father’s day

December of 1983 my dad had a flight physical that he’d put off til the last possible day. While talking to the doctor, he had a heart attack. There was a quadruple bypass and two days later the doctors turned off life support. With today’s medicine, he may have survived, but in 1983 he didn’t and this man – photographer, pilot, motorcycle rider, my daddy – was gone without a goodbye.

A few days later, we were sitting in the living room when the doorbell rang. Our postman had a package for us. Eagerly my sister and I fought over opening it and quickly became quiet at its contents. Inside was a set of unpainted, wooden ornaments for the Christmas tree. My mother’s eyes became watery and she left the room. Daddy had secretly ordered tree ornaments before he died. Now he with us, but unable to share  his gift. That’s the only thing I recall about that Christmas or any other Christmas for many, many years.

He was a quiet man, until he wasn’t, believing people had more interesting things to add when you gave them space to be heard.

broken promises

I break promises to myself. Frequently. The promises usually fall around restrictions and not having a believable goal. Whole 30 diet challenge, no drinking, no men, writing 30 days straight, sleeping at certain times so I can get up early to run are all examples of broken – some repeatedly – promises. The truths are:

I love food and eat beautiful meals (usually) and am blessed to not have food sensitivities – maybe because I eat really well, but I’m not going to test a 30 day junk food diet to check my math. I don’t drink all that much (a bottle of wine often goes sour in my fridge). So why limit something that is already naturally limited?

Writing happens everyday and when I do it more, it flows more freely, but if I demand of myself “Write everyday!” my words seem to dry up.

Men come and go and that’s just the way my life seems to be – most become friends which is lovely.

Finally, I am a night owl so I should let myself enjoy my natural rhythm when I can which means many 5-6 hour sleeps and occasionally sleeping in on the weekends. It’s all worked well so far, so why do I keep trying to futz with a good deal? This is all to say, I have a new promise for myself, but I am framing it as a gift and a challenge.

I’ve been training in Krav Maga for the better part of 2 1/2 years and, while I’ve taken a few chunks of time off and ebbed and flowed with my intensity, I’ve been steadily achieving skill. I am now eligible to test for my orange belt and I am really excited about this development. The exam is a physical trial that will last approximately 5 hours and will review all the skills our Section 2 curriculum. When I look over the curriculum, I feel a bit intimidated, but I know I have covered everything listed – just not all recently.

Over the next month, I will be focusing on training – taking the classes that make me uncomfortable so that I’ll be able to complete my advancement. These classes include choke defenses and groundwork that puts me in an extremely vulnerable situation, but I know it is much better to experience this vulnerability in the gym and learn how to overcome being overtaken than to experience such a situation in a real world setting and be harmed or killed because I didn’t have the opportunity to train. So I will train, eat, sleep, repeat over the next 30 days. Some days I will try to run, because I need to ensure I have my endurance built up, and I’ll definitely swim, but mainly I will try to get in lots of gym time so I will be comfortable when the test day comes around. Reps and endurance will be vital to ensuring I advance.

Endurance and good energy – can’t have one without the other – are important building blocks in the weeks before the test. So part of my training will be intentional food choices. I will eat well and at home as much as is reasonable. Considering I work from home this *should* be just about every meal, but I am bad about getting busy and not making time for my needs, so my daughter and I end up grabbing too many meals outside of the home. This month, and perhaps it will be a continued habit, we do more eating at home. I’m not getting crazy with my diet. There will be no eliminating foods or being low carb / high protein or high carbs or water til 2pm and coconut fat the rest of the day. Instead, I will be thoroughly enjoying my favorite foods and cooking. For me, part of training should be self-care. When I make the effort to feed myself beautiful, lovingly prepared foods, take lots of epsom salts baths, spend time stretching, and get enough sleep, I have more energy and train with a clear head. Hmm, taking care of my body seems to correlate to better performance … could it be that easy!?!

This evening I went to Fiesta and loaded up on my favorite things, plus added a couple new indulgences. I was starving and would have normally grabbed a burger before shopping, but I waited. Then, after groceries were in the car, I opened a tin of dolmas and the bucket of labne and used my finger to scoop the labne on the dolmas. It was completely uncivilized and so exceptionally delicious I am surprised I got any of either foods home. I also bought ingredients to make hummus, dal, and nopales, eggs, fresh pineapple, wonderful red leaf lettuce, avocados and lime and mini corn tortillas. Warm tortillas with avocado and lime alongside some nopales and eggs (nopales con huevos) may be the best breakfast ever.

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I will be cooking a lot so I may need to have people over for dinner soon. Here’s to a great month and accomplishing goals.

the return

harsh beauty

We returned from an epic 10-day road trip out to Los Angeles. The road had been good to us. Our guest house was a cache of LA history, and our desert adventures were even better than our beachside time. While it was brilliant, we had to return. I️ came home to laundry that needed to be done, groceries that had to be bought, a dog that needed to be pickup from the kennel, bills asking to be paid, preparations for the next day’s re-entry to school and work. Plus, we only had 18 days to prep & pack and do all the associated shit we needed to do to move out of our home of three years and into an apartment. I had bought the home with the idea that, “real estate is the best investment ever,” and while I still believed that, the responsibility of owning a home as a single mom was just too overwhelming. Apartment life was simple and compact and useful people were paid to be available when things go wrong. Apartment life would help me keep my sanity, which was then even more important because we had also returned home to a crime scene. Upon dropping our suitcases in the entry, I found a dried puddle of blood next to the television, a blood splattered trailed down the hallway, and random feathers scattered around the living room and between couch cushions. Ghost, our cat who disappeared about three months ago, was back. All of this stood before me and I felt completely overwhelmed, but took care of what had to be taken care of and held it together until we were almost finished grocery shopping.

When I slammed my hand in the back door the back home blues kicked in hard. I️ began bawling in the grocery store parking lot. My daughter ran to my side and hugged me. I told her I’d be ok, but I just couldn’t stop crying. I got into the car and through my tears and snot, I said, “Sometimes everything just gets overwhelming. It’s so hard to do it alone – to live such a full life with no one to help you through it.” She put her hand on my shoulder and with complete sweetness offered, “But mama, you have me,” which made me cry all over again.

She reminded me so much of myself at 9. Such an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. It killed me. I️ loved it, but I️ also hated it. I️ wanted her to be a kid and usually she was totally carefree and led a wild childhood, but then I️’d find us in a parking lot: me sobbing like a baby and her being a little adult. Then, as if the day hadn’t seen enough, there was more blood. My nose erupted and I️ held tissue against it as I️ told her there are some things a child shouldn’t have to help with – like crime scene cleanups and paying bills or simply being nearby to curl up against when it’s all over so you can have a good cry. All I could think was, children shouldn’t have to see so many tears.

That night, I️ fell asleep putting her to bed. I was too tired to cry anymore or make lunch for her, but nonetheless I dragged my ass out of bed and made her lunch. Then, as I watched the clock tick past 2am, I poured a glass of wine and a hot bubble bath, because the truth was I did have a terrible day, but it was for a beautiful result. I had the life I choose every morning and a daughter who was learning that tears are ok. More importantly, she was learning the importance of knowing your worth and handling your life even when everything feels too big.

unpartnered

“Even in high school, when all the girls were excited about their first boyfriends, I never had a serious relationship. I didn’t want that and it’s never changed. But don’t get me wrong, I love sex and affection and intellectual connection. I just love my autonomy more. Four men have asked me to marry them over the years, but I wasn’t born to be partnered,” said this woman, a wildland firefighter, standing nearly 6’ tall, long blonde hair escaping its bun and blue eyes filled with power and joy. She reminded me of myself at 19, except she was 45. She had never let go of herself, of her truths, and lived her life totally on her terms.

As a teenager, I dreamed of a solo life. After finishing a nursing degree, I would have a love child and raise her on my own. It would be us against the world and we would adventure across that world – learning and nursing. Likely, my mother would make up part of our home. We would move every couple of years and take on assignments in various communities across the world. I didn’t know specifics and I was too young to recognize the hurdles that would try to stop my dream. But I didn’t need those hurdles to stop me because in my early 20s, I turned on myself, let fears overpower me and partnered with the man who should have simply provided sperm for the child.

I slowly fell into a version of me that spiraled into self-doubt, insecurities, and depression. After 13 years of partnered life, I took my child and stepped away from that often incredibly sad and traditional life. I share custody with him, so can’t go too far into the world for too long, with her, but we have our adventures and she is learning her independence. She and I had a bond for years before she was conceived, but I am glad she knows her father. My child is why we came together. But nonetheless, she and I have not gotten the open road we dreamed of together, in those years before her soul found its home in the body I made for it.

Since leaving her father, I’ve tried to partner again and failed miserably. I’ve had a few madly gloriously frustrating love affairs. Now, I recognize the frustrations were in my effort to capture the moments of beauty with ill-founded notions of partnering. Partnering that I, in fact, had no desire to actually pursue. After five years of fumbling through the idea of partnering, I spent another two years nearly alone – unpartnered and wondering if that’s my road because, in my heart, it feels right, but doesn’t click with what I’ve been programmed to believe I “should be” looking for as a woman. Though I am incapable of defining exactly what I’m looking for in a partner. Then, I spend an evening, tearing around an art event, on a golf cart, talking about love and life with a powerful, safe, intelligent, sexy woman and in her description of her solo life, she reveals a simple truth of her soul:

I wasn’t born to be partnered.

In that moment, I feel free and I know I am not alone. The world is mine and my only obligation is to make a life that is unbelievable in beauty and independence, fierce love and simple joys. My life is my story and no one will tell me how to live it. I am reminded:

I wasn’t born to be partnered.

spelling bee

A cacophony of excitement fills the cafeteria
On the stage, 48 students wiggle and squirm
Waiting for the moment
they will unleash their spelling prowess
upon the assembled.

On the day of the run-off test,
the 48 staged,
were the best
spellers in their grade.

They were the ones who stretched,
who took a chance.
The 48 staged reached for success and accepted they may fail.
The 48 staged embraced opportunity.
It seems small, but may be life changing.

Some will fail – that will make them work harder.
Some will fail – that will make them shrink.
Some will succeed – earning a taste they never stop craving.
Some will succeed and not need more.
48 are staged.

Now I see linchpin moments of clarity – open doors – to walk away. Later, clear moments to demand what I needed. Each time I acquiesced and fell further away from my truth.