Smoking as a silencer

Smoking represents an inability to speak your truth. When you smoke, you are literally burning the back of your throat. You are also making it impossible to speak because your mouth is closed.

People smoke because they feel that they are not able to say how they feel. They feel that someone is working against them or there’s an injustice. They feel that they don’t have the power or the authority to speak up for themselves. So they silence themselves by smoking.

It is difficult to speak up for yourself. There’s a lot of anxiety and tension that comes from it. But just like with smoking you feel pain at first and then it feels better. When you smoke, the nicotine gets into your blood system and you start to feel more relaxed. But you don’t feel relaxed right off at first. The smoke tastes bad and the burning in the back of your throat is unpleasant. But eventually you start to feel calmer. The same is true with speaking your truth.

On Light Language, and uncovering myself.

For years I’ve suppressed who I am. This may not seem like a true statement to people who know me. They see me as a free spirit, an artist, a creator. They see me as someone who isn’t afraid to speak her truth.

This is true, but there’s more. In this past year of writing I’ve opened up more. I’ve gotten looser. I’ve stretched far enough to reach parts of myself I’d forgotten, or chosen to forget. I’ve suppressed my true nature because it isn’t socially acceptable. It’s weird. I’ve feared I’ll be looked at strangely – more than I already am.

However, in these last few years I’ve found new people who see the world like I do. I’ve found visionaries, seers, misfits all. I’ve found folks who hear a call that others don’t, or won’t admit that they do. We are finding strength in our friendships. When we share our stories, we know we aren’t alone, we aren’t crazy.

If others hear the same call, you know you aren’t making it up. Part of being different is being brave enough to speak your truth, in part so that others can speak their truth. When one person admits that they see the world differently, it gives others permission to admit that they see it that way too.

It is as if the rest of world is colorblind. I’ve tried to speak of other colors, of the vibrant fire of red and the cool healing of green, and the world just looks at me like I’m a sweet little child to be humored. They can only see yellow and blue. They don’t know what I’m talking about. They’ve patted me on the head and said “That’s nice” and gone on their way.

For years I thought I wasn’t seeing correctly. Now I know better. I’ve met others who see these colors too, and paint in them, sing in them, dance in them. I know, that we know, that this is a reality.

This painting is speaking to that.

This is the final version. Fortunately I’d taken a picture of a previous version to share with you.

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(I apologize for the dark corner – I’ve included a better picture of it later.)

It started off as an accident, but we know there are no accidents. Accidents are just events that we didn’t plan for. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t meant to happen.

I was painting something else and had a lot of paint left over. These days, I paint by putting blobs of paint right on the canvas and mixing it with my fingers. It is very fun, but very messy. I didn’t want to waste the paint that was still on my fingers. There was a lot, and it had swirled in really interesting ways. I’d hoped to keep the project going in a new way.

I took another canvas out and wiped the rest of the paint off my fingers onto it. There wasn’t enough paint to cover the canvas and I’d already put up most of my paint tubes. I then decided to paint over it with white so I could use the canvas for something else later. Then, after covering it with white, I scribbled on it. I did something that I’ve done for years but not known what I was doing.

It looks like shorthand, but it isn’t. It doesn’t look like any language I know. It is quick, and free, and it just feels like it needs to be this way. There is a rhythm, a pattern that happens when I write like this. It isn’t really scribbling. It feels like writing, but I don’t know what it says.

One of my new friends has introduced me to a term for this. It is called “light language.” It is like speaking in tongues, but it is visual. The fact that she is writing a book about it using information from many other people who do this too makes me feel better. It makes me not feel like a weirdo. There are YouTube videos of people speaking and signing in light language as well.

It looked like this.

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I really liked how the color from the first application of paint showed through the white. I didn’t like how the canvas showed through though. I decided to let it dry and think about it.

A few days later I painted over it with a lot of beautiful dark colors. I loved the swirls and whorls. One side effect is that the first example of light language showed through. I’d not planned on that. I’d hoped it would be filled in and covered up by the paint. This is deeply meaningful. Once again I’m trying to suppress myself, my true nature.

I almost didn’t want to go on with the second part of the project because I liked the color paths I’d created. But, it is just paint. Part of my practice these days is learning to accept change and that I can’t keep everything to myself. I’ve got to let some things go.

Part of my practice is also learning that some things can’t be done in a day, or a week, or a month, or a year. Some things take a while. You have to let something dry. You have to wait until you have the right part. You have to wait until you learn a new technique. You have to wait until you are ready for the art to be created through you.

I’m learning the balance between action and inaction, and that inaction doesn’t always mean sloth.

I painted over this but left the bottom right corner exposed. I wanted to show the beauty underneath. I didn’t want it all hidden. I also like that you can see the light language I covered up when I painted over it.

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This piece speaks to my years of hiding myself and my abilities. It speaks to self-censorship and of fear of ridicule. It speaks of finally finding my voice and delighting in it. It speaks of the joy of knowing that I’m heard in a compassionate way. It speaks of a new community of people who see in full color and aren’t afraid to admit it.

I’ve dated it, because the day I finished it is St. Brigid’s feast day, and the day before Imbolc. It is a day of new beginnings, and of the new and the old merging. It is a day of unveiling. This bodes well for a new year of new discoveries.

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Kidnapping? Or just a tired kid?

I was on my lunchtime walk today and heard a child screaming. I looked to my left and saw a skinny man in a dingy t-shirt hauling a young girl in pink to his car. Was she not ready to go home? (The playground was nearby) Was she tired? (It was around 1:30, a common time for kids to need a nap) Or was she being kidnapped?

I stopped walking the way I was headed and started walking towards them. I considered taking a picture of his car. It was beat up, ratty, faded blue. It was a cheap car. He suited it. He had stubble and a ball cap. He looked trashy. I started to regret that there was a stream between us so I had to walk the long way around. It made me take a little more time than I wanted.

When I got there he had already put her in her car seat in the back. I stopped on the passenger side, where I could see him and her, but not put me in a vulnerable position. He had rolled down the front passenger window to cool the car off. He hadn’t driven off quickly. She had stopped crying. I thought maybe I’m jumping the gun, but I’d rather be sure. She looked to be around 7. I asked in a sing-song voice “What’s the matter?” while looking at her. I wanted to seem non-confrontational, but obviously I am confronting him. I wanted to seem like a casual observer, an interested passerby.

He told me that she didn’t want to leave. “You know how little girls are. I had a little boy once and he was fine.” Notice he said “I had a little boy once.” He didn’t say “my son”. This really didn’t feel right all over again.

I looked her in the eyes, willing her to tell me that something was wrong, or everything was alright. Nothing. She gave me nothing.

He gave her a drink to sip on. Surely only a Dad would think to have a beverage for his kid, right? Nope. A smart kidnapper would do the same to keep the child quiet. So that didn’t help me figure this out.

I was going to have to push it a little. I looked at her and asked her – “Do you know each other?” I got nothing from her. I was a stranger. Don’t talk to strangers, you know. But I’m a small woman. I’m not threatening. But yes, I’m a stranger, and this is a strange interaction. I don’t blame her for not answering.

He got defensive. “She’s my daughter!” I pointed out that screaming like that sounds like she’s being kidnapped. I kept looking at her. Nothing. I wondered again what to do. I felt it out. I weighed everything I knew, everything I saw. I wasn’t getting that “push” feeling I get when I have to act.

I decided to let it go. His story could be true. By this point no other parent is running up. I’ve bought some time. He looks like a strict disciplinarian. She hasn’t indicated to me that anything is wrong. She also hasn’t indicated everything is right.

I backed off. I walked away. And then I stopped, looking at the car, looking at them. He drove away, slowly. She didn’t scream. She didn’t hit on the windows. I still felt like something was off, but I don’t think he was kidnapping her. I think he was her Dad, and that he was frustrated and tired and not sure how to deal with a child who is equally frustrated and tired.

I don’t know what I would have done if I’d actually thought he was kidnapping her. I could have called the police but I had no way of keeping him there until they came. Take pictures – of him, the car, the license plate? This would probably be my best option. That way I’d have something to give the cops.

I still don’t know for sure what happened. But I’m glad I stopped.

Notes from yoga class.

A yoga class is kind of like a cab ride. You need to tell the driver where you want to go. If it is a basic, gentle class and you get a substitute teacher, you need to let her know what you expect. If she is working you too hard you may end up hating the class and the teacher. You don’t need that kind of energy at any exercise class, but especially a yoga class.

There is something amazing about yoga. It improves you physically and emotionally and mentally. It is about acceptance of your body as it is and about working on it to get better. It teaches physical and mental balance. There is something about twisting your body that unwinds your mind.

Yoga people end up also often becoming vegetarians. They are interested in organic food and recycling. The exercise is like an adjustment for your soul. It becomes a way of life that you take off the mat and into the world.

I’m so grateful for the generations of yogis who have learned all these moves. They have gone through hundreds of years of experimentation. I get to benefit from all their learning. They know that this posture helps with anxiety, and this posture helps with digestion. I don’t have to learn that from scratch, and I appreciate that.

This is true with everything. I don’t grow my own food. I don’t build roads. I don’t know about medicine. But I benefit from others that have been there before me. They are adventurers. They are trailblazers.

But there is something else that yoga teaches. You need to claim your class, and your life. If it is too much, either ease off or ask the teacher for a modification. The teacher doesn’t know that it is too much for you, or that you’ve broken your arm twice, or that you are pregnant.

It is amazing when I’ve spoken up about a problem in yoga class, or at work, or at school, and other people will chime in that they agree. Only then can the issue be addressed. Otherwise we would all continue to quietly suffer and become resentful.

The other people weren’t brave or confident enough to mention that there was a problem. Think of all the pain they could have saved themselves and others just by speaking up earlier. Perhaps they weren’t quite awake yet – they were suffering but didn’t know what the cause was. Perhaps they were just used to taking it, used to feeling bad. Perhaps they were taught by teachers or parents that their voice didn’t matter.

What are you being silent about?

What is broken, or doesn’t work, or is a problem, that you’ve just decided to accept? Are you waiting for someone else to speak up? What if everybody else is doing the same?

(This was begun on my Kindle while waiting for yoga class to start. It is very busy on Monday mornings and you have to get there early to get a space. I dislike wasting time so I wrote. I completed this after the class.)