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when you let in love

For so long…

You’ve kept your heart guarded, you promised yourself that you were going to work on you. You were going to work on being stronger because that’s what your kids needed.

You have stayed away from letting other people “in”, even friends because at the end of the day you can really only count on yourself – and even then you often let yourself down.

You did most things alone for long enough that the ache is now dull enough to ignore.

You told yourself that it’s easier because exposing yourself to possible hurt and harm again isn’t worth it. Being loved, that is, is too dangerous.

You became used to sleeping alone; though you hate it. It’s something you’ve trained yourself to become numb to. Waking up alone, going to sleep alone. Waking up in the middle of the night and having to go back to sleep alone.

So when it crept in…

You were not expecting it.

You didn’t notice.

It wasn’t the first time these questions were whispered; do you want to keep being numb? Do you want to keep going without?

the answer this time though, surprisingly – No.

Love is not designed for the cynical.

Let it happen.

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Queso!

Queso is surprisingly easy to make from real cheese. This comfort food makes great nachos!

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Tomato Soup

This warm and quick soup will pair well with your favorite grilled cheese!

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Instant Pot Mac N Cheese

INGREDIENTS
1 lb. macaroni or pasta of choice
4 c. water
4 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1 (5-oz.) can evaporated milk
3 c. sharp cheddar
2 c. irish cheddar or fontina
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan
salt & Freshly ground black pepper to taste

 DIRECTIONS

  1. Add macaroni, water, butter, salt, mustard, and to the bowl of your Instant Pot. Secure lid, and set to manual on high pressure. Cook for 1/2 time directed by pasta instructions minutes.
  2. Follow manufacturer’s guide for quick release, making sure to wait until the cycle is complete before unlocking and removing lid. Stir in evaporated milk and cheeses and stir until melted and fully combined. Season with salt and pepper before serving.
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Having perspective

When you experience something you deem “hard” or perhaps something others may deem a shock, tragedy, rough, difficult, a tough go of it, maybe you’ve seen a rough patch… you know what I mean. It could be personal, professional, something self-imposed, something you didn’t anticipate, something you saw coming, any way you look at it – there’s a beginning, middle and end to it.

It’s not always hard, and the beginning feels different than the middle and as you are coming out of it, it’s bound to feel different than the beginning. I think the hardest part is that you’re not ever really sure where you are “in” it. There’s no road map for the struggle you might be going through.

But something you can start to have after the beginning is perspective. Regardless of your struggles, once you’ve begun the “getting through it” part you start to have a little perspective. You understand that living through tragedy and pain and struggle is a part of life. Even a long period of struggle may have small periods of beauty and happiness.

I think what I try to remember during a particularly rough time in my life is that I try to use every opportunity to examine where I am in the process and though it sucks to see if maybe there’s something more I can learn, and even more so than in life’s day to day learnings – really dig in and ask hard questions. It already fucking sucks. Why not really open the gaping wound and pour on some peroxide on that festering wound and see what bubbles up? Hah. Perhaps I’m a bit of a masochist? Maybe. What about my own behavior can I learn from.

Am I a toxic friend? Do I judge too quickly when someone asks for help? Am I a bully? Do I post too much about political bullshit? Do I say fuck too much in front of my kids? Should I wear a bra more often? Do I need to floss more often? Can I give more to charity? Should I run that app cleaner on my phone more often? Am I being a bad mom when I go to bed before my kids and let them stay up way past their bedtime because I just can’t deal anymore? Is that cheese still good in the fridge?

These are the things babbling questions that run through my mind as I try to keep all of life’s little battles in check.

What are your struggling queries right now babes?

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Masakatsu Agatsu

My second tattoo. It is the one I agonized over the longest, spent the most time researching because I wanted to get it right. The one I look at every day – not on my body but on my wall, and one I’ve maybe forgotten I have on my body, and maybe why I forgot I got placed ON my body.

I commissioned a Japanese calligrapher to do a custom artistic (less traditional) version for me that I could then also have transferred to tattoo paper and then inked on my body. I found an artist that I liked and set up the appointment. I was 28, maybe 29 at the time? I remember the night, the smell of the tattoo shop, and that I passed out. I remember being proud of myself and I remember loving it so much that I looked at the tattoo every night for almost a year after that. Perhaps I should get back into that practice. Loving to look at it.

We’ll break down the phrase. Together, it simply means, A true is a victory over one’s self

Masakatsu is a victory of a true origination; that is, the law of universal creative evolution which transcends the boundaries of prejudice and discrimination and abandons the consciousness of the ego. Meaning you’ve been able to forgo the idea which is to win in a physical sense, it’s not an earthly victory, but a spiritual one. You don’t best in a battle of the body. Arm wrestling, boxing, etc.

Agatsu means to have victory over one’s self.  An understanding of Masakatsu as a preface and foundation is necessary for explaining Agatsu. The bandit in the mountain is easy to defeat, but the bandit within your own heart is difficult to conquer, it is said.  For the person who looks at their true self within themselves, their most fearful opponent is no one other than themselves.

Stay with me, I know that was a lot of overly ethereal and pretentious sounding froofroo garbage… BUT as a practice, the phrase comes from the idea of defeating your own inner demons you have to get a little froofroo.

When I stop to think how long I’ve been fighting the demons I’m currently fighting, it’s been a while. Which makes me a little proud that I’ve continued to fight, but a little pissed that I still feel as fucked up as I do. However, as I think about growth, I realize that it’s not so much about not feeling fucked up as it is about just continuing to fight.

I’m never going to not feel fucked up. There’s no amount of therapy that’s going to reverse the things that have happened to me in life. There’s no Mister Clean Eraser for life’s really awful experiences. All we have is our determination to not let it consume us.

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Feeling the change coming

This time of year for me has always felt harder emotionally than others. Beyond the very real weight of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), there is a weird sort of awkward holding my breath sort of feeling. It’s an uncomfortableness that’s resulted in settling into something that is a palpable discomfort, but I can’t really do anything about it.

Winter time (at least in Colorado) is as manic as any other season, but for me, the grasp winter has is a tight stranglehold on what I know to be coming in the Spring. It’s only February, but I know it’s on the way. Every other week, Spring is teased out of the ground in sprouts from the grass, buds from tulips, or tree blossoms when we have spectacular days of sunshine and 60-degree weather, and then it’s quickly frozen and crushed again by the cold. The power and weight of the snow aggressively shoving its shoulder against the neck of Spring, forcing it back shrinking and folding into itself again until it feels that kiss of the sun again.

I feel like the Spring. Every day I’m waiting for the snow to melt off my shoulders. I hold my breath and close my eyes. I will hold still, knowing that soon the sunshine that I can feel on my face won’t be replaced by snow again so quickly.

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Lean into love

While we’re on the subject of feelings (I mean, when aren’t we?) I want to dive into my love for my wide variety of loving friends. They are scattered around the globe, and I feel like the ones I collect, seem to stay delicately tucked into pockets of my life and poke their heads out when I need them most. They are quite possibly the most treasured peices of my heart.

Never has there ever been a deeper love in this universe than the love I have for my children. Don’t get me wrong.

HOWEVER.

I am fortunate enough to have made friends with people with whom I have formed an incredible bond, on a bizarre plane of reality in various times of my life. When I really take a step back and marvel at the complexity of the blanket of support and love that these various people have given me over the years it nearly takes my breath away.

These people choose you. They choose to love you. They look past your bullshit excuses, they acknowledge and dismiss your mistakes, they choose to ignore your garbage attitude and your isolation tactics and continue to check on you and include you in conversations and send you random postcards in the mail and text messages at 4 am even though you may not see each other as often as you’d like. You may plan to go out, and have to reschedule a dozen times… because life, but they don’t give up. It may be years between calls or visits, but it’s special.

For that, for every second that’s dedicated to me, I am eternally grateful. I cannot express how edifying it is to feel like garbage and to STILL have people gather around you to say, “You are awesome and you are loved.”

If you are reading this, you are likely one of those people. So, thank you.

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When what you need hurts others

Along the journey of life, there is bound to be a time in your life which your path will diverge from one that you may have been sharing with someone. Perhaps that path had been well worn, traveled and as you look back over your shoulder you see many happy memories. However, glancing ahead, your paths begin to part and the footsteps now find their own beat instead of landing to the same time.

It’s sad, and can sometimes feel like you are breaking, feel like you are growing (because you are) can feel guilt and can feel a sense of loss. Sometimes you don’t notice and it’s a slow process. Sometimes you notice it all at one and all your thoughts obsess that path would keep going in that direction together seem to be the only thing you can think about.

What do you do friends? What do you do when you see your path going in a direction that might hurt someone else? Do you let them go? Do you try to bring them along? Carry them? Follow on their path because you can’t bear to be without them? Perhaps your identity is so melded with theirs you can’t imagine yourself without them.

Maybe you see that they NEED to be on their own path, that your path is not healthy for them anymore? How do you help them to see they need to stay on their own path? How can you possibly know what someone else needs?

We can’t. We can only know what we need – we can tell people what need, but what we say and what they hear will inevitably be different.

Honestly, we don’t know what we need at times either. What grows in the space where we let there be space and listen when we ask ourselves what we need can be pretty terrifying. We’re so busy filling our lives with wants, we’re unwilling to wait.
Unwilling to make a mess.
Unwilling to do the work.
Unwilling to open the wound.
Unwilling to look to see why it hurts.
Unwilling to lay in the mud.
Unwilling to listen.

I feel like I’ve forgotten to listen to myself.

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When you need others.

Asking for help isn’t inherently a bad thing. We’re often told that to be strong, we have to do it ourselves. To be brave, we can do it alone. To be stoic, to have a stiff upper lip, that we should and can tough it out. 

This isn’t a thing that just men have to deal with, though they have it MUCH worse than women do. They have to do it without showing emotion. Women are at least given a pass that they have to do it, but people will wait if they cry first. 

I recently saw an article titled how to “Not cry at your child’s IEP meeting” and while the content of this post was mostly positive – I saw it circulating as an answer, after another Mom’s teary-eyed car video talking about how she just couldn’t handle this-that-or-the-other-thing anymore. I FEEL YOU MAMA. We’ve all been there. CRY. Girl, cry. 

Having emotions is OK. Don’t fucking let anyone tell you, that you shouldn’t cry. I saw so many responses to her video telling her not to cry. That it’s going to be ok. That she just needed to calm down, crying wasn’t going to help anyone.

WHAT THE FUCK. CRYING HELPED HER.

Having emotions does not make you weak. Having emotions makes you a person. Crying was helping her deal with the situation. Sharing her video was helping her deal with the situation. Posting the video was how she was dealing with the situation. Unfortunate assholes posting telling her NOT TO do the thing that she was doing, was not going to help her. 

When you seek the help of others – or just NEED someone else to witness you, you express a vulnerability that immediately exposes you to the opinion of others which I’m finding these days is the unfortunate issue with so much of what’s troubling in the world. Saying “I need you.” means the person suddenly is allowed to say, “Ok, but…” 

Fuck, no.

My bandaid for the world right now (’cause I can’t see a way to really fix things right now) is the following; next time anyone you have the chance to help says they need help, just say, “Yes.” stop and listen. Don’t do anything else. Humanity needs you to only listen and help.

If the help is to get something down from the high shelf, do that. Don’t then suggest they don’t put things so high if they can’t get them down themselves.

If the help is to lend money because they are in a tight spot, and you’re able to help, do that. Don’t then suggest they don’t live so frivolously that they don’t have any savings themselves.

If the help is to listen because the person needs to process emotions and a situation that was difficult to deal with at the moment, do that. Don’t offer your opinion of how they should have dealt with it at the moment or how they should manage their emotions now. 

If we could just, NOT. Offer one hand over our heart and one hand for them to hold should be what we strive to do, friends. Give it a try.