Take Your Medicine

Silence is the medicine
so desperately needed
in a deafening world of noise
the earth is always waiting
with gentle tea leave tonics
to soothe an aching heart
rough, strong branches
to support your tired limbs
soft, sweet smelling grasses
to cradle a head made heavy
with over stimulation
invite in the fearful feeling
that rises suddenly inside
at the thought of slowing down
prove to yourself
that the world keeps spinning
when you completely stop
rest is the only remedy
that can refill an empty cup
taking a break seems impossible
when you need it most of all
this is your permission slip
to settle into stillness
and reconnect with
the almighty ebb and flow
of ever-present earth energy
pulsating beneath your feet
you deserve to take deep breaths
and sprinkle your days with
compassionate commas
and plump, perfect pauses

When You’re With Me

I start to get frustrated when you're away
I forget all the reasons I love you
seeds begin to stir inside my subconscious
spinning stories of mistrust and cynicism

I fill the space between us with thick shadow
unshakeable doubts that make me shudder
cringing at my own incompetence in communication
afraid of looking foolish in the face of disinterest

Prepared to push away when you pull me in
rehearsing my preemptive rejection for self-protection
perpetually surprised when I immediately melt
and let you fold me tenderly in your arms again

Set at ease by your soothing, sultry smell
the stability of warm skin under soft fingertips
stilling the tumultuous tide churning deep inside
replacing it with gently waving fields of sweet grass

Stay with me a little longer
let me linger in this sacred, silent connection
let it seep into my cells so that I cannot forget
the simple, supple harmony between our hearts
 

Childhood Friends

I wish someone had told me to hold onto all the people I once knew. I wish I had some way of knowing what I was throwing away, or at the very least letting fizzle out, watching with disinterest as my many fertile gardens of companionship withered in the hot sun of time. When you’re young, it’s hard to realize what you have. Everything just feels like it’s always been that way, that it will always be that way. Friends come and they go without much fear of social isolation. There will always be new peers, new classmates, new friends to take their place. Every school year is a new start, a new chance to build connections. After high school, there is always college to find your chosen family.

Six years after getting my Bachelors and only now am I beginning to realize the opportunities I squandered for all those years. I would always hear people saying that high school doesn’t matter. That you’ll leave those doors and all the people inside behind forever once you graduate. Not to worry about those relationships, because there will be plenty more that are more important in the future. Looking back, I wish instead they had said those years don’t have to matter. I realize now this was a message for people struggling in school, the social outcasts, the kids that felt like they’d never fit in or find friends. This message was a beacon of hope for them, a call to keep their courage as they moved out into new avenues of life. The point wasn’t that I shouldn’t invest effort in maintaining the relationships I did have. It wasn’t about devaluing the whole idea of childhood friends.

At the time, it seemed like a waste of energy, pathetic even, to try to cling to old friends that were no longer around you everyday. After all, there was a whole new pool of peers to meet and mingle with. Why reach out to people from the past? I never really gave much thought to the fact that the bonds I formed in college would one day become less convenient as well. What then? It was quite a shock when I started working full time to feel the difference between a classroom and a work place. Not only were there far less people to interact with in general, but those people were vary rarely of an age that I would consider my peers. We had very little in common. I already had trouble finding companions within my age group, let alone outside of it.

All these years later, I often find myself looking back on all the bridges I burned, wondering if there is any way I could salvage them, or if the other party has already forgotten me. I never understood how precious a childhood friendship truly is until it was too late. There is an empty space inside the new connections I make. There was something so special is the knowledge that the other person really knew you. They knew all of you. They had watched you grow up and you had known them just as intimately. That’s something you can never have with someone else, even if they tell you about who they used to be. You are still only seeing it through their eyes, only getting the bits they want to reveal. And something aches inside of me when I acknowledge that.

Teach Me How to Know You

I so desperately want to know the delicate details that make up the lives of others. The small, seemingly insignificant instances that strike us all, the strange stiches that have sown us into who we are today. The utterly unique patchwork pattern of experiences that compose every individual. Intimate, private memories that stand out and tangle up our hearts with hidden meaning. I don’t want to know how your day is going. I want to know who you are.

Small talk has always been one of my deepest frustrations, a tedious trial to be muddled through with the intention of reaching the real conversations that lie beneath it. My jaw clenches at the impossible effort it takes for me to navigate this fragile transition. Some people seem to open themselves to my curious soul like the mouth of a river into the ocean. Infatuation, fascination, true connection. The inexplicable, spirit quenching rawness of seeing behind the curtain of another person’s consciousness. The conversations that feel like pure creation.

Other people remain forever closed to me. Infuriating mysteries, staring at the bare walls of an empty room. No cracks to peer through, no insight to be uncovered. I can’t think of the right questions to break through blank stares. I know there is so much more inside, behind those unknowable eyes. Everyone has the depth that I hold within, an entire galaxy of thoughts, perceptions, and memories. But how do I learn to unveil the inner world of others? I can’t just ask them who they are. This gradual uncovering must come organically. Yet patience alone isn’t enough to draw it out.

The more often I find myself unable to crack the complicated code of true connection, the more I surrender to inner solitude. Giving up is what I know best, especially when it comes to other people. When I can’t see someone, I can’t believe that they see me. The smothered shouting of my soul demands a real witness. Demands to be drenched in the bottomless black water of knowing another being.

You’re With Me On My Own

Living lattice of spongey spiderwebs
stitches supporting the dark, damp earth
connecting networks transmitting information
between the trees' deeply buried toes

breathing in pulsating energy particles
that permeate the thick air above
quivering conviction of nature intertwined
magical mirror image, veins beneath pale skin

Sacred assurance that all is not lost
the same sun still rises in the east each morning
you reside in the red light beneath my eyelids
retinas stained with sweet remembrance

Everything fades except for this feeling
bitter things only taste better as I age
including this patient pain, the prize I protect
hopeless happiness harbored in secret

Silly dreams pluck breath from lonely lungs
pathetic mantra of "maybe one day"
vindicated by comparison to other
laughably unlikely anecdotes

The small, sharp pleasure of
planning this impossible future
fills my cracked cup enough
to keep going

Besides, we're still connected by
that complicated underground lace
linked inextricably through shared sunlight
eternally sown together with this earth
Mycelium Dreaming – Autumn Skye

Signs and Synchronicities

I go back and forth every single day. The clarity it comes to me in choppy waves.

Aloha Ke Akua – Nahko Bear (Medicine for the People)

Last month, for perhaps the first time, I truly felt like I was receiving messages from the universe. I was open to little nudges, unseen hands guiding me toward the correct path in life. I’m not usually one to believe in “signs” or “universal messages” but the way they began to pile up and manifest themselves in exactly the right moments really had me paying attention. I was in awe at the way the small suggestions and confirmations I was noticing in my daily life seemed to be telling me exactly what to do, encouraging me to make the decisions I was making. My doubt was at an all time low when it came to this type of thing. I followed with confidence, trust, and a heart open to new experiences despite the fear. The universe was on my side.

Then suddenly this past Monday, just as it appeared I had reached the pinnacle of where the universe was leading me, all the signs started to shift. Why were they saying the opposite of what they seemed to be saying a week or even a few days earlier? Had I misunderstood then? Or was I misinterpreting them now? Or had I been kidding myself the whole time, just seeing what I wanted to see? I still don’t know. I’ll never really know. All I know for sure is that I followed them both times. Even though they started to shift in the opposite direction, perhaps contradicting all I had just put so much effort into doing, I continued to follow with curiosity and faith.

To be more specific, the “signs” I thought I was seeing were all pointing me toward a new career path, telling me it was time to break out of my comfort zone and make big changes in my life. Absolutely bizarre coincidences began appearing all around me, unbelievable opportunities suddenly manifested themselves. I was seeing synchronicities everywhere. There was an electric static feeling in the air. It felt impossible to ignore.

Like I said, on Monday of this week, it all came to a head. I had an interview to be an English teacher at a local high school, and they offered me the job. I couldn’t believe it. It had all happened so fast, so miraculously. Somehow I had applied before they even posted the job online. They were so pressed to find someone before the impending school year that they were willing to work with my unconventional licensure situation. I even had exactly the right amount of time to give two weeks notice at my current job. This was the path I had been pursuing before I found myself where I am now. It seemed too perfect, too good to be true. I had to take it. Didn’t I?

That night, my excitement slowly began to wane and turn into a tangible fear. Was I really going to do this? Was this really still something I wanted? Would I be happier somewhere else simply because it offered a bit more money and the potential for more future security? I was so flooded with conflicting emotions and I felt smothered under an impossibly short deadline to decide. I didn’t like the way this pressure was affecting my ability to make a calm, informed, confident decision. It didn’t help that all the signs I looked to to reaffirm the messages I had been receiving now seemed to do a complete 180.

At the final hour, when I had accepted and told my beloved coworkers, but hadn’t yet signed a binding contract for the position, I experienced a physical sensation I had never before experienced. The only way I can describe it is utter dread. My skin was cold and clammy. There was a strange, disgusting, static pressure on the back of my neck. I couldn’t eat that evening. I could barely sleep and woke up at 3am in a complete panic attack.

That morning I let everyone know I was having second thoughts. Somehow I found myself online investigating for the millionth time the steps I’d have to move toward for complete licensure once I accepted this position. Somehow I had never noticed until then what a convoluted, expensive, intensive, seemingly impossible process I was about to commit myself to at the risk of losing everything. That was the tipping point. I decided to back out.

The sense of relief and certainty that washed over me when I changed my decision was immense. I could finally breathe again. I was so unimaginably grateful for where I am right now, the people I get to spend my days with, the work I do, the incredible, supportive family I have. I was also so grateful that I had listened to that palpable force of intuition inside of me that began screaming for my attention.

So what happened? I thought the universe was telling me to do it, but then just before I could, it told me not to. Why? Feel free to think this explanation is completely nuts, I’m sure I would have a few years ago myself. But I still think I heard the messages correctly the entire time. The universe was guiding me toward that interview and that job. I was just getting a bit ahead of myself as to the reasons why. I was not being guided there to accept the offer, or to completely change course. I was guided there to show me something important about the life I have now.

The last few months had left me feeling very unsatisfied and frankly ungrateful for where I am in life. I felt trapped in a shitty situation, doomed to a life I had never foreseen or chosen for myself. This whole experience gave me something so much more valuable than a new job, it gave me a wake up call. I LOVE the life I have now. I’m not stuck here. I WANT to be here. The universe showed me that I have other paths open to me. I can choose a different life whenever I want to. But I don’t want to.

It’s not just complacency or fear of change. It’s because I have everything I could have ever asked for, everything I never even knew was possible for me. I have a job I adore. I get to work with people I not only get along with, but who I love as dearly as my own family. For the first time in my life, I enjoy, even look forward to going to work every day. It doesn’t even feel like work. It feels like spending time with my friends. I get to laugh everyday, feel genuine joy and connection, be my true, authentic self, have lots of downtime and flexibility, caring, understanding superiors, and even beautiful rolling fields with cows and a little pond to take walks to every day. I might not be paid a lot, but it’s enough to live, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted anyway. This job gives me the only kind of wealth that truly matters: community, love, and happiness.

After this harrowing ordeal, I’ve come out of it trusting in the universe, synchronicities, and signs more than ever. I’ve learned to trust myself and the universe a lot more. If I had just kept going, ignored the new messages I was receiving in favor of continuing to follow the old ones, I would have completely destroyed my life. Not only would I have lost everything I have now, I’m certain I would have crumbled under the pressure of everything I hadn’t realized I would be taking on.

Thankfully I listened to the new, seemingly contradictory, guidance and feel happier than I have in a long time. I’m closer than ever to my friends at work. It was beyond touching to see how sad, yet supportive they were about my initial decision, and then how overjoyed they were when I changed my mind. Now more than ever I see the true value and importance of the genuine connections I’ve made here. I got to fully realize the support and love I have from my family, particularly my mother as well. My boyfriend’s mom yelled at him when he said he wanted to turn back from the career path he had chosen. My mom embraced fully whatever path I wanted to choose, assuring me that she loved and supported me no matter what. I hadn’t understood what a rare and special blessing that I had.

Now I know I’m exactly where I need to be. No matter what happens, I am so grateful for all that I have been given and get to continue to enjoy for the time being. I feel refreshed, refocused, and invigorated to be the very best I can be and emboldened to show my undying love and appreciation for the people that give my life purpose and meaning. What a journey these last few weeks have been. Everything I’ve experienced so far in life has been necessary to bring me to where I am. I wouldn’t change a thing. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

No Internet

Yesterday morning, my internet went out for a few hours. This isn’t the first time it’s happened. I live in a very rural area and when my internet goes out, it’s out. I can’t just use my phone data or walk to a restaurant or library with free wi-fi. I’m left in utter silence, cut off from the virtual world I’ve become so dependent on.

In these instances, it is really apparent how much I rely on the internet for everything. There isn’t a moment of my existence now that isn’t supplemented in some way by this technology. I am absolutely panic stricken when I see that little wi-fi symbol go dark. I am disturbed by how much it disturbs me. I feel an overwhelming wave of desperation as I try to think of some way to get back online. My mind races with thoughts of how I’ll make it through the next hour, the next day, god forbid the next week. Whenever this happens it is a huge wake-up call. I am unable to avoid the terrible truth that I have become horrified of being truly alone with myself.

Yesterday, I managed to avoid my usual meltdown and just get really curious about my fear. What was I so afraid of? Was I really incapable of getting through a day without lo-fi hip hop playing in the background and YouTube videos to watch while I go about my daily tasks? I tried to remember what my life was like before I even had access to a computer. I’m so grateful I at least had that experience for a good portion of my life. Otherwise I might not have believed it was possible to go without.

Even though my connection came back after only around four hours, I really feel that forced time apart from the world wide web was a blessing. I always say I’m going to try to take a break from screens and the internet for a day, but quickly come to find it nearly impossible to do. The only way I ever seem to manage it is when I have no other option. Being forced to face the eerie discomfort is truly a gift. It may sound silly, but I’m proud of myself for getting through it. I was submerged in the silence I’ve grown to fear, and I made it out unscathed. In fact I was even calmer and more grateful the rest of the day because of that quiet time of uncomfortable reflection.

How do you feel when you don’t have access to the internet? Does that even happen to people much at all anymore? How do you think this dependence on something so easily lost is going to affect humanity, especially the younger generations that have never known a time without it? I’d love to know if this is just a personal problem or something all of us have come to rely on to an unhealthy extent.

Summer Slips By

Summer settles in
around the eaves of the houses
a heavy heat that grows and expands

Lush gardens swell
creating a hopeful sea of green
rough leaves reaching upward toward the sun

The atmosphere buzzes
the electric hum of birds and bugs
the gentle breeze rustling through the leaves

The cycle of the seasons
reflected and repeated in each creature
the metronome of moments that connect us all

The misfortune of our
clever distractions that separate us
summer slips by unnoticed beneath the blue sky

Reset Button

the smallest dose
of ancient medicine
breaks down the walls
I build around myself
letting the world in
once again

a reminder of what is
the tether of the present moment
pulling me along through time
the curiosity of the child inside
waking to a wonderful world
that's been here all along

the sheer beauty of bird calls
as I add my own joyous song
the deep knowing of connection
that binds me to all beings
in this mysterious adventure
of unlikely existence

the realization that I am here
a vessel to fill up with love and awe
by witnessing the miracle of reality
gratitude spills from my eyes
in salty streams of sacred serenity
thank you, thank you, thank you

True Abundance

Yesterday I felt abundant because I was handed a ball of unexpected money. How blessed I felt by the universe for the arrival of a few marked bills. My heart rejoiced at my well-deserved reward. Then the same day, my refrigerator broke. I saw my small surprise fortune plummet back into the red. $300 is not enough to buy a new fridge. What a cruel joke! What had I done wrong in the time between this radiant morning and this evening so thick with humidity? I felt all the safety and abundance stripped away from me in an instant. I had not even gotten to enjoy it for a full day. I was frantic, frightened, confused.

I called my mother in a hysterical state, as I had done many times in my short life. She was calm and walked me through the options I had. She waited with me as we tried to unplug it and plug it back in. No luck. She advised me to call my grandmother who lives just minutes away and see what I could bring to her house and to try to freeze or forfeit everything else. At first I was inconsolable. I apologized to her for always putting her in the position to fix things for me when I knew she couldn’t truly do anything. I thanked her, told her I loved her, called my grandma, and started my unfortunate late-night work.

As I opened the door to see my grandma’s smiling face, we laughed as I handed her half a watermelon and a huge container of freshly made soup. She made space for me. Both she and my mother made space for my overblown emotion just as they always had. They provided me a safe place to land with level-headedness and love. I gave my grandma a hug and felt better. I stayed and talked for an hour or so before leaving to let her get to bed. I told them both I would let them know how things were in the morning.

I returned home to my lovely house, my darling fur children, and my soft pillow. I read a little bit of Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, Peace is Every Step. I realized that I had been so wrong. The abundance of the morning had not been taken away. It had been redoubled. My true wealth was revealed in the night. Abundance is not a stack of bills given to us by a generous student. Abundance is a broken fridge. Abundance is the outstretched hands of those we love, offering us refuge in hard times. Abundance is family, community, and compassion. It is these things that are my true gift. I am so grateful.