Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Love

I didn’t think it would happen again for me but it did. She was visiting me in Massachusetts when I realized that my crush had turned to something much deeper.

We’ve been friends for close to 9 years now. When we met that night in September 2008 next to the fire pit at a friend’s house I was drawn to her beauty and warm energy. She sat next to my Chocolate Lab and pet her while we talked.

Over the years our friendship developed. I was always excited to see her when we found each other at mutual friend’s parties or get togethers. Eventually we began meeting for dinners or happy hour. Our conversations were always open and honest, interesting and engaging. I looked forward to them very much.

Our friendship felt different to me. Deeper than any of the others in my life. We were always so open with each other. Trusting. I’ve always felt this intense protectiveness over her that I’ve never really been able to explain. It’s just always been there. She’s become my closest friend.

I had kept my crush a secret. Our timing was never quite right. When I felt that crush turn into something deeper I continued to keep it to myself. Again, timing. I was just happy to have her in my life. Keeping her in it was most important to me. I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it. I knew that what I felt for her was complete and unconditional and that I would support her in finding her happiness. That’s all that mattered to me. Her happiness.

It’s still and always will be all that matters to me.

I didn’t think love would happen for me again because after working on myself for the past few years, intentionally staying single and getting to know me I discovered that the way of being in relationship for me is different from the conventional way that society has created. Monogamy felt unrealistic. The expectations that come with a conventional romantic relationship felt heavy and unnecessary. I wasn’t able to see myself in that space any longer and I knew that it would take an extraordinary person, one who would take the time to develop a friendship and trust over years, to be in relationship with me. I had set the bar high because I knew I was okay with just being with myself. I discovered the things that made me happy and I was content with just me.

When I felt my love deepen for her, when I realized the unconditional-ness of it, I also realized that the extraordinary person I was open to was already in my life. Someone that I trust completely. Someone who also sees outside of the conventional relationship box. Someone who sees and loves all of me and who I see and love all of. Completely and unconditionally in the true definition of those words.  

Lucky for me, those deep feelings of love are not unrequited. We are in love and my heart couldn’t be happier. I’m not sure how much I believe in soul mates but I know that she is one. I also know that I will always only want for her happiness whether that includes me or not. She is not meant to be caged and our love is not meant for a conventional box. It’s free and unbinding. Our only promise is to always be open and honest with each other.

I am blessed with a love that is beyond anything I’ve ever felt or experienced. A love that stands solidly on trust and friendship. To say that I am grateful just doesn’t feel enough.

In the short time that I’ve been home here in Portland we’ve had so many adventures and shared so many beautiful moments. I look forward to more of them.

Life is beautiful. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Trust


Ever since this past Presidential election I find I am having a really hard time trusting people. People in general, people in my family and people in my community. Trust is a fundamental building block that relationships stand on, so it's been an incredible challenge, to say the least.

I guess it's not all about the Presidential election when I really think about it. It has a lot to do with some of my past experiences, as well. I have no doubt. The photo project would be the beginning of the crumbling of my trust within my community. I couldn't pin that to any one thing that happened, either. It was just a general feeling that people weren't being honest with me or were taking their own things out on me, which happens. I get it. I was able to refine my diplomatic skills during that time and that's definitely something to be grateful for.

Then people treated some of the people I care about the most in horrible ways. They're still out there in the community spreading lies and darkness and getting away with it. They face no consequences to what they've done to my people either, other than karma, which I know will be a constant battle for them given the things they've done. I wish I could warn everyone about them. Narcissists, master manipulators and pathological liars are bad for your lives. Don't let them in. Not even a little.

Then the election happened and I find myself incredibly untrusting of my fellow human beings, minus the very few who are close to me. I'm suspicious of their true intentions, which no one ever seems to talk about. Maybe they themselves don't quite know them but it all leaves me questioning friendships, which is very uncomfortable and makes for a very small circle of friends. It also makes me question the intention of potential new friends in my life, which makes it difficult to expand that small circle.

Is this an age thing? The older I get the less energy I choose to give to friendships that no longer give much or any energy to me. Also, the less time I have for people who aren't honest, open and authentic. I'm tired of the games and refuse to play them any longer. Maybe that makes my circle small but I'm ok with that. I'm very protective of that small circle.

I guess my point to writing this is that this feeling of not being able to trust is affecting my blogging and being vulnerable with the world. Hence the quietness in this space. I'm not sure what to do about any of it other than just sit with it for now.

I hope you're finding peace within your life. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

I Refuse To Live In Fear


The Women's March on Washington was an amazing experience. Never before have I taken part in a protest or stand where there were so many people and the energy stayed in a place of peaceful power. The unity and solidarity was palpable. At least in my experience of it.

Writing about it, finding the words to give it justice, has been challenging. To say the least. I left with the intention of writing about it while experiencing it but, honestly, it was so overwhelming that it made it impossible for me to write about. Now as I sit here and try to put words together to explain my experience, I find that I'm still failing.

Perhaps it's partly because of the constant barrage of daily bad news. I'm finding that the overwhelm is not going away. It's just gone from one extreme to the other. I've spent today limiting my social media contact and trying to listen to music but I'm finding that I mostly just want to sit in silence. The overwhelm is already so distracting that it's difficult to find my baring.

Everything that I care about is being signed away, shut down and de-funded. Not only are they things I care about, they are things that are important to the lives of so many people in this country. Shutting down the EPA will affect every single living being on this planet. That may sound overstated to some, but it absolutely is true. What we do matters.

Never in my lifetime have I seen such division and hatred in this country. The day before the inauguration we stopped at a Peet's Coffee in downtown Washington D.C. where the barista told us that just the day before he saw members of the KKK walking down the street in their robes and hoods. How completely terrifying.

Reading the news and talking to other people about their experiences has had me living in fear. I've had people online tell me that I'm giving into the "fear mongering" which confuses the fuck out of me because aren't they reading the same news? It really is true that if it doesn't affect some people personally, they just don't care about it and they think others to be ridiculous for caring about it. I just don't understand it.

While away in DC I had a brief conversation with another woman who cuts her hair very short. I won't identify her as butch because I don't know that she identifies that way. She's been considering whether or not to continue to get her hair cut short (buzz) because she fears for the possible consequences. I told her that I was having that very same struggle. But, the more I thought about it, the angrier I got. I'll be damned if I will let someone run me back into the closet. I'll be damned if I will allow someone to make me live in fear.

I am a warrior. I've always been a warrior and I will always be a warrior. A peaceful warrior but one nonetheless. I will always be an example for others in my community. I lead by example. I will not live my life according to anyone else. I will always be authentically me. Short hair, boxers, men's clothes and all. I am butch. I am a masculine of center woman.

Hear me fucking roar.






Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Women's March on Washington



So much change and transition has been happening for me over these past couple months. I keep meaning to sit down and write about them but either the words won't come or I just haven't been prioritizing writing. My paper journal has been neglected, as well. Sometimes the overwhelm of life silences the words and I just need to sit with and through it all.

This weekend I hope to write about this incredible experience I am about to embark on, though. This morning I leave for my first trip to Washington D.C. where I will march in the Women's March on Washington. It isn't my first march but it's the first time experiencing one of this size in a city where I've never been. I am a bit nervous, yes, but mostly I am incredibly excited for this experience.

Last night I explained to my Goddaughter, who is 8 years young, where I'm going and why. I was so proud of her. She gets it. I am not only marching for myself and all of the women I know, I am also marching for her. May this world be kinder and have more respect for her as she travels through it.

If you're heading to the March or plan to participate in any of the others around the country, please stay safe but let your voices be heard. Stand tall and stand proud. 

It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.
— Audre Lorde

Friday, November 11, 2016

Stand Back Up

For the past few days I've been grieving. Trying to make sense of what has happened in this country, what's happening now, trying to make sense of all of the hate. The political system in this country is broken and doesn't make any sense to me at all. The media in this country is what is leading us now and it confuses me. 

As a veteran, I proudly served this country. I am a US Marine and I served this country to protect the all of the freedoms that we all have. Even the freedom to hate this country, to disagree with the status quo, to stand up and let voices be heard to bring change. 

In these past few days I've felt a tremendous sense of sadness, fear, terror, anger and despair. The day after the election I walked to work suspect of everything and everyone around me. I was so full of fear that I wanted to hide. My normal way of being in the world where I smile and say hello to everyone had changed. I was withdrawn, head down and looking at the ground the whole way. Hiding. Trying to not be noticed. 

On one hand I do have that privilege of hiding during this dark time. I am white and on most days I pass as male. I have the option of shedding those clothes, growing my hair out and not being myself for the next four years while the country falls apart under this regime and my community gets bashed or beaten or killed. I have the option to live for the next four years in fear and terror and let the bullies win. I have the privilege of being able to hide. I recognize that privilege. 

But, I can't choose that path. My soul cannot choose that path. I can't chose the path of fear and let the bullies win. I can't live a lie and deny my friends and family and community. I can't stand on the sidelines and watch as people attack each other out of their own fear and hate. 

I won't live in hiding. I am proud of who I am. It's taken me a long time to come to this point, to fully be me in all of my authenticity. I've survived the looks and stares and attacks in the public bathrooms. I've changed people's minds along the way, as well. I've done all of that out of love and respect for myself and those who came before me. I've done all of it for those who will come after me. I will not hide. I will stand up with my community and I will stand up to the bullies because I will not let them win. I will not let them beat me down. I will keep standing up no matter how hard they push me. 

I choose to live with love and peace and to lead by example. To peacefully protest with those who think like me because we have to be heard. We have to join together in this dark time. We have to unify. It's the only way to survive these next four years. 

I've felt knocked down these past few days but today I am standing back up, finding solid ground in my power and meditating on the words of those who have lead in peace:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - Dr. Martin Luther King

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. - Dr. Martin Luther King
 
If we want there to be peace in the world, we have to be brave enough to soften what is rigid in our hearts, to find the soft spot and stay with it. We have to have that kind of courage and take that kind of responsibility. That's the true practice of peace. - Pema Chodron

There is a saying in Tibetan, 'Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.' No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that's our real disaster.” 


― Dalai Lama XIV





Thursday, October 13, 2016

Heart & Soul

This past Monday I took a walk in the woods close to the house. My heart and my thoughts have been heavy with home, family, friends and work so I was attempting to find my center. Nature always helps calm my mind and soothe my soul.

I walked up through the old North Cemetery communing with the trees. They aren't as vibrant as I've seen them in past years but they are beginning to change. We've been in a drought so the Autumn colors seem to be a bit quiet this year. Still, I smiled at the trees and even stopped to tell a couple how beautiful they were. I like to run my hand along the bark gently in greeting.

Trees are comforting to me. They are strong yet flexible. They know how to sway with the wind. Their leaves whisper gentle sounds of comfort.

In the park where I walked there is a pond. Sadly, a much smaller pond because of the drought but, still, a pond. After walking the loop trail around the park I headed to the bench next to the pond to watch the sunlight dance on the water.

When I sat down on the bench I noticed that my feet didn't touch the ground. Sort of like what it might feel like to kids when they sit on a big bench. I smiled at the realization then as I sat there I began to relax into that feeling of being a little kid. A kid who needed comforting. A kid who can't explain why it hurts but knows that it just does. A kid who's lost her family or is just too far away from them.

As these thoughts filled my head I felt the burning in my chest. The tears began to form in the corner of my eyes. They fought me to get out, to find freedom on my cheeks. Finally I stopped fighting them for a bit. The release felt good but I stopped them again. My only thought being, "What if someone walks by or comes to sit on the bench, too?" I was alone. There wasn't anyone that was going to want to share the bench with me but I didn't want to be surprised. So, I got up and walked along the bank of the pond. On the other side of me was thick brush so I knew for sure no one would happen upon me there.

As soon as I got far enough away and tucked back into a little alcove of bushes, my body let go. Why I felt the need to hide, I'm not clear, but I allowed myself to just to let it out. Out it came, too. In full force. My heart felt like it was going to burn through my chest as I silently sobbed and cried.

I love my family dearly and want nothing more than to help all of them in any way I can. My West Coast family is struggling and I'm feeling quite helpless all the way out here. My heart aches to be with them.

The transient feeling I've had over the last few years has helped me find myself and my priorities. It's been a good tool but I'm beginning to feel like I need to grow roots again. Ideas of a house, eventually a partner, a long term job, holidays spent surrounded by family and so much love are all floating around in my head quite a bit these days. I want to settle down again. I want to build those roots so I can stand even taller.

The tears I cried that day were for my family, for the distance, for their struggles and for the time it may take me to get home.

Home.

Just knowing I have a sense of that word now brings happy tears to my eyes.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Self Compassion & Understanding


Returning from the Farmer's Market with a carrot top tail.
This morning I woke up with a sense of sadness. I awoke to clouds and rain and cool air and the sound tires make in the rain as the cars pass by beneath my window. I slept in this morning after staying up late. I've been tired, yes, but this tired today felt different. It felt a little like escape.

My weekend mornings are usually spent leisurely drinking at least two cups of coffee while I read or journal in bed. This morning as I sipped my first cup I felt it. The sadness. The loneliness. It scared me so I finished my first cup, took a shower and walked down to the farmer's market. I felt this pull to run from it but at the same time I knew that taking it for a walk would do it some good and it did. When I returned I continued to find ways to get away from it, though. Escape, I recognize, is an old pattern for me.

I cleaned while listening to a pod cast. It was a Moth Slam that airs on NPR and sometimes those stories stir up emotions and sometimes they inspire me to write or look at things differently. Sometimes they just plain make me cry. I'm not even sure what the story was about at this point but I remember feeling the tears start to well up and the surge of emotions in my chest. I had to stop the vacuum, sit down on the steps and let myself cry for a moment. I let myself feel what I had been running from all morning. I stopped trying to escape and just sat there with it all. In my mind, I wrapped my arms around the emotions and myself. When I did that I realized that it wasn't just sadness that I was feeling. It was such a mix of happiness and sadness and homesickness and gratitude and all the feelings.

I sat there on the steps with tears rolling down my cheeks counting all of the blessings in my life.
  1. I have a group of the most amazing people in my life, both family and friends.
  2. I have an abundance of love, the size of which I've never before felt.
  3. I have a real sense of belonging and home that I've never before felt.
  4. I live in a world where there is beauty that stops me in my tracks and brings tears to my eyes.
  5. I am healthy and getting stronger every day.
  6. I am so much more connected to my body, my soul and my mind than I've ever been before.
The self growth I've done over these past few years has brought so much peace, confidence and friendship with myself. I am amazed at the amount of growth that I've experienced, in awe and am so incredibly proud of myself.

It really is true that happiness begins within yourself. I have become my own best friend, my own companion and my own confidant and there is absolutely nothing sad about that. It's reason to celebrate. The level of trust I have in myself to be completely open and authentic and real with those around me has skyrocketed.

Never before have I ever known myself so well, been so in touch with and connected to my soul and what it wants and needs.

Never before has my heart felt so completely open to life and love and happiness. This...THIS is what it feels like to live, to be fully present with myself and the world around and inside of me. This is what it feels like to be able to sit with the good and the hard feelings and emotions and to come out on the other side of them a better me. A more compassionate, understanding and loving me.

This life is amazing and full of adventure. My heart is so full of gratitude and love.