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Friday, December 9, 2016

2016

It's been a few moons since I blogged it out to the world.
Since then...my teacher, my friend and extra father figure, Tom Beall passed away.
It still seems unreal.
I keep going to places that I used to run into him at and think we will catch up but he is gone.
He is gone and I still have a hard time really accepting it.

Despite the loss of Tom...I've reconnected with several friends from my past who have always been in my heart and that feels good.
I am glad.
Jenni, Matthew and Carmel...
We get each others shit. 
Sometimes that is all a person needs because I grew up in a small desert town near the border and many of us experienced a lot of death.
It was poisoned by mines, economic and social oppression and The 80s.
The arrogant 80s.

They began with high hopes.
I was taken to D.C. to attend the inauguration of Ronald Reagan because my mother believed he would save us from the threat of Communism and he did.
I guess.
Right?
The wall?
 It came down.

Now?
We have a soon to be in charge guy who praises Reagan but wants to build walls.
He wants to demonize our immigrants and he wants to fan the flames of paranoia by shitting on Muslims, Jews and anyone who isn't sending him money.

If he was darker? 
He would probably be considered a fascist.
Oh.
Boy.
My brain is tired. 

I just want my kid to be able to help someone live better.
He loves everyone and he wants to make the world better.

Captain Trumperica....
Please...listen to the kids.

Don't be a choade.



Saturday, September 10, 2016

I want Tom Beall to keep on living.

My name is Alysa Volpe and I've been living and loving since 1974 in this dry and dusty desert that holds the history of generations of hard working and innovative people...I kneel and whisper gratitude to you. 
This ground?
It's gorgeous.
It's beautiful.
I've yet to travel the world but I've seen tropical places and very cold places and this desert? 
It's not a desert, it is decadent.
It's rich and full of passion and I am a child of this soil.
This desert is my ❤️.
I'm going to die here.
This is my home.

And...here I am.
I have spent the past few weeks watching a man who taught me how to slow the fuck down, breathe and be on time (still failing, terribly...ask Jade) struggle to live.
He is struggling and I hate it.
My heart is breaking.
I lost my father when I was 24 years old.
I met Tom when I was 21. 
He has no memory of this.
I met him again when I was 31. 
He was my yoga teacher and he is a stubborn human.
None of that matters, really. 

My intention is to speak about the power of inspiration.
To honor my teachers.
Tom?
He has inspired me to be better.
He has inspired me to be honest.
He has inspired me to disregarded social niceties in place of being on the right side of history.
And that's an itchy place, right?
He is an itchy guy.
I have many good teachers.
In High School...Chris Yetman started the Environmental Club at CDO. 
He changed my life. 
He pushed us little grungy punk rockers to give a shit.
He challenged us to go outside and look at the places we placed our feet and think about the consequences of our actions.
My English teacher Ms. Goodheart took taught me that Shakespeare was revolutionary. 
He was naughty...he was worth paying attention to because life is messy and often ridiculous.

Teachers?
Mentors?
I meet them everyday.
They are human. 
They eat candy.
They buy cheap crap.
They forget stuff and can let us down but?
They also...wake us up to giving a damn.
Teachers are amazing.
I am grateful.
I want MY teacher to wake up.
I want to go back to our grumpy chats because I gravitate to grumpy. 
This is why I stuck with yoga: 
20+ years ago...I met a grumpy but wise man named Tom.
He pushed my buttons and I have learned so much.
Please get well soon.



Saturday, July 2, 2016

For All the Banished Mamas

A few days ago... I had a beautiful woman in her 50s sit at the front of my Yoga Nidra class.
I began my explanation of what the intention behind sharing the practice was.
Before I even got to discussing the body scan, she was weeping.
I'm used to this.
I gave her many "it's okay" looks, brought her some tissues, rubbed her back and carried on.
As soon as the practice began, she was fast asleep.
She came up after and said it was the first time in a few years that she felt 100% at ease.
I hugged her.
I told her that just 2 months earlier I had spent a day of silent retreat in tears and it was necessary for me to move through the difficulties of what triggered the tears in the first place with patience.

She apologized several times for crying.
I told her it was okay and she left.

A few days later, I taught our condescend version of MBSR and had everyone discuss their shit. 
Why are you here?
How do you manage stress? 
Where is it in your body?

The same woman from before sat in the circle and when it was her turn?
She said her name and then she began to cry.
She was trembling. 
People had discussed their illnesses, their shitty jobs or alcoholism.
Her issue seemed small.
To her.

She's a single mom with a kid diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

She believes she is the worst parent alive because over the past year she screamed at her kid. 

Her 7 year old barely made it through the  1st grade this year.

Teachers called her everyday.

Parents who had been her friends for years now disinvited her kid from activities.
They sent her texts telling her what a brat her kid is.

Her story is my story.
Or easily relatable.
She took a breath and then she just shut down.

She was done.

She cried again but then did her best to appear pulled together as I went through the next hour and a half discussing stress management.
It was a long class.
It was good.
I was on but I had 30 people wanting to have an A-Ha moment and it still feels intimidating whenever I notice a yawn infect the group.

After class she approached me.
I had mentioned that my son was a challenge.
He had emotional and behavioral issues.

My practice this year has been to remember to breathe whenever I receive a call from Atticus's school.
Instead of impulsively apologizing or blaming the messenger, I pause. 
I breathe and it's ridiculously helpful.

Her eyes held the same amount of panic and sadness that mine have had.

I've been feeling so alone.

A few friends have reached out but the ones I expected to call...they don't and it has hurt.

But...new friends have helped me learn the semantics of what I need to do.
I've felt so blind and ashamed over the past 2 years and am only recently becoming empowered.

I explained to her that not everyone gets it.
Those cruel friends are ignorant.
That's all.
They aren't evil and neither is she.

Their lives have their own challenges and they may not have the reserves or awareness to understand the need for support when so much in the world seems insane.

This year?
I have become incredibly educated about brain development, about meditation as a tool but also the that sometimes diet, therapy and yoga can't 'fix' your kid or make them not lose their shit.

We hugged a lot and we cried and I told her that the best tool I have had throughout the past few years has been to reach out and ask for help.
Literally and physically.
I found a kick ass Mom with an autistic son who may not know how inspiring  she has been.
She's badass.

In addition, touch is crucial for kids with executive function issues.

Hug them. 
A lot.
Atticus readily requests touch.
Hugs, kisses and back rubs.
I do it whenever I can.

I drop to my knees and look him in the eyes.
I tell him he is loved and explain why throwing things, running away and calling his bus driver an asshole makes his life more difficult.

I don't know why I'm sharing this...
To remind myself that I'm not alone in this?
To remind others, that they aren't either?

This woman that I met.
She self contained during my lecture but then sobbed once everyone left the room.

She needed to.

She doesn't like her kid all the time.
She feels incredibly guilty about it.

America?
What are we doing to our mothers?
This idealized story that Motherhood is magical?
That it's 100% nurture and organic snacks?
If you indoctrinate your kid in mindfulness and a million activities...they will be amazing?
Ta-Da!

Well?
Good for you.

Kuddo's to the moms who can and have children without emotional or behavioral issues.
I prepared for my pregnancy, I was vegan, I taught yoga throughout but it turns out my traumas and genetics can't be wished out.

This mother that I met?
She's like so many.
She's big hearted.
She loves her son.
She knows he is funny and kind but this world we live in doesn't allow for mistakes, patience or do overs and she's broken right now.

My heart hurts for her.

My heart hurts for my own child.

He went to Capoeria today.
He spent most of it playing and having fun and then the rest of it crying, covering his ears and running in the corner saying that "he didn't understand what he was supposed to do".

What will his teachers remember today?

Hopefully, they will acknowledge that he has gotten better but the looks on their faces said that he was a real fucking pain.

I'm not ashamed, anymore.

I'm not going to apologize for him but I will patiently explain to him (AGAIN) that losing it is distracting to others and maybe he should just explain in a non screaming way that he needs a time out.

It might work.
Or not.

I have come to understand that unconditional love is relentlessly wanting the best for someone who makes your life difficult, every damn day. 
That's love. 

Oh, Mamas.
It's the most beautiful life dance you will ever perform but it comes with a lot of band aids, twisted ankles and bruises.

Bless you.



Thursday, June 9, 2016

Nothing sweet to read here.

So, I have been avoiding the Stanford Rape case with gusto.
I'm sympathetic.
I can relate but I'm also crazy sensitive and overwhelmed with a traumatic past.
Molested (Assaulted, really as I was forced to suck dick, twice) at 4 years old?
Check.
Molested by classmates on the bus on a regular basis because I was one of the 1st to need a bra?
Check.
Felt up and barraged by my P.E. Teacher, Mr. Howe?
Check.
Raped twice by an ex-boy friend who once threw me against a wall at The Finelne and choked me?
Check.

I had many weird encounters over the years.
As do many women.

I was followed home late at night a few times by men masterbating.
Weird, right?

once sat at a coffee shop in Portland and had a man pleasure himself as I tried to ignore him and drink my Chai. 

I was groped mid day by a guy as I walked around downtown submitting resumes and looking for a job...

But the worst was walking home late at night and being pummeled to the ground by a man who pulled down my pants and assaulted me until I kicked him in the face and kneed him in the groin.
My case was dismissed by lack of evidence. 
I was 17. 
I was fucking terrified and waited 2 days to report it.

Reading the Stanford rape victim's account has been something I have been trying to avoid because I just can't. 
I can't.
I do NOT want to feel helpless again.
I can't handle it.
I want to get over these memories but I haven't, yet.

My husband can't even playfully tickle me without me losing my shit.
I keep my keys between my fingers late at night.
I check license plates when ever guys honk or tailgate me during my drive ( they even do it while my son is in the car).

I want to believe that I am over this shit but here I am....winding down from a weird and emotionally charged week and I just want to tell this young man and his father and jackass judge that his suffering isn't shit.
Is he a good person? 
Overall?
Maybe.
Will he redeem himself?
I fucking hope so...
But as a woman who has spent years in counseling, who meditates every goddamn day....who still flinches when she hears footsteps behind her...your sentence?
It's like having to eat bread dry.
That's it.
When you are the actual victim?
No matter how much forgiveness you practice?
The trauma? 
The feeling of wanting to flee, collapse or just straight up die?
It doesn't ever go away.

I hope you will do good.
I believe people can change...but you are not the victim, Mr. Brock whatever your name is....
You have an opportunity to learn and be humble.
You need to recognize that physical violation isn't just 'minutes'. 
It's forever.
So? 
Fuck you, swim boy.
I'm so pissed but tomorrow? 
I'm going to walk down the street as the gorgeous sexy woman that I am.
And I will do it again and again and know that I do NOT deserve abuse or harassment of any kind. 







Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I want to laugh like Chewbacca.

I'm watching Chewbacca Mom over and over because I need her today.
I need to find that laughing, giggling, snorting part of me again because I misplaced her.

That happy part of me went into hiding after an my friend, Deprssion showed up and wiped me out.
I need to smile without it feeling insincere and she has my face hurting from smiling so I will keep watching her until I'm exhausted from joy.


My friend showed up a few days ago, unannounced.
There was no email or text to give me a heads up...as usually, she just appears blocking the door to the kitchen or the bathroom or the backyard and says "Oh, hey...I need a place to crash and well...you NEVER have anything to do so... I figured it would be cool to stay for awhile".

At first, I push her away but then I stop.
I question myself and decide that...well...she must be right;
I have no life. 
I'm lonely.

Plus, I should be a good host.
Show poise.
Never grimace so... I don't. 

I invite her in without ever knowing how long she will stay or if she'll actually pay me back in any thoughtful way. 
She walks in, takes off her shoes and says "So? We're still BFF's, right? You love me?"

And as always, I nod and say "Of course, you're the closest thing to a sister that I've ever had.
I love you, Depression. 
You help me feel. 
You help me see what a unlovable wreck, I am.
You wake me up to how terrible everything is...I mean what am I supposed to do? 
Mindlessly enjoy breathing and living when everything is the world is going to shit?
Thanks you, Depression.
Make yourself comfortable and stay for as long as you need."

And so she does.
My friend, my sister..Depression.
Despite knowing that she never makes any sense and her stories are usually convoluted lies that distract me from what's good in my life... I can't seem to shut the door on her, no matter how much I journal about gratitude or smile until I mean it.
There's a morose charm to her that finds its way in.

She takes over my brain, my heart, my mouth and then gleefully pushes all the sore spots until I start paying attention.
I find myself impulsively pressing on the bruises and scratching the old scabs.
I tell myself that they need my attention. 
I'm being so brave by facing all of my ugliness.

I look at all those wounds and I pick at them. 
I let them bleed again. 
I fall into them and list them as if they are a to-do list for misery.

You are too scattered.
Men will always hurt you because you deserve it.
Your mother doesn't love you and it's all your fault.
You son suffers because you are a mess.
You're friends don't really like you.
Nobody actually likes you.
Everyone things your ignorant.
You're not good at your job and everyone knows it.
You're a self absorbed, privileged brat and will never be happy because you're too lazy to choose happiness.
Even your lists are glib and boring.

Huge sighs begin to arise and I begin the conversation " choose happiness, you idiot. Tell Your 'friend' depression to go away. Think happy thoughts and in 90 seconds you'll be fine.
And if you're not it's because you are a lousy yoga teacher.
A fraud. 
You're a fraud.
A soon to be washed up loser with sun damaged skin, bad teeth and messy hair."

And so she stays. 
She hangs out. 
She eats all of my food and leaves me hungry.
She takes up the whole bed and I become sleepless.
She takes over my words and I become mean.
She takes over and I give in.
I fall, I get bloody and angry and my tongue lashes out with fire.
My body sulks but my bones stiffen with a resolve to stay steady with these thoughts of doom and anger and then...she's gone.

She left.
I'm back in the world again.
Living and loving in this house, this body, this mind.
The sky is beautiful, the taste of a piece of fruit is satisfying, my relationship is salvation and I breathe.
But then I pause and wonder when will she be back?

Will she show up after I get harassed on my morning commute by guys in trucks who think I need to hear there hoots and hollers?
Will she show up after I read about the troubles of the world?
Will she show up after the principal calls to tell me that my child needs to be picked up?

Or will she show up like last time because I accidentally washed something red with a bunch of white which made me realize how bad I am at being an adult?

I don't know when she will visit, again.
But I know she will, so I go back to reminding myself how wonderful it is to rest in my sons bed and feel his little hand in mine.
I remind myself to walk slowly so not to get lost in another angry story that screams with a need for attention because I forgot to pause and look at the scenery around me.
I remind myself that now wasn't then and tomorrow isn't here so when my husband says he loves me...I need to hear it, believe it and say it back.
 And I have to remind myself that laughter has always been my best medicine.
So thank you crazy mom with a Star Wars mask for helping me pick up the mess that my friend, Depression left.
It's swept up and in the trash.



 






Saturday, May 7, 2016

My heart. My child.

To all the mother's in all their forms, I love you.
Each of us has a story that is full of amazing highs and painful lows.
Each one of us have moments in which we question if we are up to the challenge:
Can we raise and nurture and love these people we bring into this world or choose to parent?
Are we enough?
And of course, there are mothers who can't be the parent that their child needs. 
There are many who aren't able to love or open their hearts and their reasons may never be fully understood but they too have a story.

My story is wide open and full.
It's full of pride, sadness, joy, passion, love and doubt.

I doubted that I was up to the challenge of motherhood for most of my life.
I still doubt myself.
Daily.
Being Atticus's mother has been the most intense practice of my life.
It's been complicated.
There have been many, many, many times in which I found myself crumpling to the floor and believing that I was not strong enough to be the mother that he needs.

Atticus:

He is defiant and impulsive.
He swears like a sailor and bolts like lightening to get where he wants.
He wanders off. 
He runs into streets. 
He steals and sometimes he just has full on meltdowns that have inspired strangers to encourage me to spank him.

But...Atticus is also full of passion or 'spirit', as my polite friends say. 

He is strong and able to stand up for himself.
He thrives on making people laugh. 
He has no fear in trying to connect with anyone he meets.
He is loyal to the people he trusts and his ability to express his love and appreciation is without boundaries.

He is (like all of us) a person wanting to love and be loved.
Some days he does it gracefully and then there are periods where he just can't seem to get it right.
Just like you.
Just like me.

Yesterday, he received an 'official' emotional disability diagnosis from a psychiatrist.

He has what is called: 
Impulse Control Disorder. 
When he gets stressed out; all self control and ability to consider consequences goes out the window.
I have watched him struggle 'to behave' his whole life. 
He is desperate to fit in.
And there have been many, including myself, who have doubted his claims because there are times when he can maintain which is why when he suddenly shifts a few moments later into a frantic and uncontrollable kid. It is confusing for the rest of us to understand.

After dropping him off at school, I spent much of the morning in tears. 
I'm not sure if I was crying out of relief to finally have a diagnosis to work with or if I was mourning the fact that he won't have an easy road ahead of him.
Regardless, I've needed to cry and it seems as if the tears are endless right now.
I've spent so much energy trying to maintain a sense of normalcy but the tears have been hovering at my surface like clouds in the weeks leading up to the monsoon.
And now it's time to cry and cry and scream and then pick myself up because Atticus needs me.

He just started medication and I have no idea if it will actually help. The more I learn and reflect upon very similar difficulties that my oldest brother has had his whole life; the more willing I am to accept that medication may be what he needs.

I'm proud of Atticus.
He has tried so hard to listen and follow directions but as time has gone on he just can't and I want him to have friends.
Kids and parents have shunned him, many times. Not because they are jerks but because it's hard to be with someone who won't listen or can't respect basic physical boundaries.

I can't protect him from teasing and I can't hold his hand and watch his every move but I have to trust that things will get better. They may not be easy but I can't live in this state of fear and pause anymore.

My mind has fallen into too many fits of worry whenever his school calls and I have spent countless days lost in depression and grief. 
I've isolated myself and avoided old friends.
Most of my free time has been devoted to trying to help him, as it should be but I'm finding that my need to retreat and hide has left my body and mind very sick.
I've reached out with desperate pleas for help and advice but I stopped connecting with people in long and meaningful ways for awhile and it's time for me to take care of myself, again, too.

So, my intention is to replace the list of difficulties with new experiences to be grateful for and to recognize how much I already have.

Atticus is amazing. 
He is wicked smart and the most sincere and loving person, I know. 
He is healthy. 
He is funny. 
O.M.G. I love him like no other.

My Zack, he holds the space for me to work through the myriad of emotions that dance their way through our home and relationship every single day. 
He continues to surprise me with his unwavering devotion to our family.

My friends. 
I have always been lucky in friendship. I've found it easy to make them and stay connected and  I am also incredibly lucky to have so many friends who are actually skilled in handling the troubles that we've been facing. They have always given me an open door and I am realizing that I just have to make an effort to see them more.

My own mother and all the other mothers I have are making themselves known and I am reaching out and I need them.
Tomorrow may be our 'holiday' but to all the mothers out there...
I do love you and I'm honored to be part of your tribe.








Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Just a mini breakdown, that's all.

In the past 2 weeks my son has been kicked out of his Spring Break Camp for running into the parking lot and throwing his food at kids, he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and given an appointment that is still 2 weeks away, he has been suspended from riding the school bus for the rest of the year because he tried to get off the bus by taking over the steering wheel and opening the emergency exit because he didn't like the noise the kids were making. He was suspended from his after school program on Monday because he exposed himself over and over. Yesterday, I had to pick him up because he ran into the street because the cafeteria was out of mustard and then assaulted the safety officer who came to restrain him.

This morning, he practiced yoga and his violin.

He behaves when he feels safe but cannot keep it together when he is in public.
He grabbed a little girl in a restaurant and took her into the street a few weeks ago.

The only reason he was allowed out of my sight in the first place was because my in laws think I need to give him more freedom.
I've been listening to everyone's opinions ever since I had him:

Because he was born via c-section, he can't connect with others.
His father is full of negative energy and that energy infected his sperm so, ya know negative sperm energy.
He eats too much gluten. He doesn't have a gluten allergy.
He was born a Scorpio.
He's just too smart for the teachers and needs more freedom.
He needs more structure.
He needs a psychic to send him good vibes.
He needs to be spanked.
He should be drugged.

His newest principal told her staff "that it was obvious that I didn't have a clue" after meeting with me after suspending him the first time. 

I'm exhausted. 

I've never been good at trusting myself. 
I stayed in an abusive relationship for years because I thought I deserved to be treated poorly.
I have a history of poor decisions and here I am again.
I don't have a clue. 
I am lost.

Yesterday, I barely kept it together as I picked him up from school, again. 
The principal, vice principal, school psychologist, safety officer and Gifted children supervisor listing off a bunch of reasons why he is terrible THIS time.
It's been so stressful, that on Monday when I came home I was so stuck in my head with fear and grief that I didn't notice that Atticus had cut a huge chunk of hair off, again.

His therapist has been very helpful but like all the others...she says she can't connect with him.
He says what he knows people want to hear.
Except today he told me that his favorite thing is to sneak away and try to do things he knows are bad.
This kid?
This kid who gives his toys away, who desperately wants friends, wants play dates and sleepovers does everything he can to be untrustworthy and unlikable. 
My heart is breaking.

I am about to walk into a room full of school administrators who think I'm a terrible parent.
I'm going to accompanied by my husband and that means so much to me but I'm just so tired, I can't think straight anymore.