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A year ago I thought I was at the end of a process.  The road to Good Girl had been full of obstacles to overcome and cliffs to jump from, but I had done it, and it felt fantastic.  I remember feeling the weight being lifted from me as I threw all the pain and rage the months of work has dredged from deep inside me into the words coming out of my mouth, and no matter how many nerves I felt or mistakes I made, none of it mattered.  In the end, no one remembered the missed words or the fact that I buttoned my blazer all crooked.  What they remembered was the victory in my eyes at the end.

I’ve written a few times about the healing process and the lessons I’ve learned since the show.  The work healing leaves behind.  The illness still to heal.  The tools yet to learn.  I made mistakes.  I lost people.  Love.  Friends.  Trust.  I tried to do what I thought was best, but I wasn’t yet equipped.  So, I got sick.

Hollywood lies to us about nervous breakdowns.  They’re not always a single moment of complete self-destruction and devastation.  Sometimes it’s months of standing outside yourself screaming “why are you doing this?!?”  Sometimes it’s knowing you’re pushing people away and watching them go and not knowing how to make it stop.  Sometimes it’s losing yourself, because while purging the parts that no longer served me I failed to care for the budding parts of me that were genuine and healthy, and they were dying.  I was dying.

The first time I shared my video was hard.  “It’s heavy,” I warned people before they watched it.  It was the same feeling I had when found me at the theatre to tell me how strong I was or how much they liked it.  I know I had done something big, but I didn’t know how to accept that I may have caused an emotional reaction in others.  I didn’t want pity, I didn’t want sadness, I didn’t want anyone to look at me differently. I avoided the video for a long time.  It was one thing for me to be performing it, focused on the audience and the words and the stage positions.  It was quite another to watch it without distractions.

It was a new love who finally got me to watch it.  We watched together, and it took all of my willpower not to talk over it or give it the Mystery Science Theater treatment.  He had wanted to know that part of me, and it was not my place to ruin that experience for him, so we sat on the couch together one night and watched the girl on the screen pour her heart out to us both.  This love told me he admired me for the work I’d done, for the strength I possessed, for all the things I had not yet learned to acknowledge.  He saw the things that were dying, and as I began to lose my grasp on them I lost him, too, and I questioned all the work I had done.

Yesterday marked a year since opening night.  I wrote a post to commemorate the anniversary, and at the last moment I linked the video.  There was no warning, no worry, and no way to know what would come of it, but by the end of the day I had no less than five message from people who had never seen the video before telling me how much they needed it.  No pity, no praise, just thanks for being a guide on a road they were just beginning.

Good Girl gave me a new chance to live my life and to develop new tools, but it also gave me the responsibility to share my stories and help those who feel alone on their paths.  Hearing from peers how inspired they were to find their strength and take a stand in their own lives reminded me that I am a warrior, a healer, and a teacher, and while I have a lot of work yet to do I’ve also come a long way on my journey.

 

Good Girl wasn’t the end of a process, it was the beginning of a revolution.  Again, my story is not unique but that’s why I must keep telling it.  Together our stories will set us free.

Aloha

 

Go now, be free.

 

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mom

Twenty years ago I learned a veritable tome of lessons, some of which I’m just learning now, and it seems unbelievable to me that I can look back at anything in my life knowing it happened twenty years ago.  My mom taught me a lot about life while she was alive, and I’ve mentioned that before.  She taught me compassion, strength, and determination.  She taught me to seek adventure and levity in everything, to make people laugh whenever you can, and to live and love with all your heart no matter how scary the world feels.  She taught me to trust my instinct and eschew advice that doesn’t feel right.  She taught me to be myself.

What my mother’s death taught me was open honesty.  You never know when the last time you say “I love you” or “good morning” or “good night” will be the last.  It’s made me vulnerable at times, and I’ve had to learn to accept when it’s not reciprocated, but hey, another lesson, right?

But you see, it also taught me some less than positive lessons.  At twelve years old I was already well aware that I was different.  I didn’t have many friends, my anxiety and depression were already in full swing, and I’d already thought about suicide more times than I can remember now.  I needed help, and I was constantly told I was wrong, broken, or worse…that I was fine.  I was fat, I was slow, and I was constantly missing the mark.  At twelve I had already had at least one nervous breakdown, I was scared of losing everyone I loved, and I had been proven correct.  At twelve I discovered my intuition and empathy in the worst way, and I hated it, so at twelve I learned to hide.  I learned to expect the worst.  I learned to expect to be alone.  I learned that change is terrifying.  I learned to build walls, and forgot all those lessons about love and life and laughter.

When I started the Power of One it was immediately pointed out to me that when I’m uncomfortable or anxious I smile.  It’s a skill I developed at a very young age, but I imagine I perfected it at my mother’s funeral.  Since then it became a crutch I used to get me through parts of my life I felt I could not navigate, and it began to cloud the genuine me.  I’ve been lucky enough to have people in my life who could see through the fog and find that genuine me, but for most of my life I haven’t been able to see her myself.  I’ve merely been relying on the testaments of others who tell me they see her, like a fairy tale buried deep inside me.  As the lessons from my mother started to actually take root and as my intuition and empathy refused to be ignored, life got harder, and the more I stayed inside my walls the more the fires outside tried to cook me out. I tried to let myself be vulnerable…to the wrong people at the wrong times.  I tried to be happy…all the time, and ended up holding in the pain and sadness until I couldn’t, resulting in some pretty spectacular meltdowns.   I tried to be strong and independent…and all I did was feel more like a failure.

In the year since I seriously started putting effort into my transformation, I’ve worked on being open without being overbearing, happy without using it to cover up when I’m not, and to know when I can be strong alone and when I need to reach out for help. Not all has gone according to plan, but if my mom’s death taught me none of this other bullshit, it taught me that life doesn’t care about your plans, and unpredictability brings as much serendipity as it does tragedy, and the only control I really have is how I choose to react to it, process it, and move on with my life.    Losing my mother was not the first tragedy I’d faced in my life, but it was the first one I felt like I was facing alone.  The truth is, every situation we face in life we face alone, even if we have the strongest support system on earth, because we’re the only ones who can do the internal work it takes for real survival…and real living.

 

Love you, Mom.  Thanks for still teaching me.  after all these years.

 

Go now, keep learning..keep living….

Aloha.

2014. The year that changed everything.  It all sounds very serious, doesn’t it.  Well, it is.  I know, I know, every year is about change, but 2014 brought transformative change.

With Brighid came the catalyst for the biggest career change I have ever made, and the biggest risk.  The training alone was a challenge, but I rose to it, and on Ostara I earned my wings and held a star I’d been reaching for for 6 years.

WIth the change in jobs came a huge change for our household.  I was based 3,000 miles away on the opposite coast, and the adjustment in all my relationships was a blow that some of them wouldn’t survive.  Routines were uprooted, and we had to find complex solutions to even more complex problems.  I suddenly felt very alone, and Hubby felt abandoned.  As he strove for stability and reached for his other partners, I felt more and more isolated from my family, which strained an already stressful period as I adjusted to a new job that is very much a lifestyle.

By summer there were storms raging.  Hubby and A split, I had completely pulled out of our D/s dynamic, and there were talks of separation. Things were seriously strained, compounded by the re-emergence of The Vanishing Act.  My emotions were shot, and I withdrew.  When my birthday rolled through in August I was sure I was bound to be moving on alone.  Hubby seemed unwilling to see anything from my perspective and immersed in a new relationship, The Vanishing Act had done what he does best, and I felt suffocated by the weight of everything falling apart at once.

For the first time in a long time I felt helpless, hopeless, and ready to go.  There’s a soul-shaking moment that passes when you no longer feel a desperate need to end your life, but have accepted it as the next step.  It’s not a rash decision you can recover from just as quickly, it’s a concession that the darkness has won, and this is just what happens when you lose.  I was gone.  My spirit was dead for a long time, and I had no one to blame for it but myself.

Enter Autumn and a big push from the universe to be in charge of my life.  I embarked on a last-ditch effort to save myself, and I began living my own life.  Hubby pushed against it, but what resulted was both of us giving the ultimate ultimatum.  Love me for who I am, or let me go live my life.

The season also brought a whole crew of new people to my life.  Friends, love interests, and everyone in between.  2014 has brought me more new connections and strengthened connections with people I already had than I could have asked for.  These wonderful souls are the reason I’m here in as close to one piece as I am.  They are my tribe, my Ohana, and I would be incomplete without them.

As I pulled out of the fall with hope and optimism, 2014 gave me one last reminder that there is still a lot of work to do. A few lives connected to mine were suddenly torn apart.  We had medical scares and heartbreaking developments.  In addition, several of my partners also had some deep rivers to cross.  Once again I felt out of my depth and drowning, but the tools I had acquired and the people who had gathered around me throughout the year had given me the strength and will to keep moving forward.

Things are still rocky.  Things are still changing.  2014 was a year of questions without answer and answers spawning new questions.  I still feel terribly ill-equipped to handle the war that fights, not in violent flashes like they do in the movies, but quietly under the surface of the mundane as war is apt to do.  I don’t have all the information.  I don’t have all the tools.  I don’t have all the magic words.  What I do have is Ohana.  What I do have is people who love me and believe in me, who have y back no matter what happens.    What I have, as i mentioned at Yule, is hope.

This year I have learned to adapt.  I have learned to be away but still present.  I have learned to be alone but not lost.  I have learned to love and not question.  At midnight tonight I won’t be with any of my loves.  I won’t have a single person to kiss, but I shall be kissing each and every one of them in my heart.

2015…a year started with hope in my heart.

Aloha.

Go now, kiss somebody at midnight, even if it’s just in your heart.

This year has been rough, for many of us.  I don’t mean ” I stubbed my toe and had to get a pretty serious ingrown toenail removed” rough; I mean “my soul got ripped from my very core and turned into mashed potatoes and taken to some sinister potluck in Hell, and  had to go find it and figure out how to make it a soul again” rough.  You may have noticed a lot of radio silence this year, as I’ve spent a lot of time inside myself trying to sort out what I wanted it to look like.  What better time to remodel than after a pack of demons has rampaged through your inner temple and torn it to shreds from the inside out.  Ok, maybe that’s a bit histrionic, but that’s what it felt like most of the time.

At Yule we are prompted to give up what no longer serves us, what harms us, and what stands in our way.  We keen, we burn, we eschew what we can no longer afford to hold in our lives.  People, things, sentiments, everything must go!  As we say goodbye to this darkness within we invite the new light that grows with the seasons.  We accept the sunlight into us to shine bright with hope and renewal, and we celebrate that we have survived the longest nights.

This year I have enough friends who have opted out of the holidays to feel it in my heart.  Some have lost loved ones.  Others are having health or financial hardships.  Still others have just become jaded for their own personal reasons.  This is not a new phenomenon, but it has been a bit more pervasive this year, but it always reminds me of my own holiday spirit and the lessons that come to be from the holidays.  I’ve told this story before, but it bears repeating, so excuse me while I wax a little Hallmark Special on you all.

My mom loved Christmas.  Every year, without fail, we had the tree that almost grazed our high ceilings covered in lights and ornaments.  We had garland, worn from years of use, strung around the beams and banisters and enough light up animatronic scenes and characters to confuse the cats enough not to touch any of them.  Some years the nativity scene would be almost buried in presents, but some years it would not, but I hardly noticed.

The warmth and joy that filled our house was tangible, and it instilled in me a Christmas Spirit that goes far beyond commercial messages or expectations we place on ourselves, beyond the stress and the worry, and beyond all the jaded skepticism and religious bickering I see every day on the internet or the news.  No, this Spirit is about love and togetherness.  The memories we made decorating the tree have outlasted any gift I’ve ever been given.  The snuggling on the couch watching Prancer and Miracle on 34th St is something I can still feel when I miss my mom around this time.  The love I felt at Christmas just from the time we spent as a family is something I’ve carried with me and tried to emulate in my own family during the holidays no matter what our situation might be.

Here’s a story I have not yet told:

The second Christmas Hubby and I spent together was a bit bleak.  We were i our first apartment together.  I had just started having fibro issues and hadn’t worked much.  All I wanted was a tree.  The fake one my father in law had given us was in storage, and it was locked up until the 1st of the year because we were behind on our rent.  Hubby’s grandparents had just replaced their tree, so they had an extra, which they offered to us.  It was bigger than the space we had for it, and it shed like a nervous chinchilla.  After an hour of measuring and furniture scooting I gave up.  I was sad, but we had tried.  Hubby, on the other hand, was not going to let me concede to a fake pine tree so easily.

I watched the wheels turn as he surveyed our kitchen and dining area, then we put the resulting plan to work.  What we ended up with was a quarter of a tree.  We had stood the base of the tree against the wall behind our kitchen table and only used the branches for the top three sides we could see.  It was a bit of a stretch, but we decorated the hell out of that little patch of tree, and we laughed and sang the entire time. I knew then that there would never be a dark Christmas at our house even in the worst times.  There have been years that have tested us, but we have managed to find ways to make every one special.

The point?  I’m getting to it.

The point is that Yule isn’t about eradicating the darkness, it’s about finding hope and joy in the light. It’s the stars and moon at night, just as we must also embrace the shows and shade in the daytime.  It’s about approach and soul building.  When I eventually found my soul, it wasn’t really any different than it had been before.  I merely had to scrape off a layer of negativity, pick out some things that made it seem spoiled, and put it back where it belongs.  The darkness didn’t ruin it, and the light didn’t do anything but show me what was already there.

This year has been rough, and we weren’t sure we’d be able to even afford gifts for the kids.   When I left work with a flight bag full of small handmade gifts I never imagined I wouldn’t make it all the way home, but a few days later I returned to California feeling deflated.  I hadn’t even send cards.  We just hadn’t had the money.

I put everything in a box and sent it to Hubby and his girlfriend hoping it would at least make him smile for Christmas.  The rest I carried with me on trips I picked up for the time I was supposed to be home.  The cards, I sent.  I figured that was the end of it.  Then I saw the smiles on the faces of people I saw on my trips and the happy Facebook messages from people who were surprised by my cards.  I heard Hubby and Mouse’s voices when they called me after opening their gifts on Yule, and they were so full of joy that, while I was still homesick, my spirit was renewed.

Yesterday as I placed a blue and while Yule/Christmas bouquet at my mom’s headstone, full of her favorite flowers, I caught the scent of pine that rose from it and was immediately reminded that I get to spend the holidays with family I haven’t seen on Christmas in many years, that I have been able to spend the better part of this year with people who are no longer with us and that I have been able to be a part of the lives of the children in our family again.

This was my first home, and it remains a very special part of me and my Christmas heritage. When I got back to y room I set up an impromptu alter, some festive things my grandma had left as a surprise for me, and the cards Hubby had brought me on a surprise overnight visit, and my heart was immediately lighter.

Light.  There it is.

Light of hope.  This doesn’t mean suddenly everything is better.  This doesn’t mean all the injuries we’ve sustained this year are gone.  This means there is hope.  This means a light has been shed on our strength and our resilience.  This means a light has been shed on those around us who love us, so we know we’re not in this alone.  That light means guidance and a promise that if we are growing we are alive.

Light.  Light reminds us that there is more than darkness.  The fact that we recognize darkness is, in part, due to the very light we hail, as we are reminded when we speak to balance.

Aloha, Light.  Aloha, Darkness. Aloha Christmas.

Go now, be joyous.

In years past, Litha has been about pure celebration.  Love, revelry, and the raw power of the sun god filling us with waves of blessing.  If you’ve ever smiled up at the sun and felt completely whole and happy, you know the feeling I’m describing.  This year is a little different for me.  There are some big changes coming my way, and I’m finding it extremely difficult to feel the sun in any aspect but burning.  That strength and blessing I generally get this time of year is shadowed, and I feel myself weakening.  I’ve begun to lose my spirit and the energy to keep pushing forward.

I don’t usually keen for Litha.  It’s not  generally a happy summer solstice activity, but it felt necessary.  I didn’t go into the woods like I normally do.  I went to the beach.  If you’re not all aware, the beaches of Northern California do not warm. The moment the icy cold hit my toes I wanted to turn back and give up, but if I couldn’t do this how could I begin to claim my life back from the edge of the long night that loomed over me?  I trudged forward, tears coming to my eyes as I remember why I was there and what stakes were at hand. I got as far as my knees before the screaming started, not the releasing wail of keening but the angry screams of someone who suddenly realized she couldn’t breathe.  Friends, I’ve been drowning in my own life.  For years.  I’ve allowed myself to fight for enough air to keep sinking, but not much more.  So I screamed. I screamed until the water knocked me off balance and straight into the sand of the undertow.  I had not intended to go in.  My clothes were soaked, my butt was cold, and my mouth was full of salt.  I felt scolded by the ocean that has always lead me, and right well I should have been.  I’ve let myself be dragged by the undercurrent for so long I’ve forgotten how to swim.  I laid back and let the water rush over me.  I stopped screaming, and I began to laugh.  I laughed until the taste of salt once again assaulted my senses.  The ocean wanted me to listen.  To be quiet for once in my life…and listen.

I had forgotten that I carry the sun within me.  I had forgotten the strength that has carried me through more hardship and darkness than I care to think about.  I had forgotten the brightness that has always kept a smile on my face and my spirit alive despite that darkness.  I had forgotten what it means to channel it all and become a force of nature.  These are things I must hold on to if I am to come out of this alive.  Alive.  Not survived.  Alive.  Heart, soul, and spirit intact.   This is a crossroads, not a dead end.  This is the harvest of the seeds I planted when I asked for progress and the life meant for me, and if I let it all die on the vine I have wasted it all.  I’ve fought too hard to be weak now.  Wherever this road goes, and it will go through some thick, dark, places, I will carry the sun within, and it will guide me if I let it.

 

Aloha and a Blessed Litha

Go now, be strong. Be Alive.

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