Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My body in rebellion

My body hates me. Which is a weird statement to make because what am I outside of my body. Well, I guess that part that recognizes that my body hates me. She doesn't like anything I feed her - the junk and the good. She doesn't like to sleep straight through the night. She can never be seated for longer than 3-5 minute stretches. She feels like worms or ants are marching beneath her skin. She is constantly hot and then cold and then hot again. And she cries at the drop of an emotionally well-placed hurt animal or emaciated child. She is in a word - completely irrational. And in another word - perimenopausal. That's right, folks. I am going through the pre-menopause stages. I am 40. Technically I should not be experiencing this for another ten years. And if we are working purely off my family history for another 5-8. My OB/GYN thinks I am going through all of this slightly early because of the chemotherapy and radiation I went through with the cancer. And because the type of couture cancer I had was hormone based. Ah. I am not one who laments what a thing is called when I in fact have that thing. I am more the type who gets happy that whatever it is that is happening with me has a name. If you can name it you can research it and you can deal with it. Or so I tell myself.

Presently there is not much I can do other than get educated on what is happening with my body. Pay attention to the signs my body is giving off and read as much as I possibly can so I am informed and can make healthy choices. I am not interested in hormone replacement especially since such treatments leave me vulnerable to a secondary cancer. But besides that I don't particularly want to take synthetic things to deal with an organic ocurrence. Just happy, at this point, to know that I am not getting crazier than I already was, that there is something real going on. The hot flashes are NOT a figment of my imagination.

And so here it is folks, the next evolution. So hang out here and at keisha-eats if you want to see how I handle this next part of my constantly changing existence. Food will definitely be my medicine now. I am having some interesting responses because I am also diagnosed with anemia based primarily on my recent diet choices. So it will be time to warm up the raw foods so I stay warm and to boost the iron (not in the form of supplements those give me constipation!).

I know there are those of you out there going through this same thing. Don't stand in the shadows. Don't hide the truth. Come on out with me and exclaim loudly, I am over 40 and my body is feeling it!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

English, yea I can write it.

I was a good writer. Yesterday. Today I suck. And using "Yesterday" is a sentence fragment. Did you know that? Even if it completely communicates my thoughts, it is not allowed in scholarly writing. Shit. Oops. Of course you know that it is a sentence fragment. The rules I have been using for writing (or not using) were by choice. I thought I knew the rules so then I would know how to break them. But it I don't and the way I write is not good enough for scholarly writing.

I had this vision of revolutionizing the world of scholarly writing. I was going to write the way I spoke. Present complex ideas and theories in an uncomplicated language of the people. The proletariat. But that is not the case with scholarly writing. You will be laughed at by your peers and you will not be taken seriously in well-read circles. Your writing will not be appropriately obtuse (ding ding SAT word!). And who in their right mind from the non-academic community would want to read a paper comparing and contrasting Elizabeth Alexander's poem Absence to August Wilson's play Gem of the Ocean? You would need to be familiar with the poem and the play to get the paper. So, I am finally starting to get why academic, nay, scholarly work is written in such complicated language because non-academic people are not going to read it!

I had a great professor in high school (I refer to her as "Professor" because she had a PhD in Medieval literature from Princeton. She deserved that title even though I called her K.P., in class!), she taught Dante's Divine ComedyHandmaids Tale and The Bible. All in one semester. She made me love Dante. Her incredibly descriptive accounts of what happened in hell made it accesible to all of us with only a sophomore high school English under our belts; even those of us who had attended rigorous elementary and middle schools.(now that was a bad sentence!). I wanted to write the way she spoke. To inspire people to read the Divine Comedy. To be taken in by the stories of lying, sexual misconduct and patricide as well as killing any neighbors who came by your house! Wow! That book would be a best seller. And then I read her book on The Divine Comedy and I fell asleep while reading it. It was her dissertation from Princeton. Dry. I wanted to throw pitchers of water on it. Or better yet just put it in the tub and let water consume it.

How could it be that this vibrant and amazing teacher could write something so boring? It didn't make sense to me. Not until years later when I had to write my college thesis. One member of my committee had also been my English Professor. She taught Dante, Chaucer and Shakespeare. I loved the way she taught and as a matter of fact she got her PhD from Princeton the same year K.P. did. They were friends. And my college professor was so incredibly vibrant in class. She described Chaucer with such passion that you wanted to perfect middle English! Then I made a huge mistake. I read her dissertation. Again, nod'sville. How was this possible?! She made me want to run away with Virgil! And to adore Dante. To this day The Divine Comedy is one of my favorite collections of books and The Inferno in the top three of my favorite books. However, this professor who had encouraged me to write the way I spoke told me that I missed summa cum laude on my thesis because I had "dropped the ball" on the use of language. It wasn't scholarly enough. The entire faculty was not going to stand up and then genuflect when I walked in at graduation (which is what they did with summa cum laude graduates. Okay not the genuflect part). And I wasn't going to get a nifty medal. Damn, Damn Damn! How did I know there was a difference in how I spoke and how I wrote?

Then I got it. There is a huge difference between scholarly writing, how one teaches, and how one writes for non-academic audiences. Scholarly writers don't really give a damn if the proletariat can understand their writing. It wasn't written for them. It was written for the academic community. And they expect, nay, demand that the writing be as complicated as possible so it shows how learned you are. I get it. And I also get that that last part wasn't fair to academics.

And now I have to learn how to write like an academic if I want my work to be taken seriously in certain circles. Ahh, am I up to learning those rules now, at my age. Well, it seems I have no choice if I am to be a scholar. There is a silver lining, however, learning to write academically does not mean I cannot also write for the masses. I can do both. Learning the rules of scholarly writing means I can break them in my blogs and other commercial venues. I can use it in my speech when I teach (oh, rhymn that is a no no!). And I can make things vibrant and inspiring for my students. Don't worry I will not bore you with my scholarly writings here. I will save that for another audience.

Be well,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What did you say?

This post is primarily for those of you who have children. And those of you who do not, go ahead and post a response if you have any thoughts. RANT WARNING! So those of you not in the mood for that kind of thing can just skip this post. I am sure I will be back soon with something else!

Girls. What is it about being a mother and raising a girl that is so difficult? The boys are challenging, yes they are. But they are challenging in a different way. They want to kill each other most days and work that out through jumping on each other and chasing each other around the house wielding toys as potential weapons! This I can handle. This I know how to deal with. But girls.

I have to be honest, I am not the best of mothers when it comes to dealing with my daughter. There is something about the mother/daughter relationship that is different, easy to figure out on the surface but once you dig deeper, so hard to manage and to contain your frustration. I remember having the same beef with my mother. She just didn't understand. She wasn't listening to me. She is mean and quite frankly not in touch with what I am going through. Yea, I was one of those girls. And so I try to remember what my frustrations were as a daughter and use that to interact with my daughter, and you know what: It's not working!

Some of this is probably because this type of interaction is being interpreted by someone young, emotional and confused. We all were. And part of it is that I see in her every little thing that annoys me about myself. A mirror of my shortcomings. And that is an uncomfortable place to be. It hits every nerve in my body and I see myself outside myself acting like a crazy person. Unable to get a hold of my emotions. But the thing that drives me the most crazy is the mouth.

Talking back, mumbling under your breath, telling me - outloud - that I am mean and the ever popular: "Just forget it!" Well I can't just forget it. I was just slandered. I was just told that I didn't say something when I KNOW I did. I was being called a liar. And oh, my potentially calm mother instincts turn into a crazy, screaming banshee. Yes, I do scream. I try not to but it's almost as if I am outside of my body looking down at this out of control person and I am yelling at HER to stop screaming but she is screaming so loudly she can't hear me. It is that disconcerting and upsetting to me.

And I can hear all of you now, "It's not about you, Keisha!" And I know this. I know this. And I cannot get a grip sometimes. Believe me I am better than I used to be. I am better than the post I wrote a year or so ago. But I am not better enough. I have done the deep breathing and the time out for myself. I have counted as high as 100 to regain my composure. And when I am tired and frustrated, I cannot manage to go that place of serenity. To my "Woooo Saaaa" place.

There is no need to placate me or tell me that it is part of being a mother because I get all that. And I really want to do some kind of socialogical study on why it is that mothers and daughters are like this. I mean really understand it. It feels like something we can overcome, that we can break the cycle. Much like when your ancestors were alcoholics and so you decide to not drink. There is an emotional and physical response that maybe we can analyze and end, right? Oh please tell me that there is. And some women have perfectly healthy relationships with their mothers. I have a much better one with my mom now than I ever did and part of that was having my own children and learning how difficult it is to raise little people.

And I love my daughter. I adore her and think she is the coolest kid ever. I think she is talented beyond measure, creative, her own person and compassionate. And I don't like her very much. And when the two of us are in the same room for too long it turns into a battle. Like this morning when I told her she could not wear leggings with a ton of holes in them to school. You would think I was Joan Crawford in "Mommy Dearest!" The crying and the wailing. The talking back - which is really what set me off. So that my constant phrase with her is: "What did you say?"

There is a perceived sense of defiance on her part, a disrespect and an echo of me at 10, 11, 12. It's got to be in the DNA and its got to be rooted out. So, this is my dilemna this morning. And sitting down and writing this post has helped me calm down and think of all of this differently. And in the moment that clarity is so hard to find. And this is the nature of raising girls, some say. But I would like to defy nature.

My latest mantra - On Children ~ Kahlil Gibran
(performed by Sweet Honey in the Rock)
Your children
Are not your children
They are the sons and the daughters of life's longing for itself
They come through you but they are not from you
And though they are with you they belong, not to you.

You can give them your love but not your thoughts
They have their own thoughts
You can house their bodies but not their souls
For their souls dwell in a place of tomorrow, which you cannot visit
Not even in your dreams
You can strive to be like them but you cannot make them just like you...

Be well.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wanting Memories

How can you miss something you never had? I think it's very easy to mourn both that which you have lost and that which you wish you had to lose.

Wanting Memories

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me
To see the beauty in the world
Through my own eyes
I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me
To see the beauty in the world
Through my own eyes

You used to rock me in the cradle of your arms
You said you'd hold me til the pains of life were gone
You said you'd comfort me in times like these
and now I need you
Now I need you
And you are gone

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me
To see the beauty in the world
Through my own eyes
Since you've gone and left me
There's been so little beauty
But I know I saw it clearly through your eyes

Now the world outside is such a cold and bitter place
Here inside I have few things that will console
And when I try to hear your voice above the storms of life
Then I remember
all the things that I was told

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me
To see the beauty in the world
Through my own eyes
I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me
To see the beauty in the world
Through my own eyes

I think on the things that made me feel so wonderful when I was young
I think on the things that made me laugh
made me dance
made me sing
I think on the things that made me grow into a being full of pride
I think on these things
For they are true

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me
To see the beauty in the world
Through my own eyes
I thought that you were gone
But now I know you're with me
You are the voice that whispers all I need to hear

I know a please, a thank you, and a smile will take me far
I know that I am you and you are me and we are one
I know that who I am is numbered in each grain of sand
I know that I've been blessed
and over again

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me
To see the beauty in the world
Through my own eyes
I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me
To see the beauty in the world
Through my own eyes

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Violence of Articulation - Living in Fear

One of my favorite directors is Anne Bogart, even though I have never seen anything she has directed. I did, however; have the incredible joy of spending time with her in graduate school and even being blessed enough to cook for her. She ranks up there with Sweet Honey in the Rock in terms of awe and Anna Deavere Smith in terms of my girl-crushes.
My first year of graduate school she came to do a workshop with the playwrights and the directors were lucky enough to get a couple of hours of her time, which is due completely to my friend Wonder woman! I sat there with her on my right and she asked why we were here and what we wanted to do with our work once we left. But before that she gave me one of the best life lessons I have ever had: "Pay attention." So simple. So fucking hard. That is what I took from that time with her. Pay attention, which makes so much sense given especially that her background is in Buddhism, mostly Zen. Another lesson in mindfulness. For years I applied that directive just to directing but of course began to see that it was a wider command than just my artistic life.
Wonder Woman took another phrase from our time with Anne: "the violence of articulation." Kali herself. To create you must destroy. To speak is to put energy forth into the universe, be careful what you place out there. That phrase has lately become my touchstone, probably because I get the "pay attention" one even if I don't always follow it. But the last few weeks since the riots in England have caused me to re-think how powerful my words can be.
A really good friend suffered a horrible loss and I, in turn, suffered along with him. His good friend lost both of his children to mob violence. The son was dragged from a car and beaten within an inch of his life. He was put on life support which proved to be the only thing keeping him alive and so they turned it off. He was 16. His sister survived the attach but had been brutally beaten, raped and left for dead. She killed herself the day after her brother's funeral. Parents buried both of their children.
Before I knew the depth of this story I had taken the academic, well-read position. And I had also taken the position of someone caught up in the America myopia. Because I see everything that involves riots through a racial prism that is the same monocle I was looking at the riots in England with. I had seen a few liberal posts on CNN blaming the austerity laws and saying that this was bound to happen given the oppression of the poor people in the affected neighborhoods. And I saw the U.S. and racial profiling and Reginald Denney, and Larry Bird, and that bitch of a sales associate who followed me around the upsale clothing store, and the women who asked me how long I had been taking care of these kids and how much do I charge. Everything through the lens of racism. So after sending my friend, who is not American or British, a link from a public advocate in England saying how he could completely understand what happened and that the government should understand too, my friend and I got into a heated series of exchanges. HEATED.
I was academically dissecting this situation, it's the nature of oppression. Breaking down the language being used by US media - not taking into account that the UK was using completely different language. When my friend wrote back to me with the account of his friend's losses. He ended the paragraph with - "it seems as though you care more about how language is used to describe the situation than you do about the people involved in the situation." Yea, I deserved that. And I immediately began to research this event from every news outlet that was not American or created for Americans. Wow, guess what I saw? People were described by their behavior not by their racial make up. The pictures connected with the riots contained both black, white, Asian and Indian people. They photos were not skewed to make it seems like only one race of people were responsible. The issue was class not race. Back at Lawrence in 1994, Tim Troy repeatedly said that future mass violence would be socio-economic and not race based. It is unfortunate that socio-economics and race are so inexplicably intertwined.
I write this with lack of clarity and with caution as I know that at least 1/2 of the people who read this blog are from academic backgrounds! And I am trying to work out some of the kinks in my logic before I write this for Nanda Mama. But what I really want to say is that I am embarrassed. Embarrassed by my lack of vision. By my completely inaccurate and biased statements. Disgusted that these events took place. Overwhelmed by knowing the details and feeling the pain of someone affected. Despondent about the future of humans. While I continually work at having more love for myself I have noticed a shrinking of my heart in relation to other people. I cannot forgive them their trespasses. And I fight to maintain my internal humanity toward "those people," and I feel as though I am losing the fight most days. I have become more and more conservative as I age. I have become less accepting and more of - just get up off your ass and fix it your life. Wait, isn't that what I have been saying to myself forever?!
The other night in the midst of a panic attack I put on Pema Chodron and right where my ipod picked it up was Pema discussing anxiety. Saying that her teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche had taught on fear and facing it and leaping into it. How he took things that were painful and seemed useless to us and turned them into positive teaching tools. Things like fear and boredom. That when we are afraid or feel the loss of solid ground we scramble to create ground. And in our process we may lash out or blame or become angry with others. And I had been doing a bit of that lately. So, it helps me to see that what I say or write has consequences. That if I am to really do the work of opening up myself and my heart then I cannot afford to close myself off to the basic humanness of everyone - but that does not mean forgiving every misdeed. Nor does it mean ignoring when someone has clearly lost their sense of humanness. Beating a 16 year old to death and then raping his sister - not a forgivable act. Not a human act. Not even the act of the beast. This is something darker and far deeper. And I will not accept, tolerate or forgive. Because the act was not done directly to me but close enough that I cannot ignore it. And it reminds me that in every time someone is hurt, abused or injured it is an affront to my humanness. One death is a tragedy, several a statistic? Time to wrap my head around the statistics.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me - And a Challenge to You!

I will be 40 this month and I am so excited!!! I've been talking about it forever. I feel like I have lived half my life already but I feel a shift happening. It is happening in the earth right beneath my feet. It's happening in my mind taking me to places and showing me things that I didn't know existed. And it's happening in my heart allowing me to love people and things I never thought possible. But mostly allowing me to forgive moments and events that I have held on to for far too long. And the most important part is that it has allowed me to forgive myself - or at least get on the road to forgiving myself. All the times when I felt I wasn't enough. All of the times I didn't show up for myself. All of the times I didn't live up to my "potential." What a horrible word "potential" it should be banned from the English language. We are not potential. Every moment of our lives we make decisions, we love, we live - and if we stopped thinking of ourselves as beings in search or on the march for our potential then we would be happy right where we are. We have nothing to get, nothing to reach for. We are perfect right here. I have tried to reach my potential ever since some misguided high school teacher wrote in a college recommendation that I had lots of it. Well, whatever he thought was my potential and what I thought was my potential were probably not the same polar opposites actually. And I probably exceeded his expectations but fell desperately short of my own. So I am taking that word out of my vocabulary and definitely not using it with my own kids. It sets up impossible goals even if you are only slightly damaged, meaning you have just a tiny bit of work to do on yourself. But when you feel you are riddled with holes that need to be filled - potential can become your arch-nemesis.

Potential is defined as: : existing in possibility : capable of development into actuality . Capable of development into actuality? Then what the hell are you right now? See where I am going with this? We are capable of becoming something. We are already bright, beautiful, full right here. Exist in this moment not in one that hasn't arrived yet. Just like my daughter always says - tomorrow never comes. It's the same way with potential.

But this is not what I wanted this post to be about. I want it to be about celebrating this month with me. And helping move forward through the next 40 years. So I am asking for a HUGE present from each of you. It is a challenge that may very well take you all month to complete but I am hoping that you will do it.
This is what I wrote as a Facebook status but it wouldn't post -- too long! I have been known to be verbose!

Today is the first of July! On the last day of this month I will be 40 years old! So I feel allowed to ask a favor of those who will do it. Send me 40 pieces of knowledge. They can be lessons you learned the hard way, or the easy way or the love way. They can be funny things you think I should know or how to heal a broken heart or make perfect scrambled eggs! What do you know? Share it with me. Each of you give me 40 gifts whether you know me well or not. At the end of the month I am going to publish it into a little book to keep with me and help get me through the next 40 years! Write me at facebook, here or @! You have all month, and I will remind you!

I am going to do the same thing. Write 40 pieces of knowledge. 40 things I "know for sure," to quote the guru Oprah (do you realize she is a guru - crazy!). Please do it - it's not just a gift to me but hopefully a gift to you as well! And if you know someone who knows me who doesn't read this blog or isn't on FB - send this to them. I want a HUGE book actually by the end of the month - truth be told.

I love each of you fiercely!


Monday, June 27, 2011

Eat, Pray, Love and Navel Gazing

Okay, I am a bit behind. I just saw the movie after reading the book months after it came out. I could have skipped the Italy part of the movie but was completely in love with the India - pray section. Partly because a secret desire of mine is to go to India, study with a guru and be silent and serene for weeks. But serenity begins within. So, I really don't have to go anywhere for that. What the movie did do for me, that the book didn't as much, was bring to clarity Elizabeth Gilbert's excessive navel-gazing and privilege. A successful career, money in the bank, no children and now no husband. She had no attachment to anything that walked on this earth so she could go and "find" herself. Which has always been the job of priviledged, mostly white, people. But then I had a thought: I come from some of the strongest stock of people in the history of this universe, anyway. Black people could have gone the way of the dinosaur, but we didn't. We adapted and survived and each generation works to improve upon the wonder of those who came before, well at least some of us do, and those of us who can work like hell to help those who can't yet. So I don't need to go anywhere to find myself. I am right here.

So, I will feed myself in my own kitchen. Pray on my own floor. And find love in my bathroom mirror. Let's start with the eating part. And I know some of you are sick to death of the myriad of blogs I have. Impossible to keep up with all the stuff going on in my life. I know. Better living through chemistry helps. And I tend to lock onto an idea and then see another bright and shiny thing and lock on to that. No longer. I have my kids this summer because we cannot afford to send them to camp in this expensive city, so I have picked up the recession camp blog. This blog, Nanda Mama will always be home base for me to come back and reflect and hopefully start a dialogue on some of the things that make me go --- hmmmm. But yes I am adding another blog to the list and it is entitled quite simply - Keisha-Eats. For years I have dabbled in healthy eating even before I went to IIN - Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Finding my health, healing my gut, soothing my soul, has been an eternal struggle. So I made the decision to give myself a couple of gifts this year. Nothing strenuous. Nothing outrageous and barely possible. And nothing expensive. I am going raw vegan, as best I can, for the summer. Cancer kicked my ass - no sense in lying about that. And even though I ended treatment three years ago this coming July, I am just now dealing with the fallout, the emotions, and the anger of having had to go through that particular life lesson. And the fog is finally starting to lift. I am a life learner. And also someone who feels that she has quite a few books in her to write. But still trying to figure out what it is I want to write about. What do I want to say? So many things. There are so many things I am interested in that I am hoping this time - this year - I am giving myself to center and come home to myself will clarify some things. So stick here if you want to hear my daily, weekly, monthly musings on life and whatever other piece of lint I pick out of my navel. Come to recession camp if you want to see how I get all four of us through the summer with nothing more than a metrocard. Or come on over to my newest venture Keisha-Eats, which will make it's premiere soon. Loving you all fiercely!

Be well

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ask and you shall receive....not always

This post is specifically for Gen X-ers. If you were born before or after this moniker's designation keep it moving. Remember women when we were coming of age we were instructed to speak up - to ask for what we needed and wanted? That wasn't a complete statement. What should have come after that was "and be prepared for the person to give it or not." I think I missed that part of the conversation. So for the longest time I thought that when I asked someone for something because I had spoken up and used my voice that they were going to give it to me. But it is much more complicated than that. And today I had one of those moments when a lesson is not just an epiphany but it has become part of your personal ontology - it has been ingrained into your belief system.

I have every right to ask others for what I need and what I want. And they also have every right to say they cannot or worse yet, will not give it. But then there is a third part to this conversation - I then have the choice of accepting their answer and them as someone I want to keep in my life or let go of. HA!!! That lesson took years for me to get.

Each person is unique and has their own issues and we get to decide if we love them enough to put up with those issues. Love them, not like them or think they're cool, but love them enough. I have a male friend who is not the person I go to when I am in emotional crisis. He is horrible at being supportive and making me feel better. But in one specific instance I needed his support and I asked him to meet me as best he could. He couldn't do it. Big choice to make for me. After I assessed why I needed them to be there for me in a way they never had before, I decided that yes, I can keep them in my life because I love all the other ways they show up for me. And I knew - going in that he wasn't going to be able to fully show up for me - but he was the only person I could ask at that moment. And secretly I wanted to see if he could bend, even just a little. He can't. I tested him and now I know for sure. And he is still on the island.

There have been people that I have used this test with as a way to get rid of them. I ask them for something I need, they can't give it and they get voted off. It sounds harsh and cruel but it really is an important test for me. It allows me to see if I am keeping people around who feed and nourish me or if I am keeping them just because they have been there so long and they are comfortable. If I want comfort I'll buy uggs. If I want support I will keep friends who can give it. You know how the clutter gurus always say only keep things in your house that you absolutely love and give the other stuff away to someone else who could love it? That is what I am doing with the people in my life. Only keeping the ones I truly love - their light and dark sides. Their shadows and their brilliance. And I am urging you to do the same. Are their relationships that no longer serve you? Do you absolutely love them? Then let them go. And bless them and leave them to find someone who can truly appreciate their particular beauty.

I am so glad that this lesson no longer comes in snippets of light but that it is firmly a part of my world now. No need to be mean, just release. I thank Grace for this latest piece of wisdom.


May cool winds fan your skirts

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hotel California

That song scares the crap out of me. Which is one of the reasons I have it on my playlist but with the prophet singing it. When I was little I would hide whenever I heard it. I felt as though demons were coming out of the song and coming to get me. As I got older I figured out that the song was about drug addiction. It made perfect sense then. My father was an addict as were ALL his friends, which is not unusual. I remember watching them all go in and out of recovery. And when most of them came out for good they had AIDS, thanks 80's. From 1985-1991, I was to attend more funerals than probably I would attend in my entire left. Friends just kept leaving. But there wasn't the same kind of love and recognition for these friends outside of their little family. The most sympathy went to hemophiliacs or those unfortunate to get tainted blood during a blood transfusion. The next were gay people or women who caught it from a gay man on the down low. Honestly gay men did not get a lot of support outside their community either. But if felt like the bottom of the barrel were those who had drug addictions. These people were just deviants. And they somehow deserved to suffer and to die.
I remember working as a candy striper at Mount Vernon hospital during the 80's. I worked on the oncology and geriatrics floor. And I remember one patient clearly who was on the geriatric floor. He had all kinds of health signage on his door. Where a face mask, wear latex gloves, wear full frontal paper gear, wear feet protectors. This was obviously before the hazmat suit because I am sure I would be decked out in that too, just to bring this man his lunch! Turns out he was a Catholic priest all of 40 years old. On the geriatric floor because he had AIDS. Didn't ask him how he got it - which was usually the first question when you told someone, or most likely it was found out, that you had AIDS. I didn't care. I wanted to know if anyone came to see him. No one. His parishonors were told that he had been transferred. The other priests didn't come to visit him or to pray for him. I visited him every day I worked there. And I would read to him (funnily enough not from the Bible). He would ask me about school and my family and what I did for fun. And I would ask him why he chose to be a priest. And why no one came to visit him. And then one day I came to see him carrying a copy of Plato's Republic, because I felt he should have to sit through it too since I was reading it for the third time at this point. And he was gone. The bed had been stripped. All the warning labels had been removed and the room smelled like that disgusting hospital sanitizer and bleach. I knew where he was. So, I asked the head nurse on the floor when his funeral was and she said she didn't know if he was having one. I checked the paper for his obituary - nothing. I went down to the morgue and asked what mortuary he had been sent to. And they told me he would be not be embalmed because few funeral directors would agree to do that. And they didn't know where he was buried he was picked up by the county. No mass. No last rights. No respect. I had a hard time with G-d after that but an even harder time with His emissaries. How could a person's life be given so little value? Back to Hotel California.
That song continues to haunt me because I think of addiction and how prevalent it is - and how easy it would be for me to become one - after all I have strong genes in that area. And to never escape. To constantly be at the mercy of a part of your brain that needs and you can only overcome the need through will. And I think about that last line - "You can check out any time you want but you can never leave." This idea of addiction is part of my previous post about mental illness. There is a certain cruelty to being trapped by your mind or your chemical make-up or your genetic make-up. And yea, I know you can overcome just about anything, but somethings feel like an uphill battle, a true war. Doesn't mean we don't do it - everyday. But like the priest buried alone with no mourners - it feels unfair. It is unfair. And it is also life.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

When you want to do the right thing

Have you ever - and be honest here - done something that you really want to do even though it might not be the best thing for you? When you aren't thinking with your head - as a matter of fact all reason has gone out the window and your heart is answering all your phone calls;and responding to your emails and sending your text messages. And you keep trying to get your rational mind back in charge of things. You will it to take control but it doesn't happen. You sit and meditate and make pros and cons lists and your heart keeps winning. Is it okay then to walk that road?

I think sometimes it is right to walk the road your heart has laid out for you. Because you can rationallize anything. Really you can. And when you think about what it is you want and where it is you want to be - life can be be fun and exciting and different all at the same time. But there is something about being a "grown up." And when you are trying to be a grown up you have to think about what is best for you. What gives you the best outlook and the best results and makes you look the most responsible. But maybe that is not where you are supposed to be. I believe that G-d kissed the place I am in my life right now. I believe that. But I often feel as though I am fighting with what G-d might actually want for me. Thinking that I know better and that I am rational in this moment, when what the moment really calls for is my for my heart to be open, that I am going to get the best result. Not true, no way no how.
I have a choice to make. And it is a choice I have been avoiding for quite sometime feeling that once I made the first choice there was no going back. There was no place to rest and no place to hide. I made that choice and I cannot, under any circumstances, change my mind. But that is not true. By virtue of my femaleness, to be base, and by my humanness to be broad, I can always change my mind. Always. And right now I am at the point when I want to flip a coin and let it decide for me. And then see if I keep doing best of out of three or best out of five if I don't get the answer I want. Ha ha. That will tell me the truth.
But for the time being I am going to wait until Mercury is out of retrograde and then make my decision. Make my decision based on where my heart and my head stands. I am sure I can get them to compromise with each other. We shall see....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Where you are right now

The place where you are right now
God circled on a map for you
wherever your eyes and arms and heart can move
Against the earth and the sky,
the beloved has bowed there-
The beloved has bowed there knowing
You were coming…


March is Ovah! I am so happy. Mercury is in retrograde and for some reason it is not causing me as much agita as it has in the past. Probably because I was ready for it. But this March has been better than any in a long time. It is usually my most depressed month where I reflect on my life, my losses, and lament the fact that its time for my yearly ct scan. Even though I am quite convinced that cancer is never coming back, that appointment still causes fear because - what if? This year I decided to live without the what if. I decided to honor the words of Hafiz (and some have attributed it to Rumi)to bow in the place that Grace has chosen for me. What I love about this particular translation of Hafiz is when it says "The beloved has bowed there knowing you were coming..." My name is Keisha and there have been many interpretations of what it means and where it comes from. It's Arabic, it's Hebrew, it's African - but they cannot locate one particular part of Africa. But the meanings are often very close meaning favorite or my personal choice - beloved.

I think about that section of the poem how the Beloved bowed where I am. I bowed where I am and chose this path. Everything I have done in my life prior to this breath was my choice. And Grace kissed my journey every step of the way. I can then take full ownership over my life. The wonderful and the challenging. I have often heard people say that they would not change a thing in their life because it would alter the place where they stand right now. I completely agree. While some parts of my life have been hard and painful I would not change them. And moreover, I made a choice to live it. I bowed and kissed every step of this path.

There are two folk stories that I love. One is an Islamic on and the other Jewish.
I cannot account for the truth of either of these stories just that they were each told to me by a Muslim and a Jewish person, respectfully. The Islamic story is that in the womb the baby is shown their entire life. The ups and downs the triumphs and pitfalls and they are asked if they chose their life. If they do they come forward into light and if they do not - their life ends with their no. There is a similar story in Judaism where there are a finite number of Jewish souls and before they are released from Heaven to come and be born of a woman they are shown their entire life. They are not given the choice to live or not. And right before their spirit falls to take its place in their mother's womb an angel of the Lord places his finger over the spirit's top lip and says "shhh, don't tell what you know." That accounts for the indentation in all of our upper lips. A reminder that we came from greatness and we choose to be here. But moreoever that we know perfection exists and our life is a journey to remember those two or three great images in whose presence our hearts first opened - Camus. Perhaps they were the images of an angel, or of our 10th birthday, or of our death. Who knows. But our being here is no accident. Either we chose or the Beloved chose for us, either way it is now up to us to make it the best ride ever. Every day. Even when it's hard.
March is over. Let the Spring begin.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

And You Shall Be Love

I have to come back to the previous post and work out some of my faulty logic. But before I do that, I have been thinking a lot about love. Such a beautiful thing - word, right? We all want it and we seek it and we acquire it and we lose it and some keep it. Valentine's Day, wedding anniversaries, babies being born, marriages. All of these events signify the love relationship. This year I got a lot of "Happy Valentine's Day" messages. I wasn't quite sure what to do with all of them. What does that mean that you want me to have a happy Monday? Or you want me to eat some chocolate? Or you want me to feel loved today? I particularly like the last one. So, yes I will feel loved today. Mind if I keep it for the coming days as well?

March is three days away. March 3rd will be the 20th anniversary of my father's death. And I never forget that day. I never forget where I was when I found out and how it sort of rolled over my and spilled down my back like the first moments in the shower or under a waterfall, should you be so lucky to stand beneath a waterfall! Now at the 20 year anniversary it is particularly difficult to see the day approach. Time should heal all wounds and make things easier to bare. But for me it just gets harder. Because I tend to think of all that was missed in the 20 years. Having my father walk me down the aisle (or through the hotel room to the terrace) on my wedding day. Being present when my children were born. Teaching my boys about football and baseball and telling them jokes and holding them on his knee and giving them pats, because: "Pats are very important." And I try not to live in regret or missed opportunity, especially with things I could not/can not prevent like death. But March is the month that I allow myself to wallow and to "harrow my own personal hell." It makes Aprils' showers a welcome baptism. Just like Jesus!

A few months ago I was diagnosed with ADHD. Now I know for a lot of people that is not a "real" thing. And as I went through school and succeeded in various ways I realized that not being able to concentrate, or prioritize or complete a simple task, was a character flaw. It could not possibly be something amiss with my brains firings. And it became a thing that caused me so much shame. I did not feel smart. So I must not be smart. And despite having a rather extreme form of ADHD I did manage to have some successes in school, partly because I had to develop my verbal and social skills to combat my inability to parse mental activities. The one place I did well was in theatre, as a director. I had stage managers, designers and assistants to help me with the details of a project so all I had to do was deal with the forest, leaving them the trees. And I loved my designers and stage managers who could pull what I couldn't say out of my quagmire of a brain. And yet, Grace would appear, often just long enough to give me a glimpse of how to fix something making the work okay. But my early work often lacked resolution or clarity at the end. And the end is the hardest part of creating a strong piece of theatre. So even there I was receiving the same critique over and over again - your piece has no ending Keisha. What do you want the audience to leave with? I couldn't make it to that point. And I didn't know how to fix it. I didn't know how to fix me. I also don't end relationships very well. I get tired of the tedium of dotting i's and crossing t's. And I just let things go and end however they will. Often not being able to do the rigorous work of making love last and of ending it with good feelings intact. So I stand eternally grateful to those who have loved me enough to stick around even when it was quite obvious that I had gone off the deep end a few times! And yes, I can laugh about it now!

Can I blame ADHD for this. Well, in a way and then again not at all. But what I can say is that I am angry. Angry at the amount of time it took this diagnosis to come to the fore. Angry at each and every teacher who didn't try to help me get through this challenge but rather wrote me off as not being that smart. And pissed as all hell at my parents for not expecting better from me after a time. And for settling on where I had gotten to and not on where they truly knew I should be. I never settled in a place. I always have berated myself for not doing better and not being more. I felt it in me - that I had never achieved and surpassed my potential. And I am made at myself for that. And now that I know that indeed there is something amiss with my brain firings, and that it can be helped, I want to jump ahead and start achieving all the things I have always wanted. But I am stuck in regret. Stuck in it deep. And I am pissed off. Wow, I am probably the angriest I have ever been in my life.

And I am discovering that anger is a useful emotion if it pushes us to work through it and get to a better place. And so this coming month of March when I am usually all sad for all the things I have lost I am instead going to focus on all that I have missed. All the ways I wanted my life to be but it wasn't. All of the moments I wanted to have but I didn't. And all of the things I wanted to accomplished by haven't. I am giving this month to myself as a gift. Time to work through my anger and my hate and my out and out fear.

So what do I regret? Missing the time with my father. Missing being able to truly engage in my studies. Missing being the academic scholar and world-shaker I always felt called to be. Missing living a BIG LIFE, instead of the smaller one I resigned myself to. Missing giving my children the home and the life and the love they so deserve. Missing the organization and the rigeur that would give me a sense of accomplishment. Missing my Tony, Emmy, Grammy, and Academy Awards. Being as completely unreasonable about how my life may have actually been. And then on March 31st, I will say good-bye to all my regrets in some kind of ceremony. And on April 1st I will await the rain to wash the remnants of my past of self- hate and recriminations good-bye.

I started this post talking about love and my father. And I end it thinking again about love and my father. My father lived his short life with many many regrets. And I know it was because he was trapped in the circumstances of his birth and the limitations of his mind and I feel that pain right now. My father was 44 when he died. I will be 40 this summer. And I refuse to enter that decade with the same recriminations my father died with. This is an opportunity to get off that particular wheel of life. To end the negative karma. So that my love and gratitude and completion is the gift I give future generations - it is my good karma passed on to my children and their children and....

Kahlil Ghibran wrote this:

* When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
p. 11
All these things shall love do unto you
that you may know the secrets of your heart,
and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.
But if in your fear you would seek only
love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing floor,
Into the seasonless world where you
shall laugh, but not all of your laughter,
and weep, but not all of your tears...For love is sufficient unto love.
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy; to return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

And I shall be love

in peace,

Photo Credit: Flickr best pictures of 2010

Monday, February 14, 2011

All You Need Is Love?

Nice sentiment Beatles (and why am I quoting the Beatles so much? I think it's from living around the corner from John Lennon's apartment building!)
Today is Valentine's Day. I am not bitter at all - for the first time in probably my entire life! I have always tended to pick low maintenance partners so these holidays would come around, anniversaries would peak their heads and birthdays would come and go and I would be on the shallow end of the gift receiving pool. When I was younger I would often go out of my way to make Valentine's Day a big event. But no longer.
My friend Sherri had a great status update the other day that basically she was happy that Valentine's Day was coming. She, like so many of us, is in love with love. Can't argue with that!

There was a time when I would see all the facebook status updates dripping with love-laced honey and be angry and bitter. But today when I logged on I saw happy couples who have been together for years, and happy couples who had just gotten together ready to spend the rest of their lives that way. And I saw love of self and love of child and love of parents. Beautiful stuff. Because being bitter at another's happiness says nothing about them but rather volumes about you! And I am no longer bitter about my status in the world of love. I am rather happy with the fact that I have so much of it and in so many different ways!

One of the best things I ever did was pick Ilya as a father for the kids! He helped them make the best Valentine's this past weekend. Simple, yet, creative! They came home on Saturday so excited to share the fruits of their labor with me. And I even got a couple of Valentines myself from them. My favorite, not to pick favorites, was the one from Buddha. It was a heart that his sister had obviously cut out for him (it was symmetric) but the message written on it was purely his own - dictated to his sister's elegant hand. It said: "Happy Valentine's Day Mommy. You are beautiful!" I could hear exactly how he must have said it to his sister. Zachary's slight speech impediment makes "beautiful" sound like "bootiful." I heard it in my head and smiled as I read the folded heart.

I get grouchy sometimes and frustrated with all that is in my world. But I took that heart and put it in my wallet - which is usually always with me. So, if I need to be reminded of the love of today, I can take it out and see it up close. Yes, Valentine's Day is a contrived holiday created by the card, flower, and chocolate industries. We all know that. But it can be more than that. It can be an opportunity to remark not just on the amount of love you receive but on the quality of the love you receive. And to cherish that and hold it tight.

Happy Valentine's Day tribe!

in peace,

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Can I Get a Window Seat?

In the midst of all the controversy about Erykah Badu's video for the Window Seat, from her last album (that's right I said album!), the lyrics of this song got completely lost. This song is my freaking anthem.

When Ilya and I first split I called a friend to tell her about the pain I was feeling and her immediate response was to berate me for needing "attention." And to basically, without the benefit of knowing me or my marriage that well, tell me that the break was my fault. Because I wanted too much attention. Oh yes. In the middle of my tears, I stopped and really listened to what was being said and I apologized. WTF? I apologized to this person taking me in the weakest moment of my life and knocking my down.

That moment came back to me recently when I was responding to a friend on Facebook. She asked her friends to write how they met her. I borrowed the same status a few days later. But I wrote to her: "I met you during Freshman Orientation at Lawrence when you asked for a standing ovation!" We had the usual orientation company come in to do icebreakers and team building activities. But the hallmark of this particular group was having people ask for "standing ovations" at any point in the sessions that they felt they needed one and we would all stand up and give them a standing ovation. My friend Summer did the same thing at our IIN graduation - go Summer!

And I realized something. This friend was asking me to get small in my pain. To not own that I was hurt and that I needed attention and it was fine to ask for it. I, by virtue of my place on the planet, deserve it. As women, we cannot ask each other to get small. Never. If anything we need to hold each other up and ask us to grow and get bigger and stronger. And we should aid each other in that growth. And if you can't do that then for G-d's sake be quiet!

The last two weeks I have been sick. It was a real physical illness that caused weakness, vomiting and all over body aches, caused by my mind presenting its pain somatically. I am good for that. I have been known to lose my voice, literally, when I am not expressing the things in my heart that must be said. So the complete collapse of me this past week was really linked to an incredible mental tiredness. My mind trying to keep all the balls up in the air and make it look effortless. I did what I thought I was supposed to. I got small and didn't ask for my standing ovation. After all I must have brought all this pain on myself through poor life choices. And I, for some reason, put on Erykah. I had been listening to Bag Lady and thinking about all the bags I was carrying around with me and my intense desire to drop those suckers off at the nearest goodwill. Perhaps someone else could use my self-doubt, anger, frustration, fear and loathing. Something sent me to New Amerykah Part II and Window Seat. And these lyrics hit me so truthfully -

So, presently i’m standing
Here right now
You’re so demanding
Tell me what u want from me
Concentrating on my music , lover , and my babies
Makes me wanna ask the lady for a ticket outta town…
So can I get a window seat
Don’t want nobody next to me
I just want a ticket outta town
A look around
And a safe touch down

If anybody speak to Scotty
tell him beam me up!

Yes, I need that window seat. But she went on to say this:

But I need u to want me
Need you to miss me
I need your attention
I need you next me
I need someone to clap for me
I need your direction

But I need you to miss me
Need somebody come get me
Need your attention
Need your energy yes I do
Need someone to clap for me
Need your affection
Somebody say come back
Come back baby come back
I want u to need me

But can I get a window seat
Don’t want nobody next to me
I just want a ticket outta town
A look around
And a safe touch down…
I just need a chance to fly
A chance to cry
And a long
Bye bye..

Those needs are very real. And wanting that and searching for it - nothing wrong with it. Understanding, of course, that ultimately all of that love has to come from self. And sometimes, much like your kids, you just want someone to hold you and tell you it's gonna be okay. You know it probably won't fix anything but it will make you feel better in that moment when your heart is breaking. And you may be able to get up and keep it moving a little longer. That is the work of those who are in love with you - and remember for me that means anyone you are in a love relationship with. And we mothers, need that same love, since we give it all day long. And I can take care of my babies and my life and my work and still want/need that love and support. It does not make me weak or self-interested. It makes me a strong woman who asks for that which she cannot provide for herself. We don't have to be strong every second of every day. Sometimes we need a safe, soft place to fall.

So, I am going to get that window seat and go for my safe touchdown but I will be back asking for my standing ovation.

in peace tribe

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cherish, the moment

Some of you know my almost obsessive love of all things Anna Deavere Smith. Last year her new play, "Let Me Down Easy" about the health care system and the power and resilience of the body, had it's longest run in NYC. I saw it three times. It is now at Arena Stage in D.C. and I am waffling about taking the Acela down there to see it again. Anna, like I know her, right, takes the words of people she interviews and re-creates them word for word onstage. Check her out here and here if you are not familiar, but you're my friend, so how could you NOT be familiar, right?!

Toward the end of the play "Let Me Down Easy" Anna portrays Rev. Peter Gomes, American preacher and Professor at Harvard's Divinity school. He speaks about being present in the moment when someone dies. And he advises us, his listeners, to "Cherish, the moment." I've heard Anna remark on this comment on Bill Moyers, that cherishing the moment may be a rather difficult thing for us to do in the moment of grief. We are not able to step outside ourselves and see this person's passing to another realm, or simply into eternal unconsciousness, as something we can cherish. Webster defines cherish as:
a : to hold dear : feel or show affection for
b : to keep or cultivate with care and affection : nurture
: to entertain or harbor in the mind deeply and resolutely .

I love the progression of time in this definition. We first hold the moment dear, we show and feel affection for it. Over time we keep it and cultivate it with care and affection until it is harbored deeply and resolutely in our mind. It is a part of us. The seamless tapestry that makes us who we are.

My life is a series of cherished moments. That is how I define myself and that is how I will remember myself at the moment of my passing. Moments. Snippets of film from the story of the life of Keisha. The ones that show up are the ones that I have held onto for my entire life. The moments I cherish. So when I stand in this moment and look back over my life, why is it that there are less than wonderful moments that show up? Do I cherish those too? Do I cherish loss and disease and death? Do I cherish betrayal and cruelty and violence? Do I cherish hatred and pain? I must because I have held them close to me and have harbored them deeply and resolutely in my mind. I have fed them a steady diet of attention so that they stay buried in there with the wonder. And I will not deny that those moments of despair have also molded me into the woman I am today. Either by getting through them and triumphing or reminding me that I still have work to do. But I no longer feel the need to "cherish" these moments, rather examine them.

Wouldn't it be lovely if we could click on bad memories and bad feelings and drag them into the trash? Yes, Steve Jobs get on that! And I am trying to make peace with those feelings. To sit with them and "feel the feelings." To stay in the uncomfortable. And you know what? It actually works. For years, I have made fun of psycho-babble. And I cannot speak for other directives, but this one, sitting with the bad, works. I had a moment that I was holding onto tightly. Because letting it go would mean letting the person go. And I wasn't ready to do that. So, no matter how painful the memories, I held on tightly, like my life depended on it. And it did, because it kept me in a state of anger and frustration. I cherished that moment. And it became more than I could hold onto. So, I sat. I let whatever feelings I had about it come and go. I cried and hit things. But I kept sitting. This took quite some time. In between I cooked, slept, took care of the kids, did laundry. But always made sure to come back and sit with this moment. And to not runaway from the feelings that came up or the way it made me feel in that moment. And I sat and sat and sat. And then the other day I no longer needed to sit. I thought of the moment and I was calm. It was just another moment in my personal history and definitely not one I would be seeing at the moment of my death.

Completely incredulous that this worked! And seeing the results has turned me into some kind of crazy-door-knocking-prosleytizer for sitting with the bad. And the moment no longer holds anger and frustration for me. I can see it as something that helped me grow and fight harder for my life.

I can still see and hear Anna in my head saying this line. I wish I could give you an audio version, right now but check out the Bill Moyers interview I linked above and you will see what I mean. The emphasis is on Cherish. To hold it dear, to nurture it and then harbor it deep within you. And even the painful moments can be turned into something useful, for why would we remember them if they weren't? Some things we remember and others slip away as if they never happened. I tend to think that if it stays with me, with all that is in my head, then it has some significance and I cannot just pretend it doesn't exist. It stayed to teach me some lesson.

Our lives are a series of moments. Some good, some bad, some - no emotional attachment whatsoever. But if it lives with you then cherish each and every one of them.

in peace tribe and may you be well

Photo Credit:The Faster
Anna Deavere Smith as the Rev. Peter Gomes in "Let Me Down Easy."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Love Me

I am a very emotional person. And I cry easily - very easily. But not in front of other people. That takes time. My sister posted a song I adore on her Facebook page the other day - Addictive Love by BeBe & CeCe Winans. They are singing about their love for G-d for Jesus. And maybe it's because I was raised in a Baptist Church (and baptized there at the age of 7 - by choice)that this song wrings my heart and makes me so happy. I remember sitting in Fred Gaines' office and we were talking about the Gospel Choir at Lawrence. And he said he was listening to the lyrics of the songs and while they were singing to G-d they could have easily been singing to their child or parent or lover. And then the genius on my itunes account went and did it and played Seal's Love Divine. Waterworks. "Love can help me know my name."

Then the rainstorm came over me. And I felt my spirit break. I had lost all of my belief, you see. And I realized my mistake. I need love, love's divine, please forgive me now I see that I've been blind. Give me love, love can help me know my name. ~ Seal

I am so scared to write this post, my hands are shaking. Before I married Ilya I was a firm believer in a G-d with personalities traits and greatness that I could not comprehend. S/He listened to me and knew what I needed and interceded on my behalf. When I died I had some place to go - some place where I would fit in and I could call it my home. Ilya identified as an agnostic. He didn't know if G-d existed and didn't really care one way or the other. Over time that made more sense to me. Except the not-caring part. And when I was very sick I was okay with things ending. No more pain and suffering just loss of consciousness. We won't know anyway, right? What was more traumatic for me was the thought that I would be some place unable to hold those that I loved and be with them but to see them in their happy times but also in the bad times. To watch them suffering from afar unable to intercede. How cruel was this idea of heaven? Despite my desire to "see" certain people from my life again - I had to say that I don't think that is going to happen. But like today, I saw Fred briefly while listening to a love song.

And try as I might I cannot let go of the G-d part. I have never been a very logical person so why start now. I need to feel that there is something bigger than me that loves me perfectly, just as I am. I need that. People can and will disappoint you. We are imperfect, cruel and some of us malevolent. We go to church, meditate, climb mountains to conquer ourselves and become greater than that which chains us to the earth. When I was very young I would sit and ponder why I was here on earth. What was I supposed to do? What did G-d want from me? Then as I got older and I de-personalized G-d, changed his gender, made her a puff of smoke that my clinging to only caused suffering, wrote his name in another language, I never let G-d go. There must be something, someone out there who loves me as I am - no matter what, no matter the day or the hair style. Unconditionally. People cannot do that - and do not try to convince yourself that you can because you lose what love really is.

We re-negotiate the meaning of unconditional to mean so many different things. Well, no I can't allow you to do whatever you want, child, because I have to discipline you, keep you safe. Well, outside of playing in traffic which is how our ancestors learned and the strong survived, (but that is an entirely different post) whatever we ask of those we love - for whatever reason - is a condition. We tell ourselves it is not a condition of loving them - of course not. But it is. We have standards and requirements from those in our lives. Only makes sense it is our life after all and we should be able to control who enters and most importantly, who stays. And that is only human. It's alright.

But to be loved with no condition - by someone or something that stays with you your entire existence. Who will hold you and wipe your tears and remind you who you are deep-down when no one is looking. And I searched for that love. And looking for someone to save me. Studying every religion but never committing myself to any because all of their G-ds had requirements of me. And some of their gods actually worked against my happiness. Religion is still fascinating to me and allows me to go deeper into myself and see what is worth keeping and "with a breath of kindness blow the rest away."

"Ain't nobody gonna save you, Savior self." ~ Cree Summer

Really? All there is is me? Well, that's not going to do it because I am fucked up. I can't get my parents to do it? How about that boyfriend from 1996? NO ONE!!!
How could whoever created the universe do that to us? How could they just leave us fend for ourselves. FUCK. YOU. GOD.

"For you alone you are the everything." ~ REM

But that's the thing. If a "who"ever created us, then yea, this thing called life is going to be pointless because people can be pointless and petty and well, people. I don't want my creator to be like me - only greater. But what if we were an accident? Particles collided.....
Then THAT makes us extraordinary! Really? We evolved from nothing? At one point all of us takes the trip of the universe - that's how we got here. We were nothing, and then we were small, and we grew and we learned - much like the earth - how to survive to equalize ourselves. We created institutions and dogma and Steve Jobs. We are amazing. From nothing.

Grace. That is what I call that within me which will not die, will not surrender and will not kill me. That which makes me stronger and bolder and greater than before. That which whispers in my ear during the darkness of night, which can be so long, and tells me, it's alright - we've seen the Sun before and it will return. That which not only allows me to evolve but demands it of me. I have a friend who I love very much. And my moments with her were some of the moments that I saw perfection most clearly. Not that she gave them to me - but she was my 100th angel on so many things. She is adopted and the name on her birth certificate when she was given to her new family, was Grace. I am reminded of the work it took to bring her here. To bring each of us here. And just like the earth we have evolved over time into truly beautiful and bright beings.

"In you that journey is." ~ Angels in America

Grace and I are still working on our relationship. And I am hoping that we will continue to do that until my last breath. That she will continue to remind me that I am loved. That I am able to survive because, well, I am here. And that everything I ever need I already have and anything I ain't got - well, I'll never need. Grace's job isn't to teach me how to balance my checkbook or work my ipad. Grace's job is to remind me of all it took to bring me here. To allow me to see, unconditionally, the perfection I am. Like I said, she and I still have work to do.

"All I want to do is just explain...why I feel the way I do, what a joy to share with you." ~Addictive Love, BeBe and CeCe

Many of you have said to me either in writing or in person that you read this blog. That it touches you at various points. And I am not asking you to tell me those things - because this is, despite all the "I"s in this post to the contrary,not about me. Really it isn't. And of course my ego loves hearing your responses, but it is not necessary any longer. All I want to know is that I am not alone. That there are others around me working it out. Especially when it is hard. And always when it is joyful. So just write "ditto." And I got you! Feel me?

"Terror is just a small thing. Get ready for the burning, the yearning, the praying, the wishing." ~ Cree Summer

I wish each of you Grace.