confessions of firewalking and roasting marshmallows

confession: last night i received a long letter from pixie sister in her tiny handwriting that i can read without my reading glasses because she and i are magically connected in a way that empowers my vision to see her, hear her, read her with heart-centered clarity. as i slept last night i answered her letter in a dream conversation in which i spoke of myself too much and listened too little. all i need to do, all anyone needs me to do for them…is love them with deep listening.

confession: this morning i found an email in my inbox about upcoming warrior goddess retreats. i clicked on the link and tried to imagine myself spending a weekend in seattle or sedona or new york or austin firewalking and bonfiring with a group of women. the imagining made me tired. the imagining slid me into remembering the person i was in my 20’s who was devoted to shamanic healing and sweat lodging and peaceful warrioring with braless women in long flowy skirts with long flowing hair interspersed with my devotion to mind-altering drugs and addictive sexual relationships and a fuck-ton of conventional psychotherapy and then i paused. i brought to mind my circle of grandmothers and wondered if any of them had ever participated in the warrior goddess movement. i laughed outloud remembering them roasting marshmallows on one side of the fire pit while the wind fed the flames burning our fears on the other side. they knew that their flaming marshmallows would add sweetness to the fears burning off the other side of the former-girl-scout-leader’s skillfully built pyre.

confession: grandmothers roasting marshmallows are more reflective of who i am now than warrior goddess firewalking. my 25-year-old self would have been horrified by that statement. my 25-year-old self was a well-meaning, trying-too-hard-at-everything, screwier-than-she-could-conceive idiot.

confession: time, presence, attention—these are our greatest resources we’re mindlessly wasting each day.

confession: spending all evening in bed with a book is never a waste of time or attention.

confession: i ordered two books yesterday, one for me and one for a friend. everything i’m reading this month shares a common theme of removing obstacles to loving. according to the self-affirming and bias-confirming reading material i choose, unconditional loving is the embodiment of enlightenment.

confession: a friend’s friend died this week. i wrote and mailed a letter to my friend on the day before her friend died. in my letter i thanked her for surviving. rooting into our core for the courage to survive is a daily task for some.

confession: the poetess and i sometimes muse about people who live without the suicidal reflex. those people never think to kill themselves. because they’d never consider ending their life, they don’t understand why anyone would. we are grateful for their lack of understanding. we celebrate that their sureness about living will forever eclipse their ability to comprehend what living-with-an-urge-toward-dying is like for others.

confession: my mother sent me an email two weeks ago that i skimmed but didn’t read, setting it aside for when i had the head and heart space to communicate with her. after two weeks of mentally responding to her email, i sat at the keyboard to write to her last night. when i opened her email from two weeks ago and read it with my full attention for the first time i realized she hadn’t asked me a question, only posited a statement. therefore, her email didn’t require a response from me. i appreciated the ironic two weeks of suffering i created for myself by mentally defending myself to her about a question she didn’t ask.

confession: the stories we tell ourselves create most of our suffering. we can change the story anytime.

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confessing my internal dialogue

confession: if this is my real life, why i am so bored?

confession: if i’m bored with my life, does that mean i’m boring?

confession: is boredom a protection i employ to avoid feeling the painful meaninglessness of human existence?

confession: well, yeah, duh.

confession: would i rather engage a falsely constructed blur of boredom than soul-crushing ennui with its ensuing suicidal exit strategies?

confession: well, yeah, duh.

confession: couldn’t i possibly entertain some other more constructive alternatives?

confession: hold that thought–>let’s smother our resistance and stuff down anxiety by eating chocolate first.

confession: don’t forget the diet coke.

confession: side bar reminder–we’re never drinking liquor again after thursday night’s screaming and friday’s shame-hangover.

confession: you know every time you say “never” that you’re lying to yourself, right?

confession: sure. whatever. where were we?

confession: constructive alternatives to soul-crushing ennui by pretending to be bored…

confession: oh yeah, right. let’s eat more chocolate, though.

confession: food ain’t gonna fix this, sweetheart.

confession: chocolate isn’t food; chocolate is medicine.

confession: you’re fucked.

confession: i know.

confession: so stoppit.

confession: i can’t. i don’t know how. i’ve done decades of therapy and meditation and forgiveness practice and self-punishing and guilt and shame and more therapy and meditation and forgiveness and the ennui persists…the eating disorder follows me into each hour of every day…the self-hate cycle continues….

confession: i know. i get it. but you’re not gonna kill yourself  because if you were gonna you would’ve already and you never did, so you’re not gonna which means we gotta figure out something better, safer, easier, gentler.

confession: …?

confession: what do you mean, …?

confession: i’m waiting for your answer, your solution, your big fat fix-it-all plan ‘cuz i ain’t got one.

confession: me either.

confession: i’m not actually bored.

confession: i know.

confession: i’m scared it’ll never get better. i’m scared life is getting harder, not easier.

confession: i don’t know if life will get easier or harder from here but i know the thing that always lightens your heart.

confession: what’s that?

confession: do something loving for someone else. reach out to brighten someone else’s day, hour, minute. go love someone. pick anyone. love is a verb. take action.

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confessions of revising and fucking up

confession: the best writing revision advice i’ve ever read is “cut out the parts the reader will skip.”

confession: i cut out the confessions i want to skip over the truth of. i cut out the confessions that i’m afraid might offend or worry someone. i cut out the confessions that reveal too much about me or someone else. the next confession is like that. i took it out. i revised it. i put it back.

confession: in my experience, fucking up is an accelerated learning path and i couldn’t have learned most of what i’ve learned in my life without fucking up myself (and fucking myself up). i have patience and compassion for other people fucking up. every time someone i love is on an accelerated learning path of fucking up, it is painful to witness the pain caused by this process. it is painful not to be able to save someone from their own present and future pain by interceding on their behalf in mid-fuck-up, holding them in a tight embrace and whispering in their ear, “no, no, no, sweet one. please don’t do this. please stop this pain you’re spiraling for yourself and others.” if someone had said those words to me during any of my major fuck-ups, i wouldn’t have listened. even when i knew i was fucking up, i was determined to see those regrettable mistakes through to my own ruination. for everyone currently fucking up, i love you. i get it. i’ve done it. but please stop defending, rationalizing, and projecting on others in an effort to make it seem like what you’re doing is anything other than fucking up.

confession: i eat sugar when i’m tired. i eat sugar when i’m scared. i eat sugar when i want to get high so that i don’t have to feel whatever it is i don’t want to feel. i eat too much sugar for someone who is supposedly healing a serious diagnosis and trying to prevent an ill-fated prognosis through diet. i’m calling bullshit on myself. i’m currently fucking up every day with sugar.

confession: because the poetess is brilliant she reminded me that the quality of my poetry isn’t my concern; my job is to write a poem until it is finished, until the poem is finished with me, until the poem has communicated what it created itself to express. the poem moves through me. the poem knows when it is done. the poem knows that finished is more important, more valuable, more relevant than “good.”

confession: my friend t emailed me a few days ago. (even in my own mind i begin every thought about her as “my friend t” because my love for her wiggles with tail-wagging happy-puppy innocence and purity and pack-identification–>in dog-speak, t and i belong to the same soul-pack.) her expression of vulnerability is the gift she gave me. her vulnerability gives me permission to be vulnerable. her reaching out for support gave me the opportunity to actively love her more. i love loving more. i love to love as an action verb. who will you love in action verb form today?

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confessions from monhegan

confession: if i were to write a bio blurb for a poetry or fiction publication today i would describe myself as “someone who stands in a cemetery alone during a rainstorm, smiling as she contemplates death to inspire greater aliveness.”

confession: my favorite weather is rain. my favorite activity is hiking. i have both today on this little island off the coast of maine. today is my favorite day. any rainy day calls me outside to hike and becomes my favorite day.

confession: every hiker i met on the trails today carried an umbrella or wore a rain jacket. i don’t need that stuff because i was born waterproof.

confession: my favorite hikers to encounter on any trail are solo female hikers wearing groovy sunglasses and bright lipstick and fashionable outfits because that’s how they dress everyday and they appear to have spontaneously wandered onto a trail on a whim. (you will never see these women on a trail when it is raining, but i saw one yesterday when the sun was shining.)

confession: yesterday i wrote a letter to a boy turning 14 years old next week. i told him what would have helped me to know at 14. i mentioned sex and suicide. sex will show up smack-center for him quickly enough. suicide already has.

confession: at breakfast yesterday morning i was wearing a peace dove t-shirt. my friend s assigned me the task of acting like the holy spirit since i was wearing that symbol. my practice toward enlightenment can approximate an alignment with the ghostly aspect of the christian trinity so i was down with that. others at the table thought the goal was too lofty and pressure-filled. their doubt in my capacity only serves to make me want to do, act, be, behave, speak, beam more loving peace in all directions.

confession: i make wishes on rocks i toss into the ocean. several days ago i tossed a handful of rocks from my left hand into the ocean with a wish of “enlightenment for everyone” immediately followed by tossing the rocks from my right hand into the ocean with the wish “especially for me.”

confession: my little ego gives me perpetual fodder for self-mocking.

confession: because i was sober and she’d been drinking, she trusted me when i led us off-trail after dusk and we forged into the thorny brambling thicket. we won’t try that again. i have punctures and scrapes as souvenirs from that lesson.

confession: making art is a privilege. clean running water, electricity, and internet access are also privileges. mostly we take these for granted. today i am remembering, honoring, and feeling grateful for these privileges.

confession: if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? this week i’d pick exactly where i am.

confession: she asked about my experience because she needed more data points to contextualize her experience. we live bigger lives when we intimately connect with one another to exchange information we wouldn’t know if we didn’t risk vulnerability to ask.

confession: her entire worldview changed when she became a cat person. a pivot in one direction can affect every facet of perspective.







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confessions of short conversations

last week
him: (commenting on my outfit) you’re going all out tonight.
me: yeah but i feel like i’ve arrived at an age where i’m at risk for trying too hard to look younger or hotter than i am, so if you see me heading in that direction, will you please gently redirect me?
him: yes…but what if…?
me:  if i’m stampeding at lightning speed way beyond trying too hard, just let me be.

four nights ago
me: i’ve been craving ice cream for three weeks. will you please go to the store to buy it?
him: (cautious about avoiding an eating disordered girl meltdown if he refuses to buy it and also cautious about avoiding an eating disordered girl meltdown if he buys it and i binge)…?
me: puhleeeeeeazze?
him: will you keep your phone close so that i can call from the store and check with you about options?
me: yes but i already know what i want. will you get that fat-free no-added sugar kind with only 70 calories per serving?
him: the yucky kind?
me: yes, the yucky kind that barely counts as ice cream because it doesn’t taste good enough to binge on.
him: (relieved) chocolate or vanilla?

three days ago
me: (calling him on the phone inside the department store from the men’s section looking to buy him shorts) where are you?
him: in the young men’s section
me: if you’re gonna be the senior vice president with a receding hairline wearing skater shorts, will you please get your twenty-five-year-old tattoos touched up?
him: (ignoring me, ignoring me, ignoring me and hanging up phone)

two nights ago
(walking on the fancy private school campus late at night, heading into the wooded area behind the gym because i need to pop a squat)
him: i heard something and i think it was a fox.
me: (pointing ten feet away into the bushes) there it is. fox.
him, me, fox: (standing still eyeballing each other for a long moment until fox walks away. he and i keep still.)
me: (walking in opposite direction than fox has headed so that i can find a spot to pee)
him: (watching from several yards away) is the fox supposed to be walking toward you?
me: (turning around and locking eyes with the fox as it approaches me) no.
me: (walking quickly away from fox again) i’ll pee somewhere else.

last night
me: (undulating my arms in the air and goofy smiling about it)
him: (looking at me like i’m nutso) what are you doing?
me: i’m being an octopus. watch my shadow.

every night at dinner this week
me: are you eating ice cream for dinner?
him: fuck yeah…with ice cream flavored protein powder which makes this eating-disordered-girl-approved ice cream taste almost like real ice cream.



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confessions of goodbyes and happiness

confession: i happy cried on the inside yesterday at the nashville airport when the tsa lady called me “hon.” i “darlin’” everybody but i hadn’t realized that i no longer hear extended-to-everyone endearments from other people i’m interacting with until that precious woman with a beeping wand waved me through the body scanner and called me “hon.” new life goal—reside where people call each other “hon” and “sweetie” and “darlin’” during mundane exchanges. (austin used to be like that. austin is where i learned it, but i don’t hear it in austin anymore. sometimes though i hear it in the midwest and the south keeps calling me deeper into it.)

confession: when composing a goodbye letter, i recommend leaving out phrases in enlarged font. enlarged font equals yelling louder than all caps. quiet goodbyes are more loving than yelling ones. if your goodbye intent is more fuck-you than loving, i recommend an even smaller font because whispering is more powerful than yelling.

confession: he thought i’d be disappointed by his goodbye. instead i was relieved. the most common behavior i wish to extinguish in my relationships is projection. we all want to be seen, understood, loved. we can not see each other if we are relating from past woundedness, assigning our unprocessed feelings, or engaging in our defense mechanisms. the people i bring closest to me are the ones who own all aspects composing their wholeness.  we don’t have to heal our brokenness to be whole. we need to hold all our broken pieces and know that wholeness flows with, among, and beyond those pieces.

confession: a few mornings ago i remembered that everything is a gift. i don’t know how long or why i forgot that fundamental operating principle in my life but my remembering is a homecoming.

confession: there was a beautiful girl at the dance hall with an old lady’s name who tried to be friendly and i tried, too, but my trying was weak because underneath her friendliness i felt her asking for something she doesn’t have words or self-awareness to request. i know that she’d be dissatisfied with my way of seeing, listening, and loving when she’s looking for something in others that she’ll have to find inside herself. i witnessed her interacting with her boyfriend-not-boyfriend who doesn’t want to commit and she knows he doesn’t but pretends to herself and with him that they will move forward together in life while he disappears for twenty minutes for another beer, a smoke, a hit, a flirt, a screw—who knows where he went.

confession: i wonder who i would think i am without my mother’s critical voice inside my head.

confession: i wonder who you would think you are if you stopped judging yourself for the big fuck-ups and the small ones.

confession: last week i gave myself a writing challenge to make happy poems. thus far, i’m failing with each day’s attempt. writing happy poems (that aren’t sappy) is harder than writing dark and twisty poems. constructing a narrative that journeys through happiness requires more vulnerability than detailing pain. pain is instantly recognizable. sometimes happiness sits quietly in the corner without drawing attention to itself.

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confessions of somewhere, somehow, and sometimes

confession: as a teenager i began drinking green tea to boost my immunity. i thought it tasted like dirt but i was sick and in constant pain and pain is highly motivating. almost 30 years later i think green tea still tastes like dirt. i’ve learned to like the dirt flavor.

confession: we often think “learning to like” is a helpful practice, as in learning to like green tea, broccoli, and pilates. but i think too often i’ve “learned to like” certain kinds of people or behaviors that hurt more than they help me.

confession: years ago there was a young man who reminded me of me. i used to say about him that if i were ten years younger and male, i’d be him. it was true at the time. many years have passed and  he has grown into someone i will never become—which is a compliment, not an insult. he grew faster and in different directions than i have. he became a father twice over and married in-between. he buys houses, changes jobs, coaches ball teams, shaves his receding hair. i’ve done none of these (although i fantasize about shaving my hair). at the time when i believed we were the same separated only by ten years and gender, i expected different paths for both of us. neither of us regrets where our paths have diverged and delivered us instead.

confession: i used to judge and resent never living up to my potential. then i figured out that relative to my singular goal of enlightenment as long as i’m practicing presence every moment i can remember to show up then i am exactly fulfilling my potential.

confession:  months ago papi found a bouquet of pink heart helium balloons in our apartment building’s elevator. he brought them home to me because he knows i love pink, i love hearts, i love helium balloons, and i love found treasures (read—free shit). the rooms and windows in my apartment wrap around the building corners facing east and south. when all the windows are open, wind blows the pink heart helium balloons (leftover from someone else’s valentine’s and still inflated four months later) from one room to another, ghost-chasing the cats (or so the cats believe). moral of this story—free shit is fun. (corollary—freaking out housecats with free shit and wind magic is tirelessly entertaining.)

confession: i could go to a yoga class any day of my life. i never do. not anymore. not for years. i wonder sometimes if i’ll ever go to another yoga class in my lifetime, if i’ll ever want to, if i could return to being someone who loves yoga classes or if i could grow into a new version of myself who loves yoga classes. today that feels impossible.

confession: most people don’t know about my brief stint as a yoga instructor during the late 1990s. teaching yoga ruined yoga for me but i kept going to other teachers’ classes for many years because i recognized my preference for being a student after i had been a teacher. i appreciated the gifts and skills of good teachers after my trial of being a mediocre one.

confession: you might think, “no big deal, so you never go to yoga anymore.” but it is a big deal because yoga healed me and broke me down and healed me and broke me open and healed me and broke me down and i need more healing and i need around round of being broken open. breaking down and breaking open are two distinct experiences. i honor the places inside myself where both breaking down and breaking open have taken me. yoga has repeatedly given me both. but i don’t want yoga’s version this time. i want something different, something new, something i can’t describe because i haven’t experienced it yet, but i know it exists because i’ve never had needs that weren’t able to be met somewhere, somehow, sometimes, even if the somewhere-somehow-sometimes arrived decades after the need appeared.

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