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.

Poetry 9-2-2021

It’s been a month-long week. Here’s some poetry that boils it down. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, whoever and whatever you’re spending your energy on–I hope it is worthy of your time and love. Take a breath…or seven-hundred.

Photo by Rodrigo Souza on Pexels.com
The Gift of Silence

What the silence gave me
was the horror
of having to sit with my own 
disasters
car-piled up in my head
like an apocalypse of trauma
each vying for attention
on the quiet stage 

I can’t whack-a-mole them down
without ten more sprouting up
the what about and
the have you forgotten when...
I'm the resistant owner
of a vice-gripped mind 
constantly expanding with 
unsettling pressure

What the silence gave me
was one full breath,
an ocean wave in and out
before the panic of being alone 
in the frayed mess of my life
took that air
in short, shallow gasps 
and suffocated my dopamine.

What the silence gave me
was the truth
that I’ve packed it all in 
too tightly
for too long 
and something
must give.
But I cannot ‘give’.
I was not built to throw away
I was not taught to let go.

I cannot sit in gifted silence 
because I cannot stand the sound
of my own shit show.
Raging its insecurities
its expectations 
like expandable insulation
in the cracks of my gray matter.
I cannot accept this gift
of silence
because my thoughts
are far too loud.

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of Change

 

Gentle readers, today I’m writing to you from a house full of tile breaking, wood tearing, abhorrent hammer striking, and general disarray. The bassets are petrified, the cats have taken to hover beneath beds and cower behind me on an already ‘cozy’ chair.

scardy cat
Penny Dreadful isn’t afraid of a little crowbar banging…she’s only here to protect me. Last furry line of defense.

Times of transition are like hurricanes. Confusing, loud, messy and intense. There is uncertainty and a sense of powerlessness that directly affects our peace and sanctuary. Some of us deal with the changes with decidedly more grace than others. Some are rocked off their foundations, never to be the same again.

 

The point is that no one is safe from change. And why the hell would you want to be?

 

Change is the great motivator. It is the one unequivocal trait of the progression of human life. Without it we are stagnant lumps. Change breeds invention and new ideas, it sparks, hopefully, encompassing understanding and empathy. Compassion even.

 

What happens though, when we have too much change? When we are in a constant state of upheaval. When everything in life is a transition?

 

It is proven that children who suffer chronic instability (experiencing transitions so often that instability becomes their norm) can suffer from toxic stress.

 

Toxic stress increases the risks of several physical and social problems including but not limited to increased risk for cancer and diabetes, heart, lung, and liver disease, increased risk for smoking, drug abuse, suicide, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, domestic violence and depression.

 

While a normal amount of stress can be good (it stimulates healthy growth, promotes resilience, and helps us to learn coping mechanisms), constant stress and insecurity in our lives actually causes the body great physical and psychological harm.

 

The effects are more pronounced in children but adults are not immune. Just ask the millions of people living with high blood pressure, depression, cardiac disease etc. We are in over our heads.

 

So how do we balance the change and transition? How do we grow and push our boundaries without breaking apart our safety net?

 

Balance seems a cop-out idea. Of course balance (*eye roll*). That’s like asking “how do I lose weight” and some smart ass saying “Just diet”.

True…but too general. Diets, like balance, are not a one size fits all idea. What is balanced for me is way too much for someone else. One man’s half-dozen donuts with no metabolic detriment is my sure-fire step towards acquiring the diabetes.

 

How do we find our balance? How do we find the right amount of change? I think the answer lies in retaining sanctuary in our lives. Now I’m not talking humpy-backed bell swingers walled up inside the cathedral, sanctuary. I’m speaking of it on a more personal and sometimes mental level.

 

Are you safe in your own mind? Do you have a place to go, in your brain, where you can let go, remember to breathe, where your shoulders can drop away from your ears and you can feel at peace? Or is it all hell-fire and disaster, 24/7 from the moment you wake from stress-induced nightmares to the moment you’re knocking yourself out with Nyquil just to escape?

 

We all need peace. We all need change. How much of each is dependent on who you are.

 

One person may be content taking 15 credit hours, while raising a family of six and working part time for the PTA. Another may be perfectly happy chiming into an online forum on bee-keeping once a week and counting her reading in hours not minutes. One person may be at home living from a suitcase, jet-setting to all parts of the world for a story and a perspective never gleaned. Another may never leave their childhood hometown and yet still maintain contentment in the smaller world around them.

 

I’m not here to tell you how much change to accept. I’m here to tell you to accept some change. Pursue some change. But if you find that all you do is change, and you can’t recognize yourself or the people you love anymore, then it’s time to come back home.

 

Use that one word…what is it? Shoot, I’m not very good at this word, though I’m learning to let my lips form it’s simple monosyllabic music…it’s… NO. The word is NO. If you’re genteel you may even tack on a “Thank You” at the end.

 

NO is a great place to start. No I do not want to go to that party. No, I do not want to volunteer sixteen hours a week when I’m barely getting my chapters written. No I don’t have time to bake seventy-two cupcakes for the basket-weaving club…would you take a donation instead?

 

Conversely…don’t forget your YES button in the gleeful mania of refusing. Yes, I would love to meet you for coffee, it’s been too long! YES I would love to take a weekend class in basket weaving. YES, it would be an honor to help out for five hours a week. YES, I’ll go to Italy with you, tall-dark-and-handsome stranger…(*guffaw* still waiting for that one to come around).

 

You know you best. If you aren’t sleeping. if you’ve bitten your nails to the nubs and can feel the bonds of your family life deteriorating. If you’ve sacrificed what you’ve loved to do what you “should” for too long, then its time to take a long hard look at your hurricane and find a graceful exit from the storm.

 

If you’re still in a dead end job because you’re too afraid to throw caution to the winds of the hurricane blowing outside, do yourself and everyone who loves you a favor and chase that storm. Live a little for gods sake, we only go get so much time! Don’t waste it wishing for something better, when you are perfectly capable of hunting down the something better and taking it back to your sanctuary.

 

Now I’m going to go see how the holes in my walls are fairing and make myself a quiet cup of tea whilst in the eye of the drywall free hurricane. Ductwork is fascinating.