Memory Lane – Monday Night Poetry

November 18 2023

Monday Night Poetry – Such an amazing, beautiful, poetic group of folks. I love poetry nights!

I shared an oldie, but tweaked it a bit for my current mood.

Memory Lane

Why did the beautiful and fun memories hurt so badly
Why did her chest feel
heavy and her stomach in knots

The place where she and her children had spent seven years of their lives.

The place where her youngest spent their young life from one year old through eight years old.

Driving past the many sidewalks and the trail where she had taken walks alone, walks with
just her youngest, and walks
together as a family.

Driving past the home
her parents had lived,
the home she and her kids had lived, the second home her parents had lived.

Remembering neighbors she had chatted with. Remembering
the spread of holiday cheer.

Oh, the pain, the pain.
Why do such wonderful memories hurt her heart?

Why does she feel
a sense of loss
no longer living
in this neighborhood? No longer having
her parents live
in the same neighborhood.

Why does she feel
like nothing turned out as she had wanted?

Why does she feel like she has failed her children in
not providing them with the same kind of home that they loved so much
in their early childhood?

Why does she feel
like she has given up?

Why do the tears flow in mourning something that never really was?
She keeps reminding herself that nothing is permanent. The only thing that’s permanent is change Itself.

She reminds herself that home is truly where the heart is.
Yet, what if the heart is closed and calls bullshit on that.

What if she reminds herself that none of
it seems to have gone as she wanted it to go,
the way she dreamed
it would.

Seems as if she
has been but
a piece of sand
in a vast ocean
of life tossing
her here and there into this experience and that experience.

She thinks she should not return to this place if it is so painful …
but then she knows
she must keep returning until she has felt
all the pain there
is to feel, for in
feeling the pain and being with the pain
loving the pain
embracing the pain
is she assured
of the joy and beauty that awaits her
on the other side
of the pain.

She may not have
fully let herself
feel the pain at the time she and her children
had to leave their
home and neighborhood.

Brushed it under
the heart she did.

Believing she did not have to feel the pain. She knows she let herself feel some of the pain.
Yet, there is more there.

She makes a new commitment to continue to visit this neighborhood until she has let herself feel every single bit
of grief, guilt, and sadness there is to feel.

She will feel it, feel the
aches in her chest, feel
the knots in her stomach
feel and taste the salty tears as they stream down her face.

She reflects back on these times as some of the happiest of her
and her children’s lives.
So carefree and joyful.
Doing many things together
as a family, many adventures, every trip in the car an adventure.

It seems those times are no longer. Where have they gone? The kids are no longer kids. One a teenager and one a preteen. Change.
Change is the nature
of life. This season of autumn reminds us always that this
is how it flows. Change.

Why did she grip so tightly to that time in her life,
in her kids’ lives?
Why does she not want to let it go? Why does she remember it with longing?
Why does she feel lost in shifting to this
new normal for her and her kids?

Interests have shifted. What was fun and exciting is no longer.
How does she go with the flow, with the change, without clinging to the Past?

She does it one breath at a time.
One blink at at time.
One step at a time.
One gratitude thought at a time.
One fucking meltdown at a time.
One act of kindness at a time. One smile at a time.

With kindness and love directed to herself and her heart.
She does it by observing and not letting herself
get caught in the spiral
of emotions. Or spiraling with the emotions.

Be with them, feel them,
and let them release to reveal the new normal. As it will only
be the new normal for a short time.

That is the nature
of life.
For life will support
in whatever stage of life one finds one’s self.

Nature is the Gift that allows one to experience change and the cyclical nature of life.
Be still. Feel the emotions. Let them pass through
like the wind passes through the autumn leaves. And know.
This is life.

We are always on our way home.
November 2017
Camilla Downs

The Facets of Invisibility – Monday Night Poetry

November 4 2023

Monday Night Poetry! I had missed an entire month. It was lovely to be amongst these beautiful folks once again. I shared a new poem and an oldie that was published in Elephant Journal in 2015.

The Facets of Invisibility

The I in neurospicy stands for invisibility

The other day I came across this quote,

“Invisibility didn’t keep me safe. It kept me lonely.” – Facilitate Joy’s instagram

At first I thought, Yes! That’s it! And then I thought, No! I like being alone!

Invisibility is control
It is staying in the safety of my home
Reaching out on my terms
Texting on my terms
Posting on social media on my terms
Answering the phone on my terms
Stepping out the door on my terms

Invisibility is not saying yes to invites because on the day of the event I may not have the spoons to be around others
It is waiting until the last minute to buy tickets because on the day of the event I may not have the spoons to be around others
It means buying the tickets, but staying home because on the day of the event I didn’t have the spoons to be around others

And then I came across this quote,

“Too much. Too fast. Too intense. The glass soul falls to the ground and shatters into a thousand words. The invisible boy becomes visible, and all of a sudden, his emotions blast neon.” – Author: David Levithan

Invisibility means safety
Being vulnerable only when I’m at my strongest,
mentally and emotionally
It means loneliness and longing
It means happiness and contentment
It means encouraging and loving myself
It means longing for a deep friendship or a partner
While intermittently being profoundly happy with my current status

Invisibility means being alone more than I’ve been partnered
It means having mind blowing conversations with my teen that are the same fucking conversations I have with myself

About relationships, understanding social cues, understanding why people do the things they do, why it’s so damn hard to make friends, build friendships, and make romantic connections

Invisibility, loneliness and contentment become my partners
We dance together to keep each other company
Invisibility is the times when I’ve been brave
Stepped out of the comfort zone of my home
Exposing my tender under belly
Losing the mental acuity I possess when working, writing, and advocating
I become naive, trusting what others say
Attracting absolutely the wrong people
Losing control, losing myself

And then I found this quote,

“I was invisible, and I was only just beginning to realise the extraordinary advantage my invisibility gave me. My head was already teeming with plans of all the wild and wonderful things I had now impunity to do.” – Author: H.G.Wells

The I in neurospicy stands for invisibility

Invisibility means control
It means retracting back into the safety of my home
Reaching out on my terms
Texting on my terms
Posting on social media on my terms
Stepping out the door on my terms
And beginning the process all over again.
2023 Camilla Downs

Oldie shared:

Anger is like a storm rising up from the bottom of your consciousness. When you feel it coming, turn your focus to your breath. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Dear Meltdowns, Welcome and Meet My Friend Mindfulness

Sometimes I’m able to sense when you’re lurking in the shadows. Sometimes I’m not. And you sneak up like a cat stalking its prey.

You penetrate the peace of an otherwise tranquil day like an earthquake suddenly rocking and rolling in the middle of a quiet night’s sleep. You are the complete opposite of fun and joy.
You are loud, aggressive, physically harmful, and verbally malicious. You lack compassion, empathy, and kindness. You take all actions and words personally.

What I want you to know is that I welcome you. Not like I’d welcome my best friend coming over for coffee and chatting. I welcome you like one later appreciates a grumpy relative during the holidays knowing that being around this person can help us to learn more about our own triggers.
You are helping us to know what emotions and situations Lillian has resistance to fully experiencing. You are the red flag that goes up as a warning that THIS is where she feels vulnerable.

So, I welcome you. I meet you with love.

When I am in a peaceful, mindful state, going with the flow of life, I handle you just as easily as a leaf floating in the wind. I choose not to accept your meltdown hook.

When I’m resisting life, choosing grumpiness, and having an off day, I accept the hook you’ve thrown out and jump right in with both feet. These are the times I learn more about myself.
Either way, one thing I know for sure is that you are not the true Lillian. The true Lillian is there, and you are simply acting as a buffer so she doesn’t have to experience the rawness of life. It is my hope that as I meet you with kindness and compassion, you see that it’s okay to move aside.

Lillian can handle the unexpected, the discomfort of not getting her desires, and the “letting go” of learning to be flexible. It’s okay to release your grip.

I will continue to meet you with a calm voice and compassion as often as possible, until the day you realize it’s okay to become dormant, slip into an eternal sleep, and allow a miracle – the miracle of Lillian fully experiencing emotions and going with the flow of life.

Love,
Camilla (Mom to Lillian)

And the story behind this one (from my 2015 perspective).

Lillian has a rare genetic condition called 18p-. This means that she is missing the short arm of chromosome number 18 and it affects about 1 in 50,000. The main way this manifests for her is that she is speech impaired, and has balance and motor skill issues. Also, for the past year and a half she has struggled with experiencing anxiety and difficult emotions.

Situations that can cause Lillian to meltdown:

Events not unfolding as anticipated
Schedules being adjusted
Communication difficulties
Being reprimanded
Teasing from her sibling

In July 2015, Lillian had the worst explosive meltdown we’ve ever experienced. We made a quick stop at the grocery store to get a few items.

As I paid for our items, Lillian caught up with me, and once I was finished, I could sense her energy shift. Apparently, there was a miscommunication between us about looking at more gluten free desserts.

This quickly led to a volcanic explosion for Lillian. Fortunately, I was close to the exit doors, so I made my way out and headed to the car with Lillian melting down behind me. I quickly got into the car and invited Lillian to do the same if she was going with me. She was not open to doing any of the mindfulness techniques we’ve been learning.

I decided to start making our way home even though she had not calmed down – not the best choice in that moment. She was scratching, pinching, and pulling my hair from behind.

I pulled the car over, turned to Lillian and screamed some ridiculously outrageous comments. I quickly realized I must get out of the car. We needed space between us as I was bleeding and in a great deal of pain from the scratches and she was a big hot mess.

Once out, I closed my eyes, took a few deep breaths, and asked to see the situation differently. Upon opening my eyes, I saw, shining up at me from the rock and dirt filled ground, a beautiful red jewel heart. There was my answer, a reminder to always respond with love.

At this point, Lillian was ready to do a calming, mindful technique and I requested that she do it on her own. She got out of the car, chose to pick up a couple of rocks and studied them. After a few minutes we got back into the car and drove home.

We’ve not had anything of that magnitude happen since and I am hopeful this was simply “one step backward” before more steps forward. When this happens, one of us must be fully present and mindful or things can escalate.

Lillian has been seeing a psychotherapist since April 2015. We are working on cognitive behavioral therapy with mindfulness training. Additionally, I work with her on physically feeling the emotions within her body.

She has made great progress. It’s slow going, yet I feel we are closer to the ultimate goal.
The miracle of Lillian truly experiencing negative emotions and the rawness of life without the buffer of a meltdown.

At some time or another it’s possible we’ve all experienced our own version of a meltdown. Mindfulness is a miraculous practice to bring into one’s life. Once we become practitioners of mindfulness, more often than not, we are able to remain calm and peaceful when we or our children experience the rawness of life.

With mindfulness we are able to tune into our body and notice the beginning signs of a meltdown; clenched jaw, increased heart rate, tight shoulders or neck, stomach pain.
At this point we can say or think to ourselves, “There is anger inside of me.” This is the opposite of thinking or saying, “I am angry.” These two statements have completely different meanings and will take one down different paths.

Once we acknowledge there is anger (or any other uncomfortable emotion) within us, we can then put our focus on how this physically feels in the body. Is it tight, rolling, moving from place to place?

Let’s be real here. This is absolutely not fun and can be extremely uncomfortable. Yet, if we stick with this practice, it will become more of a habit and eventually the uncomfortable emotion will release.

Ballardini Ranch Trail – Beautiful Views

October 31 2023

Ballardini Ranch Trailhead this morning. Beautiful! 💙👻🎃💀💙 It’s a really good idea to know a bit about the trail before heading out. Thirty minutes turned into an hour and 15 minutes. 👀😱😁👀

Leather Flappers – Monday Night Poetry

October 27 2023

Wednesday night Spooky Poetry Slam was so much fun!! Thank you @seemedisco for facilitating! Photos by @sidewayseightprojects and @amethyst_noir.photography!!

I didn’t make it past Round 1. But I had a blast! Round 1 was a poem connected to your costume. I wore a dress decorated with bats.

My poem:

Leather Flappers

With forelimbs and adapted wings
The only mammal capable of sustained flight.

Batshit crazy
Bat out of hell
Blind as a bat

The spirit guide who stripped me of my old,
limiting personality and enabled me to step into
a larger, wiser self.

Bat your eyelashes
Bat along
Bat an eyelid

More than half the species is endangered
Pollination that gifts us with
Bananas, avocados and mangoes

Bat five hundred
Bat for the other side
Bat on a sticky wicket

Pedal to the metal
Or wings to the air
Capable of reaching over 100 miles per hour

Bat the breeze
Batted out
Bat an eye

Living in bat colonies
With pups who feed on breastmilk
Longevity is their super power

Bat around
Bat for the other team
Bat away

We might have matching navels
Is yours an innie or outie?

Bats in the belfry
Bat guano
Batshit crazy

Able to eat up to 1,200 mosquitos an hour
You’re welcome to dinner at my place anytime, flittermouse

October 2023

An Endless Expansive Stage

October 26 2023

The sky over the past few days.

Master Storyteller

Upon your endless expansive stage
With an ever changing set
The stories you tell
Mesmerize those who open their eyes to your theater
You charge us nothing
For the shows you create
I just can’t get enough of
The shows you produce.
Thank you beautiful sky. ❤️

Poetry: Released

Released

The path to love
the path to one’s self
strewn with broken pieces covered in darkness
showered with light
pieces put back together discarding what no longer fits
like a sculptor releasing
the masterpiece buried in the rock. Chisel, buff, shine
until one day she is
released from the confines
of the rock.
She is free to know
free to be
free to love and be loved
free to have and free to do
the path to love
the path to one’s self
is the longest and
the shortest path
ever traveled.

October 2016