Posts Tagged ‘tenderness’

I’m Done!

February 1, 2016

I finished all the reading for my next weekend of classes.

One weekend ahead of time.

I am absurdly pleased.

I just closed my Ethics and Family Law textbook and shelved it along with everything else that I read this weekend.

I do have a proposal that I did not get to, but whatever.

I have all week to do it and it’s a proposal, not a formal paper.

I have had some time to think about what I want to accomplish with it and I do believe I am going to do the meditative coloring.

I also thought about doing a guided meditation, I haven’t done a lot of sitting meditation, enough to know I can comfortably sit for fifteen minutes without bother.

I remember the first time I sat for three minutes.

I thought I was going to crawl out of my skin.

I thought I might leap out of my chair or rip my own hair out.

I was that uncomfortable sitting still in my body, in my own space, with my own thoughts to occupy me.

I thought my brain might actually eat me alive.

I have come a long way baby.

I can sit for up to an hour and have done so on a few occasions.

I have had years where I did a sitting meditation, in addition to my writing meditation, but I have to be upfront about that, it wasn’t more than a ten minute sit, often times just five minutes and I did it because the person I was working with insisted I do it as a requirement to work with her.

I wasn’t opposed.

I am not now.


I think the coloring is a nice way to go about it.

I tried some last night to get the hang of it and it was nice.

I actually got some freedom from the rapidity of my brain and it was nice to get lost in between the lines and let go and play with color and just enjoy doing something that didn’t require me to think.

I plan on being up front with my professor and outlining what I currently do.

I thought, briefly about with holding some aspects of my spiritual practice so that I could “implement” it back in and go from there.

Some might call this efficient.

However, it felt a little like cheating for me and I couldn’t quite square the principle of honesty behind that action.

I prefer to be honest with my professor, to even go so far as to say that I have had resentments and needed to work them out, that, already, is spiritual progress for me.

I recognized that it was with myself that lay the problem, not with my professor, he’s not doing it wrong, he’s just not doing it the way I think, or better, thought, it should be done.


That’s all I have to do.

Write and send a one page proposal, outlining what I am going to do to deepen my spiritual practice.

Due by this Friday.

I’ll probably ruminate on it a little bit more then type something up before work tomorrow.

Just to have it out of the way.

I don’t have to start the actual practice of it until February 12th.

Which is also when my first paper is due.

I plan on working on that next weekend.  I will probably review the readings for the class, it was dense, really dense and not well written.  If the author used “implicit” one more time in a chapter to give gravitas to what he was writing I was going to look him up and suggest some creative writing workshops for him to expand his vocabulary.

It really is a pleasant feeling, though, to have all the reading done.

I also got to see my girl friend from my cohort.

She rode her bicycle out and I was grateful to get to show her my home space and we went for coffee and toast at Trouble Coffee and Coconut Club and then down for a walk on the beach.

It was deliriously windy out and the beach was fairly deserted.

It was like being sandblasted.

We did not stay long, but she got a taste of the glory of the beach and vowed to come back soon, although by a better bicycle route than the one Google Maps gave her.


Any other city it probably makes sense, but in San Francisco, negotiating the hillier parts of the city, there really is a way to get from here to there and it does not involve riding the coastline.

When she told me her route I got sympathetic leg pain just thinking about it.

I have done some similar things when I was newly on my bicycle and found out the hard way how to navigate around the hillier districts.

The SFBC (San Francisco Bicycle Coalition) map is probably the best one to use for navigation, as it shows grades of streets on hills.

One block over can really make a huge difference.

Going up Polk to the Marina is a lot easier than going up Van Ness.

And probably much safer too.

I digress.

We had a great time.

No homework was really accomplished, although we did go over a couple of things on the syllabus for the next weekend and talked about the school, the program, and of course, our other classmates.

But mostly.

About ourselves.

It was sweet and I feel a strong connection and bond to her.

Partially because she really does see me and also sees me in a way, that although I don’t find flattering and sometimes I get upset with myself, I do have a vast amount of acceptance about, that being that I am in desperate need to control my environment.

“It’s a safety thing for you,” she said in her sweet, lilting, French accent, “I totally get it, and I see how often you do it, with everything in your environment.”

I have had lovers mess up the pillows on my bed to make me squirm or a friend purposely mess up a section of literature I have just set out on a table.

I have seen it, consciously, more and more as I accept myself more and more and learn, not always gracefully, to let go of the reigns and have new experiences.

I really do want them and I recognize, I must recognize, how brave I am.

I didn’t fold up, I didn’t collapse, I kept trying.

Sometimes doing things that I didn’t know better, stratagems that I learned growing up, self-defense mechanisms that worked really well at the time and then stopped, even though I continued to employ them.

I see things with a lot more clarity.

The writing daily has helped, the praying, the spiritual practices I employ.

My recovery.

Oh, all the wonderful things I get to do in the act of getting back to that place where I am allowed to be vulnerable, soft, sweet, and not in control.


I opened the door.

I let in my friend.

I experienced intimacy.

And I got my reading done for school.


From Garbage Bags

October 24, 2015

To graduate school.

I was sitting in my Therapeutic Communications class and something was said about the video we had just watched, a really intense video of Nancy McWilliams demonstrating psychoanalysis with a woman who was trying to negotiate a domestic abuse situation.

It was a surreal story.

It was just an hour of therapy and so much ground got covered and the therapist was amazing, directing subtly, strengthening the client, reflecting back to her, empathizing with the client.

I got a lot out of it.


I also got annoyed with a fellow in my cohort who kept asking questions.

Pushing questions that, as I saw it, were serving the person asking them but then, the professor used the questions to illustrate some key points in the reading we had to do for class and also to help teach the class some really salient information about being a therapist.

We, as a class, were then invited to see how our own need for resolution may be at odds with the clients.

I remember flaring up inside when the questions were being asked and feeling that there was this well of antipathy inside me.

I got annoyed.

Then I realized that I was annoyed because if I had been that woman, if I had been that client, and the solution was to get me to see a solution immediately, I wouldn’t have been able to get there, in fact, I would have said, fuck you, fuck the therapy, and I will deal with this on my own.

In effect.

What I did do.

On my own.

With a lot of help from some close friends, I got out of an abusive relationship.

It was not physically abusive until the end.

He hit me when I broke up with him.

I ran out into the street.

In the middle of January with no socks on, a pair of jeans underneath a flannel nightgown.


For those of you that know me, this is highly unusual.

Even in the dead of winter.

Even in Wisconsin.

Even in January with below freezing temperatures.

I always, since I was about 17 and the step father moved out of the house, I always, slept in the nude.

That night.

I wore a nightgown.



I don’t know.

I can’t say.

But I did.

And when I ran shivering, scared, uncertain where to go and which direction to take.

I knew I couldn’t go running down East Johnson Street, he would find me too fast.

I ran to the Sentry Shopping Centre that was on East Washington.

I ducked along the cement walls and found my way to a pay telephone, remember those?

I called 911.

I got a response and they said they would be sending a car out to me.

That was when I heard my ex-boyfriends car.

In all actuality, our car, it was just as much mine as his, we had both bought it, an older Jetta.

I could hear it turning and I hoped it was heading toward East Johnson.


It wasn’t.

And I got frantic with the operator on the phone and tried to cram myself down into that very small phone booth and make myself invisible in my flannel nightgown with corn flowers on white cotton, with a ruffled that was piped with blue ribbon, with cuffs that reminded me of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House on the Prairie.  I watched the car, the little blue Jetta grinding up the street, hoping against hope that he could not see me flattened against the wall of the phone booth.

I believe.

Looking back.

That was the last time I ever wore a flannel night-gown.

It’s been thirteen years since that night.

Almost fourteen.

Will be fourteen in January.

That’s when I left him.

The operator on the 911 call held me together until the police arrived to take me to a friend’s house.

I will never forget the way the lights looked wicking past the back seat window, the calls coming in over the radio, the destination never seeming further away as the sodium street lights glowed sullen in the snow, the hush of the streets, the lack of traffic, the drive around the lake on John Nolan Drive.

Then my friend’s house.

I refused to talk to the police.

I did not give up the ex-boyfriend.

I was too co-dependent.

I did not want him to get in trouble.

He got in trouble anyway, it just took a little longer.

I suppose I could have navigated it differently, but I didn’t know the difference and I didn’t know how to do it.

I do now.

But I look back at that girl, that young woman with such love and compassion, what I went through to get from there to here.


How long I told myself that it was normal, that it was something that happened, that I could somehow normalize the trauma of fleeing my own home in my nightgown in January in Wisconsin.

I was isolated.

My friend, my best friend and her husband were in town visiting and they noticed it.

Another friend and her partner were in town.

They all had tried to get me to see the light at some point.

My ex-boyfriend pretty much blamed them for the timing of the break up.

He was probably right, but I did not understand how much until later.

My best friend navigated me going into work the next day to tell them I had an emergency and was leaving town for the weekend.

The plan was to get my stuff and take me up North to Hudson where I could chill out and figure out what I had to do next.

I was in shock.

My ex saw us leave my place of employment, he had been driving around Madison all night looking for me and who knows how many times he was circling the block where I worked.

He whipped into the parking lot and flew out of his car, our car.

He tried to get to me.

He tried to talk to me.

My friends were all in shock.


He spit on me.

Full on in the face.

Suddenly the guys stepped forward and corralled him.

My friends got me into the back of their car.

We pulled out burning rubber.

Two seconds later my ex got in his car and pursued.

My friend’s husband lost him after a few intersections.

We flew to my house.

I unlocked the door and having no idea what to do, I grabbed a large black garbage bag and threw random clothes into it.

I ran around my house.

My sweet little home that I had lived in, nested in, hosted Christmas dinners and Thanksgivings in, had made our home, was now an unfamiliar territory or terror and fear and I just had to get out of it.

My ex didn’t get back to the house before I left.

I was that fast.

I huddled in the back seat of my friend’s Saturn and numbly watched the landscape go by.

I remember passing a refinery and thinking how spooky and eery and utterly beautiful it was in the night with the flashing lights and the mists shimmering into the black void of sky.

I reflected on this in class.

All the memories that came up.

Then the tears.

The joy of knowing, that despite myself, for it would be another long year and a half before there was closure and ultimately, really not until I moved to San Francisco in 2002 did I get finality on the relationship (he stalked me for a year and a half and I got a restraining order that he violated once then he got to go jail and do work release through the Huber program the city had in place for inmates with work release options, two full years of restraining order and yet I saw him twice more before things were all said and done.  Ah alcoholism, how I love thee, not), I had made it out.

I made it out.

I had tears of utter gratitude and awe on my cheeks at how far I have come.

From being a woman fleeing her own home with a garbage bag full of random grabbed things.

To a fully self-supporting, radically self-reliant, strong, resilient, loving, kind, compassionate, tender-hearted woman.

From garbage to graduate school.

A small transformation.

A flowering woman in bloom.

A wide open heart.

Vulnerable and strong.

“We both were tempered by fire,” my friend told me, leaning into me in sweet confidence, “but the heat of your fire was hotter than mine, and I want you to know I acknowledge that.”




And full of empathy and compassion.

For the client on the video screen who couldn’t get out.


For myself.

The woman who did.

My life continues to unfold.

And amaze.

I am graced.






December 10, 2014

And ye shall receive.

Ask and you won’t get what you want is the lesson I learned and up until this evening I don’t believe I knew exactly how deep this erroneous way of thinking lived in me.

Humbly asked to have all these defects of character removed.



Take that shit.

I can and have been flippant about it.

I joke.

I jest.

I don’t take it serious.

Until there are things that just don’t serve me anymore and I grow tender and achy and rubbed my heart when I heard what was being read this evening.

It struck me hard and it struck my heart.

I don’t ask because asking is a risky business.

I learned a long time ago in a land far, far away, my childhood, that to ask was to only ask for it.

“You want something to cry about, I’ll give it to you,” my mother said to me.

“You ask too much,” my stepfather said to me, “you have too much pride, you need to be humbled.”

I wasn’t humbled, I was humiliated, shamed, shown scorn for my dreams and desires.

What, I ask you, is wrong with asking to play cello, to study privately with a French tutor, to be in advanced placement math, to take the ACT early, to have a ride home from swim practice, to have a warm room at night.

I learned.

You don’t get to ask.

Because asking always leads to heartbreak and disappointment.

Better to not ask, to not desire, to not want, to be safe, to not be hurt, to not have expectations.

Guarding my heart, I didn’t realized how much I wasn’t allowing those things to be taken away from me, root and branch that no longer served me.

I have been stubborn and holding onto so much fear, anger, loneliness, anxiety, without even realizing it.

These things they go deep.

The thing is, there is a solution and there is something I can trust and start leaning into more.

I have faith, I have had it for sometime, it serves me well, but it has become more than apparent that there is a deeper level of belief that I can strive for, that I am allowed to experience.

I am granted that permission to be tender and reveal my heart and ask for what I need and allow room for the Universe to provide it for me.

I don’t know that I knew how deep the hurt runs in me.

This time, when the revelation was revealed, though, it did not feel like layers of skin being slowly peeled off me with hooks, it felt soft and tender and weak, but not weak as in I have no strength, just that I have no power, that of myself I am unable to take away those pains and defenses, I need help.

Of my unaided will, I cannot do anything.

Welcome to being in a relationship, ladybug.

No wonder I panicked when my boyfriend asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I was already unconsciously preparing myself for disappointment.

My heart aches now for myself, for this life, for this experience, but it is a sweet ache an ache of surrender.

I give this up to.

I can ask.

I am allowed.

I am perhaps, not going to have high expectations, but I realize that there is more than one answer to a question; there is more than one way to be supplicant and to receive grace and give away the garbage of poor upbringing and sorrow.

The Universe has two answers for me when I ask, “not right now,” or “not yet, there is something better.”

I am being heard.

I always have been and when I look back I can see so clear and distinct, the patterns in the grass, the wings of a dragon-fly, translucent and fragile, thinnest skeins of crystal cells battering the air under the diamond sun, the rustle of oak tree leaves in the summer wind, the smell of lilies of the valley and thick, juicy lilacs in summer—these strivings for beauty all about me, revealing a deep, full, abiding love of the world I walk through.

Despite myself I can learn to let in the world, the love, the light, the grace, and to ask again and believe that I will be answered.

Which, funny enough, led me to realize what I want from my boyfriend for Christmas.

As much as I like stuff, I mean, who doesn’t, I want an experience.

I want to drive down the coast to Big Sur and see the monarch migration.

I have never seen it and a lady I work with just recently was in Big Sur and said it was incredible and beyond imagination.

That’s what I want for Christmas, an experience beyond my imagination, my imagination is limited and I am afraid too often to ask, to be gentle in my remonstratings to myself when I don’t get what I ask for and know that I can still ask again, perhaps a different question or a different need.

Just because I was disappointed once, or twice or a hundred times, does not mean that it is unreasonable for me to ask again.

Do I know what it is that I am asking for?


But I do know that it is time for me to start all over and make a new beginning.

This life of constant and continual change and awareness is something I am in awe of, not afraid of, not in fear of, awe.


I fled the lights of the city toward the ocean on my bicycle, the lamps dreamy and smoky yellow in the wavering fog drifting through the park and as I wheeled around a corner and heard the echo of water rushing over the falls in the park, I felt it again, that ache, that tender sweet spot in my heart, not a hole to be filled by fear, but a silken cushion of faith and love, truth, surrender.

And lest you think that my life and my God are some deep mysterious thing, I mean, I don’t fully comprehend that grace that paves the path ahead for me, nor do I want to, but it does have a sense of humor and timing that is pitch perfect.

Note the early birthday/Christmas package from my mom in the entryway to my in-law.

Things do change and gifts fall from the heavens.

Or at least the USPS truck.

When I least expect them.

Filling that achy, empty spot with light and sweetness.

Have You Forgiven

November 15, 2013

Yourself for being single?

She asked me, a perceptive light in her eye, leaning forward across the table.

Oh shit.


I have never had it laid out like that before.

Or if I did, I wasn’t hearing the message.

Oh, lots of time I will be paying rapt attention to the medium–is it flashy, does it glitter, is it pretty–but the message was have you forgiven yourself.

Well, god damn.

No, I have not.

I am to blame, don’t you know.

For everything, when it comes down to it.

As though I have some power over this, over anything.

The last couple of weeks have more than amply demonstrated that I don’t have power over much, just the actions I take, or don’t take.

Try not reacting.

Try pausing.

Say it with me, pause.



I took a naptation today.

I made that up, but man it was glorious.

I had my little Thursday girl, just one charge, music class, long nap, pigtails and a late afternoon Americano at the Mill on Divisadero.

I discovered that yes, indeed, the pushing of the stroller does aggregate my shoulder, it’s not just the double stroller, it is now every fucking stroller I use.


I did, however, after I posted last nights blog, log into my medical provider and book an appointment with my doctor.

I go in next Wednesday.

I was going to try to push it out to the week following, but I just can’t do it.

I have to get this taken care of.

I don’t like the idea of missing work, it’s a fucking catch-22, I can’t afford to miss a shift, but I can’t afford to get injured worse and potentially miss a lot of shifts.

So, I am taking it on the chin and going to get taken care of.

It was suggested to me that it could also be a pinched nerve.

Oh, hell.

It does sound like it, little internet web doctoring over in my corner, maybe…

Anyway, since I am not a doctor, I am just going to let my employers know I need to be checked out and leave it at that.  I can still work a half day, I booked the appointment for the afternoon.

After I got my charge down for her nap, bless her little heart, 2 and a half hours, I ate a really nice lunch (purple kale salad with organic baby cucumbers, Roma tomato, a tender sweet carrot, a little chopped apple, olive oil and balsamic and a veggie burger, accompanied by a cup of Earl Grey and an after lunch apple that I sliced up and sprinkled with sea salt and cinnamon) and sat down with a Tom Robbins novel, Still Life With Woodpecker.

I read for about an hour, stretched, got up, had bathroom break and decided a meditation was in order.

I got myself situated, followed the tail of my breath and sat for about twenty minutes.

Then I fell asleep.


But so nice.


I like it.

I was not out for very long, but enough to really get refreshed.

“You sound like you are very tender,” she said, “are you aware of that?”

“Oh God, yes,” I replied, “I am in a lot of pain with the shoulder.”

“No, not what I meant, more that you are sad, grieving, maybe still Paris?  Have you written about that?”

Who are you and get out of my head.

“No, I have not done a lot of writing about that and you are now the second person in recent history to suggest I do.”


I almost stuck my tongue out at her.

I listed all the great things I have been doing: bought myself flowers on Saturday, got a massage on Sunday, have been hula hooping, I went to an amazing concert, I got a boogie board….

“Yes, I know, and you’re sad and you’re feeling alone,” she added.

Stabbing pain in chest.

I thought my shoulder hurt.


“Can you be nice to yourself while you grieve?” She asked.

Can I play, can I forgive, can I move on?

How about, yes, yes, and yes.

I had never thought about it the way she was describing it, to love myself, to hold myself tenderly.

I am a bit gruff with myself.

I am doing more and more work.

Small things like stickers and sweet-smelling candles help, “are you burning potpourri in here,” my friend asked when he came by for a visit a few weeks back.



I like them.

Little fires in my house.

I like the way burning smells.

There was wood smoke drifting through the woods tonight as I rode my bicycle home, I pulled lungful upon lungful of air into my body.




Undercarriage tree leaf mulch, wet, rich, damp, earth, potent with magic and fecundity.

I whipped down Lincoln, her words in my ear.

How refreshing.

Not just the thoughts, no, the freedom.

I can forgive myself.

I don’t have to hold this garbage over my head any longer.

I am and have been doing the best I can.

Change will come when change is supposed to come.

I believe, with all my heart, with that wicked flame of a soul I have, with every bit of my being, that I do have a partner out there, we may have met, we may yet to meet, but until we do I can hold this space, tenderly, for myself.

Be tender to myself with forgiveness and let in love ,in its richness and abundance, spread out into my world.

To literally, tend to myself.

I came home and played.

That’s what I wanted to do.

I got out my hula hoop and put on some house music and hooped for a while.

Then, haha, yes, I played dress up.

Dress Up

Dress Up

My friend’s masquerade ball birthday party is this Saturday.

I got the hair down.

I’ll grab a mask tomorrow, the one my house mate’s daughter has is too small, and just wear a plain black dress and heels.


Masquerade ball.

And aside from the forgiveness of self, which I am sure will be a continuing life altering exploration, I was given an assignment.

I have to plan three things for the upcoming months.

I have to make plans for Thanksgiving.

I have none.

I have to make plans for my birthday.

I have none.

I have to make plans for Christmas.

I, uh, yeah, have none.


I have an idea for my birthday, beach bonfire, but not sure when to execute that.  My birthday, one week before Christmas, is a hard date to get anyone to come together on.  Plus, it’s on a Wednesday.

I have a little time to think about it.

Thanksgiving I don’t have a great deal of concern about, but I will take the suggestion and make a plan.

I have the whole week off.

I am open to ideas.

It was a revelatory day.



But once I got into the flow I realize that all these experiences, well, they just enrich my life more.

How amazing that I get to have all these emotions, to continue experiencing growth, even when those growing pains hurt, to have new revelations, and dare I say it, new forgiveness.

Today I am forgiven.

I forgive myself for being single.

Ain’t nothin’ gonna change til somethin’ changes.

I am a changed woman tonight.


But changed.

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