Salix's Shiny Things

A magpie blog.

Love and others. March 7, 2016

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I’ve been thinking about exes a lot lately.  This time, the issues are coming up not my own ex, but rather the ex of my significant other.  And how significant that other was and still is to him even now.

Recently, we’ve had a few issues come up that were set in motion by his ex years ago, but because they don’t talk, the problem got larger and is much more difficult to untangle now.  Not impossible by any means, but much hairier and scarier than it would have been had it been dealt with a little bit more appropriately years ago.

And there’s a lot of blame from her side, although technically, it was her actions that started the problems in the first place.  But she still was angry and blamed him, freaked out about the whole thing and wanted him to pay a good deal of money to fix it.

My s.o. was upset, but not angry, and he was willing to pay someone to help her fix it, although he wasn’t really obligated to do so.  Why?  Because he cares about her, and he wants her to be happy.  Even though there was a great deal of pain and resentment and rejection, he still cares and wants to help her.

I’ve never been jealous of his caring for her. Granted, I’m not prone to jealousy in general, but even so, I really have never felt like his caring for her in any way diminished his love for me.  In fact, now I even feel safer with him, because I understand a little more the depth of his heart after being with him for a year and a half.

I have come to understand more of what family means to him.  And his ex, even though she rejected him, will always be a part of his family.  And with family, love multiplies when membership increases.  With a generous heart, love has no boundaries.  That’s why I feel even safer with him now than before.  He chose me and mine to be a part of his family, and that’s a forever thing.

And even though there have been times when he has upset me, when I have felt sad and tiny and unlovable, he’s still there for me.

When I look in his eyes, I only ever see love there.



Brains. February 26, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 11:11 am
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Brains.  Amazing miracles of grey tissue capable of producing all of our thoughts, ideas, imaginings, loves, hopes, fears, sorrows.  Brains are crazy amazing.

And yet, they can be the biggest jerks.

I have mostly, throughout my life, been able to love my brain enough to respect its needs,  or at least many of its needs.

It needs fuel from food.  It needs rest.  It needs to grow in a relatively safe environment (as free as possible from harm from chemicals or physical trauma).  It needs to play.  It needs to work.  It needs to just hang out sometimes.

In general, I do like my brain. But I also recognize that it can be a real jerk to me when its internal chemical mechanisms are a bit off, and its emotional environment isn’t healthy.  It can start insulting me, like a melodramatic teenager biting the hand that feeds it.

But I still continue to take relatively good care of it, even when it’s being a melodramatic jerky teenager.

For whatever reason, I was gifted with some internal mechanism that allows me to stay free from the kinds of chemical agents that so many turn to to make their brains do something different.

I was never that interested in alcohol, although I do appreciate a good single malt scotch from time to time.  No interest whatsoever in smoking, anything, because the thought of sucking stinky-ass smoke right into my lungs just squicks me out.  And all the other stuff?  I mean with needles and sucking up powder into your nostrils?  Also so gross I can’t even.

But I also like my brain and I like the control I have with it.  I don’t want to lose that control.  Ok, if I’m really going to be honest here, there was that one time I was drunk enough to actually have a bit of a hangover the next day, but… well, that was that.  Been there, done that, wasn’t that interesting, don’t plan on doing it again because there’s no reason to, really.

So I have a difficult time relating to people to seek out chemical brain amendments on a regular basis.  And I especially find it difficult to understand people who do so much so regularly that it affects their families, their relationships with others, their employment – in other words, their ability to be a full human being in this world.

On the surface, I kind of get it.  It’s like a temporary reprieve, or it can be a fun social lubricant. But so much, so often that it starts impairing you ability to function?  I just can’t understand that very well.  But I see it all the time.  I see the need to escape, to run, to leave, to make the thoughts stop for awhile, or shut up, or slow down.  I see that in people.

I see people who have lived with addictions for so many years that their thought processes are clogged up, like the arteries of someone about to have a heart attack.  Their thoughts just go in endless circles, impervious to any kind of knowledge, information, wisdom, or logic that you try to throw to them, like a life preserver to a drowning man caught in a whirlpool.  And it’s so sad, because you know what the problem is, you can see the problem so clearly from the stable shores of health and sobriety, but they’re caught out there in that horrible swirling sea…

So I am grateful for my own health, my own blessed, beautiful health.  Some days are harder than others, some days my thoughts become dark and distorted and horrible, but I am so, so grateful that I have been able to get through those times.



Goals and Resolutions Check-In #1 January 28, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 4:44 pm
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It’s been nearly a month since I wrote out some of the goals I want to accomplish this year, and I think that this is a good time to check in with myself to see how I’m doing. 

Confounding Issue #1: My computer went on the fritz about a week ago and I have’t been able to get anyone to work on it yet.  So I’ve been making do with my pocket computer (aka “smart phone”) for the time being.  It’s not the same, and I’m missing out on getting some critical things done (hello, taxes!).  But at the same time, it’s forced me to spend more time reading, sewing, vacuuming, and such, so that’s a good thing. 

Confounding issue #2: Cold, rain, and colds.  We’ve been getting a fair amount of rain, which is great for drought relief, but at the same time I’ve been neglecting my running, because every time I’ve gone out in the cold, I’ve caught a cold.  So I’m just laying low for the time being.  I have been pretty regular about tandem bicyicling with my neighbor at the gym, so at least I’ve been getting some cardio work in this winter. 

What has been going well?
I have been “in the world” more this month.  I went to a writing group last week that I enjoyed immensely.  I was nervous, but I didn’t allow myself to dwell on that.  I simply took a chance and went.  I trusted myself to be able to handle it, and I trusted that the others in the group were going to be kind.  I let myself share – share my joy, my heart, my gratitude, and my silliness. I let myself speak from the heart, I let myself be generous with kindness.  I had learned to keep those kinds of things locked up inside me, for the most part.  But in that space, I could trust that generosity would be met with generosity, kindness with kindness.  It was amazing to be able to express myself without fear of being denigrated or dismissed.

That was definitely a step in the right direction.  I’ve felt so much more confident and calm this whole past week, more like my old college self.  I think a huge part of it was being able to share myself as a writer.  I am a writer because I write, and I can write well and generate joy and beauty with my words.  And I am now able to feel like that part of myself is healing and growing more and more vibrant.  I feel like I’m able to reclaim that identity in ways I wasn’t ready to before. 

In summary: I’ve definitely made some progress towards some of my most important goals, and that´s good.  I think that I should do these self-checks a little more frequently, maybe twice a month or once a week. 


Appreciated and admired. January 25, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 12:08 pm
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I’ve had a really wonderful week.  And the main reason is that I went out of my comfort zone and joined a writing group.  Yeah, that would be way, WAY out of my comfort zone, but I did it, and I am very glad I did.  The writing group main theme is “Healing through Writing”, and what made it work really well for me was the fact that all the comments on each other’s writing had to be positive – what did you like? What stuck with you? What was strong? This was a major departure from the kind of writing and responding to other’s writing that I had experienced in school.  Even with the “sandwich” method, where the idea is to surround the critique with positive comments, you are still as a listener required to pay attention to what was “bad” or “weak” in the piece.  By making the task of commenting just geared towards the positive, you are looking, and finding, the “good”, the “strong”.  Hearing the positive comments and being forced to find the “good” in other’s pieces made for an amazing experience.  It was so encouraging and wonderful to hear people respond in warm, caring ways towards my writing.  It definitely created a safe space to communicate my ideas, and I felt relieved of the burden of rewriting and reworking a piece in response to criticism.  I could simply enjoy the process of fitting words to images in pleasing patterns to tell a story of my own making.  My self confidence increased by orders of magnitude.  I felt, for the first time in a long time (I think since a friend and I would play poetry games in coffee shops right before I went to grad school) like I was really good at this, not just writing, but also in connecting with others in joyful, playful ways.  Like I really did have something positive to contribute to the world. 

But, I still have a ways to go towards healing my broken confidence and sense of self worth.  Which isn’t surprising, as years of being ignored, undervalued, dismissed, gaslighted, etc, don’t go away overnight.  But it was such a huge step in the right direction for me.  It was fun just to have fun doing something I really enjoy with other like-minded folks.  And it was a good reminder that not everyone (in fact, very few people, as it turns out) is an overly critical wet blanket like my ex.  As I continue to accrue these positive experiences with others, I continue to heal.

On Sunday, my son had choir practice.  They were starting a new piece, the Mozart Alelulia canon, which has three parts that are sung in a round.  It’s very pretty, and a little bit complicated.  Z happened to be the only one who could make it, so the director asked if I’d like to help sing the different parts.  And I did, and I didn’t do so badly, and I had fun harmonizing.  After we went through the piece once with all the parts, Z started going off about how I was really good and how I should write a book and other things, and I responded in my normal way when he says stuff like that.  I was very self depricated, I said thanks, but I don´t know if that’s really possible, I´m not really good enough, because you have to be really good… and so forth.  But this time, the choir director was there, and I noticed that she had this look on her face that said “Oh your son is so sweet, it´s breaking my heart!” And I realized that maybe I should just shut up and take the compliment already.  And it was a bit painful to realize that extreme self deprecation was not a good example to show to my son.  My attempts at humility went too far, and were presenting as a lack of joy in life, a lack of joy in my accomplishments, and an inability to connect in a positive way with my own son. 

I don’t want to be like that.  I don’t want my son to grow up like that.  I don’t want to be tiny and unnoticable anymore.  I am glad that I’m in a place where I can be myself, somewhat talented, silly, funny, engaging, and be loved for all of those things.  I am glad that I am in a place where I can be appreciated and admired.  I can flower here in ways that I couldn´t before, because I think that, at least in part, my talents and my enjoyment of life were threatening to my previous partners.  It’s not really that I think of myself as Super Cool Amazingly Talented Writer for the Ages, or anything (I know I’m not, and wouldn’t want to be anyways), but I do know that my instructors and friends have responded very positively to my writing and my ideas.  I think that my tendency towards being positive and caring in my writing and in my response to other’s writing was deeply threatening to my ex, which helps explain why she was so dismissive and rude.  Not that I every showed her much of my writing beyond texts and emails, as I knew that she would simply exploit my insecurities and vulnerability. 

So that’s me being all reasonable and rational about dealing with abusive b.s.  But I really want to use words like “talentless hack” and “sad, pathetic, immature asshat”, and “flaming ball of impotent rage” (which I stole from an Onion segment on the Republican loss in the 2012 election).


Some (hopefully) keepable resolutions. January 7, 2016

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I haven’t really thought about making New Year’s resolutions for a very, very long time, but this year, I’ve been inspired to actually set some doable goals linked to “Big Intentions”, in a formal, thoughtful fashion.

Big Intention #1: Become a Better Community Member/Citizen

Doable Goals: Volunteer at events like the Rotating Winter Homeless Shelter.  Get involved in meetups/classes.

Big Intention #2: Become a Kinder Person (to myself & others)

Doable Goals: Meditate every day.  Exercise at least 3 times a week.  Do at least one thing every day to make my habitat more habitable.  Do at least one creative thing a day (crochet for a bit, paint, draw, make a dessert, write).  Commit to doing a hour’s worth of resume revision/CV revision/application stuff every business day.  Commit to doing an hour’s worth of bookkeeping and budgeting every business day.

Big Intention #3: Be In and Connect With the World More

Doable goals: learn to drive stick-shift. Make new friends and connect more with old friends. Practice self-metta – making new friends will not be as easy as it was when I was a kid, but people need friends like me who are loyal and kind.  Be careful not to let Jerkbrain derail attempts at connecting with others.  I may not be able to give people rides or meet them at distant locations for a while, but there is a lot that I can do, like listen and lend emotional support.  I am a damn good listener, if I do say so myself.

Big Intention #4: Beat Back the Jerkbrain

Doable goals: Meditate every day for at least 5 minutes, doing whatever style of meditation feels right at that moment.  Ask for help sometimes.  Be habitual about checking the accounts, entering receipts, and invoicing. Find and keep up a good to do list app. Spend more time in the garden. Be conscious about social media use, and limit it to certain times of the day.  Journal more. Write poetry. Read a bit of fiction every day. Give love. Watch Star Trek when necessary.  Go on walks/hikes with C.

Here’s to a wonderful 2016!




Would you have loved me back then? January 6, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 10:55 am
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From time to time, I play this mental game where I try to imagine if my boyfriend or girlfriend could have fallen in love at an earlier stage in our lives.  Like high school or college.  This is probably a pretty normal mental game to play when you’re in a relationship, but for my past two, the conclusions I came to were not positive.  For my last relationship before my current one, the conclusion was that she would have been “too cool” to hang out with me in high school or college.  Sure, I could be dark and moody and depressive, but I was also full of passion for discovery and exploration and travel.  I was a nerd, and fully conscious of that fact, and took great joy and pleasure in it, which I still do to this day.  She was… not.  Smart, but cool.  So while we probably would have moved in similar academic circles, she probably would have found me to be too silly.

Of course, I never mentioned this to her. To do so would have opened me to her dismissiveness or ridicule.

Last night, I had the tables switched up on me.  C mentioned that he had been thinking about when he was a young man, super active and strong and “buffed out”, as he put it.  But at that time, he also had some major self confidence issues, and he had wondered if he could have attracted me back then.  Then, he said, it dawned on him:  at that point, I would have only been about 10 years old!  AAAAACH!  And we had a good laugh at our age difference.

So he’d been thinking if he’d had been a good enough partner for me way back when.  Would I have been attracted to him?  My heart melted.  I had seen pictures of him in his 20’s and 30’s, and he was very handsome, and very strong.  Would he have been attracted to me, if I had been in my 20’s or 30’s as well, of course, not my actual age at that time? Apparently yes! How amazing is that?

But that he thought to tell me that he was thinking about it?  That’s what is truly wonderful about him, and his emotional bravery – that willingness to be vulnerable, that ability to live in hope – is what I love best in him, and what inspires me to become the best person I can be – for him, for me, for us.


Evaluating my practice: free to be happy December 23, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 11:27 am

Inspired by an article in Tricycle this morning (Evaluate Your Meditation), I’m spending some time today reflecting on my practice of meditation, such as it is, and my various mental states in recent days.  Right now, I need to sort through my intentions for my practice, and in doing so, sort through my feelings about who I am and the person that I want to manifest to the world.

Last week was a particularly crazy week.  We had family that I haven’t seen in years come out to visit, and my S.O. and I eloped, sort of, with a small ceremony that included only close family members who happened to be in the area.  It turned out very, very well, even though we both have some regrets about our other family members missing out because of distance.

But the week before, I was in mental hell for a good portion of the time.

Why?  I was expected to dress the part of the beautiful bride, and nothing I tried on was even close to fitting the mental image that I had of a worthy, beautiful bride for my husband.

I cried, privately, pretty much every day.  My stomach was in knots.  My mind was walled in by anguish.  I was going to be judged. I was especially going to be judged against his former wife, who is so beautiful, even now, with more than a decade on my age.  Who is so thin and athletic and clear skinned, with that amazing combination of dark hair and blue eyes. Physically, she is everything I am not, never really was, and could never hope to become.  And given her athletic body type, she has her choice of any dress on the rack.  All the prettiest clothes look amazing on her.

Me?  Can’t fit into shit.  I’m about a size 12 on the bottom, and a 14-16 on the top, sort of, but just because of my boob size.  But my shoulders are narrow and sloped, and my breasts aren’t full as much as just long and floppy. And finding a bra that supports them and looks nice?  Yeah, not so much.  I’ve literally tried on a dozen or so bras in the past couple of weeks, all different kinds of sizes and designs.  The only one that didn’t make my boobs look like old, awful sacks of floppy flesh shoehorned into a breast-shaped mold was the plain, kind of stretchy cotton one.  So, no sexy bra for me for my wedding day.

And dresses? yeah.  no.  I am short, and have no waistline because my torso is very short.  Plus, I have a big floppy sack of stomach skin from when I was pregnant that will never go away unless a surgeon cuts it off.  So I look lumpy and misshapen in dresses.

After trying on clothes for days, I finally found a dress and jacket combo that didn’t look like complete and utter shit, mainly because the jacket was long and covered the whole dress, which was basically a sheath.

But the mental damage from all those dressing failures was immense.  And all I could think of was the fact that no one in my fiancé’s family had ever had this problem.  Not his former wife, not their daughters, not his sisters.  No one.  I so wanted to look like I could be a worthy partner to him, and a worthy family member, but I know that I just can’t look the part.  I will never be able to fit into any version of social ideas regarding beauty.  And mostly I just don’t care, because mostly I’m not on display.

Looking back on it now, I think if I had had more time and control over the situation, I would have dressed down.  But I felt pressured to get something “nice” because we had gone all the way to the mall so I could get a dress.  The fucking mall, 2 weeks before Christmas.  With three boys (fiancé included) waiting on me to finish and just get something already so we could leave. (Have I mentioned how much I completely hate shopping?) Well, at least the stupid dress was 40% off.

So here I am, reflecting on how my meditation practice is going, and how maybe I could have suffered less.

My practice needs to be more regular.  That’s really an important thing.  I need to pick a time to sit for 10-15 minutes every single day.  Make it a habit like flossing and showering.  I do enjoy a nice hot shower! And while I don’t really enjoy the process of flossing, I do enjoy the results of having clean teeth and gums and non-stinky breath.

My practice recently has been mostly naked meditations.  And these are joyful!  In doing so, I’ve been incubating some good self lovingkindness.  Yes, it is very sensory oriented, though.  But after years and years of feeling my body as a burden, as a horrible, shameful, ugly, misshapen cage of flesh, the practice of feeling the exact opposite, that my body is joyful and full of light and color and passion and wonder, is a good practice.  It is helping me, moving me towards the kind of person I want to be, that I enjoy being.

My intentions for my practice, my overarching goals, need some clarification.  I want for my practice to help me find peace and contentment and joy – you know, the stuff everybody wants from meditation.  But I want to uncover some inner stability that can lead to greater self confidence so I can be in the world more, so I can make real contributions to my family and the community.  I want to be able to take care of my feelings of unworthiness so they don’t intrude into my life as much.  I want to enjoy life more.  I want to be a good friend, wife, and mother.  I want to be a respected and helpful community member.  I want to act with grace, dignity, and humor.  I want to be able to fail with humor, grace, and dignity.  I want to get better at simply doing the things that need to be done (laundry, dishes, invoices, accounting reports, budgeting, organizing) instead of procrastinating or letting depression jerk-braining take over.

As I’m writing this, I think that that last goal – simply doing instead of overthinking and procrastinating – is the most important one, and the one that having a simple daily meditation practice will help the most.  Simply doing.  As the proverb says, before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.  After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.  And that sits well with research in cognitive therapy:  the motivation can come after the action (Captain Awkward Guest Post: Breaking the Low Mood Cycle).