In between one heartbeat and the next, everything can change.
Las Vegas has taught us that.
The hurricanes that have been wreaking such devastation this year have taught us that.
All of the tragedies, the deaths of beloved musicians, actors, have taught us that.
I am not going to preach about gun laws, or about politics at all, because that’s not my way.
What I’m going to say is this.
When my Youngerdaughter was born, she was as blue as a smurf, and lucky to take her first breath.
She came into this world with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck twice, with a granny knot tied in it.
When she was a year & a half old, she fell from her crib & cracked her skull. Again, she was lucky to draw breath through the following night, & to survive.
In college, she survived a car wreck that the police don’t understand how she escaped with only a couple of small scrapes. The car was crushed, she was not.
She graduated from college magna cum laude.
Three times this young woman’s life hung in the balance, and could’ve swung either way.
Everything could’ve changed – between one heartbeat and the next.
I cherish every breath she takes.
Just as I do for each of my children, & each member of my family, both blood & chosen.
I take nothing for granted.
And this is what I say to everyone out there, lighting up the media, both news and social. Instead of screaming opinions (which, let’s be honest, you can’t change someone’s opinion when they’re really set on it, anyway), try to be a part of the change you wish to see.
Here is what I am going to do:
Pray for Peace
Give help where I can, to those I am able.
Vote my conscience
Hope for the best
Work for the rest
Take nothing for granted
This evening was beautiful.
I spent some time outside, knowing it was probably going to be one of the few, really nice days left of the fall weather.
I mowed, & planted my lily bulbs for next spring.
I got back in touch with the heartbeat of the earth, and with my own.
And while I was working my hands in the dirt…I was thinking about “Things”.
How many “things” I have.
How many I care about.
Whether I care about “things” at all.
And I came to a conclusion.
The only things I truly Care about…
All have a heartbeat.
My family, chosen and blood, my friends, my 2 cats.
Everything else can be replaced.
But not the heartbeats.
Those are finite.
I’ve lost a few of those over the years, and a handful just within the last couple of years. They are irreplaceable. Gone forever, they exist now only in my memories, and in the memories of the others whose lives they touched.
And, sometimes it hurts, knowing that the only way I can connect to the heartbeats I love so much is through the phone.
This is why I’ve thought about moving closer to my Beloved Nephew.
At least being there, I know I’d be near someone who truly wanted me to be there. Someone who values my heartbeat as much as I value his. As Chosen Family, and my best friend, our friendship is one of those irreplaceable things I cherish.
And here… Well, after everything that’s happened here, I do have a couple of good friends, but no romantic life… and pretty much only painful reminders of heartbreak and rejection. Not exactly a rousing endorsement to stay.
So, I’m going to pack my heartbeat up in cotton, and pad it against breakage for the coming cold months. I’ll work on savoring the moments I get to have with those I cherish, even if it’s only over the phone, and get rid of a few “things” I no longer need.
There’s plenty I can do without.
I’ve had self-esteem issues for as long as I can remember.
When I was very little, I had no worries. I was a total tomboy, who didn’t care what other people thought of me. I was happier dressed in clothes I could climb trees & get muddy in. And often did just those very things. I climbed up & down a cliff behind our house on a daily basis, snagging my hair on tree branches, and chewed my nails down to the quick, making my mom lament of me ever being a “girly girl”.
She has often told stories about how she would wait until we were literally on our way out the door for church to get me in my dress, or I’d get something on it.
But, little girls grow up, and as they do, they eventually start to care about how others see them.
I was no different.
By the time I hit 6th grade, I cared about how I was perceived by my peers, as well as by adults.
Alas, also by this time, we’d moved from Iowa, where I had friends, to a small town in North Dakota, where… not only did I know no one, but I was a complete outsider.
I was, and still am, a nerd. I read a lot, was good at school, & got good grades. I wasn’t a troublemaker. I’m not good at sports (my nickname in volleyball was “jello-wrists”, no joke) except for horseback riding, and our small town lived for its sports. I wasn’t considered pretty enough to garner the “pretty new girl” attention, & I didn’t have the “right” last name.
All of these things pretty much signed my social death warrant there.
In high school, at 5’7″, 125-130lbs, I was considered the “fat girl”.
I smiled here because I knew it was almost over.
My saving grace through high school, was that my best friend had faith in me. She was a total extrovert, who moved to our town when we were in the 8th grade. She was good at sports, & was/is gorgeous & skinny. And she believed in my writing.
She sort of adopted me, & pulled me out of my shell, got me to leave our small town, & we went on adventures to other towns where we fit in much better, & made our own fun.
Even with that, I still stood in the shadows. I was always – “Oh, you’re S’s friend, right?”
*sigh* yes, I’m her friend.
I did make some friends of my own, separate from her, we did each gave our own groups that we’d hang out with, occasionally. And I did have boyfriends from those other towns that had no connection to her.
But I never felt as though I was enough.
Every relationship I’ve had has ended with me feeling as though I wasn’t enough for the other person. I always felt as though I was lacking, somehow, because of how things ended. Every. Single. One.
I’ve never really, truly, felt good enough.
And that includes my writing.
I’ve had certain friends tell me for years that I should write a book. That my words are worth more, that they have value.
I’ve always kind of just pooh-poohed the notion, telling them that I write my blog for me, to get the words out of my head.
After all, friends & family are supposed to say nice things to you, right? They’re supposed to back you up no matter what, right? Even if it’s trash?
Nephew… You live too far away to smack me on the back of the head right now, so sit back down.
I love you.
And I’m not done talking yet.
Because right now, I’m standing on the edge of a cliff.
I’m terrified – and exhilarated – and about ready to puke – all at the same time.
Because… I’m taking a leap of faith, & I’m going to try to build a pair of wings on my way down.
A little over a week ago, someone that I’ve admired & respected from a distance for a long time, but who has had zero idea that I existed, contacted me.
We started talking, & in the course of becoming friends, I introduced this person to my blog. They liked my writing, & started telling me that I should write a book.
I told them to talk to my Nephew, because it sounded like an echo.
My self-esteem still needs work – I know this.
I still look for acceptance & approval from others on my work, whether it’s my writing, my crafts, my remodeling I’m doing on my house. I’m never sure that what I’m doing is good enough, and I flounder in indecision about the choices I make unless I get feedback from people I trust.
I don’t know if it’s just a Gemini thing, or just a Jen thing…
Even today, when I spoke to one of my coworkers about the possibility of me writing a book, she called me crazy. And I immediately started to doubt myself.
It’s easier to believe the bad stuff.
The woman in the mirror every morning looks at me with bleary, disbelieving eyes.
The woman in the mirror at night usually tells me it’ll be better tomorrow.
I’m hoping there’s a bad ass bitch hanging around somewhere in the background who’ll kick both their asses, smash the mirror, & yank me up by my collar one of these days.
Till then… I’ll be shoveling sand.
Autumn is here.
I know, the Autumnal Equinox is still technically 2 days away…but, this happened today:
I was driving home, down 16th, which is a 40mph street, & had my window half open to catch the breeze, when this happy, little wanderer floated in and landed on the back of my hand.
I picked it up, & held it like a touchstone all the way home, reveling in the leathery feel of the leaf’s skin, the crisp, sharpened edges, the slightly cupped curl it created as it rested between my fingers.
I love fall…
I love the way the air feels like a lover’s caress on my skin, gentle & warm most of the time, but with the occasional swipe of a rough briskness.
I love how rich all the colors seem to get. The deep golds, the burnt oranges, the bloody reds, the almost-black purples. Even the crunchy brown after the leaves have fallen, & lie dead on the lawn, waiting for the rake to sweep them into piles for bagging.
I love the smells that permeate the air, the sharp smell of burning fireplaces in the evening, the fresh earthy smell of wet dirt after it rains, and the air is cold enough to bite, so you have to bundle into a hoodie, the spicy scent of the fall’s leaves as I crunch through them when out on a walk.
Those leaves remind me of my favorite flowers – carnations, & how they smell like spices & sex to me. Such an innocuous, and seemingly innocent little flower, so normal and unassuming, and yet they entice me to stick my nose deep into them, dragging the scent within my lungs from their lacy petals, so reminiscent of lingerie it almost seems indecent to have them just sitting out in the open where everyone can see.
Next time you get around a bouquet of carnations…close your eyes, don’t look at their plain-jane faces…close your eyes & use your other senses. Get your nose up close, smell the sweet cloves, the spicy wash of something almost exotic, run your fingertips over the petals, feel the lace edges…and you’ll see what I mean. It can be a sensual rush.
And to me, carnations are such an Autumn type of flower because of that spiciness…reminding me of the leaves as they fling themselves from their trees.
Wild little things with plain faces and beauty inside, if only you look… throwing themselves out into the world, searching for a place to land…
I can feel the change inside of me.
Something that used to be there – is missing.
Well, maybe not missing… I think it might be dead.
And all I feel now, inside my soul…is ashes.
Where the flame used to burn brightly, fueling a zeal and passion for things – there is no light. No fire. Not even a spark.
Rejection at every turn will do that.
Something is broken, and, as I sit here among the scattered pieces, I’m not even sure I have the manual on how to fit them back together again.
My fingers lie numb at the ends of my hands, fumbling as I type… (Thank goddess for spell check and the “edit and view” feature before a posting)
I stare at the walls when I don’t have some mindless busywork to do, trying to remember what I used to fill my time with, and it all seems meaningless.
My Kindle keeps me from watching the real world pass me by…books my only true escape.
Working in my kitchen, readying to paint it, keeps me from screaming into my pillows, or crying into endless tissues. It’s pointless, anyway. No one hears.
I try to force myself outside my own comfort zone, even going so far as to volunteer for something through work this weekend, just to get out of the house…but in truth, I’m gritting my teeth and dreading it.
I hate doing the “small talk social gathering” crap, anymore.
If I could just have one, real thing… Something here, that would make the days even worth it…
I know, I know…psychiatry says that happiness is supposed to come from within, you can’t hang your happiness on outside sources.
But, when there’s only ashes in your soul…
You have to gather the firewood from somewhere.
You have to borrow the spark from another flame, to relight your own.
Walking through the ashes alone makes me weary.
And yet, I cannot sleep.
The cycle never seems to end.
I need lightning.
I’ve been here before… but when?
Lucien shook his head, trying to clear it, the slight headache at the back of his skull protesting at the maneuver.
“Don’t bother trying to figure it out, Luc, it’ll all be clear shortly,” Petra stepped up next to him, sliding her hands to his shoulders to massage the tight muscles bunched and knotted there. She always knew just what to say, somehow, even though they’d only known each other for a semester. Another thing Lucien had yet to figure out. This weird, almost… instantaneous connection he’d had with Petra, from the moment he’d met her in Ancient Mythology Studies class.
“Let’s go sit while we wait for the others, shall we?” Petra nudged him from behind, guiding him across the – well, the only thing Lucien could call it was – salon, because they were in an extremely old, Renaissance-era home, and this would have been a meeting room, where guests would have been entertained. Luckily, it was now Petra’s home, and she had more modern sensibilities, so the dainty furniture of a bygone era was replaced with deep leather couches, extremely plush chairs, and all manner of side tables, comfortable lighting for reading, and lots of lush, green plants. It was a room for sinking in and getting comfortable, or for lounging around of an evening with family and friends.
Lucien dropped onto one of the deep couches, patting the spot next to him, and Petra immediately followed, curling her legs up behind her and leaning into his shoulder.
“What’s this all about, Pet? I’ve been feeling weird all week, and this stuff tonight has got me wound up tighter than an 8 day clock.” Lucien grimaced, but snugged his arm around her back, pulling her in closer. It wasn’t really a romantic gesture, it was…just comfortable, in an odd way.
And that was the thing Lucien really found weird.
Lucien loved women. He loved the way they spoke, the way they thought, the way they made him feel. He loved everything about them, and had dated many, always trying to be a gentleman, even when it didn’t work out.
Petra was lovely, gorgeous, in fact.
And he hadn’t hit on her once in the whole time he’d known her.
And since they’d met, he hadn’t felt like dating anyone at all.
What the hell was wrong with him?!?
“It’s OK, Luc. Byrin will explain everything when we’re all here. Just, please, be patient.” Petra smoothed out a wrinkle in his shirt with her hand and laid her head on his shoulder, smiling as he let out a huff.
“Fine. I’ll hear him out.”
20 minutes later, Luc was pretty sure he’d fallen down a rabbit hole with Alice, and hit his head on a rock in Wonderland.
He knew everyone in the room…but couldn’t tell you what their names were.
Petra had gotten up when the first people had started arriving, making sure everyone had drinks, found a seat, took their coats. But she didn’t introduce anyone, which Lucien found extremely odd. Petra was always a stickler for manners. This was way out in left field. Lucien found his brows drawing down to the center of his forehead in puzzlement, trying to figure it all out. Petra’s eyes flashed to his, sparkling with amusement.
Dammit, she’s doing this on purpose! He thought to himself. And when she winked, he flushed, knowing it was true.
At that moment, one of the guys, he looked to be about 40-ish, stepped up in front of the fireplace and placed his tumbler on the mantelpiece, turning again to face the room and its occupants.
“Everyone, I’m Byrin, and I know at least some of you are confused as to why we’re all here, so I’ll explain,” he rubbed his hands together as though trying to light a fire between his palms.
“What I’m about to tell you is probably going to sound fantastical, you might think I’ve gone round the bend, or you might have a sudden realization that you really want to be someplace, anyplace else right away.
“But – I’m asking you to suspend judgment. I’m asking for your patience and open-mindedness, just for the length of time it takes me to finish my tale, and to possibly answer a few questions. Maybe even some of your own. After that, if you wish to leave, no one will stop you.
“You might have noticed that you recognize the other people here tonight, but don’t know why. You also might have a sense of deja vu about this house, or this neighborhood, possibly even just the city. There is a very good reason for this.
“We are Chosen.
“Chosen what, you might ask?
“Well… Chosen Family, in a way. Not bound by blood, but by time and by our souls.”
At this Byrin raised one hand and nodded, as though to forego any incredulous looks.
“I know, how that sounds, but we have all been bound together, lifetime after lifetime, as a family. In one life or another we each CHOSE to join this circle of souls, and we seek one another out, every time we reincarnate.
“How else do you explain that we all instinctively know each other, connect instantly, and yet…here, in this room, right now, you can’t name each other?”
Lucien blinked absently at Petra, her, nodding back at him, and she smiled wide and walked over to Byrin and took his hand and spoke now.
“I’ve known Byrin in this life for a little over a year. I knew as soon as we bumped into one another at the market that we were connected somehow, and I’ve met a couple of you others since. It is hard to grasp, at first. But once you let the weirdness wash away, and settle into the familiarity of the Family, it’ll quickly remind you that you’re home. Please, don’t let the weird push you away. Chosen Family is so much better, plus…there are other perks…”
And Petra’s eyes sparkled again with a mischievous glint as she released Byrin’s hand.
“Once you accept the Family, and your place in it, you get to remember all your previous lives and – including some truly…magickal gifts.”
Lucien watched, stunned, as Petra snapped her fingers and disappeared, only to reappear instantaneously at the other side of the room, grinning wildly.
Byrin shook his head and chuckled, pulling the attention of the room once again with a slight cough.
“Just remember – no one is forced to do anything. All of this is a Choice. Every lifetime, you get to choose. And even if you choose not to stay, you can still reincarnate & choose to come back in the next life.”
“Because blood may last a life time, but Chosen Family is eternal.”