Raw Edges and Strong Cores

At some point in May, I had the idea for this post, but tabled it. I had other ideas to pursue and  knew I would eventually get around to writing it. Then, June happened and with it the return of all four kiddos being home each and everyday. The first week, I tried to write, but didn’t make it to the laptop until late at night. I figured I would take a break and let the summer be what it was going to be. Maybe I would even pursue that niggling idea of vlogging that was in the back of my brain.

Then, after a month, every single day felt like drudgery and stress resonated inside of me. At the end of the day, I would feel this incompleteness even though I had done many things. I knew that my writing, my voice, was too pent up, but I didn’t want to sit down to do it. I told myself that I was simply waiting for the children to return to school. This didn’t last long as an excuse, because soon it was apparent that I needed to write – something, anything. Yet, I held off, knowing that the inevitable writing also brings about the inevitable bleeding. Cathartic bleeding it is, but bleeding none the less.

So here I am, sitting, ready to bleed before you.

Raw Edges

I was trying to be healthy, slicing the fruits and vegetables early in the week, prepping healthy meals and snacks.

It was drudgery.

Why didn’t The Man create vegetables pre-sliced? I mean, fruit I don’t mind slicing, because it is enticing to the palate. But vegetables? No, those are no fun. As I moved from cauliflower to carrots, I reminded myself of how awful the baby carrots are and that the real thing is so much better and tastier.

It was utter drudgery.

I watched as I peeled the damn things and tried to remember the advice about everyday tasks given by Thomas Moore. If you look deep enough, sit still enough with them, then you can peel back their mundaneness into significance by seeing the metaphor, the imagery of soulfulness.

“Mumbo-jumbo.” I thought to myself sardonically. “Be more zen.” I then chastised myself.

Okay, so what could peeling carrots stand for in the soulful life. I ruminated peel after peel.

Carrots don’t have thick skin or rinds. They are firm from the inside out. Strong, if you will. Strong and ugly. I mean, we don’t have to peel a carrot in order to eat it, but it will never stop looking (or tasting) much like dirt if we don’t. I wonder if the strong among us don’t taste like dirt until something or someone comes along that sloughs off the ugliness.

“Hmmm. Not a bad little metaphor.” I smiled to myself. “What else?”

I sat with it. I wasn’t coming up with anything else at all. Yet, as I sloughed off layer after layer of the carrots, getting rid of the dirt divets and knotty elements, I felt less drudgery. In fact, something cathartic was taking place, something similar to how I feel when I write.

Strong Cores

A shedding of the dirt of life, smoothing of rough edges – that’s what was happening.

Yes, this was very similar to writing for me. Underneath everything, I find in myself strength when writing.

And so, as I return to writing early (before the summer ends). I remember carrots and that sitting down at this page is not all bleeding, but rather exfoliation. A scrubbing, unburdening, cleansing act of the soul to reveal my strong core.

Candidly,

Ash

Liberation isn’t a One Act Play

Last week, I took some time to schedule posts out into the future (this week). I’m trying to make this a real blog. Ha! You know, where things are posted daily (Monday thru Friday). It has me scared this morning. If I start trying to. post often and schedule things, then this becomes “real”.

In other words, I admit to myself that I want to do this. I want a certain amount of, for lack of a better word, success. I don’t know if other people experience this, but when I admit to wanting something – then I get really afraid.

Disappointment is the thing I fear most. Within disappointment, I usually discover that the error lies within my realm of responsibility. Whether I should have had lessened expectations or worked harder, I  find myself face-to-face with my flaws. In this, I know that I am not alone – facing my flaws does not rank high on my favorite list of activities.

Serial Quitter

I used to be vicious to myself. “Serial Quitter” was one of the nicer things I said to myself about nomadic quality. I’m a passionate and curious person. Ideas and activities seize me as though I am their possession. Literally, the compulsion to experience a new thing can often leave me running around like a chicken without a head.

Within months, I’ve tired of whatever situation or idea with which I’ve been enthralled. Continuing is like death to my spirit. My mom frequently tells me that just continuing on is necessary, despite how much I may dislike it. The end result will be worth it. The people I am “doing” the thing for? They are worth it. There is great wisdom in this.

**Today, I believe in God or that He/She at least made me. Just thought I’d put that out there.**

God didn’t give me the spirit and soul I have – for me to walk in death. There are people in the world who have more or less tolerance for displeasure in work. My husband is one of them. I’m often amazed at how he can tolerate the frustrations of being a case manager – a career field in which employees parish daily. (Seriously, someone needs to research the turnover in case management. It would change things. I am sure of it!)

I am not one of those people. I have tried (and failed) to do many, many things. If I were able to work a desk job or any other job, then I would be doing it. Trust me, the money alone is reason enough.

I’d rather be poor and sitting here writing these: words than anything else in the world. Most of the great writers were scraping by in their day-to-today too. I believe that is the way I made, the way I am built. Do I need to work on self-mastery, diligence and endurance? Absolutely!

Watch me do that with this blog and the other things I write in secret. I am capable of holding to something, sticking with it. It just happens to not make me money – yet. I am scared that I will disappointment myself in this journey and that the pain of it will be more than I can handle. 

It is the thing I fear the most.

Somehow, I always come back to these words of Marianne Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

The amazing thing about this poem is the idea of being liberated from fear. I used to think that  being liberated from fear meant having no fear at all. In actuality, it means not being mastered by fear.

Liberation isn’t a One Act Play

When I think of liberation, my mind often goes to the abolition of slavery in the United States. A war was waged for years and then finally freedom was decreed. Yet, it was years and years before the country steadied, over a century before civil rights were granted such as voting, the dissolution of segregation, etc. Even today, we see the remnants of slavery in things such as poverty, police violence and more. Liberated from slavery, the people would still contend with its aftermath.

Liberated from fear? I must contend with its aftermath. It does not own me. I do, however, still feel it, remember it. Right now, I’m in the process of creating a new economy, a new way of life, not ruled by fear. Even then, I will always be discovering the ways it has affected me and is affecting me. I guess, I want to say to myself and to anyone else out there –

Liberation, your freedom, is not instantaneous. It is a process. Daily, I will be walking out what that looks like. Today, it’s acknowledging that there is fear in my wanting, in my desires, in my dreams. Tomorrow, I will walk out my liberation by sitting down to write yet again.

See you then!

Candidly,

Ash

 

A Hallow Ache

Deep cavernous tombs

Entrenched ideals

Stealing light from The Blooms

A barren battlefield

 

Down to earth

Scrape the dirt

Eat my hurt

Swallow, my last resort

 

Open, Out, Oddly Off

Cavemen scoff

Drop my club

Escape from the rub

 

Run bright, Run far, Run like a drug

Let go of my spite, no one to spar

Cavemen so smug

I unplug

 

An open field awaits

Flowers and bowers

I no longer cower

Misbehave, No complaint

I am awake.

 

By Candidly Ash

 

A Steady Fountain

I’m finding that the time I spend writing is less and less fulfilling, but in a different way than I expected. I expected to force myself to write daily and bleed at the keyboard. I did not expect that stopping would be so hard or that the time spent doing it would never seem like enough.

I’m finding that I want to do more than just blog posts. Hence, my stab at poetry last week. I’m writing a memoir-style book about our family’s journey with autism and depression, though I’ve not sat at that particular task in some weeks. I’m also writing some fiction, which I will never tell you about until my selected jury of husband and BFF have deemed it “not awful”.

It just doesn’t seem to be enough. Each day, I sit down and feel my way through musings here and if I don’t write here, then I take a stab at other projects. Honestly, of late, I like the other projects better. They are more fun and less weighty.

I am having fun in life. So strange.

Last week, I ordered new violin strings and yesterday they arrived. I restrung them one at a time and tuned up as much as I could, though everything is still a full step too low. I’ll come back to it today and it’s the number one thing I’m looking forward to today. I hope that I can get her fully in tune so that I can play without wincing. I find that I want to name my violin. How strange. I have a great affection for her.

I know that when the time is up and I need to set the keyboard aside or hang up my bow, that it will not feel like enough. Not in the sense of lacking worth, but in the sense of lacking time. I want more time with these expressions. Stopping to do the necessary things like eating and moving laundry, changing diapers – they eat at the precious moments spent in harmony.

I stopped writing before I typed harmony. The word was hard to find. How to describe sweet release? Its like the flow of a dribbling Italian fountain, the stucco a bold contrast to the glistening water. Peace. Harmony.

Perhaps writing is no longer like cathartic bleeding? Perhaps this season is a small expanse of time not devoted to the coping and discerning that comes with depression and anxiety.

I like this expanse. It feels free.

I think I’ll stay awhile and try my best to not watch for the dropping hammer. All I know is that today, it feels like all the pain has finally moved through me. Now, something more tender can flow.

Another lesson I’m learning – Everything passes eventually. There is beauty in letting the pain abate and the peace descend. Just as there will be beauty when the pain returns. I simply hope I won’t cringe so desperately when it arrives.

Candidly,

Ash

Uprising

I’ve had chains down in my guts

Connecting me to people and places I distrust

Reaching, thrashing and heaving

Tied in knots

Distraught

 

Chin up now don’t look at those cuts

Shaming me and blaming me into a nut

Seething, writhing and bleeding

Desiccated by doubt

I’m out

 

Watch the sharp, excising knife

Parsing and piecing me into strife

Agonizing, penetrating and debriding

Exhausted by pain

No more chain

 

My two hands shake

Sever the connection and ache

Stirring, rising and climbing

Undaunted by change

Freedom is strange

 

Deep veins, red blood, heart pounding

I see my strength and answer the sound

Driving, surging and pressing

Unbound and unafraid

I am made

 

By Candidly Ash

 

 

 

 

 

That Great Journey Into Ourselves

Someone suggested to me recently that I don’t have to work for my destiny. Now, I’m not sure I even believe in something as ominous as destiny, but they did pique my interest. This idea she shared was that simply being who we are and doing what we enjoy will lead us to the right path. In fact, we don’t even have to scheme or pull out extreme hustle. Those things actually cause friction against our destiny, she said.

I really loved this, because I have no idea what my destiny is. Hence, my uncertainty that *it* even exists. I look at this blog and I love writing it. I have no idea where it is going though. I’ve been hesitant to share it in my social circles, because I’m worried about the critique, the naysayers and the well-meaning pity-prone people. In sharing my fear with a friend, she reflected that it might be important to know “why” I’m doing this, as a way to hold onto myself when I do share.

That’s when I started churning and ruminating about this Candidly Ash thing. Why am I doing it? Honestly, all that I have is that I like sharing and divulging my inner depths. I, also, really, really hope that people who read it are able to come more closely to themselves and accept what they glimpse. My greatest mystery is myself and I’ve started to find it an enchanting process to know her.

I want that for other people.

Originally, I had thought to focus on parenting a special needs child or mental illness. These are things in my life that are easy writing targets, so to speak. I could write about them endlessly.

But maybe easy isn’t really what I am looking for, but neither is hard or difficult.

And so the mystery of myself comes to mind. It is challenging, at times difficult, but always enriching. The discoveries are worth the pain of exploration. No journey is without obstacles, but perhaps the obstacles also need not be monumental. For instance, I could choose a subject like Montessori education, which I love, and develop a blog around it. Yet, I know down the road the strain would set in – the lack of focus, the ensuing disenchantment with something I love…those are obstacles that aren’t necessarily worth climbing over.

But the mysteries within ourselves? Those are simultaneously infinite and yet knowable. I hope to not only journey into myself through this blog, but also help others to do so.

Hopefully, when the critiques come in or the naysayers chant or the pity-prone people offer to pray, then I will be able to say to myself, “They may have a point and I will reflect on it, but it is also possible that they are not quite ready for this great journey into themselves. And that is okay. But I am and this is my path.”

Here’s to not forcing my path into something it’s not.

Candidly,

Ash

Oh, How I Run from Myself!

It is Monday afternoon and, truthfully, most Mondays I am eager for the day. I’m ready to get back into my to-do list, accomplish things. See here, where I disclose being a total productivity fiend. Monday is the one day that always seems to be productive for me. Maybe it’s because I’m fresh, unjaded by the previous week’s letdowns.

This Monday, however, is very different. Today, I didn’t want to pick up this laptop with a  cracked screen. I knew what was waiting for me. I say it often, that writing is like bleeding for me. Sometimes its extremely cathartic, like how people say acupuncture is great. I’ll never know about acupuncture though, because…needles.

There it is – needles, perceived pain.

I can’t get past the idea of needles, many of them in my face. A good friend of mine once told me that the needles are so very small that you don’t even notice they are being placed. Maybe she doesn’t notice. I, however, would be writhing in the anticipation of the pain and no needle would ever graze me.

Because that is what I do. I run from the pain.

This morning, I wanted to run from the pain. I didn’t want to sit here and bleed, cathartic or not. I wonder how thirty-three years of my life have passed and I am still afraid of that benevolent teacher known as pain.

Why do I not befriend her? Call to her and say, “Come, I will hear you out.” How long will it take for me to set the welcome mat out permanently.

I do not know.

I do, however, know that I will keep trying. Today, I will sit down at these keys and not run from myself. I will listen and honor the voice within.

She is saying….

I feel dead inside. Not like the autumn leaves returning to the ground, but like the decomposition of a slaughtered animal. Left too long in the sun, unburied and festering, I feel dead inside. How does a soul emerge from such noxious smells and grotesque twists of flesh? In nature, the decomposition is slow and lengthy, the byproducts nourishing.

Maybe that is what I need to expect from this sadness and angst that I feel – a slow and lengthy process that nourishes the world around me.

I wonder who is nourishing me, though. Ah, that is right, dead things don’t eat. They don’t need sustenance. They simply rot away, no one giving a thought to their sacrifice in the life cycle. Who will remember them?

I chuckle to myself, remembering my dear gardening friend, Lori. She loved her compost like it was a living thing and not quite the opposite. She marveled at the worms flocking to the pile of the dead and rotten. Their slimy, writhing bodies inching so slowly, purposefully in the direction of the deceased, the unwanted. I never knew anyone could love worms until I met Lori. I never knew compost could be an interest and passion.

Perhaps all that is dead inside of me, simply needs a farmer or gardener to see its worth. Perhaps I can be my own farmer, tending myself through a slow and lengthy process. I am reminded of how Lori explained all of the different ways to compost, the different tools. Maybe, if I don’t run from the dead things inside me, I can find the right process to enrich the earth.

That is, after all, what I most desire from my pain and the death I feel – that it live on in the things which grow.

Candidly,

Ash