Monday, May 30, 2011


image credit ... lauris naglins

i got calls from two of my dear friends today and both seemed to be swept up in a storm of harsh self-judgement. they did not sound at all happy and they seemed a bit untethered.

 the first was describing his inability to get out of bed some days and has been feeling lost and disconnected for some time. i honestly think i could sense the hidden anger over the phone. i offered the idea of a medication and a provider which he had been considering. i also insisted he try to incorporate some loving-kindness into his day. the idea of loving-kindness can be the most challenging to give to ourselves. this is an awareness i have much personal experience. and it continues to baffle me some days.

so i asked him to breathe in loving-kindness for himself with each in breath. on the out breath he could offer loving kindness to the rest of the world who suffered as he did today. i don't know if he engaged in it, but i felt sure it moved his understanding of his situation a little. or at least i hope so.

then another friend called and began to unravel some thoughts she was having about her life on this holiday. she had gone into the field to visit someone before court tomorrow and was about to write up a report. she was lamenting about her untidy home, her inability to keep track of everything, and her imperfections were laid out like hot coals she was forcing herself to walk across.

i reminded her that she is far from faulted. she is a single mother of 2 boys, works full time, has a house, was a caretaker for her ailing uncle, sponsors newbies, and still makes time to criticize herself. i offered her the idea of loving-kindness as well. it seemed so apropos. maybe she could take a walk and breathe in some loving kindness for herself, and then breathe out loving kindness for the rest of the world that was suffering as she was today.

tonglen- the practice of giving and receiving is a practice of balance that has found its way into my life's toolbelt. somehow it always reminds me that i am not as alone as i think i am. giving is always a gift and receiving becomes more of one each time. today was a shining example of this. it was a good day.

Suggestions for the Practice of Tonglen
reprinted from naljorprisondharmaservice

Use what seems like poison as medicine. Use your
personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings.

In Tonglen practice, through our compassion, we take on (embrace without resistance) the various sufferings of all beings: their fear, hurt, frustration, pain, anger, guilt, bitterness, loneliness, doubt, rage, and so forth. In return, we give them our loving-kindness, happiness, peace of mind, well-being, healing, and fulfillment.

1) Sit quietly, calm the mind, and center yourself. Reflect on the immense suffering that all beings everywhere experience. Allow their suffering to open your heart and awaken your compassion. You may also choose to invoke the presence of all the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and enlightened beings, so that through their inspiration and blessing, compassion may be born in your heart. In this way, you are resting in bodhicitta—the enlightened nature of the mind. Bodhicitta, is an inexhaustible source of purity, generosity, and compassion.

2) Imagine in front of you, as clearly as possible, someone you care for who is suffering. Although this may be more challenging, you may also imagine someone you feel indifferent toward, someone you consider to be an enemy, or those who have hurt you or others. Open yourself to this person's suffering. Allow yourself to feel connected with him or her, aware of their difficulties, pain, and distress. Then, as you feel your heart opening in compassion toward the person, imagine that all of his or her suffering comes out and gathers itself into a mass of hot, black, grimy smoke.

3) Now, visualize breathing in this mass of black smoke, seeing it dissolve into the very core of your self-grasping (ego) at your heart center. There in your heart, it completely destroys all traces of fear and selfishness (self-cherishing) and purifies all of your negative karma.

4) Imagine, now that your fear, self-centeredness and negative karma has been completely destroyed, your enlightened heart (bodhicitta) is fully revealed. As you breathe out, imagine you are sending out the radiance of loving-kindness, compassion, peace, happiness, and well-being to this person. See this brilliant radiance purifying all of their negative karma. Send out any feelings that encourage healing, relaxation, and openness.

5) Continue this "giving and receiving" with each breath for as long as you wish. At the end of your practice, generate a firm inner conviction that this person has been freed of suffering and negative karma and is filled with peace, happiness and well-being. You may also wish to dedicate the merit and virtue of your practice to the benefit of all sentient beings.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

so long so long

image credit... nick knight

i first met laura when i was doing advocacy for a small community based organization in aurora named "itav". laura was a sex worker and smoking a lot of crack. i drove over to her boyfriend's apartment in west denver and brought her to the agency so she could go to a women's group, get something to eat, and get away from her life for a minute. i remember very well the conversations we had in the car on the ride to and from.

fast forward to 2 years ago when i ran into her again. she had now become the house manager for a program for plwa's in athmar park. she had slowed way down on the crack use and had gotten into medical care-even consistently taking haart medication. she was much more grounded and again we talked often and repeatedly about the direction of her life. she was with her boyfriend who was intermittently quite abusive. it appeared he had a mental health issue and refused to take medication reliably. when he would drink alcohol or use cocaine, his mean streak would especially arise and her physical injury rate would escalate.

shortly after i ran into her again, the two of them had a volatile altercation and he picked up a tv and threw it at her, breaking her leg and some of her spirit at the same time. because of her position at the housing program, a police report was filed and chargers were drawn. he ended up spending about 10 months in jail being released sometime late last fall. 

naturally, what followed were conversations around self-care and responsibility to the residents under her watch. she started to smoke crack more frequently, smoke pot more frequently, and engage in some other odd behaviors. but she was able to reel in it for the most part. many of the residents that she looked after had their own serious life issues going on and i will never really know if she was able to truly present for them because of her own internal drama. but certainly this is how it is with almost everyone. i somehow always felt that she was lost in a current that taking her somewhere quite a distance from here. but i also understood that she was doing much better than when i first met her, so harm reduction rules the day.

this morning i heard the first report of a small tragic story unfolding in the small neighborhood that she lived and worked. as the day unfolded, it became somewhat clearer that there was just a continuation of this same story. i have been both saddened and numbed most of the day. i wish i could have done more.

the following is from the local paper..

Police are investigating after a woman was killed last night at group living facility in the 2400 block of W. Wesley Avenue in Denver.
Denver Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said officers called to the scene at 2:20 this morning found a woman dead of knife or stab wounds. Her identity was not released.
Neighbor Anita Rich said that around 2 a.m. a man who she knows only as Carlos came pounding on her door and screaming.
"He was saying, '...she's dead, she's not waking up,'" Rich recalled this morning. She said Carlos, who lives in the group home, was in a panic.
They went across the street to the single-story group living home, while Carlos called 911, Rich said.
"She was laying in the hall," Rich said. "There was blood everywhere."
Rich knew the woman only by her first name.
Rich took the phone from Carlos so she could talk to the paramedics.
"What do I do? How can I help her?" Rich said she remembers thinking.
Paramedics told her to put on gloves before doing anything, which she did.
Rich said she checked for a pulse and found one. She didn't see any visible wounds, but said there was a lot of blood.
Emergency workers showed up a short time later and took over from Rich.
The coroner's office and crime scene investigators were on the scene this morning.
Jackson said a suspect has not been identfied.

 written by kieran nicholson and reprinted from

Monday, May 23, 2011

so damn happy

image credit...Huub Onzia Derdeyn
Stage II™ Recovery

Stage I is about arresting the addiction or surviving the crisis. Stage II™ Recovery, which Earnie created in 1985, is about understanding the triggers and imprinting that left us vulnerable in the face of substitutes. Whether the process of trying those substitutes is called co-dependency, shame based living, adult child syndrome or any other label.
Stage II™ Recovery requires discipline, practice, and the ability to refuse to let the past rob you of your present. Choosing this new, healthy road isn't as easy as it sounds. The assumption is that you know and recognize the difference between the past and the present. Often this is not the case at all. Not recognizing the difference between yesterday and today can mean less choice and freedom in your life.

Stage II™ Recovery answers will seldom be found in Stage I recovery groups. They have different focuses, and that's okay. Keep in mind, one stage is not better than another. There can be no Stage II if Stage I has not been won. Recovery does not end with sobriety.

this is the intro description from  from earnie larsen's site. i think it reflects some insight that is required to really understand ourselves. i am damn sure i did not possess that insight early in my sobriety. i am not sure am in touch with this afore described self-knowledge. i am still working on this.

but i am very aware that i have gained volumes of understanding how i operate in the world in the years with no substances. i have gained and lost faith and reunited with it again. i have remembered my frailties and stumbled painfully beside them. i have found strength i really had no idea i possessed. i have lost all sight of being able to stay connected on the earth. and i have forgiven myself, many others i know for not living up to my expectations. and i have raised the bar on what might be possible in my life. i have learned to share my joy and i have learned to say "enough" and "no thank you". and i have started on the path of belief.

i have had an epiphany this weekend. i have realized that i learned to be taken advantage of, used, and joked about publicly was something i experienced before the 5th grade. it became something i have been recreating over and over and over infinitum. because i got loaded so often, it never occurred to me that there might be such a pattern in my life. the new twist is that this is a pattern- not an isolated incident. it is a one-two-three act play that has been handstitched onto the cover of of my story.

and even after i got sober, i hadn't a clue that such a pattern could even exist in my psyche. but these last few years have revealed not only an existence, but a thriving terrarium holding my head and heart hostage for most of my life and stealing the nutrients that nourish a healthy journey.

but today i have finally been blessed with the grace of some self-knowledge around this. no doubt it is too ingrained a pattern to simply disappear. frankly it will probably continue to sprout with unwelcome like the dandelions and thistles that speckle my lawn.  but at least now i have the option of side-stepping this life long habit of turning punk. i thank the universe for the quietly thunderous tectonic plate shift that sobriety has unveiled. truly amazing. so damn happy.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

this n that

image credit... matthew welch

we have had almost a full week of rain and have been foretold of another week of the same. luckily, today  is full of blue skies. my lilacs are in full splendor and the hydrangeas and rose of sharon have begun to spread their wings. i just put out geraniums for the summer- red ones this year.

i am slowly realizing that all this crazy i have felt this last couple of years is not that unusual. i keep hearing others share about their insanity well into their sobriety. this is honestly reassuring. i am already feeling less crazy.

while working with a group on friday, we did an exercise which consisted of listed ten tiny changes that we want to make in our lives. and then we are to make one of those changes our homework. i have chosen mine and am restructuring balance.

i have helped begin a new process with hep-c testing at my workplace and am excited about it. we interface with more than 400 iv drug users daily and about 80 percent of those are infected and we get new folks weekly. so some prevention and linkage to care is in order.

 btw, the pricing of the new hep-c drugs coming down the pipeline seems completely outrageous. when i consider the quarterly profits for the pharma (and chevron for that matter) and compare them to the national deficit, i feel sickened. so many subsidies and so much lobbying from those profits. no doubt the boards of directors are patriotic americans who are supporting the office of the president to the best of their abilities.

colin farrell in a remake of "fright night"? ... i am so there...

the reunion of justin timberlake and andy samberg (dick in a box) was worth the wait. i am still laughing about snl's lovely gift.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

the bride stripped bare

The Fate Machine (a.k.a. The Bride Stripped Bare by her bachelors)  is an imaginary mechanical contraption which represents the interaction of chance and destiny. The suite of objects that make up the Fate Machine is shown here. The names for its parts come from Duchamp’s notes for The Large Glass, published in 1934.
Duchamp’s notes for The Large Glass are essential to understanding its content. He said the notes were meant to complement the visual experience, like a guide book, but clarity is not their strength. They are the stuff of sublime nonsense, driven by free association and wordplay, and resolutely anti-rational. Yet they do provide some unambiguous cues for the actions depicted on the glass.

i often wonder just what my direction in life really is. i know that i see myself as being of service to others and i try to believe in the individuals i am working with. i also know that there are times in my days that i still struggle to work through old baggage. i guess it would make sense that working the steps should have been like bringing in a dumpster and moving all the old unnecessary shit in my world to some imaginary landfill. but that is not my experience.

i started using at a very young age and i guess that the pack rat handling of emotional ca ca created an overflow of issues layer upon layer that need to be sorted through. that is what i have been doing for the last few years and it has been sometimes very exhausting.

i keep moving forward, though, because it' is the only direction that makes sense. there is always a sense of wonder and sometimes a sense of dread. upon inspection that dread is revealed to be about the old baggage and not necessarily about what is happening in my life in the present. shame-based trauma has left its mark upon my psyche and my being, perhaps a carry over from my past or my past life.

either way, i have come to believe that destiny plays a big role in my journey. and i think more that the choreography of chance is always at work in my life, too. the finesse just may be how i embody this instruction and whether i practice the moves. for now it is perhaps just rehearsal. or perhaps not at all.

I don't know why you treat me so bad
Think of all the things we could have had
Love is an ocean that I can't forget
My sweet sixteen I would never regret

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

a little more levi

it is a tuesday morning and i am running ahead of schedule. no doubt this will change before i get finished with this post. i have let go of my second job with the dui students. i am trying to make room in my life for something new. man, it feels kinda good and it kinda hurts at the same time.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

MAT- medicated assisted treatment

image credit onur dogu

the clinic where i work has been working with medication assisted therapy for quite some time. the most well known mat is antabuse for alcohol abuse/dependence. with the onset of meth and cocaine in the last 30 years and the advancement of pharmatech, the use of mat to address stimulant dependence is being looked at much more seriously.
i have several clients that are currently using naltrexone to combat the cravings and the obsession for the next buzz. there are some mixed results certainly, but i believe that these studies are studies are still in their infancy. it is interesting to work with folk who are very protective of their systems when medications are involved, but behave as such raconteurs where smoking or injecting homemade speed is concerned.
we have clients that are using starting to work with injections of vivitrol as well. this is a monthly shot that works on the same principles of naltrexone, but without having to take a pill every day. below is an article describing some of the science behind the meth-focused mat.

One of the most vexing drug dependencies is that of methamphetamine Known as “speed,” “crank”, “ice,” “gak” and “crystal”; methamphetamine has emerged as the street drug with the greatest potential for harm and the most stubborn resistance to treatment. Methamphetamine works on sensitive neurotransmitters that regulate the synthesis and release of dopamine and nor-epinehprine. The most powerful of human emotions and feelings are directed and controlled by the activity of these two monoamines. Methamphetamine use, especially when abused chronically, turns the regulatory systems for dopamine and nor-epinephrine upside down. The very powerful direct effects of the drugs use means that withdrawal from it will be equally ferocious and difficult; relapses and reoccurrences in use are common if not predestined. Developing the therapies and pharmaceutical agents that can combat methamphetamine addiction has been difficult and has resulted in only marginally effective results. The search for medications that can soften the withdrawal and mute intense cravings is never ending. Recently a drug that’s widely used to treat opiate and alcohol dependencies has been experimented with in treating methamphetamine-addicted patients, the results have been promising.
Because opioids receptors in the brain are co-localized, microscopic neighbors so to speak on dopamine neurons, scientific suspicion brewed that inhibition of opioid receptors next door to those of dopamine, might help reduce the action of methamphetamine as that drug seeks to activate and release stored up dopamine. In a Swedish study, naltrexone was studied for its role in reducing the cravings and direct effects of methamphetamine[1]. Methamphetamine using patients using naltrexone reported substantial reductions in the impact of methamphetamine’s central effects; they also reported that in abstinence, their cravings for methamphetamine were markedly reduced.
Naltrexone is a drug that has been in use since the late 60’s. The drug is a powerful antagonist at all three major opiate receptor sites. By locking up the opiate receptor sites in the brain, naltrexone prevents powerful agonists like heroin, morphine and oxycodone from getting to them. The drug is approved for use in the treatment of opiate and alcohol dependency. The sustained release form of naltrexone (Revia) has garnered high marks for its ability to reduce cravings in the treatment of alcoholics. In the case of Revia, a dose of the drug is injected intramuscularly and is slowly absorbed into the circulatory system over a period of 4 weeks. With structural chemistry similar to the powerful opiate oxymorphone and that of a like-acting cousin called naloxone (Narcan), naltrexone is a well-tolerated drug with few side effects. Naltrexone users must understand however that when taking the drug, their opiate receptors are blockaded and that should an opiate need to be administered to them for severe pain, opiate receptors would be locked up and unusable for analgesia. Physicians have several medications as options to use in situations like that, but it is important that natlrexone patients understand the change in brain chemistry that’s occurred with the use of the drug.
The study undertaken by the Swedish government clearly points out naltrexone’s abilities in reducing and muting the effects of methamphetamine on dopamine nerve cells in the brain. By diluting the intensity of craving for the drug, methamphetamine addicts find it easier to maintain their sobriety and to participate in activities and therapies that support a sober lifestyle. What remains to be seen, what wasn’t evaluated in this study is the direct effects that naltrexone has on rates of relapse in methamphetamine addiction. Perhaps this will be the next area of study in the use of this drug. In any case, the Swedish study points out the value that naltrexone has in aiding the methamphetamine addict through recovery.....reprinted from

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

starting a group- the artist's way


A Guide for Starting Creative Clusters

Creative ClustersWhen The Artist's™ Way was first published, I expressed a wish for Artist's™ Way groups to spring into being. I envisioned them as peer-run circles – "creative clusters" where people would serve one another as believing mirrors, uniting with the common aim of creative unblocking. It was my vision that such circles would be free of charge, that anyone could assemble one, using the book as a guide and a text. Many such peer-run circles did form and many more are forming still. Such artist-to-artist, heart-to-heart help and support are the heart of The The Artist's™ Way and The Vein of Gold.
Not surprisingly, many therapists, community colleges, wellness centers, universities, and teachers soon began running facilitated Artist's™ Way groups, for which they charged a fee. The Artist's™Way groups were led rather than simply convened. To the degree to which they adhered to the spiritual principles of creative recovery and introduced people to the use of the tools, they were – and are – valuable. Any group that starts with such a leader should, however, rapidly become autonomous, "graduating" to a peer-run, nonprofit status.
There are no "accredited" Artist's™ Way teachers. I chose not to franchise The Artist's™ Way but to offer it as a gift, free of charge. It is my belief that creative recovery at its best is a nonhierarchical, peer-run, collective process. In this it differs from the academic and therapeutic models. Any professional using The Artist's™ Way should realize that autonomous, peer-run creative clusters must remain the eventual goal. Facilitated groups can serve as a sort of bridge to this end.
In my years of teaching and traveling, I have frequently encountered excellent results from peer-group clusters. On occasion, I have encountered situations where The Artist's™ Way has been unduly modified. Whenever there is a misplaced emphasis on intellectual "analysis" or therapeutic "processing," there is the risk of undermining creative unfolding. Very often, what could be interpreted as "neurosis" or a deep-seated problem is simply creative resistance.
The Artist's™ Way and The Vein of Gold and all my other "teaching" books are experiential books. They are intended to teach people to process and transform life through acts of creativity. Both books and all creative clusters should be practiced through creative action, not through theory. As an artist, I know this. The Artist's™ Way and other books are the distillate of thirty years of artistic practice.
It is my belief and my experience as a teacher that all of us are healthy enough to practice creativity. It is not a dangerous endeavor requiring trained facilitators. It is our human birthright and something we can do gently and collectively. Creativity is like breathing – pointers may help, but we do the process ourselves. Creative clusters, where we gather as peers to develop our strength, are best regarded as tribal gatherings, where creative beings raise, celebrate, and actualize the creative power which runs through us all.


  1. Use a Twelve-Week Process with a Weekly Gathering of Two to Three Hours. The morning pages and artist dates are required of everyone in the group, including facilitators. The exercises are done in order in the group, with everyone, including the facilitator, answering the questions and then sharing the answers in clusters of four, one chapter per week. Do not share your morning pages with the group or anyone else. Do not reread your morning pages until later in the course, if you are required to do so by your facilitator or your own inner guidance.
  2. Avoid Self-Appointed Gurus. If there is any emissary, it is the work itself, as a collective composed of all who take the course, at home or otherwise. Each person is equally a part of the collective, no one more than another. While there may be"teachers," facilitators who are relied on during the twelve-week period to guide others down the path, such facilitators need to be prepared to share their own material and take their own creative risks. This is a dialectic rather than a monologue – an egalitarian group process rather than a hierarchical one.
  3. Listen. We each get what we need from the group process by sharing our own material and by listening to others. We do not need to comment on another person's sharing in order to help that person. We must refrain from trying to"fix" someone else. Each group devises a cooperative creative "song" of artistic recovery. Each group's song is unique to that group – like that of a pod or family of whales, initiating and echoing to establish their position. When listening, go around the circle without commenting unduly on what is heard. The circle, as a shape, is very important. We are intended to witness, not control, one another. When sharing exercises, clusters of four within the larger groups are important: five tends to become unwieldy in terms of time constraints; three doesn't allow for enough contrasting experience. Obviously, not all groups can be divided into equal fours. Just try to do so whenever you can.
  4. Respect One Another. Be certain that respect and compassion are afforded equally to every member. Each person must be able to speak his own wounds and dreams. No one is to be"fixed" by another member of the group. This is a deep and powerful internal process. There is no one right way to do this. Love is important. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to one another.
  5. Expect Change in the Group Makeup. Many people will – some will not – fulfill the twelve-week process. There is often a rebellious or fallow period after the twelve weeks, with people returning to the disciplines later. When they do, they continue to find the process unfolding within them a year, a few years, or many years later. Many groups have a tendency to drive apart at eight to ten weeks (creative U-turns) because of the feelings of loss associated with the group's ending. Face the truth as a group; it may help you stay together.
  6. Be Autonomous. You cannot control your own process, let alone anyone else's. Know that you will feel rebellious occasionally – that you won't want to do all of your morning pages and exercises at times in the twelve weeks. Relapse is okay. You cannot do this process perfectly, so relax, be kind to yourself, and hold on to your hat. Even when you feel nothing is happening, you will be changing at great velocity. This change is a deepening into your own intuition, your own creative self. The structure of the course is about safely getting across the bridge into new realms of creative spiritual awareness.
  7. Be Self-Loving. If the facilitator feels somehow "wrong" to you, change clusters or start your own. Continually seek your own inner guidance rather than outer guidance. You are seeking to form an artist-to-artist relationship with the Great Creator. Keep gurus at bay. You have your own answers within you.

reprinted from

and in the spirit of the creative source, an homage to the concept of creating something new- the remix. remixes are the newer generations nod to appreciation of an piece of art and building upon it. this is one of many many remixes that have made an impact on me.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

piece of my heart

image credit- will northerner

Perhaps the only true dignity of a man is his capacity to despise himself. - George Santayana

Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it. - Michel de Montaigne

Let us not burden our remembrances with a heaviness that is gone. - William Shakespeare

Emotion has taught mankind to reason. - Marquis de Vauvenargues

In a fight between you and the world, back the world. - Franz Kafka

I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul. - William E. Henley

Happiness is the interval between periods of unhappiness. - Don Marquis

Happiness is not being pained in body or troubled in mind. - Thomas Jefferson

We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe. - Goethe

Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness. - Richard Carlson

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all. - Bill Clinton
i decided to start this post with quotes about mental illness. i inherited a form of bi-polar disorder from my mother who inherited it from her father and so on... definitely a gift that keeps on giving, i have wrestled with mania and depression for longer than i allow myself to remember.

early in my journey i was so enmeshed in her process that i didn't realize i was learning how to deal with mine. i guess it's called learning by rote. or maybe it's a journeyman process like the 12 steps. it doesn't matter really, either way. it is my experience and i can't erase that.

our particular brand of challenge seems to be characterized by a meltdown somewhere in the 40's. there has been a consistent crash that is characterized by the letting go of everything in life and a calling to proverbially circle the drain. this seems to be the point when a medical professional usually comes into the picture and introduces medicine and our lives change - at least for awhile.
that last sentence sounds simple, but it is anything but that. included in this is releasing the romance and relationship with mania. crazy can be much more intoxicating than its reputation. it is perhaps the ultimate natural high. mania is addictive. it's pretty common knowledge that most folks with bi-polar disorder will follow doctors orders until their lives have leveled out and then tell themselves they are ok and leave the meds behind much like an alcoholic or a crack addict. this must be because the chemical releases in the brain are so powerful that the brain devises ways to get more.

i have come to understand a deeper reason it is referred to as a chemical imbalance. there has been very little balance in my brain since i was 12 or so. it has been a storm of sorts. "tumultuous"," uneven", and "wtf" are just a few phrases that can relay the reality of a bi-polar brain. i am now learning that living with bipolar disorder just may be one of the huge lessons that my life has to offer me. there are others certainly. the gift of recovery has been monumental in my life. but years into sobriety, it is being revealed that recovery for me encompasses much deeper issues that substance use.

these last few years of clean time have afforded me the luxury of being in the middle of a storm in my brain on more than one occasion and learning that i can withstand that without disappearing. it has taken 50 years to just get a glimpse of the grace of that revelation.

i'm pretty sure i have spent most of my life judging my mother and her circumstance, her decisions, and her occasional knack to get in over her head. i have hated some of those times. luckily, time has a way of softening the lens. now i know that i am not very different.

so tomorrow, as i spend time with my mom on  mother's day, i will have renewed gratitude on a hugely deeper level. i cannot ever think i would have figured out how to come in from the storm without her wisdom and experience. and especially her mistakes.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco De Mayo


A Story About Mayonnaise

Most people don't know that back in 1912, Hellmann's mayonnaise was manufactured in England.In fact, the Titanic was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery in
Vera Cruz, Mexico, which was to be the next port of call for the great ship after its stop
in New York. This would have been the largest single shipment of mayonnaise ever delivered
to Mexico. But as we know, the great ship did not make it to New York. The ship hit an
iceberg and sank, and the cargo was forever lost. The people of Mexico, who were crazy about
mayonnaise, and were eagerly awaiting its delivery, were disconsolate at the loss.
Their anguish was so great, that they declared a National Day of Mourning, which they still
observe to this day. The National Day of Mourning occurs each
Year on May 5th and is known, of course, as - Sinko De Mayo.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

it gets better

funny how very true this is...
not so funny how 40 years ago,
this idea was the most distant concept for me to imagine.
back to truly did get better...
maybe we just have to learn to let it do just that

Sunday, May 1, 2011


A dance of shame was something that seemed an integral part of his being. He learned very early on that he couldn’t trust people-especially guys. And that was always the real irony of his life. He couldn’t resist flirting with boys, being with boys, sexing with boys, and he was always reassured that boys wouldn’t reciprocate and they would betray somehow. And if that wasn’t the case, somehow he would twist himself into a position that the guys who didn’t fit his mold, would have no choice but to help him play out his self-deprecating scenario.

When he was in the 5th grade, he started having sex with older boys. They were mostly in high school and willingly messed around. They would also talk about him and make fun of him when they weren’t too busy using him for other things. He knew this to be his truth and he carried this with him as he moved forward. And he was always moving and always ready to move again.

He had lived with shame for as long as he could remember. And he was sure he couldn’t remember anything prior to that because it was too terrifying to want to recall. It felt normal for him to be the object of someone’s derision. And looking back, it  seems he played the each session of his life with this template of shame.

He found that being high relieved a lot of the pressure of his life’s ballet and so he was high often.  This practice also led him through some labyrinths that emptied out onto the same familiar place. And a pounding head and a dehydrated soul simply underlined and set in bold the shame which shadowed his every move.

He met a boy in 1977 and sort of fell in love. The guy was a bartender named Peter who worked in a place called Cheeks. He was a go-go boy in that same place and worked the early shift. He and Peter partied together at first and then they shifted to playing house and playing racquetball when the closed the bar at 4am. They moved in together and shared an apartment with 2 nurses named Liz and Maryann. The couple of years that he and Peter were together seemed very happy times. Glimpses of a future were designed and the drumbeats of his past kept getting fainter.

Peter had worked at a restaurant and then gone out with some guys for a birthday celebration after the shift and he stayed home. He was headed out to buy cigarettes very late at night.  As he headed back to his apartment, he noticed a car parked on his street with two lovers in it. It seemed quite sweet and romantic until he realized that the sweater that one lover was wearing was the very same sweater that Peter had worn that night. He felt capsized by this surprise. He walked around to the driver’s side and knocked on the window. The culprit looked up and our hero wished the driver a happy birthday.

The very common nature of this episode only echoed the thoughts once buried In his head. He was now sure that it would never be any different for him. And what followed was his determined, directed and very decadent dancing with himself. It was symphonic. Completely shameful and completely without care, he silently vowed to not open his heart again. Dancing would be enough.

royal giggles