catelin: (sculpture ranch)
( May. 25th, 2008 09:45 pm)
It's been an odd year so far...I have been far less communicative than I have in a long time--and it's not necessarily a bad thing--but I have simply felt the need to process much of my life internally.  I'm not so quick anymore to vomit up every feeling onto the floor before I look at it and try to figure out what it is.  It's been a rough few months in a lot of ways, full of changes and facing fears of all sorts.  I was afraid of growing older, I was afraid of being left, I was afraid of planning for things because I couldn't believe there would be a point to it, I was afraid not to plan because chaos was sure to follow.  I was afraid of how quickly my sons are growing, of how little they seem to need me anymore.  I was afraid of my animals dying, of something terrible happening to my man.

Middle-age, I think, is a stage in life where we all necessarily go through a period where we are scared shitless.  Mine lasted a while, but I am making my peace with all the changing landscapes in my life.  The landscape of my face and body continues to shift and I am at peace with it in a way that I never have been before.  Oddly enough, Madonna had a lot to do with this.  She looks strange to me now, with her ever-so-slight work.  She's still lovely, but she looks nothing like herself.  The one thing I have always chosen, even when I lived in the land of nip and tuck, was to look like myself.  I decided that I was still very happy to look exactly like myself, even if that self is my aging self.

The landscape of motherhood is shifting, but the floor of that sea remains.  My oldest is almost 13 now and hardly lets me touch him.  His favorite answer to almost anything is "whatever" and he hides his beautiful face with too much hair in his green eyes.  Still, he is the same amazing child, even with all his new bravado and tentative efforts to separate himself from me.  That's what he's supposed to be doing.  He's at an age where he's supposed to think I'm a big dork.  I still enjoy the occasional glimmer of unreserved love when he forgets to act like Mr. Cool.  His ten-year-old brother is not far behind him, but I'm ready.  They get bigger, but they are still my sons.  They have learned exactly what I set out to teach them...that they can be themselves, separate from everyone, but still always loved, safe, and connected to family.

The landscape of love and friendship in my life continues to amaze me.  I am, in the end, luckier in love than I ever thought possible, with a man who never fails me.  We are both tough and tender in many of the same ways, but we fill in our gaps with our different approaches and experiences.  Together we are a badass two-headed love monster that can deal with anything.  That's been a nice change from never being able to count on anyone to shoulder the burden with me before.  He's solid, this man of mine, and I have learned that I can count on him and believe in him without reserve.  That knowledge gives a soul a lot of breathing room, and breathing feels good.

Times have been bad and good, all at once, a swirl of life with a pace that leaves me dizzy sometimes.  I feel sometimes like if I stood in the grass and planted my feet for a few moments, I'd be able to see it all moving past--circling and changing even as it is all perceived.

My life's horizons move like oil on water.  That frightened me at first, the uncertainty of it.  There are still times when the uncharted territory of the faraway can leave me in a panic.  Then I began to see that even unfamiliar landscapes are always decorated with markers that I've crafted for myself and those I love over the years--markers that remind me of my strength, of my courage, of my joy, my laughter, everything that I have to offer and everything that I am still learning to give.
catelin: (Default)
( Apr. 11th, 2008 09:52 am)
Everything is fine, benign. Huge sigh of relief for me. Thanks for all the kind thoughts and good energy. I am certain it played a big part.
catelin: (glasses)
( Dec. 31st, 2007 03:04 pm)
Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.—Alice Walker

I have been thinking a lot the last few days about expectations and the nature of desire. I have long struggled with both concepts and sitting here on the edge of one year looking to another seems a good time to shake a few things out of my head.

I have always lived, as I guess most others have, fueled by varying mixtures of cynicism and hope. Even as I made my peace with what I could not or would not have in my life, I still always kept some secret little seeds of hope to myself. I could never bring myself to truly expect nothing. I did the next best thing. I learned to expect, for myself, very little. Note that I say for myself, not from myself. From myself, I expected everything. From myself, I expected the super human. From myself, I expected to never fail or be afraid. From myself, I expected to never be weak or let anything hurt me. From myself, I expected to be everything that those I loved ever needed or wanted me to be, with seamless perfection. This was my nature, cultivated from being one of those little Lebowski overachievers, performing feats of daring-do and wonder so the people I loved would not stop loving me.

I found my peace in learning to expect next to nothing from anyone or anything. It freed me from the disappointment of being let down by people or circumstances that were not what I’d happily but blindly perceived them to be. I had to do this because I took on each of these disappointments as my fault—as proof that I hadn’t been smart enough, pretty enough, or whatever enough in some way. The dulling of my desire for things made my day-to-day life much easier. I did manage quite well to live frugally on surprise. In fact, I was the frugal gourmet of surprise. My life has been, in so many ways, a lovely banquet crafted from all sorts of unexpected delicacies.

Still, I never brought the secret seeds to the table. I never showed those tiny bits and pieces of desires I had for myself, the things that I felt selfish for even daring to want at all. The crumbs were what I’d done without, what I’d never complained of missing—each full of such terrible wanting and fierce hopefulness. After I met my man the secret seeds grew into all sorts of unruly blossoms and vines. They escaped the confines of my inner heart and sprouted out of my mouth, swirling around my head and being given voice. He built a garden for me, from his own heart, and let all the things that I’d never had much of a place for in myself grow. I began to think that maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing…wanting. The first tentative steps I took toward believing that I could let myself desire something out loud transformed into joyful leaps and bounds of naming everything I wanted to have and do.

I’m sure the more experienced among you probably know what came next. While I was blissfully floating around giving voice to my desires, life intervened. People and circumstances turned out to be different than what I had blindly perceived them to be. I felt a little like Wiley E. Coyote hitting the bottom of the canyon. It hurt as much as I remember anything ever hurting. I cried and cried. I felt stupid. I told myself that I was such an idiot to ever think that I could have anything. I knew better than to expect anything. What could I have been thinking?

Everything that had taken root and bloomed in me over the last few months quickly began to wither. I prepared to collect the husks of my secret seeds so I could put them away again, probably for the last time. The keeper of the garden, however, held on to me. He refused to let me take my secret seeds back and he whispered to me at night to keep everything I’d grown alive. He whispered until I finally quit poisoning the garden and I began to contemplate the possibility that my hopes, even the most secret and delicate ones, might be able to survive outside of my own heart.

I am struggling to find a way to balance the things I have wanted for so long with the realities of the world. I am going to take small tentative steps again, and he’ll hold my hand as he has from the first time I knew I loved him, reminding me that I’m never far from my secret garden and he’ll be there to tend to things when I cannot.

I am going into a new year trying to be as brave as I’ve ever been. I will expect to be beloved and happy, I will expect to be disappointed and hurt, and I will expect to find my legs each and every time so I can brush myself off and move on to the next wondrous thing. I wish you all a brave new year and a crazy quilt garden grown from your own secret seeds.
catelin: (Default)
( Nov. 12th, 2001 02:43 pm)
I'm home today...enjoying the rare day off from work. I had planned on doing nothing more than painting my toenails and watching television. It's barely cloudy outside...just cool enough to open the windows and let the breeze dance through all the rooms of this house. Perhaps it was the movement of the wind, but I've ended up cleaning, arranging, unpacking. I unwrapped my grandmother's liqueur set that's been in newspaper and bubble wrap since the big earthquake in Los Angeles. My ex was in New York and I was sleeping on the couch while he was gone. I'm one of those women that, once your imprint's in my bed, I can hardly bear it without you. I'd had a fire going earlier and had fallen asleep, covered with nothing but my favorite quilt and cats at my feet. Then, everything shattered. I remember thinking I was home (Texas was still home to me then...always) at first, and that someone was grabbing me by the shoulders and shaking me awake. I ran to the doorway and clung to it, sitting on the floor. The earth shook and I raged. I wasn't frightened; I was angry. I was screaming at being ripped away from my life, at leaving this earth in a place that was strange to me, so far from my roots. You motherfucker. Motherfucker. Fuck. I didn't think of a god; I thought of fate. I thought of three blind fucking sisters snipping my skein of yarn by accident. It's not time! I yelled up to the sky. I held on so hard I left fingerprints in the plastered walls. It turned quiet and my neighbor (I think his name was aspiring stand-up comedian) came to check on me. He knew I was alone. I came downstairs and the iron gate to the small porch was locked. I don't have a key, I said. I never can find my keys, Jack. I want out of here. He ran across and got his spare key (that he had from previous "I locked myself in/out" episodes) and unlocked me. He was very nice and didn't comment on the fact that I was completely naked until about three weeks later. My china cabinet was many things. I told myself over and over...they're just things. Just things. But they meant something to me. They were connections with pieces of my family. I went back the next day, certain that the liqueur set that had belonged to my grandmother, and her grandmother before her, was dust. The tiny flutes were so fragile. Paper shell thin with tiny deep red flowers and gold leaves painted on them with a touch as light as a kiss. I said my good byes to them before I even went back in to survey the damage. There, covered by broken bits of more sturdy wares, were all of them. Not a scratch on them. Intact. It meant more to me than just having the glasses and decanter. Our circle, a wreath made of the intertwined hands of all the women in my tribe, had not been broken. And so I unwrapped my grandmother's liqueur set today, acknowledging the roots that brought me home, breathing in the scent of old newsprint and strength beyond measure.
catelin: (Default)
( Feb. 7th, 2001 07:00 pm)
The always interesting and smartly written reive posted an entry yesterday about Gates of Fire and its answer to the question "what is the opposite of fear?" Answer: love.

I wonder if that's it---such a simple answer with so many complex shadings. Sartre said that the opposite of fear is freedom. I suppose that there is a certain freedom in loving or being loved, but I have never found love to be completely detached from fear nor completely curative of it. My greatest fear has always been that I would be abandoned, left alone. It's an odd one considering that I have actually lived much of my life left parents, lovers, friends. Self-fulfilling prophecy some might say. As for the more mundane fears of certain things (scorpions, kidnappers, serial killers, rapists, etc.), I do think that love is involved in overcoming those. Not that I would overcome them by being loved, but that I would overcome them because of my love for someone else. The best example I can think of is how I feel about my children. I would face anything for them without any hesitation at all...and that is because of love. It is love that spurs the most profound confrontations with our fears in these sorts of cases...the old "mother lifts 18-wheeler off her child" syndrome.

With most of the other more emotional fears I harbor, I have found that their opposite has always been acceptance--not the weak, cloying "oh well" sort of acceptance, but a "this is how it fucking is and I'm going to deal with it in a graceful way" acceptance. I am a Pisces, social to the point of distraction, groomed by my culture and my upbringing for the companionship of a lifelong mate...and it didn't happen, hasn't happened, may not happen. I was afraid of that, terrified actually, when I was younger. Over the years, I became brave in the face of it and I accepted my possible alone-ness without panic or despair. Why? Again, the ultimate As I got older, I learned to love myself and to value my worth for what I thought of the person I was. Even when it's a solo endeavor, love is what redeems us. It is what allows us to accept--who we are, what we do, how we live--and to work from there. It softens our jagged edges and lets us be kind when we would otherwise indulge in all sorts of small cruelties. And even if it can't fix everything, it's the only effective balm for just about every human ill I can think of...pity it seems to be in such short supply most of the time.


catelin: (Default)


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