Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Don’t Walk Away or Turn Your Head.

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Girl Warrior. Don’t walk away or turn your head when you see someone you find displeasing, disdainful or off-putting. Or worse. Repugnant. Repulsive. Revolting. The homeless beggar, the panhandler, the vagrant or vagabond. And especially, the shabby-dirty-raggedy-ass-down-and-out-nasty derelict, bum or bag lady.

Don’t inflict an egregious unkindness by pretending you didn’t see or that they weren’t there. Don’t turn this Human Being into one of the Invisible Souls. By turning away you are actually saying, ‘you don’t matter. I am better than you.’

Instead, lean into compassion, empathy, and understanding. And know this: but for the grace of God goes all of us, including you Girl Warrior. You are not above the fray and beyond reproach.

Instead, love the unlovable Girl Warrior. Love those who the world has discarded. Love those who have been cast aside, tossed out, left abandoned. Or worst of all, the ones we have given up on: the hopeless cases and the unfixable.

Instead, open your loving divine heart and express your beautiful humanity. Allow your natural tenderness to well up and occupy your spirit until it is filled to the brim and overflowing. Then take all of this abundant goodness and give this very personal gift to the one standing on the street corner, hat in hand. Or the one slumped against a storefront holding a cardboard sign with a scribbled message that reads simply, but oh so elegantly, ‘please help.’

Say yes, yes, yes Girl Warrior. Say yes, I will help.

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This post is dedicated to my beautiful and tenderhearted daughter Aimee who has taught me the true meaning of compassion and kindness; and to not turn my head or walk away from those in need. Her natural instinct is to always extend a helping hand. She’s an extraordinary and rare Girl Warrior.

 

 

 

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Engage your Radical R Trifecta.

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Girl Warrior. Engage your Radical R trifecta – Rebel, Revolutionary, and Renegade. Especially during make-or-break times and crucial circumstances, the cliff-edge life-changing moments. This is when you will be well served to marshal your passionate determined ass-kicking spirit. The one that knows intuitively when to break the rules, break through the barriers, break the code, break the habit, and yes, at times, break the hearts.

Throw off the cloak of convention. Step out of the box of ordinary. Walk away from the pedestrian. Steer clear of the middle-of-the-road. Bury the garden-variety. Remove all things plain-vanilla, milk-toast and bland from your physical and spiritual diet.

And most importantly, don’t live a life that isn’t worth writing home about.

Live a stranger than fiction life Girl Warrior. One you have exclusively authored. A life that no one else but you could possibly conceive much less, write. Live a life that you are so jazzed about, that is so juicy and spicy and ridiculously overflowing with everything good and bad, ugly and pretty, heartbreaking and joyous, messy and meticulous, bitter and sweet, wonderful and scary, unpredictable and unknown, exhausting and exhilarating, breathtaking and beyond.

Living a rich ample life like this necessitates that you go out on a limb; you make big disruptive waves; you take risks; and do things differently. You don’t go with the flow. Or do the logical, the predictable, the rational or sensible.

And above all else Girl Warrior, you walk the high wire without a safety net. And learn to love it.

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 Photographs courtesy of Melissa Adams.

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Make it Awkward.

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Girl Warrior: Make it awkward, especially in sticky difficult situations. Or during those times when your first inclination would be to cut your losses and walk away. Sometimes your first thought is the right thought. But there are times when you need to think again.

Stop, take a deep expansive breath and ask yourself this. How often have you let someone off the hook because you were too afraid?

Too afraid of confrontation. Too afraid of offending. Too afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. Too afraid of speaking the truth. Too afraid of making a scene. Too afraid of embarrassing yourself. Too afraid of making someone angry. Too afraid of your own anger. Too afraid of what others might think. And ultimately, too afraid of losing someone’s love or affection. Inevitably it all comes down to that.

Now stop again, take another deep expansive breath and ask yourself this. Is the answer yes?

If the answer is yes to even one of these questions, then it’s time to take a risk. Time to take a stand. Time to gamble and put all your cards on the table. Time to do what you’ve always wanted to do in previous compromising circumstances. And if you’re truly gutting the truth Girl Warrior, you’ve been here far too many times. Far too many times.

This is your triumphant do-over. This is your opportunity to speak up and speak your truth. Once and for all. Succinctly. Emphatically. Definitively. You will need to summon all the courage you possess because making it awkward isn’t easy. Walking away without making a peep is easy. Being a good girl who doesn’t make waves is easy. Playing nice is easy.

But don’t be a good girl in this situation. Instead go for the squirm. Make it downright uncomfortable and bloody inconvenient. Remind yourself that you are a bold and brave Girl Warrior. And remember, you aren’t taking this stand on your own. You have an entire Tribe of Girl Warriors behind you. Supporting and cheering you on.

So this time Girl Warrior, make it awkward.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Don’t Settle.

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Girl Warrior. Don’t settle. Go along with, resign or reconcile yourself, stomach, swallow or submit to anything that doesn’t ring true to the bright and shiny person you are.

Don’t live a default life. A ‘learn to live with’ life. An involuntary life. Or worse yet, one that belongs to someone else. And you’re just going along for the ride. Sitting complacently, but maybe not so comfortably, in the back seat or sidecar. You belong behind the wheel of your own life, the one of your own making. Steer your spaceship courageously in the direction of your dreams. Not someone else’s. That’s your mission, your primary assignment here.

You only get to do this present-life thing one time, and one time only, Girl Warrior. And it is oh so very brief. So fleeting. A flutter of the butterfly’s wing. Yes, some things are eternal. Our souls. The tender memories of us. But this here-and-now Earth Walk, and all the glorious people, places and things that are gifted to us are here for such a woefully brief time. So don’t squander any of it by settling.

Don’t settle in. Don’t settle down. Don’t settle for. Anything. And that goes for the people in your life, the work you do, the place where you live, the man or woman you’re involved with, and most importantly, the desires of your heart.

Girl Warrior, don’t be afraid that if you choose not to settle you’ll be all alone. You won’t. Quite the opposite is true. You’ll be surrounded by your loving and brave Tribe of kindred spirits who also refused to settle for anything less than an authentic life.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Pain in the Ass.

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Last week’s Girl Warrior post was about pain in all of its manifestations – physical, spiritual, emotional. Feeling it. Dealing with it. Surviving it. And ultimately, moving on. Over the past five years of writing and speaking to this remarkable Tribe, I’m more often than not, writing about life lessons that I also need to learn. Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a small book I read and reread in the seventies said, ‘We teach best what we most need to learn.” He’s right.

Since January of this year I’ve been hurting. Physically. But because human beings aren’t unconnected fragments, bits and pieces, shards and shavings that have nothing to do with each other, the physical pain has also become emotional and psychological suffering as well. There have been times, far too many truthfully, where life has lost its color. Times when everything was murky dimly lit and shrouded in grey hopeless despair. No joy at all. And it hasn’t been pretty.

The kind of pain I’m talking about is fucking ugly actually. And for me, it has literally been a pain in the ass. My sciatic nerve is being pinched or squeezed and the result is chronic relentless pain running from my butt down the right leg to my ankle. Thank God it stops there. But it’s debilitating. During my darkest hour, my worst days and fearful nights, it has taken every ounce of strength, grit, iron will and determination just to stand and walk. Even sitting for any length of time has been exhausting. There has been no relief. No relief for months.

I don’t know with certainty what brought this on, although I have theories, or why it still persists all these months later. I’ve been on a medical odyssey that included numerous visits to our sweet and kind leprechaun-like family doctor, who prescribed two different types of drugs to help manage the pain: one to stop the messages from the pain in my ass to my brain and the other to help curb the inflammation. The pain-brain pill I took once. Not only was it unable to block the chatter between my two body parts, it made me feel like puking. The other medication I took for a few weeks but I grew suspicious when I realized that they were the first thing I reached for when I woke up and the last thing I took before I went to sleep. This dependency was disconcerting to say the least so I did some online research. I quit those suckers cold turkey. They were useless anyway.

I went to my Chiropractor every Thursday night for two months. He did what Chiropractors do best – manipulate, twist, pull, bend and crack. This was a lot of fun. At first it seemed to help, then it didn’t. He recommended I also try deep tissue massage to supplement “the work” he was doing. This actually felt pretty wonderful during the 45-minute session where the Therapist kneaded my ass like it was a lump of bread dough. I thought ‘whoa, I want more of this.’ I left the clinic with this big dopey euphoric grin on my face but by the time I got home I swear to God I was crippled. I couldn’t move for 24 hours. I went back, however, for another session because it felt so damn good while he was doing all that pummeling and rubbing and stroking. Plus the clinic smelled divine. Like lavender and mint tea. But again, by the time I got home I was crying like a snot-nosed baby. It was pathetic and kind of funny if it wasn’t happening to me. That was the end of that treatment.

Two sessions with a Chinatown Acupuncturist did absolutely nothing. Well not exactly nothing. In the middle of the second session, the beautiful Asian doctor paused and said “I think your husband doesn’t love you enough.” Perhaps something was lost in translation, or perhaps it was the side-affects of having my ass used as a human pincushion, but that’s what I heard. I milked this for all it was worth. Afterwards, I told E what she said and this got me several weeks worth of loving kindness, if you know what I mean. It was good while it lasted. But everyone has limits, even E.

I did all kinds of online research on Sciatica, SI joint injury and Piriformis syndrome. All the “experts” agreed that these three were the culprits. The source of my worst nightmare, the cause of my grief and agony, the reason I was down on my knees praying for an end to this fucking misery. So I culled the best of all their wisdom and advice, and tried things. There was a common theme to the exercises promoted online for the type of injury I had. They involved a lot of pulling and stretching of the ass muscles in awkward uncomfortable positions. Kind of like yoga on steroids. While I was doing the exercises I got some relief but as soon as I got off the floor and made any attempt at getting on with my day, much less my life, I was in agonizing hell. More rubber-faced Claire Danes type crying ensued.

I was miserable. I was angry and frustrated by my body’s betrayal. I was depressed. And consequently depressing to be around. I felt alone and isolated. Like no one truly understood the depth of my suffering. During the day, I put on my happy “work face” and soldiered through. On a good night, if I was lucky, I found a position that was comfortable, which was usually sitting with my back completely straight and upright, my feet flat on the floor. I would sit like this for hours and not move, fearful that if I did I would trigger those delightful pain messages. This became the new normal for me.

Sometimes I screamed bloody murder. So loud and hard that the blood vessels in my neck vibrated. I scared the shit out of E and Mel. They did their best to console and comfort me. But it was pointless. Life was pointless. Hopeless. I was an embarrassing useless burden. There were no words that could make this better. No words.

Then at the beginning of June, upon the recommendation of a colleague, I went to see an Osteopath. I had no clue what an Osteopath was but I was willing to give it try. I met with the doctor on a sunny Saturday morning. She was an intense, direct, straight shooter who listened with her ears, eyes and heart. She didn’t just see me as patient, she recognized me as a human being who was suffering. And then she went to work.

For the first time in months I can see a glimmer of light that maybe, just maybe, I might get better. Session by session, I am seeing small steady improvements as Dr. D works her magic. I don’t know what she’s doing. I don’t care. I only know I’m on the journey back. I have faith in her ability to heal. I have hope again. I stopped screaming.

They say everything happens for a reason. I’ve yet to figure out the “why” of it all, and I guess it doesn’t really matter. But if I was to add a silver lining to this, it would be that my heart has been opened wide, wider than I could have ever imagined, to those who suffer. My compassion muscle has expanded and grown exponentially. My empathy is on high alert and fully engaged. For example, in the past I have often been impatient, annoyed and horribly judgmental of people who took their ‘sweet time’ crossing the street, and kept me waiting. I’d mutter irritated “for God’s sake hurry up and get across the road already.” But now I think, “what is your story, Dear One? Are you suffering?”

My heart aches. I feel your pain. I understand.

 

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Feel the Pain.

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Girl Warrior. Pain is inevitable. So feel it. Fully. Thoroughly. Exhaustively. Allow yourself to experience every little detail of the hurt you are experiencing. Physically, mentally and spiritually. Wring your emotions dry.

Purge. Cleanse. Release. Repeat.

There is no escaping pain. You can run but you cannot hide. It affects us all sooner or later. Like death, it happens to everyone and everything. Guaranteed. But unlike death, it doesn’t just happen once. And then boom. Lights out. Pain recurs. Also guaranteed.

But what isn’t guaranteed is your perspective. The way you think, feel, react, respond and behave when you’re suffering and in your darkest hour. You may not be able to control when something hurtful is going to come your way or cross your path. But you can control what you do when it does.

This isn’t easy. Your first impulse may be avoidance. Or denial. Or retreat. You may want to run like hell away from the source of your torment, if you can. Or pull the covers over your head. Bury it in the sand. Lock yourself away. Hold a pity party. Lash out. Make accusations. Lay blame. Threaten to harm yourself. Crush your psyche. Curse at your body or mind. Condemn their betrayal. Give up.

Do these things if you must. And there will be times when you need to do all or some of these things. Recovery, getting rid of the bad shit that happens, is a process. And it takes time to heal wounds. Whether it’s a broken arm or a broken heart. A sore knee or a sore spirit. An injured back or an injured mind.

But know Girl Warrior that eventually you have to face it all. Have a showdown with the pain. Feel it all. Surrender to it all. Accept that it is happening. Because the pain won’t leave you until you deal with it. One way or the other. Head-on works. So does a slow and gentle approach. Trust yourself. You actually already know what to do. The wisdom to guide you through this already abides within. Listen to your small quiet voice of truth. Know that all pain is temporary.

Girl Warrior, let this pain be one of your quintessential teachers. Learn. Grow. Forgive. Accept. Emerge. Move on.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Maria’s Chickens.

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I love my daily lunch-hour walks along the country road that leads to the Agency. It’s a sweet time of solitude, relaxation and physical activity. It’s also a walking meditation. For that reason alone, I do my best to incorporate these walks into my workday. And for a city girl, with a rural sedentary job, they are also a lifesaver.

There are many things that I have grown to love about these pastoral walks. Like the smell of fresh-cut hay. Or the magnificence of an eagle perched on the top branch of a Douglas fir. The admirable tenacity of the sheep and goats that feed non-stop in the meadows. The explicitness in the demanding calls of the ravens. The comic relief of the quails scurrying across the road in uniform perfection. The dear beautiful deer. The blackberry bushes that line the road and provide a sweet treat along the way. The two majestic horses always grazing in the buttercup field. The cuteness overload from the Cocker Spaniel rescue haven. The tranquil beauty of the horticulture center at the bend in the road. The canopied chip paths that lead into the dark woods. The fragrant smell in the air after a summer rain.

And then there are Maria’s hens. They are an absolutely fabulous flock of girls. They’re the Girl Warriors of Chickendom. I’ve gotten to know them (and their rooster) pretty well over the last 9 years. In reality they probably aren’t the original group I first met 9 years ago but to me, in my little fantasy world, they most certainly are. In my defense, I’ve read that well-raised chickens in backyard settings can live 8 to 10, even 20 years. So what the hell, they could be. Besides reality sucks anyway. And Maria’s chickens live an enviable idyllic blissful life. Things looks so good, I’ve even fantasized about hopping the fence and joining this little brood of sociable cluckers.

I adore these girls. Crazy admission perhaps. But I do. They’ve completely changed my perspective on this particular fowl. Although they have done nothing to improve my foul mouth, after 9 years I do have new and improved outlook, a birds-eye view perhaps. And I can say without hesitation that they are the highlight of my daily walks. They are an endless source of amusement, fascination, curiosity and delight. I am grateful for their unassuming presence along the road.

They are the reason I stopped eating chicken. This country walk, and a Paul McCartney concert in April, also inspired me to stop eating cows and pigs. I never have eaten lambs or goats or anything wild. But let me make something perfectly clear, I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan but I am heading towards that path. I get it. Plus, my love for animals is making it increasingly difficult to eat the flesh of another. I’m not saying it’s a better way, the right way; it’s just my way. Kind of like that Frank Sinatra song.

This week I’m especially thankful for the their eggs. Maria’s hens produce the best eggs along the road. Or so I’ve heard from the good folks who live along the road and have done taste tests. I have only eaten eggs from Maria’s girls. Why go elsewhere when you’ve already experienced perfection, I say.

Besides, I will not be disloyal to the Girl Warriors of Chickendom.

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