The Kraken

I lost my mind, yesterday. I admit it. I could feel it happening, too, and I was nearly powerless to stop it. My voice grew louder. My face twisted into ugly rage.

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Year of a Hundred Things – “Thing” #78 – Falling in Love

There is no one way to fall in love. It happens frequently, and more than once in every life time. In fact, it could easily happen more than once a day. It is a wish for joy, for connection, for growth. It is NOT a need to possess. 

Since my first “love,” I’ve realized that falling in love and falling in need are two very different things. I am “in love” with many people, for many reasons. I do not covet a single one of them. They don’t validate who I am, or “make” me happy. They are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends and occasionally, people I’ve never actually met. Sometimes “they” can even be a place or an experience. There is something so unique about them, something so precious to me that having them in my life is immeasurable joy. 

It is often something simple, like the way they laugh, or the way they see the world differently than I do. They contribute to the tapestry that is my life, sometimes in ways I never imagined possible. 

And falling in love means that I want to enjoy them, and watch as they thrive. I want to talk to them, kiss them, touch them, laugh with them, comfort them when the feel need, but NEVER does it mean that they must give anything in return. In fact, they give simply because they are. 

You see, “falling in love” is an outpouring of the most generous emotion we humans experience. It impels us to be kind. Look around you every day, and fall in love with something bigger than yourself, something more compelling. It doesn’t mean that you have to stop feeling “in love” with anything or anyone else. If that were true, no parents would ever have more than one child.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I see my loves deeply, that I “know” them and that I encourage their deepest desires. It is who I am, and if I am “in love” with you, you are sure to know it.

Year of a Hundred Things – “Thing” #99 – Collaborations

Mardi Gras Weekend
Mardi Gras Weekend banner.

Once a year, my beloved friend Shannon and I bury our heads in the charity sand and don’t come up for air for six weeks while we plan…
cajole…
design…
redesign…
panic…
breathe…
panic again…
until finally, we fall into a heap at some bar after the last runner has left the field, and our annual fund raising event is done.[1]

Frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I LOVE collaborations. I love the feeling I get when creative energy is thick and there is happening. The world can be an incredibly shitty place, sometimes, but when people come together for something positive, it washes away the emotional sludge we all feel when we’re bombarded by the evil humans can perpetrate on each other.

Today, we finished billboard and t-shirt designs, and started the heavy campaigning we do each year in the name of charity. We collaborated. We laughed. We cried. And through it all, we built something beautiful.

I am fortunate to have a few people in my life who understand the power of collaborating and who genuinely enjoy the process. We understand it. We thrive on it. Without them, I have a genuinely difficult time feeling inspired, so I am truly grateful for them.

Maybe it’s because I’m empathic. I don’t know. Whatever it is, I feel like I’m bathing in creativity when I’m around them. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a groupie when it comes to highly creative people. Everyone has their rockstars. My creative collaborators are mine and I’ve always been that way.

[1] If you’d like to know more about our event and the foundation we support, please visit mardigrasweekend.org.

The Year of a Hundred Things: Thing #100

I remember as a little girl having been born in a year ending in 5, counting by 5s and figuring out how old I’d be at the milestone markers. Wow, I thought, thirty-five in the year 2000. How utterly old I will be. Considering that I was in second grade at the time, I lacked perspective.

Life was pretty interesting for me at thirty-five. I hadn’t yet met my husband. In fact, I had made a habit of complicated and emotionally unavailable men. I was operating from the belief that I wasn’t acclimated to a life that included someone else. Seeking the inaccessible meant that I could enjoy the thrill of love without the messy details of commitment. It was genius. And it worked for a while. I had a lot of fun, and no one got hurt. Well…no one but me.

Five years later at forty, I was already married to the man that still tolerates the shifting sand under his feet. I’d resolved that I wasn’t as delightful as I had always fancied myself. In fact, I was a right pain in the ass. Fortunately, he loves a challenge. We struggled in our first few years to have children. I miscarried. We suffered four failed IUIs and two failed IVFs, until finally, after long having accepted that the delight of spontaneous and old-fashioned conception had eluded us, we made a little cocktail in a Petrie dish which became what is now the giggling sprite of the boy we love. So, for all you people who reach forty and think you have nothing to show for it, the two most amazing things in my life didn’t happen until this last decade.

On January 1st, 2015, I will start the countdown to my fiftieth birthday. It’s hard to even form the words, fiftieth birthday. I don’t feel fifty, and from what I’m told, I don’t look fifty, either. I’ll have to attribute that to good genes and a relatively healthy lifestyle. But the one thing that fifty brings me is a sense of peace about who I am.

So, as I stare down the big 5-0, I wonder at what is important to me and why. I wonder how many of you, my friends and readers, will have similar things, and if these pieces will resonate with you. I invite you to share those things with me, as well.

I present these things (and I use the term loosely) in no particular order, except for the last. The last will be the most important because it should have the most attention. The first…well…it’s something I look at every day.

“Thing” #100:

I am a little bohemian. Not a lot, because I am honest with myself (and a bit vain) that at 5’3″ big, flowing clothes don’t flatter. But, I am bohemian enough that, most of the time, I’d rather wear something that is comfortable and eclectic than something high-fashion. And when it has sentimental value, it becomes a talisman against the chronically negative. I abhor the chronically negative. It eats at my creativity and buries my mood under piles of emotional sludge.

So, I present item(s) 100: the gift(s). I have a few things that I wear, or carry, every day that were very thoughtful gifts. A bracelet from my sister, another from a friend who is profoundly connected to her friends’ needs. A have a few, each representing a particular story. In the image below, they lay atop a handmade art journal my sister gave me for Christmas this year. Each time I look at these things, I am reminded that someone took the time to think about me and send me a message in a gift. That is what love looks like. Small messages. These are reminders: little things that are hugely valuable to me.

Thing(1) - The Gift
Thing(1) – The Gift

“Chaos Makes Me Feel Alive”

I woke up one morning, a few years ago, having had the most cathartic and enlightening dream that I’d ever experienced.

I was hugely pregnant and had been exposed the previous night to more psychological effluvium than this hormone-saturated, fleshy dirigible of a woman could manage. I had decompensated, standing in the middle of the living room, throwing small, harmless objects at our couch. It was clear that I had lost my damned mind.

The epiphany I then realized, while lying there in the quiet morning hour before anyone dared called my phone, was that I detested chaos. Really, genuinely hated chaos. Yet, somehow, it had surrounded me like Pig Pen’s cloud for as far back as I could remember. Chaos sapped my energy. It made me surly and intolerant. Yet, I had surrounded myself with people who thrive on kicking up sufficient dust everyday so that they constantly infiltrate the lives of those around them.  I saw them as clueless leaf-blowers in my otherwise tranquil neighborhood.

The word ‘chaos’ literally refers to the formless or void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the Greek creation myths, or to the initial “gap” created by the original separation of heaven and earth. [Wikipedia] It was time to close the gap.

So, I began to separate myself from the leaf-blowers and Chaos contracted geometrically with the each exorcism. It was delightful.
On me
A few months later, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy by emergency c-section. And don’t think for a moment that the irony of such a chaotic delivery was lost on me. Chaos comes in all shapes and sizes. When my new Chaos emerged, four weeks early and weighing only five pounds, a sound split the air that reminded me of every documentary I’d ever seen about pterodactyls. It was shrill and insistent and in that moment, Chaos became something new and inviting. Chaos, thy name is Jake.

Fast forward seven years later, when this week I’m talking to my dear friend about her new puppy. I had already seen the pictures of the little white Frenchie called Boo Boo. He is cute; it cannot be denied. But the first thought that went through my head when I saw him was “No way I’d have three dogs. I just couldn’t do it.” But you see, my friend does Chaos. She stands over the gap holding Chaos by the throat and pressing it to the wall. She’s the executive director for a large charity; she manages PR for several other clients; she has three sons and now, three Frenchies.  She owns Chaos and she does it with grace and joy and when a friend questioned her decision to get a third Frenchie, she gave by far the best response I could have imagined. “Chaos makes me feel alive.”

I realized in talking to her is that Chaos is not always a bad thing. Some choose to live in that space. Some people elect to drown and drag down everyone around them. But my friend? She skips across the lily pads, no matter how thick they grow and gracefully alights on shore now and then. What makes her better equipped to handle the Chaos as it comes at her? Attitude. That’s all. No more complicated than that. “It’s just more to love,” she says, winking her lovely blue eye.

Yes, girl. He certainly is.

 

Boo Boo