Strike the Root

Like many others, I find myself emotionally charged right now in the aftermath of yet another mass school shooting. Everyone is arguing over gun control and I’m literally getting a headache thinking through all of it. I like to think of myself as an open-minded person, and when it comes to the topic of gun control, I know that I have not done sufficient research to convince myself whether or not banning “assault rifles” would truly be effective in reducing mass murders long-term. Also, I know next to nothing about firearms, the many different kinds, and their wide range of uses (and unfortunately, neither do most lawmakers or citizens who staunchy defend their uneducated opinions). Simply put, I am not educated enough to truly have a worthwhile opinion on the whole topic. My biggest concern is the enormous possibility that a semi-automatic weapons ban will not reduce violence. Violence will simply find another outlet.

I read a brief, yet thought-provoking article today on how the “blame games” contribute to the acceptance of violence in our culture (https://thelibertyreview.com/polarization-following-mass-shootings-has-become-part-of-the-problem/). This article reflects many of my own ideas. My view on how society addresses many of it’s cultural ills can be summed up in a Thoreau quote:

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”
-Henry David Thoreau

Several years ago I had a massive showdown with a patch of thorny puckerbrush. It’s one of those obnoxious plants that will keep growing back no matter how many times you cut it down. You must uproot the whole thing to kill it. As long as there is root in the ground, it will continue to grow back.

I believe that well-meaning gun control legislation is merely hacking at a branch. I’m not going to say it isn’t helpful because I don’t know. Sometimes you have to cut at branches before you can even reach a root. But we must not fool ourselves into thinking that gun control is the ultimate solution. We cannot focus all efforts into legislation and then breathe a sigh of relief when it passes. All we’ve done is hack off a branch. Another branch will grow in its place. Those who desire to harm others will simply find another way to do so.

We need to find the root. We need to explore the reasons for why our culture is currently a breeding ground for such hate and violence. Why is there so much unrest? Why is there so much despair? What causes a young man to become so detached from love that he feels the need to kill? How have we, as a society and individuals, contributed to a culture that produces such a violent human being?

I happened to read a few sentences of an account by one of the survivors of this latest massacre. At one point she stated, “…don’t humanize him,” (referring to the killer). Reading that broke my heart. This statement is cutting me so deeply because it reveals the massive disconnect we have in our culture. That killer IS a human. He is one of US. This sort of behavior is a product of humanity, a product of the culture and reality we’ve created.

It’s automatic for us to separate ourselves, to disconnect from someone who is so obviously horrible and to call him “inhuman”. However, the potential for horrendous evil lies within everyone of us, and I think most of us don’t want to admit that. It’s terrifying. But in dissociating from those who get caught in darkness, we actually dull our awareness of the dark areas in our own hearts that desperately need the light of love.

“Do you hate him because he’s pieces of you?”
-Jewel

We are all guilty of feeding and grooming the beast. We are all responsible for the division in our country. We demonize those who don’t agree with us. Our version of “Be the change you want to see in the world,” is to demand everyone else be the change we want to see in the world. We chant “Love Trumps Hate!” while day-dreaming the president gets assasinated. We preach tolerance but want to hang anyone who we deem intolerant. We know things need to change, but we keep pointing the finger at everyone and everything else. At what point will we finally take responsibility for our part in this mess? At what point will we realize that distancing ourselves from those we fear and misunderstand only further divides us and generates hatred? At what point will I finally stop preaching to the crowd and instead, examine my own heart and the places I’ve harbored hate and fear and pain?

When will I discover the outside war is just a reflection of the war going on inside of me?

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”
-Dalai Lama

It’s true: love is the answer.

We must learn to love ourselves and each other. Learning to truly love myself has been the hardest challenge of my life. For so long, I was afraid of my own darkness, of the deep shadows within my soul. I heard the angry growls of a monster deep within. But once I shone a light in the darkness, I discovered not a monster, but a wounded heart in need of compassion and understanding.

A wound that is not tended will fester and become angry. A wounded animal can become very dangerous. The saying is true: hurting people hurt people.

When someone hurts us, we retreat and disconnect. That disconnection is a wound in itself. That’s what having our “feelings hurt” is about. And when we don’t know how to tend our wounds, we disconnect from them. When we disconnect from our wounds, we disconnect from that part of ourselves that was wounded. We lose ourselves.

I think it is this hellish internal disconnection that causes us to disconnect from one another. For some, the disconnection takes a violent form. Those who feel disconnected from others feel no remorse killing them. as they are merely acting out in the physical what they feel in the spiritual. However, most of us don’t kill one another. For many of us, we simply withhold love from one another. When we find our wounds and darkness being reflected at us from another, we are so triggered that we quickly make that person/group our scapegoat. We think they are the problem. If we get rid of them, then that will fix everything.

But it’s just hacking at branches. It’s just pruning a bush that will only grow back with a vengence.

I’m not the smartest person in the world. I don’t have many answers. The problems we face are complex, and certainly require a variety of solutions. But I do know one thing: we need to learn how to connect with our own hearts and with one another. We need to stop viewing the other side of the debate as being the enemy. We even need to stop viewing mass murderers and terrorists as the enemy. We need to see them as one of us. We need to treat every human being, whether lovable or unlovable, as an extension of ourselves. We’re not going to survive if we keep disconnecting and dividing. We all need each other.

Ultimately, love is the only thing that is going to save us.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

May we listen to one another with tender ears
May we see one another with unfiltered vision
May our shoulders help bear one another’s burdens
And may we love one another with open, fearless hearts

And may we recognize that, ultimately, we are all one, and that what we do for another, we do for ourselves. A little compassion and understanding can go a long, long way.

Advertisements

Number One Tip For Growing Out a Pixie Cut

There was once a time I had long flowy princess hair that was the envy of hair enthusiasts everywhere. It was full and glossy and sooo long. I loved to put my luscious locks into a french braid and wear flower dresses. 

And then I had yet another baby and decided to cut off my long hair in favor of a pixie cut, something I NEVER thought I’d do.

I have enjoyed having short hair, and at one point I even buzzed it all off just to say I’d done it once. It actually looked pretty good on me.

But then I finally decided I’d had my share of flirty pixies and wanted my long braidable hair back. 

Growing out a pixie is not fun. You hit these stages in the process where it just doesn’t look good at all. It must be what a caterpillar looks like as its transforming into a butterfly. I suspect the in-between stage looks like some horrible science experiement gone wrong… like, WHAT is this mutant? (And does it have any powers?)

There is nothing that can speed up this process, very little to make the transition easier. It’s simply one of those long dark nights your hair’s soul must go through.

I have one tip, one tiny golden nugget of advice when the urge to give up and chop it all off again becomes irresistible:

STOP LOOKING AT PICS OF YOUR PAST ADORABLE PIXIE CUTS

and

KEEP LOOKING AT PICS OF WHAT YOU WANT YOUR HAIR TO LOOK LIKE.

For me, this means I avoid looking too long at pictures of myself from the last year and instead, drown my eyeballs in all my long haired glamour shots. When I see my short clean hairstyles, the urge to start chopping gets strong. But then I go back and look at older pics of my long flowy hair and remember how much I loved that look and feeling.

For those of you who never had long hair, just find pictures of the long styles you’d like to have and keep those in your line of sight daily. 

Keep your vision on your goal and not the past. As the saying goes, “When you feel like giving up, remember why you started.”
Stay strong, my Lovelies. Let your hair grow long and wild. If you need moral support, hit me up.

In the flow

Things are feeling off for me. I just started my period yesterday and apparently the physical flow threw me into a flow of feelings. Yesterday’s post was so overly poetic, it came out of nowhere and shocked me. Although I haven’t had a chance to write today, I have felt that same sort of flow at different times today.

Does that normally happen with my period? I don’t think so. “All the feels” don’t usually hit me until right before I start ovulating. 

I’m really confused. 

But then again, not surprised.

My hormones are all over the place, my cycle is terribly wacky, and I think my body can’t decide what to do. I’m really hoping some of the changes I’m making right now will help to balance my system soon.

Stability, please come to me!

The Shifting Light

My favorite times of day are the times when the light shifts. That’s when I can feel the breath of the expansive living soul of the universe brush against my own breathing soul.

There’s something magical about the time just before dawn. I feel closer to all the goodness of life right before the sun graces us with his brilliant rays. The light appears before the sun does. It’s an irresistible feeling of hope and anticipation for all the beauty life has to offer. It’s like a delicate but steady dream yearning to reveal itself in full glory. And yet, it’s so quietly and gently close, so small and near, like wearing a favorite sweater, like a secret that only the universe and I share. Sshhh… just wait for it…

And then there is twilight, the time of day when the sun has departed, but his light still lingers, slowly trailing behind him. That’s the time of day that breaks my heart. That’s when I feel all the old memories deep within my being press upon my chest, yearning to be experienced all over again. The sun has left, the times have passed, but the light and the memories still linger. 

Not only do I meet with the memories of my own experience, but I also hear the echoes of a thousand different lives yet lived, the infinite possibility of experience. A million beginnings and endings, existance and oblivion all at once descend upon me as the final light of day gives way to dark night.

In these times of shifting light, I can feel the presence of eternity wrap around me, like spinning against a silken shawl. Beauty is both a light and heavy weight that flows in and around us, and try as you may, you cannot grasp her. You can only become one with her, let her move you. She may move you to joyous laughter or to gut-wrenching tears. She invites you to feel whatever it is your soul feels.

Light in its infancy: a glorious fresh dawn of passion and curiosity.

Light in its final moments: a twilight of reflection and an awareness of the continuous circle of life.

I like to meet light in its beginnings and endings, in its daily shiftings, because I want to know that I too can be laid to rest and still rise again. The sun knows not defeat- only rebirth.

The light calls to me, “Shift with me…”

let me smell the roses

Rows of roses
line the windows
Fill my eyes
with fushia life
But I can’t smell a thing

It’s winter
and all I have are pictures
It’s summer in my room
but the air is still stale

I can only recreate
and rearrange
so many ways
This is the best that I can do

A bath is lovely
but the porcelain cannot compare
with the mineral grit of sand
and the squishy muddy slippery rocks

I long to feel the earth again:
rocks, grass, twigs
My body craves the green
and everything real

Let me lay in the grass
and sink into the earth
Let me lay upon the beach
and feel the waves rush over me

Spring me from these manmade caves
and let myself go wild and free,
With the wind in my hair and the sun on my cheeks
My barefeet on the ground and my soul in the trees
Surround myself with birds and bees
Let my center blossom with the natural world

and let me smell the roses.

Turn Around 

I recently watched a video on YouTube of toddlers discovering their own shadows and being frightened of them. While not at all funny to the child, adults find such reactions to be humorous because we know there’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s just a shadow.

But adults are afraid of shadows too. We all have a shadow. We all have parts of ourselves that we’d rather ignore, dark and unexplored territory that we fear to delve into.

And then there are some of us who start exploring the shadow and then get stuck there. We get stuck in the darkness, we become the darkness. It becomes everything. There is nothing but this eternal dark night.

“Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it’s dark.”
-Zen saying

“The shadow proves the sunshine.”
-Switchfoot

When all you see is shadow, it’s time to turn around. Face the sunlight that has been shining on you the entire time.

Death, the Comforter

Last spring I had an interesting encounter with Death. Ok, not actual death, but a personification of death. I’ll skip the fun details as to how it began. 

What eventually happened is that I had a writing conversation with some aspect of myself that identified as Death personified. We had a good chat about some things in my life that needed to die so that the real me could step forward. 

Turns out Death is super nice and friendly. I wasn’t expecting that.

I briefly engaged with Death tonight for the first time in many months. 

I haven’t been feeling well for a while, and I’m steadily getting worse. I’ve been hoping things would resolve on their own, but they haven’t.

I’ve had some health scares in the past, so it’s been pretty easy for fear to creep in lately. It has quietly grown and grown, and of course, makes me feel worse.

My fear of dying has hit me several times in the last couple weeks, and tonight, I finally surrendered to it.

I realized how dumb it would be for me to have made all the progress I’ve made in the past year just to die. Death had been with me, helping me release the old ways that kept me in bondage. My soul has been reborn. I made it through my long dark night and I finally feel ready to LIVE.

There’s no way Death has brought me this far to then literally kill me.

And with this conviction, I released my fear of dying. I found myself sobbing on the black cloak of the Grim Reaper with his blank skull of a face and his scythe glimmering in the moonlight. Not exactly the sort of character you’d go to for comfort, but that’s exactly what happened. 

I released my fear of death to Death itself- I released the fear to its source. As I cried, he took my burden. My own tears washed me with relief and I felt the heavy weight fall from me.

Death has taught me many lessons through the years. Many have been bitter, but through time, have become sweet. Tonight, Death is my comforter because I know that I need not fear Death. He is merely a guide who helps me pass from one life to the next.

I’m just too tired

This daily blog challenge is hard. I often don’t get around to an idea for writing (or the chance to write) until the evening… when I’m sleepy and ready for bed.

My brain is too tired for this…

I keep thinking I should skip a day. Come on Grace, don’t push yourself too hard. If it causes you stress, it’s just not worth it right now.

But then the idea of failure is just too much for me to accept. I said I would do this, damnit, so I’m gonna do it!!!

And so here I am, writing this shit post right now. I am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. How can I possibly write when I’m half-asleep?

Sleep is one of my highest priorities right now. So off to bed I go. Hopefully tomorrow produces a post more worthy of publishing than this piece of crap.

Amen.

My mineral friend, Rose Quartz

Through a series of events last month, I found myself in a crystal shop picking through a basket of raw chunks of rose quartz. I had developed a growing interest in rose quartz, mostly because I think it’s pretty, but also because it’s supposedly good for healing a broken heart, etc. I had no idea if that was true or how it works, but I was attracted to the rock and wanted to have one. So I spent some time in this crystal shop, and after looking over many pieces of rose quartz, I finally picked one that felt right.

It was the best three dollars I’ve ever spent.

I was told that, if it resonated with me, I could transfer all the pain in my heart to the rock. I thought it was worth a try. If nothing else, I like holding and touching things, especially natural objects, and having a physical object to grasp can be comforting during times of emotional distress.

I started having some emotional upsets in the following few days. As I would begin crying, I’d remember my quartz and grab it, intending to dump all my emotion onto it. But a curious thing happened… as soon as I got the rock in my hand, I’d stop crying, almost immediately. My tears and desire to cry would simply dry up.

At first I was confused, almost feeling ripped off. Wait! I’d tell myself, I didn’t get a chance to try the transfer! Why did I stop crying??

After the third time this happened, it occurred to me that I don’t need to consciously transfer to the rose quartz. The quartz does all the work for me. The moment it meets my skin, it eases my drama and calms me down. I don’t have to do anything but hold it!

It still surprises me, every time. I keep expecting it to fail one day, but it hasn’t yet. It truly boggles the mind. It’s one thing to believe in and experience the effects of essential oils or homeopathy. But a rock??? I never would have guessed holding a mere rock could have such a profound affect upon the emotions.

Like I said, Best three dollars I’ve ever spent.

Today, as I held my rose quartz, it occurred to me how perfectly it fits into my left hand, which is my dominant hand and the one I always hold the quartz with. Of all the chunks I could have picked out, this is the one I selected. I had no idea how ridiculously well it would fit in my hand. Taking the time to pick through the different rocks and be mindful of which one I selected really did pay off. I found “the one”, as if we were made for each other 🙂

This pink rock is my new best friend.

I can keep your secrets, but I can’t keep my own

Looking back through the years, I notice a trend: I’m excellent at keeping others’ secrets. Even if someone doesn’t specifically ask me not to talk about what they’ve told me, I end up keeping quiet anyway. I always think it best to err on the side of caution and shut my mouth. No need to add to the gossip grapevine- no need to stir up unneccessary drama.

When it comes to my own secrets, however, I have a real urge to blab. I can’t keep my own secrets for long. Everything in me has a yearning to get out. If I can’t find someone I trust, then I will talk to a stranger. And oftentimes, I skip all personal interaction and go straight to blogging. I will tell the entire world everything about me!!!

Seriously, I can’t stay hidden. I can’t stay secret. I don’t like it. I like being open. I tend to internalize so many things, but eventually it all comes out. It’s not in my nature to horde and to hide. Doing so constipates my entire system and I feel awful. There’s too much in me, there’s too much that flows through me. I have to let it out. Any dam I construct eventually bursts.

I’ve always wanted to be open, to be “transparent”, as they say. I don’t want masks, I don’t want filters. I want to be honest and raw. I want to be real.

Perhaps I still need to learn tact and discretion, to learn that some things are better kept to myself. But I do know that in order for me to live a healthy and fullfilling life, I need to be as open as possible.

I think this openness prompts others to tell me their secrets. Somehow it gives them the sense that they can trust me. I’m too open to be deceptive, and that open honesty translates into being trustworthy. Who better to practice openness with than one who is open? Who better to admit faults and fears to than one who is openly honest about her own faults and fears?

I don’t tell other people’s secrets. I tell my own. I’ve got plenty of my own drama to spill without dipping into others’.

I wrestle with my own drama, not yours. You can tell me anything.

“I won’t tell your secrets
Your secrets are safe with me
I will keep your secrets
Just think of me as the pages in your diary.”
-Alicia Keys