Soul Care

I’m not sure it’s a good sign when my first blog post of the year is late, but I think it’s probably an honest representation of my life. And let’s be fair, it’s only late by a few hours.

I had a busy year in 2022, and some of the seeds I planted are now bearing a shit-ton of fruit (mostly in the form of edits, publishing, book panels, and conferences) so I’m finding I rarely have time to brush my teeth, let alone keep up on my extraneous writing, teach my classes, love on my kids while I still have them around, and walk my dog. (sorry River, you great house hippo) but I’m not complaining.

Because in times of less time, I’ve discovered that I’m forced to let go of something. Sometimes it’s something I really wanted to do, or have, or pursue…but sometimes we have a brilliant opportunity to let go of something we’ve been holding on to for far too long that has been wasting our precious time and effort. I’m not saying it’s easy, but I will say it is worth it.


Think of this as your beginning of the year pep talk, not just for writing but for living.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Arrive gently into this year, or arrive like a fucking lion, all I ask is that you arrive. Be your own biggest advocate. If something has been weighing you down, impeding your growth, causing you to lose sleep or pick up the bottle a little too frequently, that thing does not deserve a place in your one precious life.

Take a deep breath, and take stock of the things in your life worth holding on to. You only get so many trips around the sun so travel light.

Are there relationships or situations that poison you? Where is the toxic pull coming from that robs you of your sleep, of your ability to regulate your emotions without coping mechanisms? What is the root of your distress and unease? Who or what is draining your energy?

Because the truth remains that whether you are seeking peace or a revolution you will not find either if you’re expending your energy in undeserving places.

Self-care is important but even more so is soul care (I’m not talking taking yourself to church and repenting—you sassy heathen *kiss*). Soul care means that you don’t accept things, people, situations, or habits that destroy, harm, or otherwise dull the luster of your soul. We all were born within the brilliant light of opalescent divinity, and darlin’, you were meant shine.

So when you drive to work and feel your stomach tie itself into knots. Or go out to meet that friend and feel your teeth clenching. Or look at all the diet books on bookstore shelves and feel the heaviness of trying to make yourself small. Or when you sit down with that one family member, or across the table from your partner and you feel anything but calm, loved, inspired and supported then it’s time to let go.

This requires trust. Trust that the universe has a BBP (bigger, better plan) for you, and it’s your job to start taking steps towards it. Towards what makes you happy. Away from that job, that friend, impossible and disgusting expectations and judgements, relationships, projects, whatever. Whatever the weight. It’s not meant to be carried anymore.

You’ve been around long enough to know that you ARE enough and you deserve love and respect.

You do not need approval. From. Anyone.

Your purpose does not require permission.

You are steeped in the sensual glaze of wisdom and confidence.

You do not have to continue on any path that doesn’t serve your happiness.

There is no requirement to stay somewhere or with someone who does not help your divinity flourish and grow.

So this year I urge you…rather than starting off the year with outrageous and unrealistic expectations on yourself (that have probably been placed on you by a society of consumerism and vapid body shaming) to take stock first. If you are nervous in the gut, triggered by people and situations, lying awake at night or drinking too much just to numb all of the other feelings that jostle around in your brain…find the root of this dis-ease.

And find a way (therapy, journaling, communication with friends, your faith, saying ‘fuck it’ and moving to Cabo, whatever your go-to catharsis) to dig it out and plant something better.

Because time is non-refundable, and your life is not replicable or renewable. This is it. The one we get. I beg of you, do not spend it somewhere that doesn’t deserve your brilliant, opalescent divinity. Shine. As you are meant to.

A Week Off

Good morning! If you’ve missed this post because you’re a link clicker then I must apologize. I’m on vacation this week, from teaching and training, from busy city life, and the normal rushed routine. I probably should take a break from writing as well, but lately I’ve been inspired by so many amazing people in the industry (Bernadette Marie, Courtney Davis, James Redmond, Calina and Saylet from “Shhh…We’re Reading Dirty Books”, my writing partner/mentor/coach Kerrie Flanagan, and the amazing group at Northern Colorado Writers as well as Wyoming Writers, Inc.) that it feels more like playing to write and I’m getting a lot of plot holes solved, new material written, and future projects planned.

Part of this inspiration and feeling like my brain is opening up like a flower to sunshine is that I am also taking a break from my social media accounts. Now I KNOW that it’s vital for an author to have a platform and a presence online and I respect that. The problem is that the programs and algorithms used on most of those sites are addictive. Even if your site is professional-based and you try not to interact with anything too volatile. Humans can’t help but be captivated by moving pictures, emotional stories, and the addictive ‘hits’ of clicking on ever-expanding information forums. Whether it’s an endless scroll of pit bull montages, emu interruptions, cats knocking shit off of tables, or the drama that finds and sinks talons into our stress response, it all occupies valuable creative space in our brains. I’ve been off the social media sauce since Saturday night and I actually feel pretty good.

Clearer.

Able to hear myself think…without so many other voices interjecting.

And when I’m bored or fidgety, instead of hopping on line to feed my constant need for entertainment, I’m writing. Or reading. Or running. Or meditating. Or sitting still and staring off into space and not thinking of anything in particular but how the sunshine feels on my back, or the cold nose of my dog, or my children’s laughter someplace in the house.

And letting my mind be bored and sit alone with itself has helped me reconnect with who I am, and what I want outside of the expectations of work and life, and social interactions. Rather than feeling the pressure of who I should be, and what I should want. Instead of stewing in past mistakes and regrets, or worrying over future anxieties of ‘what ifs’, I’m keeping my mind in the present, and focusing on the real moments I’m living, right now.

So, I’m sorry I’ll miss you online this week. Know that it’s a healing and healthy process for me and that I’ll be back sometime…filling your feeds with useless writing memes and loving all the pictures of your dogs and babies, celebrating your successes, and offering sympathy to your losses. But let’s be real for a moment, you don’t need my clicks to know that I love you. That I’m thinking about you. That I’m on the side of your happiness and wellbeing. Because of that I would ask that you try this out yourself. Just for a little while, enjoy some ‘radio silence’ and get to know yourself again.

See you soon.

The Beautiful Stuff Writers Workshop #14: Poetry: The Quarrel with Ourselves

“We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.” –William Butler Yeats

 

I cannot believe it’s taken me nearly all month to remember that it is, in fact, National Poetry Month. I think I may have skimmed over something in the deluge of news clips and overthought, under-edited articles that pervade my cyber space, but in a world where days blend together, I nearly missed it.

You know what coming next, don’t you?

Oh,I’m not being lazy! It’s good practice!

And its more a matter of economy–I’ve got end-of-school projects due and a Black Belt Progress check this week, and therefore, my plate is a little full. So this week your exercise is simple. Go outside, mask it up if you find yourself in a bustling park, of course, but if it’s a deserted early morn, breathe the un fettered air, allow a scrap of paper and pen to tag along with you.

Take ten minutes of just being aware of the moment. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? What do you smell? Use these observations and notice how they filter and affect the thoughts already on your mind. Have a quarrel with yourself and see what arguments emerge. What solutions? What epiphanies?

Then go find yourself a favorite place to sit and write me a poem.

I was going to give you some restrictions but I think we’ve all had enough of those. Any length, any form, rhyming or blatantly against, iambic pentameter–why the f%*k not? Limerick or Odyssey, dark or light, whatever is on the tip of your brain, no matter how sharp or dull.

Send them along, and let me know if you want me to include them in the weeks to come.

I’ll craft one as well.

Happy Writing!

VerseDay 4-25-19

Mornin’ kids. I hope your Thursday is starting off sweet and slow.

No matter what your plans are or how many ‘to-do’s’ you’ve packed into this day, carve out some time to get outside and find your quiet.

Haze

 

Gray cascades of fogged memory

Blanket the distance

And everything seems so much closer now

Kinetic in wait.

 

The world was never so quiet

Nor so still.

Even as rain needles pierce my neck

And trace frozen rivulets down the valley of my shoulder blades.

More pleasant a day I have not lived.

 

Here in the stillness.

The quiet and uncomfortable

The shivering slip of feet and

Icy hands

Scuffed against granite and lichen

In search for hold.

 

How we’ve come to fear being alone.

How we shy from homegrown reflections,

And shudder at the thought

Of being solitary amid the rain and rock.

 

We don’t even know to mourn

The tremendous loss

of keeping our own company.

 

Perhaps the gray residing in our hearts would be lessened,

The stormy mind;

Hurricane of worry and doubt, would dissipate

If we more often paroled our bodies to the rough beauty of nature

The purity of what is real might bring us back ’round.

Clarity borne from the muddled haze.

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In Defense of the Senses

Happy Wednesday good people of the world. Extra Happy Wednesday to the bad ones…since you probably need more happy.

 

Today, I’m writing about the beauty of the human senses.

 

The human senses are invaluable to a writer, being the most surefire way to engage your reader in what the main character is feeling/seeing/hearing/tasting/smelling and, if you’re really good at the descriptive narrative, making them feel as though they are feeling/seeing/hearing/tasting/smelling the same things.

 

Senses are powerful. The words you choose to describe them must be impeccable to harness this power.

 

I realize, if you aren’t a writer, you may feel left out. Well I never leave a person behind, so hang on.

 

Why in the hell does a human need to explore their senses if they’re not showing someone the glint of moonlight on glass?

 

Well, hear me out, human.

 

Every single one of us, writer or no, deserves to indulge in our senses.

 

Why? Why is it important?

 

Well, shucks! Thanks for asking, new paragraph that makes my self-questioning seem rational…

 

Because part of living beautifully, is living with purpose which is closely tied to living in the moment, and living in the moment has everything to do with connecting to what is real, around you presently…not the feeling of a chair you sat in five days ago, or the way spring will smell eight months from now.

 

I’m talking about being present through the use of gifts you’ve been given.

 

Sit still for Christ’s sake. Seriously. Just sit.

silhouette of man sitting on grass field at daytime
Photo by Spencer Selover on Pexels.com

Someplace safe and comfortable, turn off your goddamn phone, close your eyes and listen.

Take a deep breath, really hear the wave of it rush in and out against the shore of your throat. Listen to what you can only hear when you stop moving, and worrying, and obsessing. Bird chatter, the quiet hum of the neighbors AC unit (hey, not every sound is some natural wonder sent to give you soulful clarity.) Maybe it’s the squeal of tires outside or the school bell in the distance. Now, before you start having judgments or memories, or ideas that are inspired by what you can hear in silence, let those noises go. Let them pass through your brain like clouds in a sky. Take a deep breath.

What do you smell? Last night’s dinner, the oily basset at your feet (who’s probably clyde.jpgcracking off the most horrific clouds of flatulence you’ve ever suffered through—wipe your eyes, try to get past it).

Maybe it’s soap (the decadent scent of a man newly showered) or maybe you smell the old books on your desk, the bed linens behind you and all the interesting smells that reside there. (Remember, basset or sheets, reserve your judgement.)

 

Open your eyes, focus on the small details, try to descern the exact colors, watch the play of shadows and the shimmer of reflections.

 

When you walk through gardens, through stores, through life, hold out your hand and touch things (no butts please…or unwilling butts? Don’t go touching unwilling participants is what I’m saying…stick to the inanimate). Touch fabric, leaves, dead branches and icicles, let the dog passing by snuffle your hand and leave its viscous slobber behind. Touch your hair, the arch of your foot, the base of your nose, tug on your ear lobe…how different it all is! How does it feel to be touched in those strange little places? Get to know your own body and the sensitivity of your fingertips.

 

When you sit down to eat, really taste your food. Keep it on your tongue and think about what’s going on there. When you kiss someone, taste them, their lips, their breath, the

man and woman kissing together on body of water
Photo by Edward Castro on Pexels.com

flavor of them and their body chemistry…it is different for everyone and that’s something fascinating to explore.

 

Finally…and this is an important one…your gut. The so-called sixth sense. Intuition. IT’s there. IT’s often drown out by the madness of our modern world, the overstimulation and cultural rules and denial of the naysayers who believe humans are so far above ‘animals’ that we no longer need such ‘witchcraft’.

 

Tell those voices to stuff it. Listen to your gut. Listen to your intuition. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. You’re still an animal and don’t forget it. Don’t get too lost in the  modern world. Remember, use the gifts biology and genetics gave you.

 

IF you are a writer, use these exercises to bring clarity and realism to your work.

If you’re a normal human with a ‘real’ day job (oooo self-burn!), use these exercises to be more present in your own life—to slow down time and remember what you are; A beautiful, messy human being with magical guts, wandering eyes, soft to the touch, with angry squirrels chattering on rooftops, smelly bassets underfoot, and a taste for the sensuality all around.