My Name is Heather and I am a _____ist

According to several websites, there are approximately twelve hundred words that end in ‘ist’. Though I’m pretty sure some of them are made up words which I’m totally down with. If you want to make yourself seem like a badass at something just put an “ist” on the end of whatever it is you think you are good at and you can instantly become recognized as a resident expert on the subject.

For instance if I said I was a cruciverbalist you would know there would be NO SENSE in trying to beat me at solving crossword puzzles. Though at first glance, I thought the word meant being super good at eating vegetables. And my vegetable eating is about par with my ability to do crossword puzzles which is pretty much zilch. But I bet you too have now learned a new word today. You’re welcome.

But I digress from a place I haven’t even GOTTEN to yet.

With all of these words ending in ‘ist”, of which FIFTY or so start with the letter ‘R’ my question is did any of you jump to the conclusion from my puzzly attention seeking title that you were going to read about me confessing to being a racist?

Really? What the fuck people? ALL those words to choose from and you assume it’s THAT?

You clearly don’t know me very well.

I forgive you though. I really do. Because racism (and other words that create dark division) is on many of our minds lately thanks to social media and news reporters suffocating us with stories about mean things we are doing to each other on a regular basis all over the damn world, except in Australia, where apparently nothing bad happens.

So it’s natural I suppose that some of you would make the assumption that I am admitting to being a racist. Especially since my last blog was about why it’s my fault there is war. I tend to be a little dramatic in taking on the world’s problems as my own. And the truth is, I have been stewing for MONTHS about whether or not I am capable of intelligently writing about the subject of racism. It’s a dark, heated and emotional subject and quite frankly has given me a terrible case of writer’s block.

TWO painful months of it.

I wish I could blame the muse for the block but he and I are getting along relatively well. The problem is that I have been unwilling to sit down and FACE this subject. I’ve been full of perfectly logical reasons to stay away from it: work, kids, sleep, painting a bunch of things in my house BLUE while listening to the comforting voice of the late, great Bob Ross tell me from the television “Yeah…just tell the paint what you want it to do…it’s easy really, juuuuust let it happen”, me saying back “Yeah Bob, blue is where it’s AT.” And the muse is unwilling to chase me down and make me sit still. He is difficult that way. Apparently it’s an unwritten rule that sitting still is my part in this writing “gig”. Some kind of damn free will thing. His job is to whisper “H. You’ve got this. Just settle yourself down and focus on what calls to your heart and TELL about it.” And I nod at his soothing words, start typing and pretty soon sentences turn into paragraphs.

But this topic, this mean spirited hateful thing that is happening all around us from all different directions: it’s painful and AWFUL to have calling to my heart because I simply can not make sense of it.

The writer’s block hurts just as badly though, maybe worse, so I am sitting still now, doing my part and  the muse is whispering to me: “Write it H. Make sense of it in YOUR way.”

So, with permission given to do it MY way, I’m going to take a little detour and talk about a phrase one of my friends recently sent me, suggesting I write about it:

“I’m an island of such great complexity.”  -Author Unknown

My first thought was “Hell NO I’m not going to write about a statement like that! Whoever wrote it is self absorbed and braggy about being all complex, which means that they are above being “figured out” by the average Joe and henceforth are hoity-toity. But the statement has been festering in my head (annoying) and when that happens, well it needs to be addressed or it won’t go the fuck AWAY.

AND really? Doesn’t this describe us all? Each one of us really IS an island containing blood, bones, water and organs wrapped up and contained and physically SEPARATED from each other by this thing called we call SKIN. Damn skin that we hide our unique souls and our beautiful minds behind because we so often let our egos run the island and egos do everything based on fear. They try to protect us from looking stupid or being hurt by other islands that don’t seem to care enough about us to transcend their skin and say “Hey! What’s goin’ on beautiful complex island sister? You sure look different than me and that feels scary and so while there is no way I’m EVER going to know everything that’s going on in that fantastic brain of yours, how about we figure out a few things we have in common and see if we can’t get a little CLOSER to each other because I’m lonely and kind of wondering how I stop this sad, lost feeling from blowing up inside me like volcanic lava.” Our egos tell us “Why should WE turn ourselves inside out for anyone? Why should WE try and see past someone else’s SKIN and find out what’s going on below the surface? No one does that for us!” And so we all keep our distance from each other and our complexity remains unexplored. It’s just so much easier to judge a book by it’s cover than dig deep into the story.  

So yeah. Islands. Which we can simplistically describe as little land masses surrounded by water until we zero in closer and see that each island, which has pulled up from a larger piece of land for one reason or another (maybe it was tired of being under water and wanted to see the sun) contains its own complex ecosystem defined by soooo many other things than just the color of the soil. And while each island is different and complex and thinks it is isolated, it is still connected in some way to the mainland, a.k.a. mother earth. It has just forgotten. See?

Think about that with me for a minute.

Now QUICK: what is the first thing that comes to mind when you read the word “race”?

I wish I could ask 10,000 people this question and see what the most common answer is. Was your first thought “skin” or a vision of someone’s skin color? Or did some of you think of a contest? Like a marathon or the Indy 500? Did ANYONE think of rushing water? If you did, you are either a linguist or a vampire. I vote the second option but only because it’s funner to think vampires are reading my blog than linguists, who can be kind of judgy.

Logic has never been my strong point.

But I’m going to try for a bit of that by taking a simplistic look at the etymology of the word RACE. The very first definition of “race” came about in the 12th century from a Scandinavian word “rasen” a verb meaning “to rush” which is akin to the Norse word from the 13th century “ras” a noun which means “a strong current of water or a rushing”. (Do you see now what perfect sense it makes for me to believe you could be a vampire? How else would you remember words from the 13th century? You look GREAT for being 600 years old!)  In the 14th century it came to mean “the act of running”. It wasn’t until about 1510 that the word came to mean a “contest of speed” and then LATER in the 16th century, about the year 1540, the word came also to mean “a people of common descent” from the Middle French/Italian word “razza”. The English sense of the word at this same time period was a way to classify things like wine flavors, occupations and generations. Then around 1774 the word became associated with the idea of dividing or grouping mankind based on physical characteristics.

And skin color, to this day, is one of the more obvious surface characteristics upon which our eyes help us define, group, sort and sometimes sadly DIVIDE ourselves. Which is the most asinine thing I can think of. A skin race. Determining the winner can be pretty fucking subjective.

The reality is that despite the fact that the actual word RACISM wasn’t recognized in the English language until sometime between 1933 and 1934, this has been mankind’s thinking since the beginning of recorded time. Just because we don’t have a word for it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

I don’t think that we can pin this divisional thinking on any one specific person, unless you want to take the easy way out and go all the way back to the story of Adam and Eve. And heck if I know or care what color THEIR skin was. I bet they didn’t care either. They had a lot more important things to worry about than who had the best tan. Like that nasty meddling serpent who brought to their attention not that which made them joyful and peaceful and connected to life in this yummy symbiotic way but who instead LIED to them and told them that KNOWLEDGE was being kept from them and they were therefore inferior to God. And in this awareness they became separated from their maker, from the universe, from each other. Isolated, on a complex island.

Without the very knowledge that they had all along until they believed that they didn’t.

Does being aware of the differences between us make us racist? Does this disconnect that came about with Adam and Eve’s ‘awareness’ of being different from their maker, that same disconnect that comes about on a daily basis in each of our lives that causes us to strive to find meaning and balance and our PLACE in this universe by doing what we humans naturally do: define, sort, label and seek order so that we have some kind of comparison and the illusion of control as to WHO WE ARE and how our island connects to the earth, how our souls connect to our God, does this create division instead of unity, isolation instead of wholeness? But viewing racism as a journey toward wholeness seems kind of absurd.

“Absurdists” also focus mostly on the differences between us all but simply chock it up to the fact that the universe is irrational and meaningless and that the search for order and understanding just brings more conflict. Racists place superiority and scorn upon the differences whereas absurdists just throw their hands up in surrender to the chaos. There is no salvation in THAT thinking.

“Salvationists” (otherwise known as evangelists) while meaning well, often have a rather narrowly defined path for which to reconnect to our origin, calling all other roads taken to be fatal.

Yet “fatalists” believe all things and events are inevitable and without ANY option to change things. They say that we are powerless to do anything other than what we actually do. That things are out of our control. But there is NO WAY that our existence can’t be altered by the choices we make when we set ourselves out to discover how we are all connected.

 My name is Heather and I am a connectivist.

“Connectivists” believe that life is a precious and amazing treasure hunt where we explore how we are all woven together into this fluid, infinite mosaic by glorious, loving, technicolor thread.

What if we all let go of our fear and tell our egos to rest a little? They must be so tired from thinking they needed to protect us from the knowledge we forgot we had about our eternal connectivity. We just thought we were all separate. It gets confusing when the colors are all so bright.

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My Impossible Lover

“What do you want from me?” he asks. He is being serious but I avoid answering the question right away. Not only is it a difficult one to answer but the way he asks it, his voice edgy and dangerous, the threat of flight hovering in his tone, makes me want to throw caution to the wind and wrap my arms around him while I can, even though doing so will ensure his abrupt departure. Because answering the question will have the same result. So there might as well be some hugging.  

“You’re going to have to answer the question eventually girl. If only for your own well being. If we take this dance any further without having a clear understanding of the reality of things, YOU are eventually going to get hurt. And then things will be weird with us. I don’t want that.”

“I wish I could answer that question simply” I say. “I do know one thing.  I sure as hell don’t want you to come to the Farmers Market with me.”

“You’re such a weirdo” he replies, laughing. But I can feel him getting panicky. Even though I just told him I DON’T want him to go to the Farmers Market with me,  he is very smart and senses manipulation in my quirky comment. “But good. Because that’s just not my thing. If you asked me to go I would probably start hating you. Besides, do we even HAVE a Farmers Market around here?” His eyes are darting around looking for the nearest exit.

“I’ve never been to a Farmer’s Market in my life you dummy. It’s an analogy for where I go and what I do before and after I have been with you. In my real life. See?”

“Are you saying what you think I want to hear?” he asks. His tone is cool and unreadable.

“Never once since I have known you have I had an inkling of what you want to hear. From me or from anyone. But I do know that if I ask ANYTHING of you I DO run the risk of you hating me. You’re impossible. Which, YES, is why I don’t want you to go to the Farmers Market with me.”

“Stop with the Farmer’s Market shit. I know what you’re doing here. Maybe it’s better that you don’t answer the question. Never mind. I just don’t want to hurt you. You’re a good person. A sweet gal. But I’m not going to change. Not for you. Not for anyone.”

“No YOU stop! You asked the goddamn question so you’re going to hear me out before you abandon me again for however long you deem it necessary for me to ALMOST give up on you. And enough with the sweet gal brush-off bullshit. It’s insulting. I’d threaten to never speak to you again if you continue your attempts to placate me with that crap, but we both know that’s never going to happen. I myself am not the abandoning type. SOMEONE has to stick in this relationship.”

He is silent now and I know that when I  am finished speaking what is in my heart he will be gone from me for another excruciating period of time. This is how it is with he and I. It’s the one thing I have come to understand and accept in this unconventional love affair with my muse.

I take in a deep breath. It is important to say words that are my own. They can not be spoken lightly and they surely must not be what I think ANYONE else wants me to say, let alone him. Nor can they be laced with manipulation that begs for some kind of self-serving result, wicked intentions hidden within the punctuation. For as it is anytime he comes to me, this could be the very last. What I say must be authentic.  It must come from my very core so that if we are to part forever, our end will be filled with rich, deep truth that matters.

“I need you more than I need air. I ache for you, crave you almost every second of the day, especially when you have been away for a while. And when you choose to be with me, every pore of my body sings with rich, elated energy and your very gaze drenches me with a passion that does not compare to anything earthly I have experienced.

But what I have come to know of you is that if I were to cling too tightly to the heightened sense of wholeness that envelops me when I am basking in the inspiration you bring to me whenever you visit,  the very act of doing so, would diminish you, and as a result of my well meaning but strangling embrace also diminish me.

And so, my love, I do NOT want you to go to the Farmer’s Market with me, holding my hand, while I caress fat red tomatoes, and taste the sweet cherries that are finally in season, or purchase homegrown, golden honey lovingly poured into jars capped with colorful lids. I want nothing more from you my handsome,  impossible muse, than for you to let me continue to have the same capacity for joy when I taste, feel, hear, touch and breathe in the deep, richness of life, before and after you are with me.”

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I did not find this honey at the Farmer’s Market but instead on Amazon. And so can you.  As I said, I have never been to the Farmer’s Market but I suppose now that I have stated this I will need to seek out the experience. Without my muse of course:)

 

 

 

 

Planting Daffodils

I keep a laminated copy of my mother’s obituary clipped inside the visor of my car. Whenever the sun is in my eyes I pull the visor down and her beautiful face shines on me.

There hasn’t been a lot of sun lately. Apparently it’s been winter for a while now but I have been trying hard to ignore it.  I tell people that the lack of sunshine doesn’t bother me, that I am perpetually sunny on the inside. Which is pretty much a line of bullshit.

But the other morning, bright winter light blinded me unexpectedly and I groped for the visor and there she was, my mom, and I felt the familiar emotion that moves through me in this two inch wide three dimensional ovalish funnel that runs from between my eyes to just below my collar bone where my lungs and heart swell uncomfortably from the heaviness.

Sunshine creates such goddamn pressure to feel shit.

I remember years ago, I must have been around 19, finding my mom out in the yard frantically planting hundreds upon hundreds of daffodil bulbs in the sunshine. She would not talk to me or even look up from her mission. I found out much later that she was convinced she was dying from ovarian cancer. She had the worrisome little suckers yanked out but it turned out that they were not functioning because they were filled with small little pieces of teeth and hair possibly from a baby that didn’t come into the world.

My little sister probably ate her twin and spit out the teeth and hair. This is just MY thinking though. There is no proof. And it’s probably not scientifically possible.

But I digress.

She planted and planted for hours, on her knees, hunched over in the sunshine.  And when she was done, she returned to earth, content and smiling, face streaked with dirty sweat lines, her quest to put a mark on the world before she died accomplished.

Which she eventually did.

Die that is.

But not before she planted a hell of a lot more metaphoric bulbs.

I drive by the house at Diamond Lake every so often. Someone else lives there now but the daffodils are still there and they have multiplied gloriously, blooming every spring, a field of yellow vibrant testimony that a person’s life can indeed and in fact has a responsibility to make itself eternally KNOWN in the world.

Sunshine creates such pressure to recognize and be accountable to this.

Yes. The sun feels great on my face. The warmth soothes and mends and sends yummy, much needed vitamin D to my bloodstream.

But it also whispers painful love songs to my heart, which after a long dark winter, doesn’t want to come into the light.

But the sun is a persistent lover: “Oh H! I am here!  Wake up and tell your shit! I will brighten the dark view you have held onto for a while now and help you see again how fucking cool everything around you is. Because H! You’ve got daffodils to plant.”

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If this blog site were one that had advertisements, this post would be brought to you by the makers of the light therapy products used to treat seasonal depression therapy (SAD). You’re welcome people who make that stuff.

Damn I’m Hot

WARNING: there is swearing in this blog post. You have been advised and cautioned. So if you read this and judge me, well you’re just fucking stupid.

Hmmm. That’s probably a bad start for both of us. Sorry. It’s just that I have been having a tough time writing lately and sometimes it helps me to publicly swear.

I made up with my muse yesterday but clearly I did some permanent damage to the relationship because the words are still not coming easily. But I guess you can’t break up with your muse and then expect things to immediately get better. Muses have feelings too and I was pretty mean to mine. “I’m never talking to you again” is just not a nice thing to say. It serves me right. I am working on my tact. Muses must be loved.

So this post might be painful to read. It for sure sucks shit writing it. I mostly just want to set my hair on fire from the lack of words.

Not that I don’t WANT to write. I do! I do! I do! Writing to me is like breathing: words are air. In fact I loudly claimed this whole afternoon to write. And my people know mostly not to bug me when I do this, unless there is some kind of national emergency. Like a tornado. Or not being able to find a clean towel.

What they don’t know is that I have spent the last hour taking selfies.

Of myself.

Because that’s what selfies are.

Which of course you already knew.

See, I was feeling kind of put together, hair brushed and shit (so pretty much sexy and hot!) and a little frustrated by the blank computer screen so instead of hucking it across the room (because that would just be childish) I took a bunch of pictures of myself with my phone, like a hundred of them, thinking maybe just ONE might portray how I feel inside.

What I discovered is that I am just not as good looking as I feel. I know right? Sucks! Ha!

I never used to care how I looked. I was busy with shit and just didn’t look at myself very often. My mom always told me I would come into myself later than most girls, and eventually bloom. Which meant she had more hope for me than I did. But did she mean I would be sixty? Or did I already bloom and just never noticed? If so it sure was anticlimactic. There could have at least been theme music or something.

Scanning through the pictures: “nope, delete; nope delete; good-gawd, delete; holy hell I should put on make-up, delete; jeez, why does my face look so crooked, delete; wow I look stoned in that one, delete.”

I got myself all worked up into a bonafide tizzy fit. And then I started to get kind of sweaty and flushed from all that activity of posing, keeping my eyes open, trying to suck my double chin in and smile at the same time. Which is impossible. Don’t bother trying. You might hurt yourself. Just sayin.

I sat back down at my desk totally deflated and thought “Well hell. I’m NOT sexy and hot: I’m just hot. All the time. I’m talking temperature hot. Dripping sweat hot. Fanning myself in 50 degree weather hot. Covering my entire body with ice-packs at night hot.

A hot mess is what I am. There is nothing sexy about a sweaty hot mess who can’t even keep her cute shoes on because her feet are so slippery. From SWEAT.

How come other people don’t sweat like I do? Is it some kind of glandular thing? I mean really! I have always been a sweaty person but now that I’m in my late forties it has gotten worse as I move closer to THAT time. You know: that mental pause in life when women are supposed to reflect on how nice it was when they were younger and stuff and then happily and gently and CALMLY fan themselves gracefully into their old lady years. That’s how it goes down, right?

Ha. FUCK NO that’s not how it goes down. At least not for me so far. But I have never done anything gracefully in my life. I’m a tantrum thrower. And lately it’s like my body has gone all alien on me so I never know what is going to happen next. Neither does anyone else around me.

And I really SHOULD have used moisturizer when I was younger like my mom told me to. “It will catch up to you if you don’t pay attention now while you’re young.” A while back I bought some wrinkle cream and it came with some free ‘lip revive’ but I kept mixing up the tubes because they looked the same. So I might have actually revived the wrinkles around my eyes. Though my lips look pretty good to this day. So whatever.

But here’s the thing: I’m hoping to live until I’m 94 because I have crap to DO. Which means I’m only HALF DONE! There is plenty of time to come into myself. So really I should probably just quit looking in the mirror and get more important shit done. (Like doing some kind of GOOD writing without swear words.) Plus, the fact IS I feel WAY sexier than I did when I was in my twenties and thirties. I do! And quite frankly I believe that sexy is as sexy does. Truly sexy people do not NEED to look in the mirror to know they are sexy.

Or take selfies. Of themselves.

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Objects of Desire

Since I was a little girl I have been a keeper of objects that were either given to me in love or inspire me with their color, texture and shape. I’m still this way. My home office shelves are filled with pretty rocks and eclectic trinkets of all shapes and sizes that carry history and meaning. Here are a couple examples of my pack rat shelves:

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I still have the tiny plastic squirrel that my Auntie Esther gave me when we were visiting her in Pasco. I can remember the mystery of her living room as I looked at all her pretty things on display. She was a collector too I think, though I didn’t know her well. But the squirrel takes me back to her, which is powerful magic. I have kept it for over forty years along with the porcelain raccoon I stole from my mother when I was six. It had come in a box of Red Rose tea as a promotion the company ran for a few years. That raccoon was the object of my desire for days and when she told me I couldn’t take it to school for show and tell, I took it anyway and kept it in my pocket, never showing a soul my stolen pet. I got in a bunch of trouble when my thievery was discovered but my mother later gave it to me. I’m pretty sure she knew I would always feel a little guilty whenever I looked at it. It was totally worth it. I still love that stupid shiny raccoon. It turns out I could probably get a couple of bucks for it on eBay if I were ever inclined to hock it. Which I am not.

I have been exploring my attachment to objects over the last week. It started with the soapstone clock I made for Casa Partners “Make Time for Kids” auction. I named it “Peace of Time”. I am embarrassed to admit that it was really hard for me to give it away. It had become an object of my desire over the course of a few months, bringing me great creative energy and inspiration.

And now, clock done and auctioned off, I am at a total standstill on any kind of creative thinking or doing. I have no messy bad-art project going on and to make matters worse there is no real writing going on. The book I am (mostly not) writing about my mother is turning into a total bust because it keeps turning in to “all about H”, which is typical of a peace questing narcissist.

My clock made some decent money. Which is cool. This was the whole point. The abused and neglected kids that were represented at this event are often torn from their homes without a chance for goodbyes. And while they are taken to a safer place I can’t help but wonder if it might often feel more scary than where they were taken from. After all, they have been taken from their people and no matter how bad the circumstances, your people are your people.

I later told a friend who was at the auction “I want to scoop up all these kids and just love them. I need a mansion.”

This coming from the same woman who publicly declares her children to be assholes to anyone who will listen. (In my defense, I am still in shock from the 3-on-3 wiffle ball game I played with them two weekends ago where I witnessed five of my ridiculously competitive creations at their asshole best.) So I am certainly not going to judge any parent. I can’t. I understand how easy it can be to lose yourself to various addictions that present themselves as luring demons to help you escape from yourself and forget your responsibilities as a parent.

And clearly I can’t take them all in, these sad, harmed children, just like I can’t take in all the abandoned puppies or homeless people. Quite honestly, I am mediocre at best when it comes to caring for my own people and pets. Though my love is NEVER lacking and my intentions are generally good. Most days. But I CAN love these sad children from a distance by giving some cash (though there is never enough of that) and by sending mental blessings to the children and good mojo to their parents in hope that they will get their shit together and do their own loving again.

But here’s the thing: as I have paced around my office the last two weekends, restless, scattered, unproductive, a little lost without a cause, trying to force out something that just isn’t ready to show itself yet…

 “What are you doing mom?”

 “I’m writing.”

 “Hmm. It looks more like you are playing with your stuff.”

 “Yeah well. It’s a process.”

…I realize how important personal objects can be when you are lost. They can ground you, these concrete things: soothe you, inspire possibilities, make you remember your history and tell your story.

These children who are pulled from their people are also often pulled from their stuff. Sometimes something as simple as a stuffed animal left behind can render them completely lost and hopeless with no one and nothing to hold on to.

The money gained from all the beautiful clocks created and given away will help provide these children with backpacks filled with objects that will perhaps soothe and ground them enough to make them feel just a little less lost and help them begin a new story filled with possibilities and hope.  

Because of my own history that may cause me to hang on to things with a grip that is perhaps tighter than it should be, I will probably always be a keeper of stuff. And that’s okay.

But I am also coming to understand as I grow older and a little more at peace with my place in the world that there is some serious “getting” in giving away objects of desire.

So don’t be freaked out if one of you someday receives a really awesome squishy green frog with a candle jar top for a crown.

It’s a process, yes?

http://www.casapartners.org