bricolage project day 12 [know]

“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Today’s random word is know and comes from Men Undressed: Women Writers and the Male Sexual Experience.   I’ve been pondering gender identity lately.  There’s been a lot coming out about toxic masculinity and the harm it causes.  I’ve been noticing where this lives in my own heart and trying to make sense of my own feelings about being a woman in today’s world trying to love fully and raise daughters.  Trying to make sense of how to be more trusting but also discerning with men.  

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I have tinkered with this piece for days.  I’ve been really struggling with some issues related to gender identity, intimacy, anger about the senseless violence and pain, and the serious injustice that is going on in my country right now.  It can drag a girl down, you know?  When I told my daughter about my contempt for humanity the other day (it was fleeting but strong), she wisely put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Have you written about it yet?”  In truth, I hadn’t because I knew that all that would come out was bile at that moment so I kept pouring my frustrations into this piece.  I moved all the elements around many times.  Left it on my desk.  Came back to it.  Used the tweezers on my eyebrows then put them back in the frame.  Tinkering with identity.  Thinking about how we’re all in drag in some way.  So much pretending and posturing.  So many walls built around ourselves to protect our most vulnerable, precious selves.

Then I talked with him for a long time.  He wanted to understand.  He asked a lot questions and did a lot listening.  I felt much more peaceful.  More raw and more real.  It was like being cleansed in some glacial river.  I felt clean and clear and so very human.   Much less anxious.

This morning, I saw this poignant video with Junot Diaz this morning talking about the culture of silence that exists within the Patriarchal construct.  Watch it, then keep reading below…

This idea that if we don’t talk about it, it’s not hurting us is so absurd and frankly I’m very weary of it.  I’ve been the one to broach uncomfortable topics many times.  This can make a person unpopular.  I once had a lover say I was “toxic” because I spoke my truth.   I didn’t speak it in a mean way, not shaming or blaming, just saying what was true for me and asking for what I needed.  That hurt me deeply and shut my heart down for quite some time.  I have since begun to realize that male fragility comes from this toxic masculine environment in which we’ve all been raised and, while I have compassion for that, I am also a strong advocate for personal responsibility.  What we’re not imagining is that men are killing women because they won’t say yes and countless other people are being verbally and emotionally abused by this toxicity.    That shit is real.  David J. Schwartz does a great job of articulating what this is like for men in this article titled Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder:  Breaking Down the Nerd Box.   He unpacks how the way our culture creates heirarchy by labeling what it means to “be a man” that ultimately hurts everyone.  He owns his own part in this in a most glorious way that other men can follow:

But surely the Box, that construct built by others as much as by ourselves, that little prison we started building to protect ourselves from things we didn’t even understand yet, the invisible walls that keep us from being vulnerable enough to make connections and train us to see every approach as an assault—surely that can go. Surely we can recognize that as the source of so much of our tension and anxiety.

Because I’m open about my own process and fears, a woman recently asked me about navigating the world of online dating and asked what to do if she’s not interested in someone.  She was worried about hurting their feelings.  I said, “Ignore them.   Their feelings are not your responsibility.”  She told me how liberating that was.  That it was a revolutionary idea to her.

Think about that.  It’s revolutionary to realize that, as a woman, we don’t have to care for every, living thing.  We can care for ourselves.  Stake a claim for our own happiness.  Think about our own interests and take action on our own behalf.  We’re often afraid to do this because of the tremendous push back we get for doing so not just by men but by other women.   I found when I saying yes when I meant no so many times, I ended up feeling shattered and resentful.  By walking through the fire of learning how to say no or just not saying anything and dealing with the heat of that, I’ve learned to honor my own needs.

One thing I know for sure:  I did not come here to live inside someone else’s construction of reality.  I’ve learned to curate my life, to invite in what I wish for and what my heart most needs.  Instead of accepting the bad behavior of  pouty, petulant boys, I am inviting in the bold and vulnerable hearts of men who are doing their work and willing to walk alongside me while I do mine.  That’s what discernment brings.  That’s what love really is.  It’s not a game of power.  It’s a process of opening.

As Diaz says in the video, “Who doesn’t want intimacy?  Who doesn’t want to connect with a partner profoundly?”  I so agree with that and in order to do this, I’m realizing that I have to take responsibility for my own happiness so I can.  That starts with not engaging in conversation where someone is arguing with my feelings while I’m listening deeply to theirs.  I’ve had a lifetime of that.  Somehow working on this Bricolage Project is helping me understand these things.  Surrendering to the process and paying attention is showing me how much I have been operating from my wounded animal self and is helping me imagine something different and wow, am I liking it!

Today he said to me, “I don’t want to turn you away for any reason. Everything you offer is something I want.”

Imagine that.

bricolage project day 9 [gentle]

Tonight’s entry is very late in coming.  I’ve been talking with him for hours.  And he’s been listening.  A different kind of listening than I’m used to.  He wanted to understand.  What a remarkable experience.

I’m not surprised then, that tonight’s randomly-chosen word, from the Delta of Venus by Anais Nin is gentle.  My heart being touched so gently and with such wisdom is new for me.  It felt like this.

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Today was a “no rule” day.  I worked on the piece all day off and on.   I have many things that bubbled up but as I was working but I’m not ready to write about them yet so I’ll just share a quote from Carl Jung.

In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.

 

in the silence

This morning, I led my second writing workshop at a local homeless shelter.  Before I arrived, I chose the following prompt:

In the silence I understand…

We do 20 minutes of free writing and then share.  I found it interesting that one of the women I was working with could hear but didn’t speak.  I found myself communicating with someone who was silent.  She carried a great deal of peace and her writing reflected that.

My own free writing was rambling, as always:

In the silence I understand that I can access serenity when I choose it but it’s okay to just be in the place of wild cacophony.  I understand that the howling wind holds a silence I cannot always understand but must feel.

In the silence I understand that my heart is weary but also strong with the tensile strength of steel but the softness of a baby’s cheek.  I understand that the world contains vile behavior from people we are supposed to trust but also the opportunity for forgiveness.

In the silence I understand that we are here to love and that love is often simpler in the silence.  The quiet heart lets me understand and know what is needed.

In the silence I understand that I am those restful, quiet spaces as well as the loud, sonic booms.  Every day brings the choice to explore which voice to use.  I understand that there is mystery but also answers.  In the silence I understand to wait long enough to hear.

I later went back through and found words and phrases to pull out for poems or stories.  I also found little messages that my heart left for me.  This was the primary one.

in the silenceTonight, a friend of my posted this on Facebook and I realized how much synchronicity is happening in my life.

“Silence is a great  source of strength.”  ~Lao Tzu

(I’m listening.)

i make pretty messes

pretty messesAll of the paradox and
contradictions.

I always wished I could make pretty things. 
I wish I was a pretty thing.

But what’s true is I am
messy and complicated.

I make more messes.

I make pretty messes.

I’ve been doing some inner calibration lately and ran across this journal entry from earlier this year.  When I read it, it occurred to me that others might benefit from reading this so I’m sharing.  Do you ever feel that way?

Over the course of my life, I’ve encountered and lived with people who clean up right before company comes but keep things pretty messy the rest of the time.  I used to be someone like that but it’s been a minute because I realized at some point that my messes were going to spill out anyway.  I also learned that the people that I feel safe around are the people who keep it real.  They tend to do much less projection and own what’s going on in their lives instead of blaming others for their problems.

Life isn’t a magazine cover.  It’s real, raw, and messy.  Why not celebrate that?

I have so much compassion for people invested in sweeping their messes under the rug.  We live in a society that sells products by selling image and erasing the truth with an airbrush.  People create a static image in their mind of what their lives should like without making room for their own or anyone else’s humanity.  We break things, we age and eventually we die.  Life is dynamic like that, isn’t it?

Later in this same journal, I found this entry from June of this year.  My mom had died a few weeks previously and I was at a tea house alone trying to find solace.  Freewriting, exploring and sipping bergamot sage tea when of course I spilled it all over my journal.  Because THAT’S WHAT I DO.  Interestingly, I loved what happened!

spilling outThe tea was a beautiful color (and remains so in these pages).  It leaked through four pages so I just started playing with it.

Then I wrote about it.

Little messes as creative prompts.  That’s the essence of expressive arts practice, really.

 Alchemy.

The way the tea leaks through these pages (spilled carelessly).

So then my thoughts leak through
my everyday life.

Life brings so many things to push against yet I want so badly to just yield.

Does yielding mean surrender?

Yielding to that which oppresses me is not my path but spiritual surrender is perhaps like this tea–it just happens.

Spilled out
leaking through

Pretty messes making life and art.

So get out there and make your messes!  Let the mistakes be mis-takes–another take, another chance.

And take a listen to this.  I’m sharing because I want to support this guy’s work.  He’s real and raw and has a gorgeous voice.  I’ve never heard anyone make regret sound so beautiful.

Father

Father

Today, I gave birth to my Father

I held him close in my arms and kissed his forehead

whispering, “I love you so much” and rocking him

(so gently)

Today, I protected my Father

kept him safe, held and fed

when He stumbled, I caught him

(gentle hearts)

Today, I disciplined my Father

gave Him loving limits and arms

kissing away his anger and sadness

(no shame)

Today, I watched my Father grow

like a tall tree with strong roots

well nourished and watered

(no shame)

Today, I was held by my Father

He protected and sheltered me

hunted, fished and built a home for me

(strong hands)

Today, I am One with my Father