Saturday, April 15, 2017

It's April And Junk

I haven't written in a while.  Travis' 1000 words per day is supporting most of our scripted household.  I am in awe of his determination and goals this year.  Creative minds have the power to impact our emotions and that's what makes it so sexy.  Another soul allowed you in to the most personal depths.

And here's a thought.  I'm listening to the all Neil Diamond special radio channel and he's signing about blue jeans.  But his metaphoric denim is actually about being with some bird, holed up next to a fire.  It all doesn't have to be brilliance, sometimes you just need a good romp.

~~~~~

Life has been busy, socially & worldly and the in-between.  Emotionally I've been up and down, but mostly up!  And when you've had both, it's scary to think how long you wore that former clothing: weighted and ill-fitting.  I guess that's it, depression and sadness feel like an oversized coat you always have on.  It doesn't fit right, you feel hot and uncomfortable.  On the positive though, this year has sparked a lot of optimistic plans - especially for Travis.  And it feels good knowing I've started the incline over the mountain and my toolkit is stronger for keeping it that way.

Happy Sunday!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Designed for Action: My Social And Personal Responsibility Plan

I haven't spoken to anyone that attended the Womens March who wasn't impacted by it in some way.  I sure as hell was.  It seemed to reinvigorate a collective by organizing, standing up and effectively working together to move a message forward.  For my lifetime, this is the first major movement I've been part of (or that we've long-term needed.) And I have never felt more empowered and driven and supported in taking on that great responsibility.

We are moving through a disparate time and we're all trying to understand how we progress together instead of disconnecting separately.  And no matter what you believe, yelling/screaming dilutes the message. So with the increase of people getting involved for injustices I wish we weren't still debating, I am hopeful! the uptick in awareness will result in a greater forum for discussion.

I could go on... and I also did something.

~~~~~

I created a Level 1 Action Plan for both social and personal goals this year!
  • My social actions address opportunities to improve navigation of this unique world
  • My personal actions achieve the commitment to grow connections and wellness
  • Actions by the Womens March will likely crossover, which is all the more reason I'll do my best to fulfill each one

There is significant change occurring everyday, so let's take accountability for the things we can transform.


It feels good and I look forward to this absolutely important & evolving process.
Please stand by for progress details, yo.

PS: I hope you appreciate idea pig as much as I do.






Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Marching Orders

Back in November, probably just after the 8th, I met my friend Amy at work so I could return her book on the history of olive oil.  Looking back, how poignant would it have been if the book was a history on suffraging, tampons or Pussy Riot.  But olive oil feeds my (v)egan soul, too. Trying to put the perplexity of the results on hold for a moment, we spent time catching up on happier conversation.  But inevitably our attention went to the sadness we felt and talking through ways to support each other during this election trauma.  She was the first person to ask whether I was going to the Womens March in January.  She didn't have details, but it sounded like the perfect thing to ease my current state - so I absolutely agreed.

I had no idea at the time the impact it would have on me and our world.

~~~~~


I marched alongside hundreds of thousands in solidarity of a message bigger than ourselves.
It was one of the most significant days in my life.


I am so proud to call Womans March LA my first organized demonstration.  What an important and incredible experience.  If you weren't there, let me just say the TV captured the crowd but could not come close to replicating the intense energy of the people.  I don't think the chills have left me...  There was something in the air when we arrived at Pershing Square, but I felt the magnitude while my posse waited patiently on Hill Street. We heard far in the distance an incoming wave of excitement and it arrived like a fierce crash.  Without prompt we all cheered, raising our fists & signs in unison.  It seemed to pass slower than it came, which was fine by me because I didn't want it to end.  This happened several more times and each one brought a deeper level of understanding for why I was there.  I realized we stood with an unknown pack, each marching for our own reasons but with the same common agenda.  Utterly Powerful.

The people were as varied as the conversations, a free flowing exchange of support and encouragement. The words of kindness & smart societal comments prevailed. There was a sense of community and change, it was peaceful and with purpose.  High fives were being traded like everyone needed a pocketful and it was beautiful.  Dude, it didn't matter whether you arrived by yourself, you were never alone. As I walked slowly down the route, I observed the numerous souls in all directions making their personal statement, just like I was.  That we as fellow humanoids could stand against the normalization of nonsense & hate and it would count!  The view changed as frequently as my eyes could blink and I thought, this is what it's about. This is togetherness. I told every person I spoke with that I appreciated their courage and don't let this be the end! Continue being a unified voice with me.


I marched For Myself.
I marched For My Rights.
I marched For My Beliefs.
I marched For My Reasons.
I marched For Women in my life who have empowered me more than they'll ever know.  {I promise to take better notes.}


~~~~~

"Nothing changes if nothing changes, and if I keep doing what I've always done,
I'll keep getting what I've always got and will keep feeling what I've always felt." 


I pledged weeks ago Saturday's March would not be a single day experience, but a commitment to do better for the things I care about. I get those calls to action now that President Obama, Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders rallied for.  I can't imagine how anyone participating wasn't impacted by at least one moment, interaction or story.  I witnessed it tenfold and that makes this all the more real & tangible

To keep the national momentum going, the organizers of the Womens March created a new campaign: 10 Actions, 100 Days.  It's just that, 10 totally doable, high valued activities we can each participate in for our political future. You wanna spice up in 2017 but not quite sure you're ready to pickle your way to the party?  That's cool, take 10 minutes over coffee, yo.  Write both Al Franken (because you know why) and your state Senator. Write local, contact a councilperson. Tell each of them what issues matter to you, that their help is appreciated (recognition is a key morale driver) and
you'd love to hear what doughnut shops they love!  It's about better connecting leadership with the movement.

And it doesn't stop there for me.  I'm keen on utilizing that model for assembling my own personal campaign.  Or as the kids say, I'm motivated AF.  It's easy to fall into the trap of life's too busy, so I did something about it - I permanently cancelled my very made up subscription to Next Week Monthly.  These will be the community and personal Actions I can organize for myself over the next year.  It'll be a mixed bag of solo shindigs and knocks on your door, friend.  It's about impacting those around me through charitable & social improvements.  Volunteerism, creative projects, wellness, picking up trash on the street, get a block hootenanny going, submitting a piece to an art show, getting more involved with my home owners group / maybe joining the board, and the Swing Left initiative.  It's ambitious, but I urge you to figure out a little plan for yourself.  I can spitball ideas for hours so call me if you wanna session together! Mine will evolve and grow and be better defined over time, but they're manageable.  And if enough of us manage the expectation, it's achievable.

How awesome would it be if we started saying, oh man... I've had too much good news today!


I will stay invested.
I will not let this motivation lapse.
I will no longer sit idly by and hope.
I will hold myself accountable to continue the movement.


WE ALL HAVE A SPHERE OF INFLUENCE, DON'T BE AFRAID TO USE IT.

~~~~~

Instead of a handheld sign, I went for a tshirt because I brought my camera to document this historical event. Lemme tell you tho - WOW, the creativity. I mean talk about a pussy riot.  But if I had made one that wasn't my shirt, I liked EMUFFS ENOUGH.  I was also keen on unicorns pooping a magical message.












Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Moonergy

Our interaction with the moon is like an emotional metaphor ~
- UP: You're looking towards the future, symbolizing your desires, goals, hope & personal strength
- AHEAD: Where we spend most of our time, focused on tackling the daily challenges of getting by
- DOWN: Our body & soul knows we break and this is the space before finding our way back

~~~~~

My mind is open lately and I've been interested in broadening my understanding of new ideals.  Human energies & interactions, mindfulness & non-religious philosophies, and even the power of (a few) crystals.  Not to say any one of those will/will not resonate, but I am a creature of curiosity and a good curiosity satisfies.  But rarely have I sought out a moon event that was considered of spiritual significance, I just usually stumble upon them.  Like blood moons and eclipsed moons, moons that are missing or ginormously neat.

My friend shared an article about the best way to absorb the Wolf Moon of January, which happened January 12.  After scanning the highlights I decided to have a go.  It was after 10pm when I slipped on my jacket & wrapped a blanket around my shoulders, enticing Leroy from his slumber where he too, slipped on his OUTSIDE! face.  I gathered what I'd just read and created my version of the procedure: sit with the moon, look/absorb its beauty & energy, speak the achievements & tone for the upcoming year, and identify opportunities to grow from the last.  I'd never done that before, but I guess you can't really do it wrongly.  So I wasn't expecting anything other than the joy of being present after stopping my brain for a few shakes.

I ticked the roster of things I wanted to discuss and had a conversation.  And while she never verbally responded, I felt her reply.  I stared at the giant, glowy mass, my eyes taking in the movement and magnitude of the moment, as if it was drumming a Brandi beat.  Or maybe it was just the blood pulsating through my eyeballs...  I noticed a small, wispy cloud pass in front of the moon in an otherwise chill sky.  It was hanging on just enough to overcome something important.

I could relate.

In between his writing breaks, I asked Travis to join me.  Maybe he would find his moment too.  Although I can't speak for him, we did spend time literally howling together.  It was rad and self-assuring and liberating.

Before going to bed, I set my tiny crystal outside to charge in the moons luminescence.  What the hell, right?  If it hadn't had been like freezy cold, it would have been awesome to yard camp.  I went to bed excited about my new experience, feeling optimistic & way more self-kind than I have in a while.

~~~~~

The next morning I woke up refreshed.  I got me & my new kicks ready for a lovely jog in the cool morning air.  my favorite.  As I headed towards the neighborhood track, I grabbed the tiny crystal, shrugging as I tucked it away in my stash pocket.  what the hell, right?

I had a very, very solid pace & distance.  I had a great day at work.  I still believed in what I declared that night.



just sayin'...

Sunday, January 1, 2017

My Friend Morton

"This is really delicious. I can't imagine how anyone has a better life."  Morton sat quietly in the shade of a large oak tree, savoring a crunchy snack as two bluebirds gossiped above his head.  He wasn't ready to swallow the joy he heard in their shallow speak, but he'll put it in his pocket for later.  The warm lemonade sun filled the sky around him, but not directly.  He didn't care much for that.  Morton swallowed the rest of his breakfast with a final crescendo, meticulously tidying his face as he searched for hidden morsels.  "I mean, seriously..." he simultaneously sighed & closed his eyes, resting on the wise bark.  The faintest of smirks began to creep along the side of his mouth.

Morton loved his home and was proud of how far he'd come.  Although modest in size, its collected wares displayed a thoughtful appreciation to his first true love.  The one who took him away from his other life.  His parents weren't usually there, as folks around those parts tended to never be.  Morton was a typical middle existence, confined to the demanding attention of all those sibling eyes begging for attention.  Responsibility didn't come easy, but he took it seriously.  Some days he would scour the back alleys behind the downtown bakeries, hoping there lay a feast around the crumbling bricks.  Some days his family didn't eat at all.  He often felt alone while tending to his younger kin, day dreaming about creating a life bigger than what could ever be found staying in the corners of the room.

"Just a few more minutes in this moment..." his shift would be starting soon.

~~~~~

"I always wanted to make a difference."  Morton proudly said to no one as his eyes grazed upon today's harvest.  A surge of determination filled his voice.  He found this bustling world to be the pin that inspired his choices, both in cooking and in life.  Although no one ever noticed his contributions, he actually enjoyed getting up early now, excited for the days' purpose yet to be written by his knife.  Not like before when he would sleep all day after brawling into the dawn, doing anything to escape his circumstantial boredom.

Morton spent most of the week working in a stale restaurant, the old familiar faces blurring past while he stayed focused on his goals.  He delicately sliced & chopped, prepping a beautiful offering for the tired scavengers who never noticed.  He often distracted himself by imagining his own place, the signs' firefly like glow beaming his name.  Morton thought of the customers who would wait all week for a chance to sit at his chef's table, patiently watching him weave a masterpiece of fine delicacy from scratch.  He knows one day his presence will tremble the lessor creature.  And he liked that very much.

"MORTON!!  I need that side in 90 seconds."  demanded his boss.
"On it chef." he hoped, emitting an aire of fraudulent confidence as he flipped his precisely cut vegetables sautéing in the small fry pan.  He respected what he could learn from the boss, but wished he would put him in charge some times.  Just once, then he could prove them all wrong...

"Hello Miss, how are you today?"  chirped the host.

"Fine." assertively sending a half-grin as she walked past, headed for the usual table.  The stench of her judgement lingered deep into the kitchen.  What was her story, Morton wondered.  It was the one customer he always noticed because her indistinct attitude bothered him.  He didn't like the courage she emanated, from her curls to her frilly dress.  She sat there, freedom to eat her toast and cottage cheese while his talent was stuck behind a "yes chef."  he was jealous.  His eyes seething as he stared out at her tiny frame.  She knew what she was doing and he hated her for it.

~~~~~

"This is really delicious. I can't imagine how anyone has a better life."  Morton sat quietly in the shade of a large oak tree, savoring a crunchy snack as two bluebirds gossiped above his head.  He wasn't ready to swallow the joy he heard in their shallow speak, but he'll put it in his pocket for later.  The warm lemonade sun filled the sky around him, but not directly.  He didn't care much for that.  Morton swallowed the rest of his breakfast with a final crescendo, meticulously tidying his face as he searched for hidden morsels.  "I mean, seriously..." he simultaneously sighed & closed his eyes, resting on the wise bark.  The faintest of smirks began to creep along the side of his mouth as he heard her struggling to loosen the heavy chains again.  He patted his chef's knife that lay near him on this beautiful day, "Soon friend we'll get to work."

Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas Over Easy

I published this journal the other day, sharing years of previous holiday experiences with my parents.  It was important for me to understand, while offering you insight to what it was like.  I don't take for granted childhood emotional neglect (CEN is totally a thing) can be soft compared to others' trauma.  You can't see or touch it and don't often know it's lurking deep down inside... until you finally seek help for why the hurt doesn't go away.  It's still my crucial wound and I see you there, but you're no longer a silent influence.

~~~~~

I couldn't sleep christmas morning, opposite of the reason millions of kiddos can't keep their antsy pants in bed until a decent hour.  ugggghhh, wasn't waiting for "Christmas to start" the worst?  I awoke to the idea of a new boardgame, then the upcoming hosting of our first holiday gathering at the house (or ever.)  It was still early enough to work in an exercise before the fun & anticipation of preparing a big time vegan feastly began.  Since my hair was too cute to go running, I went for a long walk.  I pondered along to christmas notes while the world woke up.  I love being among the quiet in the early hours and secretly hoped I could peek in on others' holiday mornings because I'm a curious human observer.  nothin doin' though.

My stroll took me down a street normally skipped and I ended up meeting a flock of crows, who shuffled alongside me as they pecked a christmas street banquet.  I thought about the previous eve festivities we spent with two people who are the epitome of incredible.  I missed Travis after I could hear his translucent image hovering off to the side, saying we just came across a murder scene {beat/deadpan} because it's a murder of crows. And we'd laugh.

{there were like two dozen more that had just left frame}

I said merry christmas to the few squirrels who dared play chicken with my feet, making me miss Leroy.  I thought about the fact I would actually be spending the entire day with those two boys who mean the most to me.  I realized it's the first christmas in 13 years I wouldn't have to leave Travis (last 3 for Leroy) out of obligation to my parents.

And then I realized I no longer missed the christmas I once knew.

~~~~~

For many years I was caught up in chasing the high out of fear I'd lose even the littlest bits of joy, I couldn't break the habit.  If I didn't watch that movie or start a craft only in the month it was appropriate, or do the things I would always do - the holidays wouldn't be the same.  rubbish.  It hasn't been the same for I can't remember how long, so what was I holding on to?  Finally expressing my holiday intent to the folks back in October (ie not seeing them) shifted nearly everything this go-round.  And while I didn't have a specific outcome when doing so, I realized that's exactly what I needed.   A change.

I was early in putting up lights & decorations, then gave many items previously held onto for artificial nostalgia to charity.  I exchanged hours of watching Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story (which I love!) for It's a Charlie Brown Christmas (which I usually forget.)  I started little creative projects but wasn't hard on myself for not doing the entire planned list.  We made a proper gingerbread house, complete with landscaping & scarfed snowman.  I skipped cards & presents, but phoned, messaged & saw dear friends to sing them specific squishy notes of cheer.  And I helped a group from work gather essential clothing & food for two local families.  There was other junk, but most importantly I was absorbing the moments around me.

I reflected all this as Travis & I went driving the last few evenings to see lights.  As I watched the neighborhoods of houses through the chilly passenger window, my body wrapped in a blanket & my hands wrapped in a hot mug, I finally said goodbye.  Farewell to the sadness of memories that kept my heart captive.  Adieu to the former traditions that were laced up with the words mum & dad.  I felt each twinkling light cheer me on as if they were regenerating my emotions.  I held Travis' hand as we shared moments of laughter and of silence.


I feel optimistic about this next coming year, not just for the first nine months but especially for the last three.




PS: maybe I'll ask santa for a Total Recall experience so I can start christmas when I want to.  and also pancakes & champagne.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Holidays Of Me

Awareness is a key element of growth.
And what I need to elevate most is the awareness of myself.
Developing further this quest to help unlock the expressions of my feelings, desires, excitements, drives, beliefs, and even sorrows.  It's not all rocks, but it should be way easier to ramble out this shit because I'm me.  right?  But it's not that easy.  This concept is still one of the hardest, most taxing exercises I go through almost daily.

Just imagine, you've experienced or thought of something and you want to share it with your spouse/friends/social media.  It's exciting or scary or observant - doesn't matter.  You identify this thing happened because you were there and saw or could touch it.  Now imagine you've rushed to your person or phone, describing the scene in detail. All the facts come flooding onto screen.  You re-read the entry because you wanna capture it perfectly.  Now you're at the point of writing how you felt in this moment.  and you're silent.  You re-write then erase line after line because it's not right.  you stare.  There are sensations rapidly hurling throughout your body, reinforcing that yes, you absolutely are feeling something.  But the words are stuck behind some doors you can't unlock.  You beat on them, demanding their release... nothing.  just clicks of the motionless handle from both sides.  You try and ignore the strong laugh of defeat because you know you have made progress and some stupid story shouldn't unravel your hard work.  But it takes everything not to walk away, forgetting the whole idea, wishing it didn't happen again.  You think back on all the dumb things you hoped to share, and then all the way more important stuff you needed to share, and somehow seek encouragement you'll try again.  until next time... That's what the other side of me faces.  sucks.

beat.

So now imagine how stoked I am when I get it.  When after all the struggles and doubts subside and I finally understand & can express this manifestation of an idea!  Holly ballz, it's like I baked myself a personal pumpkin relief loaf and went to town.  How delicious the joy of seeing those confined words come out and play and being totally connected to them because it's truthful, real.  Like almost crying because yes, I did it!  That's the other side of emotional hill.  And over the last 18 months, through talking, journalling & more confessions at the puppy park than I care to count, I've uncovered probably the single most personal component I needed to figure out - the relationship between me & my parents.  or lack there of.


"Here, I made you an emotionally neglected sandwhich."

While obviously there is my lifetime of more to share, here is a side of context chips.  My parents have no malicious intent.  They said I love you, taught me practical lessons about money & death and do care I haven't been bothered by demons or whatever.  Sure, there were many lean years, but we always had food, some sort of clothes, and I never faced inflicted harm.  But for as much as my basic needs were met, they were also empathetically inattentive.  These figures weren't the ones who could show me the world, who could challenge my thinking and at all costs protect me from the bad ones.  Other adults in my life were filling that role.  They became more like the nice, but odd folks at the grocery store.  Cool, let's exchange methodical pleasantries for a few minutes, then I gotta go down the cereal aisle because I'm in a hurry.
  

They were the humans that brought me here, but are not the people I depend on.

~~~

Just like the leaves of fall that don't live in southern California, it's inevitable conversations are transitioning from how much Halloween candy did(n't) you eat, into are you traveling for Thanksgiving, to what are your plans for whatever you celebrate in December.  The underlying orchestra playing along to those exchanges bring to mind some random setlist of youth, laughs & cocktail filled songs shared among the people you love most.  Life is a show and when you pop in the cassette is usually reads MY FAMILY.

Which for most people happily means the show you're born into.

But for me, it's delightfully the show I choose.

~~~

"And for dessert, I also made you a seasonal apathetic cranberry tart."

The holidays are clearly defined in Brandi's Almanac as October, November, December.  And despite my views on religion, politics, and conforming to your definition of normal, that will probably never change.  Sure it's driven by a corporate machine, and yes my parents bought into it and to some extent so have I - although don't get me started on the fact that it's way important for me & Travis to celebrate in our own unique way thus not allowing ourselves to become part of the ugly & conventional engine.  obviously.

But c'mon - making foot ghosts & pipe-cleaner spiders, having your pops simultaneously smoke, curse & carve the giant pumpkin you wanted, frequent try-ons of the plasticized face mask/smock thingys that your mom insists you can't wear until the big night, drawing hand turkeys, spending the day propped up on your elbows staring at the Toys-Я-Us catalog, decorating the house with the same tired paper cutouts your mom suggests go in the place as last year, smelling freshly unfrozened pumpkin pies, having your pops smoke, curse & carve the giant turkey when there's only three of you, feasting in a plaid sweater & red corduroys, making popsicle stick reindeer and wreaths made from those weird acrylic triangle beads, staring up at the decorations inside Bullocks, driving around seeing the warm C9 lights, your pops smoking, cursing & actually cutting down the too hilariously tall for the living room tree, listening to Bing Crosby LPs & country Christmas tapes that your mom insists had to run from beginning to end because don't you dare stop/rewind/flip sides... and of course your favorite animated TV specials.


That was a replay of my 80s Childhood Holiday Spectacular.
Some of it was spent with my parents doing things they liked.
Most of it was spent alone doing the things I loved.

~~~~~

I've spent many years closely gripping those childhood impressions that deep down I still wrestle with leaving behind.  Seems odd, given the history huh.  What about it?  Why do we keep this romanticized curtain in front of youth?  I wish I had that answer because if I did, I'd totally win the helping others jackpot.

But guess what, I let most of that go this year.

Well before I started understanding my relationship with them, I started feeling more and more like I didn't matter.  I wasn't thought of, they weren't curious or seemingly interested in getting to know me.  Either then or now.  And for the holidays, for too long there was an implied obligation when it came to the time I spent in their presence during gobbles and red suits.  They never once offered to come to me, I had to ask.  They didn't want to spend time experiencing newer traditions I enjoyed, it was about their legacy ones.  I'd made exceptions to my happiness in order to appease someone else and that took me away from my dude who means beyond the moon and eventually the puppy that stole my heart.  And that's not ok.

So I was kind, but direct when I told my parents I wouldn't be seeing them for these events.  Halloween no big deal, in 2015 I told them no for Thanksgiving so I'm sure they expected it again, but this year I put the boundary I needed a Christmas for myself.  I'm done playing to this imaginary audience that insits I'm supposed to just accept this behaviour because they're my mum and dad.  You wouldn't allow that from a bunk friend, would you?  The powerful act of declaration was one of the most trust-in-myself presents I've ever given myself.  And having trust with yourself is fucking incredible.

I get to create my own memories with people I love.
I get to make things alongside people I choose. 
I get to say what I need.
I get to be happy.


Now if you're excuse me, I'll be listening to my fucking random playlist of Christmas albums with my two favourite boys and eating my delicious vegan treats.