43 Through lane it lay – thro’ bramble

 

Through lane it lay – thro’ bramble –
Through clearing and thro’ wood –
Banditti often paassed us
Opon the lonely road.

The wolf came peering curious –
The Owl looked puzzled down –
The serpent’s satin figure
Glid stealthily along,

The tempests touched our garments –
The lightning’s poinards gleamed –
Fierce from the Crag above us
The hungry Vulture screamed –

The Satyrs fingers beckoned –
The Valley murmured “Come” –
These were the mates –
This was the road
These Children fluttered home.

[Emily Dickinson]

Written late 1858 and copied into Fascicle 2.

This reminds me of another book I’ve been chewing on – The Pilgrim’s Progress. The Path is not easy, but it is beautiful, Light filled, and ultimately worthwhile; redemptive and sure. Life is filled with trials, but the joy is that much sweeter for them.

Banditti – plural of bandit! I never knew.
Poinards [or poniards] – daggers.
Satyrs – mythological creatures associated with Dionysius, i.e. constantly drunk and roaming the forest in search of a good time.

I read this as an encouragement. Yes, she’s acknowledging the trials that come in life, but it still ends with the children fluttering home. Fluttering. Lightly, sweetly, ease-fully. Let’s flutter.

Peace and Namaste –

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41 I often passed the village

 

I often passed the Village
When going home from school –
And wondered what they did there –
And why it was so still –

I did not know the year then,
In which my call would come –
Earlier, by the Dial,
Than the rest have gone.

It’s still than the sundown.
It’s cooler than the dawn –
The Daisies dare to come here –
And birds can flutter down –

So when you are tired –
Or – perplexed – or cold –
Trust the loving promise
Underneath the mould,
Cry “it’s I,” “take Dollie,”
And I will enfold!

[Emily Dickinson]

Written autumn 1858, bound into Fascicle 3 the following year.

Dollie was a nickname for Emily’s dear friend, Susan.

Peace, Love, & Namaste –

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22 A brief but patient illness

Written late summer 1858, aged 27. Such whimsicality as this comes as we allow ourselves to live fully with Nature –

 

 

A brief, but patient illness –
An hour to prepare –
And one below, this morning
Is where the angels are –
It was a short procession –
The Bobolink was there –
And aged Bee addressed us –
And then we knelt in prayer –
We trust that she was willing –
We ask that we may be –
Summer – Sister – Seraph!
Let us go with thee!

[Emily Dickinson]

Namaste –

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beginning again

I’ve just taken a month off from writing. I had internal work to do – physical and emotional and spiritual healing, and I needed the freedom and the space to devote my full attention to this. I had thought that, upon beginning again, I would take my record here in a feminist direction – elucidating the female experience for the sake of everyone who doesn’t know what it’s like, to lend my voice to whatever the feminist movement is now, to share my story.

But then – well, I told my mother on the phone this morning that I had my equivalent of St. Paul’s revelation on the road to Damascus. For all intents and purposes, I saw the face of God. I’ll relate the full story in another post, but trust me when I say I was and even still am a bit reluctant. Because this all happened in a way that made the reality of God undeniable for me. And I’m not entirely comfortable with that.

 With this revelation, I’m motivated to revisit the Bible, to study Christian texts, to understand what exactly it means for me to believe in God. Now. Because my faith was everything to me until I was about 16, but now, truly, I’m starting anew.

What I know is this – for the last six and half years or so, I’ve been trying on Darkness. I threw my purity ring to the wind, engaged in all the debauchery the world has to offer, and had some truly sensational experiences [I’m literally writing novels]. All my lights were out in the summer of 2014, when I found myself unbearably depressed, isolated, and numb, spending 72 hours in a mental facility so I wouldn’t kill myself. This was the low point. I see it as my rock bottom – the moment when I realized if I spiraled any further I would extinguish my flame entirely and that I had no choice but to go up from there. Since then, I’ve been building, exploring, studying – practicing. Gradually awakening parts of my self I’d dulled or forgotten, gradually remembering who I was as a child, as a teenager – before all the pain, before all the darkness. I started practicing yoga daily, consciously eating healthy food, treating my body with respect – I started being kind to my self. And I started exploring spirituality.

I’ve made incredible friends who explore this as well, had myriad conversations about Buddhism, faith, meditation, religion, politics, the principles of right and wrong, the way the world works, what it is to be “cool,” – etc. And I found solace, comfort, solidarity with all these people who seem as lost as me. Who are curious, intelligent, awake to reality on some level, but left without viable options when it comes to spirituality. We each seem to form a syncretic cocktail of ideas and, comparing stories and philosophies with so many, I find that we’re all headed in a similar direction. We all want love and kindness and unity and acceptance – the very ideals Christianity supposedly purports. But I’ll be honest, not many people want to be associated with Christians. I certainly didn’t – the people who claimed to espouse my devout beliefs in high school were the very ones who ridiculed me. Even now, I’m reluctant. And I know I’m not the only one.

So, as I embark on this journey of figuring out what the hell it means to believe in God, to read the Bible, to potentially classify my self, once again, as a Christian – I figured I might as well publicly document it. I’ve had enough conversations with enough of my peers to know that other people are asking the same questions I am. This is for you. For me. For anyone who wonders what it means, now, in this century, in our present culture, to live. This is for the sake of love. Unity. Understanding. Hope. For Light.

 sunflower

Love –

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Anger

Sometimes I get angry. Pissed off. Like I just want to whirl around in a dervish of fury and destroy everything in my path. The first tendency is self-destruction – throw out all my healthy habits, eat an entire cake, drink a whole bottle of wine, relapse into anything that would dull this feeling, make me numb, or hurt myself just to feel something definite, to pin down the anger, to funnel it in one direction.

But there are healthy ways to go about this. First off, it’s okay to be angry. It’s a normal human emotion, and sometimes, you gotta have it. How? How can this emotion that seems so innately destructive be productive?

It has to come out – anger cannot be suppressed. If you ignore it, it will fester and consume you, destroying your soul and potentially hurting anyone you come into contact with – it can make you toxic. Everyone’s different, so, please, experiment – try different methods for getting your anger out, just know that it has to come out.

Here are some ways I like to vent –

  1. Nothing like some good old fashioned pugilism to force your feelings out. Instead of hitting yourself or another person, glove up and murder a punching bag. Lose yourself in the motions, in exhausting your body; let the bag represent your pain, whether it’s a difficult circumstance, a person who hurt you, or some part of yourself. Hit it. Hit it hard. And leave it there. Leave feeling reinvigorated, refocused, emptied out. Whether you go to a gym or you shadow box around your house – I promise this will help.
  2. Listen to angry music. My go-to cliché angry albums are My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade and Linkin Park’s Minutes to Midnight, Meteora, or Hybrid Theory. Hearing a singer scream in anguish along with raging drums and electric guitar provides solidarity – the sense that you’re not alone in feeling this way and a reminder that, just as the album will end, the feeling with pass.
  3. The last time I got pissed off, I put on The Black Parade and drew a picture, aggressively slashing my pen against the paper and creating an image of my anger – a visual representation of how I felt. I let the pen lead me, and found myself building a fence topped with massive spikes, clearly indicative of my angry instinct to build walls around myself and hurt everything around me.

anger abstract pen and ink drawing

  1. Put on any of your angry tunes and go for a run or get on the elliptical or a bicycle or lift some weights – take out your anger with healthy physical movement, no punching bag necessary. Something about exhausting the body really helps to exhaust the anger, and the endorphins that follow guarantee some relief.

Regardless of your method, I find anger is best handled alone. I’ve been in an intimate relationship with a person who didn’t know how to handle his anger, and, if he was with me for that, the first thing he did was say really awful things, trying to hurt me as a method of catharsis. Protect yourself, the people you love, and your relationships by taking a moment to separate yourself when you’re angry. Step away from the current situation, from whatever is triggering you, and work that shit out.

Love, calm, & care –

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Saying Goodbye with Grace

2016 is ending, and with it, a phase in all our lives. Years neatly section off time so that we can all have an ending and a new beginning together, but endings come around more often than every 365 days.  Whether it’s January 1st or May 24th or August 8th or whenever –

A phase in your life is over.

throw up your deuces to 2016

Maybe you’re moving to a new city, a new country even. Maybe you’re leaving a job, or maybe you’re ending a relationship. Little endings happen every day as we walk out of buildings, get out of cars or buses, leave movies, check out at stores, finish essays or books or tv shows, but these don’t get much attention. Maybe you think about what you just did for a moment or two, make a comment about something you noticed to a person you’re with, but leaving the grocery store doesn’t typically make the news feed. But big things – these take quite a bit of our attention. And they’re often quite painful.

Whether you’re happy to go or your heart’s breaking, grief happens. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to walk around a town wondering when you’ll ever be in it again, it’s okay to cry yourself to sleep replaying memories of you and someone who’s no longer in your life.

You’re allowed to celebrate, too. Even if you’re going through a nasty breakup or ending something awful – there were good parts about it, right? You treated yourself to a fancy coffee once a week at a certain coffee shop, say, or he made you laugh til you peed your pants – just because it’s over doesn’t mean the good things go away, and it doesn’t mean you have to be sad.

Endings are bittersweet, and forgetting to balance the bitter with the sweet tips us off kilter, sets us up to begin in a strange, unhealthy way. To get closure, even from the sharpest pains, you’ve got to hold the sadness with the joy. When something’s over, you get a bit of distance from it – you’re no longer in the midst of it, so you can see clearly – without the bias you held while you were living that reality. Now you get a chance to see the whole experience as a montage, to view yourself acting in situations that already happened. You can think about it. Maybe you like how you acted or maybe you don’t, but see it. Understand it without judgment. Since the phase is over, you are no longer that person. Yes, it’s you, it looks like you and said all the things you said, but now – now you’re not in that situation. You’re no longer impacted by its stresses or joys. The part of you that actively does that thing is gone – dead. So really when you’re grieving a phase in your life, you’re grieving a former version of your self.

maybe i'm not who i thought i was abstract drawing

I’ll use myself as an example here – I just recently moved from the town where I graduated college, where my family lives, where I fell in love twice, where I learned to be kind to myself. This was also the town where I felt more depressed than I ever have, worked through conflicts with my parents, ended a destructive relationship, and had moments of truly hating myself. In leaving it, I had to see it for what it was. I had to recognize the sadness of some of the times I went through, and feel joy to be leaving, but, at the same damn time, I saw all the beautiful moments, the wonderful job I had, the community I relished – and I had to feel sad. I had to grieve that I couldn’t be there any more, that I was leaving, and that those joyous moments were gone.

Flipping through my rolodex of memories before I left, I saw some clear images – beautiful evenings with people I love, moments alone in my favorite places – and I realized that the girl I saw in those moments, while Bethany, was no longer me. I saw myself being happy in the past, and at the same time I knew – I’m not her anymore. She’s a part of me, of course, and all my past experiences – positive and negative – inform who I am now. But, looking back, I saw a girl who hadn’t learned lessons that I’ve since learned, who hadn’t endured trials I’ve since endured, and who didn’t know she would be living in China right now, typing this out in her very own apartment. And for a few moments, I felt sad. I loved her. I felt true joy in those moments, and now they’re gone, never to be lived again. And that can be difficult to let go of. But what good would living in the past do me? Seeing her, that version of myself that I was truly happy being, I know that she is a part of me. And I trust her to build an incredible future for herself, to move forward into new upgrades of herself and to never let yesterday or last week or last month be her prime. Even if it was really fucking great – tomorrow always holds potential to be better.

stylish girl says goodbye peace out 2016

Endings are hard. There’s no way around that. But beginnings are beautiful. And the purity and freshness of a new beginning can be tainted if the past hangs around too closely. For now – it’s over. Cry about it, laugh about it, comfort yourself with the memories you’ll always have, and turn forward – hold your head high and carry on.

Love, calm, & care –

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Processing Grief [For Katie]

Three years ago, one of my closest friends died in a car accident. Needless to say, I was unprepared. What 19-year-old know how to deal with loss? Really, what human knows how to deal with loss until they’re in the throes of it? I learned by living through it, by grieving, and I started by falling flat on my face. I let myself get lost in grief, in depression. Because I didn’t know how. Because two weeks after she died, my other friends were asking why I was still wearing black and listening to so much Linkin Park and John Mayer. What could I say? They didn’t know any better, of course, but I became embarrassed, ashamed, even, of these emotions that seemed so impermissible. So, naturally, I repressed and avoided and acted out and dealt as well as I knew how, which mostly, apart from a lot of boxing and bike riding, meant not dealing at all.

Grief is nothing to be ashamed of. It takes time to process – three years later and I’m finding new bits of the experience all the time. If you’re grieving, if you lose someone, know that it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to be sad, angry, confused. It’s okay for that to last a while. It’s also okay if it doesn’t. Feel what you feel. Don’t try to mold it into anyone’s expectations or tidy it up in five easy steps. It’s a messy, unpredictable beast, and that’s okay. Allow yourself the experience of grief. Let it be what it is.

It will pass. Not completely – but the shroud of darkness with thin out into wispy clouds that come and go. The person you lost is gone – that won’t change. As time goes on you realize that you lost more than the person you knew – you lost the person you would have known. I lost the friend I would have called the first time I fell in love, the one whose 21st birthday would have been a wild weekend getaway, the one I would have known and grown with for years, blossoming the way that only our friendship could have. And there are continually new bits of that loss to discover and accept and feel.

And three years later, I see that the mourning process forms a narrative unto itself. Memories of my grief nearly equal the memories I have left of her. The place she holds in my heart will never shrink – it will always glow and remain, sweetly untouched. But it can’t grow. I can’t make new memories with her. But I can’t stop myself from making new memories altogether, from living, from growing and changing into a woman she never even met and wondering about who she would have become. I remember her as I live, and as new memories expand my heart, filling it with more joys and more sorrows, gradually dwarfing that bright, constant space that she holds.

The text along the inside of my arm is 9/3/2013 in lower case, cursive Roman numerals - the day Katie died.

The text along the inside of my arm is 9/3/2013 in lower case, cursive Roman numerals – the day Katie died.

She’s the story behind one of my tattoos, the bridge that unites me with my friend who lost her mom, the reason it’s still difficult for me to really listen to country music, the reason I smile anytime I see a girl in cowboy boots and jean shorts, the person I sometimes imagine conversations with, the reason I can’t help but cry on September 3rd and December 22nd, and that still, bright light in my heart that will never go out. And so much more.

So grief is really a continual process of acceptance. One of allowing yourself to feel all the things you don’t want to feel because sometimes you really don’t want to believe that the person you lost is gone. But just because they can’t live any longer doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Thinking of my friend motivates me to live more fully than ever, to do the things she never could, to treasure the time that I’ve been given. Because not everyone gets as much as you and I have. And really, even though all this is so damn hard sometimes, I’m lucky I got to know her at all, just as you’re lucky to have known someone you lost. I’m lucky that I’m one of the people who holds her light in my heart. And we’re lucky that we get to carry their lights with us, and that we get to keep living.

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