What’s in a name…

It has been a hot minute since I’ve participated in a FMF writing prompt, but when the mind finds itself wide awake at 2:30 a.m. on a Friday, I have to guess it really wants to… (You can join in and link up here, or just check out the other writers who are participating!)

There are relationships in our lives where, to the other person, we often become less of an individual and more merely a title of how they feel to call us. No longer do our identities belong to those pieces of life which make us. Instead we grow, within their heads, to the villainous character they desperately need for us to be, validating their own inadequacies.

We all have the possibility of such construction, no one is except from the label creations or the being created non-consensually. Suddenly, beyond a beating heart, a mind and a flawed human being, we simply become the whatever.

This insult.

The bitch.

The whore.

The parent.

The wife.

The bad guy.

the liar.

The one.

The blame.

The name…

Often we fail to comprehend the damage we can cause by giving name to a negative thought regarding someone. To anyone really, including ourselves. Negative thoughts happen, we’re human- it’s life… But once we allow ourselves to give birth to reducing an entire person into a neatly labeled, ugly little box, things change. Toxicity sets in and decay is inevitable. Perceptions change, our ability to dwell in reality changes. We change…

Sometimes life is hard. (most times, actually) There are days we wake up ready to run the race, face the music, suit up for the fight of it- other times we don’t. These are the moments we are most at risk of ourselves, these are the times when we need to embrace the courage to process through a moment, through a thought, through a feeling and then be completely honest with ourselves. Avoid the naming, avoid the box. While it’s easy to embrace the name-game today because it balms our spirit for a moment- the grave reality is far darker, later on.

It is so much harder to undo something that never had to be done.

Don’t just fly…

When I was a little girl I was enamored by Dumbo. My mother loved this movie, and became a sobbing mess at the Baby Mine scene every single time she watched the VHS.

I too loved it, at first, because she loved it. I love it now for my own reasons, and admittedly I also tear up during the traumatizing melody. I know why this song pin-pricks my heart, and find myself wishing I knew why exactly that it affected hers so much…

She was not a mother, by nature.

What if, like Dumbo and Jumbo, we had lived in the Circus? What role would I play? What role would she?

She would love the animals, true. Anyone who knows her would say that immediately… However, she wouldn’t take care of them at all, really only coddle them for her own emotional fulfillment. That job wouldn’t do. No, I imagine her (though if I could ask her, she would disagree) as something between showgirl and clown. Clown Showgirl? Would that even be a thing? She would be the ever committed guys-girl, ensuing laughter with one outlandishly ridiculous performance after another. Once the night lights were dim, however, she would cast herself as a real guys-girl in other ways… Among the circus family she would be both the most loved and hated woman around.

I know this is all true.

At first I struggled to see myself…

Dirty, neglected child of a performer? Hiding with the animals, where I made friends and found solace? I imagine a childhood of days passing without seeing my mother, and seeing more her flashes of anger and belittling than the joy inducing woman seen by others, in the ring.

I know all of this is true, as well. Strip away the tent, the spotlights and the tigers and I can honestly say I have lived this childhood. A version of it, anyway.

I cannot think of Dumbo and circus life, imagining what role (within the circus) I might play, without considering my mother. It is an emotional DNA impossibility. That being said, one day the little girl would be a grown woman. She would stay with the circus long after her mother was gone because, in ways her mother never did, the girl valued family, even when family did not value her. She would care for the animals and love them as deeply as she could love anyone. She might fall madly in love with a behind the scenes designer and life would be hard, because- well, it is life- but also, circus life is hard, and this life was all she had ever known.

As time passed, she would give of herself, enabling other performers to be their very best. She would dive in and make herself needed, focussing on her ability to create, design and grow the gifts that this show could give to their audience. She would, eyes twinkling, find her most soul filling moments were when she secretly watched the children drink in the magic of human ability, animal and wonder unfolding before them.

Probably this girl would pass away in her sleep one day, an old woman, eternally unappreciated and alone. I’d like to think that it wouldn’t matter though, because she would carry the happiness she helped others find, and that she’d found joy in this too…

(Something nags at me that this post went too dark and too deep, considering it’s about a children’s movie. If you know Dumbo, and the story, it is a deep and often dark telling of so many hard to digest topics. Just like all escapes, we see only what we choose to. It is in the acceptance of the darkest parts that we find the ability to truly love ourselves completely, which is what we’re longing for others to do anyway, isn’t it?)

My birthday is on Thursday, and I will be front and center at the first local showing of Dumbo. I know it will be amazing and I cannot wait. This gift Disney has given to me, (let a girl pretend a little) is the perfect way to usher in a new life year.

Did you ever dream of joining the Circus?

What would you have done?

Are you anticipating this movie too? Here’s the trailer to hold our excitement for a few more days!

 

From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, “Dumbo” expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight.   Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.  “Dumbo” soars into theaters on March 29.

 

Website: https://disney.com/dumbo

the leap…

I wrote a big piece about the loss of Luke Perry and the more I read it, I just didn’t feel it was sharable… I’ll just say that it is a really sad loss.

I am wrapping up my New Mexico adventure. It has been one of those full circle things that will leave me deeply affected. When I was a small girl my grandfather had put a concrete patio on the front of their home. I took such pride in being able to jump off of it and land without falling. It was so big, and the soles of my feet would throb on impact but I knew my achievement was an amazing one. I was amazing.

I have seen the patio over the years, whenever I’d visit my New Mexico home. It was many, many years ago when I realized the patio is actually not very tall at all, and maybe I oversold that particular athletic ability. No matter how many years have passed though, the site of that patio always manages to resurrect those girlhood feelings. (I’m not kidding, Every. Single. Time.)

This small, dying town holds a variety of memories. Some happy, many not. This concrete patio was always a platform of safety for me. Swinging evening conversations with my grandmother, beneath a stunning desert sky; jars of golden tea warming in the sun; embraces and laughter when greeting visiting relatives, countless hours of adventure, imagination and childhood lay imprinted in the memory of this giant slab… Feet bare on the cold grey make me realize that this may be the only place I have ever stood that held only beautiful moments, and never dark ones.

I left the residence of this Burg when I was twelve. I fled the darkness of an unnatural childhood for solace and family in the Pacific Northwest. There is a deeply rooted grief over the loss of home, culture, people, friends, experiences, etc… (Grief can be a tricky thing because while it feels terrible, it is normal and unavoidable.) My grandmother’s Chrysler delivered me into the arms of complete strangers whom I would one day know as my parents. Those parents had two amazing little girls,(Joy and Jennie) answering the prayer I had prayed a hundred times a day for as long as I could remember, for sisters. Initially these girls were sisters in that foster family/generic/group-home way, but today, thirty years later, they are sisters. Period.

For a long time, in the beginning, I fell asleep longing for the blanket of the desert sky, for the warmth of familiarity, for my grandmother to call me sugar and for another moment on that patio. I clung to what it represented within my spirit, as the launch pad for my very first flirtation with confidence. I wanted to believe in myself, in my journey, in my future, the way that my grandfather’s concrete patio had enabled me to with jumping…

A few years ago my sister Joy, moved to New Mexico. On Saturday that beautiful sister of mine, and I, stood on that very patio, together. Life is funny sometimes. Many things have happened that I never thought I would see, but the full circle moment of that (which I only realized the amazingness of, as we were both standing there) was maybe the most profound and unexpected.

We never know what will happen. I doubt I jumped from the patio’s great height the very first time I stood atop its gleaming surface. Standing there, with Joy, atop my childhood mountain, wasn’t the last time my feet would find themselves grounded there. The patio may be symbolic of something safe and empowering for me, but the courage to toss fear aside and leap had nothing to do with the platform my feet had left. The love of the man who poured it, the consistency of the woman in the attached house, the provision of sisters and the hodge-podge, non-conventional family I have- those are the things that give me the courage to leap, then and now.

At 42 I still take risks, and one day they may feel as small as that jump does now. May this bit of my journey remind me to leap in confidence, with a smile spread wide upon my face…

(Don’t forget to get this month’s wallpaper, listen to this month’s playlist, catch up on the Love Series of the Collective Podcast and subscribe to my monthly newsletter so you get first access to those things and exclusive things I may not share here! ALSO- have you entered to win my Birthday giveaway!?!?!?!)

To Build…

It is Friday and that means I am again linking up with several lovely writers over at Kate’s Five Minute Friday spot!

(If you aren’t familiar, every friday we free-write for just FIVE minutes, prompted by one word. This week’s word is BUILD.)

~

The foundation was shaky, shattered, torn.

I was broken, this I knew.

My heart lived, aimed, at the idea of a family and a home. My seventeen year old daydreams saw myself with a faceless husband doing household chores in a sleeveless t-shirt, laughing with a laugh which melted my heart. I imagined no lavish excess, just a simple roof over our heads and three beautiful faceless children. I knew they were two girls and one boy, and I knew that although I could not see their faces, this feeling they pricked deep within my core was the motivation for everything.

I sat, in a breakdown. Devastated, exhausted and so damaged from break-on-top-of-break, of my scarred girl heart. That dream propelled me forward, daring to believe there had to be something more than abandonment and loss.

And there was.

It may not have been how I had thought it would be, and it certainly was not all roses and sunset kisses, once I got there, but I did build a life, despite that terrible foundation. I learned the pain, and the redemption, in tearing out that foundation and laying a new, truth-bricked one in its place.

Together, that man (whose laugh I had dreamed up at seventeen) and I built a home. It was not composed of roof tiles and painted walls, but rather a space that moved wherever we did, warmth and rich in unconditional love, support and the freedom to grow as we needed.

This home was everything neither of us had known, as children, and just what we had needed.

~

(My inspiration for this piece is the song To Build a Home by The Cinematic Orchestra. It is beautiful and it deserves a listen.)

Where I am…

Hello, and happy Friday. (also, happy February, finally!) It’s that time, once again, where I join the cool kids and write inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt, linking up over at the FMF site.

Let’s dive right in, then… (Full disclosure, My dog Elenor’s squeaky toy is providing my writing music so no telling what we’ll get…)

~

Drafty old home, snow blown landscape on the outside, pear scented and filled with photos on the inside. This house I live in looks like mine, it sometimes feels like mine, but other times it feels like one more facade to pretend this life is a life that it is not.

For years I was told, well before the inauthenticity of social media was on trend, that my life was a projection of playing house. Not a real mom. Not a real marriage. Not a real ____________. Playing house- pretend. It did not feel like that then, deep in the trenches of adoptive parenting, broken hearts and trying to bleed my best into everything, only to fail miserably time and again, ending up bled dry.

Today though, surrounded by photos of moments I both remember and do not, silence filling these “empty nest” walls far more than sound- I feel like the accusations were more right and I was just the fool who was last to see it. Attempting to work through an issue I have been so overwhelmed with regarding my motherhood, one of my kids assured me that my kids don’t have to be a part of my life to keep me a mother, and if I were to die they would surely come to my funeral.

Two months later I am still not sure how to take those words, but I can honestly say the only validated the fear that it was nothing more than a role I overcommitted to, and now the show has run its course. Finito, curtain closed.

This is where I am at. It is brutal and unwelcoming, like the icy snow winds outside of this home. A life’s pursuit of motherhood feels like a forced journey that collectively those involved feel I should not have taken, but I did and now I am lost.

Where does that leave me? I don’t know.

But truthfully speaking, plain and simple, this is where I am.

~