Breathing In Community

Reflections often come to me after sitting through meetings or gatherings with intention to organize around community. Even outside of comfortable parameters, these types of meetings can stir up energy, though which particular flavor it will be is dependent on how well the communication transverses between individuals.

Currently my thought streams are taking dives into all the puddles of community I have jumped into, particularly within the last 5 or 6 years. My experience as a community organizer is relatively juvenile, though I’ve tried to expose myself to different settings over time. This exposure has been with hope to gain a better awareness of where my ideologies lay, which may or may not be an exact science in the end. At the same time, I’m just stepping back into heavier organizing as I’ve had to take some time to reflect on these experiences and my life in question.

And so, this evening, as I drove home, I realized a simple concept.

I need community- much like I need water, or air. It is something that I cannot exist without, and would not chose to either. Through any ups and downs, my gratitude for my community glows. I breathe in community, and I breathe out community.

To be an effective community organizer, one must try to replicate the lungs that fill our chests and give rise to our voices. We must be able to balance breathing in, expanding, filling, and taking, as we must be able to breathe out, contracting, emptying, and giving. Sometimes, these fluctuations are grand movements, and other times, they are minor shifts. But together, they give continuous vitality to our purpose. If we stop breathing, that purpose dies. We exist, but without meaning. 

This was an incredible revelation for me, as often guilt has encompassed my desire to step outside the realm of active organizing and into the realm of passive support. My energies at time ebb and flow so dramatically between attending as many meetings as possible, or the need for self care, reading, and solitude.

It occurs in this way that is partially why we have seen such standstills in our country, the uneven exchange of air being recycled through our beings. Or why we often seem to find a frenzy of information seeking after a dramatic blow to our system- that sharp intake that kicks us into gear and forces us to exhale. Or those marathons where we find that we need those frequent little inhales to allow us to push through.

The sooner we become aware of this need, and allow ourselves to connect to it, hopefully the more empowered our communities can become. In these times, it is definitely a necessity.

 

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Present and (Un)Accounted for

Its funny.. One of the reasons my mind bristles at writing these blog posts is because it can’t stand the idea of writing another first person monologue and exposing it to the masses as though its published presence would have an effect on someone else’s life.

And yet, I am touched by the little snippets and parts of people’s lives that I experience constantly. There is something vain about posting these things, and perhaps there is a call for validation included within their worded confines, but most of all.. writing these thoughts just gives my thoughts a place to exist.

I’ve worked as many hours as possible since around the year I turned 16, freshly licensed and able to transport myself. When not completing paying work, instead I found volunteer work, activist work, or even just friend work to keep me occupied. This is a pattern I have succeeded in recognizing several times,.. and failed to fix several times as well. All the best strategies have been at my fingertips for several years, trends that have now exploded across our capitalism consumed country: yoga, meditation, journaling, etc..

At times, my own age doesn’t even seem real to me. I will be 25 in just a couple weeks, and I’ve been acting like I’m in my 30’s since way before my time. The mortality of it all doesn’t cause me much stress, but the reality of limited time and energy does. I have BIG dreams and plans, so much to do and the desire to do all of it right now. But with the occupation I’ve chosen, business ownership included, I’ve left little space for me to explore beyond the realms of familiar.

However, coming back to this blog, I’ve realized its important to me, because in my daily life I hardly have the time for all these thoughts to work themselves out and stop tangling within their own beautiful contortions. In fact, scarce is the time to devote the energy to this passion of mine, or the fantasies that I so desperately crave.

..To really be as present as I wish to be with others, I need to be more present with myself.

So where’s that start button? Oh yeah.. I guess it would be “publish”.

Thank you for reading.

My Awkward Embrace (and Emotional One Night Stands)

(from 9/26/16)

I don’t always say the right thing or follow the right formula.

Most of my 25 years of life, in the beginnings of my relationships with friends and lovers, I’ve taken what I have and laid it out on the table from the get go. A lot of what I have to show isn’t the prettiest, the corners of past situations or experiences often stained or torn at the edges, and the present definitely a bit cluttered. But I’ll punctuate it with my own hand crafted sense of humor when the goings get too serious.. unless this new person happens to share a lack of inhibitions about opening their heart, in which case we both tumble along.

Though I’ve gathered a slightly more conservative touch to this approach in the last few years, I realize again with a different angle that I’m just not good at small talk. I earnestly want to connect, be authentic, and be myself around others. I will admit that that I still have a long way to go towards authenticity, as sometimes verbal processing lends itself to a selfishness I don’t know how to avoid. But I’ve found that instead of pouring a drink to hang out and relate to others, I pour out myself, and I’ve done this my whole life.

If you are a friend, a lover, or a family member of mine, than you have gotten used to this awkward embrace of mine. Like the thoughts I have that I feel the need to clarify through questions-feeling energy and wondering where it comes from. Analyzing where assumptions come in. I read body language, tone of voice, and other little signs that all make me curious about the person I am interacting with. I am curious, analytic, and compassionate- so I tend to end up worrying at times.  I used to think that this was a bad combination of things, given to me through anxiety and trauma. But now I recognize that they are me. 

 Of course, the way I interact with people often leads me to emotional one night stands. Many a time have I shared a deep conversation with someone, the kind of conversation that gets your gut feeling funny and your head feeling light- the vortex of their desire to connect a great energy draw. They offer to me that they don’t normally connect with people this deeply; that they’re not usually so honest or open about what they are going through.

And then, they are gone.

I used to mourn and feed negativity into these situations. After something so intimate, its easy to cultivate a sense of loss. But through reflection and growth, I now see them more as beautiful, unique gifts of time- moments and experiences I share with others that temporarily embrace the world I want there to be: one where we can speak from our hearts, share our pain, and hold space for each other.. a place of listening and empathy.

Honestly, a lot of my  self-perpetuated anxiety has subsided by embracing my awkwardness, and I do believe that my willingness to share and hold space has helped bring a bit of the light into the world that I feel it needs. Being so open, it is quite a challenge though. It comes with depression at times, and exhaustion. That’s why its so important for me to hold onto my gratitude about experiences and to allow myself to remove attachment to them.

..Easier said than done.

But no matter what I experience, I still embrace my awkwardness, my openness, and my passion to hold space. My life has been so full because of it.

 

The exhale of vulnerability (11/7/16)

Sitting here, enjoying the soft autumn sunlight and the quietness of Monday morning, I find myself finally able to sit down and collect my thoughts and interactions from the last week. Much the same way I pick up the forgotten lukewarm mug of tea on my counter, and swirl it as I look down into its content, I find myself trying to look into all of these experiences, stirring them and trying to figure out this feeling is I have in my chest.

Vulnerability.

It is not something that I intentionally cherished growing up.

In a home where chaos and volatility saturated the air like an overly powerful oil diffuser, I learned to hold my breath in, tight to my chest. The best method of living there was more closely akin to survival, getting through the days, months, and years by existing as much outside of it physically or emotionally as possible. Breathing in would only cause your chest to burn and your eyes to water, and that made it much harder to get to safety.

When I put 8 hours of distance between myself and that house, those experiences, it became much easier to breathe. But the habit had been formed, and much the same way my body found it impossible to exhale under the storm of a panic attack, I found myself still wanting to hold that breath tight inside me emotionally as well. Inhale. Inhale. Inhale. The inclination to hold things in while I curled around them.

Do you recall elementary and middle school, when they loved to ask you: Who is your hero? I never had an answer to that question. I always skipped it when possible, or gave a vague response. I hadn’t found my heros yet.

Now, I can think of faces, voices, names. And beyond Brene Brown, they are probably not names you would be familiar with unless you live here in Portland with me. These people, they taught me how to be vulnerable: what it looks like, what it feels like, and its power. Ironically speaking (Or maybe not), a lot of these people practice meditation, and breath work. They are my heros not because of singular actions, but because of the way they live with intention.

I am grateful that I can sit here now, sleepy with the travels from my weekend, and find myself exhaling vulnerability. Recently, I have spent a lot of time having one on one conversations, able to bring my experiences to the table along with my compassion. I am grateful because many of these recent conversations have been with women, and historically speaking, those have been the most delicate and powerful connections in my life.

The joy that I am experiencing.. it is quiet, and bubbling, and unique. It is a lasting joy, the kind that you wake up with the next morning and still smile from. I used to think being vulnerable was terrifying, and in some ways, it still is. Not every time you choose to be open and vulnerable is well received. But it is always freeing. It connects me to my inner truth, and allows me to be present.

I am grateful for my vulnerability. I am grateful for my experiences. I am grateful for the strength and the peace that allows me to embrace vulnerability. I am grateful.. to exhale.

Stumbling in Identities We Never Truly Saw

October 16th,2016

Who I am? To pretend that I might be superior over someone else, or that others should be more like me? You’re right, I am no one in that respect. But it is interesting to question who one’s self is when you peel the layers of expectations away from them, even those of moral superiority. Can we ever truly do such a thing?

This post is prompted by an examination of a loss that is recent to me. Its the loss of a close and intimate friendship I had, and what that friendship taught me and gave me. Or, I should say, its the perception of a friendship I had, and the selfish desire to understand how that loss impacts me now.

Yes, I say selfish, and I try not to shy from that concept because often we are motivated by survival and a desire to feel good about ourselves. Psychologically speaking, kindness is even equated to these motives, though that doesn’t mean to negate the value of the actions themselves. Selfishness is thought to be wrong, and in our culture today belongs to a world of good and bad, black and white. But we all know deep down that there is truly no absolutes in this life (a fact I was confronted with at a young age when I realized that some people actually don’t like chocolate..who knew? Haha)

But we learn and grow and thrive from our own selfishness and the selfishness of others. Its the awkwardness of being complimented for something we’ve done, or thanking another person for speaking their mind. Its the extreme ability for us to learn and gain something about ourselves when someone has taken selfish actions to hurt us.

However, selfishness is not an excuse for any action.

Yes, there comes a time in one’s life when you begin to understand why other people cause pain. Its an unfortunate side effect of opening up to others, nurturing deep connections, and being accessible to happiness and pain. Its part of choosing to be vulnerable. That understanding is empathy, and self reflection. They are also part of what has allowed us to forgive ourselves for indiscretions in the past, or allow us to forgive ourselves presently for not realizing sooner what was to come.

We stumble through this life, guessing and hurting, and healing and trying. If we’re lucky, we are able to find a peace of mind that we share in the suffering of billions around us-that we are not alone. But we are lucky also, in that we get to define that suffering for ourselves. We can be selfish through lies and manipulations, because we are too scared to face what we have too, and because we are too afraid of losing something we never allowed ourselves to have in the first place. Or we can be selfish by being honest, and wanting to share moments and feelings and thoughts with others.

I choose the second option as much as possible (realizing that we often fall into the inbetween). This doesn’t make me better than anyone else, even if it makes me personally feel better about myself. But it does make it harder to respond to the first. They are: different cultures; different languages. At this point in time, I need to solidify my own being, my own question of “Who am I?” before I can fully accept or understand the first. I need to recognize its elements within myself, and how to protect myself from it outside of myself.

The month of September has been a continous stumbling for me. Stumbling into truths, stumbling into feelings, stumbling into realizations. I wish I could say that I’ve come to peace with the recent loss of a best friend, but there are moments when that doesn’t feel true. And yet, that is the cycle of grief, so perhaps I can say in some ways, that there is peace.

The truth that has really bruised me this month, as it does everytime I encounter it- is that when we seek out others to connect too, we must be aware of what we are looking for in the relationship ourselves. What do we need or desire from that relationship, and how does that change its shape? What indeed does it make us over look? With this awareness, comes a certain self confidence, and the faith to adhere to our intuition. Without it, we blindly move throughout, and can lose sight of who another person actually is or what they are motivated by.

That is much easier said than done, and no reason to blame a person who has fallen victim to emotional abuse for not realizing its snares before the worst is uncovered. We all make decisions, but sometimes, it would seem, one person has an unfair advantage over the other person. This is as their own need to surivive can be colored in such a way that would seem to compliment that with whom they are connecting with.

Its curious how individual each trauma we experience can seem. What I have seemed to learn over the years is that no matter what, we must trust ourselves. But, when it comes to others, we must balance trust and caution. If not, we fall into patterns of trusting the wrong persons, because we feel guilt for our distrust, though the distrust comes from valid experiences. The effects of this society that works so hard to manifest distrust of others while constantly speaking of bettering ourselves (both internally and externally) , creates a distrust in ourselves most of all.

Though I have been thinking about all this and more, at this time it that does mean a person is lost to me. And perhaps, they were always a different person anyway. But in the end, it is something that just is, and not something I can blame myself for. Life happens, and with it, we must continue to adapt..

This post has been relatively vague, so I’ll end it with a favorite quote of mine. Thank you for reading.

“…People are rivers, always ready to move from one state of being into another. It is not fair then, to treat people as if they are finished beings. Everyone is always becoming and unbecoming.” -Kathleen Winter

^^ Remember this quote for yourselves, dear ones. And share your compassion with yourselves first.

Waves of Chaos, where we tried to Grow

You thought I was the moon,

It drew you to my breast.

You, as encompassing as ocean waves,

Bluer than the rest.

You followed my body into the dark,

Hoping the light would save you,

Instead as your fingers found flesh,

They turned into daggers, skin wretched.

And yet, I thought you were beautiful,

I was mesmerized by you.

I craved the salt of you against my lips,

I wanted to be-for you.

But soon attraction grew too much,

It unleashed demons from your depths,

I wanted to save you, and myself,

Instead we ended in wreck.

I still wonder about the ways,

You tried desperately to fill the cracks,

Wonder if there was another ending,

One our strategy lacked.

I am still mesmerized by you,

With guilt, and trepidation,

I learned much from the way you held me,

As if I could be your savior.

In your turbulent waves, you looked to me

Like I could be a raft,

My rippling reflection a sign of hope,

My love the end of combat.

In the end, you and I only existed in discord,

Or perhaps that was all along..

Because despite moments of joy,

My self preservation was simply too strong.

 

 

S p a c e s

I wanna be great.

You see-

there is quite a bit to do.

So when anxiety

b r e a k s      the rules,

I want a redo.

A we do.

A..

she does everything,
And isn’t she damn sexy?

Yet, sexy isn’t this look

The stains of salt drenched cheeks,

Carved by the ache of tears,
And a chestsotightitcan’tbreath,

Brought on by FEARS.
No,

I wish I had been given a different role in this big motion picture.
But instead I will press a hot mug into her hand as they tremble.

((This her: myself: my only friend. ))

Ssssh, its going to be fine.

Honey, just breathe. You’re not alone.

You just are

 

 

I wrote this poem following an anxiety attack. I used to love writing poetry in particular form-so there was no way to read it besides the way I painted it, with vibrant strokes of commas, semicolons, and spaces.. I suppose I still do.

Someone reminded me of these pages, this blog of mine- just the other day. They actually shared how great it was to read someone elses take on anxiety.

Yes, I would agree with that. I often am the recipient of a great community’s honesty. Honesty.. its often confused with complaining or selfishness or weakness. But to me, it makes things okay.

Too often, I am told that I am well put together; strong; a special person; an old soul. These things, they may be true, but they are not complete. The world doesn’t treat me any different, and my anxiety sure as heck doesn’t ease up. In fact, I find that I often lack a comfort given to those who are more outwardly struggling, not to their blame. Its a comfort I believe all should recieve, regardless of circumstance. Compassion.

I don’t know what I am saying- other than that I am human. And maybe that is sometimes the hardest thing of all to say. Especially after an anxiety attack.

But hey, I will still love you.