Free Hugs

I’m currently sitting in my recliner under a blanket with my trusty laptop across my legs. Not that the description matters, but perhaps it will allow you to step into the space I’m in as you read the words I’m thinking, saying, and typing. I’m also writing a research paper…which is the universe’s way of taking every profound notion I have and making it tedious as hell, to the point I’m willing to give up all future aspirations of brilliance. I’d rather be boring than have to cultivate a 15-page paper on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. And we wonder why procrastination exists. 

My research paper (because I know you, dear reader, are so interested) is over the use of mandalas in psychotherapy. At least I’m not analyzing Freud…that’s the only upside after days of research and writing. God help me when I have to initiate the thesis project. I’m getting off topic… One of the books I read was about art and spirituality. The two have always been mutually exclusive for me. When I create art, I connect with the divine… One particular chapter was called “Loving Body is Embracing Spirit.” I haven’t read the chapter so everything I’m about to say may in fact be redundant. I was too distracted by the title to peruse its contents. That, friends, is what’s known as a “disclaimer.”

Anyway, in reading the title, I started thinking about what it means to love one’s body and embrace spirit. For those who believe that there is a Divine Spirit in this world, in the heavens, and everywhere in between, there’s also the knowledge of the Divine Spirit within us. I wondered what that looks like, the Spirit rolling around inside me with all my quirky traits, horrible thoughts, and last night’s Firefly Vodka. Even beyond that, I wondered if all of the talents and gifts I possess are empowered by this Spirit dwelling within. There are so many elements about myself that I love and hate, or at the very least, wish were better. But in “hating” these elements, am I rejecting this Spirit? Do I dismiss this Spirit when I dismiss the beauty of my body because it doesn’t meet the standards of anorexic Calvin Klein models or that dipshit CEO from Abercrombie & Bitch?

Loving oneself doesn’t mean you have to walk around wearing a shirt that says “I kick ass” unless of course, you want to. It just means accepting who you are, in your entirety. If you do believe that there’s some divine essence dwelling around you and in you, and if you believe that this same entity has imbued you with certain traits…in loving yourself, you embrace the spirit. 

Kind of makes me want to give myself a hug. Or at the very least, walk around hugging people I know (and don’t know), for the sake of accepting others and their inner spirit.  

Oh and if you’re interested, the book I referenced is called “Spirituality and Art Therapy” by Mimi Farrelly-Hansen (Ed.)

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Towing the Line

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere over the last month as I prepared for and survived the first week-long visit with my step-daughter. Full-time parenting, who knew it would kick you in the ass? It’s not difficult to understand how her little mind works, I’ve been parenting and teaching kids for over a decade; it’s keeping up with her non-stop 14-hour a day schedule that leaves me rocking back and forth, desperate for a nap. (Remember when we thought naps were stupid??) Sweet. Jesus. That’s a totally different kind of fatigue. Props to you parents who do this shit from birth, because it takes a superfluous amount of energy. During the drive home from the airport, my husband and I agreed that we are definitely part-time parents until the munchkin is old enough to decide if she wants to live with us permanently. We love her, we miss her like crazy, and in the gaps of time between visits, we are grateful for the opportunity to prepare for our little lunatic child.

Since then, it’s been a struggle to get back into the routine of life before she arrived. My mind continuously revolves around what I need to do to make this home better for her before she returns in June, and as a result, I’ve discovered just how financially compromised my husband and I are. We’re both contract employees (the husband will be a full-time hourly employee in April, thank God) and as such…we work when there’s a job available (we sit on our asses and pray for work when there isn’t) and we owe the IRS a shit-load in back taxes. Yay, adulthood!! I feel like the financial strain is my fault. Due to grad school requirements, I’m limited to the number of hours I can work during the day/evening. And daycare is a joke. I refuse to fly the munchkin to Texas this summer only to shove her in a crappy ass daycare we can’t really afford. So I sacrifice and compromise in the hopes that when she’s here, we can actually feed her. 

People have offered to help us out, but most of them are just as financially destitute as we are. I suppose that’s the meaning of true love and devotion…give to others even when you have nothing. Today I finally decided to research local food pantries…because yes, I’m that desperate. I was appalled by the fact that these facilities only service specific zip codes…and since we moved last year, our zip code isn’t included. So what do I do? Do I call and cry and plead with them to waive their boundary lines just so I can put some food in my cabinets?

We are the exceptions to many things. The government enforced healthcare is supposed to help people afford insurance…but it’s too expensive for us. We don’t have employers that provide insurance and we can’t afford further punishment from the IRS if we don’t comply. So what gives? Do I stop paying my medical bills and have my credit destroyed (because despite what you might think, medical debt can screw you out of your long-term plans to buy a house), stop paying our monthly IRS payment and watch them come try to milk us for the lack of property we own, stop paying my health insurance bills and watch the cycle perpetuate? We gave up the monthly tax break just to afford the monthly premiums. No, Obamacare, you aren’t helping me. You’re taking $200 out of my monthly budget that could go to feeding/caring for my child. Thanks, you’re super.

I’ve been in this position before, almost ten years ago…working like a fucking beast only to dig for rent money in the couch cushions at the end of every month (yes, that really does happen). I thought those days were behind me. I’m nearly 30 years old. I shouldn’t be drowning in debt JUST TO SURVIVE. I shouldn’t be unable to purchase food to feed my family. Not when I work and put forth effort every damn day. Too poor to afford the monthly bills, too rich to get government assistance. Even if I could get help from the government, I wouldn’t take it because I know there are people who need it more. If the government wants to help me, they can forgive the $13,000 we owe for the 2012-2013 tax years. 

I shouldn’t be towing the line of poverty. 

Bypassing 29

The big 3-0 is looming ever close but I feel as though I’ve bypassed 29. It’s a rather odd number anyway, pardon the pun. I’ve been dreading turning 30. I thought I’d have my shit together by then. I’m not even close. When I was 19, I remember someone telling me I’d be 10 different people in my 20’s, but I think it was more like 20. 

I started my 20’s the morning after I got my 16 year old brother and our 16 year old cousin drunk for the first time. Way to be a winner… I got married when I was 21, divorced when I was 25, remarried when I was 27, started grad school at 28, and officially became a step-mom at 29. And jumbled up in between those milestone years was a lot of heartache, frustration, joy, and elation. Sometimes I hardly recall the details before 25. Even though it’s only five years, it feels like a lifetime ago. 

I thought by the time I was 30, I’d have an established career, a house, a dog, and maybe a child or two. But would that have made me happy in the long run? Would I have been available or willing to leap through hoops and attempt new adventures? I still judge myself for the things I don’t have but my hopes and dreams for an accomplished life are different.

I don’t care if I have biological children. I have a step-daughter who I love and (as previously discussed in this blog) I’m totally fine if she’s the only child I ever have in my house. 

I don’t care if I ever have a house. For me, a house has been wherever I feel safe, whether it’s a hotel, a tour bus, or a friend’s couch. I don’t really enjoy apartment living but it’ll do until the next thing comes along.

I still want a dog, damn it.

My career ebbs and flows with the rising and setting sun. I can’t seem to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life. Too many interests to just pick one. I am too many things anyway…teacher, author, editor, artist, wife, nerd… If I were locked into one job, I think I’d probably lose my mind in monotony. So maybe I can cut myself some slack for not going with the flow like the majority of society.

I really want to travel. I don’t care if it’s to Canada, I just want to get out of Texas.

I want to have more conversations that matter. Do things that change the community and its perspectives. 

And since I’ve spent the last 10 months dreading turning 30, perhaps I’ll spend the next 2 months relishing what remains of my 20’s. 29 is an important year. It’s the culmination of a decade of life and experiences. It’s the bridge to the next decade of adventures and shouldn’t be bypassed.