Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve and Beyond

So here we are again, my friends, on the night before we all supposedly get a blank slate. A fresh new year, ready to be adventured in and conquered and mastered and to find greater success in, whatever your definition of the word may be.

I’ve written here before about how my definition of success is happiness, and last year around New Year’s I declared that 2015 was going to be the year I finally figured it all out—the happiness thing.

Life had other plans.

2015 turned out to be one of the most difficult years of my life, physically and emotionally. I stand on the other side of it looking back over the chasm I’ve swung across (on a rope that barely reached) and try to catch my breath.

I’m not running, but still feel out of breath. Then again, maybe I've never stopped running, and that's why I can't find peace.

I’m hoping to learn in 2016; a lot of things. Even if not finally finding a way to capture and keep hold of that elusive emotion called ‘happiness’ and have it reign in my life more days than not. 

I am, and will continue to be, grateful for the good that is.

I’m hoping to learn how one deals with… well, all the things that you know I’m dealing with and the things I don’t post here, the things no one knows I’m dealing with.

I want to learn to find stillness inside my own head, which is so often chaos because the Bipolar doesn’t go away with the opening of a new calendar.

I want to learn how to let my father go, while keeping the memories that we made in life close to me in a way that doesn’t hurt so much to remember.

I want to learn to let go of people who have already let go of me.

I want to feel peaceful and calm like a freaking Jedi Knight and not so much tossed about by the waves of my wonky neurotransmitters. With the potential loss of a major medication coming in the next few months (my insurance no longer covers it and I am not independently wealthy…) I don’t know where the journey will take me once my supply runs out.

I’ve come to realize that from day to day, I have no idea where life will take me, or what it will take from me.

I want to GIVE this year. Perhaps small but tangible things. I want to give back in the world that is offline and make just one person’s day better for it somewhere along the line.

I want to matter in some small way to someone who will never know my name by spreading as much kindness around as I can.

I want at once to lose myself (ego) and find myself (my true being). As an Idealist (INFJ) I may always be on that search. But change is already happening to me, I feel it in my cells day by day; it has been happening for a while and it continues. Who I am becoming I’m not entirely sure but at the end of it all I am certain my core will still be who I always have been.

Then again, maybe not.

Maybe the kind of change I’m feeling is the kind that rewrites your DNA; the kind that you fear for so long but once you’re in the midst of it you just want to keep going forward because you know ahead of you has got to be something better than where you (emotionally) are.

There has got to be more.

There has got to be more than promoting books (which I hope to learn to do more effectively in 2016 so I can spend less time accomplishing more) and trying to survive being a person with Bipolar and co-existing conditions.

There has got to be more than panic attacks and fighting unseen villains you cannot best.

There has got to be more than being in so much physical pain all the time that you just can’t function.

There has got to be more than grieving for people who stopped caring what happens to you a very long time ago. No matter who they are.

I want to find meaning now; and not just because there’s a new year coming.

I want to live that meaning now, in this moment and in every moment to come because I have got to believe I am worth fighting for if I’m ever going to find my way through the darkness of each dawning new day.

My word for 2016: Transformation.

Watch this space.

May you all find what you are seeking: in 2016, and beyond.

Happy New Year, everybody.



Monday, December 28, 2015

"Doing" in 2016, Because There "Is No Try."

Hello all!

I hope that your holidays have been good so far. Only one more to go, the 'big one' as far as goals and dreams and aspirations and the desire to retool life in the new year to make it better.

One of the things I want to be sure I do in 2016 is actively make space in my mind and heart to create. Life can quickly become cluttered and there are time wasters all around... one of the things I felt for a long time was wasting my time and energy was setting things up so I could paint. You see I've long been painting on a series of TV trays set up in the middle of what would be the dining area if we lived like normal people. But I live here, so we live as people do in the home of a student of art and writing and life; among things and books and memories.

I realized the setting up and putting away of these trays was not only taking energy away from my painting but it was also hurting my back, lightweight though they may be. I mentioned to my husband that I wished I had a dedicated art table, but didn't know where on earth one could go in our small apartment.

Well, as part of my Christmas presents, on Saturday he did some online research and found the perfect desk to fit between my bookshelves in the corner by a window. He had me pick out a chair I liked and a lamp as well and we brought the lot home from Ikea and he spent the next hours putting it all together and making it all fit.

It fits perfectly.

I've already painted my first canvas there; showing below: It's called "See the Light" and it's inspired by the Disney movie Tangled. It's meant to be a background for the Rapunzel doll that I also got for Christmas (she sings and her hair glows when you touch the lantern in her hand. It's. Awesome.)

I can make collages in this new space, I hope to art journal and maybe even take the laptop over and write there for a change of perspective now and again.

A change of perspective is the greatest hope I have for the coming year. Because we can't always change the way things are but at least we can do our best to change the way we look at them.

I'm choosing to do. Because there is no 'try', as a wise being once said. 

I've even decided that even if I can only crochet one or two rows a day, that after awhile I'll have a blanket, and that is something I can give to someone else. Like I once did, long ago only in a smaller way. It's better than not doing it at all. My first attempt to return to a hook and thread is in progress, though my eyes ache for it, it's worth it...

Yes. "Do, or do not. There is no try." 

I will do my best in 2016.

And on that note, I leave you with these notes... "Kylo Ren" playing The Final Countdown on flaming bagpipes while balancing on BB-8. In the rain.

I don't know why it is, it just is.

Happy New Year's Week, everyone.



Monday, December 21, 2015

The Force, My Father, and Me (No Movie Spoilers)

The last surviving original Star Wars action figure from my childhood collection...

Let’s just cut to the chase by saying my childhood relationship with my father wasn’t easy.

Let’s add that neither was it good, especially the first five or six years of my life.

Let’s say all that needs to be said by confessing flat out that I was actually terrified of the man, well into my teen years.

That’s the canvas upon which I will try to paint a picture for you. A captured memory, of a relationship that started out so wrong but ended up in an entirely different place.

I won’t pollute the present with the worst of the past, but I will add that in addition to fearing my father (and I had reason to at the time) he had wished very much that I, the third girl, had been a boy. He said this frequently, usually starting with “If I had a son, I’d…” Fill in the blank.

Never mind that I was willing to do whatever it was that he wanted to do with a son. Go fishing, even if it meant dealing with the worms that disgusted (and still do) me so.

He would never take me.

Then one day when I was six, he did take me somewhere. Along with my two older sisters, he took me to see Star Wars.

That was all we called it then. Just Star Wars, because it was the only one.

They call it “A New Hope” or “Episode IV” now. I still just call it Star Wars.

And it changed my life.

Not only was I, at six, completely swept up in the mythology and magic of the Force, (and my first crush on Luke Skywalker…) but suddenly, I had a language to speak that my father would actually hear.

Star Wars was the first, and for many years, the only common ground my father and I had.

I wanted to be a Jedi.

(Still do.)

My father actually liked that about me. And so I’d quote movie lines to him, try to use the humor in the films at the right times to actually bring a sort of smile to his face; and when I was twelve he waited in line for hours to get opening night tickets for Return of the Jedi.

Jedi was especially important to me because of the age I was then, and also because of the recent death of my Grandfather. The movie gave me a distraction, a channel for my grief, and I’d write in my Yoda’s Jedi Journal about wanting to be good enough and brave enough and strong enough—like a Jedi.

I always only wanted to be good enough.

My father and I didn’t really forge an adult relationship (despite an attempt, in my teens, to really try…) until I had my daughter when I was twenty-four. His only grandchild; a perfect little girl with dark hair and dark eyes like my mother.

The hair and eyes I wished I’d had when I’d looked all those years at Princess Leia and saw goldish hair and blue eyes staring back from the mirror.

(My daughter is 20 now, and she could do a really impressive Leia Cosplay if she wanted to… but I digress.)

Through the years, Star Wars was there for me and Dad. For many years, it was the only bond we had.

Now he’s gone.

So many times while I watched him as he lay there dying weeks that have turned into almost two months ago now, I thought, believe it or not, how sorry I was he was going to miss the new Star Wars movie and I wished he could have seen it.

Last Thursday night, at a pre-screening, I saw it.

I heard Dad’s whistle in the opening music—he always loved to whistle the theme song and did so with skill.

In the humorous moments, I heard his laughter.

In the dramatic moments, I wondered what he’d think of the way it all went.

At the ending, I could almost feel him there with me.

Some have commented they don’t understand how someone (or anyone) can get so worked up over “just a movie”. Why the sharing of spoilers is such an offense, why ruining it for anyone is unthinkable to me.

All I can say is that if you can imagine a six year old girl with no way to reach her father, finally finding one point of connection through the magic of the storytelling in Star Wars, then maybe you’d realize for some of us, it will never be “just a movie.”

I sure wish I could ask my Dad what he thinks of The Force Awakens.

My bet is he’d smile that lopsided grin at me and say, “That was great, Sugar. Let’s see it again.”

The Force will be with you, Dad. Always. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Christmas Past

If I close my eyes, I can hear her laughter.

Excitement on Christmas morning, of course, but also in the days leading up to it.

The messy business of wrapping presents, baking cookies, watching time-worn tapes of Christmas specials. Singing holiday songs in harmony with her, marveling she was never, ever, flat or sharp. Always right on key.

I remember her stringing beads to ‘light’ a dollhouse; a child who rarely held still sitting there for hours until her task was completed to her satisfaction.

I remember the young lady, barely a teen, chasing me around the kitchen with the video camera as I tried to hide my un-made-up face from it, and the sound of her giggles as I insisted, against her advice, on eating the burnt sugar cookies because “It’s what Moms do.”

I remember…

The sweet smell of her freshly washed hair as I tucked her into bed, snuggling in to read A Wish for Wings that Work every Christmas Eve. 

Fly, Opus. Fly...

I'll never forget how sweet she looks when she's sleeping.

Her birthday is in December as well, and each year from the time she was twelve I would write her a birthday letter.

I found out later she’d saved them all, but I doubt that she has them anymore.

Where, oh where, did my daughter go?

I know where the little girl went; she evolved into a woman, as she was always meant to do.

But I don’t know exactly when it was she made the decision that because she believed one way and I another that I was no longer fit to be a part of her life, to be her family.

To be her mother.

And every Christmas since all I can do is think about all the families divided by one trouble or another. Addiction, mental illness, religious conflicts that run much deeper than any such a thing ever should. Just a few of the things that cut ties that should bind tight and protect from trouble.

I think of the lonely parents and frustrated adult children, angry that their elders won’t live by the script that they would dictate for them. I think of families where the situation is reversed, parents shunning their children. What has the world come to?

In my family, I’m the rebel, the black sheep. I’m the flawed one, because I choose unconditional love over judgement. Because I choose acceptance over condemnation. Because I believe in letting people live the lives they would live and love whom they would love, so long as they bring no harm to others in the doing of it.

There are two weeks left to get through until Christmas.

The recent loss of my father magnifies my sadness but it does not create a more difficult holiday, because he never celebrated the holidays and so I have no holiday memories with him to mourn.

With my daughter, I have so many.

And I will never be able to stop my tears of loss, and profound grief, at the absence of her from my life by her own choice.

I will always wish I could have done more, been more, given more, somehow, that would have been enough to keep her from choosing the narrow path she’s on.

I taught her to love widely, with her whole heart, and so that is how I will love her, still, whether she ever comes home to me, or not.

My daughter turns twenty this year.

How I wish we could be celebrating that event, and even the smallest of life’s mundane daily details, together.

Her absence will haunt me, and all I can do is hope someday to hold her in my arms again, and welcome her home with all my heart.