Thursday, April 28, 2011

move this

It was unbearable. He had lost himself so often that  last year in chicago that he felt spun.  Disconnected, suicidal, and wretched were the accessories he pinned over his heart. There had so many lost hours, so many broken promises, to himself and his friends. And his table was set with so much sadness that empty would have seemed a banquet in comparison.

He was packing up a U-Haul full of his belongings in the middle of the night. He was at his wits end and felt like he was running out of options. He had been slipping further and further beyond the lines he swore he would never cross. He had been running in quicksand for a couple of years that seemed like lifetimes.

The death of a mentor and friend, the loss of innocence, the confrontation with morbidity and with his own moral frailty pummeled him with the power of a tsunami and what remained as the tide receded was stuffed into that 12 foot moving van headed for the West Coast. Even though he didn’t know what lie ahead, it had to be better than the hell-hole he had fallen into. He had been having an ongoing midnight ménage-a-trois with cocaine and vodka so often that it had become almost impossible to tell the three of them apart.

There had been so many nightmares that swam past him during that storm in his life. Ghouls and goblins and shadows and monsters were all very integral pieces to this shattered puzzle he had become.  He was headed west with no plan other than get the hell away. He had remembered a conversation with his friend Freddie about the onslaught of the virus. As their friends and neighbors slipped into oblivion around them, Freddie had said that the only people he knew that were surviving were the ones that left the city.  Freddie’s words might have germinated this escape plan that was hatching.

However it came to be, here he was, standing in the driveway, piling the last of his belongings into the truck when his landlord slipped up behind him and asked if he was going somewhere. When the driver and his bestie rented the place, they had planned on living in that spectacular wicker park brownstone for as long as they could. It had never occurred to them, or their landlords, that one of these young men would fade so early and the other would be so tragically torn between following his friend and changing the odds.  He certainly hadn’t wanted to talk with the landlord, but here he was, with terror in his eyes, relaying his plans and assuring that the new tenant would make things good. And the new tenant did.

Our hero remembered standing in almost the spot a year prior when he and his friend were moving into this gem of a place. Paul had been feeling oogie and looked beat.   At one point he sat on the rear gate of that U-Haul and tried to catch his breath. He actually never did catch it that day. He went into the hospital and didn’t leave for 34 days. That was how. PCP, thrush, AIDS, Kaposi’s, and candida all became members of their family.  Unspoken terror and uncertainty unpacked their suitcases and took up residence, too.

Once Paul died, he unraveled fairly quickly. He struggled with having dreams when his friend could not. He felt survivor guilt even though he hadn’t a clue as to its meaning. Sometimes the only option is to run. It may not make any sense. It may not even work out, but it is the only breaker in the box that hasn’t been pulled. The power is out and something drastic is required.  The only glimmer of hope for his scratched up viewfinder was this U-Haul and the change it was meant to create.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mary Tyler Wells

When Thomas moved into the coach house behind me he hung a “w” next to his front door on the outside. It always made me laugh and I called him Mary Tyler Wells. He brought with him his own brand of “tales of the city”.

He was a heavyset guy with a pretty established relationship with alcohol. He used to get drunk 3 or 4 times a week with regularity, I didn’t notice much out of the ordinary at first, probably because I partied just as much. But I did notice the “w” next to his outer front door. I saw it every morning as I left my apartment and every evening as I came in.

All seemed normal in our uptown version of Barbary Lane, until one summer evening. It was like most evenings. My cousin from Illinois had been staying with me for a few months and we were watching “Showgirls” on my tv in the bedroom. We were laughing out loud at some of the bits- the Gina Gershon bitch rants, the Elizabeth Berkley naiveté, and the very flat and one-dimensional ” Keanu Reaves School of Acting” techniques that permeates the film. It was a spontaneous evening of delight.

There was an unexpected pounding at the door. She and I looked at each other and wondered whether we should be frightened.  The knock repeated and we made our way to see what the matter was. Outside stood an unknown shirtless guy looking very nervous and saying that our neighbor had fallen and wasn’t responding.

I went over to Thomas’ apartment to see if I could assist. There he was laid out, eyes shut, on the 2nd floor with a green cast to his skin and what could be interpreted as a bit of foam slipping out of the side of his lip as it pressed against the carpet. I shook him a coupla times and called his name over and over. The shirtless guy was going on about pain meds and good intentions and I decided to call 911.

I went back to my pad to put some shoes on.  I waited about 15 minutes and the paramedics arrived. They struggled with carrying him because of his size and had to wait for backup to assist them in getting him out.  The 2 others arrived and I remember being in my house, looking out my back window and seeing the EMT’s hoisting the gurney up over their shoulders to carry him from the door to the truck. It looked almost like queen tut being transported at the end of a royal procession.

As I watched this impromptu parade, I knew I needed to be a good neighbor and deal with the next agenda item- the shirtless visitor. My intuition had me believing that the phrase “hustler” could best describe the mold from which he emerged. I went into Thomas’ apartment and spoke with him. He had put on a t-shirt by this time thankfully, and he displayed no intention of vacating the apartment. He insisted that Thomas had invited him to spend the night. I assured him that I believed him, but that didn’t affect the responsibility I had as a neighbor and friend.

He protested, and even presented his Driver’s License with the intention of verifying his authenticity. The Kentucky document had the name Johnny Outlaw printed across the front. I chortled a moment and proceeded to request that he go to the hospital where Thomas was and get the house keys from him directly. Johnny then asked if I could spare a piece of cardboard on my floor for him. Sadly, I was unable to comply.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

keys to the kingdom

The last fifteen years of my life have been rich and meaningful. I have had my share of problems, heartaches, and disappointments because that is life, but also I have known a great deal of joy and a peace that is the handmaiden of an inner freedom. I have a wealth of friends and, with my A.A. friends, an unusual quality of fellowship. For, to these people, I am truly related. First, through mutual pain and despair, and later through mutual objectives and newfound faith and hope. And, as these years go by, working together, sharing our experiences with one another, and also sharing mutual trust, understanding, and love--without strings, without obligation--we acquire relationships that are unique and priceless.
There is no more aloneness, with that awful ache, so deep in the heart of every alcoholic that nothing, before, could ever reach it. That ache is gone and never need return again.
Now there is a sense of belonging, of being wanted and needed and loved. In return for a bottle and a hangover, we have been given the Keys of the Kingdom.
p. 276.. the book of alcoholics anonymous

Keys To The Kingdom
This was the topic at a Friday night meeting and as I listened some thoughts occurred to me.  one of the operative ideas in the title phrase is that keys is plural. I had never realized before, but the truth is that this drug free journey has not just been like getting keys to a castle (or a mansion) but it is an entire kingdom. A very amazing and certainly unexpected feature has been the ongoing revealing of fantastic blessings of all kinds. They haven’t stopped after a certain point. To the contrary, they have continued and improved as my in tandem with my sober time.

As I looked around the meeting room, I recognized several faces from the years I have trudged beside them. This is a complete departure from my life prior to getting clean. I had often been on the move, either pulling a geographical to try to arrest my overuse, or because I had worn out my welcome or made a complete ass of myself within the circles with whom I had been travelling. So scanning that room, I realized what a gift this enduring recognition is. I feel seen and I feel heard and these are feelings that allow me to explore emotional security. This is a key to a component in life that I had never previously dared dream about.

There is another key to this kingdom of serenity which is the addition of friends who are on a similar journey. I have always had friends such as this, but as my life took a recovery turn, my existing friendships changed drastically. but through the daily grind, individual sweet souls who reflect the truths about me that I am not able to myself.  The most challenging aspect of sober life is recognizing and accepting the dark side of myself. Coincidentally this is also one of the most liberating. Not running from who I am (although mastering this is still in its infancy) is becoming a staple of my daily fitness routine.

I have written about this key before: it turns out that somehow I am realizing that I am not the only thing that others think or talk about. Quite the opposite turns out to be true actually- others have very little time or space in their lives to clutter their time with me. This is a two sided-Kandinsky for me.  The bright side is that all the time I waste knoodling with my brain about how awful I am and how inappropriate I am has little resonance with the truth. The dark side however, is that much space in my heart and brain is taken up by information that needs to be deleted and typed over. Anger has accompanied me my whole life, like a birthmark or an emotional stutter. I used to do all I could do to suppress it because the hurt that lay beneath it seemed cataclysmic. I understand now that anger is only meant to be a sentry, not a travelling companion, and I fare much better when I let him sound the alarms when they come, thank him for his diligence and support, and move beyond him, leaving him where I found him and not tattooing his message on my interior.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

a return to safety

image credit: pop art machine

Today I heard a story that reshaped my thinking about an event that took place in my llfe last year. On a particular Friday,  I ran into a personality conflict with someone I peripherally had come to know. I had been offering some really exquisite bleu cheese wrapped in grape leaves to someone and they responded with “I couldn’t eat that without a really nice glass of red wine”. I didn’t think much of it and went on my way. Later that same day, I again offered the people around me some of the really fragrant and very creamy bleu. Again this person retorted with the “red wine” comeback. I jokingly retorted back with – "aww you sound like an alcoholic". This was tossed out in complete jest and it wasn’t at a meeting or with a client or a sponsee.  

Cut to Monday and I found myself alone with the same human and out of the blue I heard “I’ve been thinking about what you said last week and I disagree. It is just like someone who wants to have jelly on their peanut butter sandwich.”  I found myself non-plused.  The tone of the delivery took me back to my childhood and being spoken to by my mother. I think she had a way of surprise attacking me with stuff in her anger. She drank heavily for several years as I grew up and i recall her general behavior being erratic and unpredictable- often fueled by hangovers. And as I sat there on that Monday morning last summer, I was shrouded by some another blinding fog of PTSD. I knew I was not safe around this person and I knew I couldn’t trust them.

I spoke with a confidant about this exchange and was advised to have a conversation with this person, which I thought to be sound and proceeded to set into motion. I made an amends for my recent change of behavior and explained how I had a reaction to the conversation and had no excuse, but was in earnest. The rest of that particular talk turned into a small but pointed list of several other shortcomings I had, and concluded with the phrase- “I don’t get you” . Sadly, the emergency shut-down that had begun with the earlier meeting continued but with a new hazard level. I now felt sure I would not be emotionally safe. And I did not feel the effort to work on the relationship had merit any longer. To the contrary, I felt I needed to now let go.

I quietly and diligently worked out a plan to extract myself from the relationship. As we had come to spend much time together every day, it did take diligence and reserve to see the extraction through. Many times during that process, I came face-to-face with the effects of PTSD again in my life. And as I recanted this tale to a friend last night, he declared- “why does this keep happening  to you?”.  But the more accurate question might actually be “why do I keep attracting this drama to myself”? It is the question for my life these days and i am working on making room for an answer. None the less, I moved on, but not without continued dribbles of the continued angst. Although I managed to move on, this person still came around my perimeter, always forcing an interaction in an “I’m being so friendly and this freak is a drone” sort of way. And maybe I was a drone. But if I was, at least I was a protected drone and not a vulnerable one.

Now I get to the new part of the story. It turns out that this person may actually have deeper substance issues that previously exposed. There is a question of a prior incident with disappearing narcotics. There is the new item of breaking almost every ethical code involved with state licensees, which is layered by the fact that this new situation could involve a high-profile litigation attorney in our city. I would  give more detail here, but I will save that for a later date, when facts are set in stone. But what I wanted to express here is my immediate relief and validation about my own feelings. I so often am sure that I am crazy and this affords me the opportunity to consider another side to that idea. I am sad about the situation in general. It is not pleasant that lives get damaged, and that destruction comes as every action does indeed have a reaction. But mostly I feel hopeful, that indeed I might actually begin to feel safe once again.
last night i saw this video for the 1st time. it is by chris cunningham with his own remix of the song. it speaks to the creative vision of both  these artists- gil scott heron as well as cunningham. it is a timely addition to this post, as it reflects the play of dark and light in life on a masterful scale. that play seems to be at work in my life everyday, not always to such a dramatic level.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

la avispa

two things have taken place in the last 24 hours which hopefully have cracked my world's dull veneer. firstly, i am taking a break from facebook. it almost feels as if i have been breathing carbon monoxide. i have been attached at the wrist and undoubtedly need time away. and secondly, i had a conversation awhile ago with my friend alex about jump-starting the creative juices. perhaps he doesn't need it, but i most definitely do. i have been struggling with posting and this has previously proved to be an amazing outlet for my brain. anyway, the idea was that my friend and i might continue writing a story bit by bit. a few paragraphs sent for an addition and then sent back... and  so on. here is what i came up with to perhaps start that process.

La Avispa

The honeybee has somehow been a recurring theme in his life. Definitely not the more visible bumblebee with its yellow and black armor, or not the more potentially bothersome wasp which travels in gangs and can be provoked without warning,  but  the delicate and single-minded honeybee designed and contented to flock from one bloom to another sustaining itself for another day as it loses itself in it daily grind.
La Avispa (the honeybee) might be said to be his totem. 
When he was 5 he was walking across a lawn dotted with clover and felt a sudden piercing fire in between his toes. The burn was intense and he fell to his bum and curved ‘round his foot to inspect the source. He pulled at a dark spot and in his fingers was the culprit- a honeybee curled up on his foot. He pulled his thumb apart from his finger and the lifeless bug dropped directly and indisputably to the ground beneath him.  The sting lasted only a short while longer, but the surprise the surrounded it stays to this day.
When he was 16, he often ran away from his apartment in suburban illinois to downtown chicago to be among his tribe. he would go to the bath house and met other boys with whom he would chase nectar. on an early adventure he went to a house party in lakeview. it was at a small apartment with the furniture pushed to the sides of the room and all 20 or so people there were drinking beer and the lights were off. he remembers distinctly two songs from that night in 1974- "Doctor's Orders" by Carol Douglas and "Honeybee" by Gloria Gaynor. These were both new artists at the time... frankly so was he.

About 15 years later, he was watering his lawn on a very hot summer day in Colorado. He was using a garden hose as there was not a sprinkler system around. He had guests in from out of town and they were on their way over to pick him up to go for a barbeque. He was hurriedly moving from section to section and sprayed a strong stream of water from the hose onto a rose bush. Without a seconds notice, a honeybee flew directly up to his left eye and planted a stinger into his lid. It was fast, it was succinct, and a spot-on hit. It would seem it was instant messaging prior to any that today’s operating systems have provided.  But just what was the message?

Later that same year, he found himself in Costa Rica for a week with a friend touring around. The last 2 nights they spent in San Juan and they went to a rather famous bar named “La Avispa”. It was toted as the premier lesbian disco of the country. There were only a handful of women present on the night they visited, but there were twice as many men.  The two travelers were approached only minutes after they arrived by 3 quite young and very handsome boys. The conversation and the liquor flowed, they laughed  quite loudly and danced quite madly and soon they were stepping through the doors again as La Avispa closed its doors for the night. The two boys had added three and now had 5 more all going back to their hotel.  The quickly became a room full of strangers with an ancient and macabre rhythm.  Certainly they were honeybees waiting for nature to have its way. it was mayhem, it was instinctual, it was ambrosia. it was real and it did not last more than a day.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

cuppa joe and a chocolate croissant

it's a bright sunday morning in april and as i make my way back from st. mark's, i am aware that some of the funk that had settled around me has begun to shake loose. the sun is showing her face earlier and she lingers lovingly and languishes longer at the end of the day. the plantings we did last summer have had me worried as they all looked brown and lifeless, but this last week little buds have been appearing on the korean lilacs, the carol mackie dahnes, and both types of hydrangeas, but the rose of sharons still have me a bit concerned. there are 6 of them in and if they don't come back, i really will need to replace them. we planted 4 new trees yesterday in the right of way, but those will take 3 or 4 years before we really see any impact.

my mood has started to bud just as my landscape has. i am feeling less closed off, experienced a little photosynthesis yesterday and was able to laugh and feel light again. sometimes working with others definitely requires some refueling. this is just what winter offers. a chance to rest and ready for replenishing.

i have been receiving some forwarded posts from a family member for awhile which always seem very post-right wing and lean toward obama-lambasting. i rarely read them as i don't hold those political leanings. and i don't respond because i don't care to engage in dialogue that has no real purpose other than disagreement. i certainly haven't felt it necessary to change her way of thinking and i know she is not likely to nudge mine.

but my cousin's partner sent her a response to the last missive that was sent about why not to trust the man who is president. somehow, her response struck a chord with me. it was not a threatening rebuttal- far from it actually  she talked about looking at more sides of any issue and then included an article about walter breuning, the oldest man in america, who recently passed.  here is a link to the article:
Here's the world's oldest man's secret to a long life:
  •  Embrace change, even when the change slaps you in the face. ("Every change is good.")
• Eat two meals a day ("That's all you need.")
• Work as long as you can ("That money's going to come in handy.")
• Help others ("The more you do for others, the better shape you're in.")
  • Then there's the hardest part. It's a lesson Breuning said he learned from his grandfather: Accept death."We're going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you're born to die," he said.
 i really like mr. breuning's common sense approach. it leaves me something tangible and attainable to reach toward in my life's journey. and the response that carried this message gave me a reminder about making room for good things to happen in my life. 'cuz i never know when another bud is about to appear. all this with a cuppa joe and a chocolate croissant this beautiful sunday morning.

and yesterday at hivster from seattle, there was a post about durutti column with a link to "missing boy". i hadn't heard that cut for about 15 years or so and it reminded me how amazing vini reilly was (and remains).

Friday, April 15, 2011

walkin with grace

katrine neoromantika photography

spring is popping its head out all around me. the magnolia trees, the crab apples, as well as the others are budding in pink, lavender, and white glory all over town. hyacinths, daffodils, tulips are showing their parade uniforms now, and the lilacs and hydrangeas are budding with effervescence.  this weekend we are planting 4 new trees in our right of way-2 english oaks and 2 small maples.

it seems that inside there may be the sighs of a new life budding. things have been a bit bleak for a bit and there has been a dormant sense of exuberance and gratitude. these things have seemed just a memory recently and i have been trudging forward with only remnants of anticipation in my heart.

sometimes it seems i just gotta keep walking, cuz if i stop i may never be able to start again. gotta pretend there's hope when she has obviously left the building. gotta trust hope will return. strangely- and with grace- hope has always found her way back.

that is what spring can mean.  keep on walking and hoping and waiting. waiting for the right time ripe with possibility. and that is definitely worth wearing out a few good pairs of jimmy choos.

Break open a cherry tree and there are no flowers, but the spring breeze brings forth myriad blossoms. Ikkyu Sojun

Sunday, April 10, 2011

let it roll

i taught an alcohol class yesterday and i walked away from it with a knot in my stomach. firstly, i realized that 4 of the 5 persons in that class have taken or are taking psych meds to help them adjust to life. this is nothing really strange by itself i suppose, but it does seem strange that 80 percent of any group would be such.

but another anomaly is that they don't even realize that their drinking habits may very well be connected to their psych issues. they might very well be over drinking to compensate for the way they feel. this may not be the case, but my own experience and my intuition tell me differently.

so when the discussion moved to drug on drug interactions, half life, and the changing effects of substances when they are mixed, i would hope that this might have struck home somehow, as i am well aware that when someone takes adderall and drinks alcohol, the impact of both are more severe than when they are taken alone. and that when these folks got tickets they were under the influence and it was obvious... i.e they got sloppy.

but it would seem that we only see what we are ready to see. and maybe what i see has no connection to their lives. or maybe they will connect to the information after they left. or more likely, they won't ever see it. i know though that what i teach about is real and has impact.. even if i am teaching through leaded glass and barely anyone can hear.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


For many, negative thinking is a habit, which over time, becomes an addiction... A lot of people suffer from this disease because negative thinking is addictive to each of the Big Three -- the mind, the body, and the emotions. If one doesn't get you, the others are waiting in the wings. ...Peter McWilliams
it has been said that life is a spiral. a series of circles that keep rewinding around itself like a coil with the emotional journeys repeating themselves with a new level of understanding with each pass through the spiral. i have always considered this to be truth, but most time i am so wrapped up in my own experience that it is not so evident until the actual experiences have passed. but once in a while there is the awareness of a deeper layer of cognition.

i hope that i am gathering the grist for the mill. much of what i see today has an air of re-experience. oftentimes i feel as if i am having another go. ican only hope that it is a good "go".

i have been working with someone whose brain has very evidently been triggered to hunt for more drugs. this guy who had been searching for peace and change has, because of circumstances, done a complete about face and become demanding, spiteful, manipulative, and mean all in the space of a few days. a demeanor and an agreement field which were not visible at all have taken center stage and it is barely possible to recognize who i am encountering.

and buried somewher inside this jekyll/hyde scenario is the not-so-distant truth about my own memories. it is eerie to say the least-watching an old drama unfold in front of me ancient and evil and hollow are a few of the shells used to fill this weapon i came across.

as i outline and accent new boundaries around all this, both for myself and this traveller, i shudder a little inside. i recognize well the possible outcomes in this dramatic revival. i am hoping that the 3rd act take s a turn this time through the spiral. i hope this revolution brings with it the winds and sun that can dissipate the mists that have settled upon avalon. is it legend? is it myth? or is it just russian roulette?

i can only hope that my work and journey have generated enough motion in a positive direction that may affect an outcome here. one that will move us both into an outer ring of our individual spirals.

Line 'em up
Knock 'em down
My looks can kill
My body's fully loaded
And I got more ammo
Line 'em up
Knock 'em down
My looks can kill
You're an accessory to a murder cause

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

a moment changes everything

"Addiction is a decision. An individual wants something, whatever that something is, and makes a desicion to get it. Once they have it, they make a decision to take it. If they take it too often, that process of decision making gets out of control, and if it gets far out of control, it becomes an addiction. At that point the decision is a difficult one to make, but it is still a decision. Do I or don't I. Am I going to take or am I not going to waste my life or am I going to say no and try and stay sober and be a decent person. It is a decision. Each and every time. A decision. String enough of those decisions together and you set a course and you set a standard of living. Addict or human. Genetics do not make that call. They are just an excuse. They allow people to say it wasn't my fault I am genetically predisposed. It wasn't my fault I was programmed from day one. It wasn't my fault I didn't have any say in the matter. Bullshit. Fuck that bullshit. There is always a decision. Take responsibility for it. Addict or human. It's a fucking decision. Each and every time."

— James Frey (A Million Little Pieces)
"The Young Man came to the Old Man seeking counsel.
I broke something, Old Man.
How badly is it broken?
It's in a million little pieces.
I'm afraid I can't help you.
There's nothing you can do.
It can't be fixed.
It's broken beyond repair. It's in a million little pieces."

— James Frey (A Million Little Pieces)
no matter what has been said, or what has been decided, i believe i can understand the truth when i hear it. now whether that truth is original or not has not been defined in my particular skillset. but i definitely know that james frey's words moved me as i read them. and for some strange reason, i believe they still do. sorry oprah, but i think your ego might have blinded you. but that's ok. i make mistakes all the time.
and thanks james. i truly loved reading your books. i think i liked "my friend leonard" the best.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

coming up for air

"Be grateful to everyone" is getting at a complete change of attitude. This slogan is not wishy-washy and naive. It does not mean that if you're mugged on the street you should smile knowingly and say "Oh, I should be grateful for this" before losing consciousness. This slogan actually gets at the guts of how we perfect ignorance through avoidance, not knowing we're eating poison, not knowing that we're putting another layer of protection over our heart, not seeing the whole thing.
i went to a meeting today and the topic was gratitude. it's always a good topic and i can always get closer to more gratefulness. i don't share so much in meetings these days. i listen and i try to hear. today i heard. i heard a reminder that i am just where i am supposed to be. whether my brain has caught up to that fact or not. for me gratitude is densely layered. i had been running from death since the mid-80's and struggled with moving on from that nightmare at the close of the century. having made it through that mess with no real explanation as to why, i have nowhere else to go but gratitude. so many others were vaporized and it can only be right to feel blessed.

i have somehow been able to remain with cognition. i spent years trying to blot out fears and darkness. so much that at a certain point i remember declaring that i could no longer remember what i was trying to forget. what follows is the incredible fact that i can still string a few sentences together and have managed to connect to a few humans' hearts. i could cry as i tap this out realizing again that blessings come in ways i could have never imagined.

but what i wanted to write tonight especially, was the practicality of gratitude for me. when i am thankful, i simply feel better. when i am feeling lack, victimized, or anger i have a very hard time coming back to a peaceful place in my head- until i shift to gratitude. that shift in perception is quite simply a miracle. i have so much to be thankful for and i want to always keep that close to my heart. i need miracles in my life cuz hope usually comes along with them.

Friday, April 1, 2011

a prayer for us all

"People get into a heavy-duty sin and guilt trip, feeling that if things are going wrong, that means that they did something bad and they are being punished. That's not the idea at all. The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn't understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you're given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further." — Pema Chödrön
my life has been turned upside down in the short span of a few months. my financial security is becoming embers before my eyes. my income shifted through a decrease in both a second and third jobs and i was too obstinate to take some action even though i knew it was happening. it speaks more to my nature than anything else. i certainly saw that my there was a shift, but i really dug my heels in a refused to heed the signs. and now, i am numb from debt and dealing with debt at a double dutch pace.

i keep reminding myself that no matter what happens i will be fine. and actually, i have already taken steps to reel in the wreckage. i must admit that i feel a bit like the manager of the nuclear reactor in japan- dealing with a very volatile situation, yet too proud and too stunned to ask for help. and the disastrous results of the inability to make smart and timely choices leaves a path of desolation in its wake.

and all the while this is being revealed, i find that my security in other arenas of my life is up for discussion. i learn that doing the right thing is not always enough to guarantee me getting what i want. and even though getting what i want, and having things the way i want them is not how i perceive myself to operate, it seems that i still value those attributes very very highly.

believe me, this is not the story i wanted to see the 1st quarter of 2011, but here it is anyway. i don't know it all, i am effected by the world around, and my ego continues to rule my decisions and lead me down dark paths.

what has changed, though, is my willingness to look at how i operate in my own life. and i have let go of being a victim of my own tendencies. i am at the mercy of my nature often- much more often than i'd like. but i am also connected to the undeniable currency of struggle. if i can refocus as i move forward, i can expand my heart. and if anything is true, it is that my heart implicitly needs to expand.