our wild minds

Sometimes I feel like I need to drink a bottle whiskey every day or be addicted to crack in order to be a good writer.

What could some white girl from the hills have to say about living and dying that isn’t going to make the world roll its eyes?

Sometimes this blog makes me wanna puke a little. My professors would tell me that I’m not getting to the root of it, that I’m thinking too much, trying to control the words. They would say that your writing is not something that you construct and mold like a piece of clay, but something that first comes out of you naturally, and it is not until then that you start the process of cleaning up the mess you made. But your words aren’t born all neat and tidy, they come into the world screaming their heads off and wondering what the hell this place is. They are filled completely with life and don’t give any damns. And then, you leave it all there on the page and don’t apologize for it. You especially can’t be afraid of it. You let it breathe. Because the only thing more painful than keeping it all in is letting your words out and then suffocating them, dousing the whole thing with water.

I don’t remember where or when I read this and who said it, but it was a quote that went something like, we write to discover that which we know but do not want to know. Sounds pretty scary, huh? I didn’t used to be afraid of that kind of stuff, you know, when I was nine years old or so.

“This is all about a loss of control. This is what falling in love is, too: a loss of control. Can you do this? Lose control and let wild mind take over? It’s the best way to write. To live, too.” 

Natalie Goldberg asks that of us in her book about living the writer’s life.

I remember times when I have written in this manner, times when I have lived this way.

I was maybe nine. I don’t remember where we were vacationing, somewhere in the mountains, but I had begged my parents to let me go horseback riding. The next day we were at the stables where they offered guided group trail rides. Despite riding horses whenever we went up to my grandparents’ ranch, I barely knew how to ride. The horses at the ranch were tame, old, you could ride them bareback and be just fine. I climbed the fence to get on top of my horse, and as I got settled into the saddle I noticed I was by far the youngest person in the group.

The first half of the ride was mellow, I grew to like the other people in the group, even though I hadn’t said a word to anyone beside my horse, I just observed and felt calm around them. I kept running my hand along my horses mane, telling him how good of a boy he was being. Eventually the guide stopped before a big, open section of trail. Okay everyone, she said. I still remember the thick braid that ran down her spine. We’re going to work up to a full gallop right here. Is that okay with everyone?

I remember that the only reason I felt comfortable going on that trail ride without my parents was because it was described as a Beginner Trail Ride, without any galloping, maybe just a light canter. I asked again when I got there, we aren’t going to go too fast, right?

I raised my hand. I was somewhere near the back. I’m not okay with galloping, I said. The voice came out louder than I thought it would have.

Okay, the guide said. No problem. It’s such a nice day that we might as well take our time anyway. She turned her horse around and the group continued its mellow march.

God, I loved myself in that moment. I didn’t care what the other people in the group thought of me, I didn’t wait for anyone else to raise their hand first, I didn’t talk a bunch of shit to myself afterwards. I didn’t even really think about it too much.

Seventh grade. The paper had turned soft and dimpled where it was pressed between my clammy fingertips. A throat that kept swallowing, a free falling stomach. We all were assigned to write a creative story, fictional, and it was my turn to read what I had written. I don’t remember the story exactly, but it was something about how a family of foxes survived a harsh winter. I got through most of it without passing out, and then read a section about how the foxes lived on forever because they had more babies, and their babies had babies and so on. To some of the boys in my class, the fact that I had written about babies, or having babies, was absolutely hilarious. They started to laugh. The teacher quieted them down but my voice got quieter and quieter as I finished reading my story. I wanted to go home sick for the rest of the day. How could I have written that, I thought to myself.

And as we get older, doesn’t it just get worse? Doesn’t it get so bad that we stop writing stories about baby-making foxes all together?

There are so many things in our world that try to bridle our wild mind, that tell us it’s ridiculous, not good enough, in need of healing, broken, weird, scary, lame, obnoxious, shy, too this, too that. So we try to shut if off. But what we do not understand is that our wild mind does not have an on/off switch, it is always on, and if we deny it air it will claw and fight like hell to voice itself. If we deny it for too long, that’s when we get depressed or mean.

And all it really comes down to is an acceptance of what we are right now, in this moment, hell–it’s Thanksgiving so I’ll even go as far as to say that it’s about having gratitude for what we are right now. And then, we make decisions and move through this life rooted in this moment, with gratitude for it. Who cares if it’s all messed up? Who made up these rules about what it is to be acceptable? If whoever did make up those rules about the “norm” is reading this right now, with all due respect, I must say that your ideas are incredibly boring and lame.

We have no control over our wild minds. I have no control, and you have no control. Sorry for your loss.

And when I say wild mind, I do not mean our thinking, monkey minds, I mean deeper than that, the place that makes us raise our hand when asked if everyone is okay with galloping, the place where art comes from, the place that is being used when we dance in our living rooms and sing in our cars, the place that makes us quiet and observant when we feel quiet and observant, and loud and boisterous when we feel loud and boisterous. This place does not care about the judgement that we are bound to incur from all the other people who are leading with their thinking minds and not their wild minds. This place loves everyone, and it is perfectly okay with this moment right now, in fact it is grateful for this moment, however damaged your thinking mind has deemed it to be.

Happy Thanksgiving, thank you so much for reading.

just intuition

I am reminded of it at the most random times, sometimes multiple times a day and then not again for weeks. It’s like I’ll turn a corner and there is it, a smell or a sight or a sound that brings me right back to the heart of my late teens and early twenties.

When I was in the South.

I cherish those years so dearly, but they feel like a different lifetime. There are moments that remind me that I did indeed spend five years in Georgia and that it shaped me, or maybe brought things out of me that were already there–a love for writing and literature, a loathing for yoga that’s watered down or involves push-ups, long bike rides on flat roads that line cotton fields, bluegrass, the way my friends’ parents pronounce certain words, rock climbing, honest work, sandstone, kudzu and pine trees, Southern cooking, gnats, live music, being homesick.

It all feels like a past life, a different life.

It’s like when I went home from college for the first time, after just a few months of being away, how I looked at my street and my house and the small town I had spent 18 years in at that point, and it looked like something out of a dream. I knew it like the back of my hand but also forgot that I knew it. Or it’s like looking at an old picture of yourself, from when you were a child, how you can’t remember having the picture taken, or that particular day, but you know that shirt you used to always wear, how it had a hole in the sleeve from getting snagged on a fence, and you can’t remember being that small, that young, but you know so well what it was like to be you in that very moment.

I have a story to tell.

We had been in the same room all weekend. The one with the bright blue walls, second story, level with the spanish-moss draped oak trees. That room felt like a tree fort. Thunder kept sounding, the sky had turned deeper, with clouds that twisted into each other. And then, in one instant, the rain came. Steady and loud.

My brain was so full from the weekend of learning about yoga and philosophy and anatomy and spirit and myself that it felt bigger. The other women, my fellow yoga teacher training students, were lounging on yoga mats and bolsters, covered in blankets. All bare feet. Just ten more minutes, and we were free to go.

Don’t you want a ride home? It’s pouring out here! She had to yell over the rain.

Nah, I’ll be fine. I live two minutes away. 

You sure? You’re crazy!

I wanted to walk home in the rain, I was feeling all ethereal. The rain permeated my hair and felt cold as it reached my scalp, I was the only one on the streets. For some reason I felt like I was sneaking around, like I was somewhere forbidden. I tried to quiet my footsteps, my breath, even though every sound I made was masked by the rain and thunder.

I had just rounded the street corner when I saw them. I stopped walking and my body turned rigid. They did the same. It was a pack of wild dogs, about five of them. There was one bigger one, in front of the rest, the leader I supposed. The others were smaller, skinnier, looked more afraid of me. The leader did not seem afraid, but she was curious. I was both curious and afraid, I think she knew that. We locked eyes for a solid ten seconds, I’ve never been so still in my life. The rain came down around us in sheets, the wind was pushing it sideways. We were all soaking wet, drenched hair and little rivers running off our ears.

She was a big dog. Brown fur that was stained dark from the rain. Definitely a mutt, but without any lab or retriever, more pit bull and doberman. There was a sweetness to her eyes that all living things have, no matter how dangerous the rest of their body appears.

But it was quite clear that I wasn’t in charge anymore.

I remember how that felt, how I could feel all the energy draining from my head–my thinking, analyzing, fixing everything brain, and it traveled down, right to the heart of my gut. Lower even, to my legs, to my feet.

She held me right there for a few more moments. And then, without thought, her body relaxed and she trotted off. The other dogs followed her. None of them ever looked back at me.

The South is dark, it’s receptive, it’s quiet, it’s listening, it’s wild, it’s feminine. The Bay is loud, it’s bright, it fixes things, it’s thinking, it’s control, it’s masculine. In the South, people pray. In the Bay, people go to therapy, read psychology books, examine their relationships, fix everything, download happiness apps, and take pills.

Y’all can never pray too much, my yoga teacher told us.

More than happiness, give me grace. Give me the bravery to fully feel whatever emotion it is that I am experiencing, the wisdom to remember that it is all fleeting, the softness to let go of control. Give me the ability to move out of my head and into my heart, lower even, my belly, my feet. Give me an intuition far louder than my mind.

How I wish to be more like those wild dogs, especially the leader, how she stared at me and after a few moments she just knew, nah, this girl ain’t a threat. Ran off like it never happened. There were no words, no thinking, no asking the other dogs about it. She made a decision based on feeling, just intuition.

Give me that!

I hope all of you Bay Area folks are enjoying the rain. Stay warm and take care of yourself,

Georgie

early morning meditation, jetlag-induced

Sardinia gave me superpowers.

I’m fully equipped with Bullshit Detectors, Comfort Zone Alarms, Truth Goggles, and Love Potions.

Sardinia gave me allergies.

It made me allergic to anything but the truth. My body rejects bullshit like a foreign invader, my belly churns and my throat swells at first contact.

What I think I know is this: It’s 5am. I’ve been waking up in the very early hours since I arrived home because of jet lag (which, by the way, is a real thing…I used to think it was just something people would claim to have so they could spend the first days of their vacation laying on a beach and taking naps without feeling guilty…but now that I’m older, yeah, it’s definitely real) and the quiet and stillness of this time of day only reminds me of one thing:

The goats. I rarely saw them but whenever we went climbing, I could hear them. They had bells tied around their necks that sounded like wind chimes but deeper, more robust. The sound weaved through the flighty fall air and coated the Sardinian canyons in a soft hue, it twisted through the oak and olive trees like a morning fog. But it wouldn’t hang or hover like the fog, it was always moving, always either growing loud or waning dim.

It was a sound that made things quiet, a sound I could see.

It is a sound that’s like the time of day before the sun comes up. The moon, full as ever, is hanging above the horizon like a ripe pear. It’s about to fall behind the hills and out of sight, till next time. There is a haze with asymmetrical edges that creates a translucent layer over her face, and it reminds me of how I’ve been feeling for the past few years.

It’s not like it was anyone’s fault but my own. But god, I am so done apologizing. No, I know, we’re never done apologizing, but I’m just done with the guilt of it all. I’ll apologize if I hurt you, but I am not sorry for taking care of myself anymore. Sacrifice, so much sacrifice. That’s just what women do, what we have been told to do, it’s written in our bones–how to be a mother. But how long it has taken me to understand that I am not everyone’s mother, I have no children.

The moments in the past years that I have taken care of myself with that wild, unbridled love that only the mother in all of us knows about, yes, those are the times I cherish the most.

I remember driving back to Colorado from the Red River Gorge, I barely had any money. I was trying to make it last all summer. I hadn’t eaten much in the past day or two besides a stale bagel with peanut butter. Kansas put me into a hypnosis that had me kind of scared, like maybe I would just feel that way forever. Adeline, 12 miles. I have to stop, I told myself. I have to pee and god does this girl need to eat. I pulled off the highway and my eyes had to adjust to the sight of buildings and turns in the road. It had been so long. DELI, the sign said. I parked my van right out front. I walked in to realize that the deli was an antique store as well as a deli, it was a maze of old things, so much energy in there. I remember the hat rack the most, heavy with velvet and tweed. I found my way to the counter and looked at the menu of just two or three sandwiches and a soup of the day. Chicken Salad, $10.99. How could I? Eleven whole dollars for a sandwich? Why, that would pay for two meals if I could just find a grocery store. I need this though, I thought to myself. Get the chicken salad, the old woman told me. Her eyes crinkled at their sides and she wore heavy makeup and perfume that filled the entire store. I just made it myself! She raised her eyebrows. It was the best damn chicken salad sandwich I’ve ever had.

The eastern sky is brighter now, mostly a soft red. Trees are still silhouettes, but soon it will be daylight. The west is dark. This time of year is west, fall is the sunset. I love how things in nature, like sunsets and leaves, turn the most brilliant colors in their last breaths. What a show. Green to yellow to red to brown. And then, gone. Until next time.

It reminds me of comfort zones and how nature doesn’t mess with anything like that, anything that isn’t true. I didn’t used to be this way. I still remember a time, when going off to college in Georgia or packing my van for a summer alone on the road was a perfectly unscary thing for me. I wish I could say that I was scared, because then maybe you would believe me more, but I wasn’t. Now, even getting a job at a coffee shop seems like an absolute nightmare, no way, no sir, not for me. I’m a climber. I’m this, not that. But I can feel that starting to fade, because Sardinia gave me superpowers.

Or maybe superpowers is the wrong way to describe it, but I definitely drank a truth serum. There’s something in the water, or more likely, the wine. This blog has been such a comfort zone for me. This post is an attempt to break through that, this post is about creating for the sake of creating and it’s about the love of creating, of writing. Yesterday I read a snippet of Lena Dunham’s new book, and most of it annoyed me but what I came away with was this very valuable question–are you creating for the sake of creating, or creating as a means to be seen?

It’s pink now. But it’s a deep pink, not like the pinks of springtime. The climbing life has been a comfort zone for me. My mom’s house, comfort zone. Relationships, sometimes they’ve been a comfort zone. Working at the climbing gym, definitely a comfort zone. It’s no doubt that I love the climbing life, I love living at my mom’s house (I really do, Mama), I love the relationships I’ve had, however messy, and I haven’t loved every moment of working at the gym, but most days it was pretty fun. But there is something about those aspects of my life that I cling to like I’d just die without them, and they hold me back in a million ways. Actually, they aren’t just aspects of my life, they are my life in it’s entirety.

I really don’t know what I want to do. I know what I need–to treat my body better. I always thought it was just soooooo Bay Area of me to care about diet and food the way I did, deep down. I always told myself to toughen up, I don’t need all that bougie pop culture hippie health food stuff. The dirtbag in me, which can live off tortillas and honey and suffer long days in the mountains, has been ruling, has been Queen. Time to soften, time to take great care. My hormones, my liver, my everything needs it.

I actually lied when I said I don’t know what to do. I want to do a million things. I want to travel, climb, read, write, dance–you know, all the things printed on a lululemon bag. I want to make films about women in adventure sports, I want to teach yoga again, I want to move out, I want to be able to pay for health insurance. More than anything, I want to write a book. One that’s true and unapologetic. Actually, even more than wanting to writing a book (which is a whole lot), I want to get back to myself.

The sun is up now, and it’s even bright in the West.