Beneath the Insomnia

_20160923_184552.JPGShe paints the same canvas
Again and Again
In her dreams
while they sleep
and it sleeps.
Because otherwise
they never stay still
long enough
to dry
Her tear
drops of paint
That leave trails
of subtle color
behind them
And behind them
previous paintings
also made without brushes
That always end up
painted over
the next morning
to hide the evidence

And the canvas of it all
Is her face
and her fears
For at the core of each night
when stripped down
She will always find that stark white woven surface
of fears and insecurities
whose texture shows through each layer
And whispers to her
between brushstrokes
Reminding her that
There is no escape
For gravity cannot be bribed
And the running never stops because he’s holding death in his hands, at her head, and as the neurons fire she finds they sound remarkably like gunshots and all she seeks is safety and sleep
But she can never find foundness
Awake or asleep
So as she tries to decide which one is less terrifying,
She paints.

And
at the core of each night
mare each poem each painting,
Remains a reminder of running,
is running.

Beneath the Insomnia

[((shellter))]

brick low resThe small finger traces the maze of mortar, sliding through streets that run between buildings of brick in a vertical city
and that finger doesn’t know that a standard mortar joint is assumed to be 3/8″
And that brick sizes are determined based on that assumption
And that Frank Lloyd Wright spec’d colored mortar to accentuate horizontality
And that even though the little pig was protected by his house of bricks that the walls of home can’t protect from everything
Because so much of this world is a facade
And it’s the wood framed interior that goes up in flames
And the mold of sadness in the basement that slowly creeps in
And the termites of time eating away at the bones
But her bones are still young
And her skin is still soft
And her eyes are still smiling
For they haven’t yet witnessed the things that huff and puff more viciously than that wolf.

If only the shelter of childhood was built to house us all.

 

[((shellter))]

Unfinished

Her signature unknowingly picked up the gauntlet
that he unknowingly dropped.
And this unknown challenge was both imaginary and impossible:
there were no rules and all the rules,
nothing was defined and everything was.
With no weapons and all the weapons,
it was all and nothing

Like the space between walls

that we call rooms

And the pauses between words

that we call necessary

But his homelessness felt all too familiar
Longing for the lives and places that were no longer his
Now existing in an obsession with isolated oscillation
A mouthful
Of memories
Creating the pieces she held between her fingers, trying to place
Because she was accustomed to the lonely company of puzzles
Wanting their wholeness for their own sake
For she imagined she knew what it felt like to be shattered into 1,000 pieces and placed in a box on a shelf for a rainy day

But this one,

this one was like the one at Goodwill –
Where she was startled by the violent eye contact made across the room
While standing in the checkout line
And he walked in through the door
And neither knew what the rulebook had to say about this
So he disappeared amongst the shelves
And she out the door.
But now every time she goes back
She can’t help but feel her stomach drop out of her torso
Like it did in that moment
In the store with the puzzle himself –
Who never gave her the satisfaction of having all the pieces

So instead of admiring the whole
It’s the gap that holds her attention,
The emptiness that drives her insane
As she sits still trying to determine if anyone won
Amidst all the losing.

Unfinished

Tongue released: Brain tried for misconduct

my tongue is tied in knots and not speaking only causes everything to build up to the brim, the sea of the seen welling up to my head from my heart – overflowing out of my eyes that are leaking (at least they should be) the why is because my hands have been resting, testing the waters, at least that’s the excuse I will make, but it’s fake, for really I am scared and normal (and scared is normal) and really my eyes only leaked two or three times since before, I am fine, really.

…but who is looking for fine, really.  The best of the best or the worst of the worst for if I see one more generic landscape painting, one more adorable wide-eyed kitten, one more “5 five ways to flatter abs” I think the fineness of it all will overtake me and the mundanity will take my insanity, for all of it is playing a game, aiming to make us all sane, painless and numb, too dumb to speak anything new or original, for there is none of that anyway, so what do we do with these tongues of ours besides tie them in knots out of fear of not being anything other than normal.

. . .

It has been a while since I have written anything on here.  (It’s funny that life can go on without my online presence, regardless of however insistently opposed to that idea social media seems to be.)  There was a chunk of time when the increase in audience, however small it may be, really affected the way I was thinking about my blog.  One effect, that I foresaw to some degree, was an increased timidity: too timid to write anything new for fear of offending, hurting, or being judged.*  (And with the recent increase in talk of race – a topic I have been wanting to write about since having read Claudia Rankine in poetry class – I have become even more fearful of being misunderstood) However a secondary effect took me by surprise: the feeling that I must only post the best.  The best writing, the best experiences, the best insights.  And if things aren’t going well, then I must post the best of the worst. (aka deep insights into my pain, poetic lamenting, coherent arguments, etc.)

But honestly, my life is pretty normal.  My writing is pretty mediocre.  My daily activities and thoughts aren’t very earth-shattering.  But I don’t want to waste your time by posting things that aren’t “worth reading.” And that means I don’t stop to try to write anything worth reading because nothing has really happened…nothing except, ya know, just, my life.  ((And THEN I internally debate if this the “right or wrong” response…If I only feel the need to keep up with a blog because I am part of the technology generation or because I know it helps keep me sane or because I feel this pressure to keep friends/family updated…have you noticed that I tend to overthink basically everything?)) So, if I disappear for a while it’s probably because I am just making dinner and buying groceries and watching children and hanging out with friends and have decided that you could just go on Pinterest to replace anything I would post.

(Or because I have been too lazy to download all of the Alaskan cruise photos off of my camera…or because I fear I won’t have anything deep and insightful to say about the trip and will ruin my “intellectual, deep-thinker persona” haha…just kidding…but also totally serious… Let’s be honest, you kind of expect that of me, don’t you?  Some long rambling post about societal norms and emotions and poetic writing?  Or maybe you don’t and I have it all wrong…I’ll start posting pictures of cats… not that there’s anything wrong with posting pictures of cute cats! Just not my thing… oh no, now I offended all of the internet cat people…time to go back into my hole, as my dad would say, no offense dad, you just say that so I was just saying it because you say it not to make fun of you…oh no….speaking of my foot lodged in my mouth..)

So with that totally ridiculous post out of the way, I am going to write a list here so that you read it and I read it and so that I actually write about these things because I genuinely want to (and I genuinely want to have conversations about these things) but haven’t had the discipline to actually do it yet (also I was on a boat in the middle of the ocean for a week, so there’s that):

  • Short book reviews of recently read books (from signing for babies to danish education to poverty memoirs to dystopian fiction)
  • Alaskan cruise photos and stories! (also, visiting Seattle)
  • Race, Claudia Rankine, Citizen, and Whiteness
  • Things I am learning about personalities
  • The Generation of Sarcasm and Cynicism

If those sound lame, well, no hard feelings. :) If one sounds better than the others…COMMENT.  I would love nothing more :)  except maybe a replenished stock of mint chocolate chip ice cream…

___________

* Prior to my blog presence on Facebook and Instagram only strangers could read what I was sharing.  Inviting my personal world into my deepest thoughts and fears was a lot harder (and a lot more impactful) than the invitation to the general population of the internet.  There is something to be said about anonymity and freedom.  At least if I offend someone, I won’t run into them at the grocery store. Or if I share a struggle, I know that I won’t have to worry about someone mentioning it in conversation when I am unprepared to discuss it.  But I have also found that while some of my posts have led to difficult conversations with the people in my life, they have also led to deepening of conversations, opening the door for more real and intimate connection.  It’s interesting how much easier it is to talk about something (e.g. expressing fear, hopes, struggles, anger; admitting doubt or error) once someone else has already broached the topic.  Don’t you find that you are more open to be honest and open with someone who has already been honest and open with you?  Nobody wants to be that person who expresses some deep part of their soul to have it laughed at or thrown back at them.  So we play it safe and remain guarded.  We turn everything into parody.  We chose sarcasm over authenticity.  We make a mockery of our fears and flaws and insecurities in hopes that others won’t see how broken, scared, and helpless we really are – or if they do, well, at least we said it first.  …..or, is that just me?

 

 

Tongue released: Brain tried for misconduct

One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying, Perfect People Pleaser

I wish I could make everyone happy.  I really do.  I wish I never disappointed people pleaseranyone, never let them down, always met their expectations.  I wish I never had to feel that drop in my stomach of realizing someone is upset with me, frustrated with me, mad at me.  If I could only be a Perfect People Pleaser

…then what?  I could avoid awkwardness.  I could avoid confrontation.  I could avoid the unpleasantness of conversations I don’t want to have.  I could find my worth in knowing that I am a perfect friend, a perfect wife, a perfect daughter, a perfect student.  I wouldn’t have to confront the fact that I fall short.  And other people wouldn’t have to confront that fact either.  Selfish?  Yes.  But it’s true.

And at the same time, if I was always able to fill all the roles perfectly, would that really be the best situation?

“It is extremely important to be able to make negative assertions.  We must be able to say what is ‘not me’ in order to have a ‘me.’  What we like has no meaning unless we know what we don’t like.  Our yes has no meaning if we never say no.  My chosen profession has no passion is ‘just any one would do.’  Our opinions and thoughts mean very little if there is nothing we disagree with.” (Changes that Heal by Dr. Henry Cloud)

Changes that Heal is a book that I read (most of) during senior year of college (a.k.a my fourth year…having an intentional 5-year program makes labels like ‘senior’ rather confusing haha).  If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.  Even if you don’t believe in God, I think it has a TON of really helpful topics about developing boundaries and interacting healthily in relationships.*

The question of people pleasing goes two ways:  What happens when I don’t live up to the desires and expectations of others?  And what happens when they don’t live up to MY desires and expectations?

“Love cannot exist without freedom, and freedom cannot exist without responsibility.  We must own and take responsibility for what is ours, and that includes our disappointment in not getting everything we want from another person.  The disappointment that comes from our loved ones exercising their freedom is our responsibility.  We must deal with it.  This is the only way to keep love alive.”

I have expectations for people in my life: my husband, my friends, my teachers, my family…the barista at the coffee shop.  But they all have freedom, and part of that freedom is freedom to make decisions that will disappoint me, whether they mean to or not.  It is up to me to determine how I will react to that disappointment and to determine what I will do with it.

“This is true even when others’ freedom leads them to sin against us.  The pain we feel is not our fault, but it is our responsibility to deal with it.”

What does it mean to deal with the pain felt?  I think that actually feeling it, processing it, confronting it, accepting it, analyzing it, acknowledging could all be parts of that process.  I also think that having a conversation about it with the person involved could be part of the process too.

A few years ago I went on a trip with a group of people I didn’t know.  We spent 6 weeks together and endured some pretty life-changing experiences together.  We learned a lot about one another and shared some of the deepest parts of ourselves during those weeks. Near the end of the trip one of the girls said something to me that I think I will never forget.  I was hurt in a way that felt irreparable.  But blaming her for that hurt didn’t get me anywhere.  In fact, it kept me from seeing how unintentional the comment was. It kept me from moving on.

On the other side of the coin, in a different friendship, I was constantly tiptoeing around this person’s feelings.  I would do or not do things, say or not say things because of how I thought this person would react.  How they would feel in response.

“If we feel responsible for other people’s feelings, we can no longer make decisions based on what is right (or healthy); we will make decisions based on how others feel about our choices.”  (parenthesis added by me)

And isn’t this so often how we live?  It is for me at least!  Constantly worrying how what I say, do, or choose will cause others to feel.  As if I can CAUSE another person’s feelings.  Yes, I can impact them, but I cannot single-handed MAKE anyone feel anything.  And neither can you.

“Some of you may thing that this approach is mean and insensitive.  Please hear something loud and clear.  We should always be sensitive to others’ feelings about our choices.  But we should never take responsibility for how they feel.” 

Soooo… after that long, rambling post of me trying to process what is my responsibility and what is not…  I think my conclusion is that this, like everything is a balance.  Of course I don’t want to be outright rude, mean, critical, or hateful.  Of course I don’t want to purposefully or maliciously disappoint or hurt others.  However, there will always be times when I am doing the best I can, choosing the options that I feel to be the healthiest, having to say ‘no’ to people… and there will still be conflict.  Relationships are hard.  Having (and maintaining) boundaries is hard.  Recognizing and accepting the boundaries of others is hard.  Especially when it leads to disappointment.  And then humbly accepting the fact that I am imperfect and fall short of what others desire from me and for me is one of the hardest of all.  Well, that, and also knowing where to go from there… what to do next when someone I care about is hurt as a result of something I have done.  How to reconcile without compromising who I am and what I believe.  How to apologize for what I am truly sorry for but not for those thing that are not my responsibility, things not in my yard (to use a phrase from the book).  How to even know what that includes!

Man….life is such a learning process.  Let’s talk about it.  Is there anything you have found particularly helpful related to this?  What are your thoughts on boundaries and responsibility for feelings?  Comment below :)  Let’s chat.

people pleaser2

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

*Dr. Henry Cloud is a believer so he tends to relate the concepts in this book back to biblical stories/ideas…that’s why I make the God comment.  I never want people to be taken off guard by things like that (hmm, me taking responsibility for your feelings? Or being sensitive?) …when you go and google it and see the summary thinking I am somehow trying to manipulate or “trick” you into reading a book about God.  (I used to always roll my eyes when things like that would happen.  Or when I would go to a site thinking it was going to be one thing, but finding out it was just a ploy to make money.  So frustrating.  I don’t meant to be that at all.)  It is just genuinely a helpful book.

 

One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying, Perfect People Pleaser

freedom to dream again

So I think this 5 day challenge may actually take me 10 days…

(one) …because who knew watching kids every day was going to leave me absolutely exhausted?! I’m not complaining though.  It’s a wonderful type of exhaustion.  The kind where you know you’ve been doing things, using your muscles, laughing, watching, enjoying, giving yourself.  Chasing neighbor dogs back to their side of the fence, lifting kiddos onto chairs, consoling, reading aloud, playing simon says (and while having the full attention of three little ones (basically impossible) finding out that Simon can’t think of many things to say! ah! where’s my creativity?!).

(two)…and because I am realizing there are a lot of internal barriers making it hard to even do parts of this challenge.  As I tried to do Day 2 I kept unknowingly hitting these walls that would curtail my dreaming.  Walls like:

stings

  • that’s selfish
  • that’s impossible in today’s society
  • what will people say if you do that?
  • that’s not a real job
  • you aren’t talented enough to do that
  • remember last time when that failed
  • someone else is already doing that better than you could
  • you’re lazy for wanting that
  • is that going to make you a “productive member of society”?

And from there I typically end up in a philosophical/existential internal debate questioning the goal of society, the definition of productive, the meaning of life…

I won’t get into all of those tangents now…as I have the rest of my life to explore those things…  However, what I keep finding is that one of the things I most desire is a sense of freedom…And isn’t that what we all want in some capacity?  Freedom to be who we are regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, economic status… freedom of religion, of speech.  Freedom from discrimination and hate. Freedom to pursue our dreams… freedom to HAVE dreams.

Freedom has been on my mind for a while now. I remember in elementary school, when we were sitting in the car outside of the Blockbuster (back when we went to actual stores to rent VHS tapes and DVDs…man, won’t that shock my future children) and I asked my dad a question I had been thinking about for quite a while… I said “Daddy, are we all just God’s puppets?”  And looking back, I think there was a lot more wrapped up in that question than anyone realized, even me.  For over the years that question of freedom kept coming back and it has continued to remain at the core of some of my deepest struggles…my search for meaning, purpose, hope…  It has led to many tearful conversations (with others and with God).  And it’s not just my question.  People have been asking this question for…well…seemingly forever.  The idea comes in numerous forms: fate, destiny, predestination, soul mates. Has this story already been written? Or are we writing it as we go?  The question of time: how past, present, and future interact and impact one another.  Do the characters influence the plot? Or was the script written long ago?  Are there eraser marks?  Can things change?  Or through the precise creation of the characters did the author predestine all that will come to pass?  Trust me, I know these are not new ideas.  And I tend to trip over my own feet when I start wading in them…Do they affect the day-to-day?  Maybe not. But I think they should!  What I believe matters for how I live my life, what I teach my future kids, what I believe, what I value, how I spend my time…doesn’t it??  See, even now I was supposed to be doing this seemingly simple task of answering some questions about my future and I end up on a philosophical/theological tangent…

I know you don’t have all day, so here we go:

Day 2: Clarify Your Vision.

Basically, in the email I received about my second task, I was asked to create a clear vision of what I would want my future to be like… What is there?  Who is there? What is my morning ritual like? What have I stopped doing? What do I do for a living? How much money do I make? How much am I giving away?  How are my core values being realized?

At first I couldn’t think of any answers to these questions besides knowing I want my husband by my side.  I sat staring at a blank piece of paper… I had been so stuck certain questions for so long (“What do you want to be when you grow up? Where are you working after college?  What’s your major?”) that it took me a bit to switch mindsets. However, once I got started I found that I do have things in mind when I think about my ideal future.  They don’t necessarily dictate a “career path” as I kind of hoped they would… but I do think they have helped me to see what I value.  Namely: creativity, learning, and people.  Here’s what days 1 and 2 look like in the scrapbook I created to keep track of this post-college journey:

1b2b6b

Thanks for reading!  and for joining me on this crazy journey called life! :)

Now, I want to hear from you!  What are you passionate about?  Do you have a vision for what you want your life to look like?  How do you balance living in the moment with goals for the future?  Comment or email me. :)  I would love to get to know more about you!

 

freedom to dream again

TERRIFIED.

Hey friends.

I have a confession to make.

Perhaps you already know this, perhaps you don’t care, perhaps this will shock you…regardless, I need to say it:

I am terrified.

I am terrified of failure.  I am terrified of disappointing people.  I am terrified of the unknown and of death.  I am terrified of terrorism, of losing my loved ones, of looking stupid in social situations, of being called dumb, and of public speaking.  I am terrified of getting into a car accident or of being on the phone with someone when they do. I am terrified of people thinking I am selfish, rude, or inauthentic.  I am terrified of being selfish, rude, or inauthentic.  I am terrified of wearing my heart on my sleeve, of putting myself out there for everyone to see.  I am terrified to share my writing and my thoughts with people who may not receive them well.  I am terrified of being judged and of being judgemental, of becoming an alcoholic, of being fat, of being a lousy wife, or someday a bad mother. I am terrified of making new friends and of losing old ones.  I am terrified of meaninglessness and of that feeling in the pit of my stomach that tells me that I am not unique, not special, not important.  I am terrified of the darkness that creeps into my head, twists my thoughts, grabs me by the wrists and pulls me down. I am terrified by my doubts but also terrified by blind faith.

I am terrified of being anonymous but equally as terrified of being known.  I am terrified of the prospect of trying to start a business…for I am just as scared to fail as I am to succeed. I am terrified of dying, but I am also terrified of living.

There you have it: I am a repetitive scaredy cat.

I live in constant fear of what people think of me, of wasting my life, of denying who I am, of not knowing what that even means.  I feel like I am constantly fighting, swimming upstream against all of these fears…the ceaseless voices in my head warning me of all the ways everything could go up in flames.

But here’s the thing.  I am not going to stop swimming.  In fact, as I continue to identify all these things that I am afraid of, I feel as though I am slowly getting more equipment, increasing my ability to swim.  The more I study the flow of the water, the currents, the jagged rocks…the more I am able to avoid the things I should be afraid of and ignore the others. That doesn’t make the water flow less, but it makes my muscles grow.

Okay…enough of that long, rambling (kind of dumb) metaphor.

The point is: I want to keep taking steps to face these fears.  I want to identify the things I desire to be true of my life and actually go after them.  For basically my whole life my goal has been college.  And I thought at the end of it, I would be done searching… that I would know my “life path.”  Funny thing is: I’m here now, at life post-college, and I think I know less about this path than I did going in!  On one hand that terrifies me, but on the other it gets me so dang excited!  And some days I think it only terrifies me because of the way other people react when they hear that I am not getting a full-time architecture office job straight out of college.  (Yes, I am appreciative of my college education.  No, I don’t think contemplating altering my career path makes it a waste of five years.  No, I don’t intend to just be a lazy bum mooching off of my husband.  No, I am not worried about how this time spent nannying will look to future potential employers.)  At the end of the day it is not them who has to live with my choices and decisions (to get a job I resent, to chase my dreams, to take time off), it is me.  (well…. and my husband…who is wonderfully supportive!)

So this post is for two reasons:

#1  –  I have been afraid to really mention my blog on Facebook much at all, for Facebook contains high school friends, old teachers, relatives, parents, fellow church members… a whole host of people who may not necessarily react well to all of the things on this blog.  Because this blog is one of the most honest and vulnerable places in my life.  Here I feel free to doubt, to wrestle, to share.  I am terrified of how people could respond… If I share that I am wrestling through doubts about my faith, my biggest fear is that people will turn me into “a project”…or that I will perceive it that way.  But by not even giving other the chance to enter into the conversation, to see the real, authentic, vulnerable me I am not helping anybody.  Are other people in my life asking similar questions?  Do they desire community as much as I do? Are there others who wish they had a group of artists to paint with, open-minded thinkers to chat with, nature-lovers to stargaze with? I’ll never know unless I push past those fears and insecurities holding me back.

#2  –  And secondly, today is Day 1 for me of the Life is Messy Challenge by Mayi Carles. You can accept this challenge too if you want to!  What I hope to gain from these five life is messy challengedays is some sense of where I want to begin heading.  I am not thinking that by the end of this I will suddenly have my life “figured out.”  I am not even really hoping to have any semblance of a business plan.  All I know is I need to start somewhere and this seems as good a place as any!  Plus I have really loved getting to know Mayi’s site better and it seems like she really knows what she is doing!  (and who doesn’t love the adorably cute illustrations?!) So here was the assignment for day 1:

 

Super Power Finder1

I was tasked with listing out things I love to do, things I am praised for, and thing clients will buy.  Things I love to do was easy.  Obviously I know what I love.  However the other ones were harder.  After some thought and sifting through memories I was able to pull out things I have been praised for over the years.  But that last one… man, that last one is the hard one!  Things clients will buy?  I don’t know what people will buy!  If I did, I wouldn’t be doing this! haha  But I took a stab at it… based on some of the things that have been purchased from my Etsy shop.  (If you are reading this and have suggestions or comments… pleaseee put them in the comment section below!  I would LOVE some honest feedback.)  In conclusion, pottery and kids seemed to be things in the overlaps.  With art/collages/cards floating somewhere near the middle.  So I guess we’ll see where Mayi takes me tomorrow!

Well, anyway… that’s all for now. To those of you new to my blog: Welcome.  For those of you who have already been walking with me through this roller coaster of philosophical-existential-poetic-rambling-mundane-art-filled journey of mine….thanks for hanging in there.

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[…and now back to our regularly scheduled program…]

TERRIFIED.