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death
Posts

  • When You Have Nothing To Give But Forgiveness

    The thing about family that is both comforting and challenging is that much like a herpes infection, they never go away. They’re not always there, but when they show up, chances are there will be some soreness. Yet most of us value family and want to maintain that connection, despite the inflammation they may cause.

    Now that the matriarch of my family has died, I wonder what will be the link that binds us together. My grandmother was the last of her generation, and we no longer have a point at the top of the triangle of our family tree. It’s all just branches scattering off into different parts of the world. My grandmother’s womb was the origin zenith which sprouted these many beings, and now we have to find different motives to share time and space.

    I have an idealistic vision when it comes to family. I believe in the relevance that our DNA binds us through quantum ties, and that we are uniquely connected through our chemical make up. Knowing my family ultimately means knowing myself. We were cut from the same physical cloth, even though we are not all the same psychological tribe of people. We all process the world very differently, and yet we all share a similar frame of reference. Some of us rebelled against it, some of us dove into it, but there is a culture that prevails.

    But how do families stay together? How do you keep the same people in your life for the entirety of it? By seeing them less? Or seeming them more?

    I crave the life long relationships. When I seek out relationships, I tend to do so with a fervor that says “guess what, we are in this together – FOREVER!” The friends I make, I make hard. I don’t have casual acquaintances. If you are going get to know me, we are going to go in deep. Unless you do something really brutal to me, like rape my cat in front of my child, chances are I will be committed to you for life. I can’t think of one person who I’ve loved who I’m not still there for.

    I think my commitment to family and friends stems from my best friend dying when we were 20. It was such a crucial and painful moment in my life, and it shaped my worldview completely. It is through that experience I came to see how precious human life is. People aren’t disposable. Even when they suck super hard… and are really annoying and shitty… and you want to shake them like British nanny they are being suck a prick, I will tolerate it and try to work through the bullshit.

    Through our family (and the friends that become family) we find true intimacy. The better you get to know someone; the more comfortable you are around them. The more another person knows you, the greater the opportunity for you to know yourself. The less we posture and hide our vulnerabilities, the more we can delve into the chasm of our own psyches. The value of commitment is having a witness to your personal growth and evolution, but that can only truly take place when you allow that person fully into your heart.

    Yet the irony of my wanting this intertwining of spirits is that the opposite is also true. The more someone knows you, the more they can emotionally eviscerate you. The more capable they are of tearing apart your weaknesses and slapping you in the face with them. The more deeply insulting it is when they misunderstand you. The more time for resentment, bitterness, disappointment to build up like plaque, and no matter how hard we try to brush it off, it’s hard to let go of the pain people cause.

    Seriously, people can be such selfish assholes.

    We are all emotionally damaged. We all have our moments of immaturity. We are all dealing with the primal wounds of childhood and reenacting them in destructive ways. The only way to work through the emotionally complexity of how imperfect we are as humans is through the practice of forgiveness.

    Every goddamn day we have to forgive. We have to truly move on from the past, and recognize that everyone is always growing. We have to let go of the mistakes. We have to forgive people fully and leave room for them to change. We have to know that they are moving towards being the best versions of themselves, and the road to get their will be messy.

    I will leave you with a story where I had to ask forgiveness. I horrible story, that is made from the stuff of nightmares.

    The Munch had her little friend sleep over and as kids tend to do, she brought a LOT of stuff. Bags of toys, pajamas, sleeping bags, nighttime equipment etc… The kid needed a Sherpa for all her gear.

    Munch’s friend had forgotten one of her backpacks at my house, so I left it by the door of my porch so I would remember to give it back. I noticed a small plastic bag also near the door, so I figured it belonged to Munch’s friend. Over the next few days I would move the backpack around to clean, and also move the small plastic bag – assuming I was doing a good thing. When it came time to finally return the backpack, I took the small plastic bag, and stuffed it into the backpack so the precious contents wouldn’t get lost.

    I was trying to be a good mom right!?

    Ten days later I received this text.

    “So I unpacked the backpack left at your house, and inside was a plastic Wal-Mart bag with two tissues and two very dead mice dried up inside. Do you have any idea how they got in there?”

    So basically this mom thought I was sending her kid home with some sort of demonic message. Like I was The Godfather, or Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction.” Maybe she thought her kid was part of a satanic ritual and this was my initiation!

    I had to call her up and explain that I didn’t purposefully send her daughter home with carrion in her bag!!!!!!! I later realized my friend who had been visiting was kind enough to pick up the dead mice killed by my cat, but didn’t know where to put them – so she left them by the door thinking she would discuss with me later… but then forgot. I then gingerly moved the carcasses around for days, thinking I was doing the right thing…

    BUT I WAS WRONG – SO VERY WRONG.

    The mom forgave me though, because luckily our daughters are friends for life so she had no choice.

    Here is my face in a toilet…

    toni face in toilet

    August 11, 2016 • Family Drama, Musings, Relationships • Views: 659

  • Death, Doughnuts, and Defecation

    Returning to my blog is kind of like coming back to an ex lover. I know I can eventually get off, but it’s gonna take work to get there. Mostly because I already know how everything can go terribly wrong.

    The month I was filming my movie was intense. My cinematographer and DP is a vampire who doesn’t sleep, so he insisted we film at sunrise because blah blah blah magic hour zzzzzzzzz. I’m the kind of lady that leisurely wakes after the last rooster has been slaughtered at my command, so I would have preferred if we just drank the blood of virgins instead.

    We got into a groove and became increasingly manic as the days went on. If we happened to have a break in the filming schedule, we would make a short film, or a music video to pass the time –we both entered into a frenzied state of hysteria. The seduction of the muse was so alluring that I think we became the bottom in a BSDM relationship with creativity.

    Retrospectively I realize that a huge part of my impulse to create is because it anchors my mind. It gives me something to think about, and having that structure helps me stay sane. When I listen to music I envision dances in my head. When I have no one to talk and nothing to distract me, I daydream about scripts I want to write and stories I want to tell. But when I don’t have anything creative going on, my mind wanders into a land of anxiety. I think about the past, conversations I wish I had, future events that will never happen, people I can’t control… Thinking about my actual life is way more boring than thinking about the made up lives of characters in my head.

    My creative drive keeps me on the road of mental stability, even though most of the things I create are mentally unstable.

    In the midst of filming my grandmother died. My mom called to tell me the news, and I realized I was eating a doughnut the moment her spirit traveled into the other dimension. It was a delicious treat, but it felt kind of strange to think that the person you owe your heritage to can die while you gingerly enjoy a yeasty delight. Then I had to continue moving forward with the filming because I had been planning it for months so what could I do? It’s kind of surreal how quickly life moves on. I was like “oh she died… and scene.”

    My grandmother had been sick and was suffering quite a bit. One of the last times I saw her she told me “I don’t want to leave the party, but I don’t like the way I am dancing.” We both agreed this was a pretty amazing metaphor, and congratulated her on her poetic phrasing. I have a lot of respect for a person who even when they are in their weakest time; they still have the strength to recognize their own epic quote. She was right though, the party will go on, but what’s the point of being there if you can’t get down?

    I don’t think it’s a tragedy when an 89-year-old person dies, yet I did feel sad. Not the kind of sad that elicits an outburst of emotion, but more a subtle sorrow. She had been my neighbor for the past 6 years so I saw her all the time. I didn’t have any regrets, or anything I wish I had said. I felt like I had closure, and genuinely learned a lot about life through her process of dying. In a way it’s a great gift to experience the end of someone’s life. It’s of course hard to watch them physically and mentally deteriorate, but at the same time I had this rare exposure to what she thought about during her final months.

    My grandmother’s mind was totally preoccupied with feelings about relationships – she had 6 kids, 9 grandchildren, 2 husbands, many friends, and a big family. She reminisced constantly, both about good times and bad, and didn’t care about much else. When we are dying I think we tend to think most about how we treated those we love. When our minds go lucid, memories of people are what will traverse our consciousness. Yes we all have ambitions, ways we distract ourselves, superficial concerns… but it’s our connection to others that will have the greatest pull in the end. The more strings you tie with care, the more your heart will feel secure as the spaces between the beats grows longer.

    The Munch would visit her great-grandmother a lot during her final months. Munch wasn’t fazed by my grandmother’s oxygen mask, the wheel chair, the fading ability to communicate, or her increasingly frail physique. Munch was lighthearted about it all, and saw my grandmother as a “legend that would always live on – like ‘My Little Pony’.” A week after the death my friend asked Munch how she felt about it. Munch just looked into her eyes for almost a full minute then said, “I didn’t want her to die.” I think we all feel that way. We knew death was going to happen, but we didn’t want it to.

    The death hung over me for the rest of the film shoot, but in a way it also protected me. I didn’t really have to process it because I was so overwhelmed with the task at hand. When the movie was done, it was like I had given birth, and lost a lot of blood. I was exhausted and all my life force had been drained out of me, but unfortunately I didn’t have any placenta to make soup out of ☹

    The crew was gone and because no one was around to film me I started to have a hard time appreciating life. Everything felt so meaningless. I would watch my daughter run through a field of wild flowers at sunset and feel so much regret that I wasn’t recording it. What was the point of this beauty if I didn’t have my camera to capture the moment!!?? Look at all these sun flares – am I just supposed to remember this perfect lighting and not show it to any one else while I edit in more reds??!!!

    I knew I was supposed to “relax” and take it easy, but it’s not relaxing for me to relax. It takes work!! I would sit outside under a shady tree and spend the entire time waiting for it to be over. It was really stressful.

    I figured I should go see my hippy healer and get some healing done. That would put my soul at ease right? And maybe that would have been a good idea, but instead my healer told me I had parasites. PS…. THAT WAS NOT WHAT I WANTED TO HEAR!! She put gave me some herbs and I left her place looking forward to shitting out worms for the next few weeks.

    I took my new age tinctures and went to bed dreading the next morning. It was a living nightmare – wondering what was going to crawl out of my anus the next day. Every bowel excretion I envisioned an army of critters having a mass exodus out my ass. I was so afraid to look… but OF COURSE I DID ANYWAY! So far it’s been two weeks and I still haven’t seen any serpents in my feces, but maybe that’s because I didn’t poke around enough.

    Look at these fucking sun flares!!!!!!! And am I seriously supposed to drive around now and not have a reflector to catch the light?

    toni abner elise family filming

    abner filming toni

    July 21, 2016 • Musings • Views: 948

  • An Analysis of Our Selfie-Society

    When I was a kid, I took pictures for myself. I would occasionally snap a shot of whatever I found interesting with the intention that I would look at it later. My motivation wasn’t rooted in what other people would think of my pictures. The only way someone else would even see my pictures was if they were in front of me, I handed them a picture, and then said, “look.” Otherwise my pictures were in a box under my bed.

    Because of social media and our ability to share pictures, now I take a LOT more pictures for you. I want to know what YOU think of my pictures more than I want to take pictures that I show no one. What is the point of taking a picture that is not worthy of distribution!?

    Maybe we take some pictures purely for ourselves, but chances are those pictures are of a mysterious rash on your back that you can’t see in the mirror. I am willing to bet most of us only have a few sacred pictures that we like, but don’t intend on sharing on social media. And I am also willing to bet most of those are naked pictures.

    I think most of us are somewhat disturbed by the vanity running rampant through culture, yet we also participate in the seduction. It feels good when I get approval from my peers, even if it’s superficial. “Oh really… you think my hair looks good? It’s so funny because I do too! That’s why I posted that picture!! Tell me more of what you think about me!” I have a black hole of need when it comes to praise. All compliments are vastly appreciated, but also sucked into a dark abyss that will never be satiated.

    When I try to get to the bottom of the phenomenon of our modern selfie-society I think there are two major themes. One is the ever-present fear of mortality. In the back of our minds lies the existential truth that every second of every day we are getting older, thus ever closer to our death. The selfie is a preservation of youth – a snapshot of the narrative of our lives. “Ahhh. Remember when I was young, two minutes ago? Look at me then. So full of hope. Wait let me take another.”

    We selfie as a desperate attempt to freeze time.

    Then there is the fact that we are all so deeply insecure and in need for love/acceptance/praise. We don’t selfie because we think we’re that great. I selfie because I pray you think I’m okay.

    toni color selfie

    February 22, 2016 • Musings • Views: 540

  • Just Another Childhood Trauma

    Sometimes I like to sit around and think about how my parents totally fucked me up. I just find it relaxing.

    You know, on those cold fall days where I’m questioning my existence and wondering if my life is simply a series of failures – I quickly shift my focus to how my mom and dad made me the nut case that I am today. See… it’s all their fault.

    My dad has a thing with death. It makes him REALLY uncomfortable. Probably from being raised Catholic. He just can’t deal with the thought of death because it is too painful. Perhaps it makes him think of the existential quandary of heaven and hell, and that we’re all going down because we’ve masturbated? I don’t know! I’m not in my dad’s head okay! (At least not any more… I only shot through there super fast on my way out of his balls). I digress!

    So when I was about 8, my Dad and I went to our country house and came across 15 baby mice corpses. Now you can’t just leave carrion in your house – because the bodies will rot and begin to smell. My mom would NOT approve of decaying flesh polluting her home. We HAD to dispose of them. At least one of us did.

    Sure my dad was the adult, and I was the child. One would assume he would swallow his fear, and deal with the DEAD BABY MICE rather than making his 8-year-old daughter do it. But you see – he didn’t want to pick up the small pink carcasses. Instead, my dad told me he would pay $20 for everyone I got rid of.

    Now I am not saying I sold my innocence that day, but I am saying I bought a lot of She-Ra dolls after that weekend.

    Because my dad was so traumatized by the idea of death, he never wanted me to have animals. Not because he didn’t like them, but he liked them too much! When I wanted to get a dog I had to leave a puddle of tears in my Dad’s office to convince him. He just stared at the wetness on his floor and finally acquiesced.

    Once I had my dog Fiona, I wanted to get another pet. I loved pets! They were my friends!! So I got a hamster! Yayyyy! More furry things to love!!!!

    But one night while I was sleeping in my bed, I heard all this commotion underneath me. I turned on the light and realized my hamster had somehow gotten out of the cage. I then looked under my bed where all the turmoil was coming from, and realized that Fiona was in fact killing my hamster.

    I ran into my parents’ room.

    Toni: Mom! Dad! Fiona is under the bed killing my hamster.
    My Dad: Well, it’s all your fault. Deal with it.

    Now, it was 4 in the morning… and no one likes to be woken up at 4 in the morning and then deal with a half eaten hamster.

    I am not sure who ended up disposing of the body. I’m pretty sure it was my mom, because she is stronger than all of us. All I remember is sitting in my living room as the sun came up, holding my dog, and thinking I was to blame for the murder of my hamster.

    But I love you dad!! It’s your birthday today, and your sensitive heart is as pure as gold. You also let me get a bird… and cried at her grave when she died!! It is the way of the Nagy’s to weep mercilessly and lament at all animal death and suffering.

    (Me and Fiona)

    toni and fiona

    October 21, 2015 • Old School Stories • Views: 1121

  • Getting High On Weed and Processing Death Is Maybe Not The Best Idea

    I started smoking weed when I was 14 years old. It was a fateful Thursday evening. My older brother was hanging out with two girls, and they figured that if I was ever going to get high, the first time should be in a safe environment. I got off the phone, took a few hits, then went back upstairs and got back on the phone. I talked a on the phone a LOT in the 8th grade.

    Looking back on it, I am really grateful to my brother and these two vixens for giving me this life experience. As a young girl, you want to be careful about who are with when partaking in mind-altering substances. Let’s face it; I was the kind of teenager that was going to get into that stuff. This way I knew what was going on, what to expect, and would less likely lose my shit with the wrong people in the wrong situation.

    My best friend Bitty and I had previously made an oath that we would NEVER smoke pot EVER. Probably because we were 13 at the time, and had both suffered through D.A.R.E lectures at school. Can I just say that “daring” kids to not do drugs is probably the least effective psychological strategy of all time.

    When I finally saw Bitty, I admitted what happened.

    Toni: Bitty… I smoked pot with my brother.
    Bitty: So did I. Do you know where we can get some?

    That summer Bitty and I smoked a lot of weed together. In the years to come, I smoked a lot of weed. A Lot. So much weed I can’t remember how much – which is par for the course I guess.

    When Bitty died in 2000 I had to take a break from smoking pot. This loss was so intense, that I was unable to add another texture to it. I knew pot would not help numb my reaction, but actually intensify it. It would be like putting a magnifying glass up to my broken heart, and burning it with the sun. It was all my mind could think about. I was too afraid of being high, and having to face all the pain. I couldn’t make sense of her death. The irreversible and final nature of it was killing me. I felt so helpless that I couldn’t go back in time and stop it from happening.

    After a few months, I eventually started “partying” again. I was 20, in college, and being totally sober was just as alienating as my constant crying. I had to shut off the part of me that was so deeply connected to the sadness in order to relate to other people. No one knew how to be around me when everything would make me weep.

    Mourning is a life long process. You never truly get over the death of a loved one – but you live with it in a new way. You learn to obsess less, and eventually disconnect from being able to access your feelings about it – at least some of the time. I always knew I was miserable she was no longer with me, but I couldn’t always feel just how distraught I was. There was so long that I mourned Bitty, that when I started to mourn her less, I missed the mourning just as much as I missed the person. The lamenting kept me connected to her.

    Now that 15 years have passed, it’s almost like I have gotten used to her being gone. I of course wish this wasn’t true, but the acceptance has settled in. I live ½ a mile from Bitty’s grave, and visit her weekly. Yet even though there are these rituals where I am reminded of her death, I usually don’t attach to it. It just is this thing that is.

    Last Friday was her birthday, and I wanted to visit her grave, and smoke a joint with her. Now let me add here, that I stopped smoking in 2008 and didn’t get high at all until a few months ago. I am obviously not the pothead of my past, so the few times I do smoke, I have been very carefully to only be very sparing. One hit, and that’s it.

    Yet at this point, I was feeling like my brain had gotten used to weed, and there wasn’t any real threat to my bugging out or losing my mind. So I took maybe 3 hits with Bitty, and then had a plan to celebrate her birthday by going out to dinner and seeing some live music.

    As I was leaving, I started to wonder if she felt it when people visited her grave. Did her soul, or spirit-body get an extra zap? Was there a specific comfort to knowing that someone was paying physical tribute to the place her ashes were buried?

    I got in the passenger seat of the car, and as soon as we starting driving I realized, “holy fuck… I am way too high.”

    I was suddenly transported into a Twilight Zone of distortion. It was one of those moments when the reality I knew, and the reality I was experiencing, were so distinctly different that my brain almost busted a fuse. Nothing was making sense. It was a really dark foggy night, and looking out the window, nothing felt familiar. The outside world was totally foreign, and my inside world was completely melting.

    I was also having a forceful physical reaction where I felt like my body could not contain all the feelings I was feeling. It was this profound buzzing that almost felt like an anxiety attack, but not as painful. It was as if I was channeling too much emotion for one skin sack to hold in.

    I kept trying to return to my breath. During those long inhales I was okay, but as as soon as I let it go, I would lose it again.

    Toni: Uhhhh there is no way I can be in public right now, and I’m pretty sure I have to go home now.

    The drive home we listened to Jimmy Hendrix, and I tried desperately to bring myself back to a place that I could control. All I could say was “I’m just feeling too many feelings.” Yet the second we pulled into my driveway, it was over, and I spent the next 2 hours eating.

    Okay there are a few possibilities about what happened that night. The first, and most obvious, was that I got too high.

    Yet I think something else was going on. Weed opens you up in a specific and unique way. I think because I was at Bitty’s grave, I was hypertensive to the energies at play. One being my own feelings about her death, and the emotions I have learned to enclose in order to survive. The bodily sensations I experienced were like I was releasing all I hold onto in order to function.

    The other energy I felt was tapping into the human part of Bitty. Not her higher-self that exists through infinite space and time while floating through the quantum muiltiverse on a bed of vibrating strings, but the human part of her that actually still exists underneath the earth – and still has feelings about her own death.

    Ultimately the whole night felt like a gift even though it was intense. There is something freeing about losing your mind, heart, and spirit and then having to find it again.

    (Here we are, 14 and fearless…)
    bitty-blog-(i)

    April 15, 2015 • Adventures, Musings, Old School Stories • Views: 1091

  • Don’t We All Want To Kill Ourselves?

    There is a fine line between creativity and mental illness. When tapping into the true artistry of the mind and heart, your sense of reality can change. People who move us the most with their creative gifts allow themselves to examine culture in a manner that digs deeper than most of us are willing or able. Yet the more layers you philosophically peel off of the onion of life, the more the tears are going to flow.

    The tragedy of Robin Williams’s death does not simply lie in the questions surrounding his suicide. The specifics details may not be known, but I think we can assume the genuine and significant existential angst this brilliant man must have experienced. Creative, artistic, reflective people can’t be happy all the time. When you take the time to really sit down to contemplate humanity, the world, and the seeming futility of life, there is no way not to wonder, “What is the point?” People who truly consider the nature of existence will never naively subsist in society.

    In order to get out of bed in the morning, most of us choose to ignore the harshness of life. I don’t wake up thinking about genocide or child prostitution. Instead I worry about what I am going to eat for breakfast and what form of caffeine to ingest. I read the news to stay informed, but I distance myself from the information I am inundated with. “Wow, that sucks about the Ebola outbreak in Africa… sigh… good thing I don’t live there.” To avoid paralysis, I avoid emotionally connecting with the horror of the headlines each day.

    There are moments when the callous, protective, self-involved layer is shed and my rare underbelly is exposed while I weep about how helpless I really feel about the state of the world. In high school I often came home from school and cried – not only about drama in my own daily life, but largely about the merciless awareness growing in me about the grave injustices of the world. The innocent benevolence of my childhood was replaced by the brutal realization of history. I wished with all my heart I didn’t have to feel the truth in this way.

    The reality is the human condition is depressing and many of us are probably slightly depressed all the time. There is so much suffering inherent in being alive. Heartbreak, death, failure, oppression, unfairness, the confusion of identity – there are endless reasons to feel destitute and wonder about ending it all. The journey is how we learn to deal with all the massive disappointments we face. For people who live in the world of Hollywood, the pressure to be adored is unparalleled. While the glory of being worshipped is an intense high, the moments you are not must be a serious low. Robin Williams’ career was spent in an industry that treats people as disposable and replaceable. It had to be challenging as he aged to understand his sense of self without constant public validation.

    People who take their own lives don’t hate life, but actually love it the most. They see and feel beauty so acutely that the pain of the ugliness in our world is too much to bear. The schism of these extremes must be maddening. For those of us who have found self-preservation in the middle, we can never truly understand the power of having those bipolar forces to pull at you. I find comfort in knowing that in addition to the extreme darkness someone must experience to take their life, there was also a time when they were immersed by lightness so bright it was blinding.

    robin-williams-blog-(i)

    August 13, 2014 • Current Events, Health, Musings • Views: 3476

  • Top Ten Reasons Being an Adult Sucks

    1. You spend all your time making money, so you can spend all your money making time.
    2. You work hard to buy a home just to work as hard inside your home.
    3. There is no summer vacation from your job – unless you work at a school but then you are back at school.
    4. There are young people who poop their pants and old people who poop their pants who you are expected to take care of.
    5. All the power of your imagination that once relished in creating characters out of toothpicks turns into an anxiety that can only be suppressed with the right combination of Xanax and white wine.
    6. Your body starts to breaks down as various folds of flesh fall while orifices and crevasses emit an increasingly distinct odor.
    7. You wake up tired.
    8. You have to watch what you eat – not just as it comes towards your mouth.
    9. Once thrilled by the chase of childhood tag, you’re are now pursued and haunted by failed dreams.
    10. You are that much closer to death.

    (Yup… this picture pretty much sums up my adult life)

    10-reasons-adults-suck-blog-(i)

    August 8, 2014 • Musings • Views: 7721

  • Death On The Farm

    One of the unique advantages of growing up in certain pockets of America is that you have very little exposure to death. For millions of people in the US, the first time they witness mortality is the loss of a grandparent, or maybe a beloved pet. Unlike many parts of the world (and areas ravaged by poverty / violence here) where murder, bombs, war, famine, rampant disease, or starvation are part of a daily existence – there are those in this country who are sheltered from the brutality of untimely death.

    I wonder what it is like for all the children of the planet who have experienced or witnessed multiple violent deaths by the time most American children still can’t wipe their own ass. Does that instill upon them a greater appreciation for life? Or would so much pain make them jaded and discouraged – left wondering what is the point? Does sheltering our children from the anguish of mortality only make death more tragic when they do experience it?

    Living in the country gives The Munch a very quaint childhood. She doesn’t see homelessness, extreme scarcity, or the frayed bodies of dead humans obliterated by drone attacks. Everything around her is seemingly idyllic. As far as The Munch perceives, the world is a benevolent place filled with peace and harmony. Existence is nothing but kittens cuddling on a bed of pussy willows drinking hot chocolate through a vanilla bean straw while humming show tunes and licking clean the eyelids of sleeping babies. She has no concept of the true and brutal reality for most of humanity.

    Although as a parent you want to preserve the innocence of your child, I would be very concerned about the naivety of The Munch’s existence if we didn’t live on a farm. Yet because we are surrounded by wildlife, we witness the viciousness of nature almost every day.

    Just this summer alone, a fox murdered all 16 of our chickens. Didn’t eat them, but tore them apart and left pieces of their physiques littered throughout the lawn. The Munch would turn to me and say, “Look Mom, a chicken feather.” I would turn to see what she was talking about, and Munch would be holding an entire chicken butt – like the whole ass of a chicken – as if it were no thing.

    A week later – a fisher cat eviscerated one of our guinea hens. The Munch and I saw a pile of plumage on the grass, and The Munch’s reaction was “oh dear, one of the guinea hens got killed. Look at all the beautiful feathers.”

    When the baby turkeys come to harvest for the winter holiday season, The Munch will hold them in her hands lovingly while discussing how when they get bigger, her babysitter Lilliana along with her husband Farmer John, will cut all their heads off for Thanksgiving. For Munch all this death is natural and normal. Our cat Omega is like the American Psycho of felines, and most mornings we wake up to a half chewed mouse, or a bird with no head. Munch is totally unfazed and rationalizes this as, “Omega is so silly – she loves eating mice even though we have food for her.”

    I think because we live amongst the cycles of mother Gaia, The Munch is at least accepting of the idea of death. The other day she said she wanted a parrot, and I said we probably couldn’t get one right now because Omega would eat it, or Mona our dog would chase it.

    Munch: Okay. We will wait until Omega and Mona die – then we will get a parrot. I love my cat and dog sooooo much, but they are really old.

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  • Can You Define Spirituality?

    What is spirituality?  No seriously.  What is it?  People often say they are not religious but they are spiritual.  Yet that feels really vague to me with such a broad spectrum of possibilities.  Even my own understanding seems convoluted to myself. Am I still considered spiritual if I worship the dark lord Ungoolu and believe my child is an immaculate conception from the venom of his black seed? But don’t worry it didn’t hurt.  It was only a little prick.

    When I was growing up I went to Catholic Church every Sunday until I was 15 years old.  My father’s mother was very religious, and it was important to her that my brother and I attended mass, so my dad made sure he honored her wishes.  But neither of my parents every told me what to believe.  They just brought me along and exposed me to it.

    My dad was also a professor of ancient Greece, so I was very familiar with their Gods and the stories of Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite and the rest.  So herein laid my conflict as a 6-year old trying to wrap my head around God and religion.  I couldn’t understand why the religion of the Ancient Greeks was now so commonly considered “myth” where the modern religions were said to be “truth.”  What made one a fable and the other one fact?  Why were the gods of the past relegated to fairytale?

    I didn’t like the idea that one religion was right another was wrong.

    My other issue was around the concept of eternity.  My grandmother would tell me that when I died I would go either to heaven or hell forever.  I don’t know about you, but that concept freaked me the fuck out.  Eternity.  Forever.  Still gives me the heebie-jeebies.  I didn’t want to be in either place forever.  Even being in heaven for eternity was a terrifying concept.  So I asked my dad if he ever felt this way.

    Child Toni: “Dad did the concept of forever scare you when you were a kid?”

    My dad: “Of course.  It still scares me.”

    Child Toni: “I don’t want to be dead forever.  I really don’t want it happening for that long.  Why can’t it just be over? What does the after life have to be so long?”

    My dad: “Well, the idea of eternity in the western mind is very linear.  Like a line that just extends forever in one direction.  But the Greeks thought of eternity as cyclical.  So they had this concept called Telos, which means coming full circle.  That always makes me feel better.  To think of time as a circle not a line.”

    Child Toni: “Okay.  Can I have fruity pebbles for breakfast?”

    My dad: “Maybe another time.”

    Even though I had these fundamental questions that made me feel unsettled, I would go to church every Sunday, and I would think.  I would contemplate the concepts of life and death.  I wondered about mortality constantly, but never felt like I was getting any closer to comprehending it.  And then when I actually lost someone I truly loved and cared about I finally understood.

    When I was 20 my best friend died, and it broke me.  She was an angel of a person, and the tragedy crushed my soul.  But I realized that if I still let myself love her, that we would still be connected.  There was an energetic tie that kept us together even if she was no longer living on the planet.   I allowed myself to love her just as much as I ever did and even though I missed her more than anything, I still felt close to her.  I had to let go of the expectation I would ever see her again in a way that my human mind understood, but I would forever hold on to how much she meant to me.

    And then spirituality started to make sense… even if in a very esoteric way.  Thinking in terms of love, energy, vibration, and connection.  It was around the time that my friend died that I started getting interested in Yoga. And through my physical practice came the introduction to the philosophical and spiritual elements.  Although I have never actively studied eastern religion, over the years I have had many experiences with meditation and chanting.  And it is through those practices that have helped me find a small semblance of inner peace.

    It is when I am meditating or chanting that I can turn off that voice in my head that keeps chirping.  The connection to “Godliness” or “spirituality” I think can only truly be felt when the chatter of the ego is quieted.  It’s hard to have a spiritual moment while your ego is saying in your mind’s ear “I think yellow suede boots would make my butt look tighter.”

    So I meditate and chant to help quiet my inner mind.  But I realize that I don’t really even know what I am saying half the time.  I bring The Munch to Kirtan where we chant in Sanskrit, and I could be singing how “I want a pigeon to peck my armpits” for all I know.  But I go because I believe there is healing in mediation and chanting.  That it connects you to the vibration of the universe.  Through those channels you can find moments of genuine noiselessness in your mind in heart.  It is in that silence where the truth is hidden.

    The Munch loves going to Kirtan and all the other new-agey things I drag her to.  She sings along, plays with her babies, and emulates the weird dancing of hippies swaying their bodies around while failing their limbs.  But hopefully through these experiences she will contemplate the greater mysteries of existence and one day find her own beliefs.

    (Notice that Munch is wearing her lady bug bathing suit…)

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    May 22, 2013 • 2 years old, Adventures, Education, Mommy Mind, Musings • Views: 5861