Marketing Art

The reason why you are struggling in your dream is not because of external forces. It’s because of a simple, logical one word answer: you. You lack marketing. You’re not marketing yourself – to yourself. How you speak and how you interact with the world is your brand, and your number one customer is you. Everyone else will follow your lead.

Coke does not tell you that they can clean a toilet bowl with their product. It’s true, but they don’t advertise that. They make you lick your lips when they talk about how badly you want that Coke and how much better you feel. They do not tell you how much sugar or calories it contains.

Are you following me? If you are advertising this shit to yourself, you will not hire yourself, you will not purchase from yourself, you will not read your poem, blog, article, buy a painting, get a tarot reading. Why would you? Why would they.

Marketing is strategic and logical. It is the left side of the brain and usually the weaker side of the brain in artists especially because they are right brained. Without marketing: internally and externally, you will not find a consumer. Research the law of 7s in marketing. Email lists, social media, everything is crucial, but finding your niche and finding your message is marketing. And you must market your art. You must network. You must be the CEO of your art. It’s balance. It’s analytical and strategic.

But it’s worthless if you don’t do it on yourself first.

Contact me if you’d like to discuss ways to better market your art, if this is of interest.

Feel free to follow me on Facebook, Blog page, I’m @mahbuttitches on Instagram and @ourbeautifullie on twitter. Let’s connect!!

❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

I Don’t Care Anymore

Vinnie Paul died June 22, 2018. I have been mourning a man I have never met, except in the music that nourishes my soul, since that date. Pantera found me when I was an angsty teenager hiding behind a keyboard in AOL chatrooms. I barely had any real friends. My honest problem was I was terrified to be myself outside of the written world. When I was writing, I felt like I could be honest, and I could be myself. It was not even so much I was afraid to own my words, it was I was afraid of myself. Everything about me felt wrong. It started then, and it’s only recently become a thing of my past. I mean, as of this week, it has become a thing of my past.

My life has a distinct soundtrack, and there are several Pantera songs that play these memories. Cemetary Gates and crying in my bed because I wished I was dead or while I was cutting myself trying to understand why it felt so good to hurt. Suicide Note Part 1 & 2 for obvious reasons. This Love and taking Evan to a strip club for Valentine’s Day because I am the best, coolest, awesome-st girlfriend/wife/best friend (and so very humble). The memory of sitting there drinking beers and watching a chick in camo strip to This Love brings a smile to my face every time. Or the memory of long drives with Evan and me doing interpretive finger dancing to Walk (that’s probably one I would have to show you, it’s very “special”). Pantera was one of the bands that got me through teens and 20’s, a soundtrack to a younger me.

When Dimebag was murdered, I was devastated. I don’t think I had seen Evan cry before the day the Zakk Wylde tribute video came out. I’m talking huge heartbroken sobs so hard he made me sob, and I think it was more from shock. (He may not appreciate that overshare!) I remember being so depressed thinking how Vinnie had to watch his brother die before his eyes. The pain, I couldn’t imagine it.

I believe pain is the precursor to beauty. I believe the most beautiful people in the world are covered in scars that are naked to the eye. I believe the kindest, gentlest, most compassionate people have spent many days in hell, and of those, many of us have put ourselves in that very hell. But what about someone who had to suffer a loss like that? Who had to watch his brother’s life bleed out, as he sat helpless on stage at a concert? Can that pain be transformed? Can it be transmuted?

Of course it can. And it did. A supergroup emerged from this tragedy. Chad Gray, who is one of my all time favorite singers – probably second only to Corey Motherfucking Taylor – started HELLYEAH. Vinnie came on as the drummer. I’ll be honest, I did not pay any attention to them when they started. It was 2006, the year I got married, bought a house, and became a mother to my first born son. It was 4 years after the adoption and Evan and I started dating. Until that time, our lives were filled with music – particularly metal, particularly Pantera. In my 20’s, I lost my connection to music because I spent most of my time waddling around pregnant and becoming the world’s most fucked up Stepford Wife.

After Evan and I separated, I found music again. I think my soul had been starved and cut off beyond the brink of sanity prior to that. Remember Interview with the Vampire, when Lestat comes back after being in the swamp and he talks about feeding off crocodiles? That’s how my soul felt. Slowly, music nursed me back to life. HELLYEAH came into my life 2 important times. The first was when my best friend surprised me with tickets to Mayhem, and my journey home to music and myself tentatively started. My marriage was struggling, it was the summer before my hospitalizations started. HellYeah was playing, and I stood in the sun drinking beers with my best friend and remembering why music was everything I needed in life. They released Unden!able in 2016, and I remembered I had forgotten about them. I listened to I Don’t Care Anymore for months. It was incredible hearing Dime’s guitar again, and I kept thinking how much peace that must have given Vinnie. The song fucking rocks, and became a guiding mantra for me. I wanted to stop caring. Not apathy about life, but apathy about opinions. Why do so many of us care so much what other people think? Why do so many of us spend our lives ruled by the court of public opinion?

That song became the soundtrack to me starting writing again. What did I have to hide? What was I so fucking scared of? Maybe I am half decent at writing and people will like it? Maybe I suck ass and people will not like it? Who gives a shit? Why was I hiding so far back in the closet of my life?! At this point, I was still struggling with whether or not I believed in Catholicism but tentatively taking steps towards philosophy, Buddhism, and pan-theology. So, either I have one life to get my ass to heaven or one life to set me up for more lives based on this life. (That is so rudimentary it is not fair to either philosophy, but that was my fear.) I was terrified of going to hell. The me inside of me was damned, despicable, unworthy of love. For most of my life, I believed my parents hated me. Not because of them, not because of anything, but because I was convinced no one could love me. It’s why I became so obsessed with music. It was my first coping skill. It was the first time I felt I wasn’t alone. I have cried so many tears to so many albums, as so many of us have. Music is like Novocain for your mind and cashmere sweater for your soul, right?

This song started a fire in me unlike any other. I just wanted to stop the bullshit. It’s taken me two years to really, genuinely truly stop the bullshit. I have barely been able to write. Every time I would sit down to type, I would lose my shit. I’ve talked about the psychosis a lot lately, because I have to. I have to heal this wound. It’s been gaping and festering and oozing as I’ve been gingerly cleansing myself (and feeding off alligators) slowly. So slowly. Part of my psychosis centered around blogging. My old blog, Mahbuttitches, caused so much seemingly irreparable harm to my family and people I love. I used it as an outlet to be angry, to be a victim, but to heal. I started putting pieces of puzzles together, and I started seeing all of my demons, my darkness, my shadows. All of the pain I had caused myself, the things I had done to myself for 2 decades, it was too much.

A mind can only handle so much, and true to my nature, I pushed too far. But you can only break out of your comfort zone by pushing to far. Muscles need to rip and tear and be broken down to grow anew. Destruction breeds creation. I finally see the beauty in how epically I burned myself alive, because I do believe the meditation caused the psychosis, and I do believe I caused my psychosis by not taking care of myself. I was unmedicated, I was refusing to listen to anyone telling me I was bipolar, and I was angry at the world. I was a blindfolded dragon who lit herself on fire. Or, apt to my tattoo, a phoenix. And I’m not saying this because it’s anything but how I see it. I like to see life as poetry, forgive me for too much description.

Then Vinnie died,  and the timing was aligned. Don’t for a second take I’m saying Vinnie died to save me from my sins, it’s just synchronicity at work. The constant ripples of consciousness that create the mystery, beauty, and surprise of life. Like music, there is no end to the experience, if you just shut up and enjoy. Bands like HELLYEAH transcend the mundane consciousness and use poetic metaphors triggering insight, growth, and beauty that makes my words feel hollow. Listen to the words, in HELLYEAH, in Mudvayne, if Chad isn’t a singing Buddha, I’ll eat my hat. The man went through hell – listen to Hush, and he comes out of his own self discovery, a similar path I’m walking, to see his own power, the power of his truth, his voice, and what he can make people feel with his honesty and vulnerability. This is art.

I put Hush on as soon as I finished reading Vinnie died, which I had really weirdly, started listening to HELLYEAH again obsessively maybe a few weeks prior to this death because of Hush. It came up on my Daily Mix on Spotify, and a few songs later, Moth played and I could not stop listening to them. Seriously, the lyrics in just those two songs – mindblowing wisdom and companionship.

It’s August 9th, and I have been listening to HELLYEAH since May? At this point? Almost nonstop, I can’t stop listening, it just makes me feel everything I need, it’s like a treasure map into opening my heart, opening my mouth, and writing again. I’m telling you, the full circle thing is overwhelming. I remember playing I don’t care anymore as I was typing about Evan and I fixing our marriage. I was terrified to write about it, because I was still worried about people thinking I was an idiot. It was that song that kicked me in the heart to STOP FUCKING CARING. I love the man, who gives a shit? He’s my best friend, and I don’t want to walk this journey without him by my side. Forgiveness is my terms, not theirs. That day, June 10th, was our 12th anniversary (we never actually divorced, I don’t think we could handle it…). Our 11th anniversary we were just living together and terrified of how bad it could turn out. Our 12th, we finally stopped lying to ourselves and admitted we wanted to get back together. We put our wedding rings on that night. My left hand feels whole again. Because of a song by HELLYEAH.

I am so addicted to this band, and every time I hear Vinnie drum, I am so overwhelmed with this bittersweetness. I’m so glad he has been woven back into the fabric of us, and I know he’s here, he’s with his brother, and he is immortal. I’m not even saying that from a spiritual perspective, I am saying it from literal reality. His songs live on through us, my obsession with HELLYEAH has led to my kids becoming obsessed with HELLYEAH. (I’m a terrible mother who does not censor her children’s music, because I feel the emotional value, healing, subconscious triggering/awakening is far more valuable than them avoiding the inevitable F-Bomb, from their sailor mouthed mother or the many artists we all adore. I also don’t care what you do with your kids, heh)

The point in that is: through two generations, his drumming lives on. In me, and in them. I listen to so much music from my parents, so there’s every chance my grandchildren will listen to his music. I’m obsessed with Westworld, and the line from Ghost Nation: “You only live as long as the last person who remembers you.” has been burning like a hot coal in my mind. Vinnie contributed to music that saved my life – over and over and over again. There were so many times I wanted to kill myself, there were so many times I pulled myself back from pushing deeper on my wrist. There have been so many times I almost let go of the steering wheel, and it’s music that stopped me every time. Because I watched these souls turn their pain to beauty and in that transformation, they have become immortal. They will be remembered long, long after they are gone. They will be passed down in stories of concerts, or drives with the windows down and the music up. They will live in memories of pain and joy. And every time they are remembered, they’re here with us.

I can spend hours, hell days with Vinnie, and I always have. Their music unlocked the truth in me: I couldn’t write anymore, because I had to learn to talk first. To stand firm, beautiful, and strong in my truth. To take myself out of the closet in my skull and smile genuinely into this world. See the beauty in everything. Write the beauty in everything. My psychosis was the greatest blessing I’ve ever had. I see life is music. I am free, because I am me. I can express myself like I’ve been watching, learning, and healing. Music. Vinnie’s drums, Chad’s voice, Christian & Tom’s guitars, and Kyle’s bass have been playing the soundtrack to my journey home to myself, to my writing, to the point where this all began:

I don’t care anymore. I don’t care what  you say. I don’t play by the same rules, anyway. I won’t be there anymore, so get out of my way, let me by. I got better things to do with my time…I don’t care anymore.

And as long as I am able, I will remember and I will write about this journey and every immortal that is helping me scatter my soul into the universe.

How about you? If you made it this far (AND THANK YOU!) what’s the band that has profoundly affected you? What song? Comment here or link to your own memory post about an artist that saved or changed your life. Tell me about the song that makes you float away from this world, or the vocalist, let’s just celebrate the beauty of music, and especially Vinnie Fucking Paul. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your gift. I will see you in the eyes of my children, because you are a reason I can still gaze in them.

The Greatest GPS Known to Hu-Man

(From my Facebook – feel free to follow me)

Yesterday, I shared a podcast about the celestial events of this week. On the personal side, this week has been full of new connections, inspiration, forgiveness, closure, and deep, deep healing. To say I feel blessed would be like saying I like to write. It’s just too bland of an understatement.

The words that have been resonating so deeply for months now are “it’s just getting started” every day this is true. Every moment it’s true. There’s no end of beginnings and there’s no need to fear change or even pain, because there is transformation on the other side of every exhale. If you think about it, you change from breath to breath. Cells die, cells are born, your structure as a human changes from instant to instant. That’s life for all of us.

A random meeting, a person you feel a click with, the spark of inspiration from seemingly nowhere, it’s all breadcrumbs along a path you created. The more trust and release that can come into your life, the more these connections become center stage and you find yourself lifted to these moments where you can feel and know deeply that the universe is for you, and so is everything else. There’s no change to fear, there’s nothing that can undo you, because it’s happening whether you like it or not. You are always on your path, even if you tell yourself you are lost. The universe is the worlds most sophisticated GPS, constantly rerouting you home to yourself.

Get as lost as you need, get as lost as you want, refuse to ask for directions: you’re always coming home. Trust that, and the possibilities are more infinite than your heartbeats.

Would Buddha Take Medication?

This has been a question I’ve been ruminating on for well over a year. I am curious if there are others in a similar spot: for me, my alphabet soup of diagnoses led me to spirituality as did working through various addictions. Yet, I’ve found myself in a conundrum of: can I be spiritual and take medicine? Would Buddha have popped pills?

I began studying Buddhism when I realized modern psychology is basically renamed Buddhism. I figured I’d just go to the source. Buddhism is not a religion; it is a philosophy. The focus is disciplining the mind.

When I started meditating, I lived in fear of my mind. It was noisy, chaotic, nasty, and full of should have/would have/could have. I had always felt there were at least 2 me’s in existence. The mask and the fucked up girl behind the mask. When I came to meditation, my life had become a confusing blur of lies. I didn’t know who I was anymore because I lost track of the lies and reality.

In this journey, I’ve flip flopped between believing I am seriously ill and in need of help and believing there is nothing wrong with me, it is society making me sick.

The psychosis I had over a year ago was the great leveler. In that, I am forced to accept both answers to every question. There are things I saw and experienced that are so real to me even today, I shudder at the memory. Yet, no one else saw or heard these things. No one saw melting faces, or had any reason to believe the weird weather was all my fault. I can’t find the things I read anymore, yet I swear I read them. It’s a case of accepting what is: I cannot explain this, but it happened all the same.

The harder thing to accept is this absolutely started with meditation. I experienced something that I can not describe in words, and from that point on, my life was turned upside down. I did believe I was God, so it could be full delusional grandeur and mania. I also believed I was here to help people, and that too could be mania. I don’t know. The problem and solution always is: I don’t know. I’ve researched it endlessly. Kundalini awakenings resonate with what happened to me. Jung’s concept of the shadow is almost a verbatim account of the 3 or so weeks I was in psychosis. Everything, and I mean everything I was afraid of, worried about, hiding away, etc. came into my reality. It was as if my life was a Stephen King novel.

I still struggle talking about this, because I couldn’t write out everything that happened in those weeks if I had a lifetime to type. If I can one day, it will give Mr. King a run for his money.

After begging to be taken to the mental hospital, knowing if I didn’t go, I was going to kill myself: I’m still left with fear. There’s still a part of me worried I was wrong. On bad days of depression, I can worry I should have killed myself then, because at the time, I was convinced someone was going to kill my kids if I didn’t kill myself. I’ve never been more terrified of my mind. Yet, I had two choices, I could either get back on good terms with myself, or spend the rest of my days terrified of me as I had been.

It took me a long time to come back to meditation. Buddhism obviously teaches meditation, but I learned in the mental hospital. No one told me about needing a guide or a teacher. No one told me what meditation could unlock. The experience I had is very similar to what has been described as Kundalini awakenings, and there are warnings abound that this should not be undertaken without serious inner work to clear your demons. Me? I was obsessed with meditating because it made me feel good. I didn’t really know chakras or anything spiritual then.

Was it spiritual? Was it psychological? Those questions have plagued me for so long.

In reality, the only thing that did happen is all my worst fears did come true, and all the things I repressed came to the surface. I was terrified I was crazy, so I went crazy. I lost my mind. It doesn’t matter what was real or not real, because in my world, it was all true. In others, it was not. For me, I created a self fulfilling prophecy. I believed I was crazy, so crazy is what I was.

This is the nature of life. My truth is something only I have. No one sees the sky the same way, and we have no way of proving or disproving it because we can’t describe blue. This leads me back to my question. The Buddha taught how to discipline the mind to alleviate suffering. I believe he used the complete power of his focus, by watching his thoughts and choosing where he gave his focus.

The Buddha believed all suffering exists in our minds. We cling to the past and reject change, we chase the future and lose the present. We create huge expectations to bring disappointment. We live in extremes and reject reality. I have to wonder, though, how would Buddha deal with now? Look at the world we are in. He’s long gone, and many follow his way, yet does it resonate now? Ancient wisdom is wise, but does it make sense in a culture so vastly different? Would he need Effexor and Latuda to stay centered?

The world is so obsessed with labels and words. Everything has to be specifically characterized and in a box – we’ve turned ourselves into nouns and forms of grammar instead of living breathing constantly changing verbs. God is now an iPhone, I think. It’s very different from a monastic lifestyle in India. In the present, I think suffering is caused by our obsession with the word “or”. My suffering with the puzzle of my psychosis is an easy example of this. The reality is “and” not “or”. That is to say, everything I experienced was completely real, completely caused by meditation, AND bipolar. Why must they be mutually exclusive? Does mania make it false? I used to believe mania made my happiness a lie, and I would use analysis to rob myself of joy with the fear of being crazy.

In reality, to me, bipolar is a description of a particular form of suffering: attachment versus non attachment. I flee the bad days and run for the good days. Medication has helped, meditation helped, yoga helped. I don’t fear my bad days, and I enjoy the good days as they last. Non attachment.

The psychosis is forcing me to accept “and” because it’s the only plausible answer. It’s all of the above. Yet, strikingly, this is precisely what the Buddha taught in non duality. Everything in this life is a process. Sadness is necessary so that happiness is experienced. Rainy days are needed to grow flowers in the sunshine. All of the cliches. But it is truly everything. All the mental anguish I go through attempting to pick a side can easily be avoided by accepting both and sticking to the middle. Any extreme is bad for our minds. Moderation is key in everything.

If you can think about the most painful situation in your life, I am willing to bet there is an “or” you are struggling with. “Did he cheat on me because I wasn’t good enough or is he a shitty person?” Both. It’s both. He believed you weren’t good enough and that does make him a shitty person. It can be everything because it’s all part of one unified process. It’s up to us to decide and move forward. Obsessing with the why, and trying to label it disconnects us from reality and keeps us in fear of the unknown. The reality is: it is all unknown and known. Every moment is exactly as it’s meant to be, and suffering comes from constant ruminating and questioning thoughts. The only reality is action.

The rising diagnoses seem to flag this problem. As we all attempt to force ourselves in one particular box at the loss of another, trying to encapsulate ourselves in neat words and labels, we are losing our minds. Our sanity. Our obsession with words and thinking is making us insane.

Isn’t it interesting that modern psychology and Buddhism are so closely aligned? Why is meditation so crucial? Why did meditation help me go crazy? I appreciate it now, because now I have the opposite – I know what it feels like to lose my mind. I no longer need to analyze myself for crazy indicators.

Meditation is the art of doing nothing, because we all do too much. It is rare we have that counter balance. Like pushing do not disturb on a cell phone, meditation can create the space for truth and reality to shine through. The truth that we always need both. We need activity and we need stillness. We cannot be healthy in any one or the other situation.

What is the truth? What is reality? I don’t know anymore. I think that’s the most truthful I can get. This journey started whether I wanted to or not, but I’ve been holding myself back by shifting my fear to medication. I finally connected I’ve been so stifled in everything because I’m terrified the medicine I am on is changing my brain.

When I started meditating, I saw colors. So many colors. It was like hanging out in a kaleidoscope. Now, I can tell you this is called a siddhi and means very little. Since I started the medicine, I stopped seeing colors. I’ve been worried about this for so long. Yet just last night, I asked that question: if Buddha was here now, would he take medicine to help with the journey?

The answer is: why do I care what Buddha would do? This is what I keep missing. At the end of the day, it’s only me that can move my feet on this path. Buddha may be a guide, Watts may be a guide, but I’m the only one who can choose. If I believe the medicine is hurting me, of course it will. Self fulfilling prophecies are reality. I take supplements and I take medicine. Why not both? Both help me. I have a stigma against myself with the medicine, and I’m tired of bullying me about it.

No sooner did I come to peace with this – after 1.5 years of struggling and fighting with this choice to medicate, I saw colors again. Brighter and more vivid then I remember before.

The Buddha taught me to stop fearing my mind by embracing the beauty of my mind. Meditation taught me how powerful all minds are. They can create beauty or suffering, depending on your focus. In each of us is this power to create or destroy our worlds. Most of us need to destroy before we learn to stop creating our destruction with the stories we tell ourselves.

Are you pondering similar questions? Let me know in comments, I’d love to pick some brains.

Shades of Truth

Words are weapons

Words are tools

Like chains of infinity

Like sun to the moon

Black and white runs us blind

Up vs down controls the mind

We’re baby birds flying

No wings, we’ve crashed

The power within disposed like trash

Our eyes see blindly

Wont reflect on the mirror

We think up obstacles

In place of what’s clear

Words now weapons

Praise the new God of Fear

Have you ever felt deeply

This must not be me?

Have you ever questioned reality?

Do darkness and demons sneak ’round every corner?

Temptation, addiction crush your own willpower?

Why are tears so easy, but smiles hard won?

Is it truly so crazy to look at the son?

Did you ever look at the sky and see

the beautiful painting God made for me?

The me is you and you is we

Connected together in gravity

The blue, those clouds,

They’re yours, they’re mine

Breathe in and out, love is divine

Everything, everything is won with us

Yet we only see what mind thinks is best

We’re tied in shoelaces

We’re chained by a feather

There’s nothing to fear,

Our guards aren’t that clever

Just look at the sky and remember you’re soul

Embrace your own heart

Express your soul

Just look at the sky and remember this well

The best days here are the worst days in hell

God painted the sky just for you

God sparkles the grass with tears of dew

Every color you see is how you perceive it

We’ve outgrown this nest

When will you leave it?


I actually wrote this with a song playing, check it out and see if it adds to the poetry. Escape Route

Check out my other poem, also produced by 33 pyramids China white

Happy Anniversary?

I haven’t shared this pic in a few years. Evan and I have been (in all technicality) married 12 years today. 3 years ago, but really probably 5, our marriage disintegrated. Or exploded. All of my worst nightmares and fears came alive. I didn’t want to be a single mom, I didn’t want to have a failed marriage, Christ, back then, I couldn’t fail period. I had to be perfect. In the last five years: I have been to the mental hospital 5 times, I cheated on my husband with a man I met in the first mental hospital, and our marriage became an exercise in masochism and sadism. Evan and I turned what once was overwhelming love – reading our posts for all our anniversaries could make me cry if I wanted to – into overwhelming hate. Our lives were the manifestation of misery: internally and externally. In the course of those years, in addition to my hospitalizations which were usually 2 or more weeks at a time with 3-6 months out of work for recovery, Evan lost his job for 3 months, I had to be out of work with no disability or pay of any kind, oh right and we have 3 kids. I don’t know how we survived the amount of stress we endured.

When the fight happened, I was relieved. Things were so bad, I was thrilled our marriage was over, but embarrassed about how it all went down. I was embarrassed about the affair, I was embarrassed about all my dirty little secrets not being kept anymore.

Sitting here now, I don’t have a single shit to give. Everything in those paragraphs are the past, and it is the vehicle that brought me to the present. In the present, I am back living with Evan and our family is together. I could say that’s a failure too: I “couldn’t handle” being a single mom, I went batshit crazy, etc. But failure is a beautiful part of life that puts you in the present. The present is always where we need to be, and it is always perfect.

Evan was there for me in the darkest nights of my soul. I was screaming about demons on my radio and people on the internet coming to kill me. He was there. He told me to come live with him when I realized I didn’t trust my own mind anymore, and I couldn’t afford my place while being out of work on disability.

How many couples could go through the hell our marriage went through? How many could come back to being each other’s best friend and support system? When we separated, once the emotions calmed down (and the court orders lifted – it was that bad) we promised each other we would figure this out. I couldn’t spend the rest of my life raising the kids and hating their daddy. I couldn’t conceive of holding on to anger that long. We promised each other we’d be friends for our own sanity and the kids. We didn’t want them seeing anymore fighting or anger. Our family suffered enough. We never divorced, we did all the custody and everything between us, and we let ourselves heal.

I never stopped loving Evan. He never stopped loving me. A year ago, we were terrified. I was moving back in and we were both scared it would be terrible. Things had gone so badly, what if….? I have a storage unit full of my stuff from Brookside, because what if I had to move out? A month ago, we started moving some of that into the house and getting rid of old stuff like our 12 year old couch. Because everything is great. A year ago, I couldn’t see me typing this. I couldnt see me happy and glad I moved back in. I couldn’t see Evan and I talking about a future or even an us.

Then I see my face in this picture. I see how blue my eyes are. I know how nervous I was to be getting married, I was 5 months pregnant with Tyler. This is my favorite picture of me. This was the happiest day of my life, and I was marrying my best friend. One thing the last 12 years has taught me is an expectation is a built in disappointment and this can work both ways. I expected my marriage to fail, because I focused on the negative. I expected my life to go to hell, because I fought everything I am, because I hated myself.

The girl in this picture is beautiful, but she wasn’t actually happy. Her insides were tortured, her mind was tortured. She loved Evan a lot, but she also thought Evan was going to make her happy. The woman typing this exceedingly long memoir is beautiful inside and out, she still loves Evan, and she knows the only person who can make her happy is herself. So her smiles are bigger, her words are truthful, fearless, and without judgement. She doesn’t give a flying fuck what anyone thinks about her, because she used to think a lot worse, and she made her life a living hell hidden behind masks and lies.

12 years ago, I married my best friend. It was the best decision I ever made. Today, I am raising my kids with my best friend, and through the insanity of this journey, I have found my other best friend: me. There are no words to express my love and gratitude for this life. It’s beyond my expectations – thank God. A lot has changed in 12 years, but the one constant has been love – even if sometimes it was standing upside down as hate.

The Game of Life

If you enjoyed this poem and are interested in purchasing a handwritten copy, signed to you with a number and date, please email me at RoseRoared@yahoo.com. Handwritten prints are $25 (includes shipping and a donation to a local charity)

This work is copyrighted, created, and owned by me. I give no permission for it to be duplicated, but I welcome sharing with credit if you enjoyed it! Thank you for reading.

Should’ve had that Coke

Dharma is the way of life. To be one with your dharma is to trust and understand (not know) that your life is always just so. Complete and utter perfection. Everything you do is meant for you to do, because it is happening. If it was not meant to be so, it would not happen. It is impossible otherwise.

Karma is your thinking mind. It is the fruit of your action. Karma happens when you question doubt or deviate from

Dharma. The Buddha stressed there is no bad karma. That is because there is no scorekeeper punishing you except you. Karma comes when you question life as it is just so.

Say you want a coke but you doubt and question and ultimately get a sprite. Well, had you gotten the coke, x would Have happened. You created karma in your thinking and getting sprite. X will still happen, but there is now t, u, and v in the way of coke and x which will still Happen. And there is nothing bad about the sprite, nor the thought, just karma.

So the only punishment comes from you wishing for that coke and questioning your sprite decision.

First World Problems

With this Nor’easter supposedly coming through, I’m really excited to get gardening. I love the site of fresh green shoots of hyacinths bedazzled with old snow. All this talk of freezing rain and heavy snow has me thinking of getting my hands muddy.

There is a dark cloud looming over these picturesque visions. I am completely out of eggs and almost out of milk. This is a Pennsylvanian’s worst nightmare. A French toast-less blizzard.

For me, I’m generally irritated because I WILL go buy milk and eggs before a storm because my coffee don’t get drank without milk, and snow doesn’t fall without baking cookies. These are priorities!

I’m a really bizarre baker – in that I only bake in inclement weather. Is it your birthday? Enjoy this delicious store bought cake. Is it a polite and classy gesture required event? Entemann’s raspberry crumb danish twist thing may not say much, but it tastes of what I’d imagine the nectar of the gods to be. Is hurricane Sandy destroying the East Coast? Well you better believe Zucchini Bread, Pumpkin Zucchini Bread, Banana bread and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are coming out of my kitchen! This storm has a 100% chance of sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies if I can survive the dairy aisle gauntlet unscathed.

It’s inevitable. I cannot explain the compulsion, nor do I mind stuffing my face with chocolate chip cookies while I get snowed in. It’s genius, if you ask me. It’s terrible, if you ask my pants. (That’s a lie, my pajamas love me no matter how many cookies I eat)

Now, I did make a box batch of brownies for my dad’s birthday on Friday and I attempted to get classy and make ganache. I screwed up by not allowing enough time to chill the ganache, and by attempting to be classy on a sunny day. (I only make completely homemade brownies during blizzards, duh) I was also in the middle of making corned beef with cabbage and potatoes as well as sauerkraut in another pot. I wanted my dad to have a Reuben or corned beef and cabbage for his birthday.

As the brownies weren’t coming out right, I was simultaneously convinced my corned beef was tough and my brownies were burnt. I was so irritated with myself, and felt like a completely useless asshat. BUT, then I reminded myself it is actually the thought that counts and maybe I should chill along with the ganache. (Literally my new favorite word)

Once I chilled out (unlike my ganache), I went to my parents and my dad told me my corned beef was awesome. The next day, I ate a brownie and it was the best ganache I have ever had. I literally concocted two abysmal failures in my brain. Neither actually happened or existed. Aww, look how metaphorical cooking can be!

I stopped the drama by making myself laugh at myself. My mom and I tried to bake a cake for my dad forever ago. It was this hamburger cake. It was the most depressing impersonation of a hamburger. I’m talking worse than McDonald’s. It tasted like sugar died. I was ranting to my mom about my illusory failed meals saying my dad choked down our hamburger cake he can choke down my corned beef. It was enough of a chuckle to make me stop the stories.

As the first day of spring approaches, with the traditional raging nor’easter, I’ll hear the chirping birds of wind, see the green tufts of snow, feel the warm kiss of freezing rain, and I will be celebrating new beginnings. New beginnings always start at the end. Now that winter is ending, I’ll hopefully not lose power and bake those cookies. Hell, I’ve gotten better at baking thanks to Pennsylvania’s bizarre weather and my compulsively storm infused sweet tooth. I’ve also gotten better at laughing through the storms – literal or metaphorical.

I had always thought my problems were menial in the face of others, but then I realized my first world problems would have been third world problems to Siddhartha Gautama, a former prince turned Buddha. A man who was waited on hand and foot taught of suffering, because suffering is a gift we all give each other regardless of demographic or storm baking proclivities

So….I just cannot believe I have to go to the store tomorrow. But I appreciate that I can. #blessed

Lies Are Rarely Intentional

Words are so powerful and paradoxically completely worthless. We give all of the power to the words but fail to see if we give them power, we can take them away. In truth, almost every word we share with ourselves and each other is a lie. I’d like to play a game, shall we?

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About 2 years ago, I climbed a mountain for the first time. There are two important facts you should know: I am terrified, and I mean out of my mind terrified, of heights. I was also wearing heeled boots. I was not expecting to climb a mountain. My boyfriend at the time and his friends decided to climb a mountain, and I tagged along. In my boots with the heels, not fur. I was out of my mind terrified. Visions of sprained/broken ankles danced through my head. I could feel my lungs tightening as a panic attack started creeping on me – both because I was short of breath (I’m a heavy smoker) and because I was going up high (I have literally had a panic attack going up a slip and slide at a carnival. Ask me about the time I climbed the Brigantine Lighthouse!) I focused on my feet with Tetris-like precision. Every rock formation and my foot were precious combinations I was not going to screw up. When I got to the top of the mountain, the scene was breathtaking. The sky was a combination of pink, and blue, and orange. I’ve never seen or felt anything like it. I had never hiked before, either. My enjoyment was only marred by my fear of going back down the mountain and breaking my ankle. I forced myself to sit on the rocks and quietly take in the scene. My purpose in climbing the mountain, if I’m honest, was trying to impress my boyfriend. I remember him looking back at me as we climbed, and saying, “She can do it, she’s a fucking bad ass.” I remember the smile on his face and for the first time in a long time, a rush of feeling like someone believed in me. I think his words had helped me climb higher than my fear. Looking back now, I climbed higher than my fear.

Sounds great, right? I write well, I think.

Let’s try this:

I climbed a mountain in heeled boots. I thought I was going to break my ankle, and I could not believe how stupid and irresponsible I was. The entire time I climbed, all I could see was 2 dudes carrying me down a mountain with a broken ankle. Visions of all the other times I’ve sprained my ankle by the sheer act of walking were flashing through my head. Strangely, all I could see was Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. Glass with my face on his body. My boyfriend was being a dickhead that day. He had been giving me attitude all day, and even after we climbed, he bought all of his friends a banana but me. I don’t know why that bothered me, its’ a 33 cent banana, but it really kind of hurt me. He had told me before I met his friends not to “be weird” so that told me to just “be quiet”. He finally acknowledged that a) I existed and b) I was climbing not too shabbily for a woman wearing heeled boots. When I got up to the top of the mountain, my brain went silent because it was so beautiful. I was still scared to climb down especially because I knew the sun was setting, and darkness with heeled boots felt more like suicide in fancy footwear. As I went down the mountain, I felt confused. I couldn’t understand why my boyfriend was the way he was, why I put up with how he was, and so on. Fortunately, I was so terrified of breaking my ankles, I forced myself to focus on my footing, and in doing that, I experienced quiet mind for the first time.

Or this:

I am equally an idiot and a jackass who climbed a mountain in heeled boots. Looking back, it was one of the craziest and coolest things I ever did. It started a love for hiking that I never had, and it was too beautiful to describe.

We put so much weight into the noise of words and emotion, but the reality & truth is this:

All of these stories are lies of omission because I cannot give you the full story. My memories and words are being placed to align (intentionally or unintentionally) with the emotion. This is how we all communicate. None of my words adequately convey how beautiful it was up there. None of my words even adequately convey how I felt. If I close my eyes, I can see it and feel it as clearly as if I was there.

If we live purely in the realm of our thoughts and words, we omit reality. I don’t think anything can be more harmful than missing our reality. It does not mean coming up with better words to describe a situation. It means being fully present to experience it. Your focus (awareness/consciousness) dictates your reality. When we experience the world, we do not need words for it. Anything that is put into words is inherently a lie of omission.

Try this for yourself. If you think back on something you did that was hard/challenging/sucked, depending on how you speak to yourself or others about it, will determine your emotions on it. From paragraph to paragraph, the same experience changes with the emotion we express. If you focus on any positive in a memory, the memory will have a pleasant association, just like a word. Look at how different my ex-boyfriend and I seem? Yet both are equally true, only what I shared and how I shared it changed.

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Definitions, connotations, and context will always change depending on who is hearing it. Context and connotation mean something different to every person, regardless of what Websters tells us. People who are “literally dying” are a great example. We don’t even use words according to their definitions anymore.

download (2)My favorite definition of a metaphor is “a beautiful lie” (hmm…feels like I used that somewhere) Literally every word you use is a metaphor for your existence. You are using metaphors with every syllable. The key to being happiness is not to confuse metaphors with the point.

In either way, a metaphor and words are grammatical and literary devices. We confuse our reality with grammatical and literary devices, making ourselves hapless victims of an unseen author instead of being our own authors.

Actions and experience are all we have in this life. By choosing our words and memories, we can turn any experience into a lesson or an opportunity for growth. By seeing how powerless words and memories are, we can see nothing in this life is actually bad. That is an illusion of our thoughts.

It doesn’t matter how I describe it because climbing a mountain in heels made me see I can climb mountains on my couch with a laptop. I can climb anything anywhere, but in the future, I will be more mindful of my footwear. I hope this game shows you a deeper understanding of the game of life and the games we play with ourselves. Don’t confuse reality with metaphors, and just climb.

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