Posts Tagged ‘wild geese’

Another Weekend Down

October 5, 2015


Second full weekend of school, excluding the retreat (graduate school boot camp, remember), has now finished.

Of course there is the fall out.

The homework.

It is about to really begin.

I have a lot of papers that I have to do and a lot of reading that I have to do.

That is par for the course, of course.

I’ve got the paper for Human Development, the one for Therapeutic Communications, the one for psychoanalytic class, and now, yes, the one for T-Group.

I have four freaking papers plus I have to do a proposal for my Human Development class in regards to my final project.


I got a message today, that I just read in my e-mail: “practice compassion for yourself, grad school is hard, graduate school to be a therapist is RIDICULOUSLY hard.

I laughed.

She was right.

It is hard.

The work load is heavy, but there was some relief today in that T-Group has officially finished.


I have to write a big paper for the class.



I am sad that it is over.

And not sad.

Not sad at all.


As well that it is over.

Although I gleaned so much for it, so much learning, so much pushing of myself, so much finding the leading edge of who I am and pushing over the other side into territories completely unknown.

I also may have found my graduate school mentor, who is not my graduate school advisor–I haven’t met with him yet, although we exchanged some pleasantries the first weekend over orientation.


My T-Group facilitator is the woman of whom I speak.

I approached her after, after having thanked her, thanked the group, and thanked myself, in a way, for showing up and doing the work and witnessing all the work, I imagine that was really hard to, to hold that space for all of us bumbling about as we learned how to do the work of self-investigation and how to resolve conflicts in relationships.

Relationship ruptures and repairs.

Of which I saw quite a few.

Of which I participated in a few.

I got to see where I have assumptions and how that colors my world view.

I also saw, yet again, it just keeps happening.

That I do not see myself the way that others see me.

“You are so smart.”


I know.


I don’t know.

I know too, that there was a little projection onto the facilitator, which happens in group therapy work, the tendency to bring in the family of origin dynamics and play them out in front of the group, whether it is unconscious or not, and how the feelings for the facilitator also had something to do with a positive mother figure for me.

Someone who was unabashedly available to support me and my growth and my leaning without judgement.


All the while seeing me.

“I see you,” she told me.


I felt seen.

I don’t often.

All of that I take responsibility for, I don’t allow myself, even here, to be completely seen.

The fear of what it means to be vulnerable will often overwhelm me.

I could actually feel myself girding my loins, so to speak, and gilding the lily.

Not so much to speak.

But I put on a little mask today, I choose my weapons well and I knew I was doing it.

First, I put up the hair and I made it big.

Then I put on the eyes and made them big.


I put on my favorite pair of tights that are black and have the lyrics to “Be My Little Baby” on them and a pair of blue jean shorts and a favorite shirt and I put on the big dangling earrings.


I put on the Carmen costume.

It’s a costume I know well and it comes complete with full cats eye makeup and eyeliner.

Because that is how I roll.

And I roll well.

My ego.

That is.

But it doesn’t mean that the mask didn’t slip or that I didn’t take it off.

I did.

The mask slipped right off the minute I opened my mouth.

I opened my mouth a lot.

I started off the group and I led with my feelings and I led with my heart.

I was my authentic person and I was more than my authentic person as I learned what else I needed to allow in to fully embrace all that is and was me in those moments.

There’s a lot of me.

A lot of feelings.











Generosity of spirit.



More sadness.






And maybe even a little more love.

There’s poetry.

That is one thing that I found out about myself and that I thanked my facilitator for–the acknowledgement of my language, the depth of my words, even that I make up words, but that they work, that I am able to negotiate my way through the world, at least through T-Group, but really, I do suspect, through the world, with aplomb, and beautiful words.

When the class ended I said I realized even more fully how much a poet I am.

The language of love.

The language of need.

The Eros of lack.

The desire to be full subsumed in language.

It is my intoxicant.

What I learned from T-Group was another way of communication.

Lead with my feelings, reflect to the person what I am feeling, let them know what the interaction brings up for me emotionally.


Give them feedback.

And if I need something, make a request.

Most often today it was being a mirror and opening space for my group members to reflect.

But I did do work and I could tell.

The tears they never fully stopped running down my face.


I was not a completely ignorant warrior with my eye make up, the cat eye was elevated so my eyeliner did not run.

The tears flowed.

Like they so often do.

And I learned.


Ever so much more.

And gratitude.


It continues to deepen each day I showed up and each day that I continue to show up.

For my life.

For this page.

For my recovery.

Is the perfect.



My life imperfection perfected.

Moves a pace.

Grace (full) like a cat.

And playful too.

That soft underbelly of my soul just there revealed, but not reviled.

That warm animal.


That soft hearted tenderness.


You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

-Wild Geese, Mary Oliver

Six Degrees of Shadrach

July 27, 2012

I really did not want to write about this tonight.

Sometimes I get frustrated with myself and think that I should be further along in the process.  Forgetting completely that the process is not linear and that it is a process.

I got a call from a very dear, very close, very loved friend last night right before doing my Wednesday night deal.

Her father committed suicide last night.

Baby, I am so sorry, I am so sorry for your loss, for your heartbreak, I just wanted to smother you and hold you and hug you and all I could do was say let me help, let me hold your hand, let me be there for you.

So, I am.

I am getting to be of service.

I will be house sitting for her and her husband while they travel toward the family and do what families do at times like this, gather, like wild geese at midnight, soughing with their cries of pain through the whistling midnight air high above the earth.

They got on an airplane this evening at 10 p.m. and headed to the East Coast.

I got done with work tonight, muffled, my heart aching for them, and rode my bike home.  I had an assignment to do, some sitting that had to be done.

Challenging at first to sit, to be still to let myself get into the rocking chair by the window and ignore the texts and the calls and the Facecrack updates and just be.

I pulled the book down from the shelf and looked over the first five proposals.  Had I left anything out, had I shared all that I had to share?  Was I setting my foundation with mortar or sand.

I left it all out on the kitchen counter in Noe Valley with Carolyn, my trusted advisor, and then went to work.  I did not have the time to take the hour before work.  I went in, told my GM I was taking a long lunch off site and when one o’clock rolled around I punched out and got in my friend’s car and drove with him up to the Castro.

My darling sweet girl, sitting in piles of photographs, packing, sifting, red tear-stained face, aching heart, oh, love, I feel your loss.

I got the keys to the house, the instructions on how to feed the fish, where to take the recycling, how to separate out the kitten from the big adult cat.  I got to hug my friend, I wish I could have just hugged her a little longer,  a little stronger, a little harder.

But I left her knowing that her house and her babies, because your kitties and your fish are your babies, don’t let any one tell you different, were going to be ok.

I will be up in the Castro for the next three weeks until they have taken care of all that has to be taken care of.

I pray that she remembers to take care of herself.

She is very much in my heart right now.

Very much.

I got a lift back down to the bike shop and frankly, I just quietly did my job.  I put a smile on my face and a polite wall up.  I just did not have a whole lot to give.  I did what I had to do and left right on the nose at seven p.m.

I rode home with the chill fog whirling around me.

I associate fog with death.

Five years ago when it would get to overwhelming at General I would walk to the window on the third floor of the ICU and I would watch the fog swirl down over Twin Peaks.

Shadrach lay quietly, a cathedral of love, in the locked doors behind me to the left.  I would turn off my phone and press my face against the window and feel that cold fog pressing over the hill and onto the hot red pain of tears streaking down my face and I would just try to breathe.

And here I am again.

Losing myself in the hollowed out hills of pain.

I have learned an awful lot about love since that time and loss.  Loss by the way is not loss, but an opportunity to make space for more love.

If I could just catch my breath.

If I could just sit.

Sometimes I would slide down onto the floor of the hospital corridor and lean into that window and if I had remembered to turn off the phone and there was a lull in the visiting hours I would have moments of serenity.

I did not know that was what it was.

It was either that or shock.

I was hollowed out.

I met Shannon on the AIDS ride training three years ago.  I did the AIDS ride for Shadrach.  She and I bonded, became friends, and now here I am taking care of the epicenter of her life while she goes to bury her father.

I met Jefferson at the Decompression party that Shadrach threw at his loft in the Dog Patch.  Jefferson was my wing man, my steady right hand, the arms I collapsed into when I could not hold the grief any longer.  Jefferson took me to Burning Man.  Jefferson is prodded me into doing the AIDS ride, where I met Shannon and her soon to be husband Alex.

Jefferson is now my boss and still my good friend.

I rode my bicycle past the gorgeous Annie, who I met five years ago, sitting behind me, in a dingy room in the Mission, weeping my eyes out over my friend laying in state.  She went to Burning Man, grew up, went back to school graduated, moved in with her boyfriend and only gets more lovely with time.

It really felt like that, he was lying in state.  He was with us for a week before they harvested him and spread his joy over the world.

David Allen.

John Ater.


Shadrach introduced me to John Ater one dark and wonderous night at the corner of Castro and Market.

John Ater for whom I cannot ever express my love and gratitude enough for.  This gentle bear of a man who held me and let me sob on his shoulder, who took my abuse, and wiped away my tears, sometimes with a roll of paper towels.  Sometimes with the sleeve of his shirt.

John who taught me how the fuck to grow up and own my dreams.

John who gave me something I get to pass onto others–the gift of being loved and lovable and worthy of love.

Shadrach you gift giver you.

I sat for an hour.

Tears drifted down my face like the soft heart of sea salt fog and now the fog is not a death, but a balm, a separating and a love, a soothing embrace.

I recall a ride I took recently, we rushed over the hills up into Noe Valley and the fog, dense, wet, heavy, drifted in drowsy with sea salt and the pull of the moon high hiding behind the masses of clouds and vapor.

I was overwhelmed by the near invisibility and the fast rush of the cycle as it climbed the hills.  My heart in my mouth, I just closed my eyes and held on.  I was carried where I was supposed to go.

Church and Market.

And Elizabeth said to me, “Go write down those things that are easy for you to see the go(o)d in.”

My cat Uni purring

Fresh flowers in a mason jar

The smell of verbena

Clean sheets

My rocking chair (same chair I sat in tonight)

The smell of wood burning


A really hot shower


Hummingbirds when they are perched


The drive to Sky High Orchard through Devil’s Lake State Park.

The fog rolling over Twin Peaks minutes after sunset

Ice cubes

Cold water when I am thirsty

The way grass feels on my bare feet

The giraffe that winked at me at the Decompression party

The way Madeleine’s arms felt when she was five, heavy, sweet, wet from the pool, the whisper of her voice as she kissed my ear and said, “I love you.”

The sunset from the rock of Gibraltar when I was five

The low-lying mist burning off over the cornfields in the morning

Sitting by myself in the dark looking at the lights on the Christmas tree and that feeling that always comes over me

Finding shells on the black sand beach when I was four

Reading Watership Down for the first time

Arthur as a boy in T.H. White’s the Once and Future King

Lizz’s hugs

Singing to Storm when she was a baby

Talking with Alex on the phone

Not recognizing myself in the mirror.

Having dreams and knowing that as long as I stay sober I will be graced with love.

Shadrach kissing my forehead at Room to Grow and making me laugh

Last line of the first list, 10/21/05

Shannon I love you.  Shadrach I love you for all the amazing people who are in my life because of you–Wendy, Fred, Paine, David Allen, John Ater, Bradley Merle Smith, Tom Jarman, Matthew, Jayne, Jefferson, Claudia, Barnaby (thank you, I still get amazing compliments on my memorial tattoo), Grecia, Scott Hirsch, Robert Cameron, Mark Henry, Tricia, Jackie, Calvin, Kevin, Zefrey, Megan Miller, my God the list is so long and I can’t remember it all.

I just feel you all.  I feel you in the whisper of fog and the kiss of moisture on my forehead and I open my heart and thank God from the bottom of it for getting to know him better.

I have an arch way, a solid rising ring of love to walk beneath.  My mortar is set, my heart beating fresh alive, outside my rib cage burning with the divine and the salt of pain and loss which invigorates me and fills me up, renders me whole, despite feeling split asunder.

Thanking God from the bottom of my heart that I get to know him better.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.


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