Friday, July 18, 2014

Lesson From My Own Little Yogi

“You can always take child’s pose.”

I have heard those words spoken so many times in yoga class but have never heeded. I always think of yoga as part of my fitness regimen and, although it goes against so much of the non-competitive yoga credo, I always seem to push through my (physical and emotional) pain.

This past Saturday, I found myself in my beloved Winston-Salem with my “wild child.” A new studio in my former neighborhood was offering community yoga and kirtan. Sullivan has been to yoga many times and has a strong interest in music (instruments especially) so we opted to go. I was a little concerned, however, because he just started a new daycare program in advance of kindergarten starting next month. He is busier during the day and has no nap. Add a lot of other issues brewing in our family and you have one discombobulated five-year-old.

Sullivan started out well, but I told him he could go sit on the bench outside if he got tired. About halfway through the class he whispered that he was done. Instead of leaving, I suggested he lie his head down on the blanket and rest. He very quietly and respectfully complied. Side note – love that kid!
At the end of class, the teacher commended Sullivan. At first, I was apologetic. After all, he petered out quickly. But he didn’t interrupt anyone’s practice and was quite social with some friends who had also attended. We left before the kirtan got fully underway and I tried my hardest to stay in my zen state.

It wasn’t until the next day, however, that I learned quite a lesson from this yoga class. Sullivan – of his own accord -- proceeded to show his dad how to sit in lotus. He then did a beautiful down dog and standing split. What I didn’t realize the day prior is that Sullivan had not taken a long, early savasana. Instead, he had absorbed most everything. He was not only reverent but also observant. He took it all in and applied it later…when he needed it.

I then understood what my yoga teachers have been trying to tell me. I don’t always need to push myself to the limit. Sometimes being contemplative and strategic is a much better option. So today, I am taking a break. I went to the beach, spent time enjoying things I love, read, and rested. I hope this makes me rejuvenated for all the things I need to accomplish. I don’t need to be on the go all the time, as that may not help me be successful in the long run.


Sometimes I just need to take child’s pose. Namaste y'all.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I still don't shop at Hobby Lobby

I realize that my POV on this issue may not be popular amoung my friends -- neither the more liberal nor conservative -- as my lawless libertarian beliefs rarely are. But, as usual, I feel the need to write them out as a way to process.

Unless you've been under a rock, you are likely aware there was a weighty decision leveraged by SCOTUS regarding Hobby Lobby's desire to not cover certain medications and procedures for their employees. "Conservatives" laud this as a victory, while "liberals" act like it's the end of the world.

First, let me say there is often a difference between my personal beliefs and what I believe should be legislated. I tend to believe that people should be able to do as they please, as long as nobody is being hurt. Why do we continue to lock up people for prostitution and pot possession? I don't partake, but I don't have a problem with people doing either. Abortion? I am personally against. So I won't have one. Simple as that.

The way I look at this decision, it is very similar to a few years ago when it was decided that the Boy Scouts of America organization was within their rights to exclude gay members. Now everyone knows I am a big-time straight ally. I have very strong beliefs about equal rights for the LBGTQ community and have done numerous things to push for those rights. But, if BSA members feel differently, who am I to tell them who to accept? Legislation will not change people's minds. I can guarantee you, however, I have VOCIFEROUSLY made a point NOT to support them, their causes, or their events. Don't agree with Hobby Lobby? Don't shop there. Don't work there. Same for Chick-fil-a or any other company whose policies are not in line with yours. I am happy to live in a country where I have the right to choose.

I personally see this as a victory. Right now, there are companies operating in states that do not yet recognize same sex marriage but extend those benefits to their employees. Because they are private companies, they can! So, I don't see this as much as a religious or conservative argument, rather it is a proclamation that private industry can decide their own policies just as they decide their hours, dress code, or what snacks to have in the break room. I'm personally glad I can eat a cupcake or bag of chips without government intrusion!

This is yet another reason I happily don't fall in the typical conservative/Republican or liberal/Democrat mold. It pains me to hear people say they want prayer in school but they really mean Christian prayer. Or people can talk about my right to birth control and abortion, but I can't defend myself by owning a gun.

Enough political talk for today. Carry on.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Breaking the silence

Sullivan is a writer. Those words both made me proud and stung at the same time. I have always been a writer. It’s how I process. Many people say I should’ve made it my career. But I fear my passion being stifled. That’s a lie. I am my own worst critic. I don’t want to fail. But I do recognize this gift I have passed along to my child. And I know my failures. Sullivan thinks I’m a superhero. Batgirl. The pink Power Ranger. A writer. A dancer. When I get down, I need to be doing those things. But I have not been writing. Nor have I been dancing. And it is to my detriment. So, here goes…

I won’t go into all the failures of our marriage out of respect for my former spouse (and best friend) and my child. Let’s just say it got ugly. I did things I’m not proud of. It cost me a lot…financially, emotionally, physically. But, in the end, we all realized family comes first. Sullivan is penultimate and his needs come first. So, we are doing our best to get along. It’s a struggle, but worth the fight.

Throughout our marriage – and in our lives before it – was a common theme. Both my ex and I march to the beat of a different drummer, so to speak, from our families. The difference is that his family accepts it. Mine does not. I never did things the same. The right way. Different church. Different political beliefs. Different style. Different interests. Hence, wrong. I was always an outcast. Shunned. Even our marriage was not accepted. I wanted so much for Sullivan to have his blood relatives in his life that I sacrificed. Maybe even my marriage. I was always close to my family…I even practically raised my nephew. Yet, I never quite fit in.
Fast forward a few years (yes, I’m intentionally leaving out loads of bs) and I am getting divorced. It is not taken lightly. There has been no intimacy…virtually no relationship for years. In hindsight, I see a lot of it is due to the strained relationship with my family. I want to be close. But not too close. Spouse wants to be far away. We fight. We all lose. Constant battle. Mostly with myself. In the end, divorce proceedings begin. It’s contentious. All on different sides. All out for ourselves. We all lose sight of what’s important.
After all the struggle – in bizarre fashion – ex and I grow closer. Maybe a better relationship than when we were married. We work it out. We’re all happy with the strange modern family relationship. We all move on. Or so we think…until…

In a nutshell, my family is suing us for visitation. I. Shit. You. Not. I – writer or no writer – can’t bring myself to hash out details here. But the basis is that they are not happy with the amount of time they get to see my child. I get it. The kid rocks. But, who doesn’t have people they want to see more often? Heck, can I sue my ex so that I still get invites to all the parties I attended when we were together? Can I sue friends who live far away to come visit? Can I force a hot guy to hang out with me? Can I sue the government for deploying a loved one? Can I demand that I pick the college for the nephew I cared for as a baby?

My family just basically doesn’t agree with how we do things. I work a frivolous job. We eloped. We divorced. I had sex outside of marriage. I’m not a Republican. We go to art shows. I practice yoga. We don’t believe you have to see your family every day…or that family only means blood relatives. We are not horrible people. Or bad parents. Just different. And, despite our struggles as a couple, on the same page with regard to how to raise our child.

Consider this. Can I countersue? My family should get out more. Attend cultural events. Be involved in the community. Eat better. Exercise. Dress differently. Change careers. And religions.  Meet me for my sunrise walk or yoga. Preposterous? So is this lawsuit.

The attorney is so perplexed he even blogged about it. He says the law is on our side. Unless they prove that our child is not being cared for properly – that we are unfit – they have no rights. They didn’t even suggest that in their pleading. Yet, a judge did not dismiss. The attorney did say I gave a very compelling argument and missed my calling (go me!) but we still didn’t win. So, as it stands we are being forced to comply with the judge’s request for discovery. Lots of money. And time. And effort. We are requesting they drop the suit. If they lose – which our attorney believes – they will have to pay our fees, which continue to rack up daily. It will also likely be a year before trial. And we have ceased contact in the meantime.

The worst part for me – that we are all losers. They say they are doing this for Sullivan. But how is that possible? If they win, we either risk not fulfilling a court order or losing precious time with our child for their selfish desires. If they lose, they will never see any of us again. Family is not blood relations. What they have done is unforgivable. They threw us under the proverbial bus. My mother – who admittedly lied to police, as well as legal and mental health professionals to supposedly protect me – has lost all credibility and sympathy in my eyes.

In some ways, I have never felt so worthless or hopeless. In hindsight, I see that so much of what has transpired the last few years has been due to my family. They want to “help” as they see fit…and as long as I do things exactly according to their plans. They said their goal was for Sullivan to be happy and healthy. He is. I have never intentionally kept him from them. We just don’t do things their way. We are just busy living our lives the way we see fit. As a family.

So, goodbye hopeless and worthless. As the shirt Sullivan gave me says, I rock. I am Batgirl. I am the pink Power Ranger. I am Mommy. We are a family. Sullivan is happy. Healthy. A joy. A writer. A dancer. And so am I.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Flower for Tony

Apologies ahead of time for the stream of consciousness, but that's how I roll...

I have been tied up with a bunch of things and, although Sullivan turned 5 a few weeks ago, I have yet to sit down and write out his birth story. Since we are super excited to attend the Shepard Fairey and Jasper Johns show at the Halsey on Thursday, however, some aspects were on my mind. So, here goes:

Lyndon and I attended an opening at our friend Andrea's store/gallery, the now-defunct Plum, on April 21, 2009. We spoke with Karen Ann Myers, then the director of Redux, telling her would likely miss her next show that opened exactly one month from that day. Sullivan was due May 9 and we didn't think it possible. We then went to dinner at D'Allessandro's, a Philly-style pizza joint that I adore. The next morning, I woke with what I thought was indigestion from the calzone. Not hardly. I am known to have a high tolerance for pain, but I thought I at least would know when I was in labor. Ha. Sullivan was born just hours after leaving an art opening :)

At 3 weeks, he was taken in a carrier to my beloved Drayton Hall. The same week he went on his inaugural visit to the Halsey. And, at one day shy of a month old, he went to that show at Redux after all. The beautiful and talented Karen Ann Myers was there to greet him...and seemed very pleased that we brought a baby. In a sling. To a quite loud art opening. She instantly became an artistic fairy godmother to Sullivan. I have never been particularly close to her but, especially now that she is a deputy director of the Halsey, it has been fun to follow her career and show her how much Sullivan has grown from that initial meeting.

Fast forward a few years. I am back in Charleston and still enjoy art openings. I have also found other things I love, including walking the Ravenel Bridge. It has become a great place to reflect and meditate...and just enjoy the beauty of Charleston. A few weeks ago, I noticed this:


It is certainly a beautiful lily, but I questioned the placement. Was it graffiti? Part of a project? Was it even legal? I then learned the reason behind it. And it floored me.

Karen Ann Myers came to Charleston for many reasons...the art community, the atmosphere, etc. But her partner was a fellow artist and educator here. They created a beautiful life together that many would envy. He painted an entire series of "Flowers for Karen" and lilies were her favorite. They walked the bridge at sunset, which became the subject of many of his paintings. Maybe they also saw the bridge as a place of enlightenment and peace. And one day, he jumped to his death from the very spot where Karen has painted a lily.

When I learned of all this, so many emotions were stirred. Quite simply, it is always difficult to read about anyone taking their life so suddenly. So young. So sad. What were the reasons? I may never know and it's really not my place to question or judge. I don't know Karen well, but have always felt connected to her. I hurt for her. What she must be going through just breaks my heart.

I have also been a strong supporter of mental health initiatives for as long as I can remember. My confirmation saint, Dymphna, is even the patroness of those who suffer from mental and emotional disorders. I have long fought for the stigma to be lifted...for people to take care of their mental and emotional well-being just as they would a physical ailment. For people to stop hiding their scripts and whispering when making appointments with their therapist. For people to stop judging and comparing themselves to a strange concept of "normal." Was Tony suffering? Was he afraid to seek help? Did he try to just "feel better" and "get over it?" Did people tell him he had a great life and had nothing to worry about? I may never know and, again, it's not my place to question. It just hurts to see so many people losing their lives this way. There are all sorts of campaigns to end drunk driving, gun violence, etc. Why do we view suicide differently...as if it's the person's fault? Just makes me even more passionate...a story for another day.

Lastly, learning the reasoning behind the lily made me think about my own life. The last few years have not been kind to me. I have struggled more than not. Thankfully, I have a great support system and have learned that self-care is not extravagant or indulgent. It is necessary. I have had times where I have felt extremely low, but I have developed ways of dealing with them. Looking at art. Smelling flowers. Getting outside. Walking the bridge. I am so thankful that Karen decided to honor Tony in such an amazing way. Turning something that could be so ugly and scary into a beautiful memorial for others to enjoy and reflect.

Rest in peace, Tony Csavas. And thank you, Karen, for the beautiful "Flower for Tony." May it bring peace to others so that your beloved did not die in vain.


Monday, April 28, 2014

My Crazy Kid

Thought I'd take a break from my usual thought-provoking, brooding entries to share some funny things Sullivan has said lately...because what good is a blog if you can't share cute kid stories?

1. S took the bookmark from my book and, with a diabolical grin, said "did you miss your page?"

2. After an Earth Day fest featuring how things grow, he flipped when he saw me eating sunflower seeds. He was convinced flowers would start sprouting in my belly.

3. Me: Watcha doin'? S: Watching tv. What else would I be doing...sitting on the ceiling?

4. S to L: Daddy you need to be more careful at workshop. You get too many boo boos. That saw will cut your fingers off.

5. S to me: Can we go to Sullivan's Island? I love my name. I love being Sullivan. I wouldn't want to be called Lucy!

For the record, I think Lucy is a great name...just not for Sullivan. And it slays me that he calls Chuck E Cheese "Chunkin' Cheese." Ok, that's all for now. Carry on.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Vulnerability

I've been ruminating on these words by Brene Brown lately: 

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.
Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.”


When it comes to relationships, past and present, I realize it has been my inability to be truly vulnerable that has caused many of them to fail. And I'm not just referring to romantic relationships, but also with friendships. I have had very few close friendships (and they're faithful blog readers, so what does that tell you?) and one -- no lie -- good romantic relationship. My high school boyfriend. Twenty years ago.

Vulnerability. That's what's been missing. Don't get me wrong. Not all my relationships have been unhappy. We each got what we wanted at the time and, in many cases, we ended up being friends. In fact, some of them were much more successful as friends. Why? Because it was then that I was at my best self.

In a strange way, I purposely chose people who were either overly affectionate and willing to please me or totally gave no regard to my feelings. No happy medium. No give and take. Sometimes it was just a physical attraction and I didn't have to open up about who I really am. Or it made them feel good to belittle me and I willingly took the abuse. In hindsight, I also see that I cast away good people who were truly interested in me. I felt undeserving. Unworthy. Unlovable. 

I have spent most of my life in relationships where I either held back. Retreated. Didn't make waves. Gave in. Or either I was just angry. Miserable. Shame? Disrespect? Blame? Betrayal? I did most of those things to myself. For the first time in my life I am not allowing myself to wallow in self-pity. Nor am I going to fall into the abyss of letting past hurts imprison my present and future happiness. I am vulnerable to my feelings.

And no, my dears, there is no back story here of a Prince Charming and a happily ever after. Instead, I am learning to rescue myself. If I can respect myself more, then I have a much better chance of building stronger relationships. And the one with myself is a good start. 




Saturday, March 29, 2014

Not a total failure after all...

Well, I haven't EXACTLY followed through on my Lent blogging plans. AT ALL. But, ladies and gentlemen, there are good reasons so I will not apologize. In fact, if it comes to matters of self-discipline and being hopeful for a reawakening come Easter...then I have done myself proud.

I realized the other day that I have four goals of late: make my bed, remember to take out the trash, stop starting sentences with "dude," and learn to think more highly of myself. I made major progress on the first three this week. But #4 is something I've struggled with forever. Despite the fact that I have had a challenging few years, I am actually at a place of peace. I not only accept what I've been through and where I am but, for the first time in a long time, I actually feel settled. Joyful. Happy.

For one, I seem to have found a great support system. I often joke that I take abuse easier than compliments, but I realized that was a really crappy attitude. And not funny. I really don't want to keep blaming my upbringing but -- as "they" say -- if it's not one thing it's your mother. I was raised not to be selfish or brag about myself, which I can understand. But the result for me is that I question anything I get (even if it's well earned) and I brush off anyone pointing out a good quality they see in me.

If I had to pin down a turning point, it was at a farewell lunch for a friend who is going back to Michigan after wintering in the Holy City. She has never missed an opportunity to tell me that I rock. She also brought me shoes and rum...icing on the cake. Maybe it was her gentle coaxing, but I finally have learned that I am where I need to be, doing what I need to be doing, with people I should be with.

I am sure I will have more profound thoughts as the rest of Lent unfolds, but suffice it to say that I may have failed on the goal I set. But, in the end, I am succeeding in the mission.

Namaste, y'all.