Monday, December 8, 2014

Stuffed Animals and Pillows

My eyes scanned the scene. At least 15 of them splayed across the bed, and I sat among them in total dismay.What was I to do?

I grabbed Poochy and squeezed her tight, pressing my face into her now dingy, gray fur. All of them gazed back at me with their sweet, frozen faces. And my tiny heart broke. Burst open right inside of me and gushed out through my eyes in the form of hot, fat tears. 

You see, I loved them all so much. Too much. How could I give ALL of them my love? 

True, some of them were favorites, while others I cared less for - but that wasn’t their fault - all of them needed me. They needed my hugs and my affection. But I’d been stretched too thin, I wasn’t enough for all of them. And the pillows too! (“For god’s sake, the pillows Kaley?!”) They needed to be hugged, squeezed and allowed equal opportunity to adorn the bed. 

My six year old body throbbed with the immensity of what my heart couldn’t contain. My limbs ached with longing for them all - Poochy, Bicky Bear, Kiwi, Tom-Tom - even those perfect blue squares, Pillow 1 and Pillow 2. The weight of it all pressed upon me until I was crushed. I had no words to describe the inadequacy I felt. 

I sobbed inconsolably that night. 

And so it was to be Kaley at 6 years old. 

However, I was revisited by these emotions just last week. The indescribable sorrow of loving deeply, but without a clarity upon which my place my affections. This time the feeling came first, the object of my dismay hidden. 
Later on in class, I gaze at my students and a bright spark crinkles my eyes. Little people. Doing the best they can. I cannot even help but to admonish them with a smile concealed by behind pinched lips.
(Vogue editorial)

It is for these people and for the entirety of this beautiful world around me, that my heart cracks open. To all people, doing their damnedest to be lovely, to be loved. 

And since I still cannot bear the immensity in this one vessel, it cracks, and the pain seeps out… but not without the joy. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Tethers the Bind

It was early morning when I left him. The sky was a thin yellow color with the blue of the night lingering at the top of the dome. 

My hair was a mess. Ratted and knotted in the back. I had just picked a scab on my face and now my chin was bleeding. I dropped my head as not to bring attention to it. 
He was reticent as well- either unable to articulate how he felt or incognizant of it. His breathe was foul and he held back when he kissed me, perhaps aware of this fact.
The past week - two weeks even - I had spent more time with him than usual. I become more comfortable and slowly began to enjoy the feel of my fibers loosening. 
But upon leaving, I did not miss him. I did not feel that longing to be with him, near him. And for that I am gracious; it makes it easier to be gone. 

I am conscious not to tether myself to people with too many cords, and especially not at first. I threw one or two his way in the beginning, and but the distance I worked to maintain wore down over time and I am grateful it did. Grateful for the opportunity to have had that kind of relationship - the physicality, and the growing familiarity that came only with time, but not at the cost of novelty. 
Yet, I don’t know him. It’s not because he is shallow or cold. Perhaps he is a lot more like me than I was aware of. Perhaps the relationship for him was exactly as it was for me? With few tethers.

Then he said goodbye. He said be safe. He said, “see you when you get back?”
Yes, see you then. 

We did not say we would miss each other, and as I turned on my heel and made my way across the stone steps, I believed it to be true. 

**To all of those who cast tethers without restraint; that share your warmth freely and openly, I tip my hat to you.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mongola Ju

The morning sky is like being inside a crystal ball. It is 6:30 am and I lie on my back gazing up from my yoga mat at the gray clouds as they swirl above, far out of reach, on the other side of the glass. The energy is potent and electric, proposing mystery of what the day may bring.
But, I already know what’s in store for me…..lots of concrete mixing and “supervising” on the worksite. How does it happen that a group of 20 teenagers are entrusted to build a house?

Mongola Ju sits high on the hills outside of the Crater and a swift wind kicks up the rocky, meandering dirt road, staining the buildings and huts. A vast view abounds from every hilltop contributing to it’s lofty expansiveness. And also a sense of…loneliness?

I keep thinking of my sister. 

I am rolling in dirt here - it’s my “African tan” so we say. The granules of red sand engrain themselves in the lines of my skin and fill up every pore, so much so, that I’ve taken on a new color. 
My hair loves the dirt too. It sweeps it up and stores it for safe keeping. I can fashion my waxy locks into a bun, pony, or braid with no need for a hair tie. Even the the skin on my heels is acting peculiar. It snags on my sleeping bag at night in a disturbing “nails on a chalkboard” kind of way. 
So why am I thinking of Jenna? 

I place her as the opposite of all this. I envision her disgust as I describe the toilet pits (oh how they reek!), the mice in my tent, the fact that I wear the same clothes to bed as I work in all day, and how using a baby wipe starts to seem like a completely adequate way to bathe. I don’t think she could handle it, and strangely this thought brings me strength. 
I miss her. 
In this wide open space of red dirt and corn fields I long for closeness. For the closeness I once had with my sister when I was a young child. I miss the closeness I felt when I was a sophomore in college and she was my crutch and my saving grace. 
I miss her.

Across the two continents and the expanse of the ocean, I feel the distance begin to close. Pitting her against my experience seems to draw her closer and she finds a little space in my heart to nestle into as I live out my days in the dirt and the dust of Mongola Ju. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Opportunities Taken

I ran across this beautiful quote today:

"...Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you're 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn't go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It's going to break your heart." - Anne Lamott

It gave me pause and encouragement. I think back to all of the times in college especially, the supposedly most experimental and nilly willy time of your life, when I passed up opportunities to swim, or dance, or meet someone new, or indulge in a first kiss, all because I was insecure. I needed to be perfect first first. As though having a svelte figure before I slip into my swim suit and delightfully witty insights to add to the conversation before I engage that stranger were required.
What a fucking waste. 
But I do not take Anne Lamott's words as a call to live with regret nor urgency, but rather an invitation to release oneself from the pressures of perfectionism and perhaps, say "yes". Given that, it does not mean to live wildly or mindlessly accept all offers without consideration. Life is a continuous evolution of the body, mind and soul. It is a process,  a wondrous process. Saying "no" to an opportunity is passing on the possibility to evolve concurrently with your life. 

So here's to living, evolving, and biting into opportunities with your big smiling teeth.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chalkboard Quotes

 New wall, new quote:
Pause today to clean your heart lens. 

Wipe away some of the build-up and behold the life in and around you in its perfect complexity from the infinite wisdom of this place.

Can you see the essential?

Saturday, April 12, 2014


I’ve spent the past month looking for a new place to live and the entire experience has brought me an unwarranted amount of anxiety. Me, constantly on edge, wondering how it’s going to work out. Where I am going to live? Will I get this place? Will it be gone? Will I live with this person? My thoughts obsessed over possible outcomes. Worrying, worrying, wondering.

But then… As it so often happens, I had a beautiful revelation. 

I was experiencing a lack of faith. No faith in the process, in the wisdom of the universe, in anything. I was trying to control it all and feeling helpless all the while. The muscles behind my neck coiled tightly in a slow, deliberate squeeze. 
Until it came. Like a rush of sweet wind through an opened window I softened and released the clutching of my fingers.

It was then that I was able to reverse my telescope and peer at it all from a distance. The stem of my anxiety rooted from a lack of faith, but that wasn’t even true. It wasn’t that I was faithless. It was the opposite! I was being offered a gift; an opportunity to experience myself as a faithful person. And with a sigh, I melted gently into the warm, comforting arms of Trust. A swell of gratitude arose from deep within. To know myself as a faithful person - it feels like a gift indeed.

Friday, March 14, 2014


It is always at night that my brain begins to write. Composing paragraphs on my pillow.

The theme was "shy".


     A vision of my life emerged from the blackness in my mind as a shiny blue gemstone with many light reflecting facets.
The facets represent the myriad aspects of my life, the parts such as work, hobby, relationships and so forth. There are also threads that run through them gemstone behind the facets, linking them together. There is a thread names "shy". It is a thin, sinewy thread that weaves its way through the gemstone and pools behind the facets focused on relationships. I do not refer to friendships, but rather, courtships.
     If you know me, you would not say I am shy. You would most likely say the opposite. If you courted me, you would take my unrestrained propensity for flirtation as a sign of confidence. When I have your attention, I am engaged, and there is nothing more natural than the freely offered toothy smiles, belly laughs, and brushing of the fingertips across skin.
But if I have to try and attract your attention? If I have to decipher how you feel? If I have to decide whether I should lean in, take a step forward?
I almost always choose to take a step back.
You come to me. I am unsure, and I'm suddenly shy.
More often than not this inclination causes me to lose, to miss out on a possibility. This thread named shy is a thread born from a fear of rejection.
     So lately I've taken to asking myself this question: What if I WASN'T afraid of rejection? What would look different if I acted fearlessly?
The question offers instant liberation because it sheds light on the true reason behind the hesitancy - the belief that my self worth is diminished if I am rejected. It dispels these false notions. It stares into the broad side of the fear and sees the truth. I am free, worthy, and undiminished.

The thread of shyness muddles the brilliance of the gemstone. To act of my own accord, freely and fearlessly, the thread begins to loosen and unravel. Light pierces through and illuminates the gemstone evermore splendidly.