Maktub

It is written.

Belonging

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The last three weeks in a row I’ve hosted a small dinner party for a few chosen friends. (if you haven’t been invited, don’t worry, it’ll happen when the time is right!) The first week, as I looked around I saw folks that showed up for me when I was broken, people that brought me food or medicine or took me to the ER or the follow up appointments. People that held my hand while I was in pain and brought me love and laughter and relief. I saw love in their eyes. I felt confused. Here I am, in the center of this love-fest in my living room. How did this happen?

I enjoy making food for the people I love and seeing their smiles, watching the way their bodies ease back and relax. That feeling is among the best I’ve experienced in my lifetime. Feeding someone is a gift, to me.

I’m a decent cook, there are far better and far worse, but my friends never complain and always seem excited to eat whatever it is that I’m concocting. Nourishing hearts and bodies is where it’s at, for me. I can’t think of a way to convey that with any more clarity.

So, I invite a few friends over, a specially curated small group, a little different each week.

What’s really heavy on my mind and heart right now is the love that has come out of this. It’s honestly a monumental struggle for me. Last week these beautiful people showed me so much love that it was, at times, too much for me to handle. I hide behind my hands or move away from the group. It feels like I’m in a spotlight, confronted with my vulnerability.

I believe I am worthy of this. I believe that I curated this. Still, it’s hard to swallow.

This is what I keep coming back to, over and over:
All of my life, I’ve worked so hard to keep people at bay (ask any friend that I’ve known for more than three years, I bet they’d all shake their heads in agreement and probably don a look of frustration). I tried to stay behind a fortress of fire and brick and cement and mud and more layers and layers to keep my heart safe. You know, if I don’t let you in, you can’t hurt me. If I don’t let you come close, it won’t hurt when you leave. If I don’t admit to myself that I love you, it’ll be easier for me to walk away. The raw truth is fucking hard to confront, but here it is.

I’m slicing my own chest open, pulling my heart out, handing it to people and asking them to be gentle. And they are tender and oh so delicate. And they are pouring love in and handling it with such care and sweetness. And I gaze at them with absolute trust and with amazement and so much gratitude I ask myself “How did I get this lucky?”. I know the answer, it’s just still so hard to accept. I am worthy, as much as my last relationship tried to break me down into believing that I am not – I know it now. I am worthy of love and belonging. I am leaning into it with gratitude and fervor and lust and zest. This life I have created is sticky sweet.

As the weeks go by and these friendships are nurtured I am astounded by the layers of deep and rich love and gratitude. I look around my tiny kitchen, where at least four people are beside me, laughing, drinking, hugging me from behind, touching my butt and licking the spoons and I think to myself “why would I choose to leave this? I finally feel at *home* some place, I finally feel like I belong, I finally feel loved in the way I always wanted, but pushed so hard against accepting. Why am I leaving?”.

I’m not sure I can express it within the confines of the English language. There is a sense of freedom that comes with the feeling of belonging. I get to fly free knowing that I have family and home and connection and belonging somewhere.

“You are only free when you realize you belong no place—you belong every place—no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”
― Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness

 

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Parachute

Over the last five years I’ve often thought a lot about what my life was like from 2013-2014ish. It was the happiest year of my life. I lost all that weight (which I have since found half of, and started to lose again), I kicked my ex-husband and my old life to the curb. I was dancing, I was creating, I was learning so much about myself and the world and how I move through it. I was full of sparkle.

I fell in love and thought I had found a wonderful partner, my forever. I saw our future together. Something was so wrong, though. My sparkle had faded, my light had dimmed under this new relationship. It tested my strength in every way. It pushed me to grow and learn and take leaps of faith. I crashed and burned. I lived with heartache and sorrow.

I am damaged.

I’ve been told to forgive, to release the trauma of that nearly 5 years spent waffling between joy and pain like a teeter totter that pushes you so high into the sky that you fly, and then you crash to the earth with a heart-thud like no other. I’ve been told that anger is not good for the soul. I’ve been told how to process the worst, and last, betrayal that I will ever be faced with at the hands of that human.

What I have learned through these countless heartbreaks dished out by one person, is tough. I’ve learned that my process is different than yours, and yours, and his, and hers, and theirs. I’ve forgiven myself for trying to fit my grief into the box of ideal process defined by others and their various doctrines.

I have to sit with that pain and feel it deeply. I can’t just let it go. When I “let it go” I’ve found that I’ve actually just buried that pain and it will uncover itself again. It will possibly even reinvent itself and manifest in another scenario that I create, perhaps so that I can push through that hurt. I believe that if I don’t take time to sit with grief and really process it, feel it deep down to my core, sob in big, ugly displays of anguish, it will come back. It will cycle through, again, and hurt even more the next time.

Through an unfortunate/fortunate set of circumstances I was kind of forced to do this for a full three months before I was able to get out and start facing the world again. I broke my ankle a month after my heart was torn to shreds. I sat a lot. I became friends with the anger and the grief. It became a catalyst to a new life.

I fell deeply in love with myself again, the chance at a whole new, incredible, new life and all I can do now that I am free of that pain. I’ve started dating again. I’ve found joy in a new career that brings me to a place of absolute satisfaction and delight every single day. I’m excited about life, about the possibilities ahead of me.

I wonder if I will be able to have relationships again, or if I am destined to roam the planet alone. I’m not attached to any one idea. What I am attached to is the sparkle that is coming from the liberation of my heart and soul. I’m attached to finding the joy in every moment, savoring the time I have with humans who light up my soul, basking in the warmth of smiles and hugs and love.

 

 

If you don’t want to tell me nothing
Then you can go straight to hell
But first I’m gonna show you something:
You fucked this up yourself

I’m pulling up my parachute
And I’m jumping from the plane we flew
First I’m gonna tell the truth
But then I’m burning my bridge to you
~Jaymes Young

 

And there she goes…

Hanoi

Journey to Discover Natchra~

As most of you know, I’ve spent most of my life (all of my adult life) as Mom, Mommy, Mama, Maahhhhmmm (you know who you are). The time has come for me to dive deep into soul searching and find out who Natchra really is. Every time I travel alone, I learn so much about myself.

This time, I’m going all the way.

When I broke my ankle the day after Christmas I had a lot of time on my hands. In the following weeks, I felt isolated and unable to do much about it. I fell down countless rabbit holes on the internet. Starting with China, because a friend is there and had me nearly convinced to move there, and ending with Vietnam.

I spent endless hours tossing around this idea; researching, reading, watching hundreds of YouTube videos like the ones I’ll list below, dreaming and scheming to get myself to Vietnam.

There was only one thing stopping me from getting my ducks all lined up. I had to speak to my children; get their blessing, as it were. Now, I’ve spoken to my children, and they are *mostly* on board with the change. Wheew.

Why Vietnam, you ask?

  • I’m sick of struggling to get by in white america
  • The beautiful, rich history and community is fascinating
  • I can do something I’ve always wanted to do, teach children
  • The cost of living is incomparable
  • Travel to other countries from there is super easy and affordable
  • Food is amazing and cheap
  • I want to dive into culture, surround myself with the beautiful unknown
  • Train Alley? Yes, please.
  • Honestly, the reasons are endless. But, like anything, I also ask – Why not?

When?

I’m looking at leaving for Hanoi either late June or late July. I’m leaning towards late July because I simply don’t know if I’ll be ready yet by late June, though that is the ideal time to go for the best job options.

What to do first?

In no particular order:

  • Farewell party
  • Summertime activities – bike rides, camping, picnics, lounging in parks, One last trip to the ocean, Eugene and Seattle (hopefully the Redwoods, as well)
  • Purging, selling, donating, gifting all of my material possessions
  • Obtaining secure storage for the things I won’t be able to let go of
  • Decide on a new phone best for travel and photos

 

Inspired to be a part of this?

These are ways in which my loved ones can support me on my journey to discovering Natchra:

  • Do you have a credit card with airline miles you won’t use? I could really, really use them!
  • Do you want to buy some furniture or art or household things or camping gear? Anything I own is up for grabs and it’s all going straight to the cost of the move!
  • Do you have travel tips/ideas or knowledge you’d like to share? Please do! I’m open to any and all.
  • Do you have quality items you want to donate to my moving sale? I’ll take them!
  • Do you have a storage area that is secure and I could leave some boxes in for up to 2 years? (I’ll be back to visit at least twice, so I could move them if necessary)
  • Do you have tips regarding the kind of phone I should buy for such an adventure? (Josh, I’m looking at you, Buddy)

Questions?

Ask away! I’ll probably document my journey in some way or another, possibly video, but definitely with photos and words.

Are you also looking to travel?

Come with me! Or, visit! I’ll be looking forward to visitors!

Videos that played a part in my interest in Hanoi:

“The one with the fucked up teeth?”

As a child I first received dental care when I was nine years old. I remember the dentist, shaming me for not brushing and flossing enough, harshly pushing hands and instruments in my mouth without warning or consent. I felt so small and so full of shame. I had eight cavities. They were all filled with the silvery solution that screams “bad teeth!” to everyone granted a real smile.

I have a real smile and several versions of the fake smile. I hide my real smile as much as possible, for fear that people will see more of my mouth than I would like. It’s not the shock, horror, pity or disgust on their faces that bother me. What really bothers me is that I am treated differently.

Over the years I have only had dental insurance, or the means to pay for dental work, sporadically. I’ve mostly had to go with emergency care, rather than preventative. It’s become increasingly noticeable.

Up until my mid-thirties I would hide my real smile. Have you ever considered what this means for a person? Probably not, why would you? It means not showing joy and happiness in the way you feel it. I wonder if it permanently stunts expression of joy. The long term effects of ‘bad teeth’ have got to be countless. Stifling the expression of emotions is harmful, sad, even depressing.

In my mid-thirties I became aware of my body and the need I had within me, to not only accept but embrace my whole body. I started showing my real smile in photos, especially if they were not taken up close since it was not easy to tell how mangled my mouth really is when the photo is taken from a distance.

Then I started dating and I am, somewhat unfortunately, able to read people and their body language and energy pretty damn well. During dating, you are putting your best foot forward, or in my case ‘my best smile’. On date one, I could see people immediately change their demeanor when I first would smile wide. It’s so interesting. You can literally see the way a face and energy changes when the real you is revealed. I often think about how my vulnerability is literally a part of my face, I can’t hide it or cover it like most people.

Terrible teeth is hereditary in my family. I’m not sure if lack of care was always the reason, or if that is just a bonus, just for me. My Dad was missing several teeth, pulled a few out on his own, even. His Mother, my Grandmother, also was missing a few, but she had more access to care and I believe she had dentures when she was older.

I have been to many dentists, in different parts of the country, and each visit was exactly the same. Except for one dreamy experience with a dentist who did not shame, accuse, berate, push, belittle or judge me. He was the most kind and compassionate person I’ve ever met in the dental world. He spoke to me like I was a human in pain. It still makes me tear up anytime I think of him. (He also happens to be the only dentist that I was able to afford to pay in cash, I wonder how much one has to do with the other.)

Well, actually, to be honest – I tear up anytime I think of going to a dentist. I hold back sobs of fear in the waiting room. I repress years of emotional trauma while I sit in the chair and someone counts my teeth, with tears streaming down my face, pooling in my ears, the entire time. I can’t control it. Suddenly I am nine years old again and the big scary man is intimidating the Hell out of me. The staff tries to be understanding, but they too will resort to shaming and accusations. They always do. They will tell me I don’t brush or floss. They will tell me I did this to myself. They will accuse me of lying about my care routine. They will tell me that I have to deal with it. They will judge me. They will hurt me. It will not be worth it.

I will cry for days.

I will hold back my real smile for years.

I will not get job offers.

I will not be considered attractive or sexy.

I will not be selected for photos with my friends.

I will not be introduced.

I will be judged.

I will be whispered about.

I will be the subject of conversations when my back is turned.

I will not be included.

I will always wonder what it’s like to just smile into a camera lens.

I will wonder what my life would be like, if I changed my smile.

I’ve thought a lot about what it would mean to ‘fix’ my mouth. What that physical change would do for me on a day to day basis. I’ve thought about how much I’d rather stay the same than for my mouth to be a topic of conversation, to be looked at differently, to be treated as an equal. I picture friends or coworkers whispering “did you see that she finally got her teeth fixed?”. I picture people seeing me in person and that look that will cross their face when they notice, and they will, and they won’t be able to stop that look from happening. We’ll both know, and they’ll either say something or not, but we’ll still both know.

I’ve done a lot of work on my body image, my inner demons, my broken childhood and the emotional baggage from that. I accept and love every part of my body. I truly do.

If it weren’t for the constant headaches, jaw pain, gum pain, neck pain and such, I would stay this way forever. I don’t want to be treated better because of some idea of what looks healthy or beautiful. Fuck that and fuck you if you’re a person that treats others like this. What I want, is to be without pain and illness because of this. I want jobs that I deserve. I want to be treated like a person. I want to be included in photos. I want to be accepted.

Perhaps in a couple of years I will move to another country and have it all fixed and never come back.

“The one with the fucked up teeth?” – actually spoken to a coworker by someone referring to me. I’ll never forget it.

Wasted

The following, in italics, is a piece I wrote three years ago. Three fucking years ago! I can’t believe I still ended up leaving that relationship, over two full years after documenting such giant red flags. It took me that long? Sigh…. I thought it would change. It never changed. Why did I spend another two years in it. Participating in the same exact arguments and apologizing for my feelings and apologizing for *who I am*.

Lesson learned.

Thank you universe, for the slap in the face. I needed to write tonight so I opened up my blog drafts and thought about finishing the unfinished. Until I read this. Whoa. I can’t believe myself. I am so glad that I finally saw that it wouldn’t change and that there would be too much hurt to recover from.

To future partners:
I will not be bullied. I will share the power. I will assert my power and I will stay within my boundaries to keep authentic, loving and kind to myself first.

I just got home from a twelve hour work day spent at my two jobs. I haven’t seen my kids today. They were asleep when I left this morning and asleep when I came home. I ordered them pizza for dinner because I had exactly thirty minutes to get from one job to the next.

I came home to a dark house and a lengthy email from my “partner” about our relationship. It reads almost like a list of reasons why we aren’t working out. It reads sort of like a list of faults on my end and fear/slash/self-righteousness on his end. I hated reading it because I realized that I feel tired of defending myself, tired of feeling like the only one trying, tired of feeling judged, criticized… tired of feeling like he has no respect for who I am as a person, lover or mother… tired of hearing about what I need to get therapy for.

I love him, though. What kind of fucked up joke is this? I love him. I know, in moments, that he really does love me. Yet, he’s got his own issues, mostly fear, that keep him from really committing to me and therefore he finds reasons not to love me, rather to criticize, over-analyze and seek out our differences. It’s a defense mechanism, which fucking sucks. I’m going to walk away from something that I really, truly love and that is honestly the most incredible relationship of my life because he’s so fucking busy finding reasons not to love me that he can’t let himself be vulnerable.

Yeah, I’m taking it personal. I’m hurt and I’m angry and I’m really fucking sad.

Such a big part of me wants to write back and to give it my best shot because I know what I’m losing. But, I’m tired. I feel like it would only be me defending myself, explaining how he’s judged me much too harshly and how he’s twisted my words into unintended messages that are so far from what I meant that it’s just like talking to a sandwich, you only hear what you want to hear.

How do I respond? By writing a blog post because even though I worked several hours today with no break and have to be back at work in a few hours… I can’t sleep without processing this. So I’m sharing my process with the world.

My heart hurts. It feels like love is wasted when you let trivial shit get in the way of it. Love should never be wasted.

Alone.

20160924_104529I have always been a social person. Or so I had thought. I thought I liked being in the company of others more than in the company of just myself.

Let’s take it back about 22 years, I was pregnant with my first child. I was 17 years old, a week shy of 18. I went from living with my Daddy, to living with my Baby Daddy. I was a child. I had zero time, even as a young adult, to figure out who *I* was. I didn’t develop a sense of self, at all. I developed a sense of motherhood, I am one hundred percent proud of that.

Today I have four daughters, from 14-22 and I am living with just my 16 year old now. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to living alone and it is strange.

Over the last year I’ve been going through the slowest break-up ever. Break-up, try again a week later, last for a week or two and break-up again. This story was on repeat so much I felt like I was spinning and eventually the emotions were fading and the desire to be alone has grown like Alice when she dives into the “EAT ME” cake. I want more alone time than I want together time.

Anyone who knows me very well at all, knows that I am incredibly persnickety when it comes to choosing friends. I pay close attention to the way my body and mind react to a persons energy. If it isn’t a “Hell yes, I want to spend time with ___!” then I will not go out of my way to do so. I kind of thought I was just picky about people, perhaps overly critical, finding fault rather than focusing on the goodness in a person. I no longer believe that. Now I understand something about myself. I can simultaneously think that a person is an incredible human being, respect and admire them AND want to never be in their presence.

As my kids have gotten older, I have more and more free time. I like to think of time as currency. I want to spend it wisely. I want to be sure that whatever I do is going to make me feel good, to my core. Of course, I have to make exceptions, and often. This is why when I get to choose, I’m going to choose carefully.

I like myself. There, I said (wrote) it. I adore myself, actually. I’m happy alone. I’m happy to do things on my own. Some things are *way* better shared than alone and some are the best when shared with a lover/partner. I can wait for those special, sparkly, moments to happen with a partner. Right now, I’m feeling pretty sparkly when I walk across a bridge, with my music blaring in my ears and cool Portland drizzle kissing my cheeks. If I get to walk across the Hawthorne in the rain and the train is passing underneath me… holy fuck, that shit is something that will make me more intensely giddy than you’ve probably ever seen. Only strangers passing by get to witness the pure joy exuding from me.

The major flaw in this, is my need for affection. This is my vulnerability speaking. I’ve been very aware of the lack of touch in my life. I’ve read articles about touch and affection, books about human connection and the power in that. I fully recognize that it is an incredibly amazing basic human need. I don’t use the word “need” lightly. Touch is underrated, sadly.

So, although I am discovering this new world of solitude and experiences and adventures by myself; I’m not entirely happy about the lack of affection, snuggles, loving touch and tickles from a lover that really understands and connects with me. For now, I’ll be writing, reading, painting in my garage and singing this stupid song to myself.

Nurturing me; it’s magic.

 

Promise.

As my 39th birthday approaches and I start thinking about what I want out of life, what I want for my kids, what I want for myself, I’ve started to sort of formulate a few promises I’m going to make to myself.

Gazing at my 40th year on the planet, realistically about half of my life has gone by. I have spent a lot of time these last few years on growing into Natchra. I’m not there yet, though. I’ve let distractions blur my focus with the idea that those distractions were ultimately leading to my growth. Since I don’t believe in regret and I do appreciate every experience for the lessons I’ve learned and the edges of my self that have rounded out because of those experiences, it’s ok that I let that focus blur. Now is the time to turn the lens back to clarity though. Un-blur the once blurred. Focus more on Natchra. What it means to be in this body, in this space, in this time, in this world, in this moment.

Promises to Natchra:

I promise I will care for you first. I will nurture you completely and fully and give you the nourishment in your soul and the tools to move forward in this world in a loving and compassionate way.

I promise to care for your spirit.

I promise to care for your children. To listen to them. To guide them. To let them make mistakes and help them move forward with grace. I promise to nurture their spirits and expand their hearts and thoughts.

I promise to write every week, to read every day and to learn every day.

I promise to push myself to get out of my own way.

I promise to always see the value within me and refuse to be taken advantage of.

I promise to care for your heart, soul and body. To fill them with the most nourishing of ingredients.

I promise to live fully.

I promise to love fiercely.

I promise to dance, sing, write, paint, bike ride, walk and hike alone.

I promise to live with intention.

I promise to live for Natchra.

Observing Joy Transform to Sorrow

A few nights ago I was riding a bus home when I noticed a man sitting across from me who was texting furiously on his iPhone. This man’s face was *lit up* in a sweet smile that spread across his cheeks. He would text someone and tap his foot waiting for the reply. As soon as he would receive that reply he would grin, again, as he read the text and tapped his response.

It was endearing to watch. We are so disconnected to what’s happening around us so often. I know that I have done this same thing as this man nearly every day for the last two years at least, as I primarily travel by bus and this leaves you with time to text or catch up with loved ones through devices in some way or another. Disconnection from what/who is physically sharing the same space as you in order to connect with someone/something that is not in your same physical space.

I wonder why we do this? Why do we disconnect from those close in order to connect with those who are far? Is it less interesting to talk to a stranger? Perhaps it just requires more energy than we have to give at any moment? Maybe we are protecting ourselves, leaving fear to win out over vulnerability.

I thought about this while I watched him. I even snapped a photo of him because I wanted to remember that moment.

Then something unexpected happened. He received a text, beamed as he read it and instantly wrote back. Then he scrolled up through the messages and read the past messages. I glanced away for a fraction of a second and when I glanced back the phone was shutting down and he placed his hand over his face, covering his eyes. I could see his muscles and features of his face moving in a way that suggested he was silently trying with all of his might to keep from sobbing right there on the bus, sitting amongst so many strangers.

I wanted to hug him. My heart hurt for him. He sat like that for the remainder of my ride. I thought about him a lot that night and in the following days. I can’t seem to shake it. He just looked so joyful and then in an instant, so sorrowful.

I thought about hugging him. I wished that I had. I thought that if I had reached out, it might be invasive of his space and personal bubble. I wonder how he would have felt, had I stretched out my arms to wrap around him in a loving embrace. I wonder if it would have been welcomed, if it was what he needed. I wonder if it was what I needed.

Grasp the moments or forever wonder.

13Months

It is no coincidence that my last published post is from April of 2014. I started my current job in March of 2014 and have spent copious amounts of time on the computer for work. I want to spend less time in front of a screen/device of any kind so it’s been hard to keep my writers brain engaged. I dislike how much my work screen-time effects my writing, in particular. It seems that work has robbed this part of me.

I’m setting an intention here and saying that my career will not envelop my personal needs.

I will write more.

I will dance more.

I am writing more.

I am dancing more.

My life is full of so many blessings. The place I am today and the place I was 3 years ago are so very different.

I am gracious, graceful, loving, loved, fulfilled, nourished, nourishing, hugging and hugged every day.

 

Who are you?

question

If someone asked you to write an essay answering that question, how would you respond? Would you know the answer immediately and without doubt? Would part of you shrivel in fear of the person who asked the question suddenly finding out the truth about you? Would you ponder for a month before writing? Would you list your personality flaws and strengths in neat and tidy bullet lists? Would you become insecure? Would you become guarded?

Would you be authentic?

I’m thirty-seven years old, nearly thirty-eight. If I live to seventy-five years old then that means that I’m right smack in the hot zone for a mid-life crisis, right? I heard these questions tonight and I became stoic, melancholy, unable to process my thoughts about the answers clearly without writing.

Do you know who you are?

Do you know where you came from?

Do you know where you are going?

Do you know who you are?

I have a lot of answers that come to mind but then I greet them with uncertainty, questioning why I would feel or say or do that. I remember being a teenager and it seemed like the phrase “Question Authority” was written and repeated everywhere. I feel like I’ve hit a different point in my life that has a new tagline that’s similar and hasn’t lost it’s power. “Question Everything” Without defining what everything is, it seems vague. Really, question – fucking – everything. That is where I am at. That is who I am, in this moment. That is probably where I am going, as well. I am questioning everything. I am making deliberate movements with my fingers, typing each letter into mostly lucid thoughts and sentences. Words are so powerful.

Question who you are, every day. Question where you are going, every day. Do not question 10 years ago. Do not question last year. Give it all a good once-over glance and move forward. Question 4 minutes from now, 4 weeks from now, 4 years from now… Is that what you thought I was going to suggest? No. I’m actually going to say the same thing about your future as I did about your past. Give it a good once-over glance and move forward. It’s good to know the general direction in which you wish to head. It is, perhaps, better to be focused on this moment, in this room, in this spot. Don’t even think about the next moment. Just sit with this one and make sweet, sweet love to it… or don’t. Just sit with this moment. Let it sink in and away as you’re pulled into the next beautiful moment. We don’t get them back and the future moments aren’t guaranteed. The message is as clear as the cliché, there really is no time like the present.

 

So, who are you?

 

 

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