Embrace

“You don’t know my mind, you don’t know my kind. Dark necessities are part of my design.”  RHCP

We stood in the hallway of my mom’s little home, saying our goodbyes. My mom, observing my sister and I, made the comment that we were as different as light and dark.  The silence that followed needed no explanation:  we all knew who could identify with which description.   I was the dark one.

I wrestled with this, and only now that I’m ‘middle-aged’ am I finally getting a handle on its meaning.   Darkness is often, in our society, associated with everything bad, revolting, and horrible.  I know myself not to be that kind of person, yet it’s obvious my choice in movie and book genres always portray dark forces that cripple the hero so that he or she must overcome monstrous challenges in order to declare victory, rather than finding my entertainment in comedies or romance.   I know that I tend towards sadness more than happiness, pain more than pleasure, and I’ll almost always choose the unknown adventure over promised security.

Yet, it is a necessity to have such darkness in our midst; this is an age old philosophical idea.   We would not know those among us who tend towards the light, for one thing. Could my family identify my sister as the ‘light’ if she were also compared to ‘light’?  And without a measure of darkness to strike against, how do we know how light it really is and to what degree it exists…is it bright against the dark like a welcoming porch light in the winter storm, or is it a small glimmer that only elucidates the next step of the path?

Besides embracing the notion that I personally have a bent toward the darker aspects of life dynamics, I’ve also navigated the difficult task of embracing the darkness that dwells within.   This is some of the most important time of introspection I have experienced.  It is difficult to look in the mirror and finally notice the shadow behind my eyes; the feelings behind some of my moods.  It is even more difficult to hold the image and acknowledge it for what it truly is – a part of me as much as my happiness.  It is even more difficult still to wrestle with that part of me and accept it, to find a place for it to sit within my soul; to understand that it doesn’t make me a ‘bad’ person for doing so.  In fact, it makes me a better person as I am more inclined to sympathize, more conscious of my self.

There’s a relief in it for me as well, I confess.   Coming from a Christian upbringing, I was taught that anything ‘bad’ was to be blamed on demons or the devil, some outside force over which I had no personal control or even understanding (hence our societal perception of ‘bad’ mentioned earlier).   The comprehension that ‘bad’ exists within as a means to compel me towards goodness rather than the idea that I am subject in some way to an outside boogeymen gives me a sense of control precisely because it enlightens me to certain undercurrents in my personality – awareness is everything.  And, I think,  when we can balance within ourselves the daily struggle most of us undertake to do the right thing and be ‘good’ against the inherent ‘bad’ we all possess, it’s not a stretch to claim that we gain a kind of confidence and strength, our steps become surer, our actions more and more deliberate when we do so.   Therein lies relief – and empowerment.

Embracing our own individual darkness is not a new concept either.  Luke Skywalker’s venture into an unknown cave revealed the face of his enemy instead…Harry Potter closed his eyes to see Lord Voldemort…Jesus’ forty days of wandering tested his personal weaknesses…The story line runs throughout human history as clearly as our DNA can be traced to certain areas of the world.

When considered at a personal level, and embraced as a necessary “part of our design”, darkness is not so scary and becomes a natural component of our world-view – this awareness empowers us in very real ways.

Yours,

Frankie

  • this short audio clip was helpful to me when working through the process of acknowledging my own darkness, it speaks of Carl Jung’s ability to do so within himself and how it empowered his world view.

Smile

I have a smile, yes.

It is the most fragile thing in the universe at the moment.

Hiding deep pain,

It prevents the tears from taking over

And allows me to function, at least, in a society that does not let up for one second.

It causes others smile and so deflects from my own broken heart.

It is entirely fake and no one seems to care, not even I.

It is plastered, with more precision and effort than Spackle on dry wall,

A weak bandage against a fatal wound.

Survival tactic.  A smile sustains me through the day and when I arrive home I leave it on the table with my car keys, ready to go to work again tomorrow.

I have a smile, yes…


Partner, Instead of Master

I have been training a puppy for the past two years.It’s no small feat considering the

dozer2

“Dozer”

handful of personality and energy that he encapsulates: he’s a combination of two parts lab, one part st. bernard, one part border collie.  We’ve had our ups and downs; he’s wont to make his own decisions at times but he’s done well overall, and, like most dogs he only wants to please. In the past three or four months, just after his second birthday, he’s gone through a bit of a maturity spurt and has earned my confidence in areas where before there was conflict between my desire for his behavior and his own independent impulses.  As a result I’ve shifted my position a bit with him in terms of our relational dynamic.  I’ve stepped off from the role of Master position and stepped beside him in a role as a Partner.

Its a feeling of accomplishment to be able to do so.  It means there’s a deeper level of trust between us:  he understands that I trust him to behave a certain way and have given him considerable freedom because of it. He trusts me to treat him more as a team mate, on somewhat more equal footing and his wont to please rises to the occasion – if I am his Partner, then he’s going to put his heart and soul into doing right.

The dynamic of shifting from Master to Partner was never so clear to me as it was in this instance and it got me thinking about other relationships and where it might apply as well.

Work?  Yes, this applies to my work life directly!  I am privileged to work with teenagers, and this year my colleagues and I find ourselves interacting with a more high maintenance, high energy group of kids.    As usual at the beginning of the year, I set very clear, immovable boundaries and at first will err on the side of being more harsh than soft when it comes to enforcing their validity (a lesson I learned from my own jr. high school teachers and seems to be fairly effective).  This year I am taking a slightly different approach and utilizing my newfound epiphany: I’ve made the boundaries clear, but I find that if I take a moment to consider the one on one relationship with each student and conceive of some way to Partner with them instead of try to Master them, I get a much better response and they seem be settling in with more ease.  The element of conflict that can inherently exist between a Master and Student is replaced with a mutual trust and common goal; sure I am still the authority figure but my willingness to engage from the side instead of from the front assures them that, on some level, they have a certain amount of respect and trust from me at the outset.  They seem to be responding by rising to the same level of respect.

Partnerships seem to work better than Mastery on the creative level too, I’ve observed.  I’m sewing a quilt for my niece at the moment, she’s beginning her freshman year in college, away from home and family.   If I employ my newfound nugget of wisdom and work with the machine and fabric on a Partner level, as a team mate instead of a Master, I notice a difference in the process.  There is a sense of enjoyment in the mix.  It’s holistic in a way; it’s not just my energy but the way I work with the energy of the machine as well that effects a kind of harmony, instead of subjectivity, and together something new and meaningful is created.

On an intrapersonal level, the idea of trading a Master for a Partner has, for me, been one of the most important adjustments I’ve made in my life.   I don’t know about you, but I am much harsher with myself than I am with others and I’ve definitely had a Master approach when it comes to self-discipline and correction. If I step aside though, work WITH myself instead of against myself in my head and heart, I find a peace I hadn’t experienced before, and whatever issue I am wrestling becomes manageable instead of a kind of drudgery. Furthermore, I find I have more trust in myself to do the right thing where before I might have contradicted the ideal simply for the sake of outdoing my harsh ‘Master’.

I understand this idea doesn’t work in all relationships and I also concede that there are some instances where we must always be “Master.”  But whenever possible, from now on, I will look for ways to Partner instead.   The benefits are mutual and more vibrant, and much more satisfactory to the soul.

Here’s to Partnerships instead of Mastery.   May we find ways to morph some of the latter into more of the former…

Yours, Frankie


“Make it So”

I wrote a while back about the way that science fiction provides examples to us of what a world without religion looks like.   It’s an important point to think on since there’s quite a lot of hullaballoo surrounding the thought that atheists or agnostics can’t be nice or get along and are particularly evil so a future filled with such people is certainly vile, discordant, and unlivable.

Not so.  Many science fiction movies and television shows exemplify that humankind can actually thrive where religion is absent and reason prevails in it’s stead.  Is there evil?  Yep.  We can’t escape it because it is part of ourselves, but we do see in each instance that love or relationships or family overcome and save the day, and tellingly, no supreme being is needed.  (By the way, we really don’t know how else to write the story except that good always defeats evil – such an optimistic species).

With the release of the newest Star Trek movie, a fellow writer picked up on this theme and discusses it in this Atlantic article.   It is hopeful in this time of turbulence – especially as an American watching the current election cycle – to see a standard held for us all to claim:  we can rely on each other, as well as our own reasoning, to create a decent society.

May we ‘make it so.’

Yours,

Frankie

 


Live, While I Wait….

I am

In space.

My energy freed from a fragile shell of skin and bones.

I am.

More than I’ve ever been, I am now.

Time is of no consequence,

It’s iron chains no longer weigh upon my conscience.

Part, now, of the infinite universe.

Free as I once was, returned to my original state.

live

photo credit to n a s a

No longer tied to a planet,

No longer driven by the sun.

Holy stillness.

Peace, pure and perfect.

Silence, beautiful and consoling.

This is the death that awaits me,  and I live for it.

 

 


Impotent Nation

Yesterday,  I wrote a little blurb about taking a step back for a minute in the wake of all the recent shootings.  I spoke about letting reason overcome our fears and that there is room for compromise and discussion.   Yet as I typed those words, and even hoped for their fruition, I realized that we probably won’t allow ourselves the opportunity to discuss and listen and come to a middle ground, we’ll most likely continue down this path of shouting matches and shooting matches until we destroy one another.  We’ve been rendered impotent you see, unable to discuss and engage, unwilling to lay down perceived notions and take up another for even a second.   As a democracy we are currently unreachable and unteachable.   I hold the Koch brothers, our current President, and our 111th and 112th congress entirely, utterly responsible.

A nation is only as good as its leaders and our leaders have robbed us of the ability to have any sort of national discussion about anything.    Consider Mitch McConnell’s message that we need to make sure President Obama is only a one term president (I know there are arguments over the ‘context’ of this comment, I’m not buying them.  Actions, in this case, back up the literal interpretation of the statement, I’m inclined to believe that he meant exactly what he said.)  There’s been time after time the past eight years where congress has not just failed to communicate, they’ve refused to communicate altogether.  President Obama’s unwillingness to open up the TransPacificPartnership for examination makes an absolute mockery of the democratic process for which our soldiers ostensibly fight.

During the writing of the Magna Carta, in the aftermath of the storming of the Bastille, when the forefathers of the United States meted out a document intent on keeping a balance of power and enabling democracy – compromise, not stubbornness, led to growth and vitality.   Enlightenment, openness,  and opportunity guided the ideals and produced healthy nations that went on to become world leaders.  To the shame of our democracy, we currently witness political leaders on both sides of the aisle who blatantly and very publicly refuse to bear the burden of their democratic duty and moral responsibility of engaging in public discourse.     They are goaded thusly, thanks to secret meetings comprised of Wall Street’s elite of the elite where strategy sessions for the best way to gain and keep control of the government include this very  notion of an uncooperative spirit. (See Jane Mayer’s most recent work, “Dark Money,” Doubleday, New York, 2016). The results have manifested themselves in the form of a stagnate economy and an obviously broken society.

So while I wrote with hope and an admittedly idealistic tone, I lamented with each letter and form of punctuation.   I fear we are too far gone.  I am deeply concerned that we’ve already dug our heals in considering the actions of our leaders who have proven to possess an inordinate inability to engage and compromise, and accounting for the echoing sentiments of the ‘us vs. them’ narrative ubiquitous on social media the past several hours.

Today, I write about a new hope.  I hope that I am mistaken about my conclusion.   I  hope we haven’t crossed some point of no return and we can muster the strength to empathize. But if the last decade of leadership and our own reaction to these most recent events is any indication, we are now an impotent nation with regards to conversation and meeting in the middle, and my hope is in vain.

May I be proven wrong….

Frankie

 


Challenged

There’s not a one of us right now that isn’t sickened and saddened by the events taken place the past few days in our nation.  More acutely, there are women mourning the loss of their husbands, children trying to understand that daddy will never come home, and mothers who will never feel their son’s strong arms again. One wife watched her husband die after being shot, the other heard about it on the local news.  One child could smell the sulfur from the recently discharged gun, the other fearfully watched his mother fall apart after hearing that her husband was “one of the ones”.   Both mothers struggle to understand how another human being could be so hateful as to shoot their son in cold blood.

We are a mess.

As social media blows up in the wake of all of this, one thing stands out to me among  others:  we must not dig our heals in.  We can not allow ourselves to become so divided that we pass a point of no return with a strictly ‘us and them’ narrative.  There is room for talk and discussion.  There is room for compromise.  There is room for both sides to admit that work can be done within each community to bring us closer together.  There is a time (I would say that this could be it) that we say to one another “We are better than this, let’s work this out.”

Our instincts would tell us to fight.  They would have us defer to adrenaline and emotions and fear in the face of a threat that has no name and moves like a ghost among us.  Can we step back for a moment?  Do we have the wherewithal in ourselves to take a deep breath and allow reason to prevail?  Are we mature enough to understand that we can overcome our initial instincts in order to examine the causes and treat them, rather than just slapping a band-aid on the symptoms out of a hurried reaction?  Can we employ thought and dialogue in a healthy way to strengthen our nation?   Most importantly, can we summon grace from within ourselves at this moment and dole it out in great portions to one another?

I hope.  I hope dearly and I hope with every breath that I take that we can somehow manage to open our ears to each side, look at the evidence with impartial eyes, and feel the pain of every wife, child, and mother out there who today must accept the fact that they have lost a part of themselves.  This is our challenge, may we rise to it for the sake of one another.

To grace, and our nation.

Frankie

 

 

 


Mac’s Gig: The Formation of a Transgender Character

Caysee needed a sidekick.  And I had a deep desire to make this a story about friendship as much as freedom.   I wanted the message to get across that friendships are imperative; they deepen our life experience and keep our souls renewed.   Mac originated from these premises.

But he had to have his own story, his own motivations.   As I let the storyline and Caysee’s character guide me, Mac showed up and his past along with him.  I wrestled with the idea.  I knew that by keeping true to his original appearance I would perhaps also be creating a provoking manuscript, one that opens up entirely different kinds of conversations, and I wasn’t certain I wanted to pursue them.  I thought about some other way for him to have the kind of conflict that would drive him out of the house, or get him on the street.   I could not make him fit any other shape than the one that I presented.  I felt I had to be true to his essence in the way it teased itself out of the ether.

I purposefully didn’t do any research about transgender issues other than an occasional light peruse of headline stories.  I wanted to sniff out a reasonable reaction to the sort of prison in which Mac was living.  Most importantly, I wanted the character and struggle to be composed entirely on my imaginings, with as little influence from the real world as possible. This approach felt right and authentic to me.

Upon reflection, I’ve observed that Mac’s story can serve to inspire.  How many others, identity aside, find themselves in circumstances less than optimum?  How many of us understand the impossibility of thriving when our environment keeps us focused solely upon the task of surviving?  It could be a job or a relationship and maybe we inadvertently put ourselves in the situation, but I’m willing to bet that there are others out there who will be able to draw strength from Mac’s need to be staunch about where he could give up his sense of self and where he couldn’t, as well as his need to find an atmosphere that provided him opportunities to be free to express himself.  At least that is my desire.

When I made the decision to become a writer several years ago, I did so with the goal of always challenging people to think, myself included.  It doesn’t matter that a reader necessarily agrees with my point of view, I am content if I have caused another to at least consider an optional idea.  Even if there is disparity in the final analysis, we are all better for at least having weighed the other side of a thought. My hope is that Mac’s character, and the book as a whole, have achieved this endeavor.

Thank you for reading…

Frankie

‘Caysee Rides: A Story of Freedom, and Friendship’ is available for FREE on Amazon’s KDP Select  for three more days.


Newest Published Work

Finally…after a nightmare editorial experience and much research about ebook
publishing, I have released my newest work, “Caysee Rides” today. I decided to publish on Amazon since it has 75% of the ebook market reach at the moment, which means it is FREE FOR THE NEXT FIVE DAYS if you are a Kindle Unlimited member…just in time for the long holiday weekend.  Click here to link.  Happy reading…and thanks for all your support!

CayseeRides_Final_resized

Cover art by Aaron Phelps

 

 

 

 

 


Examination of Death, by an Atheist

Just a few days ago, my siblings and I gathered together at an idyllic place in the mountains and, one by one, scattered the remains of our beloved mother.

Many of my family take solace in the thought that they will see her again someday ‘across the River Jordan’.   Yet as my husband and I discuss heady topics such as parallel universes and quantum entanglement, I am instead, solaced by the thought that my mom is more alive now than she was while bottled up inside a frame of skin and bones.   This is the examination of death, by an atheist.

Energy can be neither created nor destroyed, so sayeth science.

restingplace

Photo credit to E.W.

This is the reality in which we live. It is incontestable, it is there in the math as assuredly as one plus one equals two. So when the essence of a soul, whatever energy is caught up in our being, is no longer caged by the laws of physicality, then we have to conclude that our energy is dispelled and scattered again throughout our universe, to be employed for newer enterprises (nature is brilliant at recycling and repurposing).   There is great comfort in the thought that my mother is not relegated to just here and just there.  She is all around now, freer in a manner that none of us can conceive, able to effect any number of possible outcomes.  She is life, and that more abundantly.

I will miss her, make no mistake.  I have keened for her passing and will do so again in days to come, I am sure. I will never again feel the sweetness of her kisses upon my lips nor hear the admonishing tone of her voice when my wild nature conflicted with her demure soul.  And while in days past, I might have taken comfort in the hope of ‘seeing her again,’ today I am pacified by a more solid idea.   My mother is ever with me, in every breath I take, in each word I write – in all manner of ways that her energy is now part of the universe itself, I am ever a recipient of her freedom.  Though I may be heartbroken; I am content in this examination.

Yours,

Frankie

In Remembrance:  HEA