What even is this site?

When I decided to create a website, I had a lot of options as to who would get to host my inane drivel. I tried Hostgator, but found it unnecessarily complicated, and it just made me long for the days when I was tinkering with the HTML of my Xanga or MySpace (remember all the drama of choosing your top 8? Ah, simpler times…). I was familiar with WordPress from my days of contributing content for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Eleventh Stack blog. While I still feel a bit n00bish, using WordPress is like coming home after being gone for a while.

So far, it’s been great. In addition to a free photo library and educational tools and webinars, they had a sample blog post with a prompt to get nascent bloggers started (because if it’s one thing writers need to write it’s an idea, or childhood trauma). They could have just filled it with Lorem Ipsum, but I appreciate the extra step.

Here are the questions from that sample post:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

So helpful! Now, this might seem redundant given my first post, but I like the structure of the question. Structure keeps me sane – that’s why I like haiku as a form of expression.

Why am I blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
Because I’m a narcissist and I think what I have have to say is sooooo important…is what a previous version of me would have said. I do keep a personal journal, and maybe one day I’ll post a pic of one, but I write like a gorilla so that’s probably useless. I’ve always believed I’ve communicated better with the written word because I get to edit myself before anyone reads what I have to say. So this seemed like the ideal way to reintroduce myself, because I’ve kind of eschewed social media for the last five years.

See, in the late spring of 2015 I was enjoying a delightful bike ride when a woman decided to interrupt that ride with her SUV, totaling my bike and tearing my left hip labrum. I had to get surgery to repair that and let me tell you nothing kills your confidence more than having hip surgery before you turn 30 (but now I get AARP discounts so who’s laughing now?).

I can joke about it now, but after it happened, the gaping maw of depression opened and I fell right in. And as I lay in bed trying to sleep despite the pain (it would be a good four months before the tear was found because they don’t show up on normal x-rays) I had the same unrelenting (frankly boring) thoughts over and over and over again. It wasn’t fair; I had been doing everything right. My lights were on. I was wearing a helmet and a bright white t-shirt. I was obeying the man-made rules of the road. None of that seemed to matter because it still happened. Literally every night as I tried to get to sleep I’d get caught in a terrible spiral winding down, down, down to the eventual thought: you know, if you weren’t alive you wouldn’t be having these thoughts.

This is apparently known as suicidal ideation, and it wasn’t the first time I’d flirted with these ideas, or self-harm. Throughout college I took to slamming my hand inside drawers, and one summer, I found my dad’s revolver.

I held the heavy thing in my hand. I don’t remember my thought process now, but the next thing I know I was up in my bedroom, looking out my open window. I aimed into the night sky, firing off six shots. After, I held the warm barrel in my wet mouth, pulled the trigger a seventh time and heard it click into an empty chamber.

There’s still a part of me that feels like I shouldn’t bellyache because there are people who actually do more than diddle with ideas of suicide. If you’re one of those people, please know that you are loved by someone who has never met you, and help is available.

Here’s a pic of a cat to break up some of the heaviness

Anyway, back to 2015. There I was, thinking these dark, unhelpful thoughts and I still didn’t think I needed help (because I’m a stubborn ass), and if I’m being honest, I likely never would have sought out therapy had it not been for this accident. But I’m so glad I did. It opened me up to such better ways of thinking. I learned that you always have a choice about what thoughts you’re having, that thoughts can only audition for your attention, and you don’t have to give it to them. If you’re on the fence about therapy, or are righteously obstinate like I was, let me just say that there is nothing more refreshing than talking to someone about your problems and knowing that they have no obligation to lie to you to make you feel better, like a friend might.

In a bizarre way, I’m grateful for the accident. And that’s important. It’s so easy to be grateful for the things that make us comfortable. It’s another thing altogether to be grateful for what causes discomfort. Like the philosopher Elsa once said, “It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small.” Sometimes we can’t feel gratitude until some time has passed. If you can become comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable, I promise you your life will change. It’s just a small mindstate shift – what if this situation is the best thing for me right now?

Anyway, at my attorney’s behest, I suspended my social media so the other party wouldn’t see any evidence of me “smiling through the pain,” as he said. And without it, I was a lot more productive, but also a lot more isolated. Social media is a tool and I want to use it – and this blog – to get back into the online world. Besides, this is like the only way to be social right now so I might as well cast off my Luddite tendencies, charge my Zune and get with the times.

What topics will I write about?
Apparently really depressing shit! But in all seriousness, anything my lil heart desires – as long as it can provide value to the interwebs. There’s so much darkness out there, and I don’t want to add to it (anymore than I already have). This could just become a vanity project, but that’s boring and if I wanted to know how awesome I was I’d just look in the mirror.

© Disney | Source

I’m eager to explore the connection between writing and mental health/mindfulness/consciousness expansion. I’m also pretty jazzed to share some writing tips and methods that have helped me on my journey. I’m developing an idea incorporating Tarot cards with Joseph Campbell’s monomyth that I’m particularly stoked to share. Look for that toward the end of the month. And speaking of sharing, I hope that you have some writing advice to share with me!

Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
It would be so totally safe to make friends through this blog. Or anyone who’s still watching the UK version of Skins.

I’d love to connect with other like-minded individuals in various stages of their own writerly/spiritual journeys. They say your tribe is your vibe, and I’d like to congregate a tribe to walk this path for as long as we need to. Because you know what Don Juan said about paths, right? No, not Don Jon. That’s that movie with JGL and ScarJo both lookin tasty af:

I’m gonna need a minute…

I’m talking about Don Juan, as in The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda. I got turned on to these teachings through a biography of George Lucas. Lucas read Don Juan after a car accident almost took his life. As I was recovering from a similar situation, I figured I ought to check it out, especially because that was around the time an idea for a scifi/fantasy/musical saga began gestating in my mind. Don Juan had a lot of valuable things to say (some real Obi-Wan-type shit), but what resonated the most was what he said about paths:

Anything is one of a million paths [un camino entre cantidades de caminos]. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question. This question is one that only a very old man asks. My benefactor told me about it once when I was young, and my blood was too vigorous for me to understand it. Now I do understand it. I will tell you what it is: Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long, long paths, but I am not anywhere. My benefactor’s question has meaning now. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere, but one has a heart, the other doesn’t. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.

The Teachings of Don Juan, p 82

Any path we choose ultimately leads to our death (Jesus, Ross. Go smell a sunflower or something) . Why not choose a path with heart so you’re at least enjoying the journey? Choose a path that dispels negative energy – you don’t need it. At your core, you are light and love. I promise you the path of mindfulness is one of heart. And writing can be a path of heart, too, as long as your writing is honest. I’d like to connect with people who want to share this path with me for as long as they feel they need to.

…and maybe JGL or ScarJo.

If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?
I’m not sure if I’ve considered this baby in relation to my year plan. I prefer broadly specific strokes. I want to develop my writing skills. I want to provide value by creating because I know that’s what I’m here to do. I have this image of me travelling across the country, finding different writers groups at different libraries or indie bookstores, popping in like some writerly Mary Poppins, dropping some mad stacks of knowledge and then jumping into a chalk drawing on the sidewalk and going on to the next one.

If you’re looking for a writers group, I facilitate a biweekly virtual group on Google Meets. Our next meeting is June 20. All writers of all stages and ages are welcome! Message me on my contact page for the info!

I’ll have to think more about what I want to accomplish in a year of successful blogging. There was a small part of me that never thought I’d get this far. I can tell you what I don’t want to accomplish and from that I know other rockets of desire will shoot toward what I do want.

I don’t want this blog to be forgotten by me.

I don’t want this blog to become a soapbox.

I don’t want to neglect my other creative endeavors for this blog.

I don’t want to do that thing where I forget to eat because I’m so focused on creating and then I find it a drag to eat because it takes me away from creating so then I just decide not to eat and even though it hurts it’s manageable pain and if I’m creating then the pain is worthwhile because we have to suffer for our art, right, and besides haven’t you noticed how svelt you’re looking now that you’ve stopped eating, that’s basically intermittent fasting, right, you’re so trendy! Keep not eating.

Eating disorders don’t discriminate!

Of course, this all may change in a month’s time. It’s my blog, I can do what I want! It is my intention that it will evolve as I do, as I learn and grow and interact with you shining vibrant souls.

I don’t know where this site will take me in a year. I don’t think I’ll land on any big Truth because there is no one truth. It’s different for everyone.

In a year, I know a lot will change, and I’m excited for that. The future is ideal because I know I can make it whatever I want. I hope for growth in my passion, my drive, and my desire to be kind, be well and be myself.

And I hope the same for you.

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