April 18, 2013
April 14, 2013
“Mom, you just said something nice about the new house, I am so proud of you!” my new teenager said.
“Oh MY GOD, I did?! I didn’t mean it, I take it back.” I replied.
I am finding it’s one thing to make hopeful declarations and another thing to have to actually live in the Old Trashy House. There has been more than one Hollywood tantrum (as my sister calls them) this week…and maybe a few Anne of Green Gables “depths of despair” crying moments as well. I know it’s one of those times that I will return to years from now and wonder how I ever could have been such a brat, or maybe I’ll be evolved enough to remember myself in kindness and love that dear girl because everything made sense after all.
I wake up every morning and desperately miss the view of the sun rising and watching the pink light creep up the walls to fill the old magic house so easily, with no effort at all. I keep looking for the light here, both literally and figuratively. I see how much the old place and people kept me going, how the light was held for me… and this just isn’t that. Even so, while I kick and scream, I am discovering there is something about the dark.
It’s the kind of dark where you finally say you don’t think you can do something and you acknowledge the need for a light that carries you in a new way, or you must sort of struggle and sit in the dark before the light comes to rescue you or you find your own. Or maybe no rescue is needed at all, maybe the dark is the way. The need or the one thing that makes you unlovable may just be the thing that takes you where you are meant to be or go. It may be in this honesty with ourselves that we find the way…and each other.
…and I am finding that our kindness doesn’t have to come from the best part of ourselves, it can come from our pain, our healing, the darkest places of who we are…because those are the the birth places of our humanity and the exact places we are all connected.
In some strange way even while it’s still shitty and hard, this lets me sigh, a deep sigh…as I make friends with the dark.
March 28, 2013
March 17, 2013
Office Depot guy (big burly man): How are you today?
He said to me while I wandered the store aimlessly…
Me: I’m…(pause)….I’m alright.
I said with a pathetic half smile and a disheveled braid.
Office Depot guy: (belly laughs half for a hot second) Ummm, are you okay?
Me: (laughing back) No, not really…but I will be. But I think I am actually just a little bit better now…since you came back with that second run through and all, you know, after I told you the truth.
Surprisingly, this man did not appear to think I was bat-shit crazy.
Office Depot guy: Ohhhh good, sometimes that’s all it takes.
And in one instant…we were together…completely connected, this guy, for just a moment, was my community.
And the best part is, we may never see each other ever again.
And he has no idea that I have been crying for 2 days over having to move and from the outside looking in, it all seems kind of ridiculous to be so sad over moving 5 miles away…but from the inside looking out, there is a wave of reflection and grief because now I know what I am losing and how this place changed me…and how deep it runs inside of me.
I used to be a nomad of sorts, moving from place to place, setting up my shop of goodness for soul business. I offered an array of love and kindness, standing behind the counter dolling out the goods, then I hid and retreated when I was tired or had nothing left to share… but I rarely received, I am not sure I always even knew how to or knew I was even worthy.
I believed there was some kind of nobility in ultimately standing alone, that it exhibited some inner strength and honored some ancient familial legacy. I was verbally honest and occasionally vulnerable but had trouble taking the one last giant step…asking for help, or being seen in the one dark moment where rescue was sure to follow.
And it is a lot less dramatic than it sounds…it’s rather small and everyday actually…it was needing a ride for my kids to school, or a tiny bouquet of flowers left on a door, or one song sent my way, or one conversation (or 30) where one kind friend tells you the truth about yourself that you can’t see while kids run around and interrupt 57,000 times.
…and I was afraid of true community, because it meant my soul being all out there and others finding out just how much I do not have my shit together… and it meant I might need and depend on people, it meant that I might be rejected or that people might fail me, but it also meant that:
community carries us to the next place of learning, growing understanding
community shows us how pissed we are at each other when something just isn’t right among us
community asks us to hold space for each other when we can’t hold it ourselves
community tells us to try again, or have a do-over
community asks us to add yet another seat at the table, and makes sure everyone is there, to find the others
community requires that we look inside ourselves and own our own shit so we can love and build what we know it is meant to be
community reminds that we are better together, that we find relief in leaning in, and in turn our hearts swell with a great gratitude that keeps the circle going
community melts us, and is messier than we imagined or hoped
community calls us to do what love asks
….when it is joyful
….especially when it is hard.
and the truth is, we are all “the others”, wanting to be found ….and that community can take time to build and can also be as simple as just one moment, one exchange but it requires us to take a step outside of ourselves…sometimes that step is the easiest you’ll ever take, or like crossing a freakin’ marathon line and other times it feels like stepping off a cliff…but it doesn’t change that we have to do it, because we need each other and
…because we were never meant to stand alone. We are meant to find…and be found.
March 13, 2013
If I told you all the things that have happened in the last 2 weeks, you would shake your head, smile, have a furrowed brow, be angry, be proud, be sad, hold hope, and then maybe you would sigh. …because these are all the things that life is made up of.
To be honest, this is usually how my life goes, it isn’t really so peaceful in the way I sometimes wish it would be and yet a peace still resides at the bottom- in between the laughing, cursing and crying, of course.
…because our humanity brings us together…even the crappy parts of us and hopefully the tender parts where we need each other to live and be okay…the moments we lean in and the places we stand up tall because someone else shared their power and support.
Today there isn’t really a huge triumph or epiphany, it’s more of a survival or gut through sort of day…and on those days I read this quote from my friend Maat- even if it doesn’t stick, it’s the truth and the law I want to live.
It is our responsibility to deal gently with one another.
Goodness is the rule.
Kindness is the standard.
Humility and love are the guiding principles for every interaction.
I want to live by this law.
February 22, 2013
I have moved 10 times in 15 years. I know, I know…it’s a little bit crazy but we sort of love it. Finding the next place, meeting new people, clearing out for something different to learn, following wherever we are called to next. We moved while I was pregnant twice, LOTS of times with babies and just once from south to north. It wasn’t until we moved to the magic house that things sort of changed for me. Our big green house brought us out of a time of darkness and into a light brighter than I ever imagined.
Each house previously served as a haven of sorts. I always had an old lady neighbor to walk with and dote on my babies, or a wise friend that sat at my kitchen table, but other than that, it was just us. I lived so much of my life out in the world with kindness missions that I didn’t mind to have one quiet place to return to…one that was just about my family.
I thought when we moved to our big green house things would be much the same…but the house had a different story and plan for us. From the moment we walked in the door, the door just never closed. People and friends dropped by in a way they never had, neighbors and kids were drawn to the swing and secret garden.
Neighbors spent more time talking in the street than in their houses…this told me community was brewing hard and all that was required was to give each other a space so it could grow…so we did. Just the tiniest suggestion, a “…you know what we should do?” sent the plans into full motion. “I can bring this…” and “Yeah! Let’s do it!” were the forever answers. We had chili-cookoffs, beer tastings and girl power tea/tattoo parties, gave out free cotton candy, we celebrated kids birthdays and had one magical hurricane that left us holding the street (and each other) together in a deeper way.
We ate soup together while trees fell on some of our houses, and before we started helping each other with the great clean up, we cleaned out powerless refrigerators and and had a giant breakfast in the middle of the street together.
These people reminded my kids that the world is kind, even when they started to doubt. When their 2 beloved bikes were stolen off the front porch, a knock on the door just a day later opened to a the whole street standing together with 2 more bikes…and I cried like a baby.
It wasn’t long before kids past our street started coming over, mostly just to hang out and look up their Facebook pages or heat up a bag of ramen noodles…but then there were kindness projects to be done so they sat down at the porch table and started painting magic wands or helping me write notes. The house became an unintentional recreation center, one time I counted 17 children in my back yard.
All of this went on, and just became a way of life. I knew it was special but I didn’t think too much about it because we were so busy living it.
Then the phone rang Monday. It was was my very kind landlord who never once raised my rent in 3 years.
“”Patience, we have to sell the house.” he said.
My heart sank but my knee jerk reaction was to be positive. I knew, knew, knew he wanted to sell the house to us and I knew instantly we would not be able to buy it. I could feel how hard it was for him to make the call, for he knew the magic of the house too…he chose it, he called it out, he started his family here and had a baby right in the very bedroom where I now sleep.
“It’s really okay.” I said. “I’m not afraid of change, it always takes you where you need to go…I really believe that.”
And it was one of those times your soul speaks something into being that it knows to be true but your heart hasn’t exactly caught up yet. …but you have to say it, you know it is true, and you know you will follow it either way.
I got off the phone, looked up a hopeful song…played it on repeat and cried.
The next day I jumped on craigslist and worried about my kids. Where are we going? What will happen next? …and I was sad and all I could think about was Lucy mostly, for she is the keeper of family and community…and she feels things the deepest- loss, joy, fate.
My own questions about the future got the better of me that afternoon. I wanted to just drive by a house I saw listed. I didn’t tell Lucy too much information just that I was going to check something out. She was way too smart and intuitive for such a move on my part.
“Mom, why are we looking at a house? ARE WE MOVING?!” she asked.
I don’t know yet baby.” I lied.
It was as if she and the rest of the kids somehow already knew everything on some level but the energy returned wasn’t anything I expected. They were strangely hopeful.
We rolled up to a very sad looking house. Very sad. Lucy was the first to weigh in.
“OH MOM! I LOVE this old trashy house, I just know we can make it magical!” she said with so much hope in her heart. All the rest of the kids immediately piped in with the same sentiment.
“We have each other mom, that’s all that matters… and there is a SUBWAY right by this house, that is so great! SUBWAY! “
“We can do this mom, we can make it here! There is a park right there for me to film my movies…”
I forgot. I forgot this was always the mission of our family, to trust the change, to go where we are called…to take with us the magic that the people we love so much have taught us and pass it on…to walk boldly into the next chapter…to make the trashy house magical.
…and I don’t know what will happen next and I am still incredibly sad but I know I have to follow their lead. If for no other reason than to encourage this hopefulness in the world…that in a month or two we may all be crying in our cheerios missing everything we lost but will still find our way…knowing we have each others’ backs.
…and follow all the kindness waiting for us there.
Lucy’s note to the next family lucky enough to live in the magic house…
TONIGHT!!! Don’t forget tonight I will be hosting and telling stories at the Richmond Famous Richmond Comedy Coalition show at Gallery 5 at 8pm!!! Early tickets ($5) still available here: http://richmondfamousps.eventbrite.com/
Show up at the door and pay $10!
200 West Marshall Street, Richmond, VA 23220, USA
Hope to see you there!!!
February 20, 2013
So grateful to have my friend Nicki Peasley once again carry this blog along. There are days when I want to say things, but I just can’t. …and every time this sort of happens too many days in a row, Nicki pops up, like somehow she knows…because we are in this together, because this blog belongs to her and her heart, the same way it does to all of us who love and want to follow kindness. Enjoy her tender wisdom today…
photo and essay by Nicki Peasley
I have been living in a medley of metaphors this year. Reality seems an illusion. Its noise hushed by some mysterious universal rhythm. It is from this transcendent place, which in the past would have caused me great anxiety, I am beginning to discover the life that flows beneath life, the sweet poetry available to each and every one of us on our collective journey to wholeness.
I’ve been teaching and co-creating with children around the African philosophy of Ubuntu. Which means, we are each of us brilliantly unique AND we are ONE. And each time I experience the “story circle” that brings this idea to life, I can feel my bones and my heart and my spirit expanding to more fully hold the paradox of the individual and the collective, our difference and our sameness. My brain, on the other hand, is working double time to keep up. The challenging mental chatter… How can I be in my unique power AND surrender to the simplicity and comfort of oneness?
I’ve always been more at home in the ethereal world than in my own body. My energy worker (brilliant alchemist that she is) smiles when she tunes into my chakras. There’s very little going on below my heart, but at the heart and above is big and bold and untamed energy, a lot of it. So my task (one of many on my healing path) is to harness that high vibration and embody it. To redefine power as love and co-create from that human place.
Hmmm, what’s a girl living outside of her body to do, but take a whole-hearted leap into some purple (and floral) Doc Martens. Bring some Heaven into my feet. And dance though the hallway of life, not banging down any doors, barely even knocking, just being accessible to possibility. Waiting for a door to open, an invitation to be extended, an opportunity to practice being in my power AND creating oneness with the world.
And guess what? It’s working. Somehow though this frivolous shoe metaphor, I am learning to embrace my humanity. To love the messiness of being in a body. To expand my definition of purity (that I always equated with divinity) to include the shame and fear necessary in the organic unfolding of human being.
“The house” has a big place in this discovering process, as well. Bear with me as I mix metaphors. We spend the first half of our lives (which, according to Richard Rohr, has nothing to do with age and everything to do with human development) building our identity and putting some thick walls around it to protect it. We tuck shame away in the basement and show the world our pretty faces. Then one day, through some crisis, the house falls down. And we are living among our demons, and scared out of our pants.
So, we frantically start to rebuild our house, our identity. Until we find some courage to take a risk, to gently lean into the fear to finally uncover the bliss of true freedom, outside of those walls that we thought defined us and protected us.
As we move through the world in this raw and vulnerable way, we have no choice but to name and expose and finally love our personal shame. To admit that evil may exist AND, because we are All of it, we have the capacity to be evil, just as we have the capacity to be pure. And we learn to love each other, not despite our darkness, but because of it.
And somewhere on our individual hero’s journeys, we come upon a perpetual campground filled with other people whose houses have fallen down. People who have also entered the second “half” of life, who are dancing the sacred dance TOGETHER. People who have stopped trying to be special and have started to just be. And we understand that we don’t have to build another house. We are already home.
I’ve connected with some amazing people on this campground. And experienced the true spirit of oneness. Prayers for Ubuntu answered.
I met “Angel” about a year ago. She sits on the rail and takes care of the cats. She has no home (literally), yet she is always joyful and grateful and kind. Our encounters have been serendipitous, filling each other with the necessary comforts of real time and the necessary wisdom of REAL time.
Last week, we went to an RV lot to explore the possibility of a home for Angel. I went in a bit blind, without the important information I really needed to act as her advocate. My husband’s caution ringing in my head, I ignored it, choosing to let Love lead. And lead it did.
We were greeted by a woman at the shop who was busy preparing for the big RV show at the fairgrounds. Her humanity took up the whole room. She introduced herself as Shelby and then apologized for her shoes (she was trying to break them in and evidently she didn’t think they went with her outfit). I directed her attention to my purple floral boots, which certainly didn’t “go” with my outfit either—but did “go” with my personality. She liked that.
Shelby shook Victoria’s hand, looked her in the eye, and said, “How can I help?” Victoria handed her an ad from 2011 for a very reasonably priced used RV. Shelby smiled and said how honored she was that Victoria had held on to the ad for so long. Then to Angel’s obvious disappointment and embarrassment, Shelby said she no longer had RVs in that price range.
“But let me show you what we have. Let’s see what might suit you.” For the next hour and a half, Shelby showed us every model on the lot. She shared her story and listened deeply to ours. She stepped out of the RVs to give Angel privacy to “feel the space.” “Lay down on that bed, Lady. Can’t buy an RV that you’re not comfortable in.”
Back in the office, Shelby ran some numbers. She completed a loan application. She called her personal banker to ask questions.. She held us with compassion and respect…and a deep and sacred sense of our shared humanity.
Ahhh, what is possible when we stand in our purple boots, in our unique power AND in our sameness, our oneness!
A parting metaphor as my mind still struggles to hold the paradox of power and surrender.
We are in a canoe, together. I am in yours. You are in mine. We are flowing through the river of innocence. So in tune with the ALL of it, with the life beneath life. We know when to exert our will, when to row; and we know when to be still and let the river hold us. We are in the flow of life. Embraced by the mystery. Living Ubuntu. Living Love. Together.
Nicki Peasley is a student of life and a teacher of love. In the past, she developed curricula and worked (played and learned and told stories) with elementary and middle school youth. Now, she is living in the question of what’s next. Perhaps just being human is more than enough.