Wednesday 26 November 2014

Be Broken. Be Open. Be Okay with Chaos.

I read two really great articles recently that spoke to me, and I think they may speak to you.

The first one was called “Why Lying Broken In a Pile On Your Bedroom Floor is a Good Idea” by JC Peters. The second was a piece called “Time To Get Honest About Being Disabled”, published in Disabled Magazine and written by a man named David A Grant who’s a traumatic brain injury survivor.

These two articles on their own are amazing and powerful, but reading them both in one week has sort of blown my mind.


Julie Peters explains in her article that there’s a goddess named Akhilanda, whose name basically means “Never Not Broken”. Peters (and Akhi herself) sort of suggest the idea that being broken is part of growth, part of change; so instead of looking at ourselves and saying, “Whyyyy am I so broken? I suck because I’m broken,” we can say, “I am broken because I am growing.”

I am broken because that’s how things grow. So being broken (physically or mentally, whatever you’re dealing with) isn’t weakness, and it’s not the endgame; it’s the start of the new you. And if you’re like me and you crave constant growth, then you’ve got to expect—and embrace—constant breakage. I come undone because I am always undone. I am never finished. I am an agent of change.


This obviously paired really beautifully with Grant’s article, which talked about how much time we all spend trying to appear ‘normal’ or ‘healthy’. God, we expend a lot of energy trying to pretend we’re OK. And for what? Grant points out that those of us with invisible ‘broken parts’ can become isolated by our own perfect acting. Instead of burning ourselves out pretending we’re fine, why can’t we just accept ourselves as imperfect creatures? If we all did this, unabashedly and with a sense of pride for our individualized strengths, wouldn’t we find out that normal isn’t the norm at all?


I read these two articles the same week that I saw Bob, my psycho-spiritual mechanic (my counsellor, in layman’s terms) and he suggested that I need to start working on better embracing chaos when it hits. I’m not a chaos fan. I like things to fit neatly into little boxes, to start when they’re supposed to start and end when they’re supposed to end. I like things quiet unless it’s an orderly noise. I like it when the dog stops shedding for the season. I like it when my house is clean.

This week I stopped trying to keep away the chaos. I started by giving up on my house cleaning. I never really get on top of it anyway, what with teaching and running a start-up company; why stress about what I can’t currently control anyway? That drove me a bit batty, but I managed and I figured that would be what I told Bob I did this week—yay, me. Instead, the goddess Akhilanda decided I needed to be pushed a little further. So on Wednesday morning my car wouldn’t start, and after four days of driving around a loaner while we diagnosed the problem, the loaner blew a tire, leaving me stranded in a Chapters parking lot.


It’s a funny thing, personal growth. When you decide to start down a road of self-discovery and self-acceptance, momentum can start to pick up. One learning opportunity after another will start to happen, sometimes faster and faster until you can’t tell where one ends and the next begins. As I stood beside my loaner car waiting for help, I called MJ and laughed with all my heart at the ridiculous chaos of my life. I didn’t freak out. I just laughed, bought myself a banana loaf inside, and waited for help.

So I guess, if I package up all my learning this week for you to also benefit from, I’d have to say this to you:
Be forever broken.
Embrace it, inside and out.
And don’t fear the chaos, because it’s part of the eternal breaking/mending cycle.

Two days later, my car is fixed, I’ve scored some major victories in my work, and I’m sitting in my chair now, listening to MJ sing as she bakes while Corben sheds relentlessly all over my feet and my unwashed hardwood floors. And I’m pretty content, actually.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Some Tuesdays are Mondays.

Tuesday went like this.

I got up at 5:30am.

I fought with the doors on my car that had frozen shut, then drove past the school I teach at as I forgot where I was going; pulled a U-turn down the street and actually drove to the school instead of past it this time.

Ran with my dog Corben to the building as his feet started burning from salt, and I realized I can't carry him now that he's 53lbs. Taught class. Got call from MJ back at the house: she's ill.

I drove home on class break, made her tea, checked temperature, and gathered crackers. Drove back to school, taught another class with angry students this time (long story). 

Drove to a client's for a troubleshooting thing, then to the grocery store for sick MJ food. Drove home, made MJ sweet potato slices in the oven (a compromise, as she wanted tater tots DESPITE STOMACH FLU).

Found that dog had dragged the mug we use to scoop sidewalk sand into the house and onto my bed, where the snow it contained had melted.

I put dog outside for a pee, then brought him in even though he brought a big rock into the house to chew on. Took rock away from dog, discovered rock was actually his own frozen poop. Cleaned hands, floor, etc.

Took dog to THREE PET STORES looking for boots, found nothing his size. Came home, sat down for the first time in 14 hours.

Ate leftovers, stared blankly at my to-do list until bedtime while watching MJ scroll through Eventually dragged yoga mat into her room so I could try stretching out my screaming sore back.

So yeah, pretty normal day.

Friday 14 November 2014

Only Good Girls Keep Diaries

I haven't been blogging. There's a couple reasons for this.


One: I'm so overworked that I can barely remember how to put on pants. I'm not joking. The other morning I went out for a smoke and instead stuck my pen in my mouth, and it took me several minutes to realize it wasn't a cigarette.
credit: morguefile

When I get stressed, I sleep poorly, and when I sleep poorly, my nerves get shot, and then my imagination takes off, and then I'm doomed. I went for a swim last week and midway through, I had the pool to myself. This should have been nice but instead my imagination said, "Hey...what if there's a shark in here?" This is something my head used to whisper to me when I was a kid at the lake, and it boggles my mind that it still whispers this today when I'm an adult--an adult swimming in a pool. Yes, it's a saltwater pool; no, I don't think it can sustain marine life. I asked my head, Why are you doing this? How the hell do you think a shark would get in here? And my head said, Someone brought it in.

After a moment of stunned silence, I said, Are you seriously suggesting that some nutjob somehow,
a. Acquired a live shark large enough to eat a human,
b. Figured out a way to safely transport this six-foot fanged monster to the gym,
c. Slipped the shark past security,
d. Somehow grabbed the shark around its middle, heaved the thousand-pound, toothy beast along the pool deck, then slipped it into the water, where it has managed to hide, somehow camouflaged into the light-blue paint, waiting for ME to get into the water so it could eat me?

My head seemed to ponder the mental image I had created, then said, I'm not suggesting, exactly. I'm just wondering.

My swim was completely ruined. Other people fear monsters in the basement. My imagination eschews the dark and silent spaces, and instead injects nightmares into brightly-lit public pools where pop music blares over the speakers.


My second reason for not blogging lately is that some things are developing. My love life, for one. I've surmised that I'm loathe to share this with the great invisible public because sharing such intimate details in the past has been hard. When my first blog, the wedding blog, went viral, it was weird for me. Well, beyond weird. Being recognized on the street can be cool but also uncomfortable. When my marriage ended, I faced not only the usual judgement that all failing couples deal with from friends and family, but also the judgement of anonymous strangers from all corners of the world. There are literally message boards discussing my divorce. After my boyfriend Alan and I broke up, I tried to keep that really quiet, but I felt critical eyes on me again, made more painful because I now had had two breakups from two different relationships that I'd felt confident were 'the one'(s).

I know, internally, that these things happen. It takes time to find a permanent mate, and maybe some of us never do. I also know that if you follow any thirty-something bloggess for 5+ years (as you may have done with me), relationship starts and stops will be part of the narrative. But for a short time here, I have been silent on my blog because I needed a break. I needed some time for this new relationship to grow some roots and take hold. And I needed that relationship to be made up of just two people, not two people + the peanut gallery. I also know, though, that being a writer means writing from the heart. It's a double-edged sword, this burning compulsion to narrate life.


Oh, and reasons 3, 4, 5 for not blogging lately:
-My career is going through a growth-spurt that has me up at 5:30am and in bed at midnight;
-My dog training is in its final stages and requires a great deal of time and energy;
-I've been out living life rather than writing about it.

There's a quote: "Only good girls keep diaries. Bad girls don't have the time." That's basically me right now, except not so much 'Sex & the City' and more, 'Liz Lemon in 30 Rock'.

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