Water and Wifi.

Yes this is exactly what I was talking about.

It’s funny how subtle it is in the world, like butterfly wings somewhere far from where we are now; and yet how powerfully full of Matter and Significance it is to me, that is just feels like the whole universe around me conspired for that moment, speaking to me, to the participants of that moment, daring us to listen.

The day I met Olivia, when we were returning, my mother and I were driving to her house as the sun was in golden hour and beautiful. I felt magical. Driving past my not-yet-complete house I saw some kids hiding in the building. I wanted to know who they were, so I got out of the car to meet them. A little one peeked out from underneath saying he was watching his herd of sheep; maybe he said it a little too fast so I told him, “it’s fine, this is just my house and I want to know who’s here.” I smiled at him hopefully reassuringly and peeked into the structure to see who else was around. It was about 3 kids, young teenage boys. I smiled at them, totally reassured and still carried from the magic of meeting Olivia, convinced that all of this was serendipity.

After a brief greeting and looking at them each in the eyes so that I saw who they were, I told them they were welcomed to be in and around the house, so long as they took care of it. They shyly smiled and consented and I walked away, content.

Half an hour later they came over, with the same shy smiles and hesitant behavior. They wanted to know if I could give them some water.

Before I continue my story, let me explain something about my intentions with my house. It has been the continuous result of the combined creative efforts and hard work of my mom, dad, and myself. I want it to be a labor of love, for it to constantly have that energy be put in it, we have amazing people working on that house for us, and have a beautiful design to work on. I’d like it to be a center for community. For people to come here and feel safe. That if I cannot give them something, they can find the way to get it themselves in the house whether it be food, water, shelter, peace, art, love, quiet, connection, or their own personal magic. But in order to be a part of the community, I have to know the community. Being of vastly different social worlds, and me having my own fiercely introverted tendencies, getting to know the community was something I had no idea of how to do.

So, let’s come back to the situation of these young teenage boys out in the campo watching their sheep asking me if I can give them water.

Oh my God yes, a thousand times yes. I run into my mom’s house, somehow so excited about this opportunity to provide these kids with something so basic as water. I know they have houses, and go to school, and that they have water too. But they’re here now asking me for water and extending an Olive Branch (oh Olivia) and so I say yes, oh my God yes.

We talk for a bit, I ask them their names and what they’re doing. Neither of us really sure what to say to the other and yet still politely observing the other, I imagine I looked weird to them with short faded cartoon-yellow hair, thick glasses and whatever couch-potato frock I was wearing. One of them mumbled something, and then they all laughed. “What?” I asked. They all laughed nervously but no one told me what they wanted. I teased them for not wanting to share their joke with me to which one of them replied “we wanted to know if you had internet?” I laughed. “You want the Wi-Fi password?” and laughed at myself, and how beautiful and funny the situation was. Water and the Wi-Fi password. That’s what the community wants. I can do that. I gave the 6 boys I had just collected on my mom’s yard and gave them the Wi-Fi password. We exchanged pleasantries, and then I said goodbye, and came upstairs into my mom’s house glowing with the day.

What a completely magical day it had been. This was how I communicated with the universe. I could hear it and it was glorious.

Today, the boys came back. Just for water this time. I came downstairs and asked them what they were up to. “Watching the sheep” was the answer. “What do you guys do over there?” I asked, motioning towards my house structure. “Jugar futbol” they said.

I smiled. “Well, I’m going to go over there in a bit to hang out at the house, you guys can stay or go”. They asked me if they should wait for me. “Do whatever you want” I said smiling. They smiled back and nodded in a way that seemed to say they were going to wait. It made me feel important.

I changed into clothes that were a bit more appropriate for outside and grabbed candles and incense to clear the energy in the house, something I try to do regularly. I went there followed by three of the boys and we were joined by three more at the house. As I walked into the house to look around, they all came and followed me around as well. I felt odd suddenly, with this unexpected shadow, so I tried to explain why I was lighting candles and incense in the house. After filling up the awkward silence with what must have sounded like ramblings of a crazy woman, I asked them where in the house they liked to hang out more. They pointed to what would be my bedroom. We went in there and they tossed a soccer ball around and while half the group seemed comfortable with me there and began to act more naturally (after me telling them that I wasn’t going to faint at his mention of a curse word) the other half of the group hid behind their hands or each other. The more confident

half of the group relished in the second half’s shyness and made fun of it. This made them break out of their shell for just a moment, and then suddenly they were all six of them, maybe for just a few minutes, existing in trueness. In beautiful trueness. Kids that play futbol, kids that want the Wi-Fi password. Kids that are just as curious about me as I am about them. I smiled and was grateful to See.

After about thirty minutes I came home to work.

I don’t know what’s going to happen now, because I’m very introverted and strict about my space and time. I like to give and be generous but always on my own terms. But I also want to learn about the people around me, provide for them some kind of richness the way they do for me. And also, magic happens when we let go. And by God I’ll let go. I’ll let go all I have to if it means being free to keep Seeing.IMG_20180105_174541578.jpg

Community and self

(SeLoFest17 Post: Day 3, click here for all prompts so far)

It was late 2015, and I had moved to La Rochelle for the second time in my life. It was summertime and I felt like I had the world at the palm of my hand. I had just arrived to France on an adventure, and on a whim decided to move there. Despite all of that, I felt very gloomy and called my best friend, Emiliano, completely crushed and upset. Before I was even done with my second sentence he said, “who are you with?” Startled at the interruption, I did not know how to answer the question and simply asked, “huh?” to which Emiliano replied, “yeah, have you been seeing your family or any friends or anything?”  I didn’t understand where he was going with it because I was telling him I felt like crap and not really talking about anyone else, but I answered frustrated nonetheless, “no one, I’ve seen no one and hung out with no one” to which he replied, as if it made the most sense in the world, gently chuckling, “well that’s what it is babe, you have to surround yourself with people. You always get a little down when you’ve been on your own for too long.”

I  don’t remember so many essential and important memories of my life, but I remember that conversation because I pride myself in being someone that knows myself inside and out, better than anyone could ever know me. Or so I thought. But here was this dumb nerd, who after only two years, knew this essential thing about me, this thing that at 31 years of experience in being me, startled me.

The even more frustrating part about it was that when I told other close friends and family members this simple realization that had taken me so long to realize, they all responded the same way. “Well. Yeah. You need attention.”

Well, yeah.

So I grabbed that realization by the balls, sat it on a chair, and pointed a big bright light into its face, demanding this need where it came from, why it was here, and where it had been on the night of September 27th at 8:31 PM. (Ok not the last one, but you get the jist. I wasn’t about to let this go.)

I understood need, and going in and of my comfort zone because that’s what I was exploring at that time. The whole concept of being of exploring my comfort zones, understanding them, to later redefine them. I wanted to know just how much I needed people, and to what extent I could go without them.

As fate would have it, the following two years gave me a phenomenal opportunity to experience the different levels of needing someone, and the painfully creative forms that one can experience grief. As depressed as I had been in my life, and the losses I had suffered, I had never associated the word grief into my vocabulary. I had never suffered a death, or example, from anyone that was close enough to me for me to feel anything beyond extreme sadness.

It was the death of a relationship with a person that was still alive that struck me. The cognitive dissonance felt like I was being kicked while I was already down. It was visceral, the betrayal of someone you “knew” would be there for you always. The loneliness of not being able to explain it to anyone, because of how unique the whole relationship was, only made me pull further away from myself and everyone around me, and night time brought no rest, as I dreamed of rejection and betrayal every night for 20 nights before the nightmares started to lessen.

I could not trust myself, as clearly I kept picking people that would hurt me or leave me, and I could not trust anyone else, as clearly no one was strong enough to deal with me without at some point hurting me. The world looked ugly, and my biggest love (humanity) had disappointed me at a level I was not surviving. I fantasized with suicide as a way to help me deal with the release of the pain.

However, at that time, my then boyfriend, T, could no longer deal with my lows. We talked about breaking up for the first time, and because I knew that if I lost him as well I would surely end up hurting myself, I decided to use him as motivation to get better.

I made a list of things I had to do not only to take care of myself, but to contribute to the household, and to contribute to my career or future. It was hard to do, because I didn’t know what I wanted to do and a lot of time deciding you’re going to get out of the depression is the mental click that you need, but your body doesn’t always follow along and you still wake up with extreme fatigue and a total lack of motivation.

It was a small step forward, but it’s what lead for me to be here.

Eventually, T and I spoke again and we agreed that despite both of us doing better, we did not want futures that we could work into each other’s lives, and so we enjoyed the rest of our relationship loving each other freely, and honestly, knowing it would end, but that we had both given our best and had still helped each other out tremendously. I am grateful to T for how much he loved me and all that he gave me, and wish him an incredibly joyful life with someone that will match his lifestyle and will love his children the way they deserve to be loved.

In creating the plan for myself to get better, I acknowledged the thing that Emiliano had told me two years before, the thing that I had tried to pull away from: the needing other people. On one side I had my mother, who always taught me and raised me to be strong and independent, to not need anyone, but on the other side, I had my own self, the self that did need to be supported and loved. I spoke to Kat, who is like the older sister I never knew I wanted, who is a therapist and someone whose opinions and views I highly value and many many times have helped me find balance in my own firecracker personality.

She introduced me to the concept of interdependence. As I understand it, it’s the healthy alternative to independence (where you pretend to not need anyone, which we do, and it’s a realistic aspect of life) and codependence (when you cannot function without other people validating you). As I understood it, it’s holding yourself accountable, but knowing to reach out, and having the emotional maturity to do so.

Coming to terms with that, and then visiting Kat, and Morgan and them in Minneapolis, is what made me realize I no longer wanted to stay in France. I still had to work on being independent, however, always with the realistic understanding of needing others to help me, perhaps sometimes, more than your average Jane.

And so now, I have been working on what it looks like to establish community. For me, my community is fluid and not standstill since I am still at a very transitional part of my life. However, I am working with my family, and friends that are far away, and reaching out in different ways, testing the waters in different ways, and of course GIVING of myself and who I am and being generous with my qualities. I wish to be a good friend and family member but I also wish to be of use, I know I have gifts that benefit humanity and I want to give those things to people that value them, and take advantage of those things. So I don’t waste my time with people who I can tell don’t see or value me, or that only take but don’t work with me, as I not always the easiest person to understand.

Establishing community and working to have people around you is a FUNDAMENTAL part of taking care of ourselves. It is essential to self love, especially if you have any kind of mental or physical challenge. It is also important in today’s day and age, where humanity is being hurt in so many ways in so many different countries. Being able to give our best and go out to the world and give is fundamental to taking care of the earth, whether it’s the land, the animals, the people, or the whole of it.

SeLoFest17 Challenge

The Prompt: Who’s your team? Do you have one? If not, design your dream team, what that would look like, what you might need, and action steps that you can take to begin creating that dream team such as reaching out to people you already know, or going out to make friends, repairing a relationship, etc. If you already do have a team, what are things you’re grateful for? How do YOU help out others? Who are people or communities you’ve recently helped? Is this something you’d like to continue doing?

The activity: Make a list of the action steps, or the things you’re grateful for. If you can’t think of someone or a community you help on the regular as well, plan out how you can be realistically more giving without exhausting yourself or surpassing your limits or your schedule. Can you read more? Be more informed? Share more information? Donate? Volunteer? Start a blog?

In your journal: Draw or paint your team if you already have one, but only draw their head, hair, and nose. Don’t draw their eyes or mouths. Work on what you recognize them with without giving them an expression (this part is just for fun). Then, under or next to them, list the things you’re grateful for them helping you with. If you DONT have a team, design what it would look like if you could create the perfect team, how many people would be in your team and what would they help you with? Make it fun but believable. Create action steps to make this team a reality. Give yourself believable steps and a date you must do them by. Then, under the label “The gifts I offer”, take a moment to reflect on what you already give, and what you’d like to do more of. Feel free to use color or play around with the handwriting. If you need help with any of these feel free to contact me.

15937292_10155542787670021_5708814714406648_o My beautiful, amazing, family has been my pillar in the last months. I am eternally grateful to my mom, Jaimito, Sebastian and Paloma.

Taking the reins

(SeLoFest17 Post: Day 2, click here for day 1.)

Around the summer of 2016, I was at at a paradoxal high in my love life but personal low. I was once again battling an intense depression while in a relationship that was bringing me a lot of adventure, travel, new knowledge, and of course, love.

I knew, even before I began the relationship, that if I did not figure out a way to save myself, that I would not be able to continue this or any relationship. But I did not have the resources I needed to take care of myself. I had spent 2015 and early 2016 shattering all of my comfort zones, which made for an extravagant lesson, but concluded in me being, unsurprisingly, completely uncomfortable (Who could have ever guessed, right? /Sarcasm) I found myself, through the choices I had made, in the middle of nowhere (20 minutes away from Bordeaux) in a big, cold, cobblestone country house without a job, my money was running out,and I was in a relationship that while was loving, fun, and adventurous I knew was temporary due to many other qualities in the relationship and my partner that made it so that it would never be stable or what I needed. Everything about my life was aimless, I wasn’t sure where I was going but I was sure I didn’t want to go there, and I did not know how to take myself out of that situation.

Once again, unsurprisingly, I entered into full crisis mode once time started to run out on my relationship, and my living arrangement which up until now had been the only stability I had, however uncomfortable it had been.

Through the full grace of love and the blessing and privilege that is my family and my parents, I was able to get out of that situation with minimal harm to myself. I had undergone a severely damaging period of my life, the constant self-hatred and lack of self-care had made my mind felt sick, and my body heavy. My foot had been hurt during roller derby practice and ever since, the rest of my body had continued to block. I physically, mentally, and emotionally felt blocked. It was because of the space my family and friends held for me during December and January that I was able to start this process in February. Being ok takes work. And not everyone knows what that work looks like. But if we don’t try, then we’ll never get it.

I we do not actively try and take care of ourselves, then we cannot hope to feel better. I am so grateful for my mother and step-dad for everything they did. But I have to take care of myself as well.

Today’s challenge:

The Prompt: What activities do you do to take care of yourself? What aspects of yourself have you let fall behind and could use some taking care of? How are you actively hurting yourself?

Activity: Make a list or diagram of things that you could do to take care of yourself. Divide it by: Mental, Physical, Emotional, Community, and then one or two Personal things. For example perhaps you’re a parent, or you’re very spiritual, or you’re an artist, and you need to make a special list for things you need as a parent that you may not need if you weren’t a parent.) Ask your friends, use google, or think about past methods or things you’d like to try and come up with some things you can do every day, and other things you can do weekly. Consider learning to cook different meals, something that’s good for you, or any kind of physical activity that might be appropriate for your body and health, such as stretching, yoga, walking, swimming or dance classes. Under “community” think about how you are giving to your community, whoever that may be. Your family? Coworkers? Online friends? Consider what you can do to give to others and be helpful, always keeping it realistic. Maybe it is listening, or writing, or reading someone’s material; helping someone with groceries, taking care of someone who is sick, or making food for your family. Even if it’s something you’re already doing, if it’s conscious work that makes you feel good about doing it, and it’s for the benefit of others, put that in your plan.

In your journal: Using whatever creative method you want (drawing, painting, writing, collaging, or all of the above) design the final draft of a plan for you that you feel fully confident and committed to following for at least the next three months. Feel free to start a group for accountability with someone, I volunteer as accountability buddy! 😉

16422517_10155590088975021_7084612806810712359_oMe, late January 2017, working on the publicity for my expo at La Rochelle in an apartment overlooking the now familiar port. So many priceless memories have happened in this exact spot.