The Marrying Kind

I’m beginning to think I’m not the marrying kind.

-Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City


There was once a time in my life where I actually quoted that shit out loud. To other people. Who might have been listening.

In high school and college (admittedly my prime SATC-watching years) I had a recurring wedding dream. I pictured myself walking down the isle toward my groom. Each time, in a full–on black and white filter–he would turn around and all I would see is a faceless man in a tux.

Those were my only wedding dreams.

And here I am, fianced. After all of the years¬†of recklessness with other people’s hearts, I am responsible for this one very important heart. That responsibility is the honor and privilege of my lifetime. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be planning a wedding at 30 years old with a man I love. Frankly, it surprised me when I made it to my 27th birthday, let alone making it to a life worth living with a person worth loving.

Needless to say, I am a reluctant wedding planner but a willing¬†bridal participant. The level of details that go into a one-time wedding event stultify me. Except¬†for the hours moments I go on Pinterest or get a phonecall from one of my best friends; those tend to be actual fun. Left to my own devices, I would walk my candy-ass to a courthouse and get married in the city of Richmond. I know I’d regret it, so I have to keep reminding myself that I am not the only one whose dreams I need to consider.

Despite the frenetic degree of google-doc’ing, one of the best things to emerge¬†from this engagement is my burgeoning spiritual practice. I’ve maintained a joyful and fun daily yoga practice with the Gaia and Yoga With Adriene online communities. But I realized last week¬†that I needed more. I started meditating again, this time taking my spiritual cues from Krishna Kaur and Gabby Bernstein. I feel lighter and more willing to chill. My yoga and meditation practices commune¬†to bolster my self-esteem.

I still curse a lot, but I don’t want that to¬†ever change.

I maintain that gratitude for where I am today keeps me present. I know that being engaged or planning a wedding doesn’t define me anymore than singledom or marriage ever did or ever will. That knowledge of “enoughness” within me, as-is, remains the second best thing to emerge from this process. I still get caught up in the budgets and the apparent infinity that is wedding color schemes, but it doesn’t mean that I have to stay caught. Loved ones tell me to enjoy the planning process, which I intend to take to heart. Otherwise I will continue to rail against 1). The Wedding Industrial Complex and 2). The Patriarchy.

I am and always will be a compulsive, over-thinking, excitable, loving and inappropriate woman. As it turns out, I am enough.

I am the marrying kind.

 

 

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While Patience Percolates

The sweetest sound in my mornings is the subtle music coffee makes¬†while it percolates. The only overture which guarantees I’ll make it anywhere–ever–is the promise¬†of coffee. I don’t have much luck once I get downstairs to pour my first cup because I outrun the speed at which the coffee drips. I remember when I helped my mother purchase our coffee-maker; I insisted she buy the one where you can pour a cup while the machine suspends its production. One can always put the¬†pot back on its burner. This mad rush in the morning drives my mother crazy. She doesn’t get why I can’t just¬†wait.¬†Maybe¬†put more makeup on or something? she asks. No, mom, it doesn’t work that way. There isn’t enough mascara in the world.

Lack of patience, she portends, will make for unnecessarily miserable days to come.

My coffee routine, of course, is a microcosm of my world view. My absence of patience has led me down many creative dead ends in my lifetime. This is not to say that my mistakes are less beautiful than my successes, just that they are less obvious and much more difficult to unravel. So we shall call them creative cul-de-sacs.

Thanks to my practice of silence with self, meditation hastens my patience production right along. What’s interesting, though, is it also makes me feel irritable or sometimes angry. When I sit still for 12 minutes, as I have done most days for the past week, I feel great until I don’t. It’s almost as if my addictive self gets frustrated with the few minutes where my spirit and soul spurn my brain’s anxious intrusions. I am rarely ever angry with a person or an event on these occasions. I feel frustrated for absolutely no reason at all–not one I can recognize, anyway.

I fell into a thought cul-de-sac this week with my teacher life. On Thursday, a parent of one of the school’s students came in to tutor me in science, equipped with cool demos and funny stories of his teaching experiences. I listened with rapt attention, hanging onto his every word. I thought, “How the fuck am I ever going to be able to understand the laws of the universe, let alone teach them?” My thoughts made their crescendo to a point where if this nice man looked up from his book, he would have witnessed the thought bubble¬†hover ’round my head. He kept talking, though, so I kept swatting the thought bubble aside to obsess over later.

I’ve started three careers since 2009. I’ve been a political organizer, a writer and now a teacher–five years, eight months and six months, respectively. Never once did I picture myself skipping into the sunset while fundraising for candidates. Never once did I imagine birds chirping as I write the final pages of my novel, greeting the daylight with no sleep on a deadline that looms. But more than once, I’ve pictured myself teaching sixth graders about protons and neutrons–and liking what I see. More than once, I’ve watched as the smile creeps across a students face when she correctly identifies the phases of the moon in order, no less. More than once, I saw myself fulfilling my vocation.

My twin called me on Friday to see how things were going. I told her how intimidated I was by the whole “being teacher-ready” process. I explained how much of a paradox it is that more people are leaving the profession than are coming into it. And why do I have to work so hard for credentials and placement when that is the case? She went into real-talk mode immediately. “What do you define as success?” she asks. And for the first time in my life, I answered without a convoluted response: “I want to be a good teacher, that’s all.” She told me how hard it will be to have that success. She is in her third year of residency as a podiatrist, living in something similar to a sleep-deprived hell. She told me that to work toward something I define as success, I can’t be fooled by self-doubt. That I have to work hard to remain focused. That I have to be patient–“Lucy. You HAVE to be patient,” she repeats thrice, for dramatic effect.

On many a campaign trail, I learned from training that a voter won’t be fazed by a candidate’s message until he’s heard it an average of¬†seven times–and in as many ways. I wonder at this point how many times my sis will have to repeat herself for the message to resonate. As it turns out, the pursuit of success as I’ve defined it will not be subject to my impatience. Lest I forget, I promised myself over two years ago that my ultimate definition of success is to remain sober one day at a time. That’s all. It is clear to me now that I will have to remind myself of this definition every day, multiple times a day. But when I don’t remember to do this, and my coffee is still brewing, I’ll need a little help from my friends. Who knows? Maybe I can remind them, too.

And like a good friend, I’ll tell them it’s “Time for Da Percolator.”

A good friend who gets songs from the 90’s stuck in their heads.

 

Photo courtesy of Healthy Home and Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

Rhinestone Eyes

I’ve never felt closer to a Higher Power than I have while being in the presence of children. I started substitute teaching this week–fifth grade the first day, second grade a couple of days later. The little nugget children are full of piss and vinegar and inescapable honesty. A little over a month ago, I first started working with high schoolers at the same school as a mentor/electives facilitator, so I had a little bit of real-life experience in guidance before I began substituting.

Right before I began teaching, the Paris attacks occurred on 13 Novembre 2015. I felt angry and confused, just like most people. I also felt ignorant when I realized this kind of shit just happened in Beirut not even 24 hours prior–and I had no idea. The refugee crisis has resonated with me the most out of all of this violent horseshit for several reasons. First, people’s reactions to allowing 10,000+ refugees in our country is disappointing and xenophobic, especially considering ISIS wasn’t even successful in infiltrating this group of people. Second, little baby Syrian nuggets are being wrenched from place to place living homeless for months or years at a time. Lastly, many of us don’t realize that we are not powerless against the evils of terrorism; we have the ability to send our love forth through how we change and ultimately through how we treat people in our lives.

I read an article a couple nights ago about the magnetism of our hearts. Author Arjun Walia describes the importance of our hearts’ “intuitive intelligence.”

“Bottom line, feelings of love, gratitude, and compassion ‚Äď any positive feelings whatsoever ‚Äď have a larger impact than we could have ever imagined. These are all characteristics of consciousness, and as quantum physics is showing us, consciousness plays a definite role in the creation of our reality. If this is true, then how we feel about things must too, and with the research coming out from the Institute of HeartMath, it doesn‚Äôt seem unreasonable to suggest that feeling good might very well be fundamental to creating global change.”

The more we connect to the good inside of us, the better chance we have of radiating joy to others. This isn’t some kind of froo froo bullshit that has no basis in reality. When we feel good, we are more likely to be generous and kind to others. We might not have the tools to combat violence in the immediate, for example, but our nonviolent words and actions impact how others feel in a positive way.

Before I started subbing, I saw an image on Facebook of thousands of children meditating for world peace. I took that idea and applied it to the classroom. Both the fifth graders and second graders were STOKED to meditate. One of the kids took my hand and led me to their “reading nook” so we could all sit and meditate where the kids normally read stories. My heart felt so full when I saw these pure beams of light and love practice peace. Each time a kid gave me a hug, I imagined hugging a Syrian refugee child. A part of my soul became aware that the love we instill in children gives the little nuggets a chance to see how to love themselves in the face of adversity.

One of my 12th graders wrote on her daily gratitude list that she was grateful for music. She loves the band Gorillaz, so she wrote down some of her favorite songs from the band. I listened to Rhinestone Eyes, which reminded me of how precious those kids are. They look up to their teachers with these big, saucer-like eyes, sparkling like rhinestones with love and sweet promise. The lyrics struck me in a big way today: “I prayed on the unmovable” and “the storm brings strange loyalties.” I want to show these kids that they matter. They can pray when they feel sad or lonely. They can send love to other kids who have less than they do. They can grow up to be happy, non-violent, loving adults.

Recovery brought me joy and love. I never expected that love to come from children and adults. If you are reading this, I’m sending you love.

Just love.

Photo courtesy of DeviantArt

Scheduling Worry Time and The New Adele

I’ve given the new Adele song teaser from her album 25 just about 25 listens. (I’ve listened to it three times back-to-back in¬†the past 15 minutes). I like seeing people–especially my lady friends–get so jazzed about her singing. I always wondered what made her songs¬†that delicious to listen to, but then I found this article that explains it with science¬†in “Anatomy of a Tear-Jerker.” I am not quite there with emotions being in my comfort zone. Actually, I don’t really have a comfort zone to tell you the truth–I’m not usually comfortable most of the time. But when I hear Adele songs, I can’t help but get drawn into my own emotions because it makes them feel beautiful.

I had to schedule my listening time for Adele and Curtis Mayfield this morning. My brain gets overwhelmed when it doesn’t have the¬†wherewithal to relax. I saw my counselor on Thursday, where she told me that I needed to be more disciplined in how and when I relax. This was news to me because I don’t ever relax, even when I’m relaxing. She gave me¬†solid suggestions after I told her that when I took a selfie last week (one of those cheeky ones where I give an over the shoulder glance) I could visibly see the knots in my back. I told her I was so grossed out that I almost puked. She suggested not puking, practicing yoga, giving guided meditation a go and scheduling “worry time” for 30 minutes every day. I might be the only person on the planet who gets excited that I have a way to siphon off my worry for a concentrated period of time.

I woke up at 8am to¬†ruminate over¬†everything from finances and work to health and exercise. It helped me to write down all of the things in a stream of consciousness. When I read them back to myself,¬†it made me laugh. Many of the things I worry about are not actually areas of concern. My worry is a manifestation of my¬†perceived lack of control. In the 12 steps, feeling out of control tends to mean that it’s time to give the 3rd step another round–“Made the decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.” I have the opportunity today to turn my worries and confusions over to a power greater than myself–or to Time, which is my version of a higher power this morning.

I begin my yoga practice (again) on Wednesday. I am a highly anxious person by nature, but when I develop a flow in yoga I don’t think about myself too much. I am much more present and happy when my German teacher guides us to do poses in her thick, aggressive accent. She is a lovely woman, really.

Photo courtesy of UnicornBooty

The Lion, The Witch and the Warhol

I relish the nights when songs get stuck in my head. One of the reasons for this quirk is my desire to quiet a rambunctious mind. I find that songs replace thoughts I would otherwise discard. I don’t particularly mind the repetition, as I am a creature of habit if ever there was one. A familiar song is like lullaby for me, anyway. I experience insomnia every couple of nights, though it doesn’t bother me one bit because I learn more about music when I’m waiting to fall asleep. For the past few weeks, I’ve had Donovan and Louis Armstrong keeping me company. The latest addition to the nighttime collection I’ve amassed is Bowie’s Andy Warhol from his 1971 album Hunky Dory. I love me some Bowie, but this song is most def in my top three. It’s just so…weird.

As I lay down to sleep one night last week, I attempted a meditation practice. Approximately three million nonsensical thoughts crowded my consciousness until it got very quiet. I heard the murmurings of Bowie as Warhol on the track and I became instantly calm. I remembered what I had read about this song–that Bowie was all proud of himself for creating a tune that he was sure Warhol would love. Turns out, Andy was annoyed and super bitchy toward Bowie for writing it in the first place. Bowie revered Warhol, but the feelings were not exactly mutual. (Not to worry though–Bowie ended up playing Warhol in the movie Basquiat, which gave him some closure, I suppose). Ahhhh, the webs we weave.

My brain did a rather curious thing as I played the song in real time. I began to free associate during my meditation. Free association, to me, is like interpretive dance for the word-happy ones among us. On the third play through, I thought of my favorite book as a girl, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I used to love this book, especially because one of the characters shared my name (I love self-referencing, because I can). My brain then jumped to a possible title for this blog: The Lion, The Witch and the Warhol. I googled the title to make sure no one had used it yet. To my delight, I did not catch it anywhere. What I did find, however, was a collection of Warhol pieces known as The Witch Myths Series. Thanks, Universe! The Myths collection includes works of American villains and/or mythical figures of the collective consciousness, redone in a most distinctive Warhol way. I’ve seen this collection before, but I never knew its name. He believed many of the characters, like the Wicked Witch of the West and Uncle Sam, represented parts of his own personality. I think he loved self-referential things even more than I do. Just a theory.

The Witch Myths made me think about the facets of my own personality. Lately, the “character defects” motif continues to inspire me to get to know myself. Though I’ve walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Defects in my sixth step work in AA, I have only caught a glimpse of what constitutes a defect of character and what serves a higher purpose. My dad used to tell me that crazy, narcissistic or wayward people were exciting and interesting for a reason. He did not mean to tell me I should revel in these attributes, but my teenaged brain clung to his words as validation. I don’t consider myself crazy, just complicated. I have let go of judgement recently, considering how weird I am. It is way more fun to be free–it leaves room for other weirdos to come be free with you.

I am experiencing a period of self-transformation by being still. I have decided that it’s okay to discard some of my old ideas of what’s supposed to make me happy. I am open to more people, places and things because resisting the experience of being home no longer serves me. I meet new people and I see new things. This strange world in Virginia inspires me to be myself. My old beliefs float away as easily as the the little florets on a dandelion. When I was a little girl, I would pick these flowers that are actually weeds and blow on them like birthday candles to make my wishes. Being home is the flower, not the weed. I made a wish and I said a prayer for my Higher Power to help me heal and be happy. He listened. And just as my defects are open to interpretation, I will interpretive dance in words to free-associate once more: dandelions, Andy Warhol, the Dandy Warhols, Bohemian Like You. Or weird, like me.

Go be free, ya weirdos.

xo

Photo courtesy of modernartcollecting.blogspot.com

Humor in the Divine

I used to recoil at the thought or suggestion of meditation.¬†I never gave much credence to time spent alone because the idea of me spending more time with myself than was necessary felt unbearable. I did not see the freedom in stillness, nor did I believe I could ever find spirituality within myself. I spent my days and nights seeking meaning and happiness in the external–I relied solely on people, places and things to do my bidding for me in the world. I also secretly sought happiness in everything except following my intuition or believing in a power greater than myself.

Trust that still, small voice…have faith. You will find a way.

Diane Mariechild.

I do not know who Diane Mariechild is, but she has a really decent point. I realized tonight after speaking and meditating with other recovering alcoholics that the way I reconnect to my higher power and quiet intuition is through humor. I cannot digest such heaping doses of spirituality without laughing at the absurdity in taking myself or this life too seriously. The more sobriety I experience, the funnier things become. I have a friend who reminds me that the icy fortress that once encased my heart continues to melt through tears, and I believe even more so through humor. I feel happiest when I am around people who are intelligent and funny. In my experience, the more a person is willing to exercise rigorous honesty with themselves and the world, the more likely it is that they have a great sense of humor.

I practice meditation daily, spending anywhere from 12 to 20 minutes silent and still. Depending on my mental state, I am either completely distracted or perfectly content. When I first got sober, the thoughts and feelings that came up after 20 minutes of torturous silence were far too much for me to handle without self-given permission to relax a little. With the help of some friends who suggested I take it easy, I was able to back off from the impossible task of perfecting a lifelong practice. It turns out that spirituality has absolutely nothing to do with perfection. In fact, I believe perfection and spirituality are mutually exclusive.

My Golden Rule: If it is funny, it is probably true…and it gets funnier.

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