Giving Thanks 2014

Today I bow my head and pray
Giving thanks, these words I say:
Thank you for the bills that I must pay,
That allow me to live my life my way.
Thank you for the hours In a cubicle I sit
That provide the means for all my stuff (haha – tricked you!)
Thank you for the aches and pains
That remind me of all the years I’ve lived
And those that remain.
Thank you for the family that includes my friends and
Neighbors
Thank you even for the Haters.
They are missing something precious, something necessary
To have compassion, forgiveness and caring.
Thank you for the lessons they’ll teach me,
They’ll make me look deep inside and see
Am I burning with anger, resentment and Hate?
Or can I reach deeper still and somehow relate?
Thank you for the friends you’ve sent me
Thank you for the ones who have gone home to Thee.
Thank you for the losses I have had,
I’ll treasure the times, the memories,
Try not to be sad.
Thank you for what is in store
Thank you for each moment, evermore.
Michelle

I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I saw the man who had no feet.

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Happy Birthday Baby Boy

Wow. 26 years have passed since a terrified 20 year old brand-new mother held a miracle in her arms and felt the Universe shift. This tiny, crying miniature man owned my heart the moment our eyes met. The love I felt was unparalleled by any emotion I had ever felt before. There was something else, too; a fierceness in that love. A feeling that I would gladly give my life to save his, that I would tear apart anything and anyone that would try to do him harm. I truly felt as though God Himself had sent this angelic creature to me to save my life, give me a reason to live and remind me of the beauty and light that only children (newborns especially) can bring. I used to think that each and every newborn carried with them a piece of heaven, an invisible blanket of clouds sewn by angels to protect the soul inside the fragile vessel. Every parent knows the feeling, a strange mix of elation, fear, joy and protectiveness; I had never had anything so precious, so completely helpless and dependent upon me for everything. It was a bit overwhelming (especially after about 48 hours of labor, an emergency c-section delivery) but I knew this life we had created was going to change the course of my life, help me to become a stronger person, a better person and would challenge me in many ways (especially the teenage years) and that has been the case. We have literally grown up together, had our fights, our old hurts to work through, I’ve had to take responsibility for causing him pain by the choices I’ve made, the price of being an addict and having a mental illness. I will never be able to undo the past, but I have learned from it and making amends will be a life long work on my part.
But today is about Devon and what he has accomplished in the last year; how he has stretched his wings and flown far outside of his comfort zone and the growth he has achieved for his effort. To say that I am proud of him doesn’t do justice to my feelings. Once again, I am grateful to have such a blessings as a son who is as funny, smart, talented and unique as any I could have dreamed up.

Rock on, Goonie, the world awaits.

Those Who Love Their Misery

WARNING: this is a rant. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

So today I had a phone conversation with a friend who I think favors the negative over the positive and is in general, not a happy person. She will make statements like, “I’ll NEVER …. (Fill in the blank) …. be happy, travel, meet a nice guy, take a vacation, balance a checkbook, make it through a day/week/month without drinking to blackout, whatever. The latest NEVER is that her (yet unborn grandchild) will get married and she won’t be able to see the wedding because she (grandma) will be DEAD by then. Out of all the possible things to focus on with this news, she goes for the one thing that is COMPLETELY out of her control (dying) and focuses on that. NOT the time they will have together or making a memory book for the kid, writing down family stories for him/her, and not that she’s going to be blessed with yet another grandchild. Of course, when I tell her she’s being a little negative, she blows it off and says she doesn’t think she was being negative….which brings me to this post. I have learned (and am still re-learning) that some people love their misery, the constant stream of complaints, their all-out war against positive thinking and/or self-less thinking is JUST FINE FOR OTHER PEOPLE, who aren’t as deprived or whose family had more money/influence/opportunity. Or the women are thin/rich/married to a gorgeous perfect man so naturally they are happier. They look to others as the cause of their unhappiness, not at themselves and their Death Grip on old hurts, warped perception and ultimately, their status as a Victim. Everyone should feel sorry for them, but just don’t make any suggestions on how Real Change might happen and allow Real Happiness to have a chance. Well, I’ve played along, made excuses, shown up, spoke until I have no more words to speak and am now cutting ties with that subject matter. We will converse on a level that is slightly less intimate than what I share with people at the bus stop or the grocery store. Misery loves company so I think she will soon be searching for a new friend who is as negative and in love with it as she is. I’m out. It’s hard enough to keep positive in a world that bombards you with violence, hate, discrimination and shaming and bullying. I can turn off the TV, change the channel or close the window on my browser when I’ve had enough, but if I let myself be drawn into someone else’s Black Hole of “It’s All Bad”, I may not be able to find my way back. That is not a risk I’m willing to take. If she is all alone and I am the only friend she has, there is probably at least one reason for that and it has nothing to do with me; my responsibility lies in myself and helping those who actually want to feel better, to make a change in their lives. Help, not do; just simply listen and be a friend. That’s what I can do, but only if that person wants change, not just someone to spew negative crap on so they can feel validated and justified in their perception of Victim.
***end of rant****

Food Circus, Dad and Veterans Day

Whenever I was in trouble, or in need of a heart-to-heart discussion (need as defined by my father) it was known without saying it that said discussion would take place where all Important Discussions should take place and that would be Food Circus. Now, to the uninformed, this may conjure up images of people selecting their meal by pointing to whatever cage held whatever type of dinner. This is in fact incorrect. Nor is it an “End of Life” circus where performing animals are the main course. Food Circus was a collection of International Restaurants (think American International) that included German, Italian, Filipino (Anna Banana’s) and a Hof Brau (not the same as the German restaurant) and a gift shop that made transfer t-shirts that said cute things like “Kiss Me I’m Irish” or “Mom and Dad went to California and all I got was this stupid T-shirt” type of stuff. A florist, a gourmet grocery store, (Corti Brothers) a watch repair shop, a donut shop, awesome candy store (Snook’s Candies, now in Folsom, on Sutter Street). Last, but not least was Jumbo’s Coffee Shop.
Our family would go there after church on Sunday for donuts and coffee (orange juice for the little ones). When I was in my Rebel Without A Clue days, I worked with Dad on a business venture and we would take breaks at Food Circus (or Food Zoo as Big Brother #3 renamed it) because of course my dad smoked and back in the 1970’s you could smoke wherever you damn well pleased. So it was cup of coffee, 3 cigarettes, a refill cup, then 3-4 more smokes. Needless to say, Dad got 110% out of me those days. I was wired for sound and all he had to do was give me direction and turn me loose. That was the beginning of my love affair with cigarettes, coffee and going fast, in general. Food Circus is now The Marketplace at Arden Fair mall and has a very nice restaurant, movie theaters, a couple of chain-type restaurants and looks nothing like it did then. But I can just close my eyes and I can be there again, sitting across the table from my dad, listening to his day and comprehending about 10% of what he said and filling in the blanks by reading his face, his body language and listening to his tone. I can smell the strange yet familiar scent of all those restaurants, the burning coffee left on the warmer too long, the cigarette smoke blending with the men’s cologne and the ladies’ perfumes, vying for attention. That was where I received my education, the gifts that my father bestowed upon me, little pearls of wisdom lost on a teenager so certain her parents were irrelevant and knew nothing about Life as she knew it. I’m grateful every day that I grew out of that phase and spoke at great length with my father later in life. My father outlived Food Circus and we moved our talks to different places, but those days will always stay with me and I will treasure them for the gift they were.
My father served in the Air Force and I believe that his life wouldn’t be what it was without the life experience and education he received while serving. This Veterans Day I would like to give thanks to those who fought for us, before many of us were even born, so that we could enjoy simple yet profoundly precious moments like those I had with my father. Thank you is not enough; I don’t know if there is anything that words can say to express the depth of my gratitude, but words are all I have, so thank you. All of you.

White the Poem (Revisited)

I had previously posted this poem, which was a class assignment for my Minorities in America Sociology class but it was not the final version. So, here for your reading pleasure is the final version that I had submitted. The assignment asked us to write about our ethnicity/race as we experience it and what it means to us personally.

White.
That’s what you see when you look at me.
No color, bleached of shade and tone,
White, white power, white privilege, white pillars of stone.
It’s symbolic of Conquerors, Superior; the Great Oppressors;
Stealing, taking, maiming, judging, owning, breaking.
White. The Klan. White Robes, White hoods, terror is their making.
White. Snow White. Singer to birds, friends to dwarves, pure as the driven snow.
Kindness and love, light and joy; friend to those in need, never with malice,
A heart free from greed.
White. White trash, trailer trash, poor white trash. Lowest of the low.
No teeth, no drive, no brain, no gain. Loser from the crib,
Destined to be doomed to a life wasted.
Lower than a dog, shunned by all people of all colors.
Not easily disguised, when trying to change it, make it darker,
It burns like fire, then goes back to White.
Inescapable. I have my ancestors to thank for the whitest of white, this skin.
From the Highlands of Scotland, the cool and cloudy lands of Ireland,
My whiteness travels through time, passed down from generation to generation;
White breeds white, no break in the chain, no color to darken.
I was born on the Winter Solstice, the first day of winter.
My skin is not meant for burning sun
And warm climates; it needs the cool and craves skies that are cloudy.
The box I check is Caucasian, but to my own self,
I identify as a proud human of Celtic ancestry,
Born American, raised in the California sun,
Baptized Catholic, educated by nuns.
Seeker of knowledge, lover of truth and Student for Life
I have experienced troubles and am not immune to strife.
The privilege and power of whiteness is something I cannot see;
But it is indelibly a part of me,
This white girl,
Michelle Marie.

Seriously Silly, Non-Sensical Sayings

You and me
Together we’ll be
Forever always, happily
Because I love thee
And thee loves me
We are meant to be
Together faithfully
Whatever may be
Our love will live
Eternally
You and me
Wild and free
Singing songs of love
To the world are we
Light and love fly
Over land and sea
My heart sets free
Words of sincerity
Of love and beauty
To all the scenery
I’ve yet to see
I’m moving
Toward my
Destiny
Happily
Joyfully
Humbly
Sillily
Me

Heartbreak and the Price of Love

I’ve been single for quite some time now; partially by choice and partially because of my tendency to scare the hell out of any interested man in a matter of minutes either by being “too intense” or by unfiltered talking, dropping the “bipolar bomb of truth” right after meeting and shaking hands. (This one is my best friend’s biggest pet peeve with me as it relates to dating) I just tend to find myself being single and most of the time am very content with that status. Needless to say, if Liam decided to meet me at the airport and whisk me away to some charming chapel/cathedral/justice of the peace and marry me, I would most certainly gladly surrender my single person status. Liam aside, this has worked for me for well over a decade.

I have witnessed great relationships that have stood the test of time and human weakness, of difficult days, addiction, illness and loss. I have also watched as good people ripped each other to shreds on a daily basis, tearing into each other’s souls with thorny lies and hurtful truths. I have listened to a woman with blackened eyes and swollen lip tell me she’s going back; she must because she loves him and he’s sorry and it won’t happen again. I have held many friends while they cried themselves sick with broken hearts because someone cheated, someone lied, someone fell out of love, someone stopped listening, stopped caring and ultimately, stopped showing up.

I myself have held someone in my heart for years and years, believing that our time together was magical, driven by Destiny and blessed by the Universe, only to find out that he had all but forgotten me a long, long time ago. It was a nice time for him, nothing to memorialize or even to build on. Temporary passing between two bodies moving through space and time; an instant in a nano second of the Big Picture. Blink and you’ve missed it. While I saw it as a reunion between two souls who had lived many lifetimes together, finding each other again.

So, I have to ask myself: was the happiness you experienced worth all the heartache that followed? Is it really better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? Is the price of loving and being loved, if only for that Moment in Time worth the heartbreak that followed? Is it worth the risk of heartbreak to feel even temporarily safe and sound, soul aglow, being loved and loving? I have come to believe that for me, the answer is yes. Will I open my heart to the first person who gives me a smile or flirts with me? Most definitely not. I have grown in my understanding of my role in protecting my heart and no longer open it to any and all. It’s far too precious for that. But I also cannot continue to keep it locked up, surrounded by a vast stone wall, either. Once again, my goal is balance and I believe the more I can accept and love myself, the happier I will be, whether single or coupled.

Shameless Plug for The Book

Many of you have read about my Little Brother and of those many, some have actually had the pleasure of knowing him. He is absolutely hands-down the most crazy (in the non-judgmental, strictly used as an adjective, sense of the word) creative people I know. Since he was a little guy, his mind has always fascinated me with how fluid and complete his created characters and worlds were. He used to have these drawings that were truly blueprints for these worlds; every detail thought of, created and made real with pen and paper (yeah, WAY back in the day, just after stone tablets and chisels) I loved the way it was seemingly effortless, more as if he were recalling a memory instead of creating fiction.

Happily for all of us, he has just completed the First Revision on his book, which is currently available on Amazon. The title is “System Seven” by Michael J. Parks. If I had to classify its genre, I would say sci-fi, but there are many elements of other genres also. It’s a lot like my brother – intelligent with a great sense of humor and bursting with energy.

I’ve got it loaded on my magic tablet device, ready to disappear into its world as I make my way to Edinburgh in December. I believe it’ll be as if I take two trips – one to Edinburgh and the other to the future and to a world I couldn’t have dreamed up if I tried and a peek inside the mind of a creative genius, who happens to be my brother.

Reading and escaping are synonymous in my vocabulary. Before I discovered drugs and alcohol, it was my salvation and a balm to the wounded parts of my soul. I could be anyone, anywhere! I could stand beside queens as they are crowned; be the fly on the wall, seeing everything, hearing thoughts of men, honest and ugly or lying and sweet. I could travel to anywhere, visit any time from prehistoric to futuristic. Reading is the ultimate magic carpet ride, at least for me. When all else fails or the day is just too much, a trip to the library and finding The Book That Calls To Me and taking it home and reading it will set things right.

I hope you take the time to check out my brother’s book or any book the next time you have some free time or just want to escape.
It’s good stuff.

http://www.amazon.com/System-Seven-Michael-Parks-ebook/dp/B00P0IPRD2/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1