lost and found

A lot of things hurt around me.

I see them all in their own little spaces — moving around somewhere between heaven and hell. I can’t quite put my finger on anything these days. I think getting older, in my experience, is showing me that everything is fluid.

Rights and wrongs used to be so much clearer and now I see more and more why we always go to war with one another.

Why is it that I always start off with this stuff? Ah, yeah.

“Write hard and clear about what hurts” — Hemingway said that, though I’ve never read anything by him or his famous friends. Whatever. What’s important to me is that I’ve settled down in the marrow. I feel what’s in my bones and for better or worse, learn a new way to move.

This life is harder in ways I could never imagine. You witness your parents getting older and softer among other things. You squeeze them and they almost disappear. You’ve had this same hug a million times before and each time it is the collision of lifetimes — of regrets and also victories.

What a thing it is to settle into yourself and feel the very cosmos itself pressing into every cell in your body.

In other ways it is hard. Learning to be kind to people. Learning how to discipline and be in charge. Imprinting on someone who is smaller and more innocent than you will ever be again. Or how does one spill your words into a friend when they’ve made you feel all sorts of ways. I think it’s okay, ya know?

I love hard questions. I want the truth and I want what you have to offer. I want to know if you think of the same things or if you’re also shitty at math and wish sex wasn’t always so damn personal.

But it is.

Everything is personal.
I know I am not alone, but this is why we feel it. Because it is all so new, regardless of what we are told to feel.

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Every life is a new force moving into something they’ve never known before. I think we deserve goodness and ice cream because that shit is hard. Maybe there are people that clock out at the end of a day and fall into their rhythm, but I am not one of those people.

What I am is a person who is selfish and stubborn and live in a lot of worlds. Not only do I live, I thrive! My only complaint is that I can’t see it all. I can’t know every feeling and that I am missing something or someone.

Most of the time, I want you. And I crave you.
That selfish part of me is the part that can’t have it.

I give thanks to the Great Mystery. For all it is that I know, I am thankful and glad.

I mourn for the things I’ve lost and I move ever forward,
heavy step after heavy step,

forever in the middle of what is lost and what is found.

 

 

scattered

Loving other people means you will often feel as if bits of you are scattered in too many places. But you are not broken, just in pieces.

This was the thought from my friend C, who lives in Oregon.

It stuck with me, like the best things do.
I think often about the struggle to hold such a community in your heart that is so spread out and wild and different. You would think I would have no North to look onto. More so as I get older, these people who helped shape me, still hold me.

When I sit alone at night, processing another life I hold them snug-as-heirlooms. They are, after all, my story. Anytime a person is curious of my spirituality or my story, they make their way through and I share how they cared for me and showed me different heavens in the midst of some hells.

There’s another part of me that wonders what it would be like to only know that a little bit of the world actually exists. Maybe if I didn’t meet people who took me to far away places for the sake of love and beauty, or God and truth (or maybe all-in-one.)

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My heart is big and it is always in pieces!

The truth of the matter is that it will always be this way. Like the presence of a family member or close friend that leaves you into a Great Mystery — they are always deep in there. You will laugh and feel sad about your memories of them and that is the realest thing.

I’ve always said that heaven is maybe all those people together, around a table. We’re not talking politics, but we are digging deep into one another. It is my favorite thing to do around a table. Perhaps that’s why there are so many pieces scattered about — left under rugs of old friends who have kids and better jobs and forget about how their words were so heavy.

You also surround yourself with big hearts. It is inevitable that you are going to smash up against someone who is just as achey as you and that is also super real.

I guess, what I’m trying to say, is that you’re supposed to be this way. You are supposed to wake up and help with the pieces that people have left with you.

That is being loved, and loving in return.

So many pieces,

scattered. (not broken)

pick them up!

they are all made in love.

a year’s end.

This past weekend marked the end of our holiday catering season at the Depot. My hands are all cut up from pulling hundreds of pans out of the oven, chopping case upon case of potatoes and carrots and rubbing salt and herbs into Lord knows how many pounds of chicken and beef.

With all that being said and thankfully done, the one thing, among many things that I love about cooking happens: reflection.

I suppose the purpose of contemplating a year in a life is to recognize the things we were able to accomplish and how the year chiseled us into the shape we are now. It’s safe to say 2016 was a chisel. More so for different people who wanted different things. But, here we are regardless. Some, more hopeful. Some, still a little frazzled with how the world seems to work.

My days start off with so many hopeful intentions. Today, I want to be present. Today, I want to build something good and be good and maybe take a jog around my neighborhood.

And then the sink breaks in the kitchen at work. Sequentially, this throws me off into a state of chaos and quiet rage, and all I want to do is go home and lay in the quietness of a space that I can usually control. I suppose if I’m honest with myself, my world is not about control, and never will be.

I learn more and more what I have to hold loosely. I keep my distance from things until they feel safe – sort of like I did when I was a kid, hiding behind my mother’s legs because I was unsure of strange things. Things like that may never change, though I am now a whole foot and a half taller than my mom. I don’t have the luxury of hiding anymore.

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This year has been about power, and learning how to use it. Power is scary and I walk through each day knowing that I have, in some capacity, the means to use it for tearing down rather than building up. I don’t mean some sort of high executive power. More so a power to decide what people will eat or how my co-workers need to chop onions.

Then there is the other power – the power to use your gifts for good. Maybe that’s being a leader or a teacher or a listener. The world will always need what you have to offer. This power that you have is uniquely and profoundly yours. We may all be more alike than we are different, but what you have is special and you are responsible for it.

I have learned over this year that I am still going to hurt people unknowingly and understand that it’s not my place to say when a person should and should not feel something. I am learning to own the person I’ve become, even when I wish so badly I had all the right things to say and do.

Regardless, 2016 has been one helluva year. We have pushed ourselves hard. Harder than the year before, and as always, I am so stinkin’ proud of my co-workers and friends for believing in something bigger than ourselves.

Maybe it is just food. Maybe it’s just taking someone’s order and hoping from that point on, they enjoy their experience.

But in between all of that, are people who all want the same thing. Safety. Balance. Belonging. Community. Love. (And something super delicious.)

Wherever this wild road is taking me, I feel safe with the people around me. That in itself is a gift I will never be able to ask for, but one that I found I had all along.

Cheers, and thank you for an amazing year.

a place for yourself.

Maybe right now you are preparing a place for your future self. I suppose that is the romantic way to look at it.

It’s impossible to know when you’ll arrive at that place, or if it will look anything like you imagined. Probably not, but that’s okay.
Dating and in general relationship-making has never been easy for me. Hell, the last time I fell in love with someone it ended up being in India among the masses crammed into the metros and markets, with a constant sheen of sweat and dirt.

I’m also not a stranger to hearing, “It’s just hard to put a finger on you.”

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that some part of me likes it that way. But, I can honestly say I just don’t think I can be any other thing. Especially the exact thing you need or want me to be. (Maybe this is my death sentence in the world of romance.) I also know you aren’t going to be that for me, either.

Most of me just feels like I’m really broken in places (and not the theological sense that Christian readers eat up so much). Mainly, I feel not quite glued together just right. A lot of duct tape, and whole lot of feeling like I don’t fit back into where I belong.

This leads me down to some deep and dark places. Like maybe that was why my marriage dissolved into a mess of youngins having no idea what they were doing. Each year from that time, I come more to peace with where I am. I still process, like we all process our hard bits. What could we have handled better — and more importantly, how do we handle this in the future?

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Becoming more adult is scary. Awesome, but scary. Already at 30 years I am thinking of all the weighty ghosts that wander around and I see them all every day. It’s damn hard to move on from how people made you feel. A smell or a picture or a piece of paper in a small box discovered and BOOM. You are right back in it.

I think it’s amazing that we can feel that way. I think we’re better for it. We at least begin to understand what we can survive and for that, we can feel strong. On the other hand, I witness all sorts of innocence on a daily basis and want it again so badly.

I am frustrated. I feel I am not boyfriend material. Partner material. Maybe never again husband material. Some parts deep in my belly wonder if fatherhood will ever be in the hand I’m given, but I certainly do not count any of those things out.

I am lucky that I have something to go to every day that I pour so much of myself into. It is my church, and it is my love that is so full of rage and passion and fire. My adult kinda love.

Who do I think I am?

God knows I’m changing every day. Like maybe my system updates when I go to sleep and when I wake up, I take it for a test run. Some things get left, but more often then not I gain some perspective — some memory — and inevitably something stronger to keep moving on and on.

You are right. I can’t put a finger on myself. For all I have known until now, this is the busiest my brain has been. It is exciting and terrifying and it’s all smushed together like English peas.

But I can tell you that I believe my heart is being made into something new all the time. Maybe that is for a place, some day. It is something I can love and protect and grow all at the same time.

I am always on the look out. Eyes steady on the horizon. Moving toward the Greater Mystery.

navigating the universe.

It is completely obvious that I’ve been in a different state of mind as of late.

I at least know my co-workers see it. My pacing back and forth in the kitchen. Staring off at the rack of spices, hopefully fooling them into thinking I’m working something out for a recipe.

In reality, I am moving through some tricky waters.

I feel excited and scared and scattered because I am entering new territory, even with all of my experience as an almost 30 year-old human being, I am starting to notice that maybe I’m just scratching the surface of a new horizon.
These things make me feel flustered. Is that right to say?

It’s hard to focus on the thing in front of me and I feel like I can’t perform as usual. When people try to ask me questions about my process in working through it, I have to just sort of shake my head. What a luxury it is to have options and ideas.

How terrifying is it to realize you are going to submerge yourself into a project that will direct the trajectory of the rest of your life? Sure, we can change whenever we want to. We can move. We can learn how to make a canoe out of a single piece of wood. Most likely, we will settle with what we know how to do best and let that guide the rest of our lives.

My generation is bad at this. I’m bad at this. We just have too many options and too many things we’d rather be doing.

My generation is also in this position where we’re creating a lot of our own jobs. Maybe it is a ‘rejecting what our parents did’ sort of thing, but also an economy thing. I drank the kool-aid. I am that statistic and I am navigating these new, open waters.

Granted, some days feel like I’m treading those open waters. I am taking on more water on certain days, while others I am sailing free and fast and straight.

Then maybe the sails die down. The water stills and I am left to think of what to do next. I am no stranger to this season. We are all aware that life is fast and slow, and right now it feels kind of fast. I love it and I am terrified of it but deep down in my belly I know this is where I’m supposed to be navigating.

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I realize I am being vague with you all as well.

But for those of you who, by the grace of something bigger, have kept up with me know that I have been through a lot the past year and a half.

I’ve had to slow down. I’ve had to pick up and leave. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cook anymore.

I’m here to tell you that I feel very alive and light. Though I am at times weighted a bit with these thoughts of mine, I am moving forward with the hope that my ceiling won’t collapse again or that I will not break another bone anytime soon.

I can’t make any promises of knowing where I’ll end up, but I’m looking forward to bringing y’all into this season of life and I feel so lucky to have this.

We are as infinite as we want to be.
I learn more and more each day this truth, that we are capable of wonderful tiny things that make up an entire universe.

And that everything,

everything,

is important.

life, all over again.

Writing is a lot like unpacking a suitcase after vacation.

A few wrinkled bits here. Maybe a half used bottle of this or that.

Smells of some place you ate stained into your clothing and maybe a souvenir or two.

Then begins the process of putting things back where they belong, and tossing what you don’t need anymore.
I don’t know why this part is so hard for me. Perhaps there’s some rebellion involved.

As with cooking, writing has the ability to create and clear chaos in my brain.
Before service, you want all your pieces in order. The fancy term is mise en place.

I’ve used that phrase here several times.

Gathering and preparing your ‘meez’ — that is cooking for the most part. Preparing yourself mentally and physically for what the night might throw at you. To be honest, you can never be prepared for everything, but you can sure as hell get close.

Preparation. I start to get that itch. That something is coming.

I have this idea in my head and I suppose most people call them writing prompts. They lead to one thought after another.

In the same way I prepare a dish, I am thinking of the next prompt. To be honest, cooking is mostly about prompts. There is a process, where one tiny thing is added to create one bigger thing. The parallel could go on for days, but I will choose to stop there.

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When I get to write, I get to prepare myself for something. I get to lay something down, examine it, put it away or give it away. When you write for the public, you are giving. I would say most people write for themselves. I think when you write for yourself, you’re being honest and people will know. Giving this away is hard sometimes. When I publish, there’s a big part of me that hopes it will go under the radar.

All of this has become such second nature to me, that I often forget people read. And when confronted, I am surprised and get shy and shrug a bit.

I could say the same for my other love.

I am so humbled when I get a response. Any response, I am usually bracing myself for impact. But as always, I love the good ones, and take seriously the bad. Or, “constructive”.

That’s the best thing about voice.

It’s so powerful and it’s so yours!

It is your wonderful and unique story and it’s how you tell it. Some people won’t respond, but the ones who do, you will know there is some soul sharing involved.

Sort of like when I read Anne Lamott, I have an odd fantasy of being around her the last days of my life. Making me laugh and cry and cuss in the same ten minutes. I like those people. Not that I know her, but I love that she makes me feel that way– connected deeply to her story. If anyone has brought me screaming and kicking back to God and my own spirituality, I would most likely thank her for doing the dragging. She’s a writer who helps me connect deeply to my own story.

It’s all just a process.

Creating. Failing. Celebrating.

Dish doing.

Floor mopping.

All over again. 

Unpacking.

Washing.

Remembering.

indulging in this sweet sorrowful beautiful magical resilient thing,

we call life.

belly feelin’

I’ve been thinking a lot about attachment, and how my brain connects to certain things.

Partly, because I’m reading this book of meditations and it’s wrecking me. It’s rich. Hard to swallow at times. I can only take it in small pieces, but those pieces are just substantial.

A lot of it revolves around our happiness.

What is real happiness?

What does attachment have to do with happiness?

Well, it seems…everything.

I’ve been struggling with a lot of things. I have an idea of what it may be, but I’m not putting any pressure on myself to figure it out. I’m swerving in and out of it constantly, like traffic cones to a sixteen year old trying to get their license.

I believe that happiness is indescribable. It is relative from one person to another. But I don’t think we’ll ever be able to agree, only to affirm and live in those moments when we get them. Like little gifts, ya know?

Going back to the book, the part I struggle with so deeply is the attachment to people. Things, I can understand. We will never ever be truly happy with all of our pretty things. We know this to be true.

But what about people? Your partner or parents or siblings? Yes, we love them deeply. In moments, they can make us happy and feel loved.

And then what about yourself? What if they were to leave you?

There is a lot in that. Anger. Sadness. Regret. Abandonment.

Lord knows I’ve felt more of that this past year than I ever have.

We make it, though. Time chips away at the stone we build around our hearts. I’m sure it could go the other way, but I’ve found it quite the opposite. I think that says a lot.

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Time has made me softer. Time has allowed me to fit into my bones. It’s allowed me to listen to people and most importantly, to connect. I think growing up as a kid is super duper hard. We’re rarely taught how to hold loosely nor do I think we even had the tools to understand any of this.

I think affirming other people is hard work. Putting them at peace to explore one another’s depths. That can be hard. We can really turn things onto ourselves easily. It’s easy to make life about me. Hell, I do it all the time. Blogging is about me. It’s also about me in the bigger scope of things, too.

So how do I not make people my reason to be happy?

The writer talks about deprogramming the things we learned as kids. That maybe, if we deprogram our brains to not think of people as things to make us happy.

I know. That’s kind of icky.

I’m probably a little more gung-ho about this because a person I relied on for my happiness and contentment decided on a different path. There are also some sad feelings of being a kid of a divorce, too. You always have a right to feel sad about sad things. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

But also, I think of myself as a human being all of my own doing. I recognize my heart and that it is good. I strive to do good things. I don’t always do good things, but my mind works for it. Sometimes it is able to reach my heart and I have an abundance of clarity for a short time.

I think attachment to people and things is a difficult thing to process. I’m not saying I have it figured out. But I can say, that I’ve made it through this process by loving myself and believing that I am worthy of love. I’ve made it through because time has shown me that people will enter in and out of your life and they will make you happy sometimes. Also, what would it be like to take away their power that makes you rely on them for your own happiness? Is it even about that?

I suppose I want to separate this from the idea that we are a beloved community. I believe we need people to get through life. I want that to be clear. Sometimes we need to have babies and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we are nomads and in certain seasons, settle for a time.

In all of this, though, I want to contemplate on how I feel most alive, and I realize it always stems from my belly. The place where I process my world. I can only be responsible for myself. For my own happiness. Lucky for us, we have people that help us get there. They gives us tools, and sometimes obstacles to use those tools.

What I want to say, and what my belly believes to be true, is that my connection to being content with the present, and who I am, stems directly from my understanding that other people and things are not responsible for my happiness. Only I am. I think that the work I’ve been doing over these recent years has allowed me to see that when you can best love and take care of yourself, you are able to give up the idea of needing to be understood all the time. I think feeling safe in that takes a while, but it’s where I feel most like me.

‘What then is happiness? Very few people know and no one can tell you, because happiness cannot be described. Can you describe light to people who have been sitting in darkness all their lives? Can you describe reality to someone in a dream? Understand your darkness and it will vanish; then you will know what light is. Understand your nightmare for what it is and it will stop; then you will wake up to reality. Understand your false beliefs and they will drop; then you will know the taste of happiness. ‘ -Anthony de Mello

more bits on writing

Lately, I’ve been encouraging people to write.

A lot of this comes out of my experience as a person who writes often, and reaps the benefits of having lovely people like you read whatever it is I have to say. Heavy. Silly. Messy. It’s all out there. I suppose that’s one of the harder parts of writing; being vulnerable.

I love to empower people. I love getting the opportunity to share heart things, because most likely, it’s close to yours. That’s not easy.

It’s not easy telling people you are just divorced and terrified to date again or what it would be like to have another first kiss… Or that I try not to be seen by a person, regardless of how well I know them. These are a few of my not so favorite things.

As I sit on my bed, I have a notepad with a bunch of recipes and random crap that I might be working through. Right now, there is a packing list for my move further down South. There are also two books on writing and a few coins that must have fallen out of my pants as I lunge upon the bed every so often, laying my head down on the cool sheets.

Writing has always been to me, part soul-searching, part labor. It takes time to sit down and organize some sort of structure. Sometimes it’s easier when you set yourself up to write. Saying, “Oh, it’s Monday evening which means I’d like to publish something Tuesday morning..” Your body starts to itch with words. My tongue gets heavy. I get quiet and take a lot of deep breaths. It’s never easy to be vulnerable, or to put yourself out there and most likely not really get a response back.

Some things are also just duds. I have a list of them. Some are too scary. Some are just plain bad.

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But that’s okay. Because you’re writing and that’s important.

You are sitting your ass down and you are placing one word after the next onto a blank white space.

You’re not going to be great at first, and it might take you ten years to find your voice. But your voice is the most important thing you can have. Experiences are prompts. As are trees and the bozo that flipped you off in traffic today. Having a rugged life doesn’t necessarily give you a free card to being a good writer.

I can’t listen to music and write. At least the kind with words. It jumbles me up and I start going astray and saying stuff I don’t mean. I think people can tell when this happens, or at least it’s obvious when I do.

I am my own worst enemy with this stuff.

I don’t often write in complete sentences, because that is my voice. That is my headspace.

I pass by books all the time that people have written, and that we have forgotten. Only a rare few go down in history. Timing, mostly. But all these people tried at the very beginning. That’s all they were doing. Writing about bull fighting in Spain or the green light that taunted Gatsby.

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I realize I am getting ahead of myself here. I have not been published. I have written a lot for other people. I am not an authority, but as it is something I’m learning to do myself, I find it helpful when people share their process. I also love talking about writing with other people who write. Like anyone you share a craft with, it’s important to challenge each other.

Like starting out with something really, terribly raw. And then picking at it, and putting flesh on it. I like to cannonball into it, if you will. It helps me break down the things in my head. Humor is always helpful. So are pictures and keeping your word count to about 500. Honestly, unless you really know the person, most folks aren’t reading past 300 words. Big paragraphs are hard for us with short attention spans. (Or should I say folks of my generation with six-second attention spans)

Keep it clean. Your blog layout, that is. Cuss however you want. I cuss a lot in my head. Kitchen life has given me a decent vocabulary, for sure. Use it when appropriate. Sometimes, a properly placed cuss word can bring the house down.

Keep it close to you. Write to maybe one or two people. Otherwise, trying to impress a lot of people, like life, you will find yourself being stretched too thin. Keep it tight and start by exploring your own soul, because there’s so much in there.

It is endless.

I want to end this with Fitzgerald’s last paragraph in the Great Gatsby, because it gives me chills. It has such a wonderful rhythm and is just so hauntingly beautiful. I want to imagine what he felt like after he wrote it, just knowing he nailed the ending to one of this century’s most beloved works.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — to-morrow we will run faster, stretch our arms out farther…And one fine morning —

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.