Monthly Archives: February 2017

welcome

Welcome!

Isn’t that a warm and inclusive word?

You are welcome here!

I was recently struggling with two apparently conflicting beliefs: I shouldn’t be ugly, and I shouldn’t be beautiful.

There’s intense pressure on women to be beautiful. It supposedly adds value, worth. Magazines, television, films, videos — all capitalize on this. We’re inundated with images of the “right” way to look.

As a result, jealousy is rampant. I’ve been on both the sending and receiving end of jealousy and I’ve come to realize that:

Comparison is the tool of the devil.

I am ME! You are YOU! Ain’t that grand? How fabulous and healthy that we come in all colors, all shapes, all sizes.

There is no, one, right HUMAN.

Jealousy is exhausting and ruins relationships. When I was 17, my body and face morphed into beauty personified. I went from cute to goddess, which was confusing and scary. Men and women suddenly reacted to me completely differently. Friends behaved oddly. I was not prepared for the attention and venom. The hate in my mother’s eyes shook and cracked my foundation of love. Instead of helping me through this bizarre transition, she threw me to the wolves.

“I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with a beautiful daughter,” said my maternal grandmother, TO MY MOTHER.

It made me crazy. It made me suicidal. It made me angry. It made me completely isolated from any kind of support network, and prey to smooth-talking predators. Self-loathing blossomed within me. If my own mother doesn’t want me…

Honor roll Susie became arm candy. My looks superseded my native intelligence, my sense of humor, my innate creativity.

So being beautiful is dangerous. But what about ugliness?

When I was at my most diseased, being slowly poisoned by mold (unbeknownst to me), I weighed close to 200 pounds. At 5’7″ this was not healthy for me.  When I finally evacuated the house, I realized that if I wanted to live — and apparently I did, because I found myself driving toward the sea — I did not have the time or energy to hate myself anymore. Choose it or lose it.

I chose love. I chose to live. I chose to cut myself a break, to love myself as I would my own daughter, my own best friend. Compassionately, gently, tenderly. Forgivingly. Tolerant of mistakes and missteps.

It takes a lot of practice. Yeah, baby.

Last week I discovered, within myself, that:

Hate = Hurt

I have been deeply unwelcoming to “ugliness” — ignoring anger, hating fat, belittling sorrow, demeaning desire. Judgement crushed me into depressions over and over again. So hard to breathe. To love. To heal. To BE.

Enough of that! I can be both beautiful AND ugly.

I hereby welcome ALL my hidden thoughts and beliefs, the beautiful and ugly, joyful and sorrowful, disgusting, painful, sick, healthy, pornographic, violent, poor, prosperous, dark, light, depressed, happy. I welcome Eeyore AND Winnie-the-Pooh. And Tigger, too!

ALL of ME. Why not love ALL of ME?

Why not love ALL of YOU?

We’re here for such a short time.

“Seeds of Peace” by Elizabeth Shé: eggshells with rosemary for remembrance and the message, You are the Seed of Peace

I am loving you

Nothing is more important than loving. Nothing.

Yesterday, Shadow greeted me at the fence of his corral when I pulled up the car. I’d been out marketing. Instead of unloading the car immediately, I walked over to say hi. It’s so nice when someone is happy to see you!

We hung out for a while, and I reached up to scratch around his ears and forehead, removed the sleepers from his eyes, smoothed the fur under his chin. He put his long soft nose very gently next to my cheek and breathed me in. It’s been a long time since I allowed anyone that close to me. It felt like peace. It felt like love.

Last night, after unpacking and bathing and cooking and eating and cleaning and meditating, I started crying. I don’t want to love because I don’t want to lose. I shouldn’t love Shadow because he isn’t “mine.” I’m bound to lose him.

But when I turned that sentence around, I started laughing: Shadow shouldn’t love me because I’m not “his.” Ridiculous! We love who we love, whether they are “ours” or not, whether they live for three years, six years, or 90. Whether we have one day or one minute together.

I remember sitting next to Emmett under the pine tree in our front yard in Olympia one balmy evening. My neighbor was visiting and I was petting Emmett’s thick Malamute fur, scratching behind his floppy ears, massaging his ruff. I started crying. I thought my heart would burst, unable to contain the pure quantity of love I felt. “I love him so much,” I told her, and she nodded.

Sometimes it seems as though I’ve lost everyone I’ve ever loved. I don’t want to subject myself to that pain again.

Ha! Good luck with that, my darling! We are all terminal, every single one of us. So why not love along the way? Why turn away from the soft nose against the cheek? The kind word? The gentle rain of love falling on you right this minute?

Besides, I don’t really have a choice. I love who I love when I love. The so-called rational mind has nothing to do with it. It’s all heart.

“Cowboy Heart” by Elizabeth Shé

dots ‘n’ lines

I hiked a new route today. Decided to find the mythical Horse Camp at Montaña de Oro. Yellow poppies are beginning to bloom here, early signs of spring, or maybe just rain-appreciative plants. Also saw small pink morning glory-type flowers, low in the sand, like a succulent.

Map in my pocket, I follow Cisko’s horse tracks south through the chaparral. The air was ocean clean and fresh. Occasionally coyote tracks ran parallel to my path, then ran off into the brush. Mourning doves coo’d and a neighbor dog barked to note my passage.

Being on foot and coming from the dunes, I did not recognize the road to Horse Camp, so ended up hiking along the paved road for too long. Sunday morning surfers, mountain bikers, and hikers zipped by in their colorful, fast SUVs. No one else was walking.

Down through lines of equidistant eucalyptus trees, the forest of a get-rich-quick-schemer that didn’t profit him financially, but is now a haven for birds and squirrels and other wildlife. My nose is happy with the scent.

Up ahead I see a truck, and could it be? A horse trailer. Seven horses of various shades of brown and grey greet me. I hear a raucous laugh from behind them. There’s a tent with several humans sitting around a picnic table, breakfasting. I stop at a kiosk to read about ticks and lyme disease, then continue along the narrow path that skirts their camp.

“Good morning,” I whisper to the horses as I pass.

None of the other camp sites have campers, but a large covey of quail run through one of the corrals. Curious, I poke around. Wheelbarrows, muck rakes, pens fenced with metal pipe, water troughs. I’m smiling.

Yesterday, on the way back from my morning ocean ramble, Susan and Cisko were waiting for me at a fork in the trail near the ranch. When I stepped off the path to let them by, Susan said, “No, I was waiting to talk to you.” Cisko looked at me, then continued grazing, his mouth foaming green around his bit.

A few weeks ago, I’d emailed the folks at Return to Freedom, a wild horse sanctuary in SLO County. I’d asked Susan if she’d like to go with me sometime to check it out, and she wondered whether I’d heard from them.

“Nope,” I said.
“That’s weird,” she said.
“Maybe they don’t need volunteers in winter,” I hazarded.
“Maybe.”

We talked about Red Wings, another horse sanctuary up the highway 80 miles or so.

“Some of them are up for adoption,” I said.
“Are they ridable?” asked Susan.
“I don’t know; supposed to be. I have to check it out.”

Susan knows I want a horse. And once again, she offered to go with me to check out likely candidates.

“Thanks!” I said.

We made our goodbyes, then she and Cisko wheeled around to take the southern route, the one I chose this morning. I’d been walking in his big hoofprints.

I’m smiling because my horse dreams aren’t dead. I don’t know why the mind thinks up all kinds of reasons why I shouldn’t have what I want, but I am tired of listening to it. For 20 years I lived inland, despite my ocean longings. It took the threat of death for me to listen to my heart, my body.

Now I want the ocean, AND a horse, AND land, AND a home of my own. I am tempted to scale back my desires — are they unreasonable? Is happiness unreasonable?

Sure feels good, though, happiness.
Please god, may my next fifty years be happier than the last. And may yours be, too.

“dots ‘n’ lines” by Elizabeth Shé