Victory at Home

I was standing on Fulton street waiting for the Number 15 to take me to the corner near my home. The wind was brisk with an occasional chill, but the lifting of the hood of my sweatshirt over my head blocked most of it. This particular stop homes three buses headed out and about town. It feels quite familiar as all three round the corner coming out of the transfer station down by Van Andel Arena. I switch feet. I look across to Veteran’s Park where I danced with wild abandon at a Thursday night drum circle held after the Jazz concert at Ah-Nab-Awen park. The Main Library is behind that. I spent hours of research in those rooms. Everything I was looking at seemed familiar, but with a dream-like quality.

I came to the conclusion that I was but a drop in the puddle in their eyes, but in mine, I was so much bigger.

When I moved away from West Michigan in 1989, I had no idea who I was; broken, discouraged, full of lamentations. I had no direction or purpose. I molded myself into the ideals that I believed I was supposed to be. I became a fair wife, a devout church goer, a preacher of God’s love, a model citizen in every way. I provided Christmas for impoverished children, took them on camping trips, advocated for their protection always seeking approval from outside sources. I was miserable.

After the loss of Jordan, I began rethinking my life and the choices that had brought me to a point where I could no longer stay. My marriage was a disaster, my friends were there but they were all much younger than I so their freedoms were different. I still had no idea who I was or what I wanted to be or do. At 25 years old, I decided to find out who that woman looking back at me in the mirror was. I left everything behind. I cut ties with family, friends, acquaintances, and moved back to a small studio apartment in Kentwood. I married again but it crumbled basically from day one. I moved around the country for about a year, using Greyhound as my means of travel.

By the time I ended up in Arizona I was a disaster. I married for a third time. I found a group of friends that, for the first time, not only saw me for who I am, but encouraged me to be everything I was meant to be. I felt like a toddler whose parents delight in the antics of the little one, but at the same time, I was an adult. I radiated humor and enthusiasm. I decided I was strong enough to move, so I did. I moved across the country again to Tennessee where I lived with my father for a brief time. He was a miserable human being that rejected me just as fast as he embraced me. It was constant mixed messages from him which led to uncertainty and instability.

I found God living in a little church tucked away behind a natural shade of trees. I was told to go there and I’m glad I obeyed. It was like coming home. It was the first group of collective people that not only appreciated my wildness, but saught me out for companionship, help, and entertainment. I imagine it’s what being a rockstar feels like. What’s even cooler is that I adored every one of them right back. I couldn’t help it. I’d waited my whole life to know what it was to be me. I learned it at their knee. It was the most difficult day when I had to say goodbye to them and return to my hometown of Grand Rapids.

Only, it wasn’t my Grand Rapids.

It wasn’t the place where the broken little girl made up ridiculous fantasies of being the President of the United States or curing cancer with a brightly colored cardboard box and a stick found on the playground. This wasn’t the city where I dealt with childhood tragedies with self destructive behaviors. Nothing was the same, including the absence of the monsters that didn’t live under my bed but were under the same roofs as me. The dark secrets were held up to the light until their power whimpered into submission.

This city doesnt know me, power in my words, body thick with laughter, hair demonstrably wild, my secrets laid open to the beauty of rainbows once forbidden from my fingertips. This city is unaware that within its limits, there is a woman with courage as deep as a wristcutters truth, but as furious as a hurricane battering abusers with education. Grand Rapids has yet to understand that I, that had all along existed but had been nearly crushed by history, rose up to find my feet.

I’m standing in the middle of Division and Fulton in my mind, screaming with laughter at the pure wickedness of possibilities to be reached. This may not be my Grand Rapids, but it is my home.

NaPoWriMo: Thirteen Weeks

Give, Receive, Love

With open heart and willing hands I give to you my gifts

I lay them on the blooming altar to do with as you wish

For when I walk in faith and trust I take such grand adventures

But they never seem to work quite right unless I allow surrender

With open mind and willing heart I will receive your blessings

I wrap them up with loving arms the joys of not repressing

For when I walk in grace and trust, I gain such grand adventures

They always flow as smooth as water, these my greatest treasures

With sacred heart and open mind I’m willing to offer love

As I give so shall I receive from all Watchtowers, below and above.

For when I shine in spirit love, I find a peaceful center

With conscious thought and mindfulness the Otherwhere I enter.

Change and Progress: Learning to Birth Risks

I am gestating in the womb of change and progress.

I am developing the skills and strength to become reborn in my own image without the yoke of false hope, without the bearing of bloody lies, without the praise for being different tainted with shame. The strings and ropes that moored me to the shore are severed with my clear consent. I am no longer anchored at the pier of someone else’s demands and lack of mercy. What is no longer necessary for my survival is falling away rapidly, some of which is regret.

I Regret that I didn’t realize sooner what was occurring. I Regret that my need to hope that things would improve could not be sated by the harmful actions of others. I Regret that I saw the omens, realized the map, and ignored my compass.

But there will be obvious bouts of discord as there always are when rebirth is occurring. There is always pain, but that is the labor of passion. That is the direction of one’s eyes being opened to a new dawn. That is the sanctity of new life being brought into the world despite the age of its possessor. It is a covenant union between life and the living. It is where, just outside of the comfort zone, new and wild adventures are committed to memories with delight. It is where the spirit remembers why the pain is sometimes deeply necessary. It’s there so we remember not to walk that path any more. That pain is there as a guidepost, a milestone, a mile-marker.

My future destination is still being navigated, charted, and lined into a clearly mapped path. But I fear the end result out of resistance to chaos, upheaval, and the possibility of error. I am petrified that I will be stillborn. I am so frightened that I won’t evolve into something or someone I recognize. I look in the mirror and wonder what’s next, what am I going to do? I play the Wo-Co-Sho (would have, could have, should have) game and the What-if’s because my uncertainty in the future is wrought with cautious ambition.

I know better. I know that I am being guided by the blessings, gifts and goals painted on my dreamy canvas. I know that what is to come is not for me to know, even if I can see glimpses of it. I know that once I’ve arrived in THAT place, it will match my vision and I will weep once again with gratitude.

But, for now, I will gestate in the womb of change while I grow into my new spirit self. While I bloom, blossom, develop, and change. The risks that are involved, while in this state, are negligible.

It’s what comes after the rebirth and during that process that will engage every moment of bravery required of my soul spirit to achieve that which my heart remembers, requires, and desires above all else. My courage will come when it is needed as long as my feet are still moving towards my own evolution and reconstruction of who I am destined to be at this time in my life.

My umbilical chord hums with rejuvenation and possibility. The anticipation of new sprinkled with historical re-validation, and written onto slightly off key musical staffs, create wonder in my spirit. I wonder if this music I hear is loud enough to be heard by others. I wonder if this tune I write will inspire others to seek their symphony, to take the risks that encourage growth into the sonata after the dirge has bilged their spirits clear of the desperate attempt to belong where they don’t.

Some of the music my spirit knows are still empty notes played at random while the steady rhythm of my heartbeat drives me forward. The harmonica plays. The violin strings. The chorus of bass (because it’s all about the bass, ’bout the bass, no trouble) drives the beat forward. I am immaculate but still dusty and bloodied from my last go round. I see the path to walk, nay run, and I lay my foot down against the soft walls of wisdom. I must keep moving forward.

The risk will be worth the reward despite the outcome of the final piece I’ve committed to writing. The outcome, come what may, will be life unfolding in a grand mastery of orchestral parts with some blended so lovingly with beauty that joy is easily found.

I will be reborn. I will shake free of this shell. I’ve become like a chrysalis wrapped tight in swaddling adventure, changing my colors, changing my heart, changing my spirit for the next chapter. I will be reborn because to remain where I am, who I am, doing what I’ve always done is not an option if I hope to experience the life I was destined to meet. I MUST risk everything in order to rise up and meet the challenge of my spirit. This temporary state of rebuilding is my sole opportunity for the path I’ve chosen. But it isn’t my only option or way to get there, it’s just my choice to follow this particular path.

One foot in front of the other. One step forward. One belief that I am more than what I am right now. One wise guide that tells me to bloom, to grow, to breathe, live, act. I follow this inner voice, but I’m truly leading myself on my own spiritual journey.