Side Quest: Mirror

I walked on. Light filtering through the treetops told me it was only mid-morning, but I was unaccountably weary. Exhausted, in fact. Each step dragged. My bones ached.

Up ahead, I saw a strange shadow that was far too regular to be another tree. In fact, it pushed apart the trees around it, as if… yes. A door. As if a door had sprouted up faster than the trees, and twice as strong.

It was red. It had a long bronze handle, the kind that pushed down like a lever, not usually the kind you’d see on a front door at all. It was ornate and lovely, worn shiny in the middle of the scrollwork, as if it had been used many times. But this door hadn’t been here a few moments ago, unless I’d been in a daze and somehow missed it.

I looked around the edges. Trees. There was absolutely nothing behind the door, and yet it stood, ridiculously out of place, and yet somehow unapologetically a part of this forest.

Oh well. I shrugged, and tried the handle.

It moved easily, and the door swung open. I was in a living room that looked like an ordinary, somewhat rundown apartment living room. I peeked back at the doorway. Beyond the open front door, I saw the forest, just as it had been a few moments ago.
Well, I was on a quest; I supposed I should expect the unexpected, although I’m not sure that’s really possible to do.

“Cough.”

I heard a polite cough – no – the WORD “cough” coming from a room off a small alcove. The carpet was old, and in need of a vacuum. Really, could there be anything *less* magical than this apartment?

A cat framed by a square of sunlight gave me a rather unfriendly look and sighed. She had a gleaming exclamation point hovering over her head.

“Will you accept the side quest?” she said, in a bored tone, letting her eyes drift closed, angling her squashed face more toward the sunlight.

“Uh… side quest?”

She huffed an impatient sigh, and one eye slitted open to peer at me, daylight-blue in her striped, sooty face.

“You know the drill. You’re on a Quest! Hurrah, cheer. There have to be side quests along the way, to take you off your path, or give you a little more wealth, or teach you better skills so you can handle what’s coming at the end. In fact, I’ll tell you a secret,”
she looked around with an exaggerated slink, the exclamation point bobbing ridiculously to keep up with her.
“you CAN’T HANDLE what’s coming at the end unless you do the side quests. In fact, you’ll probably go insane, lose a few pieces of yourself, or die before you even reach the end, if you don’t take the side quests.”

“Well, if you put it like that… sure. Sure, I’ll hear what the side quest is, and then see if it sounds like something I can do.”

“No. Nope. You hear it, and you do it. You really don’t have any other option.”
in the other room, I heard the front door bang shut. I managed not to jump too noticeably, but even so, her whiskers lifted in a smirk.

“Oh.” I cleared my throat. “All right then, lay it on me, I suppose.”

She sat up straighter and puffed her chest out.

Soft light rose in a corner of the room, like someone was turning up one of those cheesy dimmer switches from the 1980’s.

“Sorry. We haven’t had any modernizing done in here since 1986,” she muttered,

but my attention was caught, so I didn’t respond. On the far wall was a dim, ancient-looking, scratched mirror. In it, I saw the cat reflected, with that exclamation point above her head, and behind her…

“What am I carrying? What on earth?”

I was holding a huge mirror of my own. It was warped like a fun-house mirror, and a spider web network of cracks made it appear as though it would shatter at any second. There was blood on my arms, and blood on the mirror. I looked down at my own arms- empty, but still exhausted as though I truly was carrying that heavy, warped mirror that had splintered into my forearms, and cut me with tiny, stinging cuts.

The mirror reflected me, as well, but what I could see of it in the large mirror had twisted me out of all recognition. It stretched the cat into a nightmare shape, and the exclamation point over her head resembled an enormous dagger, or a torch flickering with fire.

“First part of the quest: you must set the mirror down.”
“How do I set it down, if I can’t see that I’m carrying it?”

“That’s the second part. First you set it down, JUST SET IT DOWN, and then you’ll be able to see. I should warn you,” she continued quickly, as I opened my mouth to reply,
“It’s going to hurt.”

So I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and I

set

the

horror-house mirror

down.

(to be continued….)

Wonder

When I was struck speechless by beauty that spoke to my soul,

in words of line and color, patina and composition,

he grew impatient, angry, scornful.

“It is confronting to me,”

he said in the beginning, when he was still making an effort to be kind,

“when you delight in things.”

Never pledge your life to someone who seeks to shame you when your soul expands.

when something in this world calls to you and has your heart lift, gives you wings,

if the person whom you think you love, whom you think loves you,

shames you.

Leave.

If you are in such a relationship now,

Leave it.

Do whatever it takes.

The right person won’t tell you that you’re extra, too much, you’re too sensitive, you feel things too deeply.

The right person will not seek to smother the flame burning in you.

They’ll delight in your light and they’ll even add fuel.

“Wonder” was to be engraved in our wedding rings.

He called it his word, but no- it was mine.

It could have been ours- I was willing-

But he shamed the wonder in me.

Wonder was to be “our intention word,” but not really mine. My “wonder” that was allowed in his eyes was a highly controlled substance.

It would be doled out by him; only approved in small drips, in the way I echoed him, admired him, stood in his shadow as his acolyte.

My wildish, Celtic, dragon heart was to be dampened, shamed, caged, silenced.

Then after he broke up, he gave the word to a procession of blondes that followed. I’m sure it was his own version, though – hemmed in with a lot of rules, defining them as “summers” or “springs,” manipulating, “fixing,” and telling them who they are allowed to be, telling them how to be “Queens,” in a trite, dull, petty, utterly shallow way of controlling women, which any thinking person can see through rather quickly – and so it has nothing whatsoever to do with MY intention word, and the way I walk in this world.

Someone who has all the answers, and goes through life giving them, filling the silence with his determinations and taking up space, never leaving a pause for something else to come in, never giving air to something outside his echo-chamber, will never be able to live in the questions, which is wonder. Will never be able to truly discover, without his own pre-conceived definitions, another person. With curiosity, with openness, with … wonder.

I could have shown him that, but he wasn’t interested in learning anything. He was interested in controlling, while he supposedly yearned for wonder. I feel profound pity for him.


But did he ever once feel any remorse for the way he treated me- no.
I learned to accept the apology I was never given, so that I could forgive.

Wonder- in the rings that were to symbolize our union- was not for me in his world. Support his wonder, perhaps, but my own? Absolutely not. Too dangerous. Never too much wonder, don’t be too alive, don’t sink into Breathing in the line and color and examining the negative space, shadow shapes and patina like you did with your beloved grandma when you were a tiny girl-

Don’t speak the language you knew before words,

and above all, do not feel too much.

My heart is how I see. The questions are where I live.

I will never again be with someone who wishes to blindfold me in this world, to shrink and stifle my life force,
who sees my dragon wings unfurling and throws a net on them to shrink me, and attempts to dominate by silencing my power.

And oh – wonder! – a spirit-igniter that is available to all, and is only the more joyous when it is shared, was to be squashed and bullied, belittled and mocked out of me. And of course, we would both focus on his. Celebrate his, whatever wonder could twist itself into small enough, predictable enough shapes to make it past the security laser beams in his controlling, rule-bound brain.

There was one rule for him, and another rule for me. I could hold him while his emotions racked him; I could hold space without judgment for every one of his emotional and thought experiences, as is my gift, but I was not allowed to feel, (unless the feelings were shame, guilt, and brokenness, of course) or break out of the confines of the little, boxed, polite, beruffled yes-doll he wished me to be, so he could feel powerful.

The great knight, who convinced the dragon to shrink herself and bank the fire of her questioning, limitless, expanding heart, so he could conquer her, but oh, she had to be small, shrinking and beaten, before he could.

I tried to explain to him, over ice cream in Clarabelle’s, after he had told me that people were laughing and making fun of me when I was gazing so long at the marketplace, falling up into that jewel-bright creation, learning its lights and shadows, absorbing the rich colors and soaring, free-

“They wanted to take a picture, and you were standing there, just looking, for the longest time. They were all laughing. I was ashamed.”
“You were ashamed of me? For looking at the marketplace?”
“Yes.”
“None of them thought to ask for what they needed? To ask me to move? They laughed at me instead? You, instead of asking me to move or telling me what was up, stood there by them and felt ashamed? of ME?”
“Yes.”

I cried as I tried to tell him, to defend the exquisite joy that he had smashed with his mockery, joining with others to throw stones at the lovely, fragile bird that was my heart in the marketplace, “you don’t know what I’m doing when I do that,”

“No. I don’t.” He said. And, impatiently, “why are you crying?”

“It makes a jagged tear; it is painful, to hear you join the people making fun of me, rather than stand up for me, believe in me, communicate with me, be curious about what ignites my soul. It would have been so simple for you to come to me and say, ‘they want to take a picture of this area.’”

but he never did hear what my grandmother had taught me to see. He never did hear how lovely it was to see, and see again, and see even more deeply, and to imprint things on the heart so I could paint them, later, capture the energy, not just the outward form. He didn’t hear, because he was NOT interested. Not interested in the magic and mystery and – wonder – that makes me, Me.

Never. Again.

My ring is engraved with wonder

Because I have a vow that I will honor my heart first. Anyone who shames the expansion of my spirit will be shut out of my inner sanctum.

They will not be allowed to know my heart. They will get only so far as the surface, and no further, for the rest of my life.

there are dragons guarding my gates, now.

If I am too big for someone, too much, “I’m so sorry, but it looks like you’re not on the guest list for this party,” the ever-so-polite guards at the door will say. “Do you have an invitation?”

That person will hold out the invitation they once had, and the guards will look it over.

“Oh dear me,” they’ll say, shaking their heads in sympathy (and warning),

“It appears this has expired. Kindly leave, we wouldn’t want to make a scene, now, would we.”

If something ignites your heart and spirit in this world, drink it in. If something lifts your heart, fly, unapologetically.

This is some of your gift. Take it. Be it. It is your ability to wonder, and your soul’s path to soar above this society where threatened ones would seek to keep us controlled, within their approval, homogenized, mediocre, non-questioning.

Exile anyone who seeks to silence, shame, dominate, own, or control your fire. Shed them ruthlessly. Fall into the limitless sky and soar, and never let anyone weigh you to the ground.

Do what you have to. Whatever it takes, to follow your own wonder.

First stop in the woods: Crone’s gift

Her smile was serene, and it landed in my chest with a sharp ache that startled me awake.
She slid the thick pottery mug of tea across the table to me. Steam wreathed her in mystery as she poured her own, and finally spoke.
“The problem with heroes,” she said, wrapping her hands around her mug and breathing in the warm, clove-spiced steam,
“is that they require you to need rescuing.”
My tea tasted of autumn; liquid gold afternoon sunshine and a hint of spice, old-fashioned and comforting.
“I guess that’s what we’re supposed to want,” I said, “to be rescued. To be shown that there is goodness, that men can be honorable and true, noble and good.”
“Do you hear it?” her voice shimmered with amusement. “Do you hear that that is simply an answer to doubt? Do you hear that the opening, unspoken question there is one of harm, of disbelief, that there are good, honest, honorable, brave men, so the hero is supposed to prove himself different, is somehow better than the rest? That to be honorable is somehow,” she gave a rather unladylike snort, “difficult or unusual?” I nodded, struck silent. Of course. It was not too much to ask, that a man be a good, solid, honest person.

“Poor silly butterfly that’s pinned to that flat, dull, card labeled ‘hero’. He has no spark left; no freedom to choose a moral compass to guide him. He must perforce hide all that doesn’t fit the illustration – and then, how can he be real at all? His wings won’t move. How will he cope, then, with all the kinds of weather that this life brings? He won’t. His pretty wings will crumble to dust at the first breath of wind, that needs living wings to bend, move, adapt, stretch, make difficult choices.” She shook her head, and closed her eyes briefly, her smile growing soft.
“If you heal too much, a hero will wish you broken again, or he loses the sense of purpose that your need gave him. He loses the sense of superiority. And understand this: there is no stepping out of storybooks to be living, breathing, growing, learning, thriving, curious and evolving people with such a one. Not together. Not in partnership. My dearest, I wish you to put away, once and for all, Once Upon a Time.”


My body echoed hers, now; across from each other at the small, comfortable, worn oak kitchen table, hands cupping mugs, basking in the warmth of the tea and each other. Crone, and – what was I? – for I was no maiden, I was no mother, and not yet crone. Warrior.
Crone and Warrior, we smiled our understanding,
and wholeness wrapped itself around my heart like a cat settling in to make a new home there.
“The quest never was for a hero,” she said, “my brave one. It was for you to find your own limits, and stand firm. It was for you to learn to speak to yourself in the way a true love would. You were speaking to yourself so harshly, you see, that someone came along uttering spiky impatience, and you took it for love, because it sounded just like your inner voice.

A hero won’t want to rescue you for your own sake. He won’t be rescuing you because he sees your beautiful soul. No, he’s rescuing you for himself, so that he might feel, for a moment, proud, noble, invincible, strong. So he might convince himself and the world in his mind, for a moment, that he’s something shining pinned to that labeled card.
The truly strong will not need you to need them in such a way, dear heart.
The one who can love you, who deserves your love, will wish you to expand. He’ll not speak harm.
But you’ve made it to my cottage; the first stage of the quest,” she twinkled coyly. “If you heard harm now, it would sound to your ears like a story meant for someone else.

Oh, he’d follow his script, try to disparage you as he did, to make himself stronger, create you weak, and now, why, you’d think, how odd, and you would keep on your way. You’d nod to him, remote, and keep walking, would you not?”


“Yes, lady, I surely would, now.” And I knew it to be true.


She bobbed her head in satisfaction. “Now, you’ll know goodness when you hear it, and you’ll walk away from curses. There will not be a single moment you’ll need rescuing or saving, so what you’ll find along your way now, perhaps, will be a companion. A bright friend by your side, content to share the path, working together when it’s time to set up camp.”

“I like to travel alone now, lady,” I said, smiling into my teacup.

“Yes. As it should be. What delights you’ll know, and you’ll go much further than you ever imagined possible, when you thought it all had to be so bloody difficult.”

“Forgive the hero, lass. He did the best he could with what he had, poor chap. He doesn’t have eyes to see the riches you carry. Leave him to his quest, and follow yours – your next stage is clear; you carry the Crone’s gift, now, to see you on your way.”

We laughed then,
and talked long into the afternoon,
until finally, it was time to say goodbye. I walked away from her door with the knowledge of love blooming in my veins, as spicy and mysterious, comfortable and warm as her autumn clove tea.

Marriage of True Minds…

Once upon a time,

I was going to marry someone.
I had decided, by God, I was going to marry him, and that was that.
I had decided that no matter what, I was true. That was it, I had chosen, and no matter what, I couldn’t un-choose. Even though he un-chose me.
It has taken me ten months (almost?) to see the problem with that.
It has taken me ten months to forgive.
It has taken me ten months to understand.
It has taken me ten months to find my own true heart in the matter again.

So, in case this can help someone else:

I thought I was marrying him without wanting him to change.
We were highly compatible as artists, and as friends. It was the absolute best kind of friendship, in my eyes – we had adventures, and we laughed a lot. We sparked each other to play and stories and silliness. I have many wonderful memories with this person.
And!
We were not at all compatible in these important things: in the world each of us wanted to live in, and in the life we each desired, and in the way we saw people and our perceptions of what was important.

That, I am now knowing, doesn’t make him wrong or me wrong. It makes us -not people who should marry each other.

My mistake was this. I saw his chosen way of life, the entertainment business and the city and the way of dealing with people that goes along with those things as morally wrong. I saw his perception of people and his thoughts as wrong. As damage. As harm and hurt and negativity.
I didn’t even know it; I had blinders on – I simply saw it as a weakness, as something I could cure, and heal. I would think “oh, he doesn’t really mean that.” when he would say something I saw as damaged.
I’m now knowing that he meant it. His life choices show me that he meant it. It wasn’t damage, it was *Who he was!* he was telling me ALL ALONG, and I thought I was being kind and forgiving by denying this person his reality!
By gently pushing past it, whenever he would declare how he saw people or saw the world; by ignoring it as if it was inconsequential and would change once he became the “good” I saw in him, I was so fully in my own construct of the world, that I couldn’t see I was denying someone his entire reality. I was calling it poison, simply because it was air I can’t breathe!

IN my eyes, this was a man of great integrity and kindness, with a beautiful, idealistic heart. So I thought I could heal and help him overcome his way of seeing people. I thought I could heal and help his life, which in my eyes was full of strife and battles, never ending anger and distrust-stories. I saw him a certain way, and I held him in that.

He saw me a certain way, my potential, and he held me in that.

I thought I could heal that, and bring peace and calming waters. He thought he could heal my gentle introversion, and make me the snow-white-wonderwoman fighting perfect princess that he saw me to be.

I hated when he said my goofy, Lucille Ball qualities were damage I didn’t have to hold myself in. I wanted him to laugh and love my goofiness.

He hated when I said his “tank in a bunker inside a concrete fortress” was damage that could be healed. He wanted to be strong, feeling-proof, and victorious at all costs.

This man doesn’t want “peace and calming waters.” He has expressed that he’s bored by serenity. Those things were a judgment on my part. I thought that universally, all people wanted peace and serenity, and the kind of connection I desire to live in.

They don’t.
They don’t!

This realization came about because I was reminiscing about how this man anxiously tried to prepare our future home to be a place that I could stand to live in. He rigged up a surround sound system so that I could play my nature sounds in any room I happened to be in.
I was anxious to keep the peace at all costs; my tenderness for this man is as huge and protective as a dragon- so I was preparing to get in my car and drive when I needed space and peace. He needed space to be loud. He needed the kind of sounds I could not live with. I needed the kind of peace and meditation time that was anathema to him.

We both, in our own ways, were desperately, anxiously, trying to force ourselves into shapes that would allow the other partner to be happy. Because we loved.
Because we loved, we both tried to “heal” the other person of things we thought were complete fallacies and damage.

My need for solitude and peace. My complete serenity, not in fame or achievement or anything at ALL like that, but in healing. In helping others. My contentment at being “nobody,” which in his eyes is terribly like being “mediocre;” my feeling that there was no hierarchy, no one reached any sort of top, middle, or bottom… that, in fact, there is nowhere to climb at all!
In feeling like when I have left this life, I will have helped. I will have brought more love. I will have planted some seeds where there was once angry, damaged, hurt, bitter ground. I will have given laughter and sunny times and happiness. that is ALL.
His need for achievement. His need for striving, and striving to make a name and make a mark and change the world.

We both saw each other’s life purposes as damage that needed healing.

Simply because we are different.

If I went to another country in which women lived a certain way, and had no voices (do you see the judgment there already? “had no voices”) I would be all fired up in my reaction, my judgment, my anger, my fighting.
What if, in that country, the women saw my way of life and my choices as wrong, and wanted to cure me to their ways?

This isn’t a great analogy (I can hear the arguments now…) but it’s one that we learn in sociology – it’s one that Ahsoka (if you don’t know who I’m mentioning here, just go watch Clone Wars) tries, as a jedi-in-training, to practice, (but fails just as I would…) to observe without attempting to effect change. To accept and observe, even if my mind would call it “harmful” or other words.

Yeah, I would fail just as Ahsoka does, because I tend towards passionate, co-dependent rescuing. So did he.

This is all to say: it is possible to love someone, and love them deeply, and not be able to make a life together that makes for mutual happiness.

This man has now married, I am told, (this is hearsay, I have no idea. it’s not my business…)
someone who likely fits into his life far better than I ever did. I am delighted for them – and whether it’s an actual circumstance or not, this has brought me the closure, peace and healing I needed.
The understanding that he and I were a tree and a desert plant trying to live in the same container.

I am so grateful he found someone he doesn’t have to change, who doesn’t have to change for him. I am so grateful I am free to expand and be myself in a way I never could before.

I can love. I can see this spirit in the world that used to delight me in his many quirky funny ways.
I can see his wounds and wish fiercely for him to have healing of them someday. He saw mine and wished the same.
We tried to fix each other.

I think it is enough to have had the deep soul gift of this lesson that I, for one, will not repeat :
We can love, and what a glorious gift it is! but we must first live a life that makes us completely happy,
and have the freedom to do so. And we must go our own way in order to fulfill what we are here to do. We can’t shrink ourselves to fit into someone else’s world, or ask them to twist around to fit in ours, and still expect to be happy and live the life we are here to live.

I am feeling whole these days in a way I hadn’t in my entire youth-to-adult life. From about the age of nine onwards. I am deeply and richly content and buzzing with abundance. I have a death to grieve, a few of them, but there has been profound healing of that which felt a “lack” and a need for someone else.

I’ve been meaning to write this, to the men who have been writing to me – except for three of you, who seem quite happy. The rest: if you are unhappy and you complain about your life, and you are sad and lonely and you’re looking for “a woman” to fill that,
please reconsider.

For one thing, I personally will not date someone who is unfulfilled and thinks “love” will solve it. I have learned that even the most forgiving love- even the kind of love I brought my ex, that strove to make peace at all costs, and strove to be his happiness and wanted to heal his sorrows,
IT CANNOT SERVE. What happens is (and if you don’t believe me, just experience it for yourselves and then come back and re-read this!)
what happens! is that you will wind up being quite angry, eventually, with the closest person. Even if you manage to find a woman like I was, in my damage, who wanted to be wife and mother and nurturer and provider and healer and just hold you through all the pain and defend you fiercely from every single hurt, and fill your life so that you are finally completely happy – even if you find that! you will wind up resenting it. Her. you will wind up feeling trapped and stifled, and you will wind up fighting like a toddler hitting the soft, yielding mother arms that hold them.
And the partner who wants to be all things?
that’s damage. That’s a person who is codependent, who derives their self-worth from how others feel, who NEEDS THERAPY and needs, in turn, to find out how to be whole on their own. Because “unconditional love” has no boundaries or healthy limits. It doesn’t value the self – and if you think that’s generous and amazing, just consider: if you can’t value yourself, you have no self to give. You’re removed, dissociated, giving your own value to someone else to decide, and, ultimately, not completely in your own truth.

So. It won’t work, those who think it’s romantic to reach out to someone and say “I’m sad, I’m lonely, I’m lost, I need.” there are many of you. many!

I am writing this to you now, and I’m writing it to me. I hear you. I feel for you. I cannot respond to you all. I have my own life and heart to heal. I am giving you the gift of this story,
(this isn’t actual circumstances. It’s my thoughts around the past, and God knows, that is filtered through my own perceptions) This story is how I have reached complete forgiveness and wishing the blessing to everyone concerned, that they find healing and happiness.

I know I will. I know I am. I know I have.

If you find yourself struggling against something, ask yourself if you are trying to change a dog into a cat. Ask yourself if you feel someone is trying to change you. Ask yourself if YOU are trying to change you, being completely flexible around someone else’s opinions.
Ask yourself if you can accept, love, release, and go find YOUR own truth and heart and life.
Ask yourself if you can take up space, as much as you need, and risk disapproval, until you move gently into a place where you fit.

(and this is not even *touching yet* on limerence, which is probably another article entirely. Creating a fantasy image and pushing all your dreams and needs onto someone else, thinking they’re the answer. Please check yourselves of this, I am exhausted by it.)

Ask yourself what you need. Then go out and create it.
Forgive. Bless. Give Thanks. Release. I am so profoundly grateful. I have tried to say it here, but the words still don’t encompass the enormity of the realization, bliss, and love I feel in my life now. Thank God. Peace, Beaver.

… sigh. and again, I am not going to edit this one. I’m not even going to re-read it! 😛
I guess I’m doing too much of that in my fiction work, so this blog is the space I’ll keep sprawling in. skip what you want to skip! xoxoxo

Fall

“There is a sculpture, ” she said, “that turns things upside down until the sky is the ground, and the ground is sky.”

and I thought, yes.  

the sculpture is you.

you, sitting beside me, breathing

turning the ground around me into sky; 

heart leaps and dives, one step and I’m floating, flying, falling.

turning the sky into ground, clamoring with life, flowers trees grasses twining toward us out of that 

rich loam sky, 

my spirit expands, reaching from sunrise to sunset, from trembling tip of flower petal to tree root, 

and dives back again to tremble in the light of your eyes.

Campfire

So … people are popping up doing a new kind of “live theatre” .. basically streaming from their homes to yours while we all wait this out.

The thing I have always loved about live theatre is the campfire aspect. Fiona Shaw came and talked in one of my classes once, and this was what stuck with me all these years: it’s embedded deep in our dna, whatever people are your particular ancestors, somewhere wayyy back, we all had a common practice of stories.
The warriors would come back and enact how they killed the dangerous animal. The healers would dance about rain, calling in the seasons, giving thanks, or maybe calming the people that abundance would come again, that things are cyclical.
We’d gather around fires when the dark seemed too full of dangers. We’d be together, and the stories would teach and bring our hearts and minds warmth and connection.

People did a study and found that an audience’s heartbeats synch up during a live performance.

We need each other – connection – to remind us that it’s not one in danger, defending their resources against a savage world – to remind us that we are united, that we’re not alone when there are harsh realities to face.

We may have gone very far from the village. We may feel more isolated now than ever before, but the village is in each of us, if we choose to remember. Ubuntu – common humanity – I am well because the village is well, if one is not well, and I can help, I help.

There are people who have forgotten, and they’re like feral cats, in instinct and attack. Don’t think they’re all of us. I hope that those people can be healed, but at this time, don’t approach the ones who are out of their minds in fear. Just silently bless from a distance and focus on the good.
Look for the ones giving theatre from their homes, or music, or art, or story, or words of hope.

Feed the hope-light in you, not the fear-light. Stay safe but unafraid. There are good people everywhere,

And we’ve gotten through some gnarly times- we can get through them again.

❤️ (Here’s an old photo of a maggid story by the fire, a man paddling a pumpkin – Ludwigsberg pumpkin festival in Germany – and Chewbacca thinking about climbing a wall. Just to remind us all that we are collectively weird and lovely)

The Rose Gold Rule

Mi ha-ish hechafetz Chayyim, Ohev yomim lirot tov?

Who is the one that has a passion for Life, loving every day, seeing the Good? (Psalm 34:13)

The day Figaro died, I chanted this prayer for him. He sat and listened, purred as usual. Did he know it was his last day? I don’t know – but my boy enjoyed every day to the fullest, regardless. So while I chanted, I wove in this promise: that from him, I would learn to enjoy my own life. I would stop caretaking others, and people-pleasing; I would raze the foundations of my childhood conditioning, and I would rebuild, slowly and carefully, my life from my own center, consulting no one.


This isn’t easy for someone who has lived a life solely based on serving others. If others were at peace and happy, I felt my purpose here fulfilled. I could sense when they weren’t. I drained my essence continually, patching, mending, holding space, listening, sensing, observing, learning – and there was also a profound sadness that came along with observing when someone felt unsafe socially. I wanted to protect those ones; I wanted to give them safety by saying “I accept you. I love you, with all your flaws.”
This led me into romantic relationships with the wounded. I could see the little-boy innocence, fear peeking out of their eyes every now and then, and my protectiveness drove me. It was powerful beyond words, the inner lioness who wanted to care for, love, and heal these men. There were three only, because I am monogamous and fiercely loyal, but it was enough for me to see this pattern of self-abandonment in order to caretake others. I over-used my compassion, and brought understanding to the times they engaged in cruel behavior and words toward me. But if a little boy is wounded, this kind of understanding and unconditional love has them lash out even more. Has them grow to despising. Mommy is responsible for all my anger; put the darkness I feel on her, and let her carry it all.

If you understand what I have written thus far, this post is for you.

I understand now why someone would tell the world she is “self-partnered.” This last relationship, and the betrayal that shocked me to my core, has sealed shut any – at all- interest in me for romantic relationship. The idea repels me on a level I can’t seem to explain enough to the opposite sex.
I have experienced that my inner conviction, my complete solidity that I am only interested in focusing on my own life now, has drawn men in droves. The younger ones have been, surprisingly, kind and sweet, able to take the word “no,” and remain friends. The older ones don’t seem to be able to really hear my no. They persist. I think somewhere in the ’80’s, we taught men that no didn’t mean anything at all when it came from a woman.

And so, I did a ritual in which I married myself. I made vows. I had still been carrying fear that I would self-abandon and put a man’s needs first, and make excuses for terrible behavior.
But since I also know this about me: that I keep vows at all costs,
I finally, at last, made vows to myself.

I had the rings from my past intended marriage, of course, and these were resized for the other hand. They represent the biggest lesson of my life. Broken promises, and a love I believed in that was unconditional love on my part, and deceit on his. They are a reminder to me that a man’s word means nothing, and I must observe his actions. Not make excuses for those actions, but observe them with clinical detachment. My heart and life are worth this; I believed a man’s word, and it changed on a dime. These rings he was adamant were mine “no matter what,” and then – since apparently love and keeping his word wasn’t enough – given in compensation for the many thousands of dollars my parents had already paid for wedding ceremonies which were, last minute, not going to occur.
Later, he then threatened me for these rings, all words and promises forgotten, saying they were his “Property.” This is what a man’s word is worth. This is how lasting it is. I wear this reminder now on my hand, and will do for the rest of my life. (NO, I am not saying “all men” are incapable of keeping their word. I am saying – to be safe, one must observe actions of men and women. Actions! One day, maybe I’ll marry the man who keeps 98-100% of his word. 😉 )

The rings I “married” myself with and made my vows with belonged to both grandmothers. On my Mother’s side, and on my Father’s. (incidentally, I also wear my father’s wedding ring and my mother’s. Yeah, I love family. I am grateful for them – more than I can say.)
I had my paternal grandmother’s ring coated in rose gold, which gives rise to the main point of this blog: the rose gold rule.

When you’re a person who wears rose-colored glasses, seeing the good in the people around you, red flags just look like flags. Your rose lenses cancel out the warning color. This is a beautiful gift to have, because personalities of others and acquired damage during this lifetime are not who that person actually is. We tend to define ourselves by our surface personalities and learned behaviors, but beneath that is someone’s soul-level essence. Being able to see that is a gift I tried to deny and correct, in the early days of my hurt. For a long time, I kept seeing the good in the latest ex, and worked to maintain a friendship – until the disregard of me went too far, and I saw that this kindness was entirely one-sided, and had been for quite a number of years. The devastation of seeing how I was discarded and disregarded had me wishing to change and remove my rose lenses. But dwelling in suspicion and self-protection isn’t my nature. I love people too much.
So when I did my ritual, I chanted again “The Sea Lion’s Question” (which is now Figaro’s chant,) and I accepted that I am someone who will always see the good.
To stop trying to remove my rose lenses eased a lot of pain in my heart. We really need to accept ourselves as we are, and work with what we have.
Yes, as I mentioned, I am razing the foundations of the life I’ve built on people-pleasing, but once you reach bedrock, at the end of it all, you’re still you.

Evven ma’asu habonim ha’y’tah l’rosh pinah

The Stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. (Psalm 118:22)

My rose-colored lenses became my cornerstone. Once my greatest weakness, it has now become a strength. I have accepted that my deepest drive is to bring healing to others, to help them accept and love their own human flaws. It is why I became an actor; it is why I write. If we could only realize we are ALL human, and the things that embarrass us, the things we hide from each other, are shared by all, wouldn’t we then be able to stop judging? Wouldn’t we then be able to connect and have compassion for ourselves and for the others we meet along the way?
This has been my question since I was a teenager, and struggled with such crippling social anxiety, I couldn’t eat in public, or talk on the phone; I couldn’t do things that other people didn’t even think twice about. During school at Juilliard, I would take my meals up in the elevator to my room. I ate in the cafeteria maybe once or twice my entire first year, and when I did, I was such a mass of nerves that I was sick afterward.
So I had to examine this, and I had to learn. Accepting my own humanity, learning to celebrate and shine light on the places that were fraught with embarrassment, was the gift that Juilliard, and RADA after it, gave to me.

“What are you afraid of?” They asked. It was the continual question I was faced with. They threw me onstage naked, and mostly naked, thinking they could expose the fear-places, but it wasn’t in my body. It was embedded deep in my shame of being human.

Lear, IV.VI; 125

GLOUCESTER: O, Let me kiss that hand!
LEAR: Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.

Once we accept our humanity, and all it comes with, we are set free. I was set free of eating disorders, of seeing food as “the enemy,” of the anxiety around smelling like a human (I still can’t stand the stank that happens after a day in Disneyland, though…) of the potential embarrassment around any social gaffes that might arise…
all of it. Once I had developed compassion – and even love – for all of that, I was set free to love people. My newfound freedom came at a steep price, as I still was operating with a non-updated operating system. My old OS told me that while I loved and cared for others, and had great compassion for their shadows, it was my JOB to love them, and having boundaries for myself equated to rejection of others.

Every time we deny or ignore our needs in order to please others, every time we fail to create and maintain a boundary, we are whispering to our innermost selves “their needs are more important than yours.”
What happens then is our self esteem crumbles a little bit every time.
We then become dependent on others’ approval for our self worth.
We then, over time, become dependent on their seeing and appreciating how we care for them – because at that point, our entire identity is wrapped up in the value we have in others’ eyes, and that value only exists if we are recognized as a support and caretaker.

HOLY SHIT.

So. When I married myself. (haha. that sounds so corny, but try it, it’s so freeing.) I came up with what I call “The Rose Gold Rule.”

We’re all used to the Golden Rule, right? Some of us have been carrying that thing around and living by it so staunchly, we’ve fallen into harm.
Treat others the way you wish to be treated
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,
Love your neighbor as yourself,

there are quite a few variations. In Hebrew, it is phrased in the negative: Whatever is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man.

Regardless – those of us who need to learn what I have spent this entire blog rambling an introduction to, and what I am about to lay out, needed a new ADDENDUM to the rule.

First: the very important distinction. YOU GET TO LOVE OTHER PEOPLE. If you are an empath or a kindhearted person or any of the other words used to describe someone who just plain cares,
stop trying to force yourself to remain angry with people you can no longer connect with, for whatever reason. Anger is your armor, your protection, isn’t it. They can’t harm you again, if you keep reminding yourself that you had better not be suckered back into believing the best – so you should remain angry, yeah?
OH, HELL NO.
Anger is a secondary emotion. Underneath it is usually either fear or sadness. Maybe both, if someone you loved didn’t see your goodness, and discarded you, as happened to me.
Anger was my protection, my assurance that I wouldn’t stay tied to that person, or give any more years of my life to “pining” for him or waiting. Anger was my insurance. That I could move on to another relationship.

Do you see the flaw, here?
Carrying anger keeps me tied with a toxic bond. Carrying an anger fence would ensure that when, one day, I do open my heart to romantic relationship again, I would still have that old story, and it would be placed onto my new partner. My psyche would still be warning me, and the warnings would just wear a new face. Nope, oh hell no.

When I married myself (haha…that cracks me up so much every time I write it…) Part of the vows were that I love myself completely as I am.
I love that I love other people so much. That I see the good in others had me create a vow that protects me. This vow is: I get to love others, but I will not support and enable their damage. I will not carry their baggage, as I have my own to carry.
I will work on myself with self-compassion, and with the same kind of forgiveness and tenderness with which I view others’ damage and hurt places.

I believe we are all in this world trying to do our best. I also believe there’s an addition to this which it took me all these years, a shattering relationship, and three therapists to learn: and that is the vital importance of boundaries. I have limits now. They are strong. They don’t need to be enforced in anger. In fact, they *remove* anger. If anger was the signal that my boundaries and needs had been trampled, oh, two miles back, well, if I know I will hold my boundaries, I do not need the anger at all.



Anger is not where my strength dwells. Love is.

Which brings me, at last, to the Rose Gold Rule.

for those of you who are still reading ;), to whom this applies, you can go on keeping that golden rule, and good for you. But we need an addition, because we allow ourselves to be treated badly, due to compassion with the damage that causes the harmful behavior.

Rose Gold Rule: I will not allow myself to be treated in a way I would never treat someone else.



yeah, I use the word “never” quite consciously. It’s an absolute, and it’s a word that usually signals that we’re speaking from a very young part of self.
THIS IS A YOUNG PART OF SELF that needs to be spoken to, quite firmly.

At times during my relationship, I found myself actually gasping in surprise, thinking, “I would never treat a human being the way he just treated me, let alone someone I said I loved, who was my lover. Never.”

“I would never say such a thing to someone else.”
“I would never break my word like that/ gaslight like that.”

Rose Gold Rule: I want all you kindhearted ones to learn it. You get to keep your rose colored glasses. Please do, the world needs them, and soon enough, I think we’ll be able to walk around and just spot others of our kind, as we grow more and more rare. You are rare and your heart is needed here.
Now learn the rose gold rule.
You can love, and walk away. You can love, and say “I won’t allow your damage to treat me this way. I wish you healing.” Bless and release.

DO KNOW that it isn’t painless. It comes at a cost for hearts like ours. Let it hurt, and let it go. Keep this rose gold rule as a vow to yourself. The pain of closing gates on someone you love, and mourning them as if they have passed away, is far more clean a grief than the pain of daily allowing harmful, disrespectful behavior toward you.
One pain allows you to grieve, and then be strong and whole to continue the work you need to do in this lifetime.
The other pain diminishes you, and will eat away at your energy until all you can focus on is NOT your work here, but how to manage that other person’s treatment of you.

THEIR BAGS ARE NOT YOURS TO CARRY, dear heart. Put their bags down. Pick up your own. Walk on. Love, and release.

Love, and release.

I’ve heard already from two people who are going to give themselves rose gold rings (and one who already did, just by instinct) to remember this rule. Please let me know if you are inspired to do so, as well, or any variation thereof.

I love you. I believe in you. You can do this. We can do this. We are harming no one by loving ourselves. In fact, maintaining boundaries is an important teaching to give, and we are helping others by doing so.

my “wedding dress” for the most important vows I’ll ever make. Senatorial Leia. Princess, General, and a woman who will not suffer fools. She gives me hope, and inspires me to love, and value, myself.

…and, true to form, I am not editing this monster. Read at your leisure, take sips, skip over the long bits, do as you please. Enjoy, and I hope someone is helped by this.

Untainted (- for Tika)

She felt, rather than heard, him running just behind her, his warmth at her shoulder. The wind hit her ears with a strange, high-pitched wailing, bringing prickles up along the back of her neck. She tried to force her mind away from master Plo’s stories of haunted ship graveyards that he had patiently spun when she was a youngling who hated sleep. She slid to a crouch behind the rusted hull they’d spotted from the cover of their cave. Her breath coming in gasps, she closed her eyes briefly. Master Plo. How she missed him.

She leaned her back up against the sun-warmed metal, lifting her bracer to shield mouth and nose as the other master landed beside her, kicking up dust.

At least it was a bit quieter here, in the shelter of the rusting old hulk.

“If they are following, they’ll know exactly where we are, with that dust cloud rising,” she coughed.

“They’re not out in this, Ahsoka. At least- not yet.”

He sounded so sure. But then- he always had.

“Here. Try this,” his voice was light, amused, his solid warmth nudging her shoulder playfully, as he pulled something out of his cloak.

She had her head down, rummaging in her pack for water. Without thinking, she lifted her hand just as a hard, smooth object smacked into her palm. That was a hard throw from close quarters, she thought in surprise, her fingers tightening around the object.

“Impressive reflexes,” he smiled.

She examined it. It was hard, but had a slight give when she flexed her fingers. Red. A small twig coming out of one end. It smelled- she lifted it to her nose – definitely organic matter. Sweet.

“What is this when it’s at home, and why should I try it?” She turned it over and over in her hand, liking the weight and feel of it.

“It doesn’t have a home anymore, Snips. This is from a world that no longer exists.”

At that, she lifted her head to look at him. Then inched back a little. He was … too close.

When did she begin feeling uneasy around her master, she wondered, shaking her head slightly.

Still, she searched his face. It hadn’t changed. Their weeks of hiding had slimmed it somewhat, so the shadows were more prominent under his eyes and the hollows of his cheeks; his beard stubble had grown in a way no master would normally allow, and there was sand on his face. His dark hair was wildly tangled, but the brown eyes that gazed back at her were warm as always, calm. He was – still himself.

She shuddered, trying to shake off her odd mood.

“Bantha on my grave,” she muttered, looking at the object again. She brought it to her mouth and gave it a tiny, experimental lick.

“Eugggh, smooth,” she said, “no taste.”

“Bite it,” he urged, getting a little too close again.

“What is it you want, Anakin?”

“Eat the Apple.”

“Eat it? But why?”

“You’ll know after you eat it.”

She’d trusted him with her life. She’d never questioned him. Well – okay- that wasn’t true. She’d questioned him, but she was inclined to weigh the odds heavily in his favor, every time. His judgment was sound. His heart was true. She thought. She frowned slightly. Had her judgment always been sound?

“Let me make sure I understand. You want me to eat some unnamed thing from a dead world, and you won’t tell me why,” she declared flatly, her eyes narrowing, holding the strange food between them. It gleamed so oddly red, almost obscenely clean in this putty-colored, dusty place.

“Yup. Exactly.” He watched her, saying nothing more.

She shrugged. Curiosity was, invariably, her driving flaw.

The first bite hit her senses like icy Hoth wind. It took some work for her teeth to break the skin, and it made a popping sound when she took a bite. The fruit was crunchy, and the juice of it was lush, tart and sweet all at once. She chewed, her nostrils flaring as she inhaled in surprise. Dead world, and the most living bite of food she had ever tasted. She closed her eyes in wonder and reverence as the delicious juice trickled down her parched throat.

She opened her eyes again slowly, and as she looked across at her teacher, she saw his eyes were no longer brown. They shone with an eerie red gleam. She turned and looked around wildly at the horizon, to see if the suns were setting already, or-

she looked down as she felt warm juices trickle between her fingers. Was the fruit melting?

the liquid was red, thick, viscous and shockingly warm.

“Blood?” She gasped, dropping the fruit, holding her hand up in front of her eyes. “Blood.”

He smiled slowly, and those strange red eyes of his never left her face.

“Dead world,” he chuckled, a strange rasp in his voice, “do you hear them? It’s your last lesson,” he added so quietly, she wasn’t sure she had heard correctly.

She heard faint screams, hundreds of voices pleading, talking, praying, the sound of anguish as she plunged her hand in the sand, and scrubbed wildly, scouring the blood off as best she could. “Jedi … do not draw blood,” she said, her throat closing in horror and disgust.

“You are no Jedi,” he answered her, and when he smiled, a full smile this time, his teeth were stained red.

She sat up, panting. The sheets were tangled around her legs. She looked around the dimly lit room. No suns. No dust. She propped herself on one elbow, and held up her hand, turning it slowly, inspecting every inch of clean skin. No blood.

“Your sick choices have nothing to do with me, my old friend. Do you hear me? Nothing. You may have told me to eat, but yours was the harm. Trusting you was my only mistake.”

She wiped her eyes and sat up, taking a deep breath. He was gone, and his evil choices gone with him. She gathered her armor to begin another day, the smell of blood and the taste and anguish of a long-dead world still lingering on her tongue.

.

For You

Two weeks … I love you, love you, love you so.
Picked up your ashes Tuesday. So tiny. I am not sure how to do this without you. My heart is beating lopsided.


But you loved life. So I notice the bird song for you. I take a pause and smell the air in the morning. For you. I see the sunlight through the trees, quite on purpose, my dearest, for you. I taste the clear, cool water, and when I eat, it isn’t usually because I’m hungry, these days- but it’s for you. Today I sang softly (I don’t sing anymore. But you loved it so, and would come from wherever you were to sit on your curved seat and listen-) “Till There Was You.”

For you, for you. Breathing in and out, all day long, till I hold you again, my gentle little love.
Death is the deal we make when we come in the door. Don’t carry the departed. Live. For them. Live: quite on purpose. For them. Until it is my time, and as heavy as it can feel right now, this is the way.

Masked

If the words you say to others were written on your skin for all to see, how would you feel? Would you change your words? If every word you uttered, and every action you took was a prayer to your Deity outside your places of worship, would you notice how you choose to treat and use others?

…Or would you simply wear bigger masks?

“Matthew Jacob, put on your mask, it’s time for EveningRites.”

His mother’s voice was sharp, and could cut through absolutely anything.

Where had he left that mask? They each had a collection, of course, but he had one particular favorite, at the moment. It was gold, and it had a faint, superior smile. It made him feel so far away from people and their feelings when he wore it.

“Matthew!”

He gritted his teeth, his stomach tightening in alarm, fear, anger, excitement? He wasn’t sure, but mother’s voice broke through his skin and caused him to feel … unsafe.

She was standing in the foyer, mask already firmly in place. His mother’s mask was beautiful, in his eyes. Placid smile, glossy pink lips, like a porcelain doll. One day, I’ll marry the girl who wears a mask just like that, he thought dreamily to himself, looking up, up, up at his mother’s bright hair. The curve of her smooth, unruffled, always-softly-smiling mask shifted toward him, and the icy blue eyes behind the mask narrowed, but before she could whiplash that voice again, he called out, “here it is, Mother, I am ready,”

Slightly out of breath, prickles of sweat starting under his arms, he slipped the mask over his forehead, and muttered, “Sarah must have been borrowing it again,” as his mother smoothed his hair down. He shuddered as her long fingernails combed his scalp. Sarah had never, to his knowledge, actually borrowed any of his masks. But she was a dreamy child, and a wonderful built-in shield. She was too young to go to EveningRites, so goodness knows where she was – probably had her nose buried in a book, again.
He had figured out quite early in life that he could dodge aside and throw Sarah’s name in when he had done something, and sometimes Sarah would get in trouble. That made his insides shiver in – joy? Fear? A hidden feeling he couldn’t name.

When Sarah was born, he hated her. He hated all the attention that laughing, crying, rosy little face took away from him. Babies didn’t wear masks, so they always drew attention with their shockingly bare faces. He remembered the emotions flowing across her face like water, and shuddered.
So this was just paying back a debt, he thought – she took the good love and attention then; she could be given attention for free, now. His mask shifted slightly as he smiled behind it. If he had only known, his face took on exactly the same look as the gilded plaster mask he wore.

Everyone in Roma heights was rich. Or at least, that’s how it had to appear on the Holy Days, regardless of how it was really, in the evenings when they’d go home, close their doors to the outside world, and hang up the day’s masks to be cleaned.

It was an act of respect to wear the masks to the places of worship. He’d rarely seen someone’s bare face- not even in his home.
He came from one of the most prominent Roma heights families – or so his mother proclaimed in the dinner speech, every night around the table, when they had changed into their half-masks so they could eat. They had to set an example, and stand up in front so that other families could have a Way to aspire to. Feeling looked up to, feeling like others were watching him and admiring him, was one of Matthew Jacob’s favorite things.

The preacher’s mask tonight was a beatific smile. Matthew’s shoulders relaxed the usual tension they held when he walked in the large arched doorways of the house of worship. Tonight would not be a punishment night. Thank goodness. Tonight would be Greatness night: his favorite.

All around him, masks nodded to masks. Eyes glanced up and down, narrowing in judgment of their neighbor’s clothing, demeanor, anything else they could quickly gather up for gossip around their dinner tables, and then settled into their seats with creaking of wood and rustling of papers.

“We are the Ones, and we are Great,”

The preacher began. A pleased sigh rippled through the congregation.

“We are all so loving.”

“Mmmhmm,” he heard a murmur beside him, and he turned. There was a mask similar to his mother’s, only it seemed to be worn by a young girl. Maybe about his age. Lovely yellow, yellow hair. He turned to face forward again, and nodded his head when the preacher said,

“We are just so very blessed.”

“We are blessed, so blessed,” they all repeated, smug smiles settling in behind their masks.

“It is said, we must never judge another, and we adhere to that,” he went on, his rich, persuasive tone filling every corner of the high-ceilinged room.

Matthew’s eyes settled on the beautiful colors of the stained glass, as he murmured along, “we never do judge. How kind we are.”
“We tell the truth.” Matthew nodded, the warmth of feeling good and Holy about himself blooming in his chest. Ah, so good.
“We love others.” Yes, he loved others. Certainly he did. If others had pale skin. If others were rich.


“We keep our word.” He gritted his teeth, but then told himself that he did keep his word, when other people deserved it.
“We are Holy, chosen, loved, blessed”. Yes, yes yes.
“We are forgiven.”
There, that was what he’d been waiting for. He was forgiven, he was absolved. He didn’t bear the responsibility. He let Sarah, and Alicia, and all the bewildered, hurt faces, slide out of his consciousness and become Sky Daddy’s responsibility to carry.


Oh. His life was so good. SkyLord was so infinitely good to him.
All who were privileged to sit in this room were so fortunate. They belonged here. They, and only they, were absolved, cleansed, pure.
Of course they didn’t judge, but the people outside were not good enough for this.

They turned to each other after the service was over and bowed their heads slightly, smiling behind their masks, purified again for another week.

to be continued, maybe (unless I get tired of this tedious, blah world…)