Internet Refugee

I feel like a refugee. I know that’s dramatic, but this feeling of being displaced, shuffled around, trying to assimilate in and ‘pass’ for one of the locals when grieving the loss of a family. I wrote about the OffbeatFamilies shutdown yesterday, and have managed to stay away from the shuttered doors, and have tried to nestle in to Offbeat Home & Life, a place I previously felt comfortable. But then I started reading the comments, which is advice they say NOT to do in most internet communities, because snark+ runs rampant. But the Offbeat Empire has felt so safe…and then…I come across comments like this:

Ooooh… I’m sure this makes me a terrible person, but as a childless-by-choice OBH&L reader I’m glad there’s not going to be birth stories and breastfeeding articles in here…. cuz it would totally ick me out, but I’m sure I’d end up reading it anyways cuz it’d be like a train-wreck, where you don’t want to look but you can’t tear your eyes off it. Then I’d probably just have to stop coming in here, and that would make me sad.

But hooray for Harry Potter!

Ugh. So birth and breastfeeding is icky to you. Awesome. And my parenting choices are like a ‘trainwreck,’ which is also awesome. And makes me feel super comfortable when I’m mourning the loss of a place I loved and content I loved. Imagine if I went there and said “I love reading about colored wedding dresses, but gay dudes kissing is sooooo ick, and a trainwreck and so I’ll probably not come back.” Hurtful, right? (and soooo not my views in reality, FYI).

But I was feeling kinda okay about squatting over there, but now I’m not so sure. So of course I’ve begun spiralling. Where do I fit in? I’ve bounced over to Mutha Magazine, and Mommyish, and Birth Without Fear, and think ‘oh cool, these might feel like home someday,’ but just like expatriating, that day isn’t today and so I feel displaced.

Which calls into question my own feeling at home here, on my own blog. A blog with a name I’ve questioned for awhile and with a handle that I’m not entirely comfortable with. Monk-Monk sometimes feels too…unhuman, if that makes any darn sense at all. So don’t be surprised, if like a post-breakup, I dye my hair to change my identity. The blog equivalent might be a look change/name change/handle change. Still me under the bloggy makeover, but I thought I’d give you a heads up that my mind is swirling about new taglines and titles and how to move forward in internet refugee empowerment.

Gut Punch

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It takes a lot for me to feel safe somewhere, to let my guard down and really just hang loose. Like when you come home from a long day of work, take your bra off and slip into your favorite long-sleeve track t-shirt from high school (so what if it has holes in it?!) and your husband’s oversize hand-me-down sweats. Even better is when you feel so comfortable with someone, that they can come over for a glass of wine and you don’t scramble to put the bra back on, or even contemplate changing back into those skinny jeans you wore all day at work.

So when I’ve nestled in, gotten comfortable, really let myself BE MYSELF somewhere, and then it’s….taken away…it feels like the wind is knocked out of me. Like I’ve been punched in the gut, and I am left wondering, ‘how will I survive this?’ Not to get overly melodramatic (is it my seasonal affective disorder talking?), but it feels like mini-deaths when something changes or goes away. I grieve. I find it hard to put into words. I mope about and scramble to try and fill a void that is my community-hungry heart.

This summer my beloved massage therapist Courtney Putnam took a sabbatical. And when she announced her blissful 3 months off, I knew…the writing was on the wall so to speak, that she’d be gone from the realm of massage therapy. While she has re-invented her practice to encompass many more awesome things (like healing retreats! and art sessions! and growth-coaching!), I am sad that I will no longer be able to afford regularly scheduled massage visits with her. I’ve been going to her since 2007, when I googled ‘body memory’ and found a blog post that spoke to my cell memory from a car accident. And then she happened to be in Seattle. And happened to be a few years older and had gone to my same elementary school, and was a Sagittarius. It felt like the stars had aligned. And now, I’m having to shift my perspective, to reinvent the way in which I want to have healing done, and it is exciting, but also a little bit intimidating. So in the meantime I’m dabbling in psychotherapy with a psychologist through my insurance, and working on some Groupons for massage, and delving into my new found love of bikram yoga.

And if that change wasn’t hard enough, today I learned rather abruptly, that my absolute favorite parenting community Offbeat Families, is being shut down. The site I wrote into a few times, that has featured my baby’s picture, that has propelled me forward into understanding different parenting topics. Gone. Like that. Sure they give a nice little summary, and it wasn’t good for business, but…as I said on my personal Facebook page:

I guess…I guess I just sorta feel blindsided. Like with the new branding, and everything felt really good, and I know that we readers aren’t entitled to the behind-the-scenes, but it sorta feels like being in a relationship that feels really comfy and good and then BAM one night of fighting they peace out and are gone for good (except they’ve left all their clothes behind, that still smell like them, and you randomly come across that picture of you two on the mantle, etc). I think I wouldn’t feel so freaking sad if I had seen it coming. Like a farewell Montage last week as we’re prepping to close the doors. Or a final blast of birthing posts to get us through the next week. I mean, Mondays are hard enough…

In the grand scheme of things, these are small losses. I will find other websites. I will make other friends, and expand my circle of healing goodness (as well as head back to Courtney for some extra special sessions when I get the cash), and life will go on. But god, in the moment it sucks…when I’m feeling vulnerable and the little losses seem to be adding up to one great big identity and life shift. And, sometimes I don’t want identity shifts. It feels exhausting trying to be all the me’s already.

How do you deal with the “small losses,” of everyday life? The coffee shop that changes their name, or the pizza joint that goes out of business? Or the bus route that gets re-routed or the jeans you wake up to find don’t fit anymore? Or what about when your favorite show ends for the season (or for good) or you put a good book down knowing the author has died and no more books will ever be published? What do you do then? How do you cope?

What’s your gut trying to say? An exploration of the Solar Plexus Chakra…

Zen Pen’s writing from the body challenge this week is to explore everything related to our Gut, and I’m finding it both challenging and enlightening. I thought that last week’s Heart prompts would be challenging, but not quite like how I’m experiencing the Gut prompts to be. I have been interested in deepening my writing-by-hand practice, but this week’s gut-lesson has felt so very blog-worthy, that I thought I’d share. To begin the lesson Courtney starts off by explaining:

When our solar plexus chakra is out of balance we may experience increased anger, fear, low self-esteem, apathy, resentment, compulsiveness, as well as a variety of unpleasant physical sensations. I think we can all relate to experiencing many of these characteristics and sensations. Perhaps our bodies are trying to speak to us?

Whoa.

That hit me in the gut (pun intended) quite hard. Because, if I were to sum up a chapter of this summer it would be called “Dealing with Angry Monk-Monk.” Though I’d probably use my real name. Unless I was writing an anonymous memoir. But I digress.

It seems that ever since summer started (which also happened to coincide with being off work for a daunting 3 months with kiddo), I have wrassled with my ANGRY side. Some of this anger has been leftover bits (think popcorn kernel STILL in your teeth from the movie you saw a week ago) from childhood that have been coming up and being replayed over-and-over again. I can’t quite shake that angry label I was given as a kid/teen, even though I know that, looking back, I wasn’t actually angry. I was afraid. Afraid and misunderstood.

And that’s often how I feel these days. Misunderstood. Like the whole world is staring at me in puzzled wonderment, on good days, and complete disgusted disdain on others. While I’ve managed to find a few friends, and a partner, who at least tolerate, and even-possibly-dare-I-dream-love, my quirks, there often times when I just feel all alone in this great big world of complexities.

So, I did a little more research on this elusive solar plexus chakra, which, according to one site is:  is a personal power chakra. This chakra helps us to wield our own power. Sounds a lot like internal locus of control if you were to ask me to relate it in terms that I explain to my college students. This idea that things are manifest from within, a lot of personal choice and personal power that propels us forward.

But websites aren’t enough. I prefer hands-on reading material, so I scanned my shelf for Caroline Myss’s Anatomy of the Spirit (one of the few books I’d take to a desert island). Bypassing the first few chapters, I went straight to the Solar Plexus chakra and began reading. And everything began to resonate with me, like:

The solar plexus chakra becomes the dominate vibration in our development during puberty. It assists us further in the process of individuation, of forming a self, ego, and personality separate from our inherited identity.

Holy shit. No wonder I’ve been feeling so blast-from-the-past when experiencing my ANGRY self this summer. That’s when I was labelled angry. As a teenager. And while I don’t want to blame everything in my life on my adoptee status, the fact that I didn’t really know my “inherited identity,” and was trying to individuate to something that wasn’t encouraged (perhaps another blog entry, on the conservative Christian idea of sameness vs. being a rebellious individual). I read somewhere else a few weeks ago, too, that “helplessness leads to feelings of rage,” which all seems to come back to this very idea of my gut center trying to develop as a teenager, but feeling so very caged-coyote-trapped by the constraints put upon me by my parents-as-ambassadors-of-THE-church.

Whoa.

At the end of the chapter on the Solar Plexus Chakra, Caroline Myss asks some questions, one being:

Are you continually wishing your life were different? If so, are you doing anything to change it or have you resigned yourself to your situation?

Now, it seems that she’s trying to get at the idea that the third chakra, when in balance, will spur you toward a more ‘internal locus of control,’ which will help you do something to change a situation. But, in reflecting on some of the earlier summer angst, where I had a hard time shifting, I think that my approach needs to be less fight-against-the-current (especially since this time of my life has certainly been a well informed choice), and more drift with the current, letting the days be how they are because they simply exist this way. Because when I think about that acceptance, that comes from a gut place that says, “yes, this is right. you chose this. rest easy,” the anger melts away.

What’s your relationship with ANGER? Are you constantly wishing your life was different?

(p.s., if you’re interested in joining Zen Pen, a 6 week writing course, Courtney is starting one again on Sept. 30th! I highly recommend it!).

Oh Vulnerable One

Do you ever have moments where you have SO MUCH TO SAY and then you sit down to write and nothing comes out? That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. It’s almost like a physical manifestation of anxiety…where I’m anxious about nothing in particular, but it feels like everything, and I can’t articulate what’s exactly going on inside my head.

But I have been writing…a lot more, but it’s been by hand. I’m now 6 days into my 6 week Zen Pen Course, and I am LOVING it! If you were interested in signing up, but hadn’t gotten around to it, she’s going to offer another session starting September 30th…it’s so neat to begin this process. For example, this week I wrote a letter to my abs from my low back. Whoa! So much wisdom when I get out of my head 🙂

Bikram yoga and therapy is helping me relinquish some of the family roles that I’ve been playing into for a long time. The “Angry One” has been able to be the “vulnerable one,” in spurts, which has been able to communicate some needs in a way that is heard differently. Same message, different method, providing different satisfaction. I’ll be interested to see where this goes…

I leave you with this. King of the Naked Chair Sitting…

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Zen Pen Invitation

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Last year I had the privilege of meeting in the home of Courtney Putnam, my wonderful massage therapist/reiki practitioner. Not only is she an amazing, healing, bodyworker (is that even a word?), but she is also an amazing artist and writer (and blogger!). All last summer she hosted a weekly “Zen Pen” group, where we met and wrote together. She has this amazing way of guiding, creating prompts, and giving opportunity for writers to get outside of their ‘head’ and write from their body. She says:

What’s different about ZenPen is that it is body-based. What that means is that during the writing process, we will tap into the wisdom of our bodies. Our minds can only get us so far — and sometimes our minds play tricks on us or lead us down roads of self-criticism or limitation. The body holds all the information, wisdom, and experiences we’ve had in our lives. It plays no tricks. It tells us the truth.

And this year Zen Pen is being offered as an e-course! I am excited to being (August 5th) her 6 week series, and am planning on sharing, here, some of the body writing that I create. But, since I love you all dearly, I am inviting you to participate as well! For only $59 for the 6 week Zen Pen E-Course, how could you resist? So, if you’ve been looking for some inspiration in your writing process, and want to get away from that critical voice, then join me in ushering in the fall with a little Zen Pen! Head on over to the e-course description to get a better understanding of what is being offered!!

I have to be honest, I’m both excited and nervous about the discoveries I’ll have in this 6 week course. Last summer I learned so much about myself, my hopes, dreams, and really solidified some truths that I hadn’t been able to grasp with my anxious mind. Can’t wait to start, and hopefully see a bunch of YOU all over on the secret FB group or here in blog-land 🙂

Offbeat Lovin’!

I can’t believe it ya’ll, I’ve been on Offbeat Families TWICE in one week! I love their community, because it really feels like I’m able to learn about other people’s lives and get support in my own!

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So, you want to start with seeing Potamus having a lovely conversation with his Uncle Tio, check out: Reader photo time: future world leaders, ninjas and hair stylists.

And, remember that King Midas post I wrote awhile back, about the struggle with weaning? Well, a version of it hit the Offbeat site today entitled: I knew breastfeeding might be hard, but didn’t know weaning would feel impossible, so if you care to get in on the weaning discussion, head on over there and check it out!

Much love to you fellow bloggies!

 

 

Found Poetry Challenge

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I’ve been struggling and haven’t had the ability to get the words in my head out. So, while sipping coffee this morning, I picked up the random Edna St. Vincent Millay collected works poetry book sitting on the shelf of the cafe. And the urge to write hit me…not my words, but hers. It’s a technique I learned in my high school English class, an exercise where you use ONLY words that already exist, or, in this case, first lines or titles of poems that already exist. You can’t change the lines or titles but you, the author, gets to put them into an order you want, to make a new poem. It’s similar to the Hindu idea of shruti, which is the belief that sacred text is simply just writing down the words (usually a rough translation) of the words that already exist in the Universe somewhere.

So, with an inability to write my own words, here are the re- The Collected Works of Edna St. Vincent Millay

Autumn Chant
-found poem from The Collected Works of Edna St. Vincent Millay

Some Things Are Dark,
look how the bittersweet
Wild Swans
Lament.
Intense and terrible I think, must be the loneliness.
Sky-coloured bird.
This should be simple; if one’s power were great.
This is mine, and I can hold it.
How innocent we lie.
Ashes of Life.

 

So, if you’re at a loss for works, or want to write poetry but are unsure of where to begin, try this exercise:

1) find a book of poetry (anthology or collected works) either in person or online
2) write down the titles or first lines (usually those are listed in the back) that speak to you. DON’T think about what you want the poem to say, just pick titles that you like or sound cool to you. Make sure to copy the lines exactly as you see them.
3) Once you have a list of titles (or first lines), start organizing them into an order that speaks to you. You are allowed to add commas/punctuation or words like a/an/the to string the lines together to make them work with each other.

4) Re-arrange any of the lines as necessary.

5) Marvel at your work! Make sure when you title it, to give credit that you ‘found’ this poem within a larger body of work!

Care to take the Found Poetry challenge? Link me with your poems, or leave them in the comments!

National Adoption Awareness Month

It’s National Adoption Awareness Month, which is taken by many in the adoptee community, as a challenge to write every day about our experience as adoptees and our beliefs about adoption. While I can’t promise to blog every day, or blog everyday about adoption specifically, I am always an adoptee blogging. Adoption, the experience of being adopted, is who I am and clouds how I view and interact with the world. Some people try to boil my adoptedness down to the event, the legal action taken one day that made me my parent’s daughter, but being adopted is NOT just an event, it is a lifetime experience.

As a new parent, one of the things that is most often on my mind is how my son looks like me. Or how he looks like Boof. And the wondernment as he grows and changes. Because, I was 25 before I met someone who looked like me.

I was twenty five before I met someone who looked like me. And so I immediately began obsessing over features.

And here is a picture of my 1/2 sister, when I met her she was about 4 and the picture of me on the left is about 2.

Even though Potamus most often gets mistaken for a spittin’ image of Boof, he currently still has my blonde wispy curl hair and blue eyes. And there’s something about his eyes and nose shape that makes me think, in a few years, I’m going to be comparing his face a lot to my own childhood face. Even my parents say that he looks like me as a kid.

In college I used to get mistaken for a guy, and it used to bother me A LOT. But now, I can see perhaps that maybe they were seeing my father in me.

I am still trying to wrap my mind around genetics, and how little bits of me are now in my son, but it’s been helpful to be in reunion with my biological family, so that I can see a more linear progression of features.

Insomnia, Inspiration, and The Moons: A Review of Poetry

I wake up from half-sleep
haunted
by images of closet-starved idea children,
beaten by electrical cords and made
to sleep in cramped corners
on cots
or coats
if they’re lucky.
When were they exiled?
Did it happen one by one?
And why do I wait, anxiously
for the sleepy pied piper to come and lull away
the rat-child-poems,
so that I can dream easily
and forget
that I drifted
or strayed
or fell
so far from the Source
of inspiration.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have gone. But I couldn’t miss the opportunity: 3pm on a Sunday. To reconnect with a few classmates from high school and the English teacher that prompted me to graduate from high school with the equivalent of 6 years worth of English classes AND THEN go on to be an English Lit major in college before realizing that I DIDN’T want to teach…before realizing that I did.

If any of that makes sense.

The amazing part was the re-connection, the re-inspiration toward all things written and being able to see myself even more infusing my class with purposeful writing that will aid in their college transition. One high school classmate lives locally, with a son, and is in social work. We instantly connected again, and I was happy that while we had been loose friends in high school, there just lacked the emotional drama of one of the innermost circle of friends might have had.

And the poet.

Powerful.

The imagery in The Moons spoke volumes, and there’s something magical about hearing the words spoken aloud by the writer creator. Almost like bearing witness when God spoke the world into existence.

And afterward, the poet, the re-acquaintance and a few others, ran between fat Seattle raindrops to a local coffee shop to indulge in their velvet foam lattes. We talked about being mothers, being working moms and trying to find balance (as I explained to one, non-mom, why I was at the reading minus Potamus, even though it was the weekend). We talked about education, for the poet’s day job is the high school version of mine. The social worker and I made loose plans for happy hour sometime in the next few weeks.

We didn’t talk about writing.

Clearly I know the poet writes, and don’t know if the Social Worker does.

What I do know, is that I do not. Not pen-to-paper soul writing like I used to.

My feelings about it are complex.

In one vein, I long to spend those hours, or scrape together seconds to jot something down (even unsafely, like, while driving down the freeway) so that the words can create something true. I wish to be less distracted by shiny blue/white screens that flash instant distraction and updates. I want to keep record, somehow, of my life both inside and outside of motherhood. And even on the way home from the reading, an entire book idea came, fully formed (in big thought) into my mind, and the “simple” act would be to somehow get it from brain to paper.

The other part of me is scared.

Because writing and mental illness are blood-brothers, and I have been trying to live a quiet, simple type life.