roam.

Where should I go? That's been the question... I always feel as if I can't go back to places I've been. We can't force-create or recreate a presence. I feel different today... transformed from where I was before. It's unsettling. This house isn't my house, but this river and the ducks... feels like home.

That's probably the toughest part of life —to live it and to change in it, only to feel those around you slip away. For that reason, I'm drawn to nature... and photography... a capture of the evolving constant.

Word is thought transformed into vibration, which begs the question, "what's your vibrational signature?"

resurface.

Working on my website inspires me to take special note of the many places I have been and all that I have gathered over the years to surface into the now. What a NOW it is! With each resurface, we make a mark...

I very strongly believe that if you go back to your roots, if you mine that inner territory, you can bring out something that is indelibly you and authentic; like your thumbprint. It's going to have your style because there is no one like you. –Joyce Tennyson

I have yet to photographically understand the wrinkles and grooves, but I’m in process with the imprint. When I make my mark with a click, I’m thinking about my connection with the subject or the theme. I recall my own desires to hold on to moments and create memories as a child. I was the only one in the family to document. I’m attracted to both macro and wide angle shots from various perspectives. I appreciate a multi-perspective view and I want my audience to walk away feeling value and respect for that captured moment in time.

I pay close attention to composition and all four corners of my frame of creation with a need for efficiency and meaning behind each shot. That all stems from upbringing in a household where things were constantly moving and the pressure I sometimes felt to excel. Both trauma and tragedy have played a role in my life. It makes its way through in that I’ve developed a pervading empathy. The disadvantage is that I feel as if everything needs to count and I incessantly search for a hidden purpose… because there has to be one, right?

stardust.

It's been awhile since my last post. I tend to take steps back from this vast and at times unruly world of "connection", but tonight is different. It's unique because I have some of my energy back and I need to use it before the balloon deflates and flies aimlessly about, then lands somewhere (God only knows where) on the pavement as a small semblance of what was once a pretty robust ball of joy. That sounds extreme. It is. Or at least it can be. It really is incredible how these times of resurfacing feel as if I have some breath back? I look up at the sky and I can feel the blue and the wisps and the breeze.

Getting away from me and leading into the real purpose for my writing on this =the 14th day of November, 2016. As all of us know, we've experienced a tremendous shift the past weeks and as we all take the time and the space we need to sort things out and find our place again... I searched for a file on my laptop. I clicked on my magnifying glass and typed out "grief" only to find a document entitled "it doesn't matter"... I clicked and poof... stardust fell in my lap.

It's a testimony/a piece of story/a peek into the depths... and at the very bottom beside the dash, there was that name I hadn't seen in a couple of years. His name is Charlie and he worked at the Delonis Center in Ann Arbor, MI where I volunteered during the prime time shift Friday nights. He moved out of state, then shortly thereafter he passed away. It was sudden and it is tragic, but his smile/his beautiful soul and his stardust shines on.

This discovery instantly sends me back in time to that space when I would show up for my shift and he was there on the 3rd floor. We shared viewpoints and personal values and principles and debated life's purpose... he had an empathy unlike most and a genuine raw authentic urge to help others.

I'm grateful for finding this; for knowing him... even if it was just for a brief window in time and for the reminder, MOST especially during this time... to sift for the matter amidst the matter-less.

*

It doesn't matter to me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to meet your hearts longing. It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will look like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithful and therefore trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty, even when its not pretty, everyday, and if you can source your own life from its presence.


I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, 'YES!'

It doesn't interest me where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children. It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

-The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
forwarded on by Charlie Anderberg (June 23, 1975 - September 4, 2014)

***Sending you all love and light; stardust and silver moons in honor of Charlie 💫

whoosh.

I’m fascinated as to how people react and how they process? I observe the way kids take the world in and I’m in awe by them. They are sponges. I envy the innocence and the purity they have when going about the every day. Some say old souls are the only ones who really connect with kids and Wayne Dyer explained how we are essentially born with all we need. The world slowly, but surely, shapes us into cynical/jaded robots. That's extreme. It can also shape us back into our core selves once we realize who that is?

At this moment, I am incredibly grateful for last week, yet floored as to how this week has taken its toll. Word on the street is that we're supposed to give thanks for all of it: the good, the bad, the totally fragmented.

Last week, I was enamored by the heart having infinite shades and shapes and sizes and textures and grooves. We have our pieces =the parts of us that dwell and obsess and love and lust and wander and drive us down into the ground, then turn around and shoot us into the ether. We find a way to manage our pieces and we’ll make it. We’ll make peace with them and learn to shift it/move it around/embrace it. Life is about the moving and tectonic plates finding new position. That’s the challenge =to keep up with it and give ourselves the compassion our soul seeks. 

Did someone say compassion?

I was full of it just 7 days ago. Talking to an old friend, I encouraged her to take the tough way around. "Seek out the detours/the flights of stairs versus the elevators. Entertain the challenging routes… even when you have the option because it will make it that much easier when the alternative doesn’t exist and that’s your only way", preached me.

There are certain points in my life when I grasp clarity. I was in one of those spaces just days ago. It’s a whoosh of connected dots where the pieces start to fit and the “oh yeahs” sneak in. It’s refreshing and overwhelming all at the same time! I have to be careful. There are windows on the path ahead of me =full of opportunity... 

Hesitation seeps in. I've had those moments, but what I'm missing is that sustainable energy... how do we sustain? Will we automatically own it once we rediscover our God-given core? I've met her before. She's in there, but she's not surfacing often and when she does =it's for a breath of air, then she dolphin dives back down again into the depths. 

*

Truth is what you believe in

and faith… is helping to reason.

… if your wings are broken; borrow mine so yours can open too...

‘cause i'm going to stand by you.

–Rachel Platten

Here comes the sun. -Yuna

spirit.

Losing Robin Williams was/is devastating. 
Losing ANYone to this tragedy was/is devastating.

I have seen tributes and heard stories about Robin's presence here in this world. It leaves us in awe as to how a man with so much beauty/dynamism/raw talent/compassion/insight/and the list goes on can succumb to such a fate? I am extremely sensitive given the media and it's portrayal/reaction. One of the things we can do to help is to have a better understanding as to what suicide is. In the following article, Andrew Solomon addresses the core of this multi-layered/extremely devastating topic. He is eloquent. However the one thing I would disagree with is that suicide is not a crime. We lose people because they fall victim to this; the indescribable aloneness and delusional thinking moves in and frequently takes over. That which commits is not the person rather an unseen force/illness robbing the world of love and light time and again.


I may be too literal when it comes to certain things, but in this case I think it's important to make the distinction. Solomon ends on this note saying, "A great hope gets crushed every time someone reminds us that happiness can be neither assumed nor earned; that we are all prisoners of our own flawed brains; that the ultimate aloneness in each of us is, finally, inviolable."

"Prisoners of our own flawed brains" captures me. The phrase forces me to think back on various psychotic episodes and courses with ECT when my brain was shifting and changing. The plasticity of it offers hope and yet it can land me in utter chaos. Through it all, there were times when I found myself a prisoner and I meet others feeling the same way -as if we're stuck running around in circles with different meds and treatment options with therapists and hospital visits, but never a true light at the end of the tunnel. It feels as if our vessels wander without a sustainable connection to spirit.

In recent years, I've come to realize that learning/teaching resilience; sharing purpose; and empowering ourselves and others to build value in living and loving is a strong foundation. This is vague. No specifics, but it focuses on the whole and the unique. Each one of has having his/her natural need to be loved/to love unconditionally. I don't claim wellness. I rarely witness balance. I can only share what my experience and my conditioning offer.

It's a fact, we rarely talk about the spirit or faith in psychiatry and we grossly underestimate expressive therapies. I give credit to all that was/is offered to me in the way of recovery, but a part of me is cynical and frustrated. It's exacerbated in times like this when a true national treasure is taken from us because it's at these times that this epidemic is propelled into the spotlight. We analyze it/dissect it into little bits and pieces until we lose sight of the spirit -the same core spark we sometimes fail to ignite in times of crisis.

My response is to keep going/learning/serving/creating/teaching/inspiring/striving/collaborating in hopes that we can all know what it means to not have suicide as an option. It is not an option. We leave the door open for people to think that way too often. I've entertained the thoughts and I've been down some of those roads. 

It is not an option.

The choice is to keep going or to... keep going =trust the power of spirit; nurture that.
I should look in the mirror when I write!

*


Nothing is without purpose. All of us are a part of a great pattern that we may someday understand and one day when we have done what we alone are capable of doing we get to rise up unite with those we love the most; forever embraced. 
What if one day our spirits become stars? -Winter's Tale

As an artist, I felt my job was to take that which was meant to be an act of harm/destruction and create magic/new possibilities! 
A work that demonstrates that you CANNOT kill spirit. I have risen to another level of consciousness where I can see the mighty hands God in everything. -Tyree Guyton

raw.

i'm sitting in a hotel room -fyi. my favorite room in the world by far. i love the palette of colors and the quaint-ness =wooden floors and stripes and paisleys; the soft lighting; the demure motif (whatever that means); the private stairway leading up to my mouse doorway; and the sheer comfort. i love it. it's not too often i find myself using that word -most especially with things like "rooms", but I do -i love it! i'm not concerned about spelling or edits right now -just writing and being in this moment... of independence/confidence/faith and hope in right now... which will hopefully carry me into tomorrow.

as i ran on the boardwalk near the beach today -the moon to my left and the sunset to my right; i thought to myself how lucky? how lucky am i to run -to have legs and arms and ears to hear this music. just lucky/sheer luck. life lands us in places. i've learned that it takes hard work to get to these places -not just luck, but in my case i feel as if it's more the latter.

on a side note -to those of you who watch Charlie Rose -don't you think he interrupts his guests? nothing worse... well lots of things worse than that, but a really bad thing is when people don't listen to what you're saying or when they anticipate whatever is you will say or when they think about what they want out of the conversation, then cut you off without hearing you out....

end of side note; back to me.
as i was running; i thought about "love of life" and i haphazardly came up with the following:

love life.
love the life you have. love the life you want; the life you think you want; the life you wish you could have. love every facet; every nook and cranny of that life you have -the fullness and the lackness; love it. find a way to love the people; the ups and downs; the every things about it. and if you don't love it now, then learn to love it. love learning and stagnation. love leaping and standing still.
love life.

right here/now... i am in love with my life; in awe as to how things have evolved... despite heartache and utter inadequacy (or at least feeling thereof); i can rest-assuredly say that all is where it's supposed to be/totally in order and the universe is in alignment. that's helpful! it may be short-lived, but it's something to hang my hat on/my manchester united red hat.

wishing you all moments like this =when the stepping stones align; risk is not synonymous with fear; and the vast world OPENS its arms to you versus the close to falling off of its edge sensation. love leaping and standing still. love life.

fyi. 3 years later and i vividly recall that tiny room with the brightest colors you ever did see.

no fear.

The world lost a precious spirit this past week.
Having only been with her on a couple of occasions and not having the honor to know her the way in which her friends, family, and most of all her life partner and love of her life/my best friend/a true angel on this earth knew her... I can still say that she was extraordinary! Her presence was one of strength and confidence and humility. She also conveyed a sense of no fear. My feeling is that she took life as it came and she dealt with whatever cards God played her. Even after a diagnosis of inoperable brain cancer, Chaz faced the fight with no complaints!

I gratefully spent this past new years with Chaz and Corts in onezies and a handful of friends. It was a new years unlike any other -surrounded by profound love and honest friendship! This type of support and the community embracing Chaz and now her spirit as she's no doubt found peace IS a gift.

Hearing about Chazzy and this incredible loss, there's a renewed fire within me. I'm reflecting on my own life in years past when I've allowed fear to take over. As a result, I've been careful to get too close, I've been hesitant when it comes to commitment, and in some ways -reluctant to know my true voice. This "no fear" message resonates and it hits deeper -on the core level. Life is about loss; it's about grief, but it's also about wonder and it's about creating possibilities and it's about the will to make this world work.

Chaz is a hero. She serves as an inspiration as do so many who experience suffering whether it be mental/physical or both. True heroes in my mind are able to transform and overcome that suffering and turn it into a beacon of hope for others. A hero in my heart also knows him/herself and brings an authenticity and an unwavering stance of confidence and compassion to all they meet. True heroes show vulnerability and they're not afraid to step out of perfection.

Stepping out of perfection... and allowing ourselves to be in relationship; to be hurt; to find love, then lose it; to find lust and think it's love, then lose it; to know illness and to embrace it; to live life and offer your gifts; to give yourself a chance to find your "self"/then share it with others; to be a hero regardless of circumstances. That's strength!

I'm also busy reflecting on the word recovery and what it means to have wellness. Most times I wish I had it down to a science and I pray for days where I can be engaged and offer myself and those around me all of me versus just pieces. I think about Buddha and the phrase -life is suffering, but in the face of that suffering -there's life and there are choices.

The fact is... when do we have the chance to really experience recovery? If everyone waited for the point of peace; for that time where perspective doesn't shift and energy maintains, then where would we be? Maybe the answer is all shrouded in fear? That's not how Chaz lived her life and it's not how she approached this diagnosis. She will continue to inspire and offer hope to those who suffer and we will find answers. "Think shrink!" was the mantra and "strength in buddies!" the motivation. Sending prayers and thanks to Chaz' family for sharing her with us and lots of light to her loved ones/all of those she's had the chance to impact.

*
There are 2 driving forces in your life: love and fear.
LOVE is your higher self. It is the place of pure intention and hope. When your higher self drives your life you are on purpose and empowered. Life surges through you; you thrive and society thrives because of it.
Fear is your lower self.
It is the place from where the majority of us exist. When fear drives your life you stagnate. You don't live your true purpose and you become dark and heavy and the world suffers as a result. -Caz Makepeace

We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.
-MLK Jr.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. -Mark Twain
Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out. -Ben Franklin

stigma.

I personally didn't put a lot of thought into stigma until this past experience with depression. For the most part, I always felt as if it was a word for those who didn't deal with serious mental illness. Naturally people who can't understand the depths of emotional despair and the wrenching heartache of "disconnectedness" automatically distance themselves from those of us who do. In the past, I constantly replaced the word stigma with ignorance. It's understandable given the amount of gray surrounding mental health. When it comes to the brain and behavior it still remains to be known what exactly is in our power to control.

As I said above, I didn't start to really think about this stigma issue until recently. Major barriers for those of us who have mental illness and this depends on the intensity thereof and where we are on the spectrum, but the barriers most definitely come in the form of social interaction and connection. They also show up in the form of motivation and the zest for life. I have found that this most recent episode of depression revealed a deeper understanding and most definitely an unwelcomed one of that infamous word -stigma. For me I no longer think of ignorance, I think of separation... from family/friends/purpose/passion... from life. This chasm creates room for a self-imposed stigma, thinking "I'm different from everyone else. Why are they able to go on with life and I'm not?" This is unfortunate because stigma is compounded –not only from oneself, but also from society.

We seem to think that we can conquer stigma with education, but education alone does not alleviate the urge for people to shun those who are different from themselves. We shun because we are fearful and we fear because that is a part of the human condition. Ironically enough, the human condition also refers to those of us who have been clinically diagnosed with a mental illness. Combatting stigma is acceptance of the full human condition. Tackling this issue requires understanding and acceptance and for the most part -faith!

Regardless of the many fictional mountains I climb; I have faith that EVERY experience is worth it. I believe in the starfish story and I believe that if I can help even just one starfish/just one spirit believe in the power of self/their own self-worth, then none of this will be for naught. Truth is I create my own barriers and I venture to say that this is my personal stigma that I must overcome. God has given me my own unique path and He has provided me with this need to constantly question/self doubt. In many ways, this is a fight and thanks be to God... I am still a fighter.

*

Learn to value yourself; fight for your happiness. -Ayn Rand

Hold on to who YOU are! Question everything else, but never forget where you came from and don't be ashamed. YOU are you're own worst enemy -stopping yourself time and again. -Trevor King





unconditionally.

I've been thinking about the concept of unconditional love -how powerful to know that we are loved just be being. Without a doubt, it's the most important gift you can give not only to others; but to yourself. I don't want to sound like Pollyanna and I am far from authorized to actually preach on this topic -most especially given the recent months/years... but in all honesty -if I could give a piece of advice to anyone right now it would be this; believe in yourself at every turn.

***

If I can teach my daughter one thing, it will be the love of self unconditionally. 'Unconditional love and peace are obtainable, but they are only obtainable if I can learn to move beyond the conditions that I placed on my life. When conditions are placed on my life and on the lives of others, they ensure that I will never experience the depths of love and happiness. -Dr. Asa Brown

Follow the raven into shadow and we will find the light. -unknown