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Clarity

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The Lioness

The thump of her heart was loud in her ears as she continued to run. The lioness in her raged through every muscle fiber in her legs sending the signal back to her brain with the instinctual message; 
Run.
The only other sound was her fevered breathing, the volume seemed amplified as if routed through a microphone and replayed for her through a loudspeaker back into her own ears. She tried to squint at what was ahead as if she concentrated on another sense, it might drown out the thumping of her heart and the sound of her breathing, but it only seemed to make it worse.


Run.


Her head whips backward over her shoulder with worry, checking the shadows behind her for the things moving in the unseen shadows – perhaps they would reveal themselves. Sometimes, a faint glimmer would seem to ripple and catch her eye and make her believe something might be there… forcing a stumble. Her feet suddenly slip on something causing her to look forward again at the path in front of her.


Run.


Again, she’s distracted by some fast jagged light. It almost blinds her as it casts rays of yellow and gold over her face. She brings an arm over her eyes as if to hold the light up off her, the weight of it heavy against her. It shimmers and twinkles, feeling perhaps hopeful as it stops for a moment to decide that it might float away or melt into the ground past her and leave her alone undisturbed.


Run.


Her chest lifts, the light pulling at her arms and feet as they fly across the ground. For a moment she doesn’t hear the sound of her heart in her chest and the thump in her ears. She moves her arm to the side and the light caresses her face. For a moment. 


Stop.


Almost as quick as hope shone on her, the gift of promise and warmth upon her face, it is darkened once more. Her feet are met with what feels like rubble, causing her to lose her balance and footing. Her heels slip out from under her, the light now is daggers in her eyes sharp and harsh. Her breath is stolen from her chest as her back hits the ground, her whole body slamming into the cold stone earth. Her heart rattles around her chest feeling as if it will shatter. 


Stop. 


The pain reeks on her body like a stink, the smell permeates her nostrils like a gas emitting its gross tendrils through her skin, down her neck and over her arms and legs. The feeling of the sweat from her exerting run pooling between her breasts. She inhales despite the pain. Her arms fall backward and push up, even though she dare not open her eyes. For she might see the blood on her hands. She might see the dirt on her body. She might see the mess of her life.


Get up.
Run.

just

“Just” … a thief of intent.

“Just” get a job.
“Just” try harder.
“Just” be positive, it will work out.
I’m “just” a streamer.

Just is a thief of value. You say “just” to pretend not to mean what you are saying, to soften the comment, to steal the intent of your words. Somewhere we developed a gray area between being humble and getting stepped on. We started adding “just” in front of our sentences. It’s almost like we feel the need to apologize so we throw in the word “just”.

Part of our human nature is that we’re sensitive to being devalued or undervalued. We don’t like feeling underappreciated. You don’t want to be the comeback kid. But we don’t seem to have any problem telling ourselves we’re unworthy of something. We shouldn’t do it to other people either.

If you’re a teacher, you’re not JUST a teacher.
If you’re a stay-at-home parent, you’re not JUST a stay-at-home parent.

No matter what your words are, leave out “just”. You don’t need it. If you are going to tell someone to “Just” try harder. You aren’t doing yourself any favors by softening the blow in encouraging them to “Just” get a job. You are being a jackass. If you are telling yourself you are “just” anything but awesome, you are stealing your value, and you JUST need to stop it.

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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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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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Loving yourself first.

If there’s something that’s become increasingly more obvious to me as I’ve become older and more mature is that to deal with life’s challenges and be a better more whole person is that we have to heal ourselves and learn to love ourselves first, before we can be loved and be of true use to the world.

Not to say we can’t be loved and be useful to others without it – but I’ve come to a certain understanding slowly over the last few years.

I really don’t like myself.
I don’t think I deserve love. I don’t think I deserve happiness.

I do an awful lot to purposefully sabotage great things that are placed in front of me. Yes, purposefully. Why? That’s what therapy is for.

I am pretty sure it has something to do with deep-seated low self-esteem brought on by years of tormenting by bullies in grade school, sexual assault in my college years, and a challenging upbringing where I was not ever really held accountable for my actions.

When I begin to find myself comfortable or challenged I pick at the wound, like a scab. I do things unconsciously, railroading relationships and engaging in behaviors that cause my life to sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly careen off the tracks.

You would think by this point in my life I would have it in me to figure out how to stop it. Acknowledging and trying to do something about it is where I am right now, hoping that I can find a way to make the crazy train stop before it hits the next station, and heal enough that someday I’ll be able to really feel worthy.

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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.

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On Being Sexy.

It took less than a day.

I had been streaming on Twitch for less than 24 hours.

One comment in my public channel while playing Sims4, and then a direct message. One said, “What would you do for $1?” the other told me, “God, you are so sexy.”

Being told you are sexy will most likely bring about specific emotions in a person. Which emotions may depend on a few things; the person delivering the message, the context, the platform, and familiarity with the person delivering the message. 

Flattered? Disgusted? Desirable? Confident? Repulsed? 

Without a base in familiarity, an unsolicited comment on your sexual desirability is inappropriate and meant to degrade and disrespect you. Whether they are calling you sexy, lovely, gorgeous, hot, yummy, tasty, it doesn’t fucking matter. This doesn’t just happen to women, either. 

Shouted at you from across the street is harassment as it’s designed to debase you. A similar reaction was likely the goal by the anonymous troll in the message sent to me on Twitch, of which I reported, and blocked. 

What, if anything did this person expect to have happen next?  That I would fall down with my legs in the air and say, “OH MY GOD, THANK YOU!!!” and begin masturbating for their viewing pleasure because clearly I’d never been shown such lush affection? Did they assume that I would strike up a conversation and pursue an intimate conversation where I would eagerly invite the digital transmission of close up images of their genitals?

I really am honestly interested in knowing the true nature of the reason behind such behavior. Is it that we’ve lived so long without consequences for bad internet behavior and are at times provided with the occasional humorous reward for being such a garbage person?

The kicker in the cases I’ve experienced in most scenarios is that there isn’t a right reaction, either. If you say nothing you are called a bitch, a cold-hearted cunt, and you’ll die an old spinster with a spider web infested cunt because no one will ever want to fuck you. 

If you acknowledge the comments, with (and I speak from first-hand knowledge) “I know.” because you possess even a slight amount of confidence when told you are attractive you are again met with indignant rage and told you are a bitch and you deserve to die in a fire. 

If you acknowledge the comments with “thank you”, you are clearly just a fucking tease and should die in a fire. Of course, if you don’t immediately turn your 100% attention to the commenter and relish the compliment as the most beautiful one you’ve ever received, you’re a stuck up conceited bitch.

This word “Bitch” is used often if you haven’t noticed.  

If you’d like some other examples of this, follow the Instagram account @sheratesdogs. It’s a collection of posts from, mostly women, where exes or guys have gone off the deep end. It’s illuminating. Take this one for example.  

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Read this in an anime villain’s voice (-9/10)

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Buh? 

The culture of “being” sexy is that if you show your sexy to the world (and by that I mean you leave the house, have your photo taken, post a picture on social media or really dare to breathe) it instantly belongs to the world, and can be judged, dissected, dismissed, shat upon, and held to whatever standard the world decides it has for you – at that moment without your consent. 

But here, my darling, I am going to tell you a secret. Though it’s difficult to not react to those who shout at you from across the street, and it’s hard to smile and pretend you are not affected as the words change and cut from a smile to a snarl – that’s what you have to do. Be deaf. 

Whether it’s an anonymous online troll, an ex, an a-hole. a weirdo from work, a Tinder match that should have been a left, not a right, or the cute guy in the bar that was cute until he wasn’t. 

You don’t need anyone’s permission or gratitude to be sexy. Be cute, attractive, pretty, yummy, tasty, nice, whatever you want to be without the validation of anyone else on the planet. You do not have to say “Thank you”. You don’t have to be made to feel bad for taking up space. You don’t owe anyone anything for being there.

You deserve attention and love and appreciation for spectacular reasons like your joy for string cheese, or the way you stretch before you get out of bed. You are not defined by the ability to make someone’s genitals tingle.