09 November 2017

Turn the radio up.....


After finding a couple cassette tapes in the old jelly cupboard, knowing exactly what was on at least one of them, I pulled this out of the closet and shed tears when I heard my little voice. I remember making that tape. I remember where I was when I was making it (the front porch of the house I currently live in), what I had on (a pink shirt/short outfit from Dutchmaid), the sound the little tape recorder made when I pushed record. I remember making up those songs. I was probably three years old at the time.
Little me, singing, I pictured my hair in a ponytail on top of my head, which created a waterfall effect, and urged my cousin to give me the same nickname.

My cousin mostly called me PITA. I'm pretty sure I was a PITA much of the time.
She loved me though. And used to stick up for me when I would get in trouble. Long past the time anyone should have been.
My mom, my cousin, and I, made a tape one New Years Eve of the Top 100 Countdown on one of our favorite local radio stations. I spent many Sundays listening to the countdown, waiting for the songs I missed the week before, or the ones that just came out since then. I remember how annoying it would be when the tape would run out before the song was over, and I'd only have half of it, and would have to try to catch it again on the other side. Picking my favorite pen to write them all pretty and neat in the little bit of space on the insert. Trying to think of a creative and fun name for the whole tape.
I also remember how my mothers fingernails felt on my head when she washed it. I washed one of my kids hair the other day, as he was stuck with a splint on his arm. He doesn't remember what grandmas fingers felt like.
I haven't had my hair cut in nearly a year. I don't want anyone else to cut it.
I think this is what Joan Didion means by the "vortex effect" in The Year of Magical Thinking.
It's going to be a really long year.





25 October 2017

Rambling Thoughts, Part One.


I have a dream.

This dream does not involve expensive, fancy cars.  It does not involve a house full of innovative, life-altering gadgets and appliances.  It does not involve a corporate career which brings a six-figure income.  I really don't care about a six-figure income.  But let's be honest here...without a college degree (of which I also don't have a dream of obtaining), and the motivation to plant my ass in a chair, surrounded by dreary, grey cubicle walls all day, shuffling the remains of dead trees around, there will be no six-figure income in any decade of my life.  Unless I actually finish one of my books and it becomes a best-seller and someone decides to make a movie about it.  I was a stand-in for Elizabeth Moss once, maybe she could play me?  Though Kristen Bell a la Veronica Mars is more my thought (Kristen, if you're reading this, keep your calendar open in five or ten years).

As usual, I digress.  Back to that dream.

I don't know that it's a dream, or more along the lines of my truth calling for me, while I continue to push it aside; a cog in this ever-growing machine that we, as a culture, have created since the day we stole this beautiful land from the people who were living in synchronicity with it.  Further proof of how I don't fit in with it all, I don't really agree that things were so much harder back then.  The only way things were harder was in the physical work that people actually had to do.  And it probably wasn't nearly as hard for people then because they just did it.  They had to do it or they would starve, and it's proven and documented and researched thoroughly that physical activity is actually good for you.  What?  Yeah, really.  

Not just physical activity, but more continual movement, with accomplishments.  Like growing food and plant medicine, the things that sustain and nourish, without having to walk into a store for it.  Creating life.  How beautiful is that and why don't more people want to do these things?  I have a hard time understanding why we have chosen to become a society of paper-pushing drones, slaving away for other people as we come home exhausted unable to sleep well, never getting enough time with our families. All so we can make enough money to pay others to cook our meals, clean our houses, raise our kids, deliver our groceries, mow our lawns, and the list goes on.  

I love mowing my lawn.  For real.  And I have about six acres total to mow.  Around trees, bushes, up and down hills.  But I also love doing dishes, by hand (yes, I could totally hear you gasp!).  And I just hung another load of laundry to dry.  I've not even owned an electric clothes dryer for about five years. Even with two very active boys, I survive, and can't even complain about that.  There are plenty of other things I could complain about, but hanging my clothes to dry or doing dishes by hand are not among those things.  They have, conversely, become meditative processes for me.

Every day I ask myself why I don't just step away from this soul-sucking grid already?  And every time I lose another person I love to some stupid fucking tragedy it becomes more apparent how much of my time I'm wasting keeping the machine greased and rolling.  Is this what I'm meant to do in life?  Pay taxes and die?  Buy all the things?  Be a good little consumer?  Feed the greedy fucking monster? 

No.

I struggle having these discussions with my children.  I want them to be successful in life, but I also want them to live lives that have meaning.  I want them to be able to support themselves and their (eventual) families while doing something that truly makes a difference in this world.  To do something that matters.  Something that brings them joy and a sense of accomplishment.  I want my children to find a life purpose that they will never want to retire from.  Rather than just finding the career that they can make a decent living with, I want them to choose what they want to do and make THAT work for them.

This is where I try not to wish I hadn't drank the majority of my twenties away thinking of all the other things I could have been doing with that time, like traveling and writing.  And where would I be now if I had taken a different path?  Oh I know, this is a rabbit hole I'm not going to go down for this post.  Another time, perhaps.

But every day I find myself trying to fit myself into this box when I would have to remove entire pieces of myself to do so.  There is always the "well, it's just the way it is, you have to play the game.  It's just how society has become and we don't really  have a choice. We have to make money." But no, there is always a choice.

What do I really want?  I want to walk the earth (and write about it).  I want to memorize the landscapes and feel the thousands of miles of wooded forests and sandy deserts beneath my feet (and write about it).  I want to become intimate with her hills and valleys, feeling her energy rush into my body through my feet bare on its' surface (and write about it). To swim in the oceans and bathe in the rivers, and truly be a part of that which sustains me (and write about it).  I want to plant my own food, and make my own medicinals, to feed myself from the life that is all around me (and write about it).  I want to live with purpose and meaning, and write about it so that others are encouraged to find their own purpose and meaning. I want a life that flows with the seasons and the phases of the moon, filling my land with the life that is meant to sustain us, because that is what my soul wants to do.  I'm fairly confident that my soul was not put in this body to suffocate under the blacktop of society and waste away in an office chair.

God doesn't want me to hold up a machine that rapes the Earth and fills it with filth and pollution.

We are so far removed from ourselves.  And try as I might, I'm not finding a way for there to be a balance.  If I'm part of the machine, if I contribute to all the things I don't believe in, I'm living a lie.

Anyone know when the train to Walnut Grove leaves?




24 October 2017

Ticking away

Time is such a fickle thing.  Determined by a multitude of circumstance. Malleable, conforming to presence based on where one is from moment to moment.  There is never enough of it for the ways I wish to be able to utilize it in.  Yet there is so much more of it than I ever truly realize.

When I was younger, I would often spend so much time sitting, waiting for whatever was coming.  The event that was days away seemed to be so far off, yet it would arrive and be gone in a flash. The hour between the time that I was ready to be picked up by a friend and the moment that they actually arrived seemed to drag on for days.  The moments of boredom that came when I played with everything and it was only mid afternoon and it was so long until bedtime and what would I ever do with all those hours?

Oh how I would use that idle time now if only I knew how valuable it was then.



11 October 2017

Before and After Socks

Every project has a story behind it.  Some have multiple stories.  The Solaris Shawl that I knit last year had a bit of baseball in it, as well as an entire train ride across the country and back, weaving pieces of home and away, as well as the past and the present with the future.  It took me months to complete with all the involved stitches, short rows, counting and counting, backing out, starting over.  In the end I gifted it, and sent all the pieces of me that went into it along with it.

Socks are fairly easy for me these days and if I'm able to work consistently I can finish a pair within two weeks.  And I use the same pattern for every new pair, so the only time I really need to read the pattern is when I turn the heel.  Even then I'm getting closer to having that part memorized.

This pair was different.  I started these in July and just finished them ten minutes ago.  October 11th.  Four months.  I've not really knit otherwise in that time.  An easy, basic scarf and one cowl that took me two nights to finish, using a local, handspun yarn, was an easy and quick knit.  A good distraction from these socks, as they have been the least enjoyable and hardest thing I've ever knit, including my first sweater and the Solaris Shawl.

The yarn was gifted to me, and I loved the colorway.  I'm a blue person after all (and no, that metaphor isn't lost on me either). As I started to knit these, I was reminded of Van Gogh's Starry Night.  It was like the socks twinkled.  Weaving the dark pink tones of a setting sun into the deep violet-cerulean sky.  I fall in love with the sky every time I look at it.  Even on overcast days where the air hangs so ominously, I can still find an appreciation for what I know is there.

The night my mother was rushed to the hospital, I took my knitting with me, which I do often.  I don't typically go anywhere that I may have to spend time sitting without having a project with me.  I barely touched it.  And during the next 12 days I spent with her, I knit barely a dozen rows.  Something that could take me five minutes to do in a normal place, I couldn't even touch.

At the end of those 12 days, and subsequently, her life, I wanted to name these socks "Death Socks". I didn't want to touch them again and I had no desire to ever finish them and put them on my feet. I wanted to rip them out. I wanted to throw them in the trash. I wanted to finish them and then burn them.  I still kind of want to destroy them, in a therapeutic way.

I'm not sure if it's noticeable to anyone elses eyes, but one sock is different than the other.  The tones are just slightly off.  Like something is missing.  Like something that was there when I crafted the first one was completely gone for the second.  And that is the story that these socks will always hold.

03 October 2017

The Weight of it All


Early in the spring, the blossoms of an apple tree bring the beginning of a cycle, as they fill every inch of its' branches, creating a brilliant display against the blue skies and greening grasses.  The limbs reach up, seeming to open to the warming sun, and it's usually a welcomed reminder of beauty after the darkness of winter.

As summer rolls around, the trees pull strength from the sustenance provided by all that is given them during this season, to create the life that they will eventually provide to us when the time comes to harvest.

And as the time to harvest comes, you can see the progression that the tree has made from those first days of spring.  The fruit is abundant, and the weight of what it bears pulling its' limbs towards the ground. It's quite a different sight and evokes such a contrasting energy than that of spring.

In my own season of grief, I look upon these apple trees, realizing how closely they mimic my own feeling of overwhelm.  I feel the heaviness of it all, as every thing-that-needs-taken-care-of hangs on me, weighing me down, begging to actually BE taken care of, to be plucked off so that I, too, can rest in the cocoon of the impending winter, rebuilding the reserves that have been withered away by the process of production.

Nature provides these reminders that there are inherent cycles within us.  Cycles that we ignore in the hustle and bustle of the just-keep-going culture that we have created in our current society.  Every day we take on more and more while the season of rest continues to be pushed off yet another day. We think there will be time to care for ourselves tomorrow, or next week, or after whatever thing-must-be-done-now is finally done.

But we forget that there also is importance in the processes that we ignore and put off, and that they are most beneficial when they are done at the proper times of the cycle.  Mother Nature provides us with these cycles to look upon as guidance for our own lives. Like the waxing and waning of the moon, we fill and release; like the ebb and tide of the oceans, we go forth and we retreat.

And as with the trees, we grow, we provide, we take, and we discard.

The pruning of dead and overgrown branches is necessary throughout the life of a tree, and is a metaphor of the pruning we must do in our own lives. If we keep stretching ourselves out further, we lose support, become weighed down, and our branches break. We have this idea that growth must always continue, but we forget that growth happens closest to the source and when we are well cared for during the process.

Like the leaves that are shed during the fall season, we shed parts of ourselves that we have outgrown or have been used up.  This also brings wisdom in the natural process of death.  The tree releases its' leaves to the ground, much like we release our attachments. While the leaves themselves wilt and die, they also nourish the ground beneath them, which in turn continues to feed the source that provides a home to the roots.  We feed our own sources when we acknowledge and hold space for, and the true growth occurs when we are able to release and rest, gaining strength to begin the cycle again.

Everything is connected.  One process leads into another, which can not be walked through without the completion of the previous.  In order to be nourished, we must allow. In order to receive, we must open. In order to progress, we must release. And so goes the cycle.

We give, we take, and we release to make space to receive that which we will give again.

Give love, instead of hate. Fairness, compassion, and understanding instead of judgment.

Take less, and share with those around you, instead of taking so much that there isn't anything left for anyone else.

Release, instead of holding on.





21 September 2017

Overwhelm



"bury or drown beneath a huge mass"

"defeat completely"

"give too much of a thing to (someone); inundate"

"have a strong emotional effect on"

"be too strong for; overpower"

It's that moment when you say you have a million things going on, and a million is not an exaggeration.

It's looking at the room full of things that you know you have to sort through, piece by piece, and make decisions on the dozens of options for where they will go.  And it's the knowing there is more than just one room.

It's when you sit down to try to work, knowing that it is a good distraction from all the million things going on, but you are unable to fully immerse yourself in it because the million things do not go away just because you are able to set them on a back burner for a moment.

It's getting one minor, simple task completed, feeling like you just climbed a thousand steps.

It's falling asleep in your car while your kids are at football practice instead of knitting or reading because you really are just that exhausted at 5:30pm.

It's having time to work on the million things but not being able to begin any of them because the noise in your head is so overwhelming that you can't shut it all off long enough to pick a place to start.

It's the noise.  Any noise, really.  If two people talk at once it's too much.  If music is playing and someone starts talking over it, it's too much.  If a loud motorcycle goes racing past your house while you are hanging laundry, it's too much.

It's all just too much.

I'm aware that it won't always be.  But for now, it is.







12 September 2017

The Anger Phase of Grief. Alternate Title: My apologies to Mike M.

Mike: Hi this is Mike. Can I help you?
Me: Hi Mike, I'm responding to a text that you sent me in regards to my probate filing.  I see that you're interested in some property.
Mike: Yes, I am, thanks for getting back to me.  What can you tell me about the property that you are selling?
Me: How's your mom doing, Mike?
Mike: Um, my mom's doing fine....
Me: That's great Mike.  My mom's dead.  She suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage, and a subdural hematoma.  Are you familiar with those?
Mike: Is that an aneurysm?
Me: Yes, Mike. You're right! Kind of.  It's actually when the aneurysm ruptures.  Do you know this happened when we were preparing for my kids 13th birthday party?
Mike: That's terrible, I'm sorry to hear that.
Me: Thanks, Mike.  I really appreciate your condolences.  I sincerely hope that you don't ever have to deal with something like that.  You know, I spent the next 13 days with her, at the hospital, holding her hand, begging her to wake up?  She never woke up.  In fact, I had to watch her die.
Mike: I'm sorry....
Me: I'm sorry too. It's been really hard for me.  I miss her a lot.  She was my best friend you know.  My kids miss her a lot too.  Her friends miss her.  There is a huge, gaping hole in all of our lives right now and it's been pretty tough to continue to take care of all the things that need taken care of, you know.  Are you familiar with all the things that need taken care of when someone you love dies.
Mike: I know it's a hard process....
Me: (again, cutting Mike off) You know, Mike, the hardest part is when I wake up in the morning and look out my door, up to her house....I live right next to her, you know.  In my grandmothers house, the house she grew up in, and my kids are actually the seventh generation to live here.
Mike: silence
Me: My mom kept a lot of stuff.  I'm sure there are things that I could find that you might be interested in....
Mike:  I would love to help.  What can you tell me about the property?
Me: You know, my house still has a dirt basement, and a root cellar!  When I was little, I remember my grandmother sending me down to bring potatoes up for the dinner she would prepare for us.  We were all very close.  We had dinner here a lot.  And there used to be a trail between the houses from all the walking we did between them.  My walking down the hill to get on the school bus every day.  And my dog, Buster was his name, he would come down every day to sit on my grandparents porch and wait for me to get off the bus.  He was an awesome, faithful dog.  And my senior year of high school, my bus driver ran over him.  You know, I was on the bus when she ran over him.  I could feel the wheels going over him.
Mike: wow, I'm sorry.
Me: Yeah, it was pretty tragic.  You know what else is tragic?  My grandmother was actually murdered in this house, the one I live in.  Beaten to death in her own bed one night.  That was pretty tragic too.  And three months later, my father died from sepsis.  He had cancer, and it was almost cleared up, actually. But the chemo fucking killed him.  Although I think it was more a broken heart that he succuumed to, because he was the one that found my grandmother.  He saw her face. It hurt him pretty bad.
Mike: :clearly regretting sending me that text by now:
Me: So, Mike. You said your mom is doing well?  That's great.  So, when she dies, can I send you a text harassing you about what you want to do with the property?  I mean, I'll at least wait til you bury her.  Maybe I'll wait a month.  Does that seem like a good amount of time to give you?  I might be interested in relocating by that time.  I mean, I have so many people that I don't even know reaching out to me trying to take all of this HUMUNGOUS LOAD off my hands.  I mean, the physical load, the things that can make YOU money.  Oh, and thank you so much for offering your condolences in the beginning of that text, before you jumped right in to ask me what I want to do with all the property that I now own, and how you are a real estate investor.  That must be a great job!  You must be really proud of yourself, spending your day randomly searching the newspaper for grieving family members who have inherited property and must be so preoccupied with their grief that you will happily jump in and take the stress off their hands.  How nice of you to reach out to people in their time of grief to fucking take advantage of their loss.  When your mother dies, I can also put you in touch with a tombstone company who barely waited til she was in the ground for a week to send me a letter telling me how much they would like to profit from my loss.

Fuck you.

By the way, if you're still interested in property, I found a chewed up popsicle eraser in the desk drawer in the spare room that I'll sell you for the amazing price of.....

Fuck you again.

Sincerely,

No, I'm not selling, and if I do, it certainly would not be to you.  And also, I would love to know how you got my unlisted, private, phone number.

DISCLAIMER: I sincerely apologize for the use of the word fuck.

ADDITIONAL DISCLAIMER:  I did not actually call him, and this conversation didn't actually happen. Wait, I did actually call him, but he didn't answer.  Just got a voice mail.  Probably a good thing.

27 August 2017

First Game of the Season Grief


I've not been a fan of football for quite some time.  As a child, I remember watching the Steelers play with my grandfather.  The game was always on during Thanksgiving dinner at my grandparents house.  My dad and my uncle would usually fall asleep on the floor, a result of a good, filling meal. I never usually paid much attention to it, but the sounds are imbedded in my memories deeply.  My grandfathers voice responding to a bad play, muffling the sound of the dishes clinking in the sink as my mom and grandmother would clean up.

In high school I got into it a little.  The boy I was dating and some of our friends at the time were pretty into it.  I remember a couple we spent time with; one was a serious 49er fan and her boyfriend was a die-hard Cowboys fan.  The year I graduated, the Cowboys defeated the Bills, and I remember watching it at their house, and falling asleep before it was over. I have a photo of me asleep against the edge of the couch.  I was wearing a pair of black jeans and a grey shirt that came with shoulder pads that I ripped out because I hated shoulder pads, but I loved the shirt.  I'm pretty sure the shirt is probably still in my mothers closet.

My mother kept everything.  We started going through her attic, and spent multiple occasions over the past couple years sorting through boxes that contained her history, mine, my cousins, my fathers, some of my uncles stuff, and so on and so on.  We would sit there reminiscing over the zip-up body suit she wore in her senior picture, the polyester pant suits that she and my dad wore during the 70's, the hand-made dress that she wore in her friends wedding, the outfit that I wore when she and my father brought me home from the hospital. The list goes on and on and is full of random things in addition to clothing.  Things that most people would never keep, but that I know I will laugh, or smirk, or cry upon retrieving when I go through it all again.

The empty spaces that exist in my life are many and take up the majority of my day.  The phone call I would receive every morning when she woke up, or the one that I would make to her if I didn't hear from her soon enough. There were a million phone calls throughout the day.  Ever since the tragedy with my grandmother, my mom and I would call each other all the time.  Living next to each other meant that there was worry if we didn't know where the other was, so I usually called her when I was heading home from work, or heading to craft night, and home from craft night, or home from a friends house, or taking the boys for ice cream, or running to the store for something.  I called her so often.  To bitch about someone that annoyed me.  Today, sitting at the first game of the season, I would have called her to tell her how they were winning 28-0 at half-time.  And then I would have called her after I left to tell her I was on my way home.

And now I sit here, listening to the karaoke going up at her house, waiting for her to sing.  Sean was riding his bike around earlier, as we were getting ready to leave, and he said to me he swore he heard grandmas voice up there, singing, and he rode up the hill, even though he knew she wouldn't be there. She always sang The End of the World, by Skeeter Davis, and I haven't been able to listen to it since she's been gone.  And probably never will without breaking down again.

I'm pretty sure that as much as I've loathed football and the wasteful consumerism involved in it for quite a while now, it's going to be something that helps to fill the emptiness and helps me to find something new to take the place of something that will never be again.  Because things change, and I am always the one who points that out.  I've sat on her porch with her many nights looking down across the road at the monstrous garage that was built by the people who moved into the trailer that Jeff, Joyce, and Jenny put in when I was just a kid. We talked about how much has changed around here. How much change my grandmother saw in her entire life here and how it must have felt to her, and I know how it felt to my mother, not being able to see the sunrise in the same way that she and my father built the house exactly in that spot for.

Change is hard, but it's inevitable, and I know I have to be like the river.

But it's fucking hard.  And I know that eventually it will be less hard.  But for now, it's fucking hard.

15 August 2017

Weaving Through The Grief


My mother was in the Neuro ICU for more than a week.  She was not conscious at all for any of it. Or at least not that I felt.  I spent the majority of twelve days with her.  A few of those days I left for a couple hours while my cousin stayed with her.  Two of those nights I went home and slept in my bed, but immediately went back to sleeping by her side the minute I knew my time with her physical presence was limited.

I always have at least one knitting project with me.  During the hospital stay I had two or three in my bag, but I probably only worked on a pair of socks for a total of half an hour in all over the course of those twelve days.  Somehow, every single minute that passed, I was unable to focus on anything other than just sitting there, with my mother, holding her hand, being in her presence.  Walking with her as we both navigated the process of her death.

I've found it hard to pick up any knitting lately.  I usually do go through a period during this time of year where my fiber arts take a back seat to other things mostly outdoor related, but this time it feels different.  I am having a hard time writing too.  I am doing very little of anything other than just merely functioning.  I spend a lot of time sitting, staring off into space as my thoughts run around in circles.

Last night I pulled out my scarf.  It's a simple garter stitch.  The same project I first knit many years ago when I was learning the craft.  I'm still finding it hard to focus, but it's easy enough that I can just concentrate on the pushing through.  I can just knit one more stitch, and one more, and one more, until I've finished a row, and I can count that as progress.

Pushing through anything can be hard. Even if it's the easiest thing you could possibly do at the moment, just adding the layer of grief to it makes it the biggest accomplishment.

I don't feel like knitting but the more I do it, the better I feel about it.


12 August 2017

It is okay to say (random thoughts from the currently grieving)


"I'm sorry."
"I don't know what to say."
"There really aren't any words."
"It must be really hard."
"I can't imagine."
"I wish I knew what to say."
"What can I do to help?"
"I'm here if you need anything."

Some people have a hard time with these things, but I don't, so it's totally okay to say them to me.
"She's in a better place."
"She is no longer suffering."
"She is still here with you."
"She will always be here with you."

She will always be a part of me, for sure.
And I also find myself in the same place of not really knowing what to say
when others go through this too.

It is always okay to hug me.
And hug me again.
And call me.
And text me.
A million times.
Every day.

It's also okay to not say anything.
It's totally okay to break down in tears.
It's okay to look at me with hurt in your eyes.
It's okay to look down and say "it sucks"

I'm also learning for myself that it's okay for me to
not always respond to you when you reach out because I know you won't be offended,
because sometimes responding is overwhelming.
I am learning that it's okay for me to take time to crawl in a hole and just sit there.
I am totally okay with breaking down in a pile of tears in public places
while complete strangers look upon me with confusion.
I'm okay sitting in my car, at a traffic light, bawling, as people in their cars look on in wonder.

I've had a few people tell me that feeling deeply is my superpower.  Throughout this I have been reminded of how much of a good thing that is, not only for me but for what I am modeling for my children.

Grief sucks, but I've really gotten good at it.
And as much as it can hurt, and make it feel like my heart is being ripped apart inside of me,
it brings a transformation and release more profound than anything I have ever experienced.
Deep, tragic, painful grief makes you feel alive in ways that life itself can not.

It is also okay to be grateful for the lessons and wisdom you gain from a process that you wish you didn't have to go through, but in the end you know that you need to go through it in order to continue to evolve.

The things that tear you apart end up putting you back together in ways that could not happen without.




About Me

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40. mother. earth lover. mover. creater.