Tag Archives: little bits of me

Morning practice

Well hello.

It’s been a while.

But I’m gonna jump right in, anyway.

This is my morning practice:

Brew espresso on the stove.

Froth milk in a frother.

Feed the cat.

Make my morning offering at my ancestral shrine.

Set down my big mug of latte with a tower of froth foam on the table.

Sit down to my open journal page to ponder, gather my thoughts and express them in words, talk about the weather until something deeper comes.

Some mornings I make the mistake of precluding this routine with social media before I even get started, while lying prone and half asleep. Something prompts me to pick my phone up and look.

My mindfulness app tells me that I have successfully completed yet another successive session (I fall asleep to Jay Oren Sofer’s sleep meditation mostly every night).

Then I scroll .. through socials, through texts and IMs .. to my increasingly bulging in box (remember the days when we’d clear our email boxes out daily?!).

Some days it’s a bad idea. I am swept into the daily rhetoric of whatever hot topic is giving out its siren call.

This morning, though, I’m pulled into an IG post, then follow a link and I find Sonya Renee Taylor on Instagram and stumble on towards a podcast interview between her and Brené Brown.

And this is when I realize why I’ve gotten the nudge.

(I of course immediately order Sonya’s book, The Body Is Not an Apology Second Edition: The Power of Radical Self-Love, with my available Audible credit).

(And the hard copy, because you know, sometimes you just want to have a physical book to-go.)

(And the accompanying workbook.)

(Jesus take the wheel and stop me now.)

This is how I’ve been feeling lately:

Having followed the self-help trends *everywhere* I have become exhausted and burnt out, on all things Self Improvement.

I want to flip everyone the bird and say – I’M GOOD, NOW!

At some point I stop and wonder if and when I’ll ever get off this crazy train.

I’ve been doing this for decades, almost half a century, and of course I’ve made progress.

The thing is, while progress is inevitable, it is also exhausting.

I remember feeling this way in my twenties, delving, digging, sorting out, exhausting the limits of my capacity and then falling into a sort of disengaged stupor, always feeling like I’m never quite where I want to be.

Ad infinitum

What I have come to find is that some people (“us” if you see yourself reflected in the aforesaid) will never get “there”.

Not for the lack of trying – lord no – but for realizing that the more you know, the less you actually know.

With each new level of realization that unravels, a whole new tangled ball of yarn appears.

This, it seems, is both a blessing and a yoke whose weight I’ve never seemed to be able to divest myself of.

Until now, maybe.

As I listened to even the first handful of minutes of this interview, I think I breathed deeply for the first time in a long while.

The concept of accepting yourself as who you are AS YOU ARE IN THIS MOMENT is one of the most radical acts you can enact.

The striving can stop.

Maybe in those fully embodied moments of beingness I can learn to tap in to what I really want.

Who I really am.

What I have to offer to the world.

Into lovingly embracing the whole of who I am, right now.

Not what the cacophony of external voices tell me I should/need/want.

Not what the wounded parts of myself tell me I should/need/want.

I’m going to let that tiny kernel grow with tender and careful tending.

Because how else are we all going to be free?


Me & Keanu

I’ve finally gotten around to reading the title GQ article today. I stop in the doorway of my son’s room, brandishing the cover with a smile and his girlfriend, Erika, said, “She’s in love.” Gabriel corrects her, “Oh, she’s been in love for a long time now.”

He says it true… let me explain.

I’m sure others have a Keanu story – that moment in which we become cognizant of his “whoa” factor. Mine occurred sometime in 2003, I reckon.

Let’s backtrack a decade, though, for some context. I’d just gotten married in 1993, to a California native. In April, after exchanging vows on a Saturday, with most of my belongings already packed, a moving van picked it all up on the following Monday and I left my old life behind in Montreal for a new one in California.

Okay so it wasn’t quite to the swaying palm trees of L.A. No… more like the pungent smell of a wall of garlic that assailed me every time I opened the door of our apartment.

Enter Keanu.

My husband and I were standing in line at the movie theatre, waiting to be let in to the movie Speed, and we started chatting with another couple in line who mentioned that the lead actor was a Canadian, like me, and swoon-worthy. I rolled my eyes, determined then that I would purposefully ignore this dude, because who is impressed with beefcake? Not I.

Fast forward a decade…

2001 onwards, life is just kicking me (maybe all of us?) in the proverbial balls. By the spring of 2002, my marriage is a-crumbling. We’d made it to 9 years and it looked unlikely that we’d be making it to a decade. I’d been having a really hard time at the job that I’d been in for almost five years. My husband had injured himself in a gnarly crash after riding the Lake Elsinore motocross track. Between work, financial, health, life and other personal stressors, I had what I called my Big Meltdown.

I left the former job and started another one. We lived in Wildomar and the new job was in Pasadena, making my round-trip commute amount to about 4 hours, give or take. Needless to say, that wasn’t sustainable. I had heart ablation surgery and shortly after, before we could lose the house we owned to foreclosure, we sold it and split up for what would amount to be about nine months.

In August, I got a job in San Diego near Del Mar and my son and I moved into an apartment close to where I worked, with his elementary school and after school care within a ten minute commute radius from my work place and where we lived. We were set, I figured, in theory at least, but between the job losses and changes, the rupture of my marriage, the multiple moves, I now admit that I would regularly cry in the shower, because I needed to keep my shit together between showers, for my six-year old son. The new job lasted about eight months, after which the apartment had to be given up because I couldn’t pay my rent and still have enough to live while on unemployment insurance.

But before all of that went down, I spent a few months working with a motley crew of people. Halloween came around and some folks dressed up in costumes. One coworker arrived all leather clad and had these wraparound shades on with her hair slicked back. I was like “What are you?”, which garnered an incredulous look.

“I’m Trinity,” she said, probably wondering which rock I had been stuck under. I had no idea what she was talking about. She told me that my mind would be blown by the movie The Matrix.

I think it was at about this time, with a whole lot of time on my hands and the internet at my disposal, that I ran into an interview with Keanu. Contrary to my previously held impression, he came across as articulate and intellectually curious. Also, he liked motorcycles, hockey and was Canadian. Also, HE WAS KIND TO HIS MOTHER AND SISTERS! He became, in absentia, my ex-pat compadre.

After giving up my San Diego apartment and then being in limbo while sharing my husband’s one-bedroom apartment until his year-long lease expired (and waiting for him to decide whether we should make another go of it as a couple), our family got back together again, and relocated to Orange County. That fall my husband would crash his brains out yet another time on the same track as before, and within two weeks of that my mother, my only living parent, would die of a massive coronary infarction.

Keanu, despite never having crossed my path, saved me a little that year and in the years that followed. I felt a crushing isolation, a continued sense of failure within my marriage, and yet just knowing that he existed within relatively close proximity was strangely reassuring.

Time has come and gone. More moves and changes between then and now have occurred, yet Keanu still rules. He’s found a way to make a life on his own terms, continues to be curious and creative, and despite all the detritus that life flings at him, he seems oddly optimistic.

Now if that isn’t worthy of admiration, I don’t know what is.

I don’t think I have room in my life for another person; I certainly don’t in my closet. The truth is, I lead a pretty hermit-like existence, and I like it that way, even though there are times that I wish I could share thoughts on books, or bounce ideas for creative projects, off of someone while we lounge on the sofa peaceably sipping our coffees, comfortably sharing space and silence.

So when folks ask me whether I’ve been dating, I invariably respond with “Nope… I’m holding out for Keanu.” And you know, it’s kind of true.

one Sunday afternoon

I’m sitting at the kitchen table, drinking my third mug of coffee, flipping through the pages of my mother’s old phone book. What I hope to glean through doing this, I have no clue.

Names had been added and crossed out. I recognize my own handwriting in it, my mother’s, my father’s. I recognize the handwriting of a family friend, who used to live in Kingston, but now I wonder if she, too, has died. Probably.

There are names in it that I don’t recognize, names beside which there are Hungarian addresses. Excavating a life becomes difficult, post-mortem – as in life, we only seem to discover the things they want us to know while the rest is buried within them, within the past.

This tracking of my genealogical history has been difficult and unsatisfying. There are more questions that arise than answers, even in this time of technology and the relentless categorization and tracking of data. I do online searches today and find nothing. Ten years ago I could plug in the name of a person and find all kinds of various hits, but now that data is controlled and funnelled through a “smart” A.I. program, only the ones it thinks are relevant pop up. Only what the world deems important comes to our eyes.

So it’s always the squeaky wheel, the loudest voice, the most vociferous opinion that we see on the platforms which for two decades provided us with a wealth of information.

Today? Not so much. I might as well hole up somewhere with a box of microfiche and get to it. I feel like answers might be found in Hungary, but my command of the language has suffered much since my mother’s death, and was never that proficient to begin with. English is my language of choice, the language I have been educated in, learned to be curious in, to think in.

In light of the discussions within my ancestral healing group over the last several weeks, I mourn that loss of language, because within the language, its context and use, are the secrets of my past, the ones I can intuit in my bones.

Words hold meanings, the memories of things. In one language a word could mean the same thing as in another, superficially, but in each language it has a timbre to it that is relevant to the people whose mouths made those words, who spoke those words, a meaning that I will never really know as a member of a diaspora.

These meanings… they can be passed down, if people choose to, but often there is too much of a burden that is carried in their wake, one each generation that comes before the next wants to burden itself with but to not pass on to the ones that come after because they want them to have a better life, a brighter outlook, an untainted future.

But with that loss, there is also a loss of rootedness, a kind of cultural and historic amnesia. It is no small wonder that we find ourselves in a world that holds itself to nothing, that consumes without thought, where everything within it becomes disposable. Some days I wonder if we’ll recover from this illness of spirit, for that is truly what it feels like.

We find ourselves living on the lands of others, people who have suffered, just as our old peoples had, at the hands of others. They are still here, listening to the murmurings of the waterways, the flailing of the trees as they fall to deforestation, to the sound of the thick blood of the earth as it is getting bled out while its face is pitted with the byproducts that make teenage acne look like a walk in the park.

Our elders had gone silent in an effort to shield us from the pains they carried over centuries. We had a chance for a new start, but without their wisdom and the knowledge of all that came before, we made the same mistakes all over again.

When I was a teenager, I distinctly remember refusing to acknowledge any worth to the words of my parents. The separation required to become an adult is a tough journey, especially if those that teach us have become complacent in the comfort of their own lives by the time they come to witness our transformation, and don’t find a good way to guide us, to lead us through by example.

Maybe they are still struggling too.

Maybe by that point we’ve already seen too much of the darker sides of humanity to want to trust anyone else in this process.

I was young and brash, yet I was also sheltered, naive, and wholly unprepared for the world and its people, especially the ones who saw me coming and couldn’t help themselves in taking advantage of me – but I didn’t know that I had this deficit until it gouged holes in my spirit. I took advantage too, in my own way. I suppose that is how I learnt, but I can’t help but feel that there must be a better way to do this.

So here I am, on a Sunday afternoon, alternately staring out of the dining room window, typing this with two fingers on my phone’s keypad, listening to the birds calling outside (seagulls, crows, and another I can’t identify), to the chirping of the cross-walk signal, wondering what I will do with the rest of my day.

There is so much I want to do. I have a long list of chores that I keep ignoring, books that I want to read piling up into stacks that I may never finish reading in this lifetime, stories I have written but that have languished uncompleted, dishes piled in the sink that need washing, a refrigerator that needs to be sorted and cleared, choices to make on food plans for the week, clothes that need to be laundered and stowed, a cat litter box to clean out… to name a few.

In this overload of choices, I often choose… nothing.

on passion (& vintage typewriters)

vintage typewriter

“Ignoring your passion is slow suicide. Never ignore what your heart pumps for. Mold your career around your lifestyle not your lifestyle around your career.”

I saw this post online (if you click the photo up top, it will take you to it – I hope), along with the caption.

I really want one of these old typewriters – one is on my wish list…

But… I’ve come to find that I have made peace with the dichotomy of passion and earning a living not necessarily being one and the same…

One can be passionate about one’s work – its quality, the service it provides to those we are hired to assist, the higher purpose of the organizations for whom we work, the connections we make with inner and outer clients, our sense of usefulness in our roles… those are many things we can be passionate about in relation to earning a living.

I was stuck for so long for much of my adult life fretting about how to turn the things I was passionate about (my writing, my art, my creative pursuits, my volunteering work) into a living, so much so that I lost sight of the passion and also was in a constant state of discontent at being unable to make this shift I so wanted to make yet was incapable of defining.

It turns out that I’m damned good at my “day job” and despite having one (when I’m not unemployed) I can still engage in the things I am passionate about on my own time because they energize me and infuse me with enthusiasm.

I’ve learned that those two parts of my life are not mutually exclusive. Joy (and passion) can be found in all things.

small art 8.16.14


Experiments in green.

One of my co-conspirators of the Facebook group I am co-admin on suggested we do a virtual art journal swap. We decided that each month a different colour would be featured and that those who wanted to participate could share the fruits of their labour by posting photos of our collectively created art in a group album.

I’d already started playing with green a little (with yesterday’s small art posting) and this one is today’s result.

If nothing else, at least it’s getting me to play in my sketchbook again. That’s always a good thing.

the barron

StoreyTalk_web[with Barron in L.A. at the Bert Green Gallery]

I don’t think that there is an artist who has inspired me more than Barron Storey. I am not alone in this.

There isn’t much that I envy of others, except, perhaps, to have been in one of his classrooms while he was teaching at The California College of the Arts. I am a public college fine art school drop out.

Too late now, I’m afraid, for all of that. I’m self-taught, mostly, and it’s through practice that I’ve become remotely proficient. Through much trial and failure. I suppose that could be said of most anything, in my case – lots of trials; lots of failures.

BarronSig_web[inscription in my Life After Black book, images excerpted from his visual journals]

In the midst of all of those, though, are the wild successes. Things that I’ve made that I can hardly believe came from my hands. Pieces I’ve written that I barely recognize as having been borne of my mind. But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

I think artists (ALL artists… writers, painters, actors, circus performers, musicians, sculptors, mimes, burlesque dancers, opera singers…) are speaking their truths, expressing what society so desperately needs to hear but seldom voices.

That is our purpose.