On Anxiety and Why I Need It

16 01 2013


Or maybe why I “need” it. I really cannot tell the difference. And I don’t want to. Just in case.

That might not make sense. It’s because it’s all a big circular train of fucked-up thoughts. Let me see if I can explain.

And for all I know I’ve actually blogged this before, but it’s an issue right now so I’m blogging that shit again. Hopefully (or not, HAH) I’m on a deeper spiral this time.

I have a concern.

I hold on to said concern, very close to my heart. Partly because I am an emotional creature and that’s how I process everything, but possibly more because I’m too afraid to let go. Because if I let go of my worries the Universe might notice and be all, “Haha! She’s not worrying enough! Let’s punish her!”

OK. I don’t really think the Universe is that mean. But I do believe in that My-Name-is-Earl-type of Karma, and I believe in knocking wood to protect me from it. And I suppose I could replace the word “worry” with the idea of… maybe of some sort of meditation or prayer. Basically, I hold the belief that I must keep my concerns in my conscious to make them not come true. It is partly a belief, and partly also a method of protection: If I believe the worst will happen I won’t be hurt by it happening, but if it doesn’t happen it won’t be a problem to handle good news at all.

I am on all the time. It can be exhausting.

But then it gets worse.

Because sometimes, when something good might be on the horizon, I can’t tell how to feel about that. I don’t know what to hold in my heart. Do I focus on the negative to protect my heart and keep Karma at bay? Or do I visualize the positive in the hopes that I can make it happen with my mind powers? Sometimes I vacillate wildly between the two, sometimes I hold both in my heart at once. It can be exhausting.

So I can’t let go of my anxiety because I am too superstitious. And sometimes I think that’s the Crazy talking, but I try not to think too hard on that in case it’s just a Fact of the Universe. And so: Circle.

Right now I have a lot on my mind and today I’ve been trying to stay focused on the Things I need to do, but have been struck by anxiety attacks instead. Bloggers like Jen and Jenny have written extensively about anxiety and depression and how crippling it can be. And I relate to what they are saying, and I think they are beautiful and amazing when they acknowledge that sometimes they can do nothing all day except breathe and that it is OK. But I don’t think my anxiety is quite as severe as theirs is. And therefore I have a hard time being kind to myself when I have a down day like this. At what point is it “enough” to be forgiving of myself? I guess the self-abuser that lives in my head can’t (or won’t) tell the difference between lazy and legit anxiety.

So today has been a weird circle of anxiety, held together by superstition, and I hate myself for it.

I’ve spent years and years working on that asshole who lives in my head and says horrible things to me. And I still have so far to go.

The sky is insanely blue today.

But what else is there except to just keep working. Tonight I’m going to do two things that are good for me, and I’m going to tell myself the difference between anxiety and laziness, and how recovering from anxiety is absolutely legit and doesn’t make me lazy at all. Tonight I am going to try to shut the asshole in my head up.


7 Days, Day 2 (Yule Morning)

23 12 2011

Every Yule we wake to watch the sunrise. In recent years we’ve been going to Balboa Park, but this year we decided to try Bethany’s Snail Mountain. I’d been told it would be too crowded there, that everyone goes there to watch the sunrise on Yule, but it wasn’t bad at all. In fact when we arrived we were the only ones there. And the view was completely worth it.

city lights


7 Days: Day 2 (Yule Morning)

I packed a breakfast of things I could cook in the oven really easily (bacon, hash brown patties, warmed-up muffins) which we ate in the frosty air. Bacon outdoors on cold mornings smells like camping. Lovely.



Our friends arrived and suddenly my kids who’d been so cold they wanted to leave or hide in the car were too warm to wear jackets (too bad for them, the jackets stayed on).

And then the sun rose.

sun rise

And it was holy.

If you want to see more of the kids and/or our nerdy holiday celebrations, click here to go to the homeschool blog.


19 05 2011

My favorite Douglas Adams book is Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (in which, by the way, it turns out that one of the characters is totally a Time Lord who totally has a TARDIS, albeit not in the form of a Police Box). I love the book not for it’s dysfunctional Electric Monk, not for the impossible couch, not for the horse that randomly appears in an apartment, and not for the cheesy time travel party tricks (although I do love it for all those things), but for the math. In the book they discuss how math is found in absolutely everything in nature, from the way a leaf flutters in the breeze to the way a mountain rises from gentle rolling hills to majestic rocky peaks. The book discusses the idea that if you apply the math of these natural phenomenon you can create beautiful music. Adams often spoke of his love of Bach’s music and the book is clearly partially inspired by that. And I knew as soon as I read it all those years ago that it’s true. Nature is math is music is art. All the art that ever is or was or will be is already all around us, just waiting to be interpreted and transcribed by artists into something we can all understand through our senses as art.

In the writing I’ve done this year for BlogHer I’ve felt this. It’s a connection. I struggle and struggle with a piece, putting it down and coming back to it, unhappy with it and knowing it’s not right. And then suddenly something unlocks and it comes pouring out, almost without willing it to. I become less of a writer and more of a tool to transcribe the writing.

This is not to say I consider myself anywhere near the same level as Bach or the great artists of the world – I like my writing but I have a long way to go before I ever reach that point, if I am even destined to. And I am probably not and honestly I’d rather it be that way. But I’ve had a small taste of it, of that muse connection.  I can understand that which I have believed must be true on a deeper level now.  And it feels beautiful.

This is also not to say that all music is art.  I love Baby Got Back, but I don’t think Sir Mix-a-Lot pulled that directly from The Universe.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I’ve never worked at it as hard as I have before this year. The fact that a piece has to be finished by a certain date forces me to focus until the click happens.  Without that external push, I may not have found the patience – I may not have known to look for the patience – to stick with something through the block.  And so I’m glad The Universe has given me this gift of a deeper understanding of writing and art and how it’s not just for the greatest artists of the world, but how we can all choose to be True Artists by connecting ourselves to the ether of math and music and transcribing it for humanity.  I don’t want to be a Great Artist, I’m just happy to have had that connection with The Universe. It feeds my soul.

Instamatic at the Beach

5 04 2011

The other day my Sunday plans were canceled and I was left in this apartment all alone which felt unusually empty since the kids were gone. At first I considered activities that involved being home, and then it occurred to me that I’m a grown-up and I can totally go do things all by myself. So I went to the beach. I purposefully left my camera at home because I wanted to focus on Mother Nature herself and lose myself in the crash of the waves and the smell of the sea.

Of course I’m me and I took some photos anyway.

Happy Thing: The Beach

tide pool

pelicans fly in perfect lines

It worked! I got some Happy in, and some time with my spiritual side, and I got to see two cute crabs in the tide pools. Win-win-win.

Dream Whale

27 03 2011

I keep random magazine images on hand for creating SoulCollage cards. Whenever I’m done with a magazine, I go through it and rip out the images that speak to me in some way, no matter what they are, and I file them away for someday in the future when I find use for them. This information will be relevant later in this post.

Dream #1:
I’m not sure when it happened, sometime in the Fall. Sometime before I knew for sure my marriage was ending. In the dream we were leaving the place where the kids attend Camp Fire meetings only in this dream the Coronado Bridge began right in the camp. Also there were blue whales in the sky. This was completely normal in this dream world, but nevertheless spectacular. They were some sort of transport, for cargo, I think, and they were coming in for a landing at the camp. So we were driving on the bridge and, despite the fact that we were leaving the kids’ place, the kids were not with us. The husband was driving and his friend sat in the front seat, I was in the backseat. And we drove right off the bridge. For a moment I just accepted my impending death until I remembered my babies and then I knew I had to get out to save them. The dream was so upsetting that I lay in bed for a long while having a panic attack over it. And I still do if I allow myself to feel the terror I felt in the dream.

Dream #2:
Not nearly as horrible, this one occurred sometime in late Fall or early Winter. There was a large tank, like the ones at Sea World. It had stadium seating on all sides, but the seating was covered by tarps or blocked by construction. It was clearly closed down, and now that I think about it, in process of renovation. In the enclosure was a blue whale and I was swimming with her. I am not afraid of the fierceness of whales, for the most part, but the size is quite frightening. It was sad for her to be in such a small place, swimming in endless circles. And then I was picking my son up from wherever it was that he was at and I knew I would have to take him to swim with the whale and, despite her intended gentleness, I was terrified for him. But I’d have to. It needed to be done.

And there were more dreams which I’ve lost the details of. Once there was an ocra, once there was a room full of empty, murky, algae-filled aquariums, devoid of other life.

These are dark dreams, but powerful and productive. At the last SoulCollage gathering, I was sifting through my images, trying to decide which card I’d make that day when I came across an image I’d saved years ago. It was a whale in a tiny goldfish bowl. This is the way The Universe works, y’all.

SoulCollage: Dream Whale

This isn’t the first whale card I’ve made. There are certain animals I’m strongly drawn to, and that, in a way, I look to as guides in life. Elephants and whales are two of the most important ones for me. I find them to be symbolic of such strong, ancient, feminine wisdom. And so I’m glad that whales have been here to guide me through this, but, as Claire says, they aren’t in their proper place yet. I need to find them in a dream sometime swimming in the wide ocean. I had a nearly lucid dream the other day for the first time in years. Maybe next time I will go seek a blue whale in the ocean.

Before/After, Happy Things, and 7 Days Ketchup. PS. This Got Deep

21 03 2011

I mean catsup (spell check wants me to change that to “Datsun”. Seriously). I mean catch up.

After two weeks of intense Spring Cleaning, some friends came to help me move some stuff around the living room. The furniture was not only too heavy for me, but I also don’t know things like How to Put a Computer Back Together. Besides those important details, I wanted to focus on energy. I wanted to change the house to get a different energy flowing. I wanted friends to help me accomplish that. Despite my deep love and craving for ritual and ceremonies, I also am a strong believer in the ritual of Just Doing. In other words, the simple act of these amazing women coming and helping me was a ceremony, their mere acts of love in moving things around for me did plenty of energy cleansing without ever casting a circle or saying a prayer. That’s not to say circles or prayers aren’t necessary – they are – but they aren’t the only way to do spiritual work.

And did I mention that our ritual-less ritual happened to happen on the full moon? Indeed, the SUPERMOON! which was, in fact, incredibly startling even though I’d been waiting weeks for it. Despite the fact that by the time I got to my good camera, the moon was already high enough that the size difference is entirely unnoticeable in this photo, I had to take it anyway, just to mark the occasion.

Happy Thing:  SUPERMOON

Over the last years as I struggled to learn who I am in terms of clutter and mess, I’ve bounced back and forth between trying to Embrace the Mess and trying to Exterminate the Mess. I felt chaotic bouncing back and forth, but it’s taught me what I can and can’t handle. Kid messes? Can totally handle. Messes from art or baking? Yup. Clutter squirreled away in every tiny crevice and corner? I cannot. It saps my sanity and energy. Over these last years I’ve discovered I don’t truly hate cleaning, in fact I find it spiritually cleansing to have clean and organized corners and shelves. The act is cleaning is, in fact, inseparable from the act of spiritual cleaning.  What I do hate is the endless mess that follows me around, taunting me and making it clear I’ll never be done.

In the process of these last weeks, I’ve cleaned dust from nearly every corner. And I don’t mean just a layer of dust. I mean dust cakes. It’s such a metaphor for our marriage. Wipe down the surfaces, ignore the deep shit and pretend it doesn’t exist. But it does. And it grows yuckier by the year.  But now it’s gone and I’m clean. And to be honest I can’t say it will never build up again (by the way, now we are speaking of literal dust. I dropped the metaphor without telling you – sorry about that). I was never taught how to clean and, frankly, it’s something that’s difficult to learn since there aren’t many self-help books that teach what should be obvious to people like: Clean the top of your fridge. Dust off cords once in awhile. Instead I have to figure things out slowly, noticing one thing at a time until I’ve built up a good repertoire of mad cleaning skillz to keep things in order. But I’m at a good beginning place. Things are almost entirely organized now, clutter is practically non-existent, and I’m 13 years ahead of where I was when I first moved out of my mother’s home in terms of knowing how to clean and also in knowing what I want out of a home.

And so here is the before, taken in December, and the after, taken yesterday.

7 Days: Day 6 (Peek Into My Chaos)

7 Days: Day 2 Looking Down on My New Space

I knew it felt cluttered before, but not until I visually compared the two was I able to fully realize how very claustrophobic the house felt before. And, to be clear, this is not the only reason we could no longer live together, but it is relieving – for both of us, I’m sure – to be able to breathe freely in our own very different styles. To be clearer, that second photo is somewhat bare for me. There are a couple pieces of furniture I hope to afford in the future, and something needs to get put up on the walls soon. But the cleanness is just very Happy.

7 Days: Day 3 (Ostara)

And today? Today is Spring. It is the time of new beginnings. Ostara, the Vernal Equinox, is the time when the day and night are perfectly balanced – one of my favorite times of year. I love balance. I thrive in it. It is my sanity, my hold on to Life itself. Today I balanced on giant rocks. Granite which is the very foundation of my home. Which, through countless years of erosion, is gifted to us in small glimpses of the solidness and slow power of Ground. Despite the bitter cold in the air and the morning’s downpour, these rocks radiated with gentle warmth from the sun. They feel of power and strength, the masculinity of Mother Earth exposed. Each time I encounter one I am amazed how spiritually filling it is simply to touch it.

Happy Thing: Sitting on a Sun-Warmed Rock

And so I’ve cleaned out the corners of my home and Spirit, and I’ve balanced myself between outdoors and in. And now let’s enjoy the flowers and the breeze for summer’s on the way, a time of warmth and light and sun and life. Blessings!

Friday Thoughts

18 03 2011

Happy Thing: My Job

This photo was from yesterday’s Happy Thing. I sat there in the morning, checking in at Own Your Beauty, responding to comments and glowing as I read them. Over 1,000 people have read the article I wrote since it was posted Wednesday and as I lifted my mug for a sip of coffee, it occurred to me that while other people were looking at my mug that morning, I was the only one holding it. I don’t know that I can explain how surreal that is. So not only do I love the content of my work, but I think it’s pretty damn exciting to see my story posted on the home page of BlogHer.com, or on USAToday.com. Me. I wrote that. Wow.

Have I mentioned here that USA Today’s website has picked up Own Your Beauty? Cause they totally have. And I’ve even got a bio on there. A year ago I didn’t even know what I wanted to be when I grew up and here I am, a writer. Apparently. I’m loving it completely, but I’m also just in awe at how The Universe works.


I read this earlier in the week and it struck me. One of my bigger worries right now is about money. Will I be able to afford to live here at all? If not, then what? I can’t take the kids out of state where it might be cheaper because this is where their dad is. The other option I can think of doesn’t work for me, either. And to top it off, things have been tight this past year, even before the split. We have very little in our savings compared to what the IRS will probably expect come April 15th. And so I’d been taking a lot of deep breaths and reminding myself that even if we have to set up a payment plan with the IRS, we’ll still be alive at the end of it all. And then that last bit of Jen’s post? The addendum at the end about how there are people in the world who have much, much larger troubles in their lives? Some of them won’t be alive when Japan’s put back together. Some of them already aren’t. But some of them will. And for awhile their lives will be a nightmare, but then it will become normal again. A new normal. And they will go on. Because that is what people do and have done for the entire history of people. And that is what I will do, too. One foot in front of the other. That’s all I have to do right now.


And while we’re on the subject of the disaster in Japan (and, truly, I don’t think the word “disaster” has ever been so true as it is to this particular situation – it’s like watching a movie so ridiculously unbelievable, you change the channel. Only no one can change this one because it’s not a movie), can I just say that, despite all the sheer horror of the thing, it really puts global unity into perspective to me. And technology makes it possible to really understand how close we all are. 8,000 miles away (at least when taking the route Google Maps suggested) there was an earthquake. A massive one. It put our 7.2, 45-second quake last year to SHAME. (Note to Earth: No need to compete, stay calm. We’re proud of you for your 7.2, please do not feel the urge to outdo Japan.) It caused a tsunami that travelled, in one day, to California shores. When it reached us, it was far less destructive than in Japan, or even Hawaii, but it was clearly visible. We are truly connected. It was as though Japan reached out and touched us, quite literally. The wildness of creation, as Madeleine L’Engle put it, is truly incredible. The effects of the quake also fill me with awe – according to CNN, the quake moved the main island of Japan about 8 feet, also shifted the entire axis of the Earth, effectively shortening the day (however minute, it’s impressive). That’s mythical, right there. Of course, this article states that weather patterns can change the length of a day far more than the quake did, and that’s almost more incredible. Oh my how I love my Mother Earth. She is truly wild and amazing.


Here in my home, I’ve been making changes. I started with that shoe rack, moved on to the rest of the living room, into the closets, kids’ room, kitchen and my own bedroom. Things are organized and they’ll stay that way. You have no idea how happy I feel about this. I feel clean and uncluttered. Tomorrow some friends are going to come by and help me move the furniture in the living room around and make it a new place with new energies. Speaking of energies, I have this intense desire to keep the windows unblocked. For most of my childhood, the curtains were drawn to prevent people seeing the mess. For most of my marriage the windows were open, but covered by furniture, as was every available inch of wall space. And now I just want them free and unblocked. I want them wide open to clean energy and sunlight and a soft breeze off the ocean. I even plan to start washing the windows soon. (Hey, I’ve washed them once in the 5 1/2 years we’ve lived here, what do you want from me?)


The kids still seem to be adjusting well. They’ve spent a couple nights at their dad’s now, and he’s being very flexible with them when they want to come back here. More than I probably would be, even. They don’t seem overly upset and don’t even seem to be acting out much in other ways. I can only imagine this is because there’s been no drama between their parents and they know they can come and go as needed and we will always support them.

I, on the other hand, cried the night they left. Of course Elliott came back home at 9:00 that night so I wasn’t truly alone anyway. The next night I was, though. And I don’t remember the last time I was the only one in a home. Maybe some time when Melissa and I lived together. Surely the amount of times I’ve slept utterly alone in a home have been less than the number of fingers I have (which is the average amount). It felt empty, and I kept panicking when I realized I hadn’t checked on them in awhile. But it also felt good. Like I finally get the chance to find out who I am and how I like to live. I finished lining the cupboards with shelf paper, got some work done and watched some TV. When I woke up the next morning I discovered the two extra pillows had converged on me just like the kids usually do in the night.


And then this morning, after a night full of very tedious sleep wherein my mind chattered away endlessly with utterly pointless dreams, I had a Big Important Dream. It began with me outside the home my grandparents owned. The yard was completely dug out, at least a full story into the earth. The walkway to the door, left untouched. A police officer had died in some sort of standoff here at some time in the recent past. I was in the driver’s seat of a car (so much different than my first Blue Whale dream… which, according to a quick search, I never wrote about here – must do that soon) and when I looked into the backseat, I saw myself. Which is just fucked up. So I attacked her/me. I scratched and pinched, anything I could from my position to hurt her. She/I just sat there, terrified. She/I never made a sound. And then I heard a voice – someone was just out of sight – telling me that she/I was my inner self and I should be kinder to her/me. I don’t think I attack myself any more, but I feel it’s pretty clear this is one of those dreams you must take seriously. What are your thoughts?


And now I will get up off my arse and go do some more prep in this house before tomorrow comes. I’m going to enjoy my open windows and my newly open spaces in my rooms. And then maybe I’ll play some Wii with the kids. It’s gonna be a lovely day.