I Went To An Art Party and Ended Up Getting Baptized. Again.

 

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There is a certain feeling you get when you are around a person that is self-possessed and fully expressed.  A person who is not arrogant or tightened inside, but open and fluid.  They have a different energy about them, a softened look behind their eyes.  They  lack  self-conscious defensiveness that others carry when  afraid to be fully seen, fully themselves.

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Photo Credit: Gardner Edmunds

 

I adore these people.

 

I think most of us do… they are the ones that make you feel instantly more at ease, safe in their presence to unwind a few notches and take a breath.  They attract people like a light bulb surrounded by moths, clamoring to be near.  Sometimes, they are hard to find.   Most of us are wound up and covered in armor, desperate to be seen but not seen.  We are busy trying to impress, trying to hide, trying to find the perfect balance of control that will make us not appear to be total asshats.

 

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend a party called  Creative Cocktail Hour with a lovely friend, a local artist.  Rick and I both adore Stefanie and her husband Carl,  because they both have this light presence, and when they are together it is even more inspiring to witness.

 

We went to Creative Cocktail Hour with a friend of hers… both of them attend these monthly parties faithfully… It is a  gathering of local artists and art-lovers at Real Art Ways, a space designed to showcase and support local art and the art community in Hartford.

 

I was scared.

 

My inner introvert shrinks like cojones in an ice bath at the thought of meeting and chit-chatting and mingling at a large party of “cool” people.  People who probably know how to talk about art.  I am not sure that unused Elementary Education degree I earned was going to come to my rescue when I needed to find an intelligent contribution to the small talk.  Unless somebody wants to talk about making homemade playdough sculptures.

 

That scared, uptight, insecure voice inside me was worried about being seen as a scared, insecure, uptight gal in a sea of self-expression.

And that is exactly what happened… at first.

 

We were greeted at the door by a huge, barrel chested  man named Tito, whom Stefanie and Greg hugged first.  When I extended my hand in introduction, he swallowed me in a hug, declaring,   “No one shakes hands here!” in a deep bellow.  A tall thin man rode up on a bicycle with a spatula taped to the back end of his helmet and dismounted.  He also hugged Tito, and then we all made our way into the building, passing an older couple in their late 60’s wearing hats made of disposable picnicware.

 

There was no visible commonality in this gathering.  The variety of ages, clothing style, hair style,  gender expression, sexual expression …was astonishing.  It appeared that every kind of person from all walks of life had come out to hug and chat and dance.  There was one golden thread of detectable similarity there, and after softening into the night I began to see it.  I wanted to belong there too.

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So I was baptized that night.

 

It was my second time being baptized, in fact.

 

The first was a religious affair… one of the most important moments of my life as an LDS child remains a gauzy, soupy memory I can’t quite access.  But this I know:  I was eight, I wore a white dress and people hugged me and shook my hand and told me how proud they were of me for making the only right decision there was to make… to be baptized by immersion for the remission of my sins.  So I could belong.  When I came up out of those waters, I emerged fully committed to do my best to become the person God wanted.

 

At Real Art Ways, I was baptized by immersion again.

 

Immersion in a scene filled with people who were all unapologetically themselves.

 

To be exposed and immersed in this unadulterated authenticity was not for the remission of my sins, but a remission of my armor.  The crowd pulsed with this free energy, the acceptance of people as they are.  Simple.  In a gathering of people all devoted to becoming, every day, more freely self expressed, the beauty of humanity is a palpable force.  It existed in the art on the walls, in the music the brass band was gifting to us, in the  air that surrounded us.  It entered me with each breath, and then right through the pores of my skin.   I felt it move to open the hardest places inside me… this collective energy has one message:

 

You are supposed to Be exactly what you are.

The immersion will not be an experience I will soon forget.  It was a moment of experiencing the possibility of being free from sin.  And, I am coming to more fully understand what sin really is.  Sin is the armor of self-protection we wear… to make ourselves appear formidable and fierce and brave.  We put on this armor so that we can go out and be seen, without exposing our most tender places, without being vulnerable to the pain of rejection or loss.

 

We cover ourselves up and hide in the open so we do not have to hear the message we dread:

 

Be ashamed.  You are not enough.

 

Stefanie, the friend who brought me,  is less covered by this armor, and by being more freely expressed, more authentically her, I sense the safety in being me.  I realize, where they gather, these people who are figuring out how to move through it and lay down the armor –  love is less diluted.  It is more easily accessed and felt… it is the golden thread that binds us.    We ALL belong already, we just have to take off the protection and express who we are… and others will see that golden thread too.

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Photo provided by Stefanie Marco, KiNDSPIN DESIGN

So go out and find those people, the ones that carry themselves with that spark of authentic presence.  It is not hard to recognize the lightness they possess, their loving energy is more free to flow.  Immerse yourself in their authentic lightness, in the generosity of spirit that surrounds them… in that spirit, there is no fear.  Only love.

 

When I emerged from this second baptism,  I came away not committed to becoming… that commitment is the sin.  The armor.

 

I emerged more willing to Be.

 

Unapologetically, just as

 

I am.

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Photo Credit: Gardner Edmunds

A Reality Check with Bret Michaels: Every Rose Has It’s Thorn

Last Saturday night Rick and I had the honor of attending the JDRF Rock the Cure Promise Ball.  It was a fancy affair, and I enjoyed the opportunity to peel off the yoga pants and sport an actual gown. And see Rick in an tux.  Yes. He is hawt.

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Our new digs also inspired a lot of Rock the Cure group selfies and fun pictures with friends….

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Photos above provided by Stefanie Marco, KINDSPIN DESIGN

 

As you can see, I had to practice the poses, as I had to impress Bret.   He and are are true besties now.  Rock on!

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*Photo Provided by JDRF

We went to Rock the Cure in honor of some of our favorite people in Connecticut.  The Christensen family and the Poulin family bonded last year at the  humid indoor pool, where Jessica and I spent several hours a week on the butt-numbing bleachers while our older kids were at swim team practice.  We both have little ones who sat with us… her son Jack, and my little Stella.

 

I remember the day Jess told me she was worried about Jack, who was suddenly mad-dog thirsty and peeing every ten minutes.  It was totally justified worry, it turns out, as Jack ended up in the ER the next day, Valentines Day 2013.  He was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) and the Christensen’s life course was radically altered.

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Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the pancreas, and halts the ability to produce insulin, the hormone that metabolizes fat and sugar in the body.  T1D is a life threatening disease.

 

Suddenly, Scott and Jessica, Jack’s parents, were thrust into the unwelcome role of acting as their son’s pancreas.  This includes regular finger pricks to test the blood, adjusting glucose levels by giving shots of insulin or consuming more sugar.  They had to become experts in nursing, nutrition, endocrinology, and Worry.  And through the past year, they have launched themselves into actively doing all they can to help find a cure for their little boy.

 

The Promise Ball was an incredible night.  It was conference center full of men and women whose lives have been touched with T1D, and peppered with beautiful children. Many of them had ports taped to their arms, a badge of their courage and vulnerability.  There was a palpable spirit of camaraderie and generosity that I have never witnessed at this magnitude, and it was deeply moving to be a part of it.

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Photo Credit:  Stefanie Marco, KINDSPIN DESIGN

 

After listening to various experts share the advances being made in the research, Bret Michaels spoke about his own challenges living with T1D since he was a six year old boy.  We got our  80’s rock on with Bret as he performed for us, including Poison’s legendary  “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn.”

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Photo Credit: Stefanie Marco, KINDSPIN DESIGN

 

 

Later, our friends got up in the spotlight to share their story.

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As they spoke, I remembered a conversation we had last summer, about six months after Jack was diagnosed.  We were sitting around their fire pit chatting after a delicious meal. Despite the darkening summer night, our kids giggling in the yard, and good company,  I was feeling heavy.  Filled with a dark, syrupy worry that stuck to my insides and made it hard to match the lightness of the evening.

 

Every rose has it’s thorn.

 

We all have our sharp, thorny parts, the pricks that will make us bleed, along with the beauty.  And that night, I felt overwhelmed by my thorns.  Misophonia had been escalating in our house to sanity threatening levels,  (which you can read more about here and here).   I was lost in my own sorrows.

We began talking about misophonia and T1D with Scott and Jess. I had sought comfort by expressing how everyone has painful challenges.  Everyone has the hills they must climb to bring their children to safety and health and sanity.  Theirs was T1D.  Ours, misophonia…. drawing comparison to our mutual struggles as parents.

 

I remember the look on their faces in the firelight.  They kept quiet.

 

I had been so, so wrong.

 

Watching them bravely presenting themselves on the stage for JDRF, outlining their heartache and their hope last saturday, their love and passion for their son was powerful.

They presented this amazing short video, highlighting their journey:

 

 

WIth the birth of each baby, I went through a phase of  utter exhaustion that made my body feel as if it became one with any solid surface if I remained still for a few moments.  Despite the numbing fatigue, I felt the overwhelming compulsion to  watch my baby sleep, driven by fear that the length of time I closed my eyes would directly correlated to the length of time my baby’s breathing would cease.

 

Thank God that passes.

 

But for Scott and Jessica, it has begun again, in one eternal phase.  The fear is real… the fear that one night while they sleep, Jack will slip away from them.

 

This is their new normal.

 

There is the scary day parents face… when we must leave our child in the care of another,  trusting someone else to love and protect our baby… It is a painful loss of control for any parent.

 

But for Scott and Jess, they must ask his teacher not just to educate their son, but to be Jack’s pancreas too.

 

And did you know that blood sugar is affected by all kinds of things… not just the food you eat?

 

Swimming lessons, a family hike, a hot summer day, a fever, a bout of the stomach bug, a stressful day at school….   these normal, everyday occurrences can tip Jack into unstable territory for hours…. they teeter on the razor edge of worry, phone at the ready to call 911 as they watch him sleep and wait for his numbers to improve.

 

It is true, every rose has it’s thorn.  But not all provide a prick that can take your child’s life.

 

I thought about that night around the fire, and how I wasn’t able to see this family clearly.  I was bound in my own despair.

 

I had been blind to the realities of their crisis.

 

At the JDRF event, I was awash with gratitude for my own challenges.  I have not been required to become a vital organ for my child.  I am not living with the real and present danger that T1D presents for Jack.

 

The night provided Rick and I  with the conviction to stretch and do what we can to help JDRF find a cure.  As a recognition of my gratitude.  As an acknowledgement of their struggle. As a path around our own wounds and a means to feel empowered by sharing what we do have rather than focus on what we may lack.

 

If you can, please spread the word.  And donate here… even a small amount makes a difference.

It may soften the thorns you carry, too.

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Photo credit:  Stefanie Marco, KINDSPIN DESIGN

 

The Cocoon Was Hollow: Grieving the Absolute Loss of Self

 

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                                                                      -Lao Tzu

 

Once the decision was made to cut ourselves free from the religious life we had been woven into, Rick and I began the very delicate process of extrication.

 

Actually, it wasn’t that hard for Rick.  He shed his mormon identity like an ill-fitting suit that he had worn out.  He had put it on just six years before, after becoming a fully formed adult.  He wore the coat well, but taking it off was not too hard.  A temperature adjustment.   A loosening of the tie, unclipping the “Brother Poulin” name tag, he went back to being Rick.  He kicked off his dress shoes and pulled out his Birkenstocks, and found his old self waiting to welcome him back.

 

It was me that needed unwinding… the binding thoughts and ideas that had me tightly ensconced were thick and sinewy.  At first, I believed that if I just worked at it, the fibers that had cocooned me would release a new and completely different, freed creature.  The proverbial butterfly.  But as time wore on, I began to wonder if there was a self, underneath it all.  The discard pile grew, and with it I lost my shape.  After years and years of unraveling, I am left with a huge pile of string, a hopeless tangled mass, and no sense of who I am.

 

Such work, to unravel one’s self.

I have been sifting through my pile, overcome with grief.  For the form and structure of my self.  For the loss of what I knew.  For the comfort of having a home.  For the rejection of my cast.  For the familiarity of words and rules and rituals.  For the loss of the tethers that gave definition to my family.

I did not know how to recreate myself from this rubble, and yet inside it, were all my pieces.

 

I have cried more tears in the last year than I have in my entire life.  The grief when I first began this process was a rupture, and the tears spilled out in angry waves.  Now, the grief is residual, it shimmers at the surface, ready to spill over at the slightest ripple.  I cling to the necessity of the tears.  The washing out of the vessel.  The cleanse, as I ready myself to once again try to find a new woman in the old pile.

 

And then, as I was drying my tears the other day, something happened.  I looked up.

 

It is only now, eight years into the undoing and the fingering of my scraps that I have found something that looks…hopeful.

In the very raw process of unraveling, there is a powerful sense of isolation and loneliness. I was selfishly consumed by my deconstruction and loss, and it made me blind to my surroundings.  Not out of spite, but out of grief, the world outside of my own undoing became a vague and blurry mess.  The only pieces of reality and the only choices before me seemed to be born out of the pile of scraps I had created in shedding my entire identity.

The hope came when I looked away from the tangled nonsense I had been stewing in…  and I noticed.  Instead of a presence of separateness that I had been feeling in my loss of structure, I saw others.  They look like me.  Some are crying, too.  Everywhere, people are discovering their empty cocoon, and the task of recreation.  And my story is not so special.  We are all standing in our pile,  trying to rebuild.  I saw my uprooted, raw  feelings reflecting back at me.  And I saw their beauty.   The work of creating something grand and strong, sifting through the rubble to find the shiny pieces… these people were doing it.  All of them.  I felt my unformed self crack open, and love rushed out.  For all the people, for their loss and mine are the same.

 

And maybe, that is the Truth.

 

We are all in various stages of this moment… unwinding and rebuilding and whittling away. Anyone willing to break free from the shell that we begin in, to find renewal and movement and light, is going through this too.   It has taken me a long time to blink away my grief and look around at the wealth of experience we are all standing in.  The survivors of broken childhoods.  The immigrant rebuilding in a foreign place.  The lover, holding a shattered heart.  The parent, reshuffling life after a death.  The woman, peeling away her shame.  We are all chipping away the armor, to reveal the truest version of our Self.

 

The truly freeing part?  I am realizing that we are not limited to our own broken shells.   That pile is our past.  The things that have already been. The shape that has already formed and been undone.  We are not limited to this material, to rebirth ourselves.  There is only so much we can find within, before we must look for the beautiful pieces that others have to offer us.

 

The world is wide, and open, and full of breath-taking pieces that will feel like home when we find them… they are meant for us to discover.  We find unity in the recognition that we are all busy with different versions of the same task.  And then, we are less afraid to see the beautiful offerings of others… and perhaps the value of our own discarded pieces.

So,  I will pick from my pile the material I want to keep, and then step away… to search out the new treasure that will define the woman I want to become.
Her shape is only for me.

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Photo credit:  Gardner Edmunds

 

The Sounds of Our Crisis: Living with Misophonia

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Everyone has a trigger… that one thing that will make you go apeshit.  The emotion you just can’t cope with.  The monster you were sent to slay.

Mine is feeling silenced, my voice stolen.  Muted. Dismissed.

So naturally, I have  a child that hates the sound of my voice.  She suffers from misophonia, which makes her go crazy if I talk in the car while she is in the back seat.  She can’t stand to hear me talk on the phone, or converse with Rick downstairs on the couch while she tries to fall asleep.

Is that irony?  Divine cruelty?  God’s stab at satire?

Maybe.  But it also gives me clear direction…it demands that I find a way.   I have a little corner here, my own piece of the internet, and all I can do is write about what is happening with honesty.

I’m scared.  Driving home with my girls squabbling in the car, the fear creeps in.  It makes me angry and I am yelling at them before we have hit the driveway.  We have been together for 4 minutes.

We are emptying the dishwasher, setting the table for dinner.  Lydia stomps down the stairs, on the defensive.  She is singing loudly, slamming things to the ground, shoving chairs into the table, she crashes through the kitchen… the fear grabs me by the throat, and I struggle to maintain calm.

Lydia hisses at Carly as we sit in our chairs, and jumps to her feet quickly, almost knocking over the chair, slopping water out of the glasses.  About five months ago, Carly was added to the growing list of things that provoke Lydia’s misophonia meltdowns.  I take in a few gulps, the panic I feel tightens every muscle in my neck, strangling me.  She grabs her plate and kicks the swinging door in, stomping.  She grits her teeth but it doesn’t muffle the  furious screech.  We all freeze in place.   I put my hand on Carly’s back, and the small gesture of compassion breaks her composure.  She whimpers, and then grunts angrily.  Rick hands me Lydia’s  fork and napkin.  I snatch them from him and storm into the kitchen.   I try not to throw them at her.   She is cowering in the corner,  plugging her headphones into her iPod, turning it up so loud I can hear Bruno Mars damaging her eardrums.  She looks at me with disgust.

It hurts.  I can’t help it.  I feel wounded by her posturing.  Her revulsion.  Her aversion.  It’s an old wound now, scarred over and reopened by her sharp looks and high-pitched screeches over the last 18 months.  It’’s raw right now.  Because she is triggered by Carly too.  And every time she hurts my adult feelings, every time I must reach deep into the best, most mature part of myself to process this hurt and turn it into much-needed compassion for my glowering daughter, I think of Carly.  Her inability to process.  Her young spirit, and what this rejection must be teaching her about herself.  The complexity of the emotions swirling around our dinner table is nauseating.

I retreat to the dining room, and we eat, minus one.  While we eat, I struggle to pull my mind out of the next 10 years.  How will we survive this?  What will this do to us?  What will happen to my little girls?  To me?  I look at Rick, my eyes communicating my desperation.  He tries to ground me into the moment.  “Take a bite.  It’s just dinner,”  his eyes say, pleading.

It doesn’t feel like just dinner, it feels like our whole lives are being swallowed by this crazy, mysterious misophonia.

Sometimes, I can not keep the monstrous fear at bay and  I lose it.  Most of the time, it looks like anger.  I rant. I watch Stella’s eyes widen as she hears, “I’m so damn sick of this shitty behavior!”   The words taste terrible as I spit them out, aware of their sharp edges.     This extra loss of control  must do wonders for all three of my girls’  already tender, aching spirits.  Their appetites.   Being angry with Lydia is like being angry when a wounded animal snarls at you.  She is hurting, I know this.

Sometimes, the tears just roll, drip into chicken orzo pasta, and everyone acts like they don’t notice.

Sometimes, we pretend it isn’t happening.  We spend the meal sharing things we are grateful for in a clockwise, orderly fashion.  Stella gets up, runs to the kitchen, and makes Lydia lift her headphones and give her grateful words so she can report to the group.  The grateful list is building up, the room tightening with tension.

After dinner, when the clicking of the silverware against the plates stops, when the sight of Carly chewing her dinner is gone, when the sound of me taking a sip of water is over, Lydia goes into sweetheart mode.  She is throbbing with guilt and shame, she is not oblivious to the pain she is causing.  She snuggles up to me, she brings me school papers with great marks, she sweetly engages with Stella, offering to help her get her pj’s on. She tries to make Carly laugh.   She leaves us love notes, to smooth out the hurts.

I often find Carly sulking in bed.  The rejection is getting to Carly.  Normally so passive, so unexpressed, so quiet and easily content, Carly is beginning to show her pain.  She is frustrated and pissed off, she cries in an angry fit, kicking at my attempts to hold her.

“She HATES me!  She thinks I am disgusting!  And I am not doing ANYTHING!”

She folds her arms defensively, growling at me.  I try to explain.  But the explaining doesn’t soothe.  I know that, as I ache too.  I feel rejected.  I feel terror about how Lydia’s life will unfold, how she will manage.  I feel the weight of the damage she is doing to her sister, unintentional, but real, slam me in the chest.

Oh my GOD, what are we going to do?

It is not breaking my heart…it is eating me alive.

I think about all the families out there, trying to hold on.  Carrying their own burdens.  Their own hurts.  I am grateful for the health we do have.  That my girls are doing well in school.  They enjoy sports and friends and music and movies.  I think of people I know.  People I know who have children with closed  head injuries.  Autism.  Feeding tubes.  Wheelchairs.  Brain damage.  Schizophrenia.  People I know who have to liquefy their child’s meals and feed him through a straw.  Or are acting like their son’s pancreas, spending sleepless nights on his bedroom floor, praying the numbers go up, one hand ready to summon an ambulance.

These thoughts do calm me.  I do feel genuinely grateful.  I feel relief that it is not me.  And then I cross my fingers, knock on wood, send up a half-hearted prayer.

And please bless that will never be me.

But it does not drain me of my fear.  It does not help me feel capable of handling my own life.  My own daughters.  My own burdens.

I used to have a recurring dream, showing up when I was a small child.  It has haunted me for most of my life.  In the dream,  I am going about a normal day, when I notice that a tooth is loose.  And when I wiggle it, the tooth pops out in my hand.  Horror fills me as I realize that the tooth has come out.  My permanent tooth!  I tell someone… whoever is with me in the dream.  They seem unconcerned.   I dial the dentist’s office.  And while I scramble to tell people what is happening, or make an emergency appointment, my teeth become loose and fall out, one by one.   I feel completely out of control.  Helpless and panicked.  Permanent damage is being done, and there is no reaction, I can’t stop it, I can’t find someone who can stop it.

I haven’t had that dream for many years.  Maybe because I have climbed inside of that nightmare.   I am living in it now.  That feeling of helplessness and desperation.   We are living with something no one has heard of.  There is little known about it.  Our doctors haven’t heard of it.  Psychologists.  Therapists.  The few that know it, can not agree on what it is.  A psychiatric disorder?  A neurological disorder? A hearing problem?  A sensory integration disorder?  An autism spectrum-symptom?  A behavior problem?  The sensation of absolute helplessness is paralyzing.  I have no control.  I have no where to turn.

Why I am writing this?  This private, personal account of what really happens at our house, around the dinner table?

During the summer of 2012, misophonia had already slithered its way into our lives.  It’s presence a snake, coiled and waiting.  Watching us.  I had a sense it was there, but only that unease that comes as a premonition before the strike.   When it struck, here, and here,  I did what most sane, reasonable parents do.  I turned to the internet.  And there, I found almost nothing.  The info that I did find was less than encouraging.  It still haunts me, the things that I read that summer.  About families that can not live together.  About kids who leave home and never come back.  About mothers or fathers or siblings that are lost to each other, unable to overcome these tiny, imperceptible, everyday noises that scratch at Lydia’s brain like nails on a chalkboard.

There was a blog, I wish I could remember the name of it.  One blog.  And the mom who wrote it, posted about her son, and his misophonia.  All of the things they had tried.  All of the medication, and therapies and specialists that were not helping.  About dinner time.  But what left the lasting  impression was one sentence.

“We are in crisis over here.”

It was the most comforting thing I have read about misophonia.   I think of her often, and her willingness to admit it.  The crisis.  “Me too,”  I thought.

Knowing I was not alone was everything.

We are trying things.  We are draining our energy, our time, our savings account, trying to find help.  On the outside, we look like a normal, everyday family of five.  Mini van, soccer cleats, playdates, preschool art projects, birthday parties, piano recitals.  On the inside, if you came to visit, you would see a functioning family.  Home cooked meals, sibling squabbles, love notes, piles of laundry, homework unpacked on the coffee table.

Maybe we are a normal everyday family of five.

And everyone has something that makes them feel out of control.  Helpless.  Terrified.  Alone.

Are we all there?  Walking around with our teeth falling into our palms?  Clinging to the stories of the other people?   Gathering gratitude like seashells in a bucket, talismans of the burdens that we don’t have to carry?

The one thing I can do is step forward.  Use my voice, and say it when I can.

Me, too.   Me too.

To learn more about misophonia:

This NY Times article

misophonia.com

The today show segment, here   Warning:  trigger sounds are played.

My On-Screen Life

“The significance is hiding in the insignificant. Appreciate everything.”
― Eckhart Tolle

I got up early today to walk with a friend.  The morning was dark and quiet, the street lamps perfectly illuminated the fire-red and orange trees. The houses that lined our lovely gridded streets were still dark and sleepy, the porch lights illuminating the pumpkins and mums.  The grand white colonials with black shutters and red doors stood at attention, the Tudors took on a storybook quality.  It was picturesque, straight out of a movie set.

I may be a freak, because sometimes, in moments like this, I feel that I am walking in my own movie…a sort of out-of-body experience, where I observe myself and how sublimely orchestrated and beautiful the world is.

I love those moments.

Does this happen to anyone else?  The moment where you are walking down a tree-lined street, or sharing a bottle of wine with a friend, or your husband reaches to lace his fingers in yours and laughs in such a way that your mind starts searching for the sound track to go with the scene…like every detail is thoughtfully orchestrated to convey this moment.  Everything slows down, and you feel yourself softening into a timeless breath that will carry you through the day?

The leaves were crunching just so under my shoes.  Leaves fluttered softly to the sidewalk from the molting trees, gold and crimson confetti that made the quiet daybreak feel like an occasion.  There was a posse of adorable elderly ladies in their walking gear, zipping down the sidewalk.  We ran into them on our zigzagging Continue reading

Gratitude, the Collective Cup

“Invisible threads are the strongest ties.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche

I can not stop watching this video.  I found it on Brene Brown’s blog, where I was seeking solace from a very difficult morning…needing a bit of inspiration and a lift in spirit.

I needed to find a place of gratitude to reset myself.

What an instant spirit boost… it worked after the first view, but I like to be extreme about everything, so I have, of course, watched it about ten times.  Ok  fifteen.   Well, maybe more like twenty.  

What an amazing experience for these kids.  I love the amazing feeling of community and interconnectedness that washes over me just watching the video.

There is something transformative about participating in something so collective and beautiful.  It is a reminder of our unity and wholeness, Continue reading

Gratitude: the Back Float

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Wow.  Have you ever had one of those weeks (or two or three or forty in a row) where all of those cliché sayings like, “When it rains, it pours…” and “The shit’s hitting the fan” and “That which does not kill you makes you stronger” are appropriately running through your head?

Not the truly devastating stuff… not the real monsters like a death in the family, or a life threatening emergency or the end of a marriage.  But mid-level crap and madness that are stress inducing and eat away hours of your sleep.  The junk that makes you alternately lose your appetite and then eat a whole pizza at midnight like you are a 19-year-old college kid?

Stuff like that, peppered with ridiculous moments that seem to add insult to injury…since your brain is occupied with the mid-level madness, you don’t realize you are pointing the non-stick spray at your face and not the hot pan while making your kids’ breakfast (yes.  It happened.)  Or you begin dropping things constantly and repeatedly (never the car keys, always the iPhone).  Then you bend over six times in a row before successfully picking it up, making you look like you are doing some ridiculous dance in the cross walk of Target while everyone waits for you.

The moments that kick up that stress level until soon, every word you utter brings tears to your eyes?

Well, that sums up my last few weeks.  A stressful event happens, I freak out, I deal with it, I wake up the next day having talked myself down through a night of sleepless agonizing.  I begin my day feeling much more stable and ready to carry on…and then something else happens.  And slowly, I begin to unravel.   I will try to get some advice from a friend about the day’s non-emergent, mid-level flavor of the day crisis and suddenly I am desperately wiping away insistent tears on the kids’ playground at school.  It seems like a terrible over-reaction to the issue at hand…but  the culmination of it all at once that threatens to take me down.

Having these experiences has seriously challenged my ability to write a Gratitude post.  Something I committed to doing weekly and have been failing to meet the mark.  I am drowning here, people. Continue reading