A Second Eulogy for my Father, Happy Birthday Dad

October 29, 2019By Focal NomadBLOG, Posts

As usual, my father did it again. Today I had been debating whether to go to an EFT Tapping workshop (“Tapping into Financial Flow”), a Halloween party at Cloak & Dagger (this goth-like members-only dance club I am apart of), or just stay home and try to catch up on some coursework. My impulse had been to go to this party, even though I knew I was way behind in my coursework. …this will make more sense in a bit.

I’ve been feeling very emotional lately, which in my book is a good thing, at least right now. Ever since my father’s death, I’ve been having a difficult time letting my emotions out; yet for the past week the tears have been coming. Maybe it was that I finally started to get some closure on a recent heartache I had, maybe it’s that my apartment is back together and I’m feeling the physical space to be safe enough to cry, or maybe, it’s my father speaking to me again.

Last night, I did a New Moon in Scorpio ritual, and to prepare for that ritual I did a guided meditation where I imagined an angel cutting the chords to all of my attachments that no longer served me. Sitting right behind this angel, I saw my father. Last winter we had had a fight where he told me “you’ve gotta stop doing that video stuff!” It was the first time in my life I ever felt my father not supporting my passions, and the first time I ever felt like he was scared for my future and didn’t understand what I was doing. Yet for the past week I’ve been highly motivated to apply for all media-oriented jobs. As archangel Michael severed the chords of the negative attachments to unhealthy attractions, friendships, behaviors and habits, I saw my father smiling at me. He then said to me “I was wrong. I’m so grateful I get to watch you do this. I’m so happy that I’m not in charge of your fate.” My dad had always talked about how he talked to my grandmother after she was gone, and I felt like I was starting to understand now what that was. The tears started pouring out. It was the first time I had felt this connected to my dad since Burning Man.

Me filming “The Family Tree” documentary; the film about my father’s pursuit of his dream.

I had to numb myself to my grief in order to get through everything that went along with the funeral: creating and executing (and fixing) the tech of the slideshow, learning and singing Danny Boy, writing and reading my eulogy, and mostly, talking to roughly 150 people during calling hours (not to mention the 24/7 influx of neighbors and family friends coming in and out of the house), most of whom were strangers to me; but all who had emotions and memories about losing my father. As someone who is highly sensitive, this was a lot to take. I was not only having to grapple with my own grief, but was feeling everyone else’s grief around me, pretty much non-stop. It was either stay open, and not be able to perform my duties as a daughter for the funeral, or close up, and hold it all in so I could do what I needed to do, until it felt safe enough to let it all out.

Me practicing “Danny Boy,” which I sang at my father’s funeral.

It was for these reasons, that I chose to read the eulogy that I had read, which is in the previous post. What most people don’t know, is that one was actually the second version I wrote, and that this first version felt much more personal to me. When I got to the church on the day of my dad’s funeral, I was still undecided on which to read, and even undecided after it took me an hour to fix the screens showing the slideshow. After another hour of calling hours, I retreated to the pastor’s office, to get his opinion. He said, “Now, they’re both very good; but I would ask yourself, with the first one, with everything going on, do you want to show this much of yourself?” I had realized that the answer was no. This funeral wasn’t about me, it was about my father’s community and everyone else who shared a part of his life, and it was my job as his daughter to help facilitate an experience where we could all share memories together. I knew that this first eulogy would be for the blog. And so, here it is:

A headshot I took of my father last January, for his LinkedIn profile, because he never wanted to stop working.

“Hi everyone. As many of you know I’m Amanda, Terry’s daughter. Or as he might have called me, “Cakes,” or “his favorite youngest daughter.” While I have been living in California for most of the last decade, I did take three years to come home to shoot a documentary about my father and his pursuit of his dream of having a barn and Christmas tree farm. So I wasn’t just his daughter, I was also his film’s director. What no one will tell you when filming a documentary about your dad is how close it will bring you two as you start to see the version of your father that is the man inside his own story, and not just in relation to who he is as the man who raised you to become a strong, independent woman .

A photo of my dad talking about the changes he’s made to the woods, which first inspired “The Family Tree” documentary.

Within being taught that independence and strength, I was also taught authenticity, so I’m going to get a little weird on you. For most of you here today, you don’t know me, or you still think of me as the little girl who was pursuing Broadway dreams. Well hi, I’m 32 years-old, and have become a bona fide working photographer and hippie. Therefore this next bit I’m sorry but I need to talk about my recent experience of going to Burning Man, which is the reason we’re here on this date and not two weeks ago closer to when he passed.

A photo of me at Burning Man in 2016, shooting a wedding documentary.

See when my father was in hospice, I was trying to figure out whether I would be attending this massive, like 75,000 people massive, social experiment; building a temporary city in the middle of nowhere in Nevada, where I was instrumental in building what we “burners” call a theme camp. This is a group of people that put together an experience that is a gift to everyone who attends and participates in the event. Our camp was called Resolution, and our gift was to host New Years’ parties where we would help people come up with their New Year’s resolutions through counseling with helpful wheels they could spin, an open mimosa bar, a ceremonial ball drop complete with a massive mechanical ball and custom-made cups we were gifting with a decoration station. I had been planning this thing since April and was a lead of the camp and felt conflicted about leaving – but knew my father would want me to go.

At Burning Man they have a Temple where you can leave something behind in or write on its walls to memorialize a loved one. The city is as much about celebrating life as it is about understanding the impermanence of it all. The wooden man structure at the center, the Temple, and much of the art, are all burned down at the end of the week. So I took a wooden flying pig with me to be burned at the Temple in remembrance of my father. As you know my father loved flying pigs, and would keep them around the house to remind us that anything is possible, because pigs really do fly.

When I got to the Temple, I thought I would start writing this, the eulogy, what I’m reading now standing in front of you today. What I got instead while writing, was a lot of rambling, and a thought that maybe he would come back as a flying pig. I tried to talk to my dad; I tried to get some of his wisdom passing through me, but I got nothing. Just a conversation with myself – trying to understand the meaning in all of this. So instead, I felt the best way I could honor him would be to ask myself in every moment “what would my dad do?”

The wooden bench in the Temple I wrote to my father on.

Maybe it doesn’t surprise you that that resulted in a lot of champagne and whiskey, dancing, supporting someone I had feelings for, and making every moment about giving back to those around me. I found myself keeping some folks on track for our build when they just didn’t want to finish the work. I found myself saying yes to every shot of whiskey offered to me. I found myself expressing most passionately, and even telling stories spontaneously during my timeslot on the city’s center camp stage, as opposed to sticking with my plan of just reading my poetry. I found myself staying up through an event I didn’t even have a volunteer shift for, to support the person I stayed up all night dancing with. I found myself caring so much about fostering that community and giving people insight as to the life changes they could be making through my resolution counseling and tarot readings. I even found myself making a confidant, boisterous remark to someone who hurt me several years ago who didn’t recognize me at all when we ran into each other.

I was celebrating! I wasn’t sad, but I also was sad, and a bit numb. At the end of the week I went to go see my friend Daniel, who refers to himself as my “spiritual big brother.” He asked if I had any quartz on me, which I did have on a necklace. He then waved his hand and said “there, I put your father in your necklace.” I was perplexed; he saw the confused look on my face and said that my father was there with us, and had been with me all week. His wife got a shiver up her spine and said the same thing; they could feel his presence with us right as we were standing there. I told them I couldn’t feel much of anything at all. Daniel simply said, “just wait, you will.” Reflecting later that day, tossing my necklace over in my hands, I looked at my actions and my behavior within this years’ burn; and then I realized I had become my father in so many ways. Dad and his love of community, clinking glasses, making sure everyone is taken care of, and holding others to a certain level of accountability. I mean for goodness sake; I was throwing epic New Years’ parties all week just as he did every single year ever since I was a kid! How did I not see this before?

It made me realize, that we can either keep being upset at who we lost, and keep wondering why now, how did this happen, who am I without my father, husband or best friend? Or we can remember that my dad touched us all so deeply, and lived so fully, that if we allow ourselves, we can all be a little bit more like my dad, and in that way, he’s never really gone. Now, I know we’ll all miss his gregarious laughs, Santa-like twinkle in his eyes, and the way he would get super excited about his next project and just have to show it to you. We will never be able to replace him, and I sure do miss him more than I’ll ever really feel comfortable showing. But my father always said, “life is for the living” and that’s what we have to keep on doing. Thank you.”

My father at my cousin’s wedding, ever the life of the party.

Since then, my quartz necklace has gone “missing.” I put that in quotation marks because there’s a spiritual belief that crystals don’t ever get lost, they simply have given you all that you needed and find new homes to those that need them more. After the funeral, I felt the weight of that crystal lighten. It was at the NYC Burning Man Decompression, that the crystal found a new home. It was here that I was gifting tarot readings again, telling stories on stage again, and focusing deeply on my community. If what they say about crystals is true, then maybe it’s because I had come to a place where I didn’t need my father’s spirit to be with me, for me to live in celebration of him. I had grown up, and he had moved on. So with all this being said, I’ve chosen tonight to go clink some glasses in celebration of my father’s life. As much as my father loved to work, he loved most when he got to work with his friends, and celebrate with them after. In this spirit, cheers to you, dad! I miss you, and always will. Happy Birthday.

A Eulogy for my Father

October 23, 2019By Focal NomadBLOG, Posts

Hi everyone. As many of you know I’m Amanda, Terry’s daughter. Or as he might have called me, “Cakes,” or “his favorite youngest daughter.” While I have been living in California for most of the last decade, I did take three years to come home to shoot a documentary about my father and his pursuit of his dream of having a barn and Christmas tree farm. So I wasn’t just his daughter, I was also his film’s director. What no one will tell you, when filming a documentary about your dad, is how close it will bring you two as you start to see the version of your father that is the man inside his own story, and not just in relation to who he is as the man who raised you to become a strong, independent woman.

As many of you know this event was not at all expected. My father had so much more he wanted to do, and had so many gifts left to give. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? We could all be really angry right now – but I just miss him. It’s clear we all have as the house hasn’t been silent since we came home from hospice; and as much as I’ve been admittedly frustrated that you’ve all been taking my mother away from me with all that ruckus – that is the life my father created, one of friendship and community. And if I were in Los Angeles that is the kind of support I would be getting too, because I was raised to believe that family has hardly anything to do with blood. It is all of us, sitting here right now, in common ground that we all have this man that we lost, and how he’s affected our lives, and in many cases truly profound ways. 

I remember when I was probably seven or eight years old, my father had this pink neon sign in the basement that read “Passion” on it. I asked him what it had meant, and to be honest, I don’t remember much about what he said, it was more how he emoted it. I remember him waving his arms, and expressing with reverence about its meaning. Since, that word has driven me to pursue the things in my life that light me up just the way that word did for him. You saw it in everything that he did! When I was about 12 I remember a crane coming down into our backyard to move a giant boulder to build the first iteration of our pond. That first round was gorgeous, right? We were all so proud of how the water moved gracefully down that long stream. But for my dad? Nope, had to be bigger. In fact, every year, it seemed as though the pond was never big enough. And having named the rock sitting on the pond after my mother, well of course it had to be grandiose. Adding larger koi fish, putting in two water falls, and little fountains in the middle. When that was finished, he had to build a greenhouse, out of wine bottles, against the shed; for my mother of course, for her! After that? Well, we all know what came next; the barn. The barn was to service my father’s dream of having his own Christmas tree farm, yes, but it was about more than that – as everything my father did was. Nothing was ever just about the pond, or the shed, or the barn, or the farm. It was about creating an opportunity to connect over projects, to show my mother his love for her, to be outside and get your hands dirty, to stay active and to build friendships. The barn, was to foster MORE of that – and have a roof over his head while doing all those things. Why do you think he kept a fridge stocked with various kinds of beer in it anyways if it was just about the equipment?

It’s just like that saying he always tried to instill upon me: “If it is to be, it is up to me. If it is up to me, it WILL be.”

And yet, one part I can’t seem to get out of my head while filming The Family Tree, is when he’s talking about convergence, and how the barn represented convergence to him. He soon after says “I just want, at 218 days away from my 65th birthday to figure out what it all means after all these years.” Although I think that’s a pretty normal question to ask yourself, it shows us that my dad was always in pursuit of something, even if he didn’t fully understand why. It’s something I saw drive my father to grow emotionally and spiritually even long after most people settle on who they decide they are. Perhaps my fathers dissatisfaction with the current status quo is what kept that growth going. And, you know my dad wasn’t perfect. Sometimes his drive to have what he wanted manifested as stubbornness. He would get so set in his beliefs about things that there sometimes would be no convincing him otherwise – and would sometimes say he would do things just to spite people who tried to stand in his way.

He also never wanted to stop working. Growing up, on a near-daily basis, he’d walk in with blood on his hand, or leg or face… and we’d ask horrified if he was okay and he would just casually “oh this? Yeah I cut myself while working” and leave it at that. In the hospital, he would be moving his arms as if he was organizing his shelves when he was asleep, and was constantly trying to get out of bed, and sometimes he did manage to turn over just enough to have to be lifted back onto his bed. You know at first I was optimistic, I was thinking, finally! He might get comfortable with sitting down! He’ll be forced to use his right brain and he’s left-handed so you know, maybe he’ll take up creative writing! Because you know my father always had a way with writing words, and telling stories. 

Now I think he was still contemplating that “meaning of life” question following his heart surgery, as he was still making changes in his life. He had new ideas with what he wanted to do with the Christmas trees. He originally wanted to sell them to whole-salers, but after the heart surgery, he wanted to donate the trees to veterens and those who couldn’t afford to have their own. He was going to come out and see what my life is like in California, and see his granddaughter more in Sydney… Yet it seems to me that the meaning he was seeking was all around him. The meaning of life perhaps is just the word itself. To live.

Now, I know we’ll all miss his gregarious laughs, Santa-like twinkle in his eyes, and the way he would get super excited about his next project and just have to show it to you. We will never be able to replace him, and I sure do miss him more than I’ll ever really feel comfortable showing. But my father always said “life is for the living” and that’s what we have to keep on doing. I want to thank you all for coming, and just close with we can either keep being upset at who we lost, and keep wondering why now, how did this happen, who am I without my father, husband or best friend? Or we can remember that my dad touched us all so deeply, and lived so fully, that if we allow ourselves, we can all be a little bit more like my dad, and in that way, he’s never really gone. Thank you.

The Story of my Cat Gwen

April 23, 2019By Focal NomadBLOG, Posts

When I was 20 I was entering into a major transition in my life: I was moving into my first apartment and going to be living alone. This also coincided with me deciding to go against my doctor’s orders and stop taking Zoloft. He told me that because I had recurrent depression it would come back; and I said that I knew this but I trusted in myself enough to know how to handle it. I hated how I felt bipolar if I missed one day of meds, hated the numbness I felt from it when it was “working” and hated the stigma I felt because I was on it.

Still… this was not a small deal. On top of this I was about to enter into my sophomore year of college where we would be studying Meisner. Which, for anyone who knows anything about acting training, you cannot be numb and be taking Meisner. It’s a technique that requires you to be vulnerable; where you are discovering more about yourself than you ever will in your entire life. After experiencing what it was like to live alone with depression while subletting for a summer and with Meisner about to start, I didn’t know how I was going to do it.

I then heard about the Dollar Adoption Days held by PAWS (Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society). For one dollar you could adopt a cat, have them fixed and get their shots, plus if you got one cat, you could get a second for free. I always knew I wanted two cats so they could keep each other company while I was in class. So in August of 2007 I headed to the west side of Philly to find my new cats. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, except I knew I wanted a cat who was cuddly. When I saw Gwen it was love at first sight. Gwen immediately rubbed his nose against my fingers as they poked through the cage and rubbed his body against the door to satisfy his need for affection. Then I found a 6-month old tuxedo cat who seemed to be the yang to Gwen’s Yin as he couldn’t care less whether you pet him or not but was still very friendly. So by the end of that day and a long bus ride home with my new kitties in a crate, I had now adopted my cats for $1.

The name “Gwen” came with the cat as given to him by his previous owners. Being that he was all ready three years old I didn’t want to change it at this point and confuse him. I assumed Gwen was a girl because of the name. Six months later, I took him to the vet for a follow-up to find that she was in fact a he. After a bit of name research I found that Gwen is a somewhat common guys name in Ireland, and with my last name being McHugh, I decided to give him the very Irish middle name of Gavin – making his full name Gwen Gavin McHugh.

Over the first year of having Gwen and Midnight as my cats I witnessed America’s Funniest Home Video level events lead by these cats. Gwen was a polydactyl cat, aka, a “Hemingway” cat. This means that he had more than the normal amount of toes: six toes on each front foot and seven toes on each back foot. They believed that all cats who had this many toes were descendants of Ernest Hemingway because he had so many cats that this was a mutation as a result of inbreeding. I was delighted by this because I got really into the Les Amis de Paris and thought Hemingway was a sassy, sassy man. The toes also lead to some Gwen shenanigans.


Gwen was a fat kitty and loved to eat. So I had to keep his food away from where he could get to it. If it was on top of the cupboards he would climb up there just to knock the bag over and get to it. So I put a plastic crate over the bag, and placed this crate underneath a shelving unit. Gwen used his mighty paws to reach through a hole in the crate, poke a hole in the bag, scoop up the food, pull the food out HOLDING IT IN HIS PAW, and eat it out of his paw, like a damn human being.


He could also see dead people, I kid you not. It was no secret that the Adelphia House, which used to be the Adelphia Hotel in the 20s, was (and I’m sure still is) straight-up haunted as fuck. Strange things were constantly happening in my apartment – and Gwen’s eyes would dart to random spots on the wall, were he would stare intently; and when I took a shower, he’d stand guard outside of it, even though water wasn’t exactly his thing. Both Midnight and Gwen protected me at night. Midnight would sleep at my head, and Gwen at my feet.

My cats followed me to my next two apartments in Philadelphia for the next two years, until they couldn’t follow me anymore. I had been accepted into the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center where there was a strict no pets policy. I was grateful that my parents were able to take them in, and the plan was always to take them back when I had settled into a pet-friendly apartment again. Afterwards, I moved to a sublet while I was doing a directing internship at an experimental theater company in Philly at another sublet and couldn’t take them with me again. Soon after that I moved to NYC where I was living a month or two at a time bouncing around place-to-place.

After five months of doing this, and a year and a half away from my cats, I was moving to Los Angeles. I wanted to take my cats with me but I learned something about Gwen that made it impossible. The vet told us that Gwen gets anxiety from change, and when that would happen his intestines would flare up. Even moving the furniture around could cause this. I learned this while he was still living with me and was recommended to rub fish oil on his food for a few months to help with the swelling. As a then-strict vegan, I did this, because I loved him.

I loved him so much that when the harsh reality of how me moving across the country could potentially have adverse affects on his health, I asked my parents if they would take him and Midnight in for me permanently, since I didn’t want to separate them. Gwen had more space to wander and play and would have stability. Every time I came home to visit it was like he remembered me. He would come into my room and cuddle with me, he’d want attention while I was doing yoga, and he was just always there – and there for my parents, and for Midnight, too. He just loved everyone.

When I found out Gwen died the night I was driving back from Palm Springs, I immediately started crying. The last time I was home I realized Gwen was getting older and it was possible it could be the last time I ever saw him, and I hate that I was right. I’ve always missed out on my chance to say goodbye to the ones I’ve loved who have passed on. Gwen loved people, and I hate that he was alone when he died. I hate that I couldn’t have been there to bury him myself. Gwen was more than just a pet to me, he was a friend who loved me and comforted me and helped get me through one of the toughest transitions of my life. He helped me grow up.

New York Diaries: Christmas at Home

December 30, 2018By Focal NomadBLOG

Christmas Eve. This was an intense day to travel. I got stopped 4 times between checking my bag and the gate because of my hard drives and camera equipment and every time had to pack and repack to that sections’ supervisors liking.

I got to my connecting flight in Charlotte, wondering if I would see someone there. He was supposed to be on this trip with me, but things had changed since those flights were booked. Despite all logic telling me that he hadn’t shown up before, why would he suddenly show up now, I was hoping he would surprise me. I was hoping for some kind of Christmas miracle. But my expectations were accurate to be low, because I got on that plane alone.

My mother greeted me in Buffalo at the bag check with a blinking lights necklace she put around my neck, as if I was in the Hawaii of the northeast. After my bags were loaded they surprised me with a gathering at my aunts house not too far from the airport.

My cousin Rachel was there with her son whom I hadn’t met yet. She was 5 days older than me. We grew up together making sea shell pacts and chasing trains on the tracks saying we would always be connected. I remembered this as my uncle dressed as Santa came out to surprise the kids. As the only first cousin left unmarried and without kids, I asked her what it was like to be a mother, and she said sometimes it’s hard, but she couldn’t imagine him not being in her life.

Shortly after getting home to Syracuse, and after church, I got a text I wasn’t sure I would ever receive. I set it aside, and asked my father to continue our tradition of reading The Night Before Christmas. I thought about my sister and the bun in her oven, and thought about how my dad is going to make such an epic grandfather. I imagined a child resting in the nest of my knees as they listened attentively to his story-telling. I imagined that the person who was missing might think this was weird. Maybe he wouldn’t get it.

The next morning we toasted to my first Christmas at home in years. It was good to be home for the holidays. I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. Maybe it’s because we couldn’t get Dan Duggan to play on the stereo. Maybe I just missed my sister in that moment. Maybe it was part of me. I don’t know that he was the part that was missing, but I was missing him.

My parents’ dog Dundee and my cats must have sensed this, because for most of the rest of my time in Syracuse they were snuggling me on the couch as I wrote, as I fixed my computer, as I organized my thoughts and plans; and as I cried. I was embarrassed to tell my mother as she tried to console me that I missed someone I knew I shouldn’t be missing. That I was sad over something ending I should be grateful to be free from. That against all my knowing better, my heart just couldn’t compute.

Sunrise at Woodlawn Cemetery

October 9, 2018By Focal NomadBLOG, SUNRISE SERIES

Written and shot on October 12th, 2017.

I chickened out two mornings ago making the excuse about cloud coverage. I was really afraid of the legends that this place was haunted. Would my camera be blown away? Would I see a dark shadow that I could not erase from memory?

My grandmother always used to say “don’t be afraid of the dead, be afraid of the living.” So I pushed forward through the dark and deserted roads, that, I wasn’t even sure if I was supposed to be driving on. The office light was on but it was closed. I parked, and took my bridesmaid’s bouquet with me in case I stumbled upon her.

“Lucile?” I called out.

I walked up the east side, grateful that the nimbus had lifted just enough to see some orange. The wind blew me towards her; I knew I was close. My memory of what it was, was that it was flat, barren. I felt like she might like to be buried next to where the sun would rise. I thought about how maybe we were both looking at it together.

I moved on. I found Batman on top of one, “Live a little” on another: both too young to wonder whether it was worth it. I thought I heard bells ringing. I wondered who was buried that was waking from their slumber. Wind chimes. “Isn’t that a bit misleading?” I thought. I always believed that I wanted to be buried, not embalmed, with a bell – because I’m stubborn as hell and will always try to get the last word in.

The leaves lost their crunch in last nights rain. One was floating and I only assumed by an invisible web. I took in the autumn serenity as my toes began to freeze. The office would be open soon – and I could find her. Distracted in my thoughts I wandered in zigzags. With every hundred persons deceased I passed I learned something: everyone here was a hero to someone. Their tombstone gifts said it all. A firefighter, a coach, a mother, a solder. Some marked many generations after their existence. I could live with that reputation.

Two visitors, separate of each other, told me to go back to the east side because there was a whole family of foxes. I didn’t see a one. I saw some squirrels, and then I remembered that face that called me one, and that he was a fox, my fox. I then remembered my grandmother’s words again and realized I wasn’t afraid of dying. I was afraid of dying with out ever knowing true, lasting love.

Inside the office, I learned where she was buried – it was right where the wind was taking me, yet when I saw it, was completely different from last time. Bushes were planted, a mausoleum nearby, and a tall marker for her and now her husband, Edward. Once I saw her name I collapsed. “I love you.” I said. Memories of my mentor flooding through but mostly just her voice saying sweetly “Amanda, my Amanda.” I was angry with myself for not calling sooner, for not keeping up, for having the intention to organize her files as a gift to her but not having actually done so.

Six months before she passed she said she’d like me to call her anytime. She’d like to be a mentor to me. I was heartbroken then, too. “Find someone who loves you just a little more than you love him or her,” she would tell me. I have yet to find that. Lucille was my coach, she taught me how to feel fully. She made me realize how special I was when all the kids would just call me weird. I wanted for some words of wisdom to pass through the wind – in lieu of words I got heartache. Heartache at the loss, the loneliness and wishing someone could just tell me what to do.

Through the characters she helped me portray, advice, words I wrote, the bullies she helped me have compassion for, a word came to mind: resiliency. Do it. Don’t over think it. Love fully, love until your heart bursts. Follow-through. Life is too short to not try, to not feel, to not give, to not love. As I was pulling away I heard it. “I’ll always be here for you.” So maybe with that, I have found true love.

Heartbreak, Bullies and Kundalini Yoga

February 2, 2018By Focal NomadBLOG

My mat after my Kundalini practice this morning.

Last April I was going through one of the most challenging times of my life. I had been dating this guy for a few months and it started out great: him bringing me coffee in the middle of the day just to say hi, Facetiming when we weren’t in the same city, romantic dinners and watching him play jazz… he even started bringing me to look at houses with him, because you know, like most great love stories that end in excruciating pain, we thought we had found our forever. Little did I know that all the while, lurking under the surface, he was wrestling with his past and I quickly became a projection screen for it.

I started catching him in lies, small ones then worse ones, the phone calls started to become less frequent, we stopped going on dates, stopped sleeping together – all the while every single promise he made to me he broke. What’s worse, he never had a good reason for it either. It was as though my time and my love had suddenly become a weed in his garden that he wanted to get rid of, but couldn’t sort out how. To be frank, it made me feel worthless. He made me feel worthless.

After it ended, I resolved to not let my learning slip away from me this time. Following breakups I had always been really good about getting myself back on my feet by taking great care of myself. Then a few months in I’d be tied up with some other shitty dude, or fling, or heartache, or so immersed in my work that the self-care would fall away. I would only stay in self-care long enough to feel normal again and last spring, I realized that what I had become accustomed to being normal, was less than I deserved. I promised myself I wouldn’t stop making myself a priority, and if others couldn’t make time for me, I couldn’t make time for them.

It’s now been ten months and the work continues as I’ve found my routine. For endorphins I run a 5k three times per week, for my nervous system and to help with my back pain I do at least 30 minutes of Kundalini yoga alternating my run days, and every single day, I meditate for at least 15 minutes. I try to set aside time once a month to do a new moon or full moon ceremony, I drink less and very rarely smoke, I take vitamins, have a handle on my digestion problems and migraines that I never had before and my voice is finally back after having lost it for over a year. The sunrise series (that started in the wake of this breakup) continues and I’m committed to my goals and dreams and don’t let anyone else dictate what they can be and mean. For as long as I could afford it I was in therapy working on attachment issues and was even going to support group meetings; and the work there still continues just on my own now.

Bit by bit I can feel the pain liberated out of my body; the pain that lead me to be with someone who couldn’t appreciate me for who I am and what I have to give. All year I have been asking myself, if we attract what we are, what have I not let go of that attracted him into my life? What do I continue to hold onto that has opened the door to a textbook narcissist, and generally emotionally unavailable men? I’ve been better about my boundaries, projecting exactly what I am looking for, focusing on and loving myself and letting go of those people and things that no longer serve me. As I shed all of this to rise to the fourth level of ascension, I couldn’t help but wonder why do I still feel the same? I’m taking the actions and doing the work but where are the revelations? Where are the breakthroughs? Am I numb? Did I do something wrong? Am I just going through the motions and faking it?

When you suffer from PTSD, your trauma lives in your body, and things that remind you of those moments or times are like pressing the down button on an elevator where try as hard as you might to press the “door open” button or the “up” button, it’s too late. You’re going down the elevator shaft to your past whether you like it or not. Though I don’t know anyone who likes it. So how does one navigate that fight-or-flight response once it’s activated? I’ve gotten to the point where I know it’s happening when it’s happening and I try to calm my body down with breathing exercises, meditation, holding myself and when all else fails, I smoke CBD or go to bed counting on impermanence that my heart will stop racing.

Kundalini works to regulate the nervous system and does so not just by working with the physical body but the metaphysical body as well. There are thousands of kriyas, which are Kundalini yoga sets, to target individual problems that relate to the rest of the body. I’ve seen it take down swelling from my lymph nodes when I was sick, I’ve seen it help my digestion regulate, I’ve seen it strengthen my back to balance out my sidewalk running, so why couldn’t it help with this down button? Turns out it can in a very effective way. A few months ago I tried a Kundalini kriya that is intended to take away anger and sadness. Growing up as an actor, one of the fundamental things I learned about human emotions and our ability to express them was that when confronting our vulnerability, first we release anger, then sadness. This is exactly how the kriya was constructed.

Guru Jagat encouraged us to let it out because “better out than in” – that it was our chance to let go of all of the resentment, the anger, the disappointment that would otherwise turn on us if we didn’t. At the time I was recovering from a brief relationship with a narcissist where I learned I had been gas lighted and cheated on with not one, but two women. I had a lot to get out. Then we moved into child’s pose and sang a chant that out of nowhere, with out warning, had me releasing buckets of tears. “Sing to the parts of you that needs liberating” Guru Jagat said, and here, in crying over the pain I endured from this terrible guy, I started to come to terms with the fact that I had weak boundaries with the men I was allowing in, and that my guilt was attracting those who were unfaithful and untrustworthy. I had been carrying around years of guilt as though it were a 50-pound weight for the few times in my twenties that I had knowingly become the other woman. I was punishing myself for hurting my sisters, for not honoring the pain I was a part of, for not living up to my integrity. I was giving myself what I felt I deserved for transgressions I halted and got myself out of, and later even attempted to reveal the truth to their partners. I made mistakes and had learned from them, but I never forgave myself. Suddenly through this kriya snot was pouring out of my nose and I realized, that I was trying to take control of Karma. I was trying to do it’s job by punishing myself and trying to get back at the narcissist by revealing who he was to those who weren’t ready to listen. Revenge was on my mind but all I was doing was perpetuating Karma against me. It wasn’t my responsibility; it was never my responsibility. All that was, was to learn, and forgive myself for making mistakes while learning.

Soon after that revelation and Kundalini practice I got very sick, for the first time in over a year. The practice is best done when you can do it every day for a week. Guru Jagat said, “You will not be the same person. You will live with out fear.” So I resolved to do it again after my health had recovered, but I kept making excuses. I think because I was afraid of what else I would uncover should I follow-through. After a month of traveling through Syracuse, NYC, LA, all over the Yucatan peninsula, on to Park City, Utah – following festivals and photo shoots, and everything that could go wrong going wrong, I was looking forward to coming home for a change. Home to LA, that is. I knew I needed to get back to meditating, not using swimming in the ocean or going on a bike ride as my exercise but just going on an old-fashioned run and processing everything I had been through on that spontaneous, unplanned, but somehow out of sheer will, still successful journey. So in the light of the blue blood moon, I decided it was time to try again, for the full week this time.

Yesterday was very simple: towards the end of the kriya I realized that I had become used to mediocre results. I was becoming okay with just getting by, and getting underpaid so long as I was paid and not living up to my full potential. I was comfortable with that, and that scared the crap out of me. Today, when I had to chant into those unliberated places I was chanting to the places that were content with mediocrity. What was I so afraid of if I let my light shine? What was the worst that could happen? “Imposter syndrome” is a common sickness in Hollywood: most of us, even those of us who have all ready found a stride of success, are scared shitless that we’ll be “found out” that we’re really just a fraud making this up as we go and that we actually have no clue what we are doing. I am no different than most Angelenos in this way. But where did it truly stem from for me? Why was I really so afraid of success?

Critics. The answer was critics. If I had finished my feature-documentary and it had gotten the festival exposure I always believed it had the potential to reach, what if it sucked? What if the people I want to like it, people who could define my career’s fate, people who’s taste I admire in the industry, people back home, people I grew up with… what if they hated it? Something hit me to my core there. I was afraid that my intelligence would be brought into question. I was afraid of being called crazy. I was afraid of being made fun of. I was afraid of being a little girl again and having kids make fun of me all over again.

Growing up, I never felt accepted. Comments I would get on a daily basis would be “you know your voice is really annoying, right?” and “God your hair is so obnoxious” and “what are you stupid or something?” I got the wind knocked out of me on the bus, a whole group of boys chased after me on the playground to take me down and kick me, my guinea pig died and this girl told me my mom probably sat on it, spit balls were thrown at my pencil when I would be the last one trying to finish a test because of what I later found out to be ADD. Throughout middle school I lead all of the neighborhood kids to play capture the flag and it was the only time in my life I felt accepted because I was always first pick because I always managed to find and bring back the flag. But during the school year, they pretended we were never friends those three months per year. Being friends with me was typically a bad look if you had any kind of status in my high school. I had long, thick, butt-length hair, I carried around all of my textbooks and never used my locker to save time, I used my lunch hours to work on my essays so I could go to a professional ballet school after we got out at 3pm. I was different. I had dreams, and those dreams were big, so I did things that didn’t line up with what the other kids had ever seen at Marcellus.

Even to the weirdo’s in high school, I was still an outsider; a group of upperclassmen in my chorus gave me the nickname “Moonbeam Starchild” to the point where I would walk into class and the whole room would chant “awe moonbeam!” At first I thought it was good attention, because it was attention at all. Until they started writing anonymous messages on my blog telling me that I would never be successful on Broadway because I didn’t have a great singing voice and my hair made me look crazy when I danced. I was told constantly to give up, that I wouldn’t make it and that I couldn’t do it. I sparked a fire when I spoke out against an upperclassman who was mean to my friend Megan backstage at the all school show, which that kind of ego, I claimed, is one of the reasons I didn’t get involved in the school shows. I knew I had been bullied my whole life, and I never really responded to my own. When kids would call my voice annoying I would say “oh, ha-ha yeah, I know” and I learned to have crushes on the boys who would beat me up. I never stood up to them and instead misdirected my anger at home, directed it into my dancing, and inverted the rest of it in my self-destructive behavior, as I became an adult.

I never stopped wanting to fit in. I went to art school thinking if I were around other dedicated weirdo’s, I would have to fit in. Even then, taking a semester off to recover from the effects of an abusive relationship made me an outsider. I looked to those who seemed to understand in bands and started booking concerts. I continued to make myself different from my peers while simultaneously looking for acceptance. Activism became just as important as art. I became sexually liberated meanwhile rumors being spread about me because apparently someone’s boyfriend found me attractive. I hated this. I hated that even where I should have been accepted, I still wasn’t. Things started to grow and shift for me and I never really found what I was looking for. So I moved to Los Angeles to find it and soon after fell into a group of hipsters who loved their businesses, their music, their parties and their gossip. Everyone looked like they belonged in a Killers music video and had “ins” on the hottest rooftop and Hollywood hills parties around. I had one serious boyfriend most of the time I was in that group, and when going through that breakup, a rumor was of course spread about me in relation to someone else from that group who was also going through a breakup.

Why was this continuing to happen? I hadn’t done anything. I was more than disappointed, I was pissed the fuck off. Why was I continuing to try to sit at the cool kids table when the cool kids always seemed threatened by me that they had to take me down one rumor at a time? So I threw it all away and started taking sideways glances at the really strange: Burning Man. I had read about it when I was 16 in a book called “The Lost Soul Companion” and knew some day I’d end up there. The burners I met in LA I never fell into but I identified with the weirdness. At the same time, I was giving up on acting and transitioning into documentary filmmaking and photography. I was moving away from things that didn’t make me feel good and lining myself up with my integrity and my long-term purpose, which was to make change. I knew I was put on this earth for a great purpose, something that could enact lasting change, else why would I have been in the gym of facing adversity just for being different since I was in elementary school?

Soon after moving to NYC, I found my family, my fellow weirdo’s who I would run into over and over again all over the world. I found the people who had the same outlook – to stay sensitive, to stay alive, to stay present and true to your own work. I could finally be myself and be accepted and in these pursuits and doing this kriya I realized that is all I have ever wanted, and was the number one thing that was holding me back. If I revealed who I truly am, to myself and to the world, all that I am capable of by finishing something and putting it out there, I would have to own up to that work as mine and put myself in a position of being criticized, of being made fun of, of being told that I can’t and that I shouldn’t. Fact of the matter is, everyone has been telling me “you have to,” “you can do this,” and faith that what I do is going to be great and I’m capable of everything.

I realized as the snot was pouring down onto my yoga mat, and I was letting out deep moans like an elephant giving birth, that I had allowed those kids to control my life. I had taken what they had said to me personally because somehow, in some ways, I still believed them. They planted a seed that I watered for years and years to come. The seed grew into patterns of self-destruction from the fear of being found out, of being invalidated, of being told no, of being told I can’t. I became my own worst bully and the person I realized I was disappointed in the most, was myself, for listening to and believing a bunch of kids who didn’t know anything.

Today is only day two of this seven-day process. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.

Sunrise over Oregon Eclipse Festival

October 5, 2017By Focal NomadBLOG, COVERAGE, SUNRISE SERIES

The music whistled above the soft bass as I watched the flies bounce above the lake perfectly in synch. The ducks had just taken their morning bath are now diving back in. I’m looking around me and all I can think about is how I wish I had risked my camera to the dust a lot sooner.

“Don’t loose your sense of wonder,” a voice said to me, here, a few nights ago.

Deep breath, try,
Writing something, by
Breath, lie about
Your job, your relationship
Status, your income…
I found myself
Puffing myself out like
A duck this weekend.
Who was I trying to
Impress, anyways?

There’s a lot of work to be done. If there’s anything this place has taught me: the craftsmanship, the music, the acting, the dedication to performance, to parenting, to yours and mines LSD trips… It took all of us to create this experience. It dawned on me here at dawn, that all I ever wanted is in the friends I tackle to the ground when I see them. The synchronicities and full circles shared from strangers turned friends. Festival magic is us.

I want to wake up to myself, get to my practice am grateful that I wasn’t distracted. It gets cold at night – but then the sun comes I’m grateful for my choices to stay awake. To say no to beautiful bodies that could risk my seeing a sunrise. The beautiful choice to spend all night in a tea lounge – learning about the subtleties of the varied leaves and the ritual of its steeping. Making “just-friends” with every addition to come to our table even when the candles were blown out. The choice to go back to a spot that I said I would and expand. The choice to be okay with the unknown ahead.

The choice to say fuck you to management and my job so they never kidnap me full time. The choice to be here, to not burn, to not know why I had to, and then the sky going dark and just knowing I had to – and why hasn’t my camera been out longer? What have I been resisting all this time?

She calls to me – Art
And I am hers, I choose these
Sunrises over any impassioned love
For this Earth is my home.
It’s only for that I should
take some time out of my
mornings to honor her majesty,
Her forgiveness
And her magic.

 

Sunrise from my Roof

July 8, 2017By Focal NomadBLOG, SUNRISE SERIES

Written on April 11th, 2017.

Is this really where it starts? Readiness is a choice. If we are our actions, I have to surrender to having lost control. If I am my actions, I am scared and looking for reasons not to recover. I am looking for every reason not to write, right now. We all want to believe that there is nothing wrong with us, and on a base, conceptual level that’s true. When faced with the things in our lives we wish were different, there’s really nowhere else to look but at ourselves. This morning, this is what I am faced with – standing on the edge of my roof looking for the sun that’s hiding behind the LA smog. I can be eco-conscious but I can’t single-handedly make the entire city’s smog go away. So I surrender. It’s amazing what will reveal itself, what will become clear, when you simply slow down, stop running, and let your eyes adjust.

In doing so, I have found the first half of my life to be covered with haze. I was made to believe that my childhood was fine. My brain only remembers the big gifts, my father and I making silly faces and my mother driving me everywhere. I had to stay busy. I had to stay on stage. I had to be going from dance classes, to singing classes to rehearsal and I remember, when a show would end I would feel this incredible ache. I would feel what I now realize to be grief. There I would be, a kid or a teenager, having to look at myself during the in-betweenness as I auditioned furiously to get myself back outside of myself. There was comfort in hopping out of my body and into anothers’. There was what felt like love when I would get on stage and I would hear that applause – and with that, they noticed me. I was accepted and special.

It’s amazing how a pattern started in childhood can continue and be transferred into our relationships in adulthood. Eyes focused, I now see how relationship after relationship has bonded around this pattern of seeking dramatic distractions outside myself to escape the question of myself. A lot has changed in the less-hazy last half of my life and at the same time, not much has. I left acting all together; I discovered myself to be a leader in booking punk shows, I co-founded a non-profit and moved behind the camera pursuing my passions of photography, writing and documentary filmmaking more aggressively. My needs now involved having friends, love, a successful career and to give meaning to my life. Leaving acting was a conscious decision to leave a behind a legacy and take control of my life and not allow my fate to be sealed by directors who were constantly thrusting me into victim roles.

Although the form of my relationships have morphed and changed, the patterns remained the same. Love became my stage – the theatrics of unhealthy attachments became my new distraction that prevented me from ever really attaining the needs in my life that had finally crystallized. An endless slew of unhealthy partners were planted on my path and I ran away from feeling emotions for anyone that was actually available to me. Who was I? I gave more of myself than I was ready to my first love who set the precedent of betrayal and abuse that after I became accustomed to in varying forms. The people changed, even the types of relationships changed. The pain inside vicious cycles of avoidance persisted. I was getting attention masked as love. I was getting false promises masked as truth. I was getting a lesson masked as what I thought could be forever. I got smarter seeing the red flags yelling at me to STOP but I kept running. I violated myself. I broke my own heart.

Sometimes it takes learning the same lesson over and over again before the sound of its teachings can’t be unheard no matter how far we run. Today I get my stuff back from the last lesson I’ll ever have to deal with, because readiness is a choice. It starts by saying goodbye, it starts by ending one thing to realize a new beginning. It starts by stopping. All I can do is surrender. All I can do is admit that I am powerless and remember that I am not alone.

 

Love Comes in the Derpiest Dogs

July 1, 2017By Focal NomadBLOG, COVERAGE

Since our friendship began last fall, my friend Tyler has been raging about Corgi Beach Day. “They’re just so derpy!” Tyler would say of the awkwardly adorable pups. Makes sense this made him so excited, since Tyler’s niche in photography is capturing derp faces at cosplay conventions. I’ll admit I’m more of a cat-person, but the idea of a bunch of stubby-legged, fox-like seemingly smiling dogs, like, hundreds of them, prancing along a Californian shore, was kind of an irresistible notion for me.

If you’ve been paying any attention to the content of my blog, you’d gather that I was going through a bit of a rough patch – an understatement. So Corgi Beach Day at Huntington Beach couldn’t have come at a better time.

We drove down at 8am, which to me was an incredible feat for a Saturday morning. How many people could there possibly be at this hour? Turns out, quite a few; over 1,000 Corgis alone attended, not to mention their owners and friends. We whipped out our cameras and set to capture these pooches as they engaged in water play, posing in doggy photo booths, and meeting their famous TV counterparts. Not to mention, the contests: costume contests (both tiki-themed and anything goes), a bacon-flavored-bubble eating contest, a limbo contest and a talent show.

The owners of these dogs were so dedicated to their attire and training that it almost seemed cultish. But – the kind of cult where, if I were to have a dog, I’d definitely want to join. Furthermore, these dogs just seemed fucking HAPPY. I envied them: sitting there in their cool goggle-shades, every human fawning on them like royalty, many of them with way more instagram followers than me, and just rolling with it.

Trying to understand happiness these days and where it comes from, I set out to understand these pups by asking the folks who would know best, their owners, what they thought their best friends were thinking in the Corgi Beach Day experience, and here’s what they said:

Winston the White Corgi (4 yrs)

“He’s probably thinking that everybody’s here to see him play fetch. Oh he loves an audience. He does – oh yeah. So even when we walk around on the street, like any other day, he just kinds of looks up at people thinking, oh they’re gonna come talk to me. He’s used to all the attention and he’s usually a good sport. He’s a big ham. We call him our little diva, he just loves an audience, so anytime anyone comes over he needs to find a ball to show off his fetching skills. So he probably thinks all of these people are here to throw his ball. I think he also thinks he’s probably the best one. He has a healthy amount of confidence. Winston was born in Ariozona, we found him through a breeder, it just so happened they had one male available, so that’s how we got him. But we didn’t get him knowing he was going to be white. He turned white. We thought he was going to be the red and white color that a lot of the corgis are and then over time he grew lighter and lighter and then people just started calling him ‘white corgi’ and it just stuck.”

Tina from New York City
IG: @winstonthewhitecorgi FB: Winston the White Corgi

Goji the Corgi (3 months)

“He’s just excited for the attention. He’s loving it. He’s loving it. He’s having the best time of his life. Then he’s gonna sleep really well in a couple of hours. This is his second time [to the beach]. He loves to play with dogs. That’s his thing he loves it. He’s got freckles and one blue eye.”
Ani from Hermosa Beach
IG: @gojithecorgi

Zooey the Corgi (4 yrs)

Savanna: He got her from the Hudson River Mall. She’s ecstatic right now I think. She loves all the attention. Everybody just comments on her, wants to see her. She carries a toy in her mouth all seconds of the day, she has to have her toys all the time. Her little piggy toy [is her favorite.]

Chuckie: She’s been going to the Corgi Beach day for three years now. She didn’t go to the parade. [Sherry] made the costume and then [Savanna] made the shirts.

Sherry: She’s spoiled-rotten and has over 115 stuffed animals.

Chuckie: She sleeps on the bed with us, and we built stairs for her to go up and then she just learned how to go up the stairs backwards and we put it up on her instagram.

Savanna, Chuckie and Sherry from Redlands
IG: @zooeythecorgi

Cona and River

“They are friends. We had Cona first and her other friend passed away. And actually we didn’t know if she would be able to get along with somebody because she’s very much an alpha female but they’ve assimilated very well. He has a very passive personality and so he defers to her. So she’s really accepted him and that was more than we could ask for. This is their first [Corgi Beach Day.] They’re thinking please do not leave us here. I think [they’re a little shy.] They’re like, this is fine, as long as we can keep you in eye contact at all times. We get a lot of attention. She’ll roll over, and he, because I think he’s still getting used to people, he’s a little bit more resistant. Her [signature move] is to roll over for a belly rub and his is when I go out and try to water the plants, he flies through the air and he tries to bite the water. I think that he was interested in [the ocean.]”
Lisa and Gary from Boulder City, NV

Waffles (3 yrs) and Biscuit (5 yrs)

“We flew them here and this is their first Corgi Beach Day and we are very excited to be here. They came from Virginia, we got Biscuit with an AKC breeder, and Biscuits sister is Waffles’ mother and the niece. So they’re sort of related. They come here to California quite frequently, that’s where we’re originally from, so they come here, but less than ten times at the beach, so this is just a different world to them I think and they’re just overwhelmed. I think they’re loving the attention, like I’ve never seen them smile so hard and so long. They do pose with a couple of other Corgi’s out in Virginia out in the DC area all the time. We do have a Corgi meetup for Washington DC called the March of Corgis. So we do that, they’re one of the five Corgis I found in that group there. Waffles is the drama queen she likes to start trouble with everybody. She likes to really show her dominance. She’s Miss sassy. She likes the attention to be for her. Biscuit is very, very passive, she’s just more, ‘I’m here,’ you know. Biscuit can do a ‘sit-pretty’ and she can also roll over. We learned that when she was a puppy by herself. It took maybe a week or so. Waffles loves food more than anything. You show her food she’ll do anything for you, pretty much. [Her favorite thing to do is] beg. My husband and I are both foodies and I’m a chef. So naturally, it was just the names and we love brunch, so… These [goggles] are Doggles; you can find them on Amazon. They’re UV-protective so it protects their eyes. Especially being out here in the sun.”
Mahm from Washington D.C.
IG: @biscuitandwafflesthecorgis

To see the entire album of insanely adorable photos from Corgi Beach Day go here!

Sunrise at Bridgewater

May 17, 2017By Focal NomadBLOG, SUNRISE SERIES

Attempting to write this on the train before I pass out.

Wish I didn’t feel the need to pass out at all. The colors of the sky right now are golden – or maybe that’s just window tint. My route is running along the Long Trail River coming from Rutland, Vermont and then a straight shot to Penn Station. Not having a Monday morning ride back to catch my flight turned out to be a blessing. The views down are breath-taking. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I know I’ll be back.

There’s a lot I’ve missed because I’ve been too exhausted from pain to stay awake for the good, or the medium, or the mundane. The mundane is worth keeping our eyes open for too. Though in those moments, when it’s not so high or so low, I just want to sleep. The energy it takes to hold all of these emotions, to face all of this darkness is more than I really have right now. Any downtime, to prevent from ruminating on the darkness, I check out. I check out to survive. I go to sleep at 8 or 9pm so I don’t hurt myself anymore. Something about waking up at dawn gives me a better sense of hope. The day is still coming. There’s still a chance to turn things around and make it a great day.

I’m raw. I’m like a snake poking its head out of its new skin and everything hurts right now. The sun is too hot, the water is too cold, the air is too brisk and my eyes are pink. Pink from opening them for the first time and seeing things as the really are. In their purest state, I see who I am. In this moment, I’m trying to keep my promise to myself to write at sunrise. I shot just before the sun crested over the mountains, but just after it crested over the horizon. My timing was off, but beauty was still created. Finding the magic in the moments that aren’t quite indigo and aren’t yet golden. The reflection of the rays on the cabin. The fire that was down to smoke and soft embers. The teepee that once held ashes from other exes letters.

Before I left the cabin, I sat and observed the candle that was still lit from the night before. Its flame was still burning strong. It burned though 60 bodies were moving around it. It burned inside a wooden cabin and the flame remained contained. This fire could have consumed the entire structure it flickered in, but it stayed controlled on its wick. Despite the times it could have been carelessly knocked over by eyes that couldn’t see their own legs, despite the blankets and pillows rustled nearby, despite the flowing robes waving around it, it remained on its wick. This little light had the power to destroy everything around it. It had ample opportunity, but it just shined.

This little light just shined.

There’s comfort in knowing, that not everything that can destroy you, will. I don’t need to be consumed by my thoughts or my emotions. I was blow-torched with lies and betrayal. The burns are fresh. They’re so fresh they feel sticky and wet. New skin is growing and some has all ready grown. My light was consumed by his destruction. But its not out, it’s just a tiny amber. I just need some air, some deep breaths, to bring it to a full flame again. Starting by writing, by meditation. By doing things that I don’t actually want to do but know will help heal me faster than just sleeping through everything waiting for new skin to grow.

I don’t actually like waking up for sunrise and shooting in 40 degree weather. None of this feels good or is fun. But it’s work. It’s working with the faith that one day because of all of this work, I won’t need to suffer anymore. I won’t need to be torchered anymore. One day I will look at this time of deep reflection, of waking up early, of reading the books and talking to my mentors and friends and making this growth a priority, of being alone for a while so I can get to know myself and learn to deal with the inner turmoil that I had been running away from and feel nothing but gratitude.
Hope is on my wick. The more I breathe, and choose to keep breathing, the brighter it will become.