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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.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

I am trying to stand up but I need some extra hands to lift me.

Last week as I was pulling into our driveway after picking Atticus up from school, 4 helicopters flew over our house in a perfect square formation.
Atticus was very impressed and so was I. 
I am impressed when people can parallel park on the first try so piloting an aircraft is pretty amazing to me.

We live right under the flight path for Davis Monthan Air Force base and quite often their aircraft fly over my house while I meditate, clean the kitchen, sit on my couch or eat dinner.
Yet, my home feels safe.
I've never worried that the planes above me would intentionally harm me.
I've never worried that anyone might want to hurt me or my family because of our beliefs but my son asked "why are they flying like that? Where are they going?"
I told him "They are practicing for various conflicts and operations around the world. We are always fighting someone, it seems".
He was surprised " Why?"

Now, we have discussed the world's conflicts before. 
Last year his school district had all the kids dress in red, white and blue in support of one of the local schools whose parents were being deployed to Afghanistan. I don't shelter him from the dark side of the world but I don't see the benefit of raising him with fear. He knows there is a lot of suffering around the world and within our own community but unlike my childhood in which, I was told the Russians and Iranians could arrive at anytime to destroy my family...I try to empower him with an understanding that as a child his job is to learn to be generous and patient. I want him to understand that not everyone will agree with one another and some people will lash out in anger when they feel small and threatened but that's no reason for him to do the same.


However, he had asked a question so I answered him " We are at war because we are trying to protect our resources but also trying to protect others from suffering but it's all very complicated...someone always wants to be right which means they tend to make someone else wrong. Instead of just allowing us to live in disagreement...we are too insecure and try to eradicate the people who don't agree with us instead of just being present with our own uncomfortableness."

It was a bit of a long winded and benign explanation,.
I didn't go into the politics and finances of the weapon industry, environmental insecurity or the history of colonialism that has influenced resentment.
I just wanted him to understand the basic human ego because it is the driving factor behind everything else.

But even with that fairly tidy and somewhat naive explanation, he said "That's just messed up."

And it is. 
I don't have any big answers, either.
Considering the amount of tension and bitterness that can quickly swell into a fairly dramatic situation at the kitchen table...I can't expect that any us will ever get over ourselves at the same time.

I minored in Anthropology in college and what I learned was that civilizations keep repeating the same cycles of overconsumption, greed and self righteousness over and over even though every time it turns into an epic fail. 

But we keep doing it, anyway.
Again and again.
We stick our heads in the ever warming sand with a belief that we won't suffer the same consequences as those who followed the same footsteps before us.

We are somehow better equipped THIS time.

OUR God wants US to succeed.
OUR land will never let US down.
OUR way is the right way....we won't starve, become ugly, mean or become what we despise.
Not us.

Not us.
I recognize that the wars we face are linked to so much more than I can explain. 
Poverty, ignorance, prejudice, beliefs, resources...they all are parts of the chaos that we continue to struggle with as a planet and I can't fix this madness for him on my own.

But when I was younger, I thought my generation would be the one that dId.

I participated in a High School walk out during the 1st Gulf War and royally pissed off my dad but I thought it was worth it. 
I believed that my voice mattered. 
I handed out condoms and pamphlets regarding HIV and AIDS to strangers as part of an education program through Tucson AIDS Project because I thought that if people just had the facts then they would stop demonizing a whole group of people.
I volunteered for our school environmental group and tried over many family dinners to explain to my father that caring for our planet wasn't a communist conspiracy.

Information can be powerful.
It can wake people up from being ambivalent but it doesn't seem like it's enough, anymore.

I know that there has been progress.
Quite a bit.

However, I have a mental block to policies that are irresponsible or hateful.

I don't get religion.

I don't understand our attachments to oppressive beliefs systems...I have yogi friends who think questioning old practices and origin stories is arrogant so I do understand the blinding power of devotion and belief fanatics but I am finding myself feeling very hopeless.

Maybe, hope is just another blinding belief because after thousands and thousands of years there doesn't seem to be an awakening of consciousness globally.

At least that's how I'm feeling.
Lately, I've been drowning in the sorrow and rottenness of the world: mass shootings, racist rants, violence and ignorance seem to be the daily headline and it's so heavy that my body almost can't move anymore.
I'm tired and heartbroken with the world that I brought my son into, despite the goodness of my own life.
I'm finding myself falling into the same sort of defensive fear that creates the problems that have left me feeling so very sad.
Will change come?
I've spent my life with those planes and helicopters flying over my head and am fortunate that I still do not fear for my own safety. 
My child is the same but do the children across the border have that same sense of protection from violence like mine does?
Hell, even the color of his skin gives him more of a sense of ease in our neighborhood then it does for kids not born 'white' or living on a reservation just miles from my home.
I'm not going to just 'Thank God' for my blessings because that's bullshit and it means I am complacent to the violence, the ignorance and poverty that permeates our planet but...
I want to help the world.
I really do.
I just do not know how to and I have to remember that I can't do it all by myself.




Monday, February 8, 2016

Running is prohibited.

There have been many times over the past year, in which I wondered if my son would be better off without me in the picture.
I understand that is a terrible thing to say but I never thought I was fit enough to be a good mother. I worried I would be much like my own: anxious, unstable and unrealistic.

But 7 plus years ago and after years of my partner wanting to have kids...I decided to throw my hands and legs to the sky and say "let's see what happens" and what happened?
A gorgeous little boy came into this crazy scene.
And like so many other moments of naive hopefulness, I believed that if I just wanted it enough, I could become a wonderful mother AND I would never explode like my mother did, 
I would never pressure my kid to be perfect, 
I would never yell or say shitty things and he? 
He would be awesome.
Easy.
He wouldn't be a mess like me.
He'd be so much better than me.
But he still is a lot like me.
And it turns out...I'm a lot like my mother.

When Atticus was born, I was told that the 1st year would be the hardest part of but then came my divorce, toddler insanity, my manic dive into beer, men, tears and poor judgement.
All of this, in addition to continued sleepless nights while trying to smile with food stuck in my hair and grossness dribbled on my clothing meant that year 2 and 3 were not easier. 
They were a shit show of how truly functionally dysfunctional life could be.
 
Time moved forward and things got harder.

When he turned 4, I thought I had finally figured this parenthood, relationship and career business out.
I met a wonderful guy who loved us both and really wanted to create a family.
I was becoming a grown up BUT then we stepped into the world of Pre-school, Kindergarten and Elementary school!
(Cue the dramatic music, it's needed)
I had no idea what we were in for. 
Not a clue.

I grew up in Sahuarita, Arizona.
I had one school option.
It was full of the children of migrant workers, copper miners and Mormons.
There was no bullshit to be had.
If I misbehaved, Dr. Holtzmiller gave me the paddle. 
If my mom found out about it...then the belt and wooden spoons came out.
I got a lot of firm reminders throughout my childhood but they never stopped me from being a stubborn and defiant child so I promised myself that I would never be that kind of parent.
Which was great except I didn't have a Plan B.

So when Atticus acted like an ass?
I didn't do anything but plead, cry or lock myself in the bathroom because his misbehaving was infuriated me to a point of rage. 
I didn't know how to talk to him which meant that he didn't know how to function, either.
He wouldn't sit still, he said crazy things, he inspired revolts.
Literally.
When preschool mutiny happened, it was epic.

He was kicked out of his 1st 'real' preschool because he led the kids out of the building to the playground and locked the teachers inside of the building. Upon his expulsion, I was told to drug him or be prepared to visit him in prison during my grey years. 
After that, I found him a very liberal preschool that he loved.
So, for a time he had the perfect situation until we could no longer afford it.

Kindergarten was a challenge but ended okay. 
We were encouraged to remove him from his designated school at the beginning of the year by that school's counselor and transferred him to a Montessori school. I figured he'd thrive with more creativity but his teacher had to create a whole new set of rules for him so that meltdowns and full on tantrums weren't a daily experience.

Again, once we got through Kindergarten, I thought things were going to get easier but after the 2nd week of 1st grade, it was clear that the Montessori atmosphere wasn't a good fit for him. 
He was back to finding ways to runaway from school, master his use of profanity and alienate most of his classmates.
Suspensions happened. 
Principals calling me with my son begging to come home in the background became regular occurrences.
It sucked.
I was truly losing my mind. 

So, for the past several months, I've been holding my breath and waiting for phone calls, leaving work early, scheduling meetings with teachers and psychologists, emailing his father, his teachers and trying to keep my breakdowns fairly secret.
I've texted friends at all hours of the day for advice and stayed up way too late reading every recommended book on parenting a child who is now officially labeled as 'gifted' and 'emotionally disabled'.

I've been almost entirely focused on taking care of and advocating for my son. 
Each day, still showing up for work, walking into rooms and lecturing strangers about how to keep their shit together while they've pressed me for my faults so that they can feel better about themselves.
Random folks giving me unsolicited advice that they copied from someone's Facebook page.
They mean well, I know... but it hasn't stopped my own feelings of wanting to runaway.

I have not been all that confident that I was the right person for the job to be raising Mr. Atticus Ronin Brindamour.
This kid who hugs everyone, who asks questions that I can't answer...
This kid became lost in 18 pages of documentation that said he was a problem.
And it's been unbearably shitty at times.
It has been full of a lot of misguided moments of frustration towards the people I love the most...
My boyfriend, my teacher, my friends and my co-workers who are my family and deal with my everyday ramblings.

It's been a year of having to get up and feel my feet on the ground, each day.
I've been a mess but I've still shown up and I've learned that running away doesn't get you any further away from the parts of life that you don't like.
My son needs me.
Our school system is fucked but our teachers our good.
They are exhausted.
They are underfunded, underpaid and our kids are being dragged through a system that often lacks insight.
It's really nuts. 
Truly. 

Thankfully, the bigger picture has found heroes in the corners who spend their days listening to both Atticus and me.

We are at a new school,again.
Atticus is still awkward and defiant but he is given so much more patience and guidance then he was.
He is doing much better.
My phone isn't something I gaze at with trepidation and wonder 'is that the school's phone number'?
No.
It's been much better... 
We are much better and I am not going anywhere.
I'm staying right here and I still believe I can be the mother he needs but I'm not crossing my fingers, anymore.
I'm taking some deep breaths and staying put.



Friday, January 22, 2016

Said, woman, take it slow. It'll work itself out fine.

I'm going to give myself a medal for patience and let it hang from the rear view mirror of my car.

I drive almost 50 miles a day, 4 days a week to get to my job where I work as a yoga and meditation teacher.
That gives me at least an hour and a half each day to practice patience and a bit of forgiveness.
Traffic isn't as bad as it is in L.A. or other big cities but the constant waves of construction, snowbirds and texters can make for a challenging commute.
There is only one road that gets me to work so it is easy for me to become angry as I make my way to and from, however, I've gotten pretty good at catching myself and redirecting my attention to the road, the mountain views and reminding myself that everyone else is just like me...
Wanting to get somewhere sooner than later.
Just.
Like.
Me.

Navigating traffic with equanimity was a big first step for me as replacing anger with patience has only recently become a strength of mine. Somewhere during these long drives, I have finally realized that I don't have control over how quickly the red light changes or need to know why someone cut me off in traffic. I can just take a breath and keep on my way without dragging all the little things that annoyed me into the rest of my day.

I mean, I still have my moments but they aren't as bad as they used to be or as regular. 
If I'm bored enough, I can still plant seeds of paranoia throughout my brain and then incessantly feed them with attention until they grow like weeds.
But, honestly I'm just getting too old for some of this stuff, I'm tired and don't want to have to deal with the overgrowth of tension that winds up planting itself all over my mental landscape, anymore. I'm trying to notice when I'm even considering about giving an impromptu performance of an adult temper tantrum so that I can talk myself down before embarrassing myself or hurting someone else with careless words. 

It ain't easy.

I was born into a family dynasty of drama queens and over the years I honed my skills.
I've had many great moments worthy of an award or two: I've stormed out of parties and restaurants, accused boyfriends of affairs, thrown dishes, run away, cried myself to sleep over stories that never happened and argued endlessly in my head with people over situations that were totally made up so that I could at least win a debate within the jury of my semi-conscience mind.

As a teacher, I might be wise not to share so much of my madness but it is a new year, after all and I'm hoping somewhere in this rant I will finally come to reveal the improved me, the better me (which is really the same old me but not so full of bravado me) within these paragraphs of self reflection so please try not to be too critical. 
I'm just like you and thankfully, I have the benefit of knowing some very pleasant but straight forward people who are able to see when I'm starting to walk up the stairs to my podium of self righteous self pity and say "are you serious, right now?"  Often, they are greeted with my very confident "Fuck off" but after I lick my wounds, drink some water and eat, I'm usually grateful to know that even though my madness may be solitary, it's only temporary and I can always choose to be a bit more gracious, a bit more patient and a lot more forgiving.

It's taken me a long time to understand that forgiving someone wasn't a weakness.
Forgiveness and patience is courageous and liberating.
It doesn't erase the scars that are left once the pain has subsided but it does allow you to itch and stare at them less. It gives you the opportunity to see the bigger picture and for me it was much needed.

Anger and resentment has been a companion that I have carried with me throughout my life.
Like any addiction, I have allowed it to own me in every way.
It's kept me from living, it has kept me from experiencing joy and laughter. Instead of looking around me, instead of seeing what was good in my life, I've often reached for anger and found ways to be offended even when it wasn't justified.
I've drunk it down over and over, believing that eventually the bottle would go dry but it turns out that anger can be infinite.
You can try to swear it off but eventually it shows up like a shot glass poured by a charming bartender who smiles and says " it's on the house" so you smile back, throw it down and then snap your fingers so you can order another.
For me, it finally came down to asking myself how do I want to continue to live?
Do I always need be right, to be in a hurry, to be angry?
No.

And oh my...is it a hard habit to break. When you've become very good at something it's hard to walk away from it no matter how destructive it can be but I started it by simply taking my time as I drove up a long road. 
Taking my time as I walk from my car to my front door.
Making myself slow the fuck down which is so not how I've down things. 
It's not how I was raised, that's for sure.

I'm going to continue to get pissed off over really dumb stuff from time to time but the reality is that there is real injustice that deserves my attention.
There is much in the world to be angry about but if I spend all of my energy fuming about the stop and go traffic, the person in the left lane going too slow or the ridiculous caller on NPR, then I don't have energy for the things that require real tenacity.
I can't pause and think clearly about the things that matter like standing up for my kid or calling out bigotry and inequality. That sort of bravery requires patience. It requires the ability to stay calm in traffic for hours on end and most certainly wasn't what I expected when i first found myself gritting my teeth and waiting for the light to change.

Man, it's a long drive. 
But, please excuse me, I've got a medal to go craft for myself.