loving you in 2018

confession: i started the new year grateful and inspired. i begin most new years feeling grateful and inspired but not last year. at the end of 2017 everyone i knew was glad to be done with 2016, the year when lots of famous people died and trump was elected. yeah, we were done with that year. everybody i know was glad to be done with 2017, too. i saw a meme that said, “2016–the caterpillar, 2017–the cocoon, 2018–the butterfly,” and i’m bursting into 2018 as a butterfly.

confession: my singular goal for 2018 is the same as my singular goal for my lifetime–enlightenment. the distinguishing characteristic between the 2018 goal and the lifetime goal is the immediacy of each moment of every hour is more tangible for the 2018 goal. there’s no time to dwaddle. every moment matters. my enlightenment practice is love in action. i fail in my practice during moments throughout each day. i succeed in other moments. the point is to notice the moments of failure as quickly as possible and course correct. my objective is to choose love every time i realize that i’m not acting from love. the time lapses between forgetting my practice and applying my practice are briefer, indicating progress.

confession: yesterday i contemplated my pattern of perceiving every recently passed cycle of eight years as time wasted. every 16 years, i tell myself a different narrative about the eight years before the past eight, compassionately acknowledging that i did the best i could at the time and i learned and grew from all mistakes. but in the most recent eight years i perceive my mistakes as repeated failings i could have avoided altogether or at least navigated with more grace. the main difference between eight years and sixteen years ago is the depth of my forgetting. i used to have a resilient and calculating memory. i’ve intentionally cultivated a bad memory. remembering the intensity and duration of past pain i’ve experienced and inflicted doesn’t help heal the past. i forget the pain. more love, fun, and kindness keep coming at me. i don’t need to remember yesterday’s good stuff because i feel better feeling grateful for today’s good stuff. forgetting all the stuff that happened in the past focuses my attention on what’s happening right now. if i’m in pain today, i listen gently for the pain to guide me to what is needed to alleviate it right now. if i’m feeling bright today, i give thanks for this goodness and share it with anyone who wants to multiply the light with me.

confession: yesterday was a pain day in my world. today is a bright day in my world. today is an easy day to forget yesterday.

confession: happy new year to you. i walk-hike-run-jog for two hours each day as meditation and compulsive exercise. during yesterday’s walking meditation i sent love to all y’all. i look forward to practicing love with you throughout 2018.

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a colossal dollop of love

last night i was reading a book (elliott’s tying rocks to clouds) that concludes the introduction by asking the reader a list of questions the author asked everyone he interviewed. i answer some of those questions here, skipping the questions about religion, evil, and other things too complex to grapple with this morning because we’re gonna slide out of this year and into the next one as gently as possible.

“On what main beliefs (or truths) do you base your life?”
1. love, love, and more love. everything is love.
2. i’m probably doing it wrong.
3. i learn as i go, fucking up is okay, use all the mistakes to learn to love better.

notes for the list above:
i’m pretty sure the first main belief upon which i base my life is true: everything (that counts and matters) is love.
i’m not sure if the second statement is true, but it is an internalized belief i see evidenced in my thinking, feeling, and behaving, and i use it as inspiration and motivation to keep my mind open, aware, and self-reflective toward growth.
i use everything to love better, especially when i fuck up.

“What is the purpose of life?”
learn to apply unconditional love to all. unconditional love includes acceptance, kindness, caring, compassion, and empathy. unconditional love is an action. my life’s purpose is to apply unconditional love as an action verb with every thought, word, and choice with everyone i encounter. (yeah, you see…i fuck this up a lot and it’s okay to fuck up because i keep learning to love better.)

note: this is the purpose of my life. you get to define the purpose of your life. what is the purpose of your life?

“What is the highest ideal a person can reach?”
the one they choose for themselves. the one they aspire to.

“What is the greatest obstacle to obtaining this ideal?”
self-judgment, self-punishing, self-hate (which all breed judging, grudge-holding, hating, and a desire to punish others)

“If you were on your deathbed, what advice would you give…?”
slow down. breathe. learn to appreciate breathing before your last breath.

“What do you feel is something life still has to teach you?”
everything. i don’t know much. i know less and less, actually.

“What is the most important thing you have learned in life?”
forgiveness. or better, the acceptance of what is and has been that transcends a need for forgiveness.

“What are the three greatest problems in life?”
1. greed
2. a refusal to see, acknowledge , or empathize with others’ pain
3. an unwillingness (or unknowingness about how) to heal our personal, cultural, societal,  and global collective wounds.

“Why are you doing what you’re doing?”
because it is the best i know how to serve love thus far.

i wish you the easiest transition from the old to the new. i wish you vitalizing energy to enthusiastically receive the new that greets you each day. i wish you more love, more tenderness, and more kindness directed toward yourself, directed outward, and received from all directions. i love you. happy almost new year.

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confessions of puppets

confession: last week i found an old tiny framed photo of me. i set the photo on the top shelf of the bookcase across from my bed. this morning i calculated the math. i was 22 in the photo, exactly half my current age. i’m as far from the photographed me as the photographed me was from birth. i look like a kid in that photo because 22-year-olds are kids and i didn’t grow into my woman-body and woman-face until several years later. i don’t miss that kid. i don’t remember much about her except that she loved dancing, hated her day job, and loved off-roading in her little red pick-up truck. i miss the kid locked somewhere inside me much younger than 22 who wants to play with finger puppets because she never had finger puppets. the only puppets that kid ever had were the homemade brown paper lunch bag variety made at school. a year and a half ago papi bought me an extra-long, extra-large praying mantis finger puppet for my birthday. that seven-inch-long beady-eyed green guy lives in my car and greets me with its smile every time i get in to go somewhere.

confession: i mailed a finger puppet to a friend yesterday with a fifty dollar inserted in its finger hole with instructions to buy something sexy. a skirt, perhaps, because a skirt is the uniform for public sex.

confession: months ago i acquired an elephant hand puppet. i’ve tried sending the puppet to any of many godchildren, but every attempt fails because the six-year-old inside me wants to keep the elephant hand puppet for myself.

confession: i keep trying to figure out which kid inside me buys candy and eats it everyday. as best i can figure, all the kids of all ages inside me crave the candy.

confession: i don’t send holiday cards because i’m grinchy…except…sometime in january i send cards to people that sent holiday cards to me because reciprocity is a biggie for me and by january 4th the holidays are way over.

confession: i don’t think i’ve ever arrived at the end of a calendar year and had a thought divergent from “i’m ready for this year to be OVER.”

confession: i want to call him and ask him questions and seek to understand but i won’t because i don’t trust my motives. i think my desire to call him is a sneaky trick setting me up for the opportunity to explain to him why he is wrong. he isn’t wrong. he’s screwed-up and avoidant and living from a paradigm much different from mine, yes. but not wrong. i’m wrong for trying to make him wrong. therefore, i don’t call. good job, me.

confession: every week i’m presented with evidence that i’m capable of creating exactly what i intend. i wish i consistently used that power for good. mostly i do but occasionally i don’t. if i were a resolution-making person, i’d resolve to use my creative powers only for good. without making a resolution, i hope i choose to use all my powers for good every day i am alive.



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a letter written and unsent

hi. i haven’t written to you in a while. i’m writing today because i keep arguing with you in my head about our last conversation. i’m angry and trying to figure out why. while investigating this anger, lady gaga sings her trite new love song in the background, the one that sounds like a hundred other love songs and tracy chapman did her more original version of this theme as a single released in 1996, and i digress into music trivia because sometimes we speak to one another in songs and trite love songs sum up our dilemma. i didn’t think i’d be writing to you again (and technically, i’m not, since this is a blog posting you’ll never read) but my heart is wrenched by this anger and i want to tell you that you’re wrong and tell you why you’re wrong and yell it loudly and make you cry because i’ve cried and i hate crying angry tears and i hate crying over you because the resounding refrain in my relationship with you was “don’t waste my time” and the real reason i’m angry is that i’m still wasting time feeling angry toward you. you act helpless and pitiful when you’re standing in front of me, as if you are a victim of your own inability to love-as-a-verb. you’re the perpetrator of your lovelessness, darlin’—the love that is lacking begins and spirals around and pierces you. for the record, i’m not your victim. my anger provokes me to stomp away and burn every letter i write and give all the love i gave to you to those capable of loving me well. i’m angry. i’m angry because i should have known better. or maybe your power to deceive is greater than either of us gives you credit. seeing you again, you were ugly to me. it was hard looking at you and imagining what i saw that was beautiful in you. your beauty was my imagining, a mirage of what i wanted to be true. the contrasting truth was revealed soon enough (although i ignored it for months). you’re ugly on the inside. (and your face ain’t pretty.) i wonder if i can stop now, drop the anger, and just be glad you’re gone. i hope so. i want my time back and the time i spent with you i can’t get back but i want today to be free of any more thoughts of you and i bet i can do that because i choose to spend the rest of this day feeling grateful for the clarity i’ve gained by losing you.





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confessions of peacocks and a poached egg

confession: i’ve been listening to the same song on repeat for a month. repetition isn’t unusual behavior for me but this song is a new addition to the repeating archive. the new song is a remake of a song i knew growing up but this haunting melancholy-flavored rendition is one i discovered only last month. i don’t feel melancholic and my attachment to this lonesome song is a paradoxical cue that my current emotional baseline is orienting toward contentment.

confession: october’s pancreatic cancer scare brought two to-do items forward, just in case the end is near. i completed that short list before that month’s end. i don’t dilly-dally with death. just in case, i check with myself every other day to see if any new list items arise.  yesterday i drove past a billboard with the yearly death toll on texas roads (over 3,000), a reminder that any of us driving or riding in a car could die any day. i hope at least half of those more than 3,000 people addressed their most important in-case-of-death communications before the crash that took their lives.

confession: she’s waaaaaayyyy more advanced than i was at her age…which is why the 12-year difference between us feels good, stimulating, and enticing. we learn from one another in equal measure from different intersections along the multiverse spectrum.

confession: peacocks and a poached egg interspersed a perfect day yesterday.

confession: i was surprised to hear that he has a girlfriend again so soon…but the surprise was supplanted with remembering that he wants to avoid loneliness. i crave loneliness as a novelty because my aloneness maintains a hefty fullness that doesn’t leave room for loneliness to enter.

confession: i’m going to my new favorite restaurant two days in a row because there are more dishes i want to taste than i can stomach in one visit even when sharing all plates ordered with another.

confession: two nights ago i took extra free stickers (meant for kids) from a grocery store without asking permission. yesterday i took coasters (one-time-use disposable variety) from my favorite restaurant without asking permission. is it stealing when i take “free” stuff without asking…or just rude-cow uncouth taking?

confession: at the beginning of any new relationship i consciously shape the opportunity during the getting-to-know-one-another stage to present myself and my history in whatever order and at whatever pace i desire. i choose (intentionally or sometimes unconsciously) which details in what timing to share. i can omit aspects of my past or worn-out stories that no longer resonate with who i am today. i can emphasize skills and qualities i’m currently practicing. i can be brave and true and discerning with every comment. a new relationship is a new beginning for me to be the newest version of me.

confession: i strive to be forever new. (mostly because i’m easily bored and strapped with myself all the time.)

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confessions of bazungas, fantasyland, and surfing the wake

confession: i spent an hour in the waiting room yesterday listening to the singsong voice contained inside a 4’10” frame weighted by bazungas straining her modest sweater. her ears were poked with eleven piercings and held back yellow-bleached hair that hadn’t been touched up recently because her roots showed an inch and a half of gray. she responded to every ringing of the phone, “oncology, can i help you?” in a tone that conveyed a desire to be genuinely helpful while she answered the caller’s questions, scheduled appointments, and canceled and re-scheduled appointments as requested on the other end of the line. my mind flipped into fantasy mode to direct its energy toward something other than worry while i sat in the waiting room for my appointment. i fantasized that she was my aunt, the good mother of three imaginary cousins (older boy, twin girls) that grew up nourished by every inch of her 4’10” compact person-package containing that singsong helping voice expressing her happy-heart spirit. in my fantasy this woman is my aunt instead of my mother because even in fantasyland i expect a mother to judge me as a disappointment while an aunt loves my weirdo wholeness. the imprints of my real-life mother and her older sister perpetually recreate their likenesses in my agitated brain fantasies.

confession: in my imaginary world where i escape when i feel uncomfortable in my real world the poetess and i play a game called “you’re a lucky duck if you’ve never….”  this game is loosely and oppositely  based on the “i’ve never” drinking game except it’s darker and i’m playing it sober and alone with the poetess’ voice in my head and we’re mocking our lives and the lucky ones who have thus far avoided our particular pain. in this imaginary game the poetess always begins, “you’re a lucky duck if you’ve never picked out a baby coffin.” yesterday while playing this game, my turn replied, “you’re a lucky duck if you’ve never sat in an oncology waiting room for an hour to see a doctor for a diagnosis that is never good news.”

confession: after a quick round of “you’re a lucky duck if you’ve never” game, i started writing this blog to you because i write when i’m nervous, i write when i’m scared, i write when i’m angry, i write when i’m grieving, i write when i’m confused, i write to sort myself out, i write to calm myself, i write to feel less alone, and i was feeling very alone in that oncology waiting room yesterday. i looked around and took notice of everyone present. those older than me had  someone to keep them company. everyone was older than me except two. a woman my age held a bike helmet in her lap and avoided my eye contact. she sat even more alone than i did, walked alone into the maze of exam rooms when the nurse called her name, and exited even more-more alone thirty minutes later still avoiding my eye contact. a man younger than me, tall, skinny, probably not yet 30 years old, also avoided my eyes. i hope he survives whatever brought him to that waiting room. i hope bike-riding chick lives a long healthier life from here through old age. i hope i do, too. i hope you do, too. but i kept thinking as i looked from person to person in yesterday’s waiting room that none of us makes it out of this life alive. we all die. nobody likes to think about it much but death is tangible in the chairs of an oncology waiting room. the oncology waiting room is a living version of purgatory. i made a decision yesterday while waiting for my turn to enter the maze of exam rooms to meet the oncologist–i’m gonna let all my mushy love spill out, flood my world, and surf the wake since we’re all gonna die of something sometime.

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a letter from 1999

i do my best to skip thanksgiving (food-centric holidays are tortuous for most eating disordered people). in place of eating turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and three kinds of pie, i thinned out bookshelves and closets (while eating chocolate and drinking diet coke). there are four bookshelves in my home, each with a shelf dedicated to notebooks of writing i haven’t burned. i’ve condensed these shelves for the past three days. in the middle of a notebook from 1999, i found a letter written and unsent to a fellow writer friend. since i never sent it to him and we grew apart 15 years ago, i’ll share the letter with you because i enjoy the waft of voyeurism from reading old letters written to someone else and for today i’ll assume you do, too.

dear j,
instead of talking to you inside my head where you’ll never hear, i’ve decided to write you a letter with the help of rilke:

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not ever complete the last one,
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, that primordial tower.
I have been circling for thousands of years,
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?
unlike rilke, i know i am a falcom, a storm, and a great song…plus i am a reindeer, a leprechaun, an ocean, and a piece of purple sidewalk chalk.
either my heart or my lungs have grown larger this week. i’m not sure which but i’ve got more room inside my chest.
i bought an 18-roll package of toilet paper tonight on sale. i feel like i am storing power for the future when i buy multi-pack economy-size.
i feel like i’ve been imploding my power for some time now. i’m almost ready to explode. let’s do our version of praying for a productive, creative explosion.
i love you,
signed with the old name

confession: i deleted the second half of the letter because the second half was the reason i never sent it. i could share it with you but it’s a downer in its unwilling-to-be-vulnerable-and-ask-for-a-need-to-be-met 25-year-old way. poor thing. she was tiny-voiced and scared to take up space even though she was big in spirit and deeply loved. the letter goes into the recycling bin now having fulfilled its reminder of youthful optimism and sureness accompanied by fear and insecurity. thank you for pausing your online shopping and social media scrolling to read my 25-year-old’s thoughts. whatever small hopes i dared to have for my life on march 5, 1999, i’m grateful that my life has increased in capacity to experience love, beauty, and the courage to survive pain.

confession: i’m glad we’re all more interesting now than we were when we were 25.

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