Not My Circus. Not My Monkeys.

800px-Trapeze_Artists_in_Circus“There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.” ― José N. Harris

No drama llamas need apply

The older I get, the less tolerance I have for drama. Simply put: Life’s too short to deal with people who are constantly in a state of nuclear meltdown.

Of course, we all have our moments of quiet hysteria, but when a person starts writing on the walls of my life with the contents of their poopy diaper, I have to draw the line.

Years ago, I might have harbored the illusion that I could help them.

Now, other than possibly harboring a momentary fantasy of using a high-powered hose to make a point, I’ve got little interest in engaging with or encouraging crazy-making behavior.

The truth of the matter is, we’re each responsible for cleaning up our own stuff.

If our messes weren’t meant for us, we wouldn’t experience them.

Therefore, I have plenty of drama of my own to deal with.

Your drama is, well, yours.

You figure it out.

Not my circus not my monkeysDon’t Summon the Flying Monkeys

Does that strike you as harsh or unkind?

It isn’t.

It’s actually a real kindness to allow each person to glean the grace and wisdom associated with their particular life lessons.

Enabling a person to avoid dealing directly with the consequences of his or her behavior, implies you believe he or she is still an infant, incapable of handling the situation.

And trust me, no one miraculously grows a spine if they are treated like an invertebrate.

However, said person will hate you for helping them. Almost as much as they will resent you, if you don’t.

It’s one of those hilarious Catch-22s.

The Harsh Fires of ‘I Told You So’

I have a good friend whose son was embroiled in a nasty divorce a few years back.

As his warm-hearted mother, my friend (and her husband) stepped in, paid their son’s attorney fees, bought him a house to share with his kids, and just all-around acted like Santa Claus with a big purse full of money. Not because they could actually afford to do this.

No, they did it, in spite of the fact, they couldn’t afford it.

The reason?

Their excellent, if slightly misguided, intentions to rescue the grandchildren from the clutches of their truly icky mother.

However, at the time, I told my friend it was a bad idea to rescue her son from the sh*t he’d stirred up.

“He’s going to hate you for it.”

I didn’t want to be right, but I knew I would be.

Now Entering the Jerk Hall of Fame

Sure enough, number one son turned out to be a real asshole.

Not only did he spit in his parents’ faces – blaming them for everything from his poor self-esteem to his student loan debt – he walked away and left them $300K in the hole.

He told them in no uncertain terms that he owed them nothing and would never repay a dime of what they’d spent.

What a guy!

He learned nothing from his mistakes.

Cause and effect is strict.

Sometimes the best thing you can do, is offer your prayers and your belief that the person you love will overcome their suffering.

Believe it. They can stand on their own two feet and solve the riddle they’ve been given.

They can. They will.

Waking Up.

Yes, there were lessons in the dung heap for both my friend and her husband.

Emotional support is one thing. Rescue from consequences, not so much.

Still, I am comforted by the knowledge that their son will receive a box of doo-doo on his doorstep at some point, likely in flames and smelling up the joint.

Perhaps his own children will grow up and do the honors. Or, better yet, someone else he mistakenly trusts, will take on that role.

One thing’s for sure. Reckoning always arrives.

Even if it’s a day late and a dollar short.

Bust a Move & Say a Prayer

So, remember: whenever you think you should step in and offer assistance, consider whether that’s actually the best move.

Perhaps offering more prayers and less advice is the better choice.

And when the circus comes to an adjacent town, stay home.

Believe me. Just stay home.

Monkeys will ring your doorbell soon enough.

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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Five Life Lessons I Learned From My Dog

Belle-Boo, 2013 - Photo by Shavawn M. Berry

Belle-Boo, 2013 – Photo by Shavawn M. Berry

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” ― Will Rogers

Lesson One: Be Present.

Be here now.  My dog never has to be reminded. She lives in the current moment, letting the past fall away without resistance. Each individual moment is all she cares about. No past. No future.

Because she is not burdened with what happened yesterday, she is untroubled and alive. She leaps out of bed, does her morning/evening constitutional run around our back yard, barks hello to the neighboring mutts, chases birds and watches passersby. Then, she returns to the house to scarf down her breakfast (or dinner, depending on time of day) and settles in near me (usually by my feet) where she blissfully sleeps, often for hours at a time.

Her life is happy. She teaches me how completely simple things can be, every single day.

Lesson Two: Be Loyal.

Many people underestimate the value of loyalty. They see it as old-fashioned. But dogs are totally loyal to the people whom they love.

Belly listens for intruders as she snuggles up to me on the couch, reassured by my presence, but always ready to demonstrate what it means to embody her role as dog detective and all-around built in security system.

She’s the definition of true blue. I know for a fact that she’d never let anything bad happen to me. Ever.

And she will be with me all of her days.

She instructs me in the fine art of truth, beauty, and a fierce, uncompromising brand of loyalty.

She will never pack her bags and leave me. Never.

Lesson Three: Be Grateful.

Because dogs are so good at living in the moment, they take nothing for granted. They enjoy and accept what is, but they know that it could, at any time, pack up and leave the house.

A dog is much like a child of about two years of age. When I leave, Belle won’t remember that I will come back, so she is forever overjoyed by my returning presence. She practically throws me a parade every time I return home. Whether I’ve been gone for hours or mere minutes, makes no difference.

My dog is ecstatically happy to see me.

My dog wants to alert the media that I have returned.

My dog covers me with kisses and educates me, let’s me know – unequivocally – that she’s thankful that I am her person.

Lesson Four: Be Tenacious & Ask for What You Need.

If Belly needs anything – I am her go-to-girl. Need to potty? See me. Need a snack? See me. Need to hide from a thunderstorm or those evil fireworks? See me.

She’s not embarrassed in the least by her moments of genuine neediness. If she needs help, she seeks it out.

She once stepped on a brier in the backyard, lodging it into the pad of one of her front paws. As soon as she saw me, she lifted it up and showed me the sticker. I pulled it out and she was good as new. She knew what she needed and she asked for it.

Although I cannot, in fact, control the weather or what other people do near my home, she believes I can.

She seeks me out, sure that I am the answer to all that ails her. And generally speaking, I can be a source of comfort for her, so in many ways, she’s right.

I do control the weather, the food, the kitties, the house.

However, although I may have the keys to this tiny desert kingdom, Belly’s bark is still my command (and she knows it).

Lesson Five:  Be Love Every Single Day.

Pure-hearted is how I’d describe my doglet. She’s built of pure love.

She came to me as a three-year-old, after living with a family that often left her crated all day long. Eventually, they left her alone in their foreclosed home with nothing but a cat for company. When I first saw a photo of her (sent to me by a friend who was seeking a permanent home for the little bug) she looked unbearably sad. Seeing her face made me want to cry. I wanted to scoop her up and cover her in kisses.

I realize now that the reason she loves my cat, Elvis, so much, is because he reminds her of her time in South Carolina when she was soloing with only a kitty as a companion.

Belly’s completely bonded to me now, but initially the adjustment after I adopted her was a challenge. She liked to bolt whenever a door opened. She was convinced that she’d never get to go out at all unless she took her chance whenever a door opened. This brought up all my abandonment issues from childhood. I lost my dog when it dug out of our fenced yard and got hit by a neighbor’s pick-up truck.

After a tumultuous start, Belle and I falteringly came to terms with each other.

She’s realized that she’s at home, right where she is. If I sit on the couch, dog sits on the couch. If I take a nap, dog naps. If I sit and write, dog sits close by. She watches me and sends me all her love. I feel it brushing my skin and surrounding me every waking moment.

She’s my co-pilot and my confidant. She’s my side-kick and my trickster sister.

She embodies unconditional love.

Miss Belly teaches me every single day to embrace my incandescence; to show my light, rather than hide it.

She’s the ultimate guru of woof-woof wisdom.

What would I do without her?

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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Calling in the One

Wedding Photo

Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other.Rainer Maria Rilke

Dear Soul Mate/Side Kick/Spiritual Partner,

I’ve been extremely patient.

Really. I’ve been so patient, I think I deserve a trophy or a crown or the keys to the city. Something.

And while I’ve been watching out for you – that immediately recognizable mug – that warm laugh, that spot-on sense of the ridiculousness of life – that ability to electrify me with the sound of your voice, I’ve patiently and diligently dealt with a whole slew of men who weren’t relationship material, so I could ready myself for something real, something deep, something wonderful. With you.

I’ve wrestled with uncommitted boyfriends, horn-dogs, and friends-with-benefits. I’ve counseled broken-down divorced men and survivors of sexual abuse. I’ve dated liars and cheats.

You name it, I’ve chosen it from the menu of life.

To be honest, my love life’s basically been an underwhelming cavalcade of maybe. And no. And, oh, god, no.

And I realize a big part of that is on me.

Blessed are those who can both give and receive.

For a long time my receiver was out of whack. I was great at giving to others, but receiving? Not so much. I now know that we pull into our orbit exactly what we think of ourselves in our most quiet, personal, dark moments. And I admit, I’ve often loved the idea of someone more than the reality.

So I needed some time.

I needed to become the person I was looking for.

Unfortunately, along the way, I got some not-so-great advice.

I was warned against choosing a relationship over my work as an artist. (Why, I ask you, did I have to choose? Do any men you know have to make that choice?)

And, as I aged, I noticed that younger women I knew hadn’t gotten that memo.

They wrote novels and had babies and took tenure track jobs; all with their husbands strolling along side them.

***

I once told a man who loved me madly that I couldn’t stay with him because “I wanted to be young.” I was 26 and he was 40. I still needed time to stretch my legs, to explore, fly. I wasn’t wrong to want that at that age. Yet, he was ready to nest.

So, he found someone else not long after we broke up, and had a baby on the way within days of getting married.

That may have been my only chance at the possibility of having a child and I showed it the door, half a lifetime ago. (Operative words: may have been. No guarantees.)

Ask. Believe. Receive.

Still, I refuse to look back with regret. My choices made me who I am. And I know what I want.

I simply don’t accept that all that is open and hilarious and whip-smart and lovely within me can’t find a confidant, foil, agent provocateur, comrade in arms, and twin-flame.

You.

I’ve felt you, coming toward me, for years.

I hear the gravel of the trail under your feet as you hike toward the summit. I feel you making yourself at home within these four walls. I see myself throwing my head back, laughing, my dog taking laps in the backyard while we sit in the spa and watch the moon float above us.

I feel the tenderness, the gentleness of your spirit.

You calm me down. Your presence fills me with wonder.

I was assured when I started to practice Buddhism, almost 29 years ago, that no prayer goes unanswered.

Well, I’m ready for an answer, dear one.

So, I’m requesting a response.

Drop me a line when you have a minute. Give me a call. You know how to find me. I know you do.

I need to see your face.

The sooner, the better.

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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Don’t Forget to Have a Big, Juicy, Creative Life

 Summer Night by Akageno Saru via DeviantArt

Summer Night by Akageno Saru via DeviantArt

“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or your 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 when you were a kid?  It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.” ~ Anne Lamott

Happy Birthday, Daddy.

Today would be my father’s 88th birthday, if he were still here, whirling around the sun.

However, he died at 76.

Eleven years ago today, we spread his ashes on Puget Sound. There was a squall afterward, followed by a white-hot sun breaking through the clouds, just as I mopped up my tears with my sleeve.

He survived two wars (WWII and Korea) and burned through five marriages, including a couple that existed simultaneously, due to his ability to conveniently forget to divorce one wife prior to remarrying a new one. I can’t say I felt he was ever particularly happy with his life. He seemed to often compare himself to others – his friends, colleagues, acquaintances. He felt he never measured up. Others were more successful, moneyed, or lucky than he was. 

He cared much too much about what others thought of him. Or what he thought they thought of him.

Forget the fact that you can never truly know what someone else’s life is like from the inside. If we measure ourselves through the lens of what we perceive others are accomplishing, we will inevitably feel bereft and fall short. The only comparison worth making is to our former selves. Are we better people now than we were yesterday? Have we grown?  

Those are questions that are worth pursuing.

comparisons

Working to become more, to become better than we used to be, now that’s a worthy pursuit.

Following your bliss.

No longer blaming others for your shit.

See, it’s all on us.

Every choice. Every morsel. Every drop.

Shake off what troubles you.

The only thing we get from blaming others for our troubles is a bad case of the victim blues. 

The Nation of Victimization is no place to make yourself at home. It sucks there.

It gives all your power, all your energy to others, instead of investing it more reverently and prudently, in yourself.

It’s the exact definition of how to strangle your own joy.

Love, Not Fear.

So, I reflected all week on those wise words (above) from Anne Lamott. I posted the quote on Facebook, and it sure resonated with a lot of folks.

How many of us decided at some point — who can even remember when — that we needed to keep up with the (totally imaginary) Joneses? How many of us think that we must have no jiggle, no gray hair, no cellulite, no wrinkles, no flab — or we’re not welcome on the beach, in the pool, at the spa? In fact, I lived at an apartment complex for six years prior to moving to this rental house and I visited the pool there exactly zero times.

Why? What on earth possessed me?

Ostensibly because the complex was full of young hard bodies and super models, and I balked at the inevitable comparison, as the flabby professor. 

Perhaps, I feared their judgment (or worse, my own). I didn’t swim, but I should have. I should have proudly sunned myself, not given a damn, looking like the middle-aged woman I am.

So, just live.  Live Well.

Life is short. Our days are never guaranteed. What we do with them, and who we spend them on, matters much more deeply than any amount of money or the ability to outshine someone next to us. We each arrive with our own particular brand of wonderful already inside us. Our job is to set that wonder upon the world. To shower the world with the gifts we have. To open our hearts and minds. To become someone worth remembering, someone worth knowing. And that is never about what you possess or what you look like, it is about what you are.

So, my advice (to myself, more than anyone else) is to love your big ass and your juicy face and your real life.

Don’t waste your life living up to the expectations of others.

They won’t regret what you didn’t do. You will.

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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The Summer Solstice: The Turning of the Wheel

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At this solstice a very unsettled and confused energy surrounds us. The Sun at zero Cancer is near a retrograde Mercury at 27 Gemini. As we know retrograde planets apply to redoing, relearning and reconstructing, and Mercury, a representative of our awareness and thinking and collectively how information moves between us and how we communicate, is asking for a turn around, a retrace, a re-look at how things have been. This signature shows that the next few months will be saturated with how to move forward by redoing, or more so, rethinking how we do things. ~ Cosmic Intelligence Agency

Summer’s here.

It’s the longest day of the year: the summer solstice.

It’s a day to set your intention for the rest of the summer season. It’s a day to celebrate the full return of the light (in the northern hemisphere).

To me, it’s always felt like a day of rebirth. We are six months from the darkest, shortest day of the year. We’ve survived another winter, and weathered another spring. Now it is time to watch whatever we’ve planted over the past months sprout and grow.

It’s a demarcation of joy.

Here we are again: wading into ripening fields of wheat, into sunflowers in bloom, into bees pollinating our oranges and peppers, into hummingbirds and nectar and an aching azure sky. We can sleep in the tall grass or a hammock, we can laze and swim and listen to wild calling birds. The whole world is golden and slow, like a hive dripping with honey.

And this summer solstice…

Turning things around. Retracing our steps. Re-envisioning life on earth. Reconstructing and relearning and rethinking.

We’re being asking to look at everything through a different lens.

For me, this is showing up as surprising upheavals in my personal life.

I will soon take on the role of caretaker for my mother. After years of invitations, she’s finally embraced the idea of becoming a snowbird. She’ll winter in Arizona and summer in Seattle. She’s making this change not because she wants to, but because circumstances beyond her control, force it.

No matter why it has happened, for me, it’s good news.

Not that I don’t worry about the responsibility I am taking on; I do.

But I trust myself to care for her, and I want to have her with me, something that hasn’t been true in her current situation.

Little Earthquakes, Everywhere.

He who puts out his hand to stop the wheel of history will have his fingers crushed.Lech Walesa

So, the metaphorical ground beneath me is shaking, violently.

And I am clearing out a room for my mother.

Our roles are reversing.

I’ve ordered a new shower curtain and emptied the medicine cabinet in the guest bathroom. I’ve shredded pounds and pounds of papers and re-organized my files, so I can move my office and set up her bedroom. It’s something she’s done for me countless times.

She’s giving up most of what she owns, so the move can happen quickly. She’ll bring a small portion of her most beloved belongings with her, but not much.

“Bring what you love,” I told her.

And while I ready things on my end, she’s packing and stripping her house clean.

Moving again at the age of 79. I can’t imagine.

It feels a little like being torn in half for both of us. Part of me desperately wants her here, and part of me is terrified because this will be her last stop through this life. She was born in Arizona, and now, she will likely die here.

A Burden Shared is a Burdened Halved.

For others, these changes are showing up as fissures in their relationships, as divorce, as illness.

One of my closest friends is surrounded by numerous family members dying of cancer. Another is dealing with the addiction of someone she loves deeply. Others struggle with chronic health problems, with dying parents, with financial collapse.

Everyone’s got a full plate. We’ve all got our share (whether it feels like a fair portion or not). Somehow, there’s comfort in knowing we’re all saddled with our own burdens. No one’s immune.

At mid-life, it feels strange to stand here, welcoming the summer, ushering in such huge change.

Another season blusters in, and the cycle continues.

Life is a banquet. Try everything.

These days, when I look in the mirror I see my mother’s face.

How is that possible?

It seems impossible that so many years have passed since I spent June days learning to sew and ride horses at my friend Nancy’s house. Feral girls, we swam and talked and tramped through the long, hot days. The air smelled like lilacs and Walla Walla sweet onions, like tar and wet earth.

Now, Nancy’s long married and living someplace in Canada, or so I hear. I last saw her the summer I turned twelve.

And I am 1,500 miles south of that patch of dirt we called home, watching desert birds, puzzling out the circuitous path life takes.

What surprises me is that it never fails to surprise me. I awaken to find everything’s shifted, almost overnight.

Only the sky and the passing seasons remain constant. Only they can see the lovely patterns they make.

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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Why Write? A Blog Tour

What I Know

“Just as a good rain clears the air, a good writing day clears the psyche.” ― Julia CameronThe Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life

Diving Deep

I saw this blog tour idea a few weeks ago, and thought it might be fun to explore the questions it poses, as well as interact with you, dear readers. Writing is an intensely personal pursuit. It is one that most of us approach gingerly. We may not know why we write; instead we feel driven by a kind of electrified need to do it. We must write. We don’t have a choice.

We need words. We need them like we need air and water and food.

Living the Questions

1. What are you working on?

I’m working on a collection of poems and a spiritual memoir right now. There are other things, but they are on the ‘back burner,’ so to speak. They’re cooling their jets on a stack of things I want to write when I’ve finished what I’m working on now. As for details, I am superstitious about sharing too much. Anyone who reads my blog knows my writing and can surmise what might interest me. I am fascinated by the soft underbelly of life. By love, vulnerability, loss, joy. I like to explore the mystery of our lives and our choices.

Oh, and I believe in angels, miracles, spontaneous healings, and other invisible (but true) things.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

My work is my work. There are plenty of others doing the kind of writing (spiritual memoir) I do, but not in exactly the same way. My strength is my lyrical voice as a prose writer, my sense of how things work as an empath and a long practicing Buddhist, and my talent for going deep and surfacing with all that slimy, dark crap no one wants to actually acknowledge exists. However, if we never visit our darkness, we will never actually live in the light. We’ll always be looking over our shoulders, wondering what is stalking us.

“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.” ― George R.R. Martin

Soul Gardener

3. Why do you write what you do?

I write to discover what I know, like Flanney O’Connor says [in the above quote]. I write to sort out my confusions. I write to find the clear water of life that exists when we flush out the inner nooks and crannies. I am interested in what makes things tick, why things are as they are, and what spiritual roots exist under most of the problems in the world.

I am fascinated by nature and its ability to intuitively discern the right choice.

I write what I write because, as it turns out, it is a completely natural extension of who I am.

Also, I write what I like to read. Don’t we all do that? Whatever particular genre or branch that most attracts you, does so for a reason. You have something to add to that conversation.

“No writing is wasted. Did you know that sourdough from San Francisco is leavened partly by a bacteria called lactobacillus sanfrancisensis? It is native to the soil there, and does not do well elsewhere. But any kitchen can become an ecosystem. If you bake a lot, your kitchen will become a happy home to wild yeasts, and all your bread will taste better. Even a failed loaf is not wasted. Likewise, cheese makers wash the dairy floor with whey. Tomato gardeners compost with rotten tomatoes. No writing is wasted: the words you can’t put in your book can wash the floor, live in the soil, lurk around in the air. They will make the next words better.” ― Erin Bow

4. What is your writing process?

I love what I’ve heard called ‘vomit drafts.’  None of this farting around waiting for inspiration. No. Just write.

Even if what I write is total shit, the act of writing is clearing the way for something behind it.

Drafting is sort of like plowing the roads after a snow storm. You get in your big ass truck and you plow. You salt the road and get it cleaned up. Then you’re ready to get somewhere.

I don’t subscribe to the notion that I must have a particular kind of music playing or sit in a particular coffee house in order to write. In fact, unlike many people I know, I need total silence to write.

I prefer using my home office. Everything’s better there: the coffee, the quality of the light, the way my feet feel on the floor. Although I’ve done some writing in hotel rooms and airports, I don’t recommend it.

I draft until I say what I want to, then I edit. Usually around 20+ times – even for a short piece like this. I don’t edit as I write because that muddies the process. You get tangled up in making one sentence or phrase right before you actually know if you are even going to keep that sentence or phrase. Totally pointless.

My advice is to do a brain dump; then, sort, arrange, tweak, cull, edit, proofread, and polish.

And write a lot. Write every day. Write on scraps of paper in your purse. Write on receipts. Carry around little notebooks and jot things down. You never know what might float up from the depths at any moment.

Little ideas can bloom big.

***

Feel free to share your process in the comments section. I’d love to hear other ideas and approaches.

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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What I See (Featured Fifty Poetry)

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Celebrating Perfect Imperfection

This morning one of my poems is featured on The Huffington Post.  It was accepted many, many months ago, so I am happy to finally see it in print. It is called, What I See, (click the title to read the poem) and it is, basically, a love letter to my aging body. My body has carried me through sh*t storms and surgeries, breakups and loss, as well as through the bitter-sweetness that accompanies all life. It is a topic that is often on my mind now. In fact, I recently wrote about this very thing in a blog post called, The House of My Spirit.  As I age, contemplating what that means becomes more and more important.

So, today, I share a poem here (instead of prose). I know it is not the usual, but I am celebrating! Enjoy.

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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On the Outside

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“All women are misfits. We do not fit into this world without amputations.” – Marge Piercy

I’ve never fit in.

It used to bother me, but now I realize my strangeness is a gift. It’s comforting that I am not compelled to live within the beige spectrum of life. Instead, I choose wild colors and light. I own my voice.  I hold a huge, watery brush which I use to highlight the sky.

Normal is highly overrated.

I am abnormal and proud of it. Yep, I am a big weirdo, navigating this clown car called life.

Weirdos love the clamor and the clang as much as the next person, but we are not part of the teeming masses. We are fools, tricksters, court jesters. We watch from a roof nearby or from the thick branch of an ancient tree. We are outside the confines of ‘normal’ life. We grate at the very thought of everything that defines average, regular, day in and day out.

We chafe at being fenced in or force fed.

Anyone who is a healer, a light-worker, or an artist/writer/poet/scribe knows that they naturally (and permanently) live on the periphery of life.

And that’s where we’re meant to be.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” ― Apple Inc.

Playing Small Will Not Do.

The fact of the matter is, my soul won’t fit inside a thimble. Instead, I’ll wear a coat made of carbon and stars; I’ll sip the ocean through a straw.

See, I can’t abide a straight jacket; I won’t swallow your bitter pill, even if you force it on me.

Blending in, isn’t an option. I came here to live out loud.

So, Go Crazy. Be Wild. Run Amok.

The world needs more weirdos, ropers & stompers, more change agents, and get-down-get-funky daydreamers.

As it is, this world cannot continue. It’s on a collision course with, ‘Oh, sh*t’ and ‘How’d that happen?’

Stasis and the status quo are killing us, along with everything else on the planet. Visionaries and squatters, painters and soul gardeners, every single strange, dreamy outsider, is desperately needed.

Now.

You know who you are.

You’ve lived your whole life on the outside looking in. You’re comfortable with infinite darkness and widening light.

So, put on your boots and fire up your flashlight.

An army of light-workers anxiously awaits your arrival. You are the catalyst. You can change everything.

There’s no time to dawdle. Start today.

There’s still so much work to be done.

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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When Things Fall Apart

Sunflower+fieldFor a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction. ~ Cynthia Occelli

Broken.

Dishes break. You slice your finger while chopping vegetables. You give your heart to the wrong person. You slip and suddenly realize — mid-fall — that absolutely nothing makes sense or feels solid. Not even the ground under your feet.  Swirls of clouds spin above you as you look up from where you find yourself, only to discover that everything’s shattered. Everything you thought you could count on, is gone.

What now?

This is the fecund space of breakdown. This is where we drop seeds and await germination and new growth. Everything starts this way: as a seed pod, as a runny egg yolk, as the slippery promise of a new life.

Life pours us out of one vessel into another. We liquefy and seep into the dry ground, uncertain that anything good will come of this unwelcome change.

But we have no choice. We are undergoing alchemical transformation.

There’s no turning back.

Breakdown entails loss. Spider-fine cracks cover the surface of our lives. One slight tap of a metaphorical hammer and, boom, everything falls away.

753182446627da7331fe7b84266cee55Change is like that.

It often feels like utter and complete destruction; however, in that devastating landscape, a new foundation can be forged.

Perhaps a spot at the table is being cleared because someone wonderful is about to show up and ring the doorbell. Perhaps the breakup contains untold treasure – gifts that we wouldn’t otherwise recognize. Perhaps the loss uproots things that we needed to let go.

Time and again, I’ve seen it happen.

Something occurs that, at first, seems terrible, decimating, and even, perhaps, unjustified. We are unceremoniously ripped from our comfort zone.

We’re left with a gaping hole in our hearts or an arm dangling in its socket.

Bruised, we rail against the loss, the divorce, the upset, the broken vow.

But.

But, this shouldn’t have happened to me. But, I didn’t deserve this. But, I gave him (or her) everything.

Still, that person (or job or dream) has had the unmitigated gall to pack its bags, and walk out.

What the hell?

When this happens, we’re called to stretch, to limber up, to become more than we ever thought we could be.

We’re asked to throw down the welcome mat for whatever stranger, experience, or information that we need.

Life’s sent us a message: do you want stasis? Or do you want the creativity and grace and joy that accompanies growth?

It’s our choice.

So, whenever I feel a door slamming hard on my ass, I consider it for what it really is: a wake-up call.

A call that pushes me out into a different field of vision. A call that offers me the key to fragrant, open rooms that will in all likelihood surprise me.  A call that takes me deep into darkness.

The thing is, I know all of it will eventually open on to something lovely. I know I will find something so right for me, that I will forget I ever considered anything else.

When things are falling apart, let them.

Let them. Open your fist and drop seeds into the damp soil at your feet.

Water them – with your prayers, your effort, your energy, your hope.

Soon enough, you’ll see something happening. First one sprout, then one more.

And before you know it, a riot of golden sunflowers will appear. They’ll stand like willowy friends, waving to you, as you head out to your latest adventure.

They’ll remind you of all you are, and all you are capable of being. Look for them.

Those fields of possibility represent you.

Notice that they stretch for as far as your eye can see.

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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Watching Birds on Sunday Morning

Song Sparrow3-lg

  “In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.” ― Robert Lynd

Song Sparrows & Songs

Sunday morning stillness.

Song sparrows and cactus wrens float in the warm, dry air, flitting from tree to tree. A tiny hummingbird drinks from blooms on a fairy duster and then moves, lightning fast, to an Indian paintbrush, where it bobs and sways on a thin branch. My dog sighs at my feet. My cats sit like statues, their longing for an opening, clear.

Their voices incessantly click as their desire fills the air.

Quail tuck into the thick folds of both citrus trees. Other birds hoot and squawk insistently from a nearby palm or the edge of the fence.

It’s my favorite time of day — still relatively cool outside — the sky only just starting to open to a new day. I have my coffee and a notebook. I jot down images and metaphors; I map what I see. These memory stones anchor the lines, one to another.

“…I keep looking for one more teacher, only to find that fish learn from the water and birds learn from the sky.” (p.275) ― Mark NepoFacing the Lion, Being the Lion: Finding Inner Courage Where It Lives

Listening with my body, my heart

I listen intently, trying to separate the sound of a distant car passing from the rustling of leaves and the whoosh of a lone bird swooping down to drink water from the bowl I leave out each day.  I listen for the sound of that bird alerting others:  Water!  Water here!

I savor this intense listening — these moments of meditative stillness — as solace in the face of  the incessant noise of contemporary life.

It’s almost as though I can feel my heart slow, relax.  The veins and arteries that carry oxygen throughout my body, open. I breathe deeply. My thoughts skitter across the surface of my consciousness:

This is enough. You don’t need more. Enjoy this most sacred grace.

Grackles bathe and drink.

This is my place of worship; this bright dome of sky and birdsong and open wonder.

How do we count the wonders of the world?

One at a time. One at a time.

I sit, writing, mapping, measuring, and recording whatever occurs to me. I observe. I wait. I listen.

I long to learn whatever these scrappy birds can teach me.

They know this harsh environment, yet continue — year in and year out — to survive it.

No matter what, they sing, with gratitude, with exaltation, every single morning.

They sing as the light returns.

They realize the preciousness of this stretch of time called today. They recognize a rare pearl when they see one.

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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If you like this piece please share it with others. You can like me on Facebook or Twitter to see more of my writing and my spiritual journey.