I’m so insanely busy right now.  I’ve got a full time job for the first time in a few years.  I’ll be updating this blog with new stuff once a week, but until then, here is a vintage post.

My father was 48 years old when I was born.  He retired at 55.  He cradled more wisdom in his pinky nail than most other men in their whole lifetimes.

This was what he taught me as the route to happiness and contentment:

“Jen, all you need is a small piece of land with a fruit tree that will shade you in the heat of the day, under which you can sit and eat your one meal of the day.”

What is the best advice you’ve ever received about happiness and contentment?

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I’m so insanely busy right now.  I’ve got a full time job for the first time in a few years.  I’ll be updating this blog with new stuff once a week, but until then, here is a vintage post.

” I think I could turn and live with animals, they’re so placid and self contain’d,

I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,

They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,

They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,

Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,

Not one is respectable or unhappy over the earth.”

-Walt Whitman

I’m so insanely busy right now.  I’ve got a full time job for the first time in a few years.  I’ll be updating this blog with new stuff once a week, but until then, here is a vintage post.

So, before this afternoon’s bag of chips and chocolate “trail mix”, it has been nearly two weeks that I haven’t eaten for any other reason than that I was hungry.  A funny thing happened when I stopped eating emotionally….I started FEELING all my emotions.  All of them.  The pesky ones, the silly ones, the crushing ones, the tortuous ones, the giddy ones, the mushy ones, the giggly ones, the soul-squashing ones have all come up through this silent place between my belly-button and my pubic bone like a geyser.  I always thought the “with every fiber of my being” phrase was a hackneyed one used by writers that need to rely on melodrama.  Until now….I feel all my emotions with every fiber of my being.

I can feel hollow sadness all through me.  It turns my torso, the columns of legs, the cylinders of my arms…even the tubes of my fingers, into an empty, echoing space under the drum-taut stretch of my skin.

Happiness gurgles through me like a cool stream flowing along the beds of my muscles, even the little ones that hold my ears in place.

Panic grips me at the waist and I can’t feel my legs, my bowels get cold and watery, my chest becomes a frantic metronome swinging my heart from one side of my ribcage to the other.

There is hatred, also, where my eyes lose their peripheral vision and get very, very focused.  Every vein strains against the pink inside of my skin, searing it all black.

Then, the rage.  Oh, the rage.  The rage that has been a quiet, steady, smoldering fire for nearly all the years that my memory can stretch back.  Except that without cupcakes, fried chicken, mashed potatoes with extra gravy, german chocolate cake ice cream, and salt and vinegar chips to smother that rage into my dearest friend, depression, I am finally looking rage right in the face.

And rage is looking right back at me.  And, for once, I am really seeing.

Depression was all that rage on a shock collar.  Each time that rage bared its teeth, bzzzzzzzzt, a shock was administered to keep it well-behaved.  A good girl does not get angry at others.  She punishes herself for thinking that she was even worth the trouble to be upset about what happened.

Depression tells me that it was my fault.  Depression tells me that there must have been something wrong with me.  Depression tells me that I had set my expectations way too high.  Depression tells me that I should be quiet, stuff my face so that rage doesn’t have a chance to escape.  Depression tells me that of course, no one can love me, I mean really, you’re always so depressed.

But, rage, dear, clear, searing rage.  Rage wants to destroy.  Rage wants to pull things out of their sick sockets.  Rage wants to burn hot enough to cauterize the wounds.

Rage yells: I was perfectly lovable and you didn’t love me.

Rage roars: I kept lowering and lowering my expectations until I had none and you couldn’t meet them.

Rage screams: You had no right to touch me like that.

Rage cries out: My body!  My body!  My body is SACRED.

Rage roars: Something was very wrong and it was not my responsibility to make it right.

But that gets pretty exhausting, so I had a bag of chips with a jar of salsa and several handfuls of chocolate.

I’m so insanely busy right now.  I’ve got a full time job for the first time in a few years.  I’ll be updating this blog with new stuff once a week, but until then, here is a vintage post. 

I don’t think I am.  Not in the prevalent sense that has swept the nation in a misguided attempt at crunchy, glossed over religious tolerance.  I am not a spiritual being having a physical experience.  I am a physical being having a physical experience.  (Most of the time I’m a mental being having a mental breakdown.)

The Madonna of the Hairless

There is a cathedral here that I enjoy walking into once in while.  It is beautiful inside.  I really love beauty.  The rush we get when facing something beautiful, something terrible, something exquisite is mistaken for a spiritual experience.  When I say spiritual, I mean some sort of supernatural part of ourselves in touch with some other supernatural being or energy.  It is nice to be swept up in all of that.  It is nice that my body evolved in a way that all my neurotransmitters and hormones react in that way to make me want to be around things of exquisite beauty.  Most of the time, those things of exquisite beauty are unmolested chunks of the planet.  A mountain range jutting up to touch the cornflower blue sky, a dolphin playing in a wave, a sunset that sets the entire world on fire are some of the things that get my juices flowing.  There are other things, too, like the cathedral, like Van Gogh’s art, like a well choreographed ballet that work on me the same way.  These things are called “culture” and they really are just our species getting off on itself.  That’s fine by me.

There is so much that annoys me with the current religious climate.

1.  Apparently, the new mood is that it doesn’t matter which religion you practice because all paths lead to God.  If you believe that, then you don’t believe what you say you do.  Each religion exists only because it exerts its authority as the only way.  Only through the observation of its laws do you get the reward after you kick the bucket.  If you didn’t walk the path laid out by that religion, you lose the big one.

2.  It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.  I’ve heard Christianity dressed up in this plastic outfit since I was a little girl.  So, do I got to hell if I choose not to be involved in this relationship?  Yes.  Oh, okay, then it’s a religion.

3.  Religion is obsolete.  It is a male dominated, misogynist, hierarchical creation that no longer fits with our far more enlightened concepts of cooperation, equality, and science.

4. The New Age isn’t much better.  Living according to the vagaries of astrology, finding a guru, focusing on my higher self….I call bullshit.

I understand the perceived need for these things.  I really do.  I have people that I love dearly who still hold onto a lot of these superstitious beliefs.  Of course, I’m sure that they probably pray for me all the time and that’s okay.  No publicity is bad publicity.  It is such an honest wish that there is someone in the sky who is keeping tabs, who hears you crying out in the night and wants to dry your eyes.  It is such a temptation to move into a space where your meat and bones and sweat and shit is just some kind of beefy container for your pure self, your true self that is made up of rainbows and unicorn breath.  I GET THIS DESIRE!  We all have imaginations that can be put to use.  These are all different ways to comfort ourselves against the dark, against our inevitable fate as worm food.

Delusion is delusion is delusion.  When I let go of the very last shackle of my trained belief in the supernatural, I have to tell you that I felt a freedom that I had never known.  Yes, I am going to die and there will be no more me.  The mitochondria that ride along on my genes that have been there stretching back to the first mother live on through my son.  Unless I have a girl, they die with him.  It’s hard to accept our fragility.  Once it is accepted, once we understand how finite we are, that is when life becomes precious.  That is when each blade of grass sticks up like a green blade of exuberance.  That is when the taste of water clarifies as liquid life.  That is when every other person, dog, squirrel, horse, and lizard fully comes into focus with infinite value.  We are all the missing link from what has come to what will become after we are gone.  It’s not a lonely chain.  We are each unique and exactly the same.

So, no I’m not spiritual.  I’m psychological.  I’m emotional.  I’m physical.  I’m ecological.  I’m animal.

While everyone else is trying to cleanse themselves of their dirty humanity, you can find me outside making mud pies and peeing behind a bush.

I’m so insanely busy right now.  I’ve got a full time job for the first time in a few years.  I’ll be updating this blog with new stuff once a week, but until then, here is a vintage post. 

It was 13 degrees up on my mountain this morning.  I LOVE it.  There is too much beauty in the weighted boughs of the trees, the whited out landscape.  It  soothes me.

When I was 10ish years old, my father built my sister and me our own rooms.  The house I grew up in was originally a vacation/hunting cabin.  It had been added on to but the two-room core of the house had 20 foot cathedral ceilings.  My sister and I shared one room, my parents had the other.

My dad split the room in two and built an upstairs loft for me.  The only request I had was an enormous window.  So, I had a room in the eaves with a wooden floor, one wall was just window (only wrought iron, no glass, no screen) with a window seat.  When I moved in, he hadn’t even put up the half wall of bookshelves that was to be the borders of the loft.  It was just a wooden floor that hung over a hallway that I looked down upon with a beating heart.  On one of the walls he had put up a muted paneling that showed a forest scene in the four different seasons.  It was the palest greens and creamiest whites.  All I had in that room was a twin mattress on the floor.  I would drag the mattress over to the window when it rained.  The breeze was always just enough to mist me with the rain and I would fall into the deepest sleeps on those nights.  (I was plagued by nightmares nearly every night but those, when I would fall asleep with rain on my face.)

The eaves of the ceiling were nearly a hundred years old and I studied their chipped paint, their scars with a growing devotion that could only be called love in retrospect.  The wooden floor, grooved together (male and female joints, my father explained with pride) was reclaimed wood and stretched away from my bed, dropping off as a horizon.  It took years of living up there before enough dust accumulated between those joints to not shower my sister’s room downstairs with a fine film every time I swept.

There it was, a white room, bare floor, large window, and a mattress.  It was my sanctuary.

Unlike most of the population, I find safety in no things.  I find expansion possible.  I find that there is room for my thoughts that can cramp me in when they have to bounce off “stuff”.  Like most of the population, I got lost for a while, believing the lie that the more stuff, the more you can forge an identity.  We live in a world of buying identity, buying self.  Where we know who we are, who someone else is by reading the labels they wear, drive, and eat.

Sleeping, free of nightmares, in an empty room, face tickled by the mist requires a quality that we lose in aging if we are not mindful: the fearless inhabitation of our true self.

I’m so insanely busy right now.  I’ve got a full time job for the first time in a few years.  I’ll be updating this blog with new stuff once a week, but until then, here is a vintage post. (And….I used to meditate?!?  Time to clear a little corner for this again!)

 

I started seeing a new therapist for the crazy last week.

Half-way through my “getting to know me” monologue, she split one of my phrases in two with this interruption:

“Let’s stop right there.  You need to start meditating.”

Audible sigh.

Of course, that is the third person in the past two weeks that has said this and I actually spent the weekend before this session reading “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”.  I don’t believe in signs, but I get it, k?

So, I’ve started sitting.  I think I’m doing three minutes at a time.  Just sitting.  Not to be confused with lounging, laying around, draping myself across an armchair, but focused sitting. Zazen.

Deep into my second minute yesterday, I had a glimpse at the truth of minimalism.  It is radical-straight to the root it goes.  It is just like sitting.  Minimalism requires focus on the important.  It takes courage.  The rest of the world is stuck on a different mantra that is so loud it drowns everything else out.  That mantra is “If I just buy _______, I’ll be complete, happy, fulfilled.”  Minimalism’s is “I am enough.”

I’ve done yoga and it’s wonderful.  But there is nothing simpler or more minimal than sitting still, breathing.  Everything else is stripped away.  The clutter of movement.  The clutter of clinging thought.  The music of guided visualization.  There is nothing.  Just me…and not really even me.  Just my breath.  Just the essential.

I’m closer and closer everyday to having only the material things that are necessary for the life I want.  But, a funny thing happened on the way to the thrift store donation warehouse….I became aware of the clutter in my mind.

And boy is it full of, well, junk.  It’s packed to the membranes with stuff that I don’t need for the life I want.  There are doubts, judgements, worries, fears, obsessions, and just more noise than the Vegas strip.

Decluttering a house can be done over a dedicated weekend.  Decluttering what’s left, the true me, is going to take considerably longer.  But, I’m throwing stuff out three minutes at a time.

i have no problems with mondays.  they’ve never stressed me out like they seem to other people.  sunday afternoons however?  stomach aches and migraines and near panic attacks.  weird, i know.  it was greatly eased by being on the receiving end of a thai massage.  kids, run, do not walk, to your nearest practitioner and GET one.

mondays are just like mini new year’s days to me.  a chance to start again, a little weekly rebirth.

everything is feeling like that lately.  we finally got a snow that stuck and the world is beautiful, blank, and fresh.

part of the wild woman project is living in a place that can truly support my re-wilding.  i could have moved to d.c. or savannah but that would have just made it so much more difficult.  instead, i’m renovating a barn on five acres of land nestled in the mountains with nothing but wild embracing me on every side.  i’ll be living here while i save up and look for my own land.  this man has inspired me enormously!  i’ve been trying to figure out how to be both a wild farmer AND a world traveler.  they seem to be opposing dreams, but, boom, just like that, he reminds me that it is a both/and universe.

right now, i’m still clearing out the barn.  i should be done with that by tomorrow or the next day.  it’s cold and probably not the best time of the year to be working outside but life that is convenient is kind of what i’m trying to get away from.

convenience comes with a very high price, sometimes obvious in the price tag, sometimes hidden only to make an abrupt appearance in the emergency room.

in related news, i hit my barefoot in the snow record today.  it was -2 when i made a mad dash for the car for something i forgot to bring in.

and, as far as habit #1 goes, i’m ROCKING that shit.  and loving it!  today was a green smoothie, yesterday was raw cheese, nuts, a persimmon(!), kimchi, and a kombucha.

i’m trying to get as much done as possible today so that i can hit the A.T. for a walk later.

this site is called the wild woman project.

it was for a reason that i chose that name.  however, i’m allowed things to derail me from the project.  really great, magical things: like africa.  my experiences there only reinforced my desire to really get going on this.

but, then, i was thinking i was going to move to d.c. i love visiting there, but i honestly couldn’t  live there.

people move at different rhythms and my rhythm?  s L o o o o o w.

now i don’t have to move.  and the project can begin FOR REAL.

i’m still fleshing out the details but i can not wait to finally live in a place that is the external mirror of my interior convictions.

even more, i’m going to get to learn so much. i get to live the dream!

i am always telling people to own their own lives, to do what their heart really wants, to ignore society’s mandates and to really craft a life of their own desire, because we only get one time around here.  we are the sole proprietors of our lives.  i tell them because this is the one thing that i cannot do.  not really.

but, it’s time that i do.  i own my life.

reminders come from the strangest places.  the one time i watched half an episode of sister wives (who knows where i was, i don’t have a t.v., so it was probably some hotel somewhere), the family was being interviewed by students at harvard or yale, something very “official”.  one of the lgbt students said to the family (and i’m paraphrasing), “you know, when you’re hetero, married, with 2.3 kids and live in the suburbs, you have a life.  if you are different from that in any way, you are living a lifestyle.  but, our lives are just our lives.”

i live differently than most people do.  and, i think i’m finally grown up enough to say that it is not because i have chosen a certain lifestyle, but this is just how i live.  this is my life.

there’s a lot of doubt right now floating around.

i have my last semester of college coming up.  i’m paying a lot of money that i don’t really want to spend right now to write a thesis that i feel lukewarm about to get someone’s approval somewhere and boom, i’ll be deemed educated.  even though, i’m one of the more educated people that i know.

i’m moving from vermont to the washington d.c. area in the next couple months.  even though i love vermont.  a lot.

i’ll probably be enrolling my son into formal education for his last two years of high school.  even though i have no faith in the system and even though he has not been formally educated for the past couple years, he’s better equipped for life than 90% of people his age that i know. (and at least 75% of people older than him.)

but, it’s all okay that my convictions are being challenged.  i was wrong that one time.

doubt is uncomfortable, though.  doubt makes me feel too big for the events surrounding me, kind of what i imagine a snake about to molt its skin feels.  it’s not really a pleasant feeling when one’s skin pinches and needs to split open.

the “i don’t knows” of life do make me squirm.  and, kids, i’m squirming right now.

so, to temper the rising panic that comes with feeling way out of control i am remembering a couple things that are very important and true to me.

1. the only people that really frighten me are those who “know for sure”.  where’s their respect for mystery?  where’s their humility before the power of nature?

2. there are only two decisions that cannot be undone.  one is to give birth, the other is to kill.  so, bringing forth a life and taking one away are the only things that can truly not be taken back.

3. once a snake molts, it goes through a time of complete vulnerability only to be followed by being stronger and bigger than it was before.