what once was

Why Size Matters.

Women will give coy smiles and giggle, then say, “It’s not about size, it’s how you use it.” But that’s a lie.

Because a heart closed by fear, pessimism, and doubt can’t be used, not fully.

Let’s go Dr. Seuss for a minute with the Grinch.

00 grinch

The dude had serious issues beyond eye twitching and dressing his dog up like a reindeer. Why? Because the Whos down in Whoville were celebrating life. Okay, Christmas, but there’s a bigger picture here. They were happy and he wasn’t, so they weren’t allowed to be happy.

This goes back to heart.

The narrator cleverly inserts: “But I think that the most likely reason of all, may have been that his heart was two sizes too small.”

00 grinch heart

(CSI-like Exhibit A)

Closed or shrunken hearts can happen over time. Let’s face it, life isn’t always happiness and giggles. Cycles of unhealthy relationships are handed down from generation to generation like keepsakes. Moreover, if you’re not willing to participate in the negativity and codependency, then your punishment is withheld affection and love. Yes, love is used as a punishment in these dynamics.

But people have the power to smash the crap out of those cycles and make different choices.

I’ve written it before but it bears repeating:

The heart is like a universe, incomprehensibly vast and continually growing to accept new situations and people; never filling up because it’s endless.

While it can’t be filled, it can close off or get smaller.

How to stop it?

Well, there’s no ultimate manifesto of love, but I have a few ideas that are working for me.

  1. Only allow positive things and people in. This isn’t a call to arms to block out everyone who might be having a bad day, but it is a suggestion to love people who are chronically negative from a distance.
  2. Watch your words. Pay close attention to what you say, think, and write. If the majority of it isn’t positive, then stop and change it. Bring your thoughts and words back to hope. Evaluate the negativity, then turn it around to see the lesson in a situation or how to change it altogether.
  3. Make a conscious choice to take responsibility for your own personal happiness. Do, say, live the things that make you happy, and stop doing the things that don’t.
  4. Walk away. If someone is committed in a Grinch-like way to arguments, fighting, gossip, and misunderstanding everything you say, then pull up stakes. Life isn’t a battle. You don’t have to prove a point or argue one. Save your sanity and peace, then slip out the backdoor.
  5. While I’m on the subject of gossip… Don’t.  Gossip is an ugly habit and hurts people. Period. So embrace the love and turn the conversation to how your kid picked every flower in the garden because he thought it was Mother’s Day, then destroyed the kitchen making soggy cereal and glitter laden cards. Everyone will chuckle, and you’ll all feel better.
  6. Be honest about what you want, who you are, and do it unapologetically. Again, not a screw you to the world. A simple to say: this is what I want for my life, and I respect what you want for yours. Sometimes, people don’t want the same things. Sometimes people choose to accept who you are and sometimes they don’t. The ones who support, understand, and respect your choices (and you) will stick around. The others will lose interest and find something or someone else to occupy their time. Not good or bad, not a statement about your worth or theirs, but a sincere realization that not everyone will get you. They don’t have to because it’s not their life.
  7. Control is an illusion, so don’t waste time or energy trying to master it. We have control over one thing – our choices. Not the consequences, not other people, not anything else that exists in the world. Only the choices we make. Take your time, choose as wisely as possible, then learn from everything that happens afterwards. If it gets totally screwed up, then make a different choice next time, but don’t wallow in what ifs. That’s a quick road to depression, anxiety, and crippling fear. This is 40 plus years speaking here. Again, save your sanity.
  8. Life is an adventure, so live it. Sometimes I go out and enjoy the world, but most days I’m perfectly content with doing that in my own backyard. If skydiving is your adventure, then do it. Just don’t ask me to go with you. I don’t jump out of perfectly good planes.
  9. Peace is an active pursuit, find it daily. Whether you’re into meditation or vegging to music or driving dirt roads with the windows down, take a moment each day to actively pursue things that put your soul at ease. Peace isn’t going to come find you, you have to search it out. As you remove negativity from your life, it’ll get easier to find, but it still takes conscious effort to live until it’s a natural state of being.
  10.  Remember your heart is a universe and big enough to love the entire world. Do you have time to love the entire world? Probably not, but my point is – just like when a new baby is born – hearts and families expand to accommodate one more person. It’ll continue to do it for the rest of your life. New family members, friends, and even strangers on the street, there’s no end to how many people you can love. And just like the Grinch’s heart, yours will grow and grow until it’s nearly bursting out of your chest. But don’t worry, it won’t pop or anything. It’s custom made by some cosmic force to be pliable and stretchy.

This is you on love, only maybe not so green and minus the Santa suit. 🙂

00 grinch heart grows

 (CSI-Like Exhibit B)

Is this going to change the world?

Maybe, maybe not.

Can it change your world?

Well, that’s for you to decide. All I know for certain is I’ve been traveling this path for a while and slowly putting these into practice. Sometimes I really suck at it, but I’m getting better. And in the process, I’m living happiness and peace in a way I never have before. When I screw up, I make a different choice. When things start flowing, I keep doing them. Things like lying in the backyard and hanging with my family while watching the sun set. If that isn’t pure love and happiness, then I don’t know what is.

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Categories: allowing the positive, conscious choices, happiness, heart, honesty, journey, life, love, patience, peace, relationships, self reflection, spirituality, the next step, what matters to you, what once was | Tags: | 1 Comment

A Promise of Spring

000 winter road

 

Winter’s long hand is blanketing the world outside my door. The crystalline white swirls down, reaching over everything to hide color and light. Even the busy road vanished, now a silent empty reminder of travelers I’ve never met.

Somewhere in the distance soft light promises to break the spell, but I know it’s simply an illusion — my personal mirage in an entirely new desert.

On days like these the only sound is her laughter. Some video or other amuses her twelve year old mind into a fit of temporary joy, and I’m thankful to hear something other than my own thoughts. She’ll be here for a handful of years yet. Experience has taught me they’ll go fast, too fast, then she’ll tackle the world outside our door with fire and passion. Though I’ll miss her laughter desperately, I won’t hold her back, even if I could. She deserves a shot at making this life everything or anything her brilliant mind can imagine.

I see the stinging loneliness ahead, but don’t weep. In this weather, my tears would freeze before hitting the ground, and the beauty of this place inspires more quiet smiles than sorrow.

The only thing left is to wait and wonder what comes next, though all I see is the snow. No brilliant images of a house full of laughter. No fiery dreams of a hopeless romantic. No illusions of life other than the gentle cold of winter.

And in this I find peace.

The last few years have been brutal, and my passion for tasting life wanes with each passing day. Less of a retreat, more of a slow slipping into concrete reality. In the hollow left behind, no sound or pain exists, not even a whisper. And, in most ways, I grateful to finally understand there is nothing more than walls, laughter, and crystalline water.

Outside the world is still and cold, waiting for the promise of spring. Inside, it’s warm and laughter breaks the din of an otherwise motionless day.

Somewhere beyond my view things are changing, and I can’t help but smile with somewhat giddy anticipation. Perhaps I wait for spring as well.  Perhaps this dormant hibernation is simply a time to reorganize priorities and put a too long past to rest in the hard ground. Whatever the reasons, this isolation suits me for now, so I have to believe its purpose is yet to be revealed.

And in this I find hope.

Winter’s long hand will rest soon enough. For now, I cherish quiet days and the giggling of a not-so-little redheaded child.

Categories: breaking illusions, caves, Choice, found, hope, innocence, lettng go, the next step, what once was | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

We’re Not Cattle: Bowing Out of the Branding Game

000 Branding

I wanted to be someone else.

Fierce winds rattled my door tonight. The road so dark, even the brights seemed insufficient. Each curve I drove as I went to pick my daughter up, even the ones I knew well, surprised me.

Night can be blinding in a different kind of way. It consumes all that lies outside the circle of headlights, jealously guarding its treasure. Though hours earlier I’d seen the foliage surrounding this long stretch of blacktop, now my chest thumped some sort of never more rhythm. Would I make it home? What about the deer? Which passing car would travel just close enough to push us both into untimely terror?

Too many questions on such a dark evening, and not the ones that mattered.

My recent past has been a struggle of confidence and conformity… or nonconformity. With such strong personalities surrounding me, I’ve spent more time questioning every decision than I do making them. And everyone has a very strong opinion, which is fair because I have a habit of asking for them.

By the way, popular vote is no way to actually live a life. Trying to be everybody ends up making a person nobody pretty fast.

Tonight the quiet resoundingly thrums against my eardrums. It speaks of change and certainty and life that will burst forward with Acme rocket speed. The wind has come to push away the deep cold of a too soon winter… or perhaps pull it near. Either way, the tingle spreading up my back and down my arms isn’t chill, but the swift current of something new and ancient.

I wanted to be someone else. I fought so hard to be anybody else, but in the thralls of a transforming season surrender is inevitable. We can only run so long before the vibration of the world throws silken tendrils around us. Not to envelope, not to control, but to allow wisdom we avoid to catch up and sink in.

Tomorrow came twenty minutes ago with this message:Somewhere in your life now, you may be feeling pressured to fit in and wear some kind of label. But you don’t need it.”

When I walk through the nearby forest, there are dozens of plants, trees and flowers. Not a single one has a label plastered to them, so I couldn’t begin to tell you exactly what kind they are, but I appreciate the beauty of each one. Their varied shapes and colors offer wonderment, peace and pleasure. Nature doesn’t require a label to exist, and long after we’ve screwed everything up, then disappeared, it’ll still be going strong… without our carefully planned categories.

I thought I wanted to be someone else. I thought I needed a label – author, coach, developmental developer person, writer of spiritual fiction, young adult urban something or other.

But it’s time to give up on those illusions. Not the words or the support or the passion, but on the need to fit in somewhere so I can be something to the right people. Does anybody know who those people are? If you do, make sure they don’t get my number.

At some point we have to draw a line. Not the chalk kind that dissolves after a heavy rain or the magic marker kind that fades with time and a good scrubbing. This one has to be a freaking monument of stone and steel with a diamond shield nature can’t break down through elemental persistence… and neither can anybody else.

The time of identifying people by their profession – the cobbler, the thatcher, the mercantile, the author – is long gone. The time of using more snark and profanity and sharp jabs to get attention should be. And sticking a label on me or imprinting my backside with a red hot iron thingy makes me no more or less effective at what I’ve chosen to do.

After spending a third of my life (because I plan to make 120) trying to be everything to everyone, trying to figure out the exact label so people will instantly know who I am and what I stand for, I’m bowing out of the branding game. Mostly because hot pokers make me nervous and I’m not fond of being considered cattle-like. 

I help people get things written, but only if they’re willing to take personal responsibility for their passion because I can’t want it for them. I work with structure and flow and making words count because I have an unending passion to clean up stuff and support people. I write, and sometimes I do it well… sometimes not so much, but I won’t ever stop. I like classic Winnie-the-Pooh and bubbles and helping Spirit when it comes knocking on my door.

These are things about me, but they don’t define me because categories are illusions we use as security blankets so people can decide at a distance if we’re the right people.

When all the paperwork is finished my name will be Kassie (sounds like Casey) Ranee Dillon. You may know me as Ranee. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Hope to see you again soon.

Categories: branding, conformity, conscious choices, labels, opinions, professional identity, what once was, writing, Writing Process | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

My Broken Road of Blogging and Social Media

Blogging has been a love/ hate relationship from the beginning. When this all started I used it for very personal reasons. It was a vehicle to break illusions, confront fear, and meet other people because words are good for all three.

In my life, I often tap out events to see them from a different perspective. I’ve found they look completely different when I get them out of my head. The result is that I learn far more about myself and other people. If these posts help someone else in the process, then so much the better because we grow from other people’s experience as much as our own.

That’s the purpose of a collective consciousness, to share each laugh or tear and in the telling of life stories become more of our true selves through these teachers. I’ve had many who’ve opened my eyes to a larger universe and helped me avoid otherwise painful lessons. Not always because I’m as human as the next person and, sometimes, very stubborn. But eventually I see the light of wisdom in the advice I receive.

The problem I recently faced with all of this is one I hadn’t anticipated. This tool for breaking through illusion and fear has caused a fair bit of turbulence in my personal life and relationships. Though I explain time and again the purpose of writing out my life and struggles, they eventually offend or upset someone.

So I have two choices — walk away from social media or stop worrying about what people think. The second being the more difficult because I have big love for the people who are or have been in my life.

It’s an excruciating decision.

“You’ve become an amazing woman,” a good friend recently said. “When I met you two years ago, you were this unsure girl who accepted everything everyone did and let people walk all over her. You’ve grown so much, and I’m happy I got to see it.”

These changes were forty years in the making and took every ounce of strength and courage. It nearly broke me, and by that I mean I was ready to send my daughter back to California and fade off the face of the planet.

It’s interesting people say, “Love yourself and do what’s right for your life.”

It’s a double edged sword, isn’t it? Because what they mean is… do it so long as it doesn’t change anything with them. We admire people who blaze their own path, but demonize them when they fall short of our expectations. No one is immune from this human failing, not even me. But over the past several years, I’ve come to understand that I won’t understand why or how people do things, but I respect their journey, even if it’s far from mine. And I’d hoped for the same respect in return.

But when I started saying:

“Hey, I want to help, but I just can’t.”

 

Or… “Look, if you want to be here you need to start contributing because I can’t afford to support you.”

And… “I’m not going to be your part time playtoy, so if you want a relationship let’s do this thing.” 

That’s when I found out who was here to be part of my life and who wasn’t. I found out who truly respected me and who didn’t. I thought I’d be more angry, but not really. I mean, sure I’m sad because we’d put a lot of time and energy into those relationships, but they also created a lot more turmoil than I’d realized.

I have many fond memories, and they’ve all been wonderful teachers of one kind or another. So none of the time we spent together was wasted, at least not from my perspective.

 

Looking back serves one purpose, to see my strengths and failings in any given moment, and possibly do it better in this one. In my mistakes and successes, I find lessons and teachers. In my words, I cut through the crap and find the reality outside the complicated mess of thoughts and emotions twirling through my head. Though these posts have evolved, this process hasn’t changed, but I have through it.

So, I suppose I answered my own question in the course of writing this post. It isn’t a big screw you to world, but rather points me back to something I wrote this summer.

Authenticity because anything else is slow death.

Just as I don’t have the right to tell any of you who you are or should be, no one has the right to tell me either. We might be able to try on other people’s shoes, but we can’t walk in them because their road is paved by a lifetime of experiences we can never know.

Ultimately, we have power over one thing – Choice. Not the outcomes or consequences, but we choose the path to our next lesson. And mine is a dirt road where maps or GPS have yet to conquer. Though I may hit a pothole of two, I have a feeling it will end up being one of the biggest adventures of my life.

And in this very moment as I write these words, I’ve decided you’ll find out about it right here, if you choose to join me. 🙂

Categories: answers, breaking illusions, Choice, love, relationships, the universes we create, what once was | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Illusion of Separation

 

00 holding hands

 

 

Illusions are easy to live in, especially for an optimist. And the world desperately conspires to give them breath with the idea we can all get along. Why not? We’re all the same… on the inside.

Well, that’s an illusion too, isn’t it?

Society is hell bent on creating separation. It gives people another illusion – that of power. Countries and social circles hunger for it, and will use any means, be it hate or love, to control a little speck of the universe. They force people to defend their rights, defend their very character, even in the face of those who love them.

Twelve years ago, the country found a new enemy, but they didn’t stop at the faceless “terror” living thousands of miles away. Much like the Japanese American interment camps during WWII, our own citizens became the demons we fought. Suspicion, targeting, blackballing; all it becoming the norm, forcing otherwise innocent people to prove they were actually innocent. Guised as protection, the powers that be used this fire to enact several laws and create agencies to further tight their hold on the country, thus expanding their power.

McCarthyism in the early to mid 1950’s is yet another example. Many writers, directors, and actors as well as everyday citizens lost entire careers, entire families ripped apart because of finger pointing and rumor. It pitted neighbor squarely against neighbor in  a quest to prove personal innocence. Again, suspicion and fear became the norm and tool by which “order” and conformity was maintained.

But we’re more evolved now, right?

If society wasn’t hell bent on creating separation, I might say yes. But power and control are mighty tempting things. The lust for them lives in the eyes of society, and it will find the one perceived threat to its sovereignty,  then ban together and point fingers to divert attention from its end goal.

The concept of separation and the lust for power is a heavy theme in my novel, Ring Binder – The Binding of Twelve, because I believe books should be entertaining but also incorporate themes that break illusion.

Allison grew up in a small town plagued by rumors about her family. The peculiar behavior of her grandmother Shanley created the perfect target for a town that thrived on drama and separation. Of course, Allison didn’t help the situation by choosing not to follow social norms for the sake of getting along. She isolated herself from ridicule and sideways glances, adding to the tension. But the grab for social rankings and the separatist attitude of the majority of town’s residence seemed petty and childish at best.

When Allison ventured into the world of her people this dynamic was magnified. The ruling council of the Mutaní lusted for power and control, maintaining both by encouraging suspicion and unease. Again, the rules of their society served one purpose – separation. By preying on people’s fear of the Iska, soul feeding demons who hunted them, the council effectively manipulated the will and minds of the many to accomplish their end goal, which created a cycle of death killing entire generations.

This phenomenon isn’t limited to governments. It trickles down to infect social circles and even families. When we buy into the illusion of us versus them, when we gossip and spread rumors to defame another simply to maintain power and control over the people in our universe, then we become the monsters of separation. And while I still believe everyone, despite the individual and internal battles we fight, can find a way to get along, it’s difficult to tolerate energy in my universe that thrives on making people choose sides or creates division for the sake of maintaining power.

So what’s the alternative? I’m not sure.

How can we put an end to the illusion that we need to separate into camps? Hell, if I know.

My best option at the moment is respect people from a distance until we find common ground; until everyone realizes we have this one life, this one planet we share, and none of us will ever have power or control over it. At least, not for too long.

I leave you with the opening quote in Ring Binder from Samuel Lonary, shifter and Binder trainer.

“Longevity has given me the ability to look past the common struggles of life. I’ve seen power rise with the dawn only to be reclaimed by darkness. In the reach for control, the one constant is the moon. Pulling the tide with each orbit, the moon reaches into the hearts of men to touch them with power and insanity. For centuries, the Mutaní drew upon its light for ascension. We sought connection to the objects on a spiritual plane, but in this quest, the power corrupts. As our focus turned from the preservation of life to the sole saviors of humanity, the Mutaní forgot the lessons of history. All power is borrowed, even ours. Eventually, it too will set as the moon rises.”

 

 

Categories: freedom, lettng go, life, questions, self reflection, spirituality, the fear that binds us, the universes we create, themes, what once was, writing | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

How to Not Apologize for Being Me

00 GIRL-BLOWING-BUBBLES

 

Yesterday I posted this on Facebook:

“I won’t hide or change who I am to serve the whims of someone else. I won’t lie to hide someone else’s untruths, but I also won’t tell everyone everything just because they think they deserve to know. This is my life. I try to live it with kindness, directness, love, and wholly unapologetic. Though I’m not always good at it, I’m working hard to become better, the very best version of myself. And that’s good enough for me.”

Let’s break this bubble down.

 

Permission, perception, acceptance, extreme diplomacy, compromise to a fault, insecurity, fear, apologizing for who I am and what I want.

 

I’ve lived the better part of 40 years in a state of…

“Is it okay with you that I want to be happy? Does it make you uncomfortable when I do <insert dream, goal, passion>? Are you proud of me now? Do you still like me?”

Pathetic. Yeah, I’ll call like it is.

My point is I’ve lived my life hyper-anxiety ridden because I worried about everyone else’s happiness, lifting everyone else up, compromising my ideals and, sometimes, morals to be accepted and loved. I desperately wanted permission from other people to live my life. I wanted respect. I wanted some insane form of puppy dog approval from my masters as if that was the litmus by which I’d find ultimate happiness.

Where did it get me?

Twice divorced mother of four with few people I could count on and no money in the bank to pay for a pack of gum, not to mention important things like say rent… or power… or maybe food.

It also put me in the deepest, darkest bitch of a hole. One so deep I’d actually considered checking out. Dude, I was making plans. Like who would take care of my kid and how to divide up my crap plans. Like measuring how much damage it would do to my kids versus how much damage I was doing to them by being their mother plans.

We’re talking serious freaking abyss of nothingness with no foreseeable way out, save one, and me posed at the ready to take ticket to somewhere better than here. Because, in that moment, anywhere was better than here.

What stopped me? One word, the quietest sound I’d ever heard, not even a whisper. 

No.

For the first time in my life I said it.

No.

 

Then I said it again, a loud hush of hot breath following closely behind.

No.

 

And finally I yelled it out loud into the emptiness of that crushing black place until I heard it echoing back.

 

Next I said another word.

Yes…

to my happiness.

Yes…

 

to giving myself permission to follow my dreams.

Yes…

 

to saying no to all the people who have an opinion about how I should live my life.

 

Here’s the thing, everyone has an opinion about how to live, but that perspective only applies to their life, not anyone else’s. That’s their truth, and I respect the choices they make for their universe. Why? By definition it’s their world, and I don’t have to pay their bills, or raise their kids, or wear their shoes. So, how the hell can I possibly know what’s right or wrong for them? I can’t.

The flip-side.

They can’t possibly know what’s right or wrong for mine. More than that, they don’t have permission to because this is my life. And this is its new doctrine:

 

  1. Don’t ask permission to be happy, but don’t walk all over other people to live my happiness.
  2. Expect respect, but also give it. The caveat is not allowing people in my life who disrespect me via their words and actions.
  3. Be kind always.
  4. Have compassion for those struggling, but don’t take on their struggles as my own. This is a particularly difficult thing for me because I want to save the world *dons Super Woman cape*, but I now recognize I can’t do anything for anyone unless I’m doing it for myself first.
  5. Say no more than I say yes because I’m not every woman and it’s not all in me
  6. Give myself permission instead of asking everyone else.
  7. Opinion isn’t fact.
  8. Stop being afraid of what other people think and do it anyway. (See #1 and #3)
  9. Accept responsibility for allowing people to behave poorly and disrespect me, then move on and stop allowing it.
  10. Always strive to be the very best version of myself.

 

Short and sweet, a list of personal commandments to live my life. These are my truths, born from years of experience, birthed from the joy and pain of four decades. I have no answers moving forward. The outline for my future is a cartoon sketch, which is bound to hold just as much laughter as tears. None of this will be easy, but all of it will be worth it.

And therein lies my ultimate truth.

Only I can craft my happiness and purpose.

Be certain it will involve lots of bubble blowing. 🙂

The questions I leave for you: What does your happiness look like? Are you living it? 

Categories: belief, certainty, Choice, heart, lettng go, life, love, mistakes, moving forward, pain, relationships, self reflection, the fear that binds us, the next step, the universes we create, what once was | Tags: | 7 Comments

Cigarettes & Salt Water

Five cigarettes

She’ll numb the pain

the salt-water drips

down broken chains

 

Four notes pass

She’ll sing along

in wind masked cries

to every song

 

Three cars deep

She’ll feel the sigh

the salt-water drips

a sad goodbye

 

Two more miles

She’ll be at home

with empty hands

a heart alone

 

One last tear

She’ll let it fall

cigarettes and salt water

said it all

 

*   *   *

“Do I make it that easy…”

 

Categories: Drive by life, lettng go, love, messages, relationships, what once was | Tags: | 2 Comments

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