Why I Like Eminem and The Wire

I’m in the car the other day and the new Eminem song (the one with Rhianna) comes on.  I sing along to the chorus, it moves me, I think it’s good.  I can’t say that it is actually good though.  The song in essence is about a violent and abusive relationship.    It is an artistic expression of the if I can’t have you no one can attitude.

Knowing this makes me question why I like the song.  Am I sick and twisted?  He sings about hurting her and she answers that she likes the way it hurts, loves the way he lies.  After giving it some thought I realized it is the honesty that speaks to me.  I don’t know that Eminem has ever lied to us in his music and lyrics.  He draws from what he knows, thinks and feels.  He takes the rage and instead of balling it up and pretending to be good and proper, he creates from it.

He admits his mistakes.  He warns of possible back slides.  He tells the truth as he knows it.  The truth reaches people.  It touches them for better or worse.

I loved the TV show The Wire because it told the truth.  The characters were believable.  The good guys were really bad sometimes and the bad guys were really good at other times.  Nobody is one or the other and an honest story shows us that.

Someone mention the honesty factor in response to my Stephen King post.  In his book, King talks about how important it is to tell the truth in your writing.  I’d say that falls in line with all creative expression.  When you put yourself out there and expose real emotions in your art or work, people will connect to it.

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Childhood Dreams

I think I said in an earlier post that last week I read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.  The book was an easy and wonderful read.  Every chapter either moved me to tears or made me laugh.

A major theme in the book was the importance of childhood dreams.  Randy presented his childhood dreams and then went on to show how all of them (with the exception of one) came true.  Even the absurd dream of wanting to be Captain Kirk came true in a round about way.  It got me thinking about my childhood dreams.

Being a wife and mother were definitely on the list.  I’ve accomplished those.  For a time when I was a kid, we had a ping pong table.  We found that when the table was pushed up and stored it could be used as a chalkboard.  We spent time playing school.  Perhaps it was then when I decided I wanted to be a teacher.  I did become one.  Although I feel I am done with my time in the traditional classroom, I do not feel I am finished teaching.  I know that I dreamed of being a published author, although I think I also dismissed that dream as being “impossible.”  I also went through a phase where I desperately wanted to be a model.  I’m not exactly sure why seeing as I wasn’t tall or thin enough…or even pretty enough for that matter.  But I wanted it enough to give up a vacation to Hawaii so I could attend John Casablanca’s modeling school.  I guess I just craved the spotlight somehow and that was the only way I could imagine being in a spotlight.

Except for the fashion model fantasy, I don’t think I really dreamed BIG.  I loved my life just the way it was and never really longed for much more.  When I think of the activities that were my absolute favorite…those that defined my childhood it would be three things.  I loved being a cheerleader and showing off my cheers to anyone who would watch.  I loved playing Barbies and could spend hours on end in this fictional world of my imagination with Barbie and her friends.  I loved drawing and coloring.  The funny thing is except for cheerleading (which I participated in from 2nd grade through 12th), I’m not sure how often I did those other things.  Maybe it was only a year that I was taken with Barbie and maybe my drawing obsession only lasted a few months.  Maybe there were other things I did better and for longer, but those are the things I remember.  When I visualize my childhood I see the Barbie Dream House, the spiral notebook in which I drew portraits of  Strawberry Shortcake and all her friends, and my Godmother’s laughing face as I “perform” for her.

Randy’s book definitely has me reflecting once again on my childhood dreams, talents, and hobbies.  I do believe that what we are drawn to as children gives us clues about our future careers and lives.  The dreams of our children should not be dismissed.

Jane R’s Click

I received a click story in my inbox the other day and at first felt terrible that I had not found it sooner, but as I read it I realized the timing was just right.  I wrote about marriage on Monday and when I published that post I wondered about any readers who might be thinking that they’d been looking at the big picture and were tired of living in a black cloud and desperately seeking that silver lining.  I know there are people who put all they can into their marriages and still find that the only way to achieve joy is to leave it behind.  So this amazing post about the end of a marriage and the awakening of a creative, thriving, beautiful woman is for you. You can read Jane’s blog here.

One of my biggest personal changes happened when I got divorced from my ex-husband.  We had been living in a renovated carriage house on his parent’s property for 10 years.  His parents were adamant that the kids and I should stay and he should move out.  I had my chance to get that UHaul and move but I passed on it due to my own fear and self imposed limitations.  I simply didn’t believe that I could ever make it on my own out there with two children.  On July 1, 2004 my husband moved out.  As the kids ran to the window and watched the moving van pull out of the driveway, I sat there in a half empty dismantled home feeling envious that he got off that property instead of me.  He had the freedom while I put down the scissors after clipping my own wings.  It would be four more years of living next door to the main house and a soured relationship with my ex-in laws before the tides changed and I got that UHaul.  But in the mean time, those four years were the biggest gift from God that I ever got.  In that period of time I unearthed so many wonderful things about myself that I thought were long dead.

In the beginning of our divorce there were some adjustments to be made.  If you’re a woman who’s been through a divorce you know that no matter how happy you are to be free of a bad marriage there is a period of grieving that goes with it too.  For so long I was tied in to the identity of being someone’s wife.  Even though I was in a bad marriage, it still gave me a sense of feeling complete just knowing that I had a husband.  With the new title of “single mother” I really started looking closer at what it meant to be a woman.  Sometimes as a single mother I felt like I had scarlet letter on my forehead.  Other times women would approach me privately and tell me that they envied the freedom I had gotten because they had been in horrible marriages for years but were too afraid to leave for financial reasons.  It was then that I realized I would rather be single and struggling a bit than to stay in a loveless marriage for the next twenty years just so that I could hold on to the big house and tennis lessons.

It didn’t take too long after my ex husband moved out to realize that a huge mountain of weight had been lifted.  Granted, I was still living on his parent’s property and terrified about how I would make it as a single woman with no real career but I was still amazed at the sense of freedom for just having that weight taken off me.  I suddenly had a sense that if I could feel so much lighter despite those restrictions, imagine the real sense of freedom once I cut my ties to my in-law’s property entirely.

The greatest thing about my new found freedom was watching all the goodness in me resurface again.  The creativity that had no pulse was suddenly bursting out of me.   I replaced every piece of store bought art with my own original work.  My house was like a little art gallery.  I replaced white walls with vibrant yellows and reds.  I took up kayaking and entered in to the MS 150 bike ride from City to Shore.  For a woman who was constantly criticized for her bad cooking, I was suddenly finding myself devoting Saturday mornings to making Linzer Torte and homemade spinach pasta.  No longer fearful of being condemned for a messy house, I was elated to put my infamous little stacks of books and papers wherever I wanted.  I was creating a space and life that was uniquely mine and for the first time in my life I didn’t mind being without a partner.  During my first marriage I rarely went anywhere.  I isolated myself in our bedroom for hours.  Now I was taking every chance I had to go out and throw myself in to social situations that would allow me to talk and connect to everyone.  It was marvelous.  It truly was.  But the turning point that started me on a long path of self-discovery happened when a co-worker challenged me to pick up my camera and get involved in a Flickr project which involved taking and posting one self-portrait a day for a year.  The first time I picked up the camera and turned it on myself I cried.  It was actually joyous because what I saw staring back at me was a beautiful woman who had locked herself away for years.  It’s true that the eyes are the window to our souls.  Once I took that first snap shot I was hooked and it wasn’t because of some vain ego thing at all; it was because each photo revealed more of who I was on the inside.  I needed to take those pictures to continue to evolve.  Of course the posting on line lead to connecting with other people globally.  Now a whole new world of endless possibilities to connect was at my finger tips.  I started a blog and realized that I could actually write.  Five years later, I’m still blogging and continuing to build and connect in ways I never could have imagined if you asked me six years ago.  I’ve since remarried to an amazing man and life is so good.  I feel like I’ve been given a second chance at living.  I’ve been rebuilding my life slowly.  Writing, I’ve discovered, has a voice inside of me that needs to come out and share itself with others on their journeys.

Goddess Amy

I have thought of several blog posts this week and even wrote one that I saved and am not sure about publishing.  Aside from the one, I haven’t had the creative urges to sit down and put any of those ideas into words.  On Monday I said I’d write about the sculpture.  Since then I’ve gone back and forth on the idea.  I’ve had moments where I thought it was just too personal, moments where I figured anyone reading would think I was absolutely crazy, and moments where I wasn’t sure it needed any words or explanation at all.  But sitting here on Thursday afternoon it occurs to me that since I said I’d write about it I ought to stick to my word.

Unless you are a new reader to my blog, you know my precious friend, Amy, died in October.  This was the first time I’d lost someone so close.  She was a sister to me and someone I just knew would be in my life forever.  I know that sometimes people die young, but I just never expected it to happen to someone I loved so much.  In my process of grief, I’ve uncovered an enormous fear of abandonment within me.  If I could lose Amy, I could lose anyone.

When I left for Salt Springs on Thursday I realized it was the first time I’d traveled without Mark and the girls since Amy’s funeral.  I cried and then did all I could to distract myself.  I listened to a great interview with John Waters on NPR.  When I lost the radio station I put in my Ipod and listened to music.  I’d wanted to travel in silence, but I just couldn’t deal with the silence.  In the silence my fears were too loud.  But at least I was on my way to a healing place.

The weekend was good.  I had a few moments of emotional release.  (Those things tend to happen when you allow them to.)

I knew that part of the reason I was there was because of Amy.  I needed to think of her, cry for her, and release the fear surrounding the loss.  What I wasn’t really expecting is the way I would connect with her.

The second day we had a session where we put together ingredients to make a special soap clay.   We were then instructed to create a Goddess.  She could be anything: person, animal, or symbol.  I hadn’t made anything with clay since elementary school.  I had no idea what I was doing, but started forming the clay.  I began to make the shape of a woman and then added angel wings.  Very soon, I knew what was coming through.  After the body and wings were done, I molded her long flowing hair.  Then I had to decide what she was wearing.  The bridesmaid’s dress she was supposed to wear in Kristin’s wedding.  After that I added a bouquet with beads for flowers, put shells around the bottom (b/c certainly Amy’s heaven is a beach somewhere), placed a halo on her head and a butterfly on her shoulder.  I was so excited as I watched my “Goddess Amy” emerge.  I was truly in the flow during the whole process and Amy was there with me.

After our assignments were complete we were told to ask our Goddess what message she came to give us.  (Everything we create is expressing something.)  I looked at mine and inwardly asked the question.  The message that she had for me was “I am always with you.”

Paths

Now that I am a parent, I often think about the role I play in my children’s lives.  There is the obvious of course, that I will feed them, clothe them, keep them healthy, make sure they get an education and give them lots of love.  But when it comes down to my desires and vision for their lives, how much will reality match the fantasy?  What really decides our paths?

Facebook has been an amazing look into people’s paths and how they often go in strange and unexpected directions.  When we step out from the consciousness of our families, we attract to our lives the situations and challenges that test us and bring us into our own.   When I was in high school I became fascinated with all things “unique.”  I would take weekly trips to vintage shops and artsy/New Agey stores and just walk around, mostly looking at clothes I loved but didn’t have the nerve to wear.  I was attracted to guys with long hair and piercings (too young yet to be into tattoos).  When I met a perspective boyfriend, I’d often ask “What do you do?” with the hopes of an answer like write poetry, paint, or play guitar.  All of my serious boyfriends did one of those three things.  The sirens of creativity called to me, even if vicariously through other people and places.  These days the vision I hold for my life is a marriage of creativity and spirituality.  My path, with its odd detours and speed bumps, seems to have brought me to me.

I have a friend named Toby.  You will meet her tomorrow in the first in a series of four click stories.  For a short period, Toby and I walked our path together.  We spent weekends hanging out with boys with long hair and piercings.  I tasted artichoke for the first time in Toby’s kitchen standing between her and her mother.  We played soccer and rode in Heather’s convertible Firebird singing Hotel California together.  I took my very first college road trip to visit her at NC State our freshmen year of college.  We were both poets and loved to write.  She was a lot more outgoing than me, but other than that we were very similar.

The last time I was with Amy we sat on her bed (she was on bed rest) and looked at each other’s Facebook pages.  Amy was so excited to share that she had found Toby.  I honestly don’t remember the exact connection but Amy and Toby were also pretty close friends.  Amy was the first to tell me that Toby had been a heroin addict.  When Toby and I finally connected on Facebook she was quick to share with me what she had overcome.  I also learned that she was a proud new mama who was finding her way back to writing.  Despite how drastically different the past fifteen years had been for us, we were now on similar paths…maybe even inching our way onto the same path.

Toby has now sent me four of her stories and has started her own blog.  As she put it on Facebook the other day, she is “writing furiously.”  I read her stories and am greatly aware at how simply and easily our lives can be changed…but also how we at some level create these challenges.  In one of her posts, Toby shares how she was always fascinated with heroin.  She read books and watched movies about addicts and fantasized about her own relationship with the drug.  And just like she always knew, the drug found her, was even presented to her as a birthday gift.  She made a choice that day and it was the only choice she could have made in the moment.  It brought her to where she is now.

What I think is that we are here to choose our on paths and make our own destinies.  Our parents will raise us, teach us, and love us but in the end who we really are will find it’s way through.  Sometimes we are just like our parents and families, sometimes we are not.  There are many crossroads.  Sometimes we make choices that could be described as selfish, careless, or just plain fucked up.  And sometimes it is those very choices that ultimately bring us salvation, even if that salvation comes after a long and hellacious battle.

Kelli’s Click

I mentioned Kelli in my blog award post the other day.  Hers was the first blog I started reading.  I found it by doing a wordpress search of “self-discovery.”  She and I have a lot in common, both ex-teachers turned stay-at-home-moms with musician husbands and both spiritual seekers.  You will get a glimpse of her talent and inspiring message by reading her story below.

Let the Struggle Cease to Be

Kelli B. Haywood

http://eastkentuckygal.wordpress.com

I had never planned to be a mother.  I was one of those people who didn’t want to bring a child into such a corrupt world, and I didn’t feel that I was emotionally equipped to properly care for a child.  All those feelings changed after we lost my husband’s aunt to cancer in her early forties.  Both my husband and myself came to the realization that we wanted and needed children on the ride home from her funeral.

We now have two children.  Becoming a mother changes you in dramatic ways.  My husband and I decided that it would be best that I stay home with my children.  I view so many things from a different perspective since becoming a mother, including my future goals, nutrition, spirituality, education, and my own responsibilities to my family.  What it didn’t change was my emotional capacity to be fully present for my children.

I have been working through some difficult childhood experiences since I started college.  I’ve been trying to break down years of insecurities and emotional reactions to situations that are extreme or out of place.  I have come a long way – a really long way.

I recently turned thirty-one, and I must say that the passed year has been one of spiritual renewal for me.  I am discovering who I am and who I can be in reality.  The year began with me being in poor physical health.  I had experienced my second unwanted (the first being unnecessary) c-section.  I had been mistreated by a doctor and it left my body broken.  Not only was my body broken, but so was my heart.

A few months after the birth of our second daughter, we moved back to the land where my husband and I were both born – Appalachia.  It was where our families were, our heritage, our children’s legacy, where our dreams resided.  It was where we belonged.  The relief we felt upon reaching the mountains again was tremendous.  We lived in a larger city for several years after undergraduate school.  I taught middle school and went to graduate school and my husband finished graduate school, taught college classes, began his art and music career , and became a tattoo artist.  However, we never really settled into city life.  We went with the flow, but never found our place, and both of us were reluctant to call it home.  So, when we settled into our little cabin in the holler, and began our plans for homesteading, it felt like we were free again.

I loved watching the girls grow in this new familiar environment, and I had nothing to be upset about in our current situation, but the past kept creeping in with reminders in both my physical and mental health.  It wasn’t long before I was actively seeking a healing.  I adopted a traditional foods way of eating for our family based on the information in the cookbook Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon .  I lost a lot of weight in the most healthy way.  I loved the feeling of control I had, but I still struggled with my dragon – impatience.

In June of 2009, I began a serious practice of yoga and meditation.  I mix both Hatha and Kundalini styles, but have since focused more on Kundalini.  It has led me to tremendous healing in all areas of my life.  I’m becoming the mother I want to be.  The wife I want to be.  I have even found a place of sincere spirituality.

Leslee recently wrote in her post on Psalm 23 about flashcards sent from God.  I believe it.  While I was controlling my life with so many things, struggling to find balance and healing, I was still uneasy and impatient.  Little things made me angry.  I felt anxious about the things that I couldn’t keep from going wrong.  I manifested problems that weren’t there.  I blamed myself, and in part I deserved the blame.  Then, one day during my Kundalini yoga practice I heard my inner guru speak.  It said, “Stop fighting.  Why are you still fighting?”  I had been thinking “let go and let God”.  I had been crying out to my soul – “What are you still so troubled about?”  I had been trying to meditate through all the chatter thoughts and the planning and fixing that my mind wanted to do.  I had been keeping up the guard I had had up since childhood that took so much energy to maintain.  Instead of being guided in my yoga practice, I was trying to rush to the result.  I was fighting tooth and nail.  I was fighting for my life, for normalcy because that had become a habit for me beginning as a pre-teen.

It wasn’t long after that that I bought some Yogi Tea.  On the little tea tabs there are quotes from Yogi Bhajan, the guru that brought the ancient technology of Kundalini yoga to the United States.  On that particular day, my quote was… “The mind is energy.  Regulate it.” Again, stop fighting.  Stop planning.  Just be present.  I was getting the message, but to really bring it home, my pastor’s sermon that night was on Psalm 46.  The following is the 10th verse of that Psalm:

“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

God wanted me to stop fighting.  It was an order.  He is in charge and I don’t have to worry about my needs being met, or what happens next.  There is a plan for me.  There is a plan for all of us, if we stop fighting.  It is easier said than done.  I continue to do my best day to day to reverse the old habits of constantly trying to plan what is next, and speed up and slow down time.  I try to find joy in the present.  Whatever is currently going on is exactly what is suppose to be happening to me at that moment, and there is joy there – no matter what the situation.  I’m growing to have a servant’s heart, which is what the heart of a mother should be in my opinion.  Until you help your child learn the ways of the world and help them find their place in it, you are your child’s teacher – you are their hope, and your patience with them is so very important.  You are their Mother.  When they are grown, you will wish you had had more moments being present with them as they were youngsters.  I know I will.

The Journey Begins

As I am writing this it is Sunday evening, August 23, 2009.  I just began packing my first school lunch as a mom.  Sure, on occasion the girls stayed for “lunch bunch” at their preschools but this is the real deal.  Bella starts kindergarten tomorrow.  The journey begins.  As we were sitting in the cafeteria during the pizza lunch at orientation Friday afternoon, Mark brought it to my attention that now we are starting school all over again.  I didn’t much care for school as a student (or a teacher for that matter).  The first day of school always terrified me.  I was a quiet, day-dreamer, which added pressure for me.  There was always the fear that I wouldn’t be outgoing enough to make friends or that I’d get called on in class in one of those  moments when I was off in another world.  I was the happiest in school when I was given an assignment I could get lost in.  I recall that happening in Geometry, Art, Yearbook, and English.  So now I start the whole process over again, standing on a side I’ve never stood before.  I’ve been the student and the teacher, now I’m the mom.  I’m not sure at this moment what my wishes are for Bella.  I’m hoping that at least kindergarten will be blissful for her.

Bella, on the other hand, is relaxed right now.  She is easy-going in these type situations, so we haven’t done a lot of talking and preparing.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but right now the only person feeling any anxiety is me.  I was the one disappointed to find that none of her friends from preschool were in her class.  She didn’t even ask or seem to notice.  She’s open to and up for this new adventure.  And I am hanging in here, doing my best not to project my fears on to her.

So tomorrow (or today as you read this) on August 24, 2009, I embark on another journey through school that will last for at least the next 15 years.  Can you say YIKES?!?!?!