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Posts

  • Unleash Your Inner Teenage Girl

    When I was a teenager I would come home from school, put on really sad music, and cry. Just to drive this point home and make sure you have the visual… every day for four years I would blast Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Alanis Morissette, Sarah McLachlan, and *insert any 90’s angst- ridden singer songwriter here – just to make myself weep FOR HOURS! When I look back at that time in my life I have to wonder what the fuck was going on with me?

    The obvious answer is I was a hormonal mess, controlled by the insanity of estrogen pumping through my system at an alarming rate as it surged through my veins. Yet at the same time it was deeper than that. It was the one part of my day where I actually felt alive. For whatever reason, being a teenage girl made it possible for me to easily access my sorrow. It didn’t take much for me to feel infinitely sorry for myself, or even for all of humanity. I could tap into grief with a calm effortlessness, and access that intensity more than any other emotion.

    I didn’t know how to make myself feel boundlessly joyful, but I did know how to drop into sadness. Even though the melancholy didn’t feel good, the extremeness of the sentiment was full of vitality. The heightened sense gave meaning to everything, even if the moment was blurred by my salty vision.

    I don’t suggest this as a daily practice – unless I can get a book deal, in which case sign up for my 3-week course “Weep Your Way Into a Better You,” – but I do think there is something profound about releasing into the chaos of desperation. Perhaps if we were more willing to feel the truth of the lows, there would be more room for the altitude of the highs.

    Pain is also terrifying. I don’t want to feel hurt, nor do I want to see other people suffering. I once saw a cat that had been run over and was lying on the side of the road. I stopped to help it, but I didn’t have the capacity to handle how much the poor creature was in agony. Another car stopped right after me, and the driver went right over to the mangled animal and held it in her arms as it died. I had so much respect for this woman. She was able to bear the burden of this being’s transition when I was rendered impotent by my own excessive empathy. I felt so deeply for the cat that I couldn’t be there for it because I was too lost in my own feelings. I would like to think that if that woman hah never showed up I would have pulled myself together, and been more proactive then sobbing uncontrollably. Yet I am so grateful that she did, because she was there for us both that night.

    I was once part of a hippy new age shaman ceremony celebrating the descendants of grandmother moon, and go figure, I was actually feeling pretty good. Then this woman started writhing in discomfort as her primal cries filled the room. I found myself totally distracted by what was going on with her. As much as I wanted to help, I also knew that there wasn’t much I could do for her. She was on her trip. The best way for me to have been there for her was to visualize her as the perfect self. Yet it was so challenging not to get caught up in the drama of her experience. I had to repeat the mantra “this is her healing” in order to maintain my own sanity.

    Even though I felt terrible for this woman, I also wanted her to stop being in pain – not only for herself, but for me too. Her anguish was harshing my mellow! I felt so guilty that I was feeling fine, and she wasn’t.

    Isn’t that a metaphor for the global suffering that is going on all the time? When you are having the best night of your life, someone else is having the worst night of theirs. That is why it is so hard to really contemplate about all terrible realities going on. I feel awful when I really allow myself to think about child brides, therefore I don’t want to think about it. It is too hard for me to be happy when I remind myself of the millions who are not.

    So that is why we all need to unleash our inner teenage girl, and allow the totality of suffering to pass through us. Not only for ourselves, but also for all the beings on this fucked up planet we live on. To run from the hurt doesn’t mean it goes away. Maybe the best thing we can do is to truly turn towards it, so we can actually deal with how much it all sucks.
    (Look at me! I am on the verge of tears just sitting around xmas eve when I was 14)

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    January 15, 2015 • Musings, Old School Stories • Views: 1883

  • A Distraction From Life

    You know what blows? When you are really excited for something to happen, and it doesn’t go down the way you had planned. It is like experiencing emotional blue balls. You just want to release your joy all over the back of existence, but then some metaphoric knock pounds down the door to cock-block your bliss.

    Disappointment is probably the most dissatisfying emotion. At least if you are angry or sad there is some spice too it. You can punch walls, or weep until your eyes look like Bill Clinton’s. Yet when you are disappointed all you do is turn yourself inside out like dyslexic calzone – oozing cheesy self-pity all over the place, but too despondent to spread the sauce of your agony. There is a pathetic flavor to disappointment. You are inherently admitting anticipation that was squelched like a weed in a soybean farm sprayed with pesticides. There is nothing cool about being let down, because it shows you cared in the first place.

    Over the weekend I was going to host a dance retreat so some friends and I could spend our days dancing our asses off. Not in a twerking kind of way where we bounced our asses until they created so much friction they combusted, but in a sweet way. I like having women’s weekends where we eat copious amounts of kale, drink an absurd amount of tea, and talk incessantly about how we don’t need men – because if we discuss them constantly that means we totally aren’t thinking about them am I right?

    The first night I led a yoga class where we explored our 2nd Chakra. You know how bitches are all about opening up their hips and shit. That evening, while washing homemade hummus off the dishes, I told my friend I was going to bail on the morning Kundalini yoga adventure.

    My friend Sarah: NO! You have to go. That is part of the whole plan.
    Toni: I don’t know… it is just so early. I will just meet you guys back here when yo are done.
    My friend Sarah: Dude… it is one morning. We are all giving and we are all sharing our talents. Don’t be a wimp.

    So I womanned up and went to the class. The thing about Kundalini yoga, is that it is all about moving energy and going into the crevices of the body to address core issues. It is more intense than other kinds of Yoga, which is why it is both amazing and terrifying. Not everyday you are psychically prepared to look your inner demons in the face and have a conversation about your damaged childhood.

    I am pretty sure that on this Saturday morning, I just wasn’t in the mental state to get to the bottom of my self-loathing and inner rage. We did all these positons and exercises that felt equally freeing and constricting. As soon as we left the class and I got into my car, I knew my back was totally screwed up. I was like “FUCK! Who am I kidding? I am white! I am not supposed to face my emotions, but repress them deep inside my body until I eventually die of a heart attack. That is the American way!”

    We got back to my house and I tried to do the ballet class – but I could hardly move. I forced myself to continue through the crippling pain for 30-minutes because that is what New England people do, but then I had to lay down and admit defeat. I had fucked my shit up hard core. I could feel it in my back and my hips – if I was a rapper this could have been a pretty sweet Hip Hop song.

    I tried to stretch to release the spasms, but it wasn’t working. I fell down the staircase of frustration because I knew that my dance retreat was ruined. There was no way I was going to have spontaneous recovery and pirouette my way out of this. All my excitement about the weekend was transformed into feeling very very very sorry for myself.

    One of my friends is OF COURSE a hippy healer girl, so she came over to do some voodoo on me.

    Hippy Healer Friend: I am getting a message that part of your pain has to do with your daughter. Not sure exactly what, but that is the information I am receiving. Maybe some issues of violence?

    Ummmm…. WHAT THE DICK!? The last thing I wanted was some peaceful yoga hippy girl to think I was beating my child or something!!?

    Toni: Ummmm violence?
    Hippy Healer Friend: Well it doesn’t have to be literal violence. It could be emotional. Or spiritual. Anyway… don’t get attached to any of this. Just something to think about.
    Toni: Uhhhh yeah okay…

    Not sure if you have ever tried to peacefully receive a healing while at the same time stressing out about what your healer thought of you. But let me tell you… it is NOT as relaxing as it sounds.

    I tried to think about why those were the messages this serene chick was getting about me. It just seemed so extreme?! I mean, I guess I had admitted to her the night before how I let The Munch eat ice cream for breakfast. I some how rationalized this because she also had green beans. The Hippy Healer girl also witnessed The Munch watching Snow White. Maybe in her pristine child-raising world where her daughter thinks raisins are candy and screen time refers to some mediation practice, exposing my child to Disney and vanilla flavored sugar was a type of violence?? Maybe Munch also casually mentioned how we eat meat too! BUT IT IS ORGANIC FLESH FROM A LOCAL FARM OKAY!!???

    I wasn’t exactly sure that my pain had to do with The Munch, and was more convinced it was my philosophic quandary regarding the futility of existence. This relentless knowing that no matter what life path I choose, it will be fraught with bullshit and the same patterns of consciousness that oppress me today. How regardless of my efforts, I will continually make the same mistakes while I swirl in a spiral of mediocrity. Come to think of it, I would much rather contemplate my relationship to The Munch than that shit!

    So I thought about my child, and how so often she can feel like a distraction from life. Yet in truth, she is not distracting me from my life. The Munch is my life. Maybe The Munch thinks I am not showing her that enough?? Perhaps she feels that our time spent together, I am too distracted from all my blaming her for being the distraction.

    I felt sad. Even though I can’t live my life where every second of everyday is devoted to my child, I still want her to feel valued. I decided we had to have a discussion about this so I could get to the bottom of my back pain … ummm I mean, be a good mother to my kid and figure out how she was feeling.

    Toni: Munch, you know how Mamma’s back hurts?
    The Munch: Yeah….
    Toni: Well, my friend says it is not physical. She says my spine feels aligned. She thinks it is an energetic block from something emotional.
    The Munch: What is emotional?
    Toni: Like my feelings? She thinks my back hurts because of my feelings. She told me it has something to do with our relationship. What do you think about that?
    The Munch: I don’t know. Maybe your back hurts because you dance too much. Maybe you should stop dancing because it is so boring for me.
    Toni: Ummm well I love dancing so that is not going to happen. But what do you think about our relationship. Do you think I am a good Mamma to you?
    The Munch: Well sometimes. You always say “no” to me when I want more chocolate.
    Toni: Okay “more” chocolate… fine. But I have to do that. Seriously. Are there things you want me to do different? Is there ways I could be a better Mamma to you?
    The Munch: I don’t know. Maybe we just have to take care of each other more.
    Toni: Okay. That sounds like a plan.

    The next day, because I was hurt, I couldn’t do anything but relax. As a result, The Munch and I ended up spending 7-hours playing together with ZERO interruptions. We didn’t even leave the room we were in. I didn’t touch my phone. We just hung out – and rationed out a banana with peanut butter to survive. It was like we were in a vortex. Usually some thing breaks up your day, like going on an errand, or having some sort of obligation to do. Yet we were in this black hole of togetherness that nothing could penetrate.

    Things got kind of weird at times, we laughed, we fought, and she pretended to be a baby as I swaddled her in a yoga blanket. But it was amazing to just be present with her. I am not sure we have been like that since she was first born and I was high on all the new mom hormones. So even though it sucked my back hurt and I couldn’t dance for my retreat, it created the space for this memorable moment with the most important person in my life.

    distraction-blog

  • Does Pain Have to Be So Dramatic?

    I don’t understand why when kids cry; they have to cry so damn loud. There is always a wail beneath their weeping that makes the whole incident an event you are forced bear witness to. Trying to talk over a crying child is like whispering to an 80’s punk band musician during a car alarm. Nothing is going to get heard.

    Kids also cry a fuck of a lot. Especially when they hurt themselves. When children are in physical discomfort, their bellows have a density that is unparalleled. It is not that I can’t understand the need to express your emotions when faced with agony, but why at such an intense decimal?

    When The Munch hurts herself, she suddenly has the vocal capacity of an opera singer with an elephant lung transplant. If I am being real with you, it can get annoying. I am not a monster, so of course I hug her while she is processing the pain – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck having someone screaming inches from your ear. I am not saying that she isn’t suffering, but does she have to suffer so dramatically?

    You guys… it is not my fault I am like this. I was raised in New England, by WASP’s. We don’t talk about silly things like emotions. When I felt a feeling, like coldness, I would never express my penetrating discomfort – I would just get a mild case of frostbite because it “builds character.” That was how you did things. As much as I want to be sensitive to The Munch’s despair, it is also sometimes hard for me to patiently tolerate the theatrics.

    The other day Munch and I went on an adventure to this kid’s extravaganza that involved the stories of Roald Dahl. I don’t really get what was going on, but there were girls dressed like oompa loompas and what else did I really need to understand? We went with a bunch of our friends, so after 3 minutes of being there I was already overwhelmed by the variety of needs demanded from the variety of children who surrounded me. I told Munch and her friend Hazel to go climb the rocks so I could have a moment to watch the rain fall on my head and travel down my cheeks like the tears of failed dreams.

    As the weather got more extreme, I watched the girls sliding down the slippery rock, and knew some shit would go down.

    The Munch lost her footing, slipped down the rock, and then landed on her knees on another rock. I am not going to say it wasn’t a digger. It was. It looked fucked up. She was bleeding, and it bruised immediately.

    Yes she was also freaking the fuck out. At first I was like “yes, yes I understand” like a normal person, but as the minutes ticked on I was kind of like “girl, you got to get over this and moveon.org.”

    The problem when Munch hurts herself is then everything becomes about her “boo boo.” She will be like “I can’t walk because of my boo boo.” Or she will just keep repeating “my boo boo hurts” like the mantra of a stoned monk who forgot what he just said 3 seconds ago. Now we had just driven for 40 minutes to get to this god forsaken kid’s paradise, and there was no way I could deal with the entire evening being textured around her fucking boo boo.

    Munch: Mom… my boo boo really hurts. Will you carry me? I can’t walk. I need you to carry me. My boo boo really hurts mom.
    Toni: Listen dude. We have an entire evening here, and I cannot carry you the whole time because my arms will fall off my body.
    Munch: But my boo boo really hurts mom! Wahhhhhaaaa. WAHHHHHAHHHA!
    Toni: Munch, it’s okay to cry, but can’t you just do it more quietly?
    Munch: But I can’t calm down. It really hurts.
    Toni: I get that it sucks, but that is being a kid. Children fall down Munch. You fall, you scrape your knee, but then you get up and keep going. Life is full of pain. You are going to hurt yourself 1,000 more times. You can’t hide from the pain. The only thing you can do is learn how to deal with it.

    The Munch hobbled along stoically… yet would still occasionally mention the bleeding festering wound on her knee. I of course would respond oh so compassionately with statements like, “I am not sure little girls who complain will get chocolate at the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory station where there is a chocolate fountain to dip your chocolate sticks into.” The Munch would then bravely continue – ever motivated by sugar.

    Then last night, as Karma would have it, I trekked outside to visit my brother around 11 pm. It was very dark, and the clouds covered the slight sliver of moon that would have provided light. I couldn’t really see where I was going so I tripped on a log, bashed my knee, and cut my toe. AND BOY DID THAT HURT!! I just started screaming out into the abyss of the night “Holy fucking mother of Christ!!! God fucking dammit to hell!!” I was so loud that everyone in a one-mile radius could hear me with the clarity of Beats by Dre. When I finally got inside where I could see the damage, there was barley a scrape on my knee, and the slightest cut on my toe. BUT YOU BET YOUR SWEET ASS I COMPLAINED ABOUT IT!!!

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  • We Pass More Than Genes To Our Children

    I have always felt that the lives we live somehow can become imprinted onto the next generation. Our memories are not just abstract apparitions, but there is an actual tangible substance to experiences, and that information gets transferred into our cells. The body is not just a functional apparatus unaware of the emotions the heart/brain/soul feel, but is intimately connected to all that we go through.

    Maybe that sounds like some hippy new age esoteric frou frou la la land… but guess what!? Science kind of agrees with me.

    “New research from Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, has shown that it is possible for some information to be inherited biologically through chemical changes that occur in DNA. During the tests they learned that that mice can pass on learned information about traumatic or stressful experiences – in this case a fear of the smell of cherry blossom – to subsequent generations.”

    I have been thinking a lot about war lately because of all the turmoil in Gaza. There is so much suffering people are forced to endure. How can that not be transferred onto their children? When you think about slavery, the holocaust, genocide, war torn countries… what humans have been exposed to is so extreme, so extraordinarily brutal, how could those remembrances not be part of generations to come?

    A child doesn’t have to live the pain of their parents to still be impacted. A young black child in America can still feel the rage of slavery that their great great grandmother lived through. A Jewish child in Germany may still sense the terror of the concentration camp their grandfather barely survived from. So many kids who perhaps live charmed lives compared to what their families underwent are still viscerally affected by the crimes of history.

    Considering how there is this tangible prospect that trauma permeates through the people who live through it, how does a society that has been fractured truly heal from the past? Injustice is so powerful it has a life of its own. At what point will we cleanse the horror of how we treat each other and birth a generation that is free from the burden of agony?

    Sigh

    On that note… have an awsum weekend!

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    July 25, 2014 • Current Events, Musings, Political Banter • Views: 1289

  • East vs. West vs. Hippies on my FACE!

    Fuck my life.  I got shingles again.  I felt something on my face Friday night, and just assumed that something weird was formulating.  No big deal.  I didn’t want to over think it.  Saturday morning I woke up, felt my face, and knew something was wrong.  So very wrong.  The same wrong as my fucking shingles that I had only 6 months ago.

    I was supposed to go to my cousin’s baby shower that morning but I knew I had to go see the white man doctor to get the white man medicine.  So I called the dermatologist I went to before assuming that would be the best first move since he already had dealt with me.

    Toni: Hi. I have shingles festering on my face and I need to see a doctor.

    Operator: Well, it is Saturday so dermatology is closed. You will have to call Monday morning to make an appointment.

    Toni: Please, I really need your help.  I have had shingles before.  I know that is what I have.  I can’t wait until Monday.  Last time they were almost as painful as childbirth – and my baby came out horizontally.

    Operator: Well, who is your general practitioner?

    Toni: I don’t have one.

    Operator: You don’t have any doctor that you see?

    Toni: Well, I have my hippy doctor.  But they are hippies.  They don’t answer their phones – especially on a Saturday.

    Operator: I guess you can come in to see the after-hours family practitioner.  But you really should get a doctor.  Can you get here by 10:15?

    I was out the door and at the hospital by 10:00 am, feeling really sorry for myself.  Let me tell you, there is nothing more depressing than a hospital on a Saturday.  The after- hours family practitioner’s office was literally abandoned.  There was no one in the hallways, no one in the waiting room, no one at the reception’s desk – everywhere was just empty.  It was like a Twilight Zone.  I sat there for 20 minutes by myself, thinking that a nuclear bomb had gone off and somehow I was the sole survivor of the blast, when finally a man hobbled out the door with puss-soaked gauze wrapped around his leg.

    Eventually a woman called me back to the offices, and I waited in the room poking at medical equipment for the standard half hour to see the nurse practitioner.

    Nurse: So what is going on here?

    Toni: I am pretty sure I have shingles.

    Nurse: I see in your chart you have had them before so I am sure you know what you are talking about. Let me take a look? Did you put makeup on to cover them up?

    Toni: No, I don’t wear makeup.  Last time I had shingles I had an acupuncturist see me, and she gave me this cream to put on them.  I have no idea what is in it because it is all in Chinese, but I put it on anyway.

    (I have to say I was pretty offended that she would imply I was vain enough to cover up shingles with makeup??  I mean I know they are not pretty, but putting makeup on a festering wound seems like a pretty bad fucking idea.  Not to mention the fact that said cream was white, and looked like I had sloppily slathered toothpaste on my face.  So this double insulted me because the nurse obviously thought I was really pathetic at applying makeup discreetly).

    Nurse: Yeah.  You definitely have shingles. Do you see how the pustules have already formed here around the eye and nose?

    Toni: Please don’t ever say the word “pustules” again.

    Nurse: Those are the shingles erupting from your face.

    Toni: Yeah, I get it.

    Nurse: So do you have a general practitioner?

    Toni: No.

    Nurse: Do you go to the doctor?

    Toni: Not really.

    Nurse: Have you had a pap smear then?

    Toni: You mean at the gynecologist? Yeah those things are horrible.  I don’t do those.  I guess I went about 3 years ago, and then about 6 years before that.

    Nurse: Maybe you should go the doctor more often…

    Toni: Yeah, okay

    Nurse: You know you can get a vaccine for shingles.  I highly recommend you doing that once this clears up. Here is your prescription.

    Although the crazy burning itching pain of the shingles hadn’t started yet, all I could do was anticipate the suffering.  Last time I had shingles, I didn’t know how bad it could get. But this time I was fully aware of the potential agony, and was in a state of total panic.  When I got home I called the acupuncturist and made an appointment for 1:00.  I then started recklessly taking supplements, unsure which where for my allergies, frequent periods, or the last time I had shingles.  I took 3 out of every bottle… which was about 60 of them.  I then started pacing maniacally waiting for the acupuncturist to torture me, and by they time she got there I was terrified.  Not only of the pain of the shingles soon to come, but the pain of this tiny Asian lady jabbing me with needles then twisting them around sending electric shocks throughout my body.

    Toni: Yeah, so my shingles are back.

    Acupuncturist: Mmmmmm… yeah I see the pustules.

    Toni: Great.

    Acupuncturist: Let me take your pulse.  In acupuncture we don’t just want to treat the disease.  We want to know why it is happening.

    Toni: Yes, yes, yes, I want to know why too! Can you tell me why?

    Acupuncturist: Too much cold.  Here.  In stomach.  Stagnation.  Very cold.  Energy needs to flow.

    Toni: Okay, so why do I have them again.

    Acupuncturist: Stagnation.  Here.  Stomach. Lower back.  Energy stuck.

    Toni: Okay… that really clears things up.

    After the acupuncture, she gave me a bunch of Chinese herbs to take.

    Acupuncturist: Just take these.  Chinese herbs.  No supplements.

    Toni: The hippy doctor gave me the supplements.  So I shouldn’t take them?

    Acupuncturist: No.  Just Chinese herbs.

    Toni: What about the pills the doctor gave me? Should I take the white man’s medicine?

    Acupuncturist: No, just Chinese herbs.  Acupuncture and herbs take pustules away.

    Toni: Why does everyone keep saying that word?

    Acupuncturist: Excuse me?

    Toni: Never mind.

    I don’t know what I did to deserve this.  This whole experience brings up a host of issues for me.  For one, my conflict with vaccines, and how paralyzed I feel about them as a practice.  Should I have vaccinated myself for shingles, should I in the future, should I be vaccinating The Munch?  My head is spinning.  Then of course the western doctor is in conflict with the eastern doctor, who is in conflict with the hippy doctor.  I don’t know what to do.  The last time I did everything – the supplements, the acupuncture, the herbs, the white man’s medicine, and I have no idea what cured me for sure.  Was it a combo of all of them?  I don’t know? Who should I listen to? Who should I trust? Help me!!

    (Have you ever seen anything more surreal and sad than this waiting room?)

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    August 19, 2013 • Adventures, Health, Mommy Body, Mommy Mind, Musings • Views: 6046

  • Life is Pain, Sweetie

    I really like The Munch.  I think she is pretty badass.  But damn – she can also be quite the drama queen.

    Kids hurt themselves a fuck of a lot.  They don’t watch where they are going, are easily distracted, and are just about eye-level of all table corners.  They are going to injure themselves at LEAST once a day, and in The Munch’s case she makes an event out of every instance as if she were auditioning for role of Lady Macbeth.

    Here is my conundrum. I don’t want to deny The Munch of her pain.  I think saying “oh never mind… forget it… you are fine” is demoralizing because it is telling your child how to feel rather than listening to what is actually going on.  But as much as I want to honor her life experiences, and for The Munch to understand her mind, body, and spirit in all its complexities – I also don’t want her to be a total pussy.

    One major mistake I made recently was letting The Munch watch the iPad after a particularly bad fall.  She was just in such a state of personal chaos… and I was super hungry for lunch.  The problem is that now she asks for the iPad when she is in pain like some possessed post-modern Pavlovian dog.

    Munch: WAAAAHHHHAAAA MAMMA IT REALLY HURTS! I NEED TO WATCH A MOVIE!

    Toni: Munch, no you don’t need to watch a movie.  Would you like me to give you a hug though?

    Munch: NO MAMMA NO!! I NEED TO WATCH CURIOUS GEORGE!! WAHHHHAHHHHAAAHHHHHAHAA!

    Toni: Sweetie, that is not going to happen.  But I can give you a hug, or I can tell you a story about the little girl named Adelia who fell and hurt herself?

    Munch: NOOOOO! I NEED TO WATCH CURIOUS GEORGE BECAUSE I HURT MYSELF AND THAT WILL MAKE ME FEEL BETTER!! WAHHHHAHAAAAHHHA!

    Toni: Munch, I know one time that happened, and that watching a movie helped you to feel better.  But that was a special occasion. I am not going to let you watch Curious George every time you hurt yourself.  That would be setting you up for disaster.  For the rest of your life you will turn to TV as a distraction from you pain rather than facing it head on.  I don’t want to create bad habits like that.

    Munch: WAAHHHHAAAAA BUT I NEED TO WATCH CURIOUS GEORGE SO I CAN FEEL BETTER!!!

    Toni: Munch listen to me.  Do you know who else hurts themselves?

    Munch: Who?

    Toni: Your cousin Calvin – he hurts himself.  And so does your friend Amelia.  Remember how she broke her arm?  And your friend Julien – sometimes hurts himself too.

    Munch: WAHHHAAAAHHHA!

    Toni: You see Munch, everyone hurts themselves.  It is a part of the human condition.  Life is pain sweetie.  And the challenge of existence is how you deal with that pain.  So you have to remember you are going to hurt yourself a thousand more times in life, and it is important to cope with pain with grace and humility.  So not every time you hurt yourself you have to get into a state of hysterics.  It is important to not be controlled by your suffering, but realize it will pass in time.

    Munch: Can I look at pictures on your phone then?

    Toni: Sure.

    I think I made my point 😉

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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…)

    spirituality-blog-(i)

    May 22, 2013 • 2 years old, Adventures, Education, Mommy Mind, Musings • Views: 6238