brought to light

Every morning that I can, I write letters to God. The Universe, to my higher power, whatever you want to call it.

I don’t worry about that anymore, whether people have the “right” idea of things (and by “right,” I mean matching up with my own personal definition). I used to spend a whole lot of energy concerning myself with such things. It felt like every day was a battle in which I was meant to correct everyone around me until the whole world’s views matched mine exactly.

It stemmed from insecurity. Compensating for it.

I’ve come to discover that, for me, right and wrong are arbitrary, when applied to the collective or whole. What is right, what resonates into the caverns of my heart and soul, isn’t necessarily the same for another person. “Every head’s a different world.” Every soul is a Universe. I don’t need them to match.

In fact, I would argue that they were never meant to in the first place.

The world is filling up. I like to think that the reason for this, that there are more people here than at any time in history, is because we are progressing as a species. Our souls are older, more experienced, which is leading to innovation. Technological, medical, psychological advances. Healing, becoming more conscious, more aware, more connected, compassionate. I think this is also leading to confusion, turmoil, violence and a push-back of extreme, outdated viewpoints. But overall, I see it as old ways dying, new ways being brought to light.

Of course, it could just mean that humans as a species were destined to devour themselves and in turn the planet in which they dwell. But, oddly enough, my view of things seems to be becoming more hopeful, positive. Trust me, it’s just as surprising to me as it probably is to you.

I read once that people who give others the benefit of the doubt are generally healthier and more positive. It make so much sense to me.

Yes, every morning I can, I write letters to God. Our relationship has evolved of late. This has become my main method of prater. I don’t beat myself up for not doing it correctly, traditionally. I don’t make things so difficult anymore. I do what feels best for me, and let that be enough. It’s enough.

I wake up, say kind words to myself as a sort of prescription for mental health, I stretch, and then I sit at my kitchen table, where the light is loveliest throughout the day, and I write. Just a few pages. Nothing overwhelming. Just a little bit every day. Consistent.

Consistency has been on my mind a whole lot lately, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it is one of the keys to growth and fulfillment.

I write about what’s worrying or bothering me, what’s making me happy. I write out anything that comes into my head. I rest on the page. In this one space, I get to be messy, or frustrated, or worried, critical, unreasonable. I allow myself this space to vent, and then I gain clarity.

I write out the things that I need, the things that I want, the things that I dream of. And, you know what? They come to life. This year I have learned that I can have anything I want. I just need to look in my heart, observe what is there, write it out, and work to make it happen.

I used to hide behind victimization. “I don’t know what I want. I’m sure I’m not capable or deserving or good enough to have it anyway.” What a relief, to let that jig be up.

I feel so happy lately. The weather is perfect, taking shifts between sweet, temperate, bright sunshine and relentless rain and thunderstorms. Everything is so green, I can hardly believe my eyes. I’ve never seen the world around me so green before. I wonder, is it greener than usual this year? Or have I only just allowed myself to see it?

Today I’m editing a photo session from last night, which means I’m not behind and overwhelmed like I was last year. I have enough money to pay my bills and hold my end of things. I’m not making quite as much as last year, but I have time, you see. To write morning pages, and talk to my lilac bushes and say nice things to myself in the mirror, all of the resentment and self-loathing that reflection used to bring now replaced with a sense of my own value and abilities. I get to watch Rick and Morty with Drew. I have time for sanity, I have time to breathe.

I’m just so happy. I changed the ringtone on my phone to the Harry Potter theme, and my text notification to a train whistle blowing. It makes phone notifications, which usually raise my blood pressure, now a pleasant, dreamy treat.

Each day I sit in our kitchen, writing and working, and I look out the windows at our backyard. The vine on our fence is growing with vim and vigor, transforming everything it touches into a wall of foliage. The lilacs and snowballs I planted last year are still small, but thriving and in full bloom. My mom and I cleaned out the flower beds they grow from a few weeks ago, and I can’t wait to plant more lovely things in them. There have been times when I didn’t think I’d be able to do such a normal thing with my mother again.

I’m writing this down so I can remind myself in the future, in moments when, inevitably, things don’t feel quite so sunshine-y green, of the time of year when the world swells into Spring in a wild crescendo of life, blooming, awakening, reaching upward to the sun, and each day is positively fraught with the hope and potential of what Summer will bring. To remind me that there will always be moments of clarity, hope and balance again.

That’s what this feels like to me. One of those rare moments of balance. A season of tranquility and beauty before another adventure of growth. Which is what I like to call challenging times: Adventures of Growth. That’s what they are to me, now that I’m high enough on my own lofty summit to look back on them clearly.

You know that part in The Lord of the Rings, after the breaking of the Fellowship, when Frodo and Sam are standing on that summit, and they can see Mount Doom. They can see it. It’s right there. And yet, it’s still miles and miles away? And with every step they take it almost feels like it’s getting farther from them?

That’s how it is, life. When you begin, you can see it all so clearly. Where you are, your destiny, and the path which leads you there. But once you depart, once you’re in the thick of it, you can’t see it anymore. Things become messy, you get lost, and sometimes it feels like you’ll never make it. Like this entire journey was a waste. How could you ever think you were meant for such a lofty destiny? Who do you think you are?

But then, there are moments of clarity. You make it to the top of a foothill, and you see it again. The big picture. The end goal. The higher cause. What you knew you were always meant for, what you exist to do and be, but almost lost hope, had almost convinced yourself it was lunacy, gave up. And aren’t you so glad you didn’t?

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Grandma and Bobo’s

The last time I ever got to hug you. The last time we ever spoke.

I started taking photos of the house, much to Grandma’s dismay.

“What are you gonna use those for? I haven’t dusted, you know.”

I knew I’d want to remember it all, just as it was.

My dad had been saying it for the past decade, “You should really get out to Oakland for a visit. This might be the last year he’s alive.”

Bobo was in his 90’s. He always seemed so there, still cracking jokes and playing his barbershop quartet albums for us. Until the stroke. Until his words didn’t come so easily anymore. You could see that he had something to say. He would make a frustrated face and wave his hands around until he eventually gave up. I hated seeing that. This person, this man that I had come from, who had fathered my father, fought in WWII, an entire lifetime of knowledge and memories behind his eyes, just fading away.

I was so full of regret, that I hadn’t made more time for him. That I hadn’t made more of an effort to go visit him, ask all of the questions I had.

Farewell, Grandad. Thank you for fighting those Nazis, for your cheekbones, and passing on your passion for documenting life through words and photos. For winning Grandma over and bringing her here from England so my dad could exist. So I could exist. It feels like I never really knew you, really. Just things about you. And by the time I was old enough to care, to see what matters, what a gift I had, you were already fading. Why does it always seem to take death to show us what we should have seen all along? I hope I get to talk to you about that, one day. About so many things.

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about six months ago, in san francisco

I’ve come to a strange place with this blog of mine. I love this space. It has always been my outlet, somewhere I can go and emote whatever storm brewing in my throat. It began out of a desperation to deal with the reality of working a soul-sucking 9-5 job. Now that I graduated, you might say, from that era of my life to the era of self-employment, it would seem that I have more time, more energy to contribute to this blog than ever before.

But things are never truly as they seem. Are they?

This feels like the year I grew up. We grew up. That man of mine and I. It’s difficult to pin point exactly why, or when. But this, our sixth year of being married, looks like the year we got more honest with ourselves, each other, the year we got more serious about our interests, the year we took more responsibility for what our lives look like. I think that’s it, the main contributor of this new weight of adulthood I feel now upon my shoulders. Responsibility.

“Take your life into your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing. No one to blame.” -Erica Jong

I’ve referenced that here before, I think. But that’s it. We began the process of letting go of blame. There’s a reason, I think, it’s referred to as “The Blame Game.” It can be so entertaining, so fun to constantly pile any responsibility for the way you feel, the circumstances of your life. It has some great payoffs.

But, essentially, the biggest cost of playing that game is what it is we want most. And that’s a cost I was no longer willing to pay.

And so, here we are, inching closer every day to closing this chapter of the decade of our 20’s. It seems I should have more time to update here, but it’s become increasingly difficult. The moments I have free, I feel like I should be working. I write, still, of course. I can’t exist without it. But the act of finishing, of taking thoughts, polishing them, sharing. That is where I struggle. It seems like every thought I write down disappears, instantly, from my mind, never to return. I remember, a few weeks, months later, “Oh, yeah,¬†that¬†idea. I should do something with that.”

But, then, life. It never stops. Everything else gets in the way. I’m learning to adjust to the way things are now, to this new, quickened pace of things. I don’t see it going away. Nothing goes back to the way it was. I’m learning to make time, be intentional with what I do.

And so, I haven’t abandoned this space. That’s what I want to say. There is so much I want to work on, finish up, share. So many ideas, memories, moments. For today, here is one from when we visited my grandparents in San Francisco. It was the last trip before Grandpa Bird passed away. It meant a lot to me.

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what is your payment

Don’t stay safe. Don’t let those limiting beliefs and assumptions keep you in that self-imposed prison. Let your life expand. Let go of the preconceived. Who made those rules? Who decided for you, and what was your payment for allowing them to? Stop holding yourself hostage, and blaming others for where you are. Surrender that inner victim. Don’t accept that script, that role, that imposter forced upon you long ago by someone else.

Be true. Your insides are begging you through your anger, your jealousy, your rage. Why do you stuff it away? It’s a map. Where does it lead? Take responsibility for your reality, your feelings, your life; it is no one else’s. Take seriously your own mind, and the content it produces; it is like no other. Give yourself a chance. Look stupid. Be messy. I dare you. See what you’re made of. Do you even know yet?

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farewell, Winter

I’ve come to regard Winter as a great teacher, always reminding me to love what is, this instant. Summer will return, as she always does, and, once again, we will feel the kiss of the sun as we run barefoot in balmy warmth on a soft carpet of grass.

“But, look!” Winter exclaims, “There, at this very moment, the manner in which the gentle February sun comes out to greet us from behind the day’s melancholy cloud-cover. See the way it so delicately kisses fresh-fallen snow in a grand display of creamy white, palest blue, and brilliant gold. It is a beauty so sublime I can hardly keep my eyes open to take it in.”

“And look, now, the way great mountains, coated with a blanket of cotton, seem to turn to ghosts on the horizon, guarding our little valley as if bound by some solemn vow. And do you see, my gentle soul, how the snow drifts glitter as they’re carried away in that winter gale? How that storm suddenly swallows up your street, as if to transform your world into a snow globe? Do you notice, child, how the moonlight turns the frozen ground into a twinkling tapestry of stars? The way it creates a universe for you, laid at your feet?”

“Beware!” says Winter, “Your yearning for the season of ease can very well apprehend your ability to accept the gifts of this season of stillness, reflection, rest.”

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vanish

I like to remain elusive
(Reclusive?)
Glimmering
Just out of your
Grasp

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Everyone has the potential to bother you, disappoint you, get on your nerves, let you down, hurt your feelings, disagree with you. Just give it enough time. No relationship of any depth or substance will be without conflict; it is as essential to this existence as breathing. It’s how we become, learn, expand, look inward, develop into more. I am entirely uninterested in pretending otherwise.

Why do you think you need me? Why must you try to own me? Do you see that you, and you alone, are in charge of your own feelings, your own fulfillment? Do you comprehend that no individual was meant or made to be anybody’s everything?