This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Ancient. Community where I text.

It is day two of my moon cycle; one which I waited 67 days for. This long cycle encompassed a lot of tension and release and it feels, if you'll forgive me, thick.

I once brought home a lover. He had never been to my apartment before. We grew up in hugely disparate cultures, he from a Southwestern Mexican state and me from the US Midwest. He asked, "Do you only have women decorating your apartment?" Sometimes I think of him when I blog my intensely personal women experiences.

I couldn't get a seat on the train to work this morning, but felt such bubbling inside me; I sent text messages to my email instead. Looking at my in-box just now I saw messages from RASTASHASTA@VTEXT.COM and thought some spammer had gotten in and was asking for 6.8million dollars to be wired to my bank account from Nigeria. I hesitantly clicked the message and then wondered when I set that up, because the name on the texts are mine. Here's what I wrote:

Ancient. Community where I roam. Ministering. Listening in wet green sapling grove. Burnt out car. Rocks buried in chocolate mud. Life laid like a path leading across low prairie hills toward a dark mass made of the unknown. Stars brighter than anything. Heartbreak. A part made of scrapes, cuts, scars so deep they define the landscape. A poignant beauty whispers my wishes to me still.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Where's Our Serotonin? Why?

"Did you know that women have a quarter of the amount of naturally occurring serotonin in their physiology than men do?"

I wrote the above question in an entry back in April '08 when I was embarking on my detox. Davka wrote a comment to that post that I never answered and I would like to now. She wrote:
"wow- i can't believe that about the serotonin. i'd like to know the details of the study- maybe its a nurture thing instead of a nature thing. maybe we are all depressed because we live in a patriarchy? probably not"

Good question!
My doc, a funny, wise, opinionated old codger, postulates that the reason behind the lower levels of serotonin are evolutionary: nature - not nurture. I'm sure it's at least a little of both, like it always is. His idea is that the serotonin disparity between the sexes came from when we were still hunter/gatherers.

Science break: We're all aware that we lived in hunter/gatherer societies for a long ass time right? Science tells us that Homo erectus (why is that still funny?) evolved about 3.2 million years ago. Those erect humans did not learn to cultivate plant life until 10,000 years ago. So here, "long ass" = 3,190,000 years. Right, my brain doesn't comprehend that either.
In the human tribes men, typically, were the hunters. Why was this the way? It probably has everything to do with birth: since the lady birthed the baby, she had to stay with the baby. And wild cat hunts are, as we all learned in first grade, no place for babies. I'm just guesstimating here. I am curious about what history exists to read on this subject, so if anyone knows of a good book tell me the name and I'll add it to my reading list.
So the men were the ones out hunting the meat to feed themselves and their tribes. The hunting these men did, over long periods of time, helped them evolve strong coping mechanisms so they could track, stalk and kill their prey. One of the coping mechanisms they developed a cache of was probably the compound serotonin. Serotonin doesn't only make us happy, it desensitizes us by cushioning our nervous system from the stresses of the world. It also keeps us sharp and physically healthy.
That is the origin of my doctor's theory on why women have a quarter of this happy compound readily available in the make up of their brains than men do. My doctor credits this "lack" of serotonin with enabling women to be more sensitive to the world around them. We are more acutely aware of stresses, he theorizes, which is why we often suffer more from depression, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and a slew of other hormone, serotonin and stress related symptoms.
I would venture to bet the Davka is a bit right on too, which her assertion that perhaps it is the culture we live which trends us toward depression as well. Women in modern culture are given far less respect then they were afforded when the human body was evolving. Cartoons love to characterize that time as a time of cave men dragging their women around by the hair but that is an asinine way to view the way it was.
The people of that time had to really struggle for survival. Every man, woman, child and other gendered person (and they definitely fucking existed then, they were respected then as well) has to pull their own weight so the tribe didn't starve or get taken over. The women had to do the bulk of the work at any place the tribe set up to stay for a time because the men were out hunting. What were the other gendered people doing? Being medicine people and shamans historically. True, I'm probably mixing my time periods severely, but I couldn't leave that important part out. Trans people were mega respected in many (if not most) indigenous tribes.

Back to the previous subject, (bio-) women and serotonin. How do we protect and build our serotonin reserves naturally? You've heard the answers before. Here's one that is not listed as often as it should be (though I think, in time, it will be): Positive Mental Attitude.
Controlling, or more accurately, directing one's mental process is key to helping women stay happy and healthy. I swear to all that is holy: becoming aware of, and learning how to direct and re-direct your own mental habits, is the grail of well being. Monks have been saying this shit for thousands of years.

The other, more common, ways to keep you stores of serotonin safe from stress are as follows:
  • get unfiltered sunlight as much as possible. This has nothing to do with getting a tan. It helps if you leave your sunglasses off for at least 10 minutes of this sun soaking because more of the good stuff will get into your system through your retinas than any other way.
  • eat as many fresh fruits and veggies as possible.
  • Good fatty acids from fish, seeds and nuts are helpful in protecting the serotonin you've already got. Taking fish oil supplements help too.
  • Don't worry about the good carbs. My body, for one, craves carbohydrates like nothing else when winter comes - partially I suspect to my heritage being drawn from the cold climates of Britain and Eastern Europe. Eat as many potatoes, squash, whole grain breads, chips, and cereals as your body desires. This is a major boost to serotonin, but short and non-sustaining, so don't make it your first or only line of defense.
  • Dark chocolate and red wine help, but in small portions.
  • Vitamin B and St. John's Wort help make fresh serotonin more quickly.
  • Exercise, laugh and have orgasms. These are the physical triple threat to feeling down.
  • Once again, Do Not Guilt Yourself. Learn to re-direct negative thinking. If you're walking around thinking about how lonely, lazy, fat, or cold you are then you're only going to feel those things more acutely. Instead, notice that thought and reverse it. Tell yourself you're doing a great job, you've accomplished a, b and c today. (No matter how small! If you're having a tough time and can only think of "I cleaned the cat box" today, run like hell with it. Compose an ode to yourself on the amazing vigor you showed while doing such an unsavory chore.)
I encourage you to look all this stuff up if you need the "why" of why my suggestions work. You can also read my doc's book if you like.

Be Well, Be Love

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowry

If you didn't see his benediction speech after Mr. President (squee!!) was sworn in, watch it. The man is amazing. Learn about him. Watch his other speeches. Get wise.

Energetically Living with Intention

Hump day has always been my my favorite of the work week. Sure, Friday wins the prize, but it doesn't have Wednesday's character. I'm feeling the need to update. Things. Are. Good.

In November I had my first energy healing session and was freed up of a lot of Crap that I'd been carrying around: wrong ideas about not being the director of my future and past, unknown boundaries, and unmade intentions. I was quite adrift as you regular readers may recall.
In November I also made a deciscion decisively that a boundary needed to be made between my anger and my forgiveness.
In November I met Ammie for the first time.

In December, December, I tried not to stress about the holidays. I tried to help my best friend find solid ground beneath her while upheaval was coming her way. I thought about my goals and achievements. I revisited Marquette and remade old friends, and learned that I need to unmake old alliances which are no longer healthy. I hiked, revelled, and went to Ammie's birthday party, by chance.

In January, fresh January, I set 2 solid goals for my year ahead. I took comfort in my astrology. My connection with myself was revealed to be unshakeable and my strength of mind grew. I decided to try to bring my body's strength up to match it. I wiggled my toes as roots might under the frozen ground, I felt those roots and was sure. I watched the moon and was initiated. I met Ammie with intention and was pleasantly affirmed.

Now it's nearly February. My best-girl-friend is standing again and the waves are passing over her. I am not pushing her as I used to, but gently reminding her I'm behind her, ready to stop her from falling. My 27th birthday rapidly approaches and my creative spririt is stretching, stretching up after a long, long sleep. I have a government I don't despise and suspect of evil intentions. I get to be with Ammie, it feels like a gift. I am unafraid, satisfied, trusting, and still totally me. Being totally me is so refreshing and reassuring.

I had my second energy reading session last weekend. It was the most invigorating and affirming event since reaching my living alone goal, but even better because it was from outside sources.

I know my path. I know my end goal and I know getting there is going to be interesting, intricate, and more empowering than anything that has come before. A life lived with intention is the best life indeed.

Friday, January 9, 2009

My Epic Meditation post

It must have something to do with the idea of “the new year”. In many ways we all appear to be “gearing up” for something. We may be readying to impeach another corrupt Illinois politician, getting a job, or embarking on a creative process. As my regular readers know, I am someone that is perhaps more subject to feeling influenced by popular moods or events. So it came as little surprise to me, when I felt myself crashing, after trying to pack a year’s worth of goals into the first week of the year. As my favorite aunt would say, “silly girl.”

In October ’08 I had my first energy reading session. It became a catalyst to me finally getting up and out of the wading pool of depression that I’d been laying in all year. Following that session I had another encounter with a clairvoyant, during a reflexology session. These two events helped me purge a lot of heavy emotion from deep in my belly, and left me feeling much stronger, as if I’d found where my center had been hiding. Those good feelings began to collapse during, and following, the last visit from my ex.
I have been supplementing much of my day-to-day since that session in October with a podcast and meditation. I also subconsciously embarked on a reading block that focuses on self-fulfillment and intention. My author guides have been Brezsny, Lynne McTaggart, Liz Gilbert, and, most recently, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs with her classic, must-read, Women Who Run with the Wolves. This is one of those books that I will never forget and will think about constantly while I’m reading it.
My immersion in learning the ways of conscious thought seems sometimes like it was implemented by someone other than me; someone who is wiser and knows how to guide my often rebellious consciousness toward a kinder, more fulfilling, path. But it was not. I did it. I have had catalysts, but I am the one who knew this was integral to my growth as an enlightened and content woman being. During my meditation practices, which have been around 15 minutes a piece, I felt more centered and more aware. I became conscious of the poisons my mind will administer to injure and weaken my psyche.
It’s a fascinating practice to learn how your own mind works to keep you down, unhappy, or stuck in the same old ruts you always seem to get into. The human mind is the devil when left to unstructured meanderings!

This is all back story. As I said in the first paragraph, I felt myself crashing yesterday after a busy week and a night with little sleep. I felt completely determined to meditate for at least 10 minutes after getting home from work. I dallied a bit when I got home: took a cat nap, ate some dinner and watched the, yes brilliant, new show by Joss Whedon. By this time it was close to 9 PM. I turned off my computer and most of my lights, lit incense, and sat down for some clearing of my mind.

Two hours later I emerged like someone who’d been fighting a psychic battle, because I had.

Some time between Christmas and New Years I’d felt a ball of nervous energy take up residence in belly. That is where I generally feel most of my energetic tension first. I’d tried a little breathing into it, and thought I’d loosened it up some. New Year’s Day brought some dramatic fighting with a close friend and for the rest of my U.P. vacation that little ball of tense energy strengthened and hovered in my belly. I began to obsess over my need to meditate to get rid of the things that I felt piling up on my psyche, but didn’t make the time – an old destructive habit dies hard. I returned from the U.P. and went back to work.
The Monday I returned, I spent 3 hours on the phone with bankers, disinterested Illinois Tollway fine collectors, and finally, crying, with Mom. My therapist canceled due to illness and I felt desperation take up residence in my throat, neck, and shoulders. Tuesday dumped the stressors of feeling insecure and emotionally hyper into my gut, and while Wednesday brought sweet relief in the form of a really good 1st date with a really good person, I was also saddled with a hung over, foggy head for Thursday (worth the trade, honestly).

Two hours is a long-ass time for a novice to try to meditate. I didn’t set out to do that, but felt compelled, once I notice how many layers of ­shit had built up on my mind and how that shit was muting the light at my center. That light is muy importante to my well-being. The reasons I stayed so long are many. I felt my body aching and hurting and it was hard to stay still for very long. Anytime I moved I made myself start over. I had an unrealistic goal in mind and it took me two hours to give it up. I wanted to slough off all the trash that had littered me and return to some idea I had of a clean mental state.
I remembered the gurugita, a 182-verse Hindu scripture, mentioned in Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. It caused Liz a lot of problematic reactions when she practiced it, so much that she tried to abandon it all together. It made her sweaty, itchy, angry and uncomfortable; all these physical reactions from a song! My mediation last night caused many similar reactions. My belly ached, my back, neck, shoulders and throat began to hurt, I grew clammy and restless and even wanted to cry out in frustration from not “being able to” be still. But, if there’s one thing I am, it’s stubborn a hard worker, and so I persevered. I practiced the alternating nostril breath from yoga, which has a profound calming effect. Still, I was dictating many requirements to myself, so that I could somehow “know” that my meditation practice had been “a success”. Finally, after listening to the entirety of my “Chakra Healing” album, I decided that a two hour battle with my inner workings was long enough and that I aught to be nice to myself and put myself to bed.

I had dreams. I don’t remember what they were. I slept very sound and darkly and was slow to begin moving this morning. I felt quieter in my mind, but still was unsure how well I’d done to relinquish my self from the demons of my psyche that had gained strength over the holiday weeks. It was when I got to journaling on my commute to work that I realized I had had success after-all. I had re-realized how vital meditation has become to my stability and had decided this:
The mind is like any other object in the world; a car, for example. If you don’t wash your car, it becomes caked in dust, grime, and admonishments to “wash me”. Once you finally do decide to wash it, you may have to do so several times to restore its paint to its rightful shine.
That is, possibly, an elementary assessment of the nature of our psyches, but I am I but a student. And a totally badass meditator. And feeling much better now, thanks.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

This site rocks


First, this song (the link should take you to it), and how I "found" it is Beautiful. I was using Hypem, the site this post is named for, and there was a ad box on the right side of the screen that had a bunch of key words in a speech bubble graphic. The idea conveyed was, click on the word of your choosing (I chose 'serendipity') and get a song. How cool?

Second, Antony's voice is molasses and brown sugar and a sunny meadow warm breeze.

Third, look at Antony's bio from their website:

Hi, here are some things I am thinking about:
circles of light, the Arctic, witches, mammals, Samoa,
the slavery of addiction and viral late stage capitalism, woman power,
families treasuring their transgendered children,
the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change,
feral intuition and a global new two-spirit alliance,
forests, oxygen, carbon,
patriarchal religions and heirarchies that would rather catalyze apocalypse than admit
that centuries of male domination have almost destroyed us,
a feminist revolution might save our world

Right?? That's what I say when I couldn't agree more. I couldn't agree more with all of this. Lucky me, they'll be in Chicago on Feb. 12, maybe I can go.

A Big little Conversation About Sex and Stigmas

me: um, can i just say again...? i'm pretty excited. i'm being good about keeping my feet on the ground, but I'm pretty excited.
Anna: you should be excited! fuck the ground
me: haha
Anna: but don't really
me: yeah. especially in winter. ug.

Anna: how did you break the herp news, anyhow?
me: just talking about sex. it comes up, and i'm getting better at saying it.
Anna: good
me: i think i tend to start with, "so you've read my blog right?" if i know the person has, then I say something about not knowing if they read it yet, but blah blah blah... i still include a little tiny back story about the how 2008 was a shit year, i crashed my bike, then my lover gave me herpes and ruined the rest of the year for me. something like that. i think i'll get better and better at leaving the personal history out eventually

Anna: well, it lets people know that you were lied to, that you are responsible...
me: that's true. good point. ...that's actually prolly why i do it. i'm not ok with the "only irresponsible hos get herpes" stigma. SO not ok with it
Anna: exactly

me: think i'm gonna blog that actually.

Anna: can i get a shout out? :)
me: absolutely!
Anna: yay!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Think Happy Thoughts or Why It's Good I'm Mentally Stable or Why I dislike Catcher in the Rye

Rather than scream, gripe, cry, and plot murderously the gory and horrific deaths of anyone who's worked for Illinois Tollway Policy System EVER, I'm going to focus briefly on a chance encounter with a lovely person.

She has a blog, which I linked to from her Ok Cupid profile. She writes smart and laughing entries with titles like "Things Other People Love That I Don't" which I'll excerpt from here, in order to loosen the vibrating knot of RAGE in my belly and return to my regularly scheduled work.

from "Things Other People Love That I Don't"
1. The Catcher In the Rye.

Recipe for an Instant 9th Grade English Class Classic:

• 1 Protagonist - white. male. young. preferably not much fat.
• 1 heaping cup of awkward male (hetero)sexuality.
• (optional) 1 tsp. of heavily-diluted anti-racist or feminist analysis (NOT BOTH. TOO MUCH FLAVOR MAY RESULT) to off-set that bland hetero white dude taste.
• 1/2 cup of crazy. Distant relationship with parents. stupid, spur-of-the-moment decisions. silly illegal activity. frat boy shenanigans. doesn't matter.
• 3 cups of opposition to authority.
• infinite cans of beer

1. Marinate protagonist in awkward sexuality & beer all night long. Should be smooth, soft, and pliable by morning.
2. Slowly, gently knead in the crazy with your bare hands & firmly pound in the opposition to authority with a blunt object.
3. Boil, boil, boil until you're left with a shapeless mass the size and consistency of an elephant stool. Sprinkle on the analysis as an afterthought, if desired.

Can be chewed up, painfully digested, and shit out into 200+ pages of unadulterated poo-poo in which nothing much happens.
Ages poorly, yet the expiration date is seemingly non-existent - makes enough for thousands of 9th grade English students to consume for decades to come.

Exactly why a story about a spoiled, wealthy prep school kid who doesn't do much in particular beyond fuck up resonates so deeply with other people is unknown to me. Holden Caulfield is worse than unlikeable - he's uninteresting. If a nasty character is nasty in an interesting way, I'll want to keep reading, if only to see what awful thing (s)he's going to do next.
Whenever I bother re-reading Catcher and try to latch onto his character, though, I'm left with that same frustrating throb in my temple that I get when I gaze hungrily into a refrigerator empty of anything but a carton of curdled milk and a bottle of ketchup. I feel deprived.
I remember taking Catcher in the Rye from my 8th grade teacher's bookshelf before a spring break road trip to Georgia. Beyond having heard that it was a.) "A great American Classic" and b.) banned in many schools I knew nothing about the book. Reason "b" was enough to compel me, and when I found that there were swear words, in print, for me to read clandestinely from the backseat of Mom & Dad's sedan that was enough. I finished the whole book sometime in the 14 hours it takes to drive to Atlanta and I remember the feeling I had when I finished it distinctly.
We were perhaps 2 - 3 hours from my Aunt's house. I was laying across the back seat, the way only an only child can do on familial road trips, and the sun had me wrapped in a warm bake. I closed the book, inhaled and exhaled deeply with my eyes closed and thought, "This? This is it? Why is this a classic? I feel like I just read a 200 page, not even funny, whiny, Seinfeld episode."
Her rumination on the deprived feeling the reader is frequently left with upon closing the last page of that book is more clever and thought out than mine was those 13 years ago, but our mutual disdain for the "meandering jumbles" of Holden's "attempts" at introspection pleases me.

After the morning I've had with the fucks from the tollway, pleasing me is pretty much ALL I'm about right now. So, thanks serendipitous OkC user. SRSLY.