who then, one by one, crept up to use the bathroom, too (using their infrared light setting on their headlamps. Noted for next time!). I took the middle of the night pee-fest opportunity to pull out my sleeping pad, and blow a few puffs into it.

An empty bladder. A cushioned pad. A warming body. Now, now I can sleep restfully.

And then ...the snoring started. From below.
It's going to be a loooong night.

But ...
We're out here. We're doing it. We're hiking the Appalachian Trail. Fears and barriers be damned.

And it lasted until midday the next day (as opposed to the week we had planned) ;-) . We hiked 5 miles in 3 hours the next morning, which we were boogieing down about in our funky celebratory way. But Owens pack wasn't fitting him well enough around the waist. Causing a constant shifting and wiggle. Blisters were already starting to form. He pushed it as long and hard as possible, but with our support (and bit of Mama encouragement) he ultimately made the hard decision to put our distance hiking adventure on hold until we found him a better fitting pack.

1 day instead of 7.
But we did it.
We hiked the Appalachian Trail.
Together, just the three of us.
A gaggle of badasses.