The Slow Walk of Healing

Man, did I have a bad year in 2019. I remember having to “call a friend,” when she posted on one of her social media accounts that anyone could reach out to her if they were having suicidal thoughts. That was me. I was literally suicidal in 2019. It was bad, really bad.

I lost everything that year. I lost professional relationships. I lost friends. I lost all my income. I lost my apartment. In some ways, I even lost my kids. I had to put all my worldly belongings into storage, pack up the cat, some clothes and drive to (fucking) South Dakota and stay in my sister’s attic. What a shit show. I hit a cruel rock bottom without any of the upside of the raucous good time that normally accompanies an addiction. My life was effectively over.

It got a little better over the summer of 2019 as I started to relax and enjoy the beauty of the high plains. But, by the fall, I realized I had to take care of my financial affairs and head back to Florida. A series of extremely unfortunate events occurred when I did, and thus, 2020 began almost as badly as 2019 had… and then… the PANDEMIC.

WTAF.

So. As I rolled into 2021, drained of my savings, my IRA, all my worldly assets, even without a car, I had to rebuild. Alone.

But I did rebuild. As I’ve done time and time again in my life. This time, I had the luxury, the privilege, of not having to support anyone but myself (and my trusty comfort cat).

I invested in my mental, spiritual, and physical well-being. I took the opportunity to finally explore the dark depths of my life experience and begin the healing process than I had suppressed for all my adult life. Two words: complex trauma.

I started an intense, regular regime of therapy. I made a commitment to lose the weight I’d gained over the pandemic (done) and continue on my path, and I opened my heart and soul to the Universe.

I recently described myself as “Christian+.” I was raised a Christian, yet I find there is something magnificent going on out there that cannot be explained by any religious dogma. It has links to science and it is beyond human comprehension. I fall in with Albert Einstein here with this thinking:

“One thing I have learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike. We still do not know one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us. It is entirely possible that behind the perception of our senses, worlds are hidden of which we are unaware.”

Albert Einstein

I started writing. Really writing. Writing stories from my life. Writing features in magazines. I began taking photos and now consider myself an amateur photographer. I started a film production company that is meeting with some success. I became engaged in civic responsibility and am serving on a few boards where I’m making a contribution. I consciously made the decision to Marie Kondo my social network. If a person I’m connected to is not sparking joy in some way in my life, I quietly disconnect. I aligned my priorities around “what matters.”

Unless the health market spurs a breakthrough in affordable, adult longevity, I realize I only have a couple more decades on the planet. My goal is to live out the rest of my days enjoying my best life.

Today– heading into the fall of 2021, I’m centered, strong, grounded, and connected. I’m traveling to the beat of a different drummer that maybe only I can hear. And I’m okay with that.

Namaste.

Who is Maya Angelou?

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou

It was probably 2014, around this time (May 28), when Maya Angelou passed that everyone was talking about the famous poet. I had just begun working on my startup dedicated to violence against women after my long career in technology. At that time, my oldest daughter was working with me. I asked her, “Who is Maya Angelou?”

She was shocked and somewhat appalled that I could ask such an ignorant literary question.

She told me she was one of the most famous contemporary poets and civil rights activists of our time. I shrugged, and went on with what I was doing.

It took me a few years to finally dig into Angelou’s brilliance. When I found the poem, Still I Rise, I recognized myself in it. It reminded me of what one of my male tech partners once said about me that I didn’t understand, so I had to look it up. He told me he admired how I would, “Rise like a Phoenix, over and over again.”

Such a universal truth for women emboldened with the will to survive, to overcome.

And therein lies some of the mystery as to why I’m uninformed as to the great feminist writers. I spent a lifetime competing in a man’s world, surrounded by men, reading men’s words predominantly. I did not have the privilege, nor the luxury, to invest in learning about the oppression and discrimination that dogged me throughout my professional career.

I am learning now.

America and Resilience

Dance of the Dead

When my international and coastal elite friends ask me why I’m in South Dakota, I start by telling them the story of how my brother and sister wound up here. So, that family is here seems like a logical reason why I’d be here.

But, if you’ve been casually paying attention to this blog and my Instagram, you know it’s something else. For me, this part of the country is a petri dish for the changes that are taking root in other areas of the world.

I was drawn to stay here in South Dakota because of the landscapes. The incredible scenery. These scenes are teaching me about myself, about our society, and about America’s place in the pantheon of world history.

Tomorrow concludes voting in the U.S. Presidential Election. Early voting records are suggesting this will be the highest turnout ever in the country’s history. There have even been early voting lines here in South Dakota.

In August, when I was driving down one of the state’s beautiful country highways, I spotted this line of dead trees to my right out in a field. On my mind was the concern that America was careening toward autocracy and a full-on dictatorship. It was likely I was listening to a podcast at that moment. But suddenly, those trees spoke to me in a loud voice.

I pulled the car over, grabbed my camera, and started shooting.

Later, I posted this on Instagram:

“I posted about these trees on other social media. I called them, “Dance of the Dead.” I will say more about them here. These dead trees slay me. Their stark presence on the lush landscape is pure poetry. Proud, resilient, transcendent, beautiful in their post-relevance— I love them dancing in rebellion. Refusing to lay down and die. I stood on the edge of the highway taking photo after photo of them, thinking about how maybe they’re a metaphor for America today. The rest of the world may be mocking us, writing us off for dead, irrelevant, a failed experiment. But these dead trees that populate the expanse of the frontier out here hold the ghosts of the pioneer spirit. I am praying I stole their souls by capturing their images with my camera. It emboldens me to fight for democracy. If even with a camera, and a metaphor in a field.”

Aug. 8, Clark County, SD, Instagram

Now, in the fall of 2020, I’ve been working on a campaign for a Native American and his family. I’ve learned more about how sacred these lands are for the people who once had the luxury of living here without us. That pioneer spirit I mentioned above murdered a lot of innocent people here so that white Europeans could colonize this beautiful countryside.

I still have a lot to learn about our country’s history.

Tomorrow, American voters will determine our path. People who dare to hope diverse communities can begin to understand each other, live peacefully together, respect one another, and rebuild America in a new image are hopeful for a reset. The current administration has surfaced with unflinching clarity the ugliness embedded in our society.

The American experiment is still new. Still morphing. We must forgive ourselves our trespasses. I’m hopeful our resilience will save us all, and lay the foundation for the next generation/s to seed a more perfect union.