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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confessions of pretty pink unicorn toes

confession: i bought myself my favorite flowers a week and a half ago. the last blooms are in their final fullness before the petal edges brown and wilt. once upon a time in my life i remained in a relationship with someone who hurt me because he brought me my favorite flowers at irregular intervals. i knew then i’d be better off buying my own flowers but i wasn’t ready to act on that knowing. i’ve been playing a quantum-time-space game for a few weeks going back in time and shifting small things in the past, adjusting some of my minor actions, saying things i held back, remaking memories. memory is malleable, neuroplasticity yields to intentional re-wiring, and i am creating a new past that empowers me then and now.

confession: i live across the street from a school chartered in 1690. the main hall has a steeple and church-like bell announcing every hour. that bell has been marking time for lifetimes. i think about students who waited hourly for that bell to ring that now lie in cemeteries. i think about the students that will mark time by that bell who haven’t yet been born.

confession: the poetess and i are currently engaged in a continuous conversation of “isn’t it crazy that….” the opening crazy fact is that our planet has a moon, but only one. yesterday’s fact–humans get two sets of teeth in a lifetime, but only two. (sharks get endlessly replacing teeth.)

confession: two years after moving from austin to philadelphia, i’m moving from austin again via his move to nashville. my closet at his place is empty. this time, this move, two years later, my heart feels fragmented. i understand better the loss of leaving home for real, leaving home for good, knowing i can’t go back home because home isn’t there anymore, understanding that i’ll never have another home like the one i left even if someday i find a new home in another place.

confession: i rarely drink alcohol anymore due to a compromised immune system. when i drink, i drink less and it affects me more. when i drink, i’m in love with everybody…like when i’m sober…only gushier and slurring-er.

confession: i painted my toenails for the first time in two years. i painted them prismatic opalescent baby girl unicorn pale pink and i think they are very pretty, prettier even than the flowers i bought for myself. self-care has been scarce in my world for the past few years. it’s making a comeback.

confession: i read an article advising how to get one’s book published. the realest and best suggestion (although unhelpful) was to become famous first.

confession: i don’t want fame. i prefer anonymity. lately i’ve observed an increasing intrinsic desire to put my writing into the world, to let it be read in hopes that the writing i’ve written to keep me alive might help someone else struggling to stay alive.

confession: i didn’t know middle age was still-young-not-old until i arrived here. when i commented to my favorite aunt and uncle (who are 69 and 70) about being middle aged they laughed at me…because they think of me as young. they think of themselves as young…and they are…and so am i. i am surrounded by role models who age without getting old. from them i’m learning that aging gracefully means you don’t have to get old, act old, believe in oldness; aging and oldness aren’t definitively connected.

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confessions of spiraling

confession: our fridge is always full, spilling over with seltzer, reduced-fat cheeses, three kinds of nut butters and three kinds of jam (because each of the three of us has a different preference), all varieties of leafy greens (that papi makes into green smoothies for him and me every day), pounds of fruit, and beer (depending on who is and isn’t drinking beer in the household at any given time). currently no one is drinking beer in our household but i bought a six-pack of the champagne of beers (a union beer) as a gift for wizard’s office manager because her partner is a union guy and therefore only union beer is allowed into their house (even though the champagne of beers is definitely misleading when using the word “champagne”). papi is on an all-natural food-as-medicine diet for himself (and for me, but i fail before noon each day) which means he is also chronically hungry because veggies don’t fill up a man who works out every day. (yeah, yeah, i know about vegan weightlifters but they are drinking a gallon of whey protein each day and whey protein is pretty yuk, especially at those quantities.) at midnight last night papi was too hungry to sleep (which happens every night), came into the kitchen, opened the fridge door, and immediately desired the champagne of beers, the only thing in the fridge he isn’t allowed to consume because it was purchased as a gift for someone else. papi doesn’t even like the champagne of beers. when papi drinks beer he chooses a pils with a belgian name that americans can’t pronounce correctly, but because it was the only thing in the fridge he couldn’t have, miller high life was the only thing he wanted. papi and i are very alike. i know that can’t-have-it-so-i-want-it feeling. i’ve depleted significant segments of my life slipping into and out of that feeling regarding food.

confession: i spent 25 perfect hours in minnesota with cousins and godchildren this past weekend. i zip in quick and zip out faster because every situation triggers my eating disorder in minnesota, but everybody who loves me in that state knows how to make each moment count and my capacity to love multiplies when loving up the lovies there.

confession: the mall of america in bloomington, minnesota is a perfect destination for drunk shopping.

confession: saturday night drunk shopping was accomplished within budget and without regret.

confession: sitting in the back of the minivan with four of the godchildren on sunday afternoon i asked  if they had any superpowers. my favorite response (offered by the four-year-old)—“i can dance.” we are a dancing family. the oldest godchild taught me a new dance move called the “shoot dance.” he keeps me current because he’s a hip teenager and he knows if he teaches me a new move that i’m committed to learning it. yes, dancing is a superpower in our family.

confession: in a brief-and-meaningful exchange on sunday afternoon in the basement that is his creative workshop, i had the privilege of mentoring my favorite uncle (father of the minnesota cousins, grandfather to the godchildren). he was my first mentor, the first adult to affirm and encourage my creative spirit when i was a young kid. i reminded him of basic zen principles i learned from him (and he learned in japan)–beginner’s mind, be present for process without attachment to outcome, letting possibilities lead us into deeper practice. it was the first time i (as student) reminded my teacher of the teachings. life’s lessons spiral around and around.

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confessions of younger

confession: do you wanna know why i’m not a vegetarian? it ain’t because i looooovvve meat. i mean, meat is okay(ish) and i eat chicken most days but the reason i’m not a vegetarian is that i’d get fat on all the nut butters—peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter. i looooooooovvve the nut butters. i’d binge on the nut butters if i *had* to eat them as a source of protein.  (i binge on them anyway but less since i don’t nutritionally depend on them.) also, about vegetarianism, i’d get bored with beans and lentils. (i get bored with them already without being a vegetarian.) vegetarianism aligns with my ethics…but in the end, my eating disordered limitations around nut butters sway my choice because addicts usually choose their addictions even when the addiction conflicts with their values. thank you to all the vegetarians honoring the earth (and my own values) while i keep eating chicken (and trying to avoid bingeing on the perfection of nut butters).

confession:  i was eating peanut butter on toast while typing that last confession. if you think i ate a single piece of toast smeared with peanut butter, you’re wrong. i ate three pieces. see? i would’ve been able to eat one piece of toast with peanut butter if i had eaten three ounces of chicken first. the chicken is already shredded in a sealed container on the top shelf of the fridge, but noooooo, i went for the peanut butter, two times, three times.

confession: i get self-conscious about typing food confessions to y’all because a) my food struggles bore me and therefore i assume they bore you and b) this shit is shameful for me. whether i post or delete the food confessions derives from a need to either puncture the shame by speaking it or protect the shame be keeping it secret.

confession: if i weren’t confessing to you about nut butters and bingeing, i’d be left confessing about lasers searing wrinkles and my conflicts about “aging gracefully” versus voluntarily burning deep layers of dermis to promote collagen growth.

confession: women my age ubiquitously comment on my “beautiful skin.” i respond to every comment honestly with three words, “lasers and botox.” if my best friend is standing nearby, she adds, “and she doesn’t go out in the sun.”

confession: i have two friends much younger than i am. for the next year, i am exactly 50% older than their age. i adore them. they are smarter, wiser, and kinder than i was at their age. they listen when i preview what the next 15 years of living will universally bring. i had friends 50% older when i was their age. i did my best to listen when my older friends previewed what the next 15 years would bring. some of those older friends of mine have died since…which adds weight to my daily pondering of death. i wrote to one of my young friends who was attending his grandmother’s funeral this week, “i’m glad you’ll most likely outlive me.” what i meant and didn’t say is that my heart breaks every day from loving and grieving and that i don’t want to have to survive the loss of every friend. i want to live long enough to love everybody well and i want to die in time that i can skip the grieving of some friends’ deaths. (note to self, keep making younger and younger friends.)

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confessions of twos

confession: i have an internal debate about which is better or worse to experience–depression or anxiety. i asked a friend familiar with both and she responded, “depression is more relaxing.” i agree.

confession: i booked two tickets departing austin, three days apart, not sure which i’d take until i arrived at the airport for the earlier flight (scheduled for yesterday) and didn’t board the plane. i’ll fly out saturday. i have more love and work and love and sweetness and love and hugs to give before then.

confession: i’m playing with quantum time and space inside right-brained meditations to lengthen my telomeres and repair my dna. if it works, why not? if it doesn’t work, i’m gonna meditate with a focus anyway so i might as well strive high with quantum healing.

confession: he mentioned to me two nights ago that he recently walked his first labyrinth. in our decades of friendship i never thought to mention to him that the head grandmother who is one of my spiritual mentors designs most of the labyrinths in central texas and that i walk the labyrinth near my apartment in philadelphia every day i’m there.

confession: when asked how long i’ll live in philadelphia i hear myself answer, “one to fifteen more years.”

confession: i never forget my soul purpose for this incarnation. i often forget to devote the most challenging minutes, hours, and days to its practice.

confession: she helps me become a better writer by sharing relevant information she encounters along her writing path. i’m grateful for every link, suggestion, and author recommendation from her. i cherish her emails, her writing, her vulnerability, her humor, and her company in her cozy home.

confession: the ex-wife and i spent three hours walking and talking one night earlier this week. i told her everything i had been withholding since our last two meetings. she listened attentively. she wanted to understand. i want to be understood. but…the but that is the but that negates the thing that comes before every but is that we are approaching our relationship and its demise and its renewal from askew perspectives. words fail to communicate our present worldviews. although we are doing our best to understand one another, we are not capable of knowing what we can’t know because we haven’t experienced what the other has. our hearts have navigated the loss, pain, and grief between us with incompatible coping strategies and conclusions.

confession: from this now point in life until death, i assume that most things, people, places, and events that will shape and change me are unknown unknowns.

confession: my favorite days are spent alone with a book. my favorite hours are spent hiking gentle tree-canopied trails alone or with someone i love. i’ve done both this week. i hope you’ve lived your favorite kind of day and/or favorite kind of hours this week. if not, get to it…the week ain’t over yet and the weekend is almost here.

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streaming confessions without deleting

confession: the critical voice in my head (mentored by my mother) comments on my doing-nothingness and unworthiness to inhale oxygen since i’m not doing anything with the oxygen to sustain any meaningful contribution to the world and sure, go ahead and go back to bed, because with my white privilege and health insurance and stock portfolio i can financially afford to go to back to bed but what about all the people who work three jobs and have hungry kids and are trying to take care of themselves and other people and yeah, i know their lives are harder than mine, duh, that’s why i feel unworthy to breathe, then the voice says “why don’t you DO something about it, help someone, make a difference,” and because i want to shut the voice up and punish myself i walk to the kitchen and stuff myself with peanuts and chocolate until i feel physically ill and consider making myself puke but purging by vomiting always sparks the self-hatred that leads to the desire to off myself and i can’t off myself because i don’t want to disappoint the people who love me even though i suck and they want me alive not dead because i usually make them laugh and i’m a good listener when they want to talk because listening to others is a reprieve to being chased by my own thoughts so i bargain with myself to walk seven miles and not eat for the rest of the day to balance out the peanut-and-chocolate caloric binge and then i make myself get dressed, leave the apartment, go to the store, buy milk and bread, smile at people, say hello and thank you, hold the door for someone, stop and talk to the old lady waiting outside the store with her groceries for her ride to drive her home because her license got taken away and i compliment her for something, for anything. i look in her eyes and express gratitude for everything blooming and i help her feel less lonely because for all the ugh i feel about myself, the one thing i don’t feel is lonely, which means i can help someone who does feel it. fuck, this living thing is hard.

confession: i’d delete the above confession but it accurately describes my current version of depression and the effort to record it is the most measurably productive thing i’ve done today, so deleting it seems self-defeating and i’ve already fulfilled my self-defeating quota for the day.

confession: chronic low-grade-but-supposedly-high-functioning depression has become my new normal the past couple years. depression is so sad. so sad i have to make fun of it. but i make fun of everything. because almost everything feels sad to me.

confession: you wanna know what isn’t sad? Jenny Lawson’s book Furiously Happy. lawson writes hilariously about her mental illness. trust me, it’s funny, not sad.

confession: wanna know what i hate? name-dropping. i hate when i do it and i hate when other people do it but i didn’t just do it with jenny lawson because i don’t know her, i just read her books.

confession: i have a favorite friend who is famous-y but she doesn’t know she is famous-y because she comes from generations-of-music-royalty and her famous-y relatives and associates are her normal and she has all the inherited and acquired skill to back up her own position in the music world so she doesn’t know people give her special treatment because of her famous-y stature since she’s been treated with that specialness her entire life and because she’s innocent of that knowing, her pure heart is open to people and the goodness they’ve extended to her. her innocence, openness, and purity astound and inspire me. i love her all-the-way-to-bursting-heart-that-loves-even-more. she loves me, too. being loved is the reason i never feel lonely.

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