The Search for Fun

A warm, grey morning, early Spring in San Francisco. Oddly quiet for the Tenderloin, with only the lonely cry of the occasional seagull and an uncommonly rare Doppler siren of a police car speeding by a couple streets over.

I sit in bed & plan the day in my head, thinking of what the day holds & what I want to make it. As always these days, my thoughts circle around to how to grow my business. It’s been frighteningly slow these days, and as a result has been chipping away at the fun that this once brought me. When I sit down to make new pieces there’s a shadow that darkens my creativity, incessantly trying to figure out how to make my business grow. How to keep doing what I love. How to survive.

I suppose I should get my ass in gear, get what I need to get done here then get out, do a few things I’ve promised to do to help a friend, check in on the store that’s stocking my work, and if I get enough done before I leave for the day, try to get more wholesale accounts.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Like everyone, I just want to be able to do what I love and have it support me – create, and make people happy. It doesn’t matter if it’s chainmaille, a magazine, performing or any of the other options out there – but in order to do that, in order for this to be an actual business that lets me live the life I want, I need to put a LOT of work into the business part of it – and I’ll be the first to admit, that’s one of my weaknesses, and a big one.

So how do I turn what I don’t like – the business part of this, into something I love? I’ve already figured out why I don’t like it, which is simple. I’m not good at it – or at least I don’t think I am – and I’ve got a feeling that I’m not alone in this. How many incredibly talented people out there are creating amazing things that no one knows about because they’re just as fearful of doing the legwork to get known as I am?

Maybe I can turn this into something I love, and grow at the same time. Maybe I will create a blog, talking about my struggles & triumphs, and in sharing them, help others to find that they can turn what *they* love to do into something that supports them. I need to think about this…

But even more, I need to get my ass to work right now. It’s a beautiful, warm, grey day – and it’s time to make it count.

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nowhere but now

Outside with Ruby this morning in our “back yard”, the lot behind the apartment building I live in, I stood there in my pajamas, bathrobe & boots, enjoying the early morning quiet, grey skies & cool breeze.

As Rube did her usual sniffing around I lifted my head up & closed my eyes, taking that moment in as fully as possible, finding gratitude in just simply being able to be there. In the nearly 7 years I’ve lived in this one place, only recently have they opened it, unlocking the steel gate so that it could be used. For a couple months only myself and one other resident in this 48 apartment building had the key, but as soon as the security cameras went up they replaced the handle of the gate with one that doesn’t lock at all.

To have a small patch of solitude that I can pretend is my own, and just walk or stand on something other than concrete without having to get dressed and walk to a park, to simply be outside & alone with Ruby – in the middle of the city, it’s quite a blessing.

To be here. To be alive. There is so much to be happy for, so many small things that are so frequently are overlooked or taken for granted.
Fat too many people seem to look at happiness as a goal, something to be won if they work hard enough, make enough money, save enough… but happiness should never be a goal for another day.

When I was in hospice, there were many occasions, sometimes for weeks on end, when I wasn’t certain that I would be alive the next day, or even in a few hours. I didn’t have the luxury of looking to the future hoping to find happiness; and as hard as it sometimes was, I needed to find reasons to be grateful, to live moment by moment, and find happiness & grace inside myself. To force myself to smile at a nurse through the pain, to laugh at the absurdity of being able to smell the stench of my own body decomposing, to find the courage to simply accept whatever happened, knowing that it was a miracle that I had even lived this long – and man, what a life it had been…

I keep everything I learned in hospice inside of me, creating my own happiness & grace, and though I’m certainly not happy all the time – nor, I think, do I want to be – when I need to, I use what I learned as the means to a good life right here, right now – and not a goal to be achieved some other day.

My happiness depends on nothing but me.

But of course, a nice little patch of grass & dirt to pretend is my own helps.

Just sit. Be quiet. Think.

Though I don’t do it as much as I used to or would like to now, it is still one of the things I relish most in life – having the time to do just that – or making the time.
But admittedly, as much as I love it, it’s not something that comes easily to me, and never has. My mind just simply doesn’t work like that. My thoughts don’t organize themselves into something that I can easily follow or make sense of, and my head seems to enjoy dancing around from one thought to the next, as if they were in that lottery-ball machine, bouncing around & randomly shooting up the tube into my awareness.

Sometimes I can let them go – just a passing thought of little consequence, or something that I can figure out or decide upon right then and there, gathering a bit of logic & other things I may have learned along the way – but then there are others, like the one I only just had – and the only way to play it out in my head so that it makes sense – is to write. It’s the way it’s always been for me.

Lately I’ve had a number of people comment on how much better I’ve been looking – how much healthier. Enough people to make me wonder why, and try to figure out if anything has changed, or maybe they just haven’t seen me in a while. Probably a mixture of both, but answering it so easily with absence – well, that’s not going anywhere. That won’t help anything or get me thinking about a path of possible growth, something that has happened that I can continue… But if anything has changed? Now that could be interesting – so that’s what I went with, as well as I could inside of my head. And I found an answer.

I’m creating again. I have a purpose again. I’m doing something I love, and best of all – making people happy.

And, in return, my health has improved, feel happier, and with my chainmaille jewelry business, there seems to be, as long as I don’t let myself procrastinate it all away or find a place where I’m “okay” but not where I want to be and call it good enough – there is almost unlimited growth potential. I’ve even figured out a way to move beyond the terror of not doing every little thing myself.

I’ve found, however, that it’s fragile. I have such a fucking frustrating propensity to procrastinate, to put things off with some of the best excuses imaginable, that what I need to do doesn’t get done – and I’m only happy when it does.

I need to remember that. I’m only happy when things are moving forward, when I’m growing, when I’m stepping out of comfort into something I’m terrified of doing –  because that’s the only place I find passion. Only then do my eyes shine the way they used to, and only then… only then, I believe, does my mind use the power it has to heal my body, because it has a reason to.

Why else would it have been that I was mostly fine – able to walk the 3/4 mile to the cafe from my motorhome to work on my magazine every day for months – and then within the first week of being in the hospice with nothing to do, my body decides to completely shut down?

There’s something in that – and now, if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to get my ass in gear and get to work. I have a business that I love to make grow, and a life to continue to live.

lost chances

I went to a memorial last night, a celebration of a friends life.
I don’t get emotional about people dying. At most, I feel a little saddened or concerned for the family they may have left, but inside of my heart, if there is anything felt at all is is more focused around fond memories of them, feeling blessed that they were in my life and that we were able to experience some of it together, share it and some of the time we have with each other, enjoy its magic.

When I heard of Jan passing, however, it was different. I only knew him a short time, but I sensed something of a kinship in him that I seldom feel with anyone , and seldom have. He was someone special to me, someone I looked forward to getting to know, share stories with, share our sadness, frustration, joys and love.

But I never had that chance. He never knew what I felt. I never took the time to tell him, to pull him aside, to tell him what I felt. I figured that, if I was right in what I saw in him, it would happen – after all, we had time. I would see him again, and maybe then the opportunity would arise where we found ourselves engaged in conversation, standing outside at a party or the last two sitting around a campfire in the early hours of the morning…

Last night I found out much more than I had ever known about Jan as people stepped up to the microphone to talk about him, his life, frustrations, joys, and love – and they described the exact person I felt when I saw him, in the few times we chatted. They described who I saw behind his eyes – the person I wanted to get to know better, the person I felt was more – and as they were talking about him, the tears fell from my eyes as I found out more and more… because they were also describing me.

Jan, even though we never had the chance to know each other, you taught me a valuable lesson, and I thank you.
In the future, if I come across someone who, behind their eyes, I see kin, see someone familiar, see someone who, even if I don’t know why at the time, I feel like I should get to know – I won’t hesitate. If I have to, I’ll step through my shyness & insecurity & fears & pull them aside, to a place we can talk, and begin: “This is going to sound weird and I apologize, but you remind me of someone that I never got a chance to know until after he died, and I think we could be friends…”

loving someone to life

Glancing over the past few years on Facebook Not for anything specific that i can recall now, perhaps a photo, or just wandering down the long valleys where the memories are kept…I brush away the moss & dust that has settled on them as life goes on, the wonder and appreciation of new paths, changing lives casting shadows over the older moments we have learned from…

Is it only me that feels this nostalgic sorrow for not remembering every mention of love and caring that people have invoked my name in? For months on end I now read them, on after the other, wishing me well, calling to others for the sake of my support, reachingout to people I don’t even know because someone that they know needed help to stay alive.

The thoughts of what was call tears to my eyes, and as they roll down my face, no longer gaunt and skeletal but full, shining and healthy as if none of this ever happened…

I remember how very much I owe to them, to the people who gave so much love to keep me alive.

I come across one line, a line I have never forgotten that took all the strength I had to write.

***November 27, 2011 · San Francisco, CA · 
Drowning, please, need someone to take me to emergency room ASAP
If I remember correctly, Bob found me only semi’conscious in my motor-home… nothing but what I wrote is clear until I woke up somewhere around ten days later in the ICU having little idea what had happened, only that I didn’t have the strength to talk or even write.
I remember trying. I couldn’t form a single legible letter.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I owe so much, in such profound ways.
To all of them… for the chances they have given me, and all that I have been blessed with since…

and now, I need to give them the most honest and loving thing I can possibly create, as small as it actually sounds…

I need to give them all of me, all that they don’t know, all that I could never say then, never disclose.

I need to give them a book; my book…

and inside of it, the closest thing to my soul that I can offer.

Winning Against All Odds (Book Teaser Part TWO)

The emotional scope of writing this story is becoming frighteningly clear. Every day I go further into the notes, into me, and bring back in unsettling clarity the disquieting details of nearly each moment written about I recall how much more there was going on inside of me than merely the words written in my blog posts.

I was profoundly, overwhelmingly terrified, but couldn’t let anyone know.

In my posts, I only skimmed over what was actually happening in my head and heart, making it palatable to the reader, trying to be as cheerful and upbeat as possible. I couldn’t afford people reading what I wrote and worrying, posting replies that were alarmed or anxious. I couldn’t have the slightest bit of uncertainty, worry or unintentional doubt to cast a shadow over the flickering light inside my heart that I was struggling so hard to keep lit.

Holding onto that light, that small glimmer of belief that I could live through this was the greatest challenge I had ever faced.

Through all the pain, through feeling and watching my body fall apart and rot in front of my eyes every day, the putrid stench of my own flesh decaying, the skin on my legs swollen & splitting, belly grotesquely distended with the waste my organs could no longer process… it seemed futile to even hope in the smallest chance that I would live – but it couldn’t be over, not yet. I still needed to find her. To find my mother. To thank her…

 

The first six months were the most fragile.
These were the most uncertain. From the moment I woke nearly every morning to the time I was able to sleep, there was a constant battle going on inside of me to not only believe that I could live, but questioning whether I wanted to.  It would have been so much easier to give up, let nature take its course, and quietly fade from this life. I mean hells – I had stashed away enough morphine to easily dream myself dead if the pain became too much or the process too slow to endure anymore.

Certainly, no one could have blamed me. I was tired, drained, shattered, and barely holding onto life most days anyway. No one would have asked why I was finally letting death take me… most of them expected it.

Beyond the smiles that the doctors and nurses had learned to wear, behind the caring and upbeat tone in their voices that they kindly tried so hard for, I knew that they were only waiting, making me as comfortable as they could until, like most everyone else at the hospice, I just gave up and let myself die…

I was broken… but I was not yet destroyed.

I can be a tenacious bastard. A really stubborn pain in the ass, when I need to be – and I figured that if there ever was a time that I needed to be, this sure as hell was it! I decided not to give them the satisfaction of being right –after all, it was a pretty high-stakes game, at least on my side, and so… I chose to look at it like that. Like this life ultimately is. Nothing more than an exquisite game, a game that is played, lost or won depending solely on however you choose to play it…

Hells, I was dying anyway, what’s there to lose? Let’s PLAY!

The Western doctors had done all they knew how to do, so now it was my turn. I took risks. Stopped taking their ineffective drugs and started reading & doing my own research into all kinds of alternative healing, from the completely wacky (and there’s some really bizarre ideas out there) to the more conventional. I mean hells – at that point, what’s the worst that could happen?

I remembered lessons from some of the more difficult times I had been through in the past. Perhaps the most significant lesson was that I had come to know – not just “believe”, but KNOW – that regardless of how far you fall, there is always a way back up. You are never given any challenge that you don’t have the strength and resilience to not only get through, but eventually come out on top of. Regardless of how high the odds seem to be stacked against you, you can beat them. You always have the strength inside of you to kick some ass.

I just needed a reason to keep fighting, and a damned good one. Something big, something I could believe in with all of my heart.

Getting the hell out of there & finally finding my Birth Mother – now that was a pretty damn good reason to work with as the main goal to live, but there were others that could have been just as powerful if I decided that they were – the stories I have to tell, the people I might be able to help, the love left inside of me to give… so many things I had learned that still needed to be shared with others.. I had to live.

I made an oath to myself & others.
Hell – some of the people who read my blog during that time all but demanded that, If I did live, I would write a book about all I learned. It could likely even help people. Hundreds of people. Thousands.
A MEEEELION PEOPLE! Bwaaahahahaaaaa!!!
The cool thing is that the lessons I learned easily transcend the hospital or the reason I was in it, and if I wrote a book it could connect with nearly everyone.

So I am writing a book. The time has come. My story is being told.
It will not be an easy story to voice; I’m not looking forward to going back there to say what needs to be said – but I didn’t go through the hell I did to selfishly keep this story locked inside.

It can help people, & it needs to be told.
I have not only survived, but I am living. I am thriving, and continuing to chase down my dreams.

By the way – I have found my Birth Mother, and she’s awesome. We’re getting to know each other, and I’ve even been able to see her a few times.

I also, just a month ago at the end of September, found and contacted my Birth Father who had no idea I even existed – and he’s excited to get to know me.

And I’m writing an awesome book. About an absolutely incredible life.

About The Book
(And A Super-Limited Pre Launch Supporter Reward Package!)

It’s an unapologetic, pull-no-punches, authentic, inspiring and even sometimes laugh-out-loud story about transformation, personal growth, trusting in yourself, doing what you believe is right and fighting like hell to live the amazing life you deserve…

Though the specific journey written about in this story is solely mine, there is something in it for absolutely everyone who has ever faced – or ever will face a difficult challenge.

In order to have it published and promoted, in order for it to get out there and be able to help people, I will need your help. It simply will not be able to exist without you.

I am anxious and friggin’ THRILLED to finally get this going, so while I prepare the Kickstarter Campaign which won’t be ready for about a month, I am offering Limited Edition Rewards for a short time during the one & only:

KICK-ASS EARLY BIRD PRE-STARTER REWARD SPECIAL!

The details are coming later today, so keep watch!

This Pre-Launch special will help me fund some key things that will help get the book finished and published as soon as possible, but because of the extra special rewards that ONLY the pre-launch supporters of the book will receive, IT WILL BE LIMITED

 

Inspiration…

SO… this one goes out to *everyone* but especially #thedresdendolls & #thedresdendollsbrigade , including Amanda Palmer & Brian Viglione, if you’re willing, able, and OH so kind to offer a few words…

I’m writing “a brief history of me” for an ongoing, educational & illustrious freelance gig which involves interacting with LOTS of people, influencing, inspiring, learning from and teaching them. Things that are right up my alley, and perhaps why I have been blessed with so many challenges in this life – to truly KNOW what I’m talking about…

So – have I, even in the smallest way, inspired or influenced you in my writing, my bajillions of personal emails, or my engagement with you?

If I did, please let me know! I would love the inspiration, the reminder of who I *can* be, the strength to write the best fucking words they have ever felt.

I want them to beg me to work with them, and they will – but I would love a bit of inspiration from *your* voice to make mine stronger.

This job is a game-changer in my life. It is what I have fought so fucking hard for: Not just a “job”, but the continuation of this exquisite journey…

Please help me show them how much they need someone like me – and THANK YOU!

~ kSea, Casey, QuaySee, QueSi, etc…