Thankful

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So what are you thankful for?

In this moment I’m thankful for my sons. Cove (6) is a strong beautiful boy, already capable of listening to his instincts. He continues to be an individual – thoughtful, aware, and kind. Cove’s energy is sturdy with a sense of mystery. When I look at him I see his Mom, but as he gets older I’m starting to see a lot of my features. His personality reminds me a lot of myself – curious, creative, disciplined. But he’s still a little boy. When he gets shy around others, he fights his smile, until he can’t anymore and it just comes bursting out. Above the corners of his mouth he gets little dimples when his mannerism are free and reacting to the moment. Cove is gentle, sweet, emotionally aware and analytical. He’s careful, polite, and interested in making things. Cove is the moon – as it presents different looks of itself, you can’t help but notice, and be struck by how when full, its so bright in the darkest of times.  His sturdy presence gives me courage, it gives me peace, a calm reminder of how patient we are to be, because life is living and it’s wonderful if we make room for it to be.

Then there’s his little brother, Valley (3), a “wow” child. Magnificent in how he navigates others. Bursting with goodness, his smile is glued on his face almost the entire day. Valley is social – he loves people, feeds off their energy. There is no middle of the road for my young son. If he gets upset he wears it all over his face. He is the type of person that will randomly tell you he loves you, its constant – When the house is quiet and I’m reading, Valley will come up to me and say “I love you daddy”, then give me a big hug, and kiss my face. He is the Sun – a bright and energy giving human. There is no moment to big for him, he lights up the room, and dives head first into things he doesn’t know how to do. His approach to life is through love and he inspires me to not forget my own values, to not forget that I too feed off others, to not forget that no matter how hard things can be no situation gets to ruin our ability to live through love. Together, our children are growing into complete pictures, healthy, steady – they have been through the storm yet their energy remain childlike, joyful, and curious.

What else am I thankful for?

It’s been a rough couple months. The health of important people in my family has been a constant. But I’m grateful for having the chance to help, and bond through the tough times. My Mom almost died. Just typing that doesn’t feel real. She is on the rise though, her energy is moving, getting its fire back. We are closer than we’ve ever been, probably since I was in high school, leaving the nest for the first time.

Similar to this, I’m grateful for my bond with my Aunt Kazzie, and Aunt Kelli – two amazingly strong women who have been through hell and back throughout their life. But somehow they manage to muster enough courage to take on more for others. My Aunt Kazzie has the most beautiful laugh – showing up when the moment needs it most. Her ability to still feel joy when it’s hard inspires me to keep going. Her dedication to God is something I admire, while I’m not all the way in my following, I take her guidance very seriously. And because of her I talk to God almost daily, asking for the courage, wisdom, and strength to see the path.  She is my friend, like Mom to me, and I appreciate her so much. My Aunt Kelli, she’s just a force, a super human loyalist whose persistence and love shows me how much more we can do for others, even when we sacrifice more of ourselves than we really should. She’s always been the hippie Aunt, and as I’ve gotten older I see more and more of that in her, we bond on those lines of similarity. Her name pops up in my head when I think of the word “good”, she’s just a damn fine human being. Both of them have been my rock these past couple months, as they are for so many other people. They make me a better person, and I love them. We are friends for life.

Through all the rough and tumble my time with Grandma in October will always be a point in my life I remember. I got to spend two weeks with her, staying with her, having late night chats, hearing about story’s from the past I’d never heard. She persistently encouraged me to see myself, to not lose sight of how special I am, never missing a moment to say “you’re beautiful Ryan”.  She is doing a lot better, getting ready to move into a new house, excited, ordering new quilts for her room. I usually get a quilt from her every couple years. I sleep with two quilts every night, both of them were hers. Call it a safety thing, or just cozy, it makes me feel good covering up with things I know my G Ma loves.

Lastly, I’m thankful for waking up today and having the “fire” to do this. Somehow I still have the urge to work, to create, to share. No matter what happens with anything I do, I still can’t believe I find ways to motivate this way of life for myself. I have woken up to the reality that I am myself, and its pretty cool man.

Happy Thanksgiving…go be thankful today, but more importantly be thankful tomorrow too, and so on.

Holiday Music

Ah, so I forgot about holiday music while shopping. The one thing you can’t predict when needing a few things for Thanksgiving – the damn music piping through the house system. This holiday season I am single, lighter, the good kind of edgy, but still a tough swallow.  My kids live in another state, and my family has had some real health scares,  so when I have to quickly hop into the pots and pans section because the tears are about to come – I get kind of pissed about it, but let it be, then experience it. I owe myself that moment. With that said, I would love to shop somewhere that played nothing, or something upbeat without words, easy on the minor waves…maybe some free jazz that’s so free its quiet?  Jazz is the shelter from getting all tangled up in too much of my own raw emotion. My oldest son was with me as I took a moment in the kitchen goods section, I saw a pale green sauce pan out of the corner of my eye that looked cool. We stopped in the middle of the isle – I forced myself to listen to the void like feeling these old classics were putting out. The tears began their dance right behind my eyes, like a small fleet ready to nose dive over the falls  – a cascade of memory, confusion, and relief. But they never came. My body felt the way you do when you cry, but no tears. Such an odd reaction, almost if my head is not in sync with my heart. I’ve mentioned on here before how I think the two of them need couples counseling. Leaving the store I started laughing…

“You know its sad holiday music when you’re on the verge of a break down in the pots and pans section”

I’m going to try and live every moment fully, every damn feeling that comes I’m jumping headfirst, not really every feeling but I won’t be running to booze, or some mask like response…bring it and bring it so hard I cry in a store. And I ask for it knowing I’ll get up from it, becoming the next chapter of my existence. Plus, isn’t that the point of living? Emotion, feeling, and expression is LIFE?  And lets not forget my favorite parts – recording new material, painting a new canvas, dancing, and of course putting it all down in words. Emotion + Risk + Truth = Creativity

“Emotional waves are small gifts and we should honor each one of them”

Today is day two of my sons weeklong visit. Having them home is wonderful, it makes me feel whole – a reminder that I have a family and I will always be Dad to them. Its not easy, much of the time you spend in your own day-to-day life is trying not to remember how much time you had with them just a couple years ago. Not to say I want to forget that time, I just need to accept its over, and move on in this new phase of life.  Have I got use to not waking up with them every morning? No. But you deal with it – not because you feel great, but you can’t do much about it, other than make it work no matter how complicated or difficult. So you go to the park with them on a sunny day in November, run around like a child, go down the slides, hide behind plastic walls, be a kid, be with them, be a pirate and make weird noises, feel the crisp air, feel the love, be present as if you’ll never be again. That’s the area I’ve been working on since my divorce was final last August – to just be happy with what you have rather than sad about what you don’t. Yeah, that’s more or less the point of life I think – the mode we’re all trying to reach.

I do think we can wish and pray for a greater experience. We can work out the kinks, sending good things in the world with our behavior. I try to…even in the darkest of moments – the voice in my head is a constant reminder when I’m being mean or ungrateful, or just impatient (I hate that one) even if it’s only in my mind. It’s annoying when you just want to be one of those people that seem to have no feelings. I know deep down they feel things (some don’t at all) but acting in your life is a solid tool to hide from pain. I think I can act, just never learned how not to say what I feel, even if makes me look foolish, or weak. Somewhere along the way I figured the only strength I was interested in was expression in the form of “self” honesty, whatever it is, holding it in feels too damn awful. It’ll get you into some thick chats about things that are uncomfortable. The question you have to ask yourself is, who gets to decide what’s ok to say or not to say…society in its current form?

Nope.

 

 

 

Tuxedo Cat

The tuxedo cat living on my porch is still playing hard to get. I’m still not sure what to call him/her. Each day I place a cup of food in the porcelain bowel, fill up a small water dish, say good morning or good night, and close the door behind me. I’ve tried for months to cut down the distance between us. It’s half of what it was over the summer. He/she even walked by me the other day, quickly, but still, its progress. A few moments ago I was sitting on my porch and chatting with the Tuxedo cat. He/she is beautiful, mysterious, dark, like the ideal image of the Woman I’ve yet to meet, but dream about. I can’t help but see the symbolism between this wandering feral and my life with others – close enough to feel, far enough away to evade. The cat stares at me with these curious eyes, it’s waiting for me to present myself differently. It’s drowning in its own history, mentally PTSD to death by past trauma. It wants so badly to engage, to speak to me, to come in my fold and get the healing it needs. But it isn’t the right time yet. It doesn’t flow all the way yet. In many ways I gauge my own progress with the distance between the porch cat and me. He/she is a measure of where I am in patience with myself, like a daily exercise of mediation, and willingness to wait. Symbolism, so much of it right in my face, hovering, stirring, revealing, and protecting my major zone of safety, home. It’s empowering to see the connection between a homeless animal and my own existence. The types of lines and connections that can be drawn suggest awareness growing, a progress moving, stirring, and power within this space. It’s giving me wisdom to see, and hear, to be turned down enough to explore whats behind things.  Or maybe it’s just a cat that wants food, and nothing more? Who knows, but if you can learn something, even from the short moments with a stranger cat, why not see the connections? I see you.

I read online a few helpful tips to cope with stressful thoughts. One of the more entertaining ones was to place yourself in a circle, then place those you love and those that make you feel good in that circle. Then make another circle, place the next row of people in your life, those that are close but not inside yet. After you make these circles, draw another one, and inside that circle put the things giving you a hard time. Picture this circle far away from you, way out; so far away the visions cannot see. My experience with this has helped. I see myself inside a circle, my kids, mom, my closest friends, Grandma, others in my life. We are in the Valley. In the distance is a mountain in a storm. When I see the negative circle, its hovering near the mountain, watching me, waiting, stalking my experience. In my vision I realize it isn’t far enough away from me. I have to physically burry this circle; go on a trek to destroy it. I am carrying it toward the mountain. There’s a heavy storm, clouds rolling by, lightning, dark, so dark. I walk to the left in the foothills, past the point of where I can look back and see the circle that protects me. We enter the woods, its wet, the ground soggy, just before the final winter. I find a place under a dead tree, digging a hole about 6 ft deep, and placing the circle inside – Covering it up with dirt, the silhouettes inside stay still, not moving, not fighting for life, just staring through the glass, frozen in its own misery, a corpse of shallow films. I place my foot on the ground where it’s buried; taking in the space between what is still living, and the death of the past. Then I run, and run, and run back to my people, taking my place in the 1stcircle.

I’m laughing right now reading over this before posting it. Writing is such a gift to enjoy; it can take you anywhere if you give it time to breathe inside of you. Not for anyone or anything, just good honest expression, free from challenges, free from any limitations if you allow it to be the mechanism to learn the most about whom you are, a flowing choreography of being, living your life. Nothing else is happening. That’s comforting.

I think there’s a reason I haven’t named this cat.

 

 

Home, Again

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Coming home after a trip can be a couple different things. For me, I clean my place before I leave. Not spotless or Type A extreme, just centered, even, without clutter. It makes it easier. I’m a minimalist in most areas of my life.  I was initially a bit edgy when I left the Airport last night. The damn automated machine wouldn’t take my parking pass, so I had to fool with that for 20 minutes. It cost 50 friggin dollars to park for the weekend. Total bullshit, but whatcha gonna do? I did flirt with the idea of jumping the curb.

When we landed, Knoxville was almost 60, clear skies, warm with sun beating down to recharge my tired bones. I threw on my shades and smoked a cig by the car. Took it all in, the air, the weekend, the weeks before, life, all of it.  After so much socialization and shared energy in Chicago, to be alone on my way home felt bigger than it would normally. I played Thelonious Monk, called my Mom to catch up, see how she was doing. We talked for a bit, told her I would be over in the AM to take her to the doctors, and run some errands. I had a new friend coming over in a couple hours, which was nice, we are getting to be quite close, bonding in Art, other things about life.

Walked in my spot and it felt good to be home, open energy, natural, mine, and mine alone. I’m grateful to have my independence, to have my home back as it should be, with taste, maturity, and peace. My friend got there, and we sipped a few drinks, listened to tunes, and I filled them in on my weekend adventure. We relaxed in the soft light of my two-dollar lamp.

Going to sleep, I was exhausted. Took a hot shower, fell into my lush king size bed which is covered in pillows. I use all of them in my sleep. Turn this way, grab three, turn that way, grab the other three, two between my legs, real G shit. Its wonderful, and I snooze it well with all this room to myself. Two blankets my Grandma gave me, cozy quilts that fit my general aesthetic, minimal, but cozy. I love my house.

Morning came, phone is ringing at 7am, it said “Facetime Call from Holly” which means, my sons are calling me. I hit answer and there is my youngest son, Valley (almost 4). His beautiful eyes and smile looking at me “Hey Daddy, why is it so dark?” I just started laughing; the smile on my face had taken ownership of my entire face. We talked for 20 minutes, giggling, catching up. I  felt grateful for this moment. The universe is telling me things constantly. Every time the poison pill of the past sneaks up like a back zit, the love in my life goes “pop!” the timing is almost eerie how quickly it sweeps the negative away.

The rest of the day was good. Mom and me hung out, grabbed lunch. I had a classic cheeseburger, french fries, and two delicious cocktails, proper post vacation food I think. We shopped for furniture for the new condo, its some real privilege, that condo. I have keys, I work out there, and crash when I want to, yeah…pretty dope. We talked about the future, property, airbnb ideas, how we can hustle together. I have a friend who doesn’t have either of his parents around anymore. Before I left for Chicago, he sent me pages of his book yet to be published. Its fantastic, I read the first half in a morning last week. I think of him when I’m with my Mom, I think about the phone ringing and seeing her name, or when I call and she answers. I think about how many times I have taken this space for granted. She is doing better, getting healthier, still a struggle but she’s going to be 100 eventually, I believe in her.

During the day I started reaching out to people locally I hadn’t spoken with in over a year. One of them used to sing in Jazz bands in Europe, and I miss seeing her.  I’m looking forward to getting back into their spaces, enjoying them. I’m also signing up for a class in December that will bring a big boost to my life. It’s the beginning of a new path, a way forward that will solidify things, keep me stable enough to move around, keeping creativity as my partner for life.

“The old things behind you are on fire, and will continue to burn away”

Chicago To Knoxville

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Slept about five hours last night. That’s an hr and some change more than my average all weekend. When you come to Chicago that’s how it shakes out in the end. Writing while being here has been a lot of fun, more importantly, what it did was give me a guide for discipline. If you’re going to be the thing, then you gotta be the thing. After the first day I thought, who cares, felt lazy, but those are the moments that test you. You do it anyway, for yourself. Big day today, a new song of mine went out everywhere online this morning. Perfect timing for this vacation to have so much output says something about how I feel as an individual. When it gets hard, you dig in and make something. No person will change that for me.

Walked up to café this morning with my boy, mashed a garlic bagel, chive cream cheese, and downed a cold brew coffee. We recapped the weekend, cracked up over a few things. Reflected on the folx who came over for dinner last night. It was a splendid evening, delicious food, great wine, capped off with pumpkin pie – a pre thanksgiving gathering done with ease. I got to meet a friend’s new partner. I was told we would hit it off. He’s an artist of many different things, successful and well-spoken, wearing the punk sensibility proper, but a father, a man, centered in his self it seemed. We chewed on giving credit to others when you work on a project. How important it is for everyone involved to get that nod, and essential for creativity to celebrate a collective energy. I like him for sure, and I’m happy for them, they deserve this love.

His partner is someone I met a few years ago through friends in the music scene. She is a fantastic DJ. I was really looking forward to seeing her. She is honest about where she is in the moment, thoughtful, deep, but funny as shit too. We spoke about the music scene, dance music. How it felt “bankrupt” right now and she needs to take a break to see where to go from here. She asked how life was, how my children were, what was new, and how music is going for me.

The other gal who brought the pumpkin pie (clutch move sister)  is another favorite to hang out with. She is full of life, colorful, authentic in how she talks to people, just a quality human being, and also off the chain funny. I hadn’t seen her in a couple years either. We all sat around the table during dinner, playing “I spy” with the kids. During the prep we chilled in the Kitchen while our hosts worked their magic getting things ready. The evening was filled with laughter, smiles, and good conversations – parenting, music, art, friendships, language, history, stories, progress, etc.

You couldn’t ask for a better end to a perfect weekend. My hosts were wonderful, their new home felt like being home. No pressure, no awkwardness, just acceptance and love. It felt good waking up in a house full of heartbeats. Nothing went wrong, no bad energy, just great times. Our circle keeps growing, and the new faces are perfect additions to it all.

I’m at the airport waiting to head back to Knoxville. Waiting for me is rest, and quiet – a future wide open. I have a lot to decide in the next weeks. Where am I going? What can I add to my life that is good for me? Its exciting, but also scary as shit.