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Muselet: New Day

18 Aug
A/N:  Images displayed in this essay are not mine–Thank Goddess for Tumblr, Imagebam, and Pinterest.  No copyright infringement intended. Click the image for a link to its origins. Totally unbeta’d, so any mistakes and stumbles are mine, allll mine. This is only a shorty, but of course there is a playlist. Click here to open a new page & listen——>(http://pl.st/p/20984139787)

Here comes the sun

Hello, Lovelies. Long time no musings, I know. Those of you who have been my journey mates these past two-plus years understand that any silence from this site is not indication of similar silence experienced by it’s author. I have been musing. Oh, how I’ve been tumbling through and under and over and every which way through the contemplative immensity these past four, [five?] weeks. It’s a matter of reining it in and sharing the ramblings in a cohesive manner. Clearly, as I’ve proven time and time again, my challenge is succinctness. 

….Since brevity is the soul of wit ~ Shakespeare

When I decided on a whim to post this little ditty, the clock was twenty minutes shy of switching over to “00:00”, proclaiming a new day; one, as Anne Shirley [an early Other herself, as she dreams from her house of Green Gables] jubilantly reminds us contains “no mistakes in it yet”. It has now grown five minutes past midnight. I only wanted to post a little heads-up. To let you know that Musings is coming atcha this weekend whether you are ready or not. I wanted you to know that I. Am. Here. I never left. 

I was inspired to return to this WordPress Wonderland of Otherness for many reasons: because I needed to; because I wanted to; because I have so many words in my head and love in my heart I feared I may implode. Also, because I feel The Shift. The clouds are easing up slightly allowing for precious, nourishing slivers of light to illuminate the sky, warm our faces. 

Also, I never had the chance to properly celebrate Musings’ two year anniversary and I simply cannot let much more time elapse without writing about this glorious, shattering, profound year. And to not acknowledge that is just WRONG. This year has been everything. And the past two months in particular have simply changed the game.  

So I’m writing the celebratory MOO post that I had planned for weeks ago. This was before July 17, before my husband and I made some pretty intense decisions which lends to why we’re today, quite literally, separated by a world;  before I became involved in three funerals, before I made an unexpected but most cathartic return to composing music and finding long-forgotten melodies within. 

I created this space over two years ago because I needed a forum to find my voice and connect with kindreds searching for theirs as well. I wanted to to do something to help dissuade the negativity and maybe do my small part in creating change that I wanted to see in the world around me. No time is more apt or essential than now. 

So I figure: Let’s pick up right where we left off. 

****From my July 31, 2012: Twitlonger

There is one simple, pure, and constant concept that has been a small measure of comfort to me this week. And that is this: nothing, nothing, nothing is black or white. Nothing involving human beings and their emotional capacity can be categorized so easily. There is a gray area. There is an essential consideration that is near and dear to MY heart– of OTHER. That idea that is indefinable, fluid and against simple explanation. Because there is ALWAYS more.

We do NOT know. There is a sequence of events, there are precipitating triggers, there are esoteric factors that we have no access to, and–here’s where it’s crucial to understand– It is not OUR right to access.

No where is there an Admiration Rulebook that states we retain [or deserve] the right to acquire personal, private details in ANYBODY’S lives, let alone regarding people we have never met. We were never invited into their relationship. In fact, Kristen and Rob did everything in their power to preserve and protect what is theirs. They both have countlessly reminded us that idolatry is unwarranted and in the long run, completely, utterly UNFAIR. To ourselves. To them. 

People have asked, begged, prompted me to say something all week, and while it is quite flattering to me that you, of such great, burgeoning minds, seek out my addled brain for guidance, there is another part of me that feels pressure.

Yes I’m a clinical psychotherapist. Yes, I Muse on empowerment and compassion and love. Yes, I am a supporter of Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson: Together, separately, no matter. But I too am wading through stages of grief, loss, confusion. And sometimes, though this ‘twitlonger’ doesn’t reflect that, I am without words and direction too.

Two points I had hoped to make, before this spiraled out of control into a full-on Musings.

1) Musings On Other Queens–this ‘blog’– is not going anywhere. It never was ‘A Kristen Blog’ or ‘A Robsten [ugh, you KNOW how I detest that label] Blog’. It was a space I created so we could talk about the ways we can overcome labels, misconceptions and generalizations. A way to give voice to the underrepresented. It was intended for us to have a forum to encourage SELF-REFLECTION on how we can contribute to the lessening of stereotypes, possibly banishing the bullying and the hate-mongering.

I think we need that capacity more now than ever. And so no, MOO is not closing down or taking a hiatus other than it’s regular breathing schedule as I navigate my 3D life. And BOY is my 3D life colorful this month. Balance, babies, it’s all about balance.

This started it ALL. It aint stopping anytime soon, kiddos

2.) I honestly and soulfully believe that Kristen and Robert will move through this, in a way that is healing and right for Kristen and Robert. Not by our definitions or standards, but theirs. As it should be.

Also, any amount of processing and rehabilitation will take time. 

Sitting on Twitter, or watching entertainment ‘news’ channels obsessively is maybe the most damaging thing we could do right now. And I can say with utmost confidence and authority, that believing wholly in anything the “media” [tabs] churn out is a great disservice to … well, everything, everyone, including Kristen and Robert, the very people that bound us together in the very beginning.

In my twelve years in training as a professional listener…I have learned an open mind is the most compassionate and–most often–prevalent truth in the end. Compassion and support is what Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson need more than anything right now.

Be well and take care of yourselves. Cultivate all of your strengths and blessings in your everyday, tangible life. And while a young couple takes time to assess and evaluate their hopes, aspirations and paths, we can do the same.

See? We’re all rediscovering our humanity together.

In a letter I wrote to my CyberSisters a couple days ago, in the midst of my own personal anguish, I concluded:

“I want to tell you as a marriage and family therapist, that I see this devastation often. It happens. EVERY. DAY. In one form or another.

And, yes, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. the sun rises again and people-warriors make their way towards it’s warmth.

I have faith. I have so much faith.

So a 22 year old girl is human. She resides with the rest of us mortals. I am so happy for the company.”

I am so happy to be in your company.

****

See you this weekend for the commencement of celebrating Other? Yesssss. All my love and light… KJ

*    *    *

Playlist: 

http://pl.st/p/20984139787

Ho Hey ~ The Lumineers

Ashes and Wine ~ A Fine Frenzy

Breathe Again ~ Little People feat Rachael R

Hold On ~ Alabama Shakes

Girls, Put Your Armour On

10 Oct

You go ahead, let your hair down.

You’re gonna find yourself somewhere…somehow.

~Corinne Bailey Rae, Put Your Records On 

Hey everybody! I’m shaking my head because I realize this day is not Thursday, no matter how hard I wish for it to be. It’s looking like my “Update Day” really just became my “Think-about-writing-and-maybe-put-together-a-playlist Day”. Thank you for rolling with me. And this essay is gonna be all over the place, just to warn you. So much to talk about–and suddenly I’m feeling like I’ve little time. *pauses to think about it* Pffft. We’ll just write a dozen MOOs to cover it all if we must, ok? Let’s do this.

Fight Like A Girl 

So the title of this essay was rumbling around in mah head, to the tune of Corinne Bailey Rae’s lovely anthem of self-acceptance and our ability to make the choice to move forward even when we are knocked off-balance. The song, Put Your Records On, is on this week’s MOO Music Playlist, though it’s of a completely different genre than its accompanying selections. Do me a favor and sing along when the final swelling chorus erupts, “Girls, put your armour on!”  I found it incredibly satisfying. Or maybe that’s just me and I should put away my hairbrush-microphone and turn off my wind machine (aka floor fan). *ahem*

The message (or war cry) throughout the music (and the following Musings) is universal.

Despite our personal propensities towards introversion or extraversion; impulsivity or premeditation, we can create positive movement as long as we remain true to our personal missions and philosophies. And these personal beliefs and values we construct for ourselves–they are worthy of protection and support. They’re worth fighting for.

*Pauses a moment to breathe in the rain-soaked Fall air* Fall is my favorite time of year. I adore Fall. I live in Cali so I don’t actually see the seasonal shift, but I can feel and smell it…Crisp air stinging–not mine, not really, except when I’m down at the water–your cheeks; scents of wood-burning fires and cinnamon, and the pumpkin patches and jack-o-lantern creativity. This is also my favorite month. Not just because it’s my birthday month, but because October is the month where we have the free reign to #EmbraceOurOther in the form of wholly accepting our #Divergence #ShadowSides #AllThatWeAreAfraidToAdmitOutLoud…at least for one day. The great month of October also has mad boasting rights because it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month….

Every year, approximately 200,000 women and 1,700 men are diagnosed with breast cancer. Of the diagnosed, 40,000 women and 450 men will die. It is highly likely that we know or are connected to at least one person diagnosed with breast disease. It’s a BFD. It’s personal. My SIL’s mother and my own maternal grandmother had breast cancer.

I’m all about cultivating riots of hope here in Other-land, so I’m just gonna ask you all to blast through some of the more sobering statistics and use the knowledge as fuel for pro-activity. Do and be anything you feel comfortable with to spread the word about Breast Cancer Awareness this month. This could mean donating to cancer research organizations; signing up to participate in WALKS for the CURE, volunteering,WEARING PINK or simply SQUEEZING YOUR BOOBIES !! It’s all good  as long as we’re spreading the word, getting educated and having our cha-chas checked out for prevention and detection. Seriously. Get felt up and tell your posse to do the same. Breasts and lives depend on it. 

Armour Up

Speaking of Rebel Warriors and Tough Chicas, let’s check in with our Reigning Other Queen, yes? My, oh my, how she has kept us busy since we’ve last connected! We saw our girl’s long, glossy, Snow White locks when she popped by the Mulberry show in London during Fashion Week last month. We also knew, the creepers we are, that our girl had been working out and received tutelage from equestrian experts in preparation for the physically demanding role of the Rebel Royal Snow. All this preparation for the much-anticipated production of Snow White and the Huntsman. The film’s producers and creators had advised Comic Con audiences in July that SWATH aimed high–Lord of the Rings high; and we saw (and gasped and cheered) when the promotional photos for the film were released. So we knew all about that, or rather, we thought we knew all about it. However, when the photos from the set began surfacing and we caught our first glimpses of  Ms White on a Welsh beach atop her noble, white steed, leading the charge of revolution….? 

brb, gasping and flailing

Chills wound up and down my arms and I may have grown a little misty eyed, not gonna lie. I felt certain when I heard that Kristen took this role that she was meant to take this role. The pictures only confirmed it for me. Who better to represent an intensely courageous, exceptionally convicted, and passionately focused royal rebel than Kristen Jaymes Stewart?

So she’s armour-clad and leading her army towards confrontation. *Note* I am spelling the word armor/armour using The Queen’s English because, well, not only is Kristen in Britain working these next several months, and she is a royal rebel portraying a British Royal Rebel, but  also, her “boyfriend is English” (via GQSTEW next week), so I find it so very, very appropriate. This film production is based on the version penned by the Grimm Brothers, not Disney, quite obviously. And because we enjoyed the promo previews at Comic Con, we knew our girl would be suited up and armed with a shield and various badass weaponry. But to actually see her in costume, in character, working on a project unlike anything she has ever participated in before, I had this overwhelming thought:

There. She. Is. 

FEEL. IT.

Kristen Stewart as she is. Beneath the thick, steel barricade of a bodysuit, I believe this is the most congruent, centered, feminine and gracefully assured Kristen I’ve ever seen. She is in her element. She is tackling a complex and ambitious role with ferocity and determination, but in extension of what she loves most about her work: relating to and sharing a story. This story features a girl named Snow who finds strength within to defend her right to believe in what she believes, travel where she wishes, love as she wishes…to defend her right to live authentically.

Armour does provide protection and a near-impenetrable defense mechanism from any external sources intent on harming her. But it also serves as preservation and containment for the strength and capabilities she already has within. 

The Superhero

And these weeks, with the release of the almost-surreal images from the SWATH set and subsequent magazine interviews (that we’ll get to a bit later), I feel as if we’ve witnessed Ms Stewart embrace her multitude of strengths and abilities. And that they and she are worth defending.

While metal suits and sharp weapons can serve as armour, we also can equip ourselves with less tangible defense mechanisms: a sense of humor, a fierce shyness, a really, really ill-timed, bellowing laughter.  Or, like me, a proclivity for skipping town. Really. When uncomfortable and feeling vulnerable, I actually throw myself out into the bigger world and search for a new place–elsewhere. I moved something like seven times in about five years  (I simply refer to those sordid years as ’02 to ’07). It was all about a new apartment, new city, new boys as distraction….

Edward attempting to distract Bella from sexxin... with a staggering game o' chess.

A word about distraction: I became mesmerized and deterred…err distracted when I searched out images to plug-in emphasizing the level of distraction I encountered in the Time Known As ’02 through ’07…

Another example of distraction—–>How great is it that I typed in ‘Distraction’ into Pinterest and this picture came up? As Rob can attest, #DistractionByStew is a common affliction.

The best kind of distraction

I love Rob's blatant disregard for the photoshoot taking place.

Ok, sorry. Armour. Back to talking literal and metaphoric armour. When armour is used as a preserver of valuable internal assets, it can manifest in very impressive boundary-setting, as modeled by our Reigning Other Queen.

She greets inquiries into her personal and family life with radio silence, and perhaps the switching of topics. With Vogue earlier this year, Kristen simply responded to yet another question regarding her relationship with Robert Pattinson:

“It’s not my job”

To physically ground herself, she wears clothes in which she feels comfortable: her standard jeans, hoodie and Chucks. All of this in support and sustenance of  her basic though essential value:

Keep what’s yours, yours.

Another round of "Spot The Other Rebels"...annnnd GO

Preserving and supporting what you value most is a sign of self-respect and self care, something we all struggle with periodically…and for some, like me, sometimes, daily. Lets continue to push through our hesitancy in accepting The Good. Let’s be proactive. Let’s take our cues from our fellow Others around us, like Kristen her partner Robert. Let’s model ways to support and protect ourselves by implementing proactivity and preventative steps. And because it’s October, something proactive you can do is go get your boobies squeezed. It’s all about protection, friends.

A Glamourous Girl

As if we hadn’t already been stunned stupid with the SWATH photos and with images of Her Royal Highness charging forward with a rebel yell, we get a surprise magazine cover too.

Note the article’s title: The Real Kristen Stewart. Nope. Not a coincidence. While apparent to those of us Kristen-supporters for ages now, the fashion and movie industries are finally also recognizing that our Reigning Other Queen is flourishing. Perhaps her “real” persona was half-hidden all these years due to the confinements of her role in Twilight. Or maybe the naturally introverted Stewart was misquoted and misidentified by the Critics and Bullshit People as aloof and disconnected. Probably a combination of all the aforementioned. It’s no wonder she needed a particularly steely brand of armour to survive the brutal attacks of the last four years.

Lace and combat boots, your Highness? #OtherOn

An outtake only because it's just tooooo pretty perhaps?

The 'Real' Kristen Stewart will please stand up. hnnng.

In her Behind-The-Scenes video for the Glamour shoot–like with every other BTS vid (*ahem* Flaunt and W) Kristen is candid and accessible and even more beguiling than meets the eye. She admits she believes her pets talk to her, for Goddess’ sake! Of course I feel a kinship with her on many levels, and talking to my pets as if they would answer me back is just one connection. But it’s an important one.

Her voice is strong and clear. Knowing. 

The Glamour interview, as conducted by the Twilight Saga author Stephenie Meyer, was brief but not without some moments of brilliance. Ms Meyer asks Kristen if she has any advice about relationships to share with the magazine’s readers. Imparting sage words so very Kristen, our Reigning Queen says:

“…being honest and knowing yourself. Don’t be an asshole. That’s my advice. Don’t be mean. Don’t take shit. Don’t settle.”

While our Majestic Misfit wielded her protective gear as a defensive mechanism over the years, I believe we’re watching as she dresses in her armour, that it is not in avoidance, but rather in support and maintenance of all of her luminous qualities.

In celebration of their splendor. It’s an acknowledgement that confidence, conviction, strength, passion, humor, warmth, kindness and accessibility has always been real, and always been present.

She just knows it now. And she will defend it.

We Are Other.

Kristen Is Other.

Others recognize that they are worth the fight.

Embrace Your Other.

*   *   * 

Question(s): What is your armour (protector as well as defense mechanism)?

~Mine is running away into the world….and red, red lipstick. Oh, and a certain pair of knee-high boots.

What do you think of the emergence of Kristen’s SWATH photos? Glamour?

 *    *    *

A/N: We’re doing British GQ next time, folks.  And we’ve got LOTS to talk about: Breaking Dawn Premiere (I’m going!), Sam Bradley (I went! Again!), an Other Art Collaboration and another Giveaway (or two?)….SO MUCH!! I told ya, I’m willing to post a dozen MOOs to cover the greatness that is Kristen’s Rising.

I’m most likely closing down my personal Twitter Account–>@kjn52 by the end of this month. I’m running too many operations right now between Twatter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook, WordPress and The Magical Little Practice.
I’ve nothing to hide from you all anyway. You know more about me now than some of my family.
You can chat me up at @MusingsOnOther
Thank Yous, gropes, sloppy kisses to the usual suspects: My Cyber Sisters, Good Reads Girls, MySmut&SmokesSisters, & my Twitter Lovelies of Team Other
Musical Playlist for This Essay:

Glory Box~ Portishead

Roll On~ dntl (featuring Jenny Lewis)

Shake it Out~ Florence + The Machine

Morricone: The Mission~ Yo-Yo Ma

We Won’t Run~ Sarah Blasko

Put Your Records Armour On~ Corinne Bailey Rae

MOO Memo: Where We’re Going

8 Sep

Greetings, my Royal Rabble Rousers!  How have you been since we’ve last connected?  I’m ridiculously embarrassed for bringing this to you so late on a Thursday evening (it’s still Thursday here in Cali, at least). It’s going to be just a little memo tonight, as I fight off the beginnings of a cold and the super-duper urge to fall into bed and sleep away the days. Two or three things outline this brief MOO Memo…

Giveaway Goodness

Firstly, I wanted to announce the W Mag GIVEAWAY Winners…Some incredible, gorgeously insightful comments came through this week. It seems you all are no strangers to the feeling of self-sabotage and procrastination. I’m so glad we can power through these moments of uncertainty together. Out of the near-twenty people who left answers to the Giveaway Questions in the comment section, a few of you stepped aside and offered up your chance to win to someone else. That is so very generous of you, thank you.

Without further adieu…..using the Random Integer Generator from Random.Org, the two lovely Reader-Commenters who will receive a copy of our Reigning Other Queen’s W Magazine are:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

12

11

CONGRATULATIONS to the lovely and inspirational @DeeDreamer16 (who helped make last week’s post possible) and the always courageous and eloquent @pharmgirl15 !!! Ladies, I’ll contact you directly so I can get your W copies in the mail to you ASAP. If you already have a copy (or copiesssss, plural *ahem*) and you wish to rescind your name from the contest, let me know. It seems to be the theme this week–everyone is so generous and willing to share the Rebellious Beauty with one another, and it makes my heart soar.

Facebook Me

Last week, I created, rather impulsively, a Facebook page for Musings. And it’s been so much fun! It was borne from a wish to be able to connect with you all in a more casual forum in between Musings posts, and also have access to the Other inspirations and moments that crop up in our daily lives. I’m able to post videos and the musical playlists that inspire, as well as quotes and pictures that incite a direct line to the Muse. Many of you have stopped by to say hello, and I encourage you all to continue to do so! I love hearing how you’ve encountered Otherness and your own resources for inspiration within yourselves—but also with each other!  For instance, my girls @sjjw and @primarycolors1 discovered a mutual love for MOO Playlist regulars: The Avett Brothers this week when SJ sent me a link to one of the band’s intimate bookstore performances from a couple of years ago. Click the pic above to go directly to the page, or go here: MusingsOnOther’s Facebook Page 

I hope to post some long-over due pics of the Sam Bradley show I caught in May this year, and I continuously stop and gush over books I’m reading or pictures you send my way. We can chat about ways our Featured Rebel Royals are continuing to spread the word of Other Rebellion, and bask in the awesomeness that is our Reigning Queen Kristen Jaymes Stewart and her current film projects.

errrrmmm. Why so Harlequin-esque, Summit?

Okaaaayyyyyy. Heaving breasts and really unnecessary airbrushing in swoony-pink-misty filters aside…Breaking Dawn is coming. But so is THIS

So that’s the sorta stuff we  jaw about on Facebook. Plus a little shot of inspiration and encouragement every once in a while doesn’t hurt…

Where We Were, Where We’re Going

Last thing I’ll touch base on in this Memo is to let you lovelies know what’s coming down the pike for MOO. Of course, where we’re headed is integrated in response to significant events that have already occurred. Like, hitting the one-year anniversary of moving from Blogger to WordPress and celebrating the freedom and joy of OWNING the domain and site MusingsOnOtherQueens.Com

dance of joy...it is OURS!

The one year anniversary of my  leap of faith towards OWNERSHIP of The Magical Little Practice (literally I went and got the business license a year ago today)…Also, the ten-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks are this weekend. I will always know the abrupt and raw lessons bestowed upon me about tolerance, discrimination, community and grief as a result of living through those times..and I am filled with wondrous exhilaration and peace as I observe the power of many hands lightening the work…

Somehow, we’re barreling into the end of another year. Our Reigning Other Queen has completed her work on The Twilight Saga, and images we fluttered over last Fall:

….will make room for the new images indicating the growth and incredible creative capacity our fierce Royal Rebels possess.

Hello, Mr Packer

So we’ll end this brief post here for now, and I thank you for rolling with me. Last week’s essay brought the poets out as usual and I still remain stunned. I will begin replying to the comments on this site as well as on Facebook now that I’ve announced the Giveaway winners. Please forgive me for being inconsistent in replying these past few months, I assure you I read every. single. word. you write to me (sometimes several times over!) and I am humbled and awed by your prose. Also, I’m impressed with your power and influence.

When I last checked, the sublime  video “I Was Broken” from the lovely Marcus Foster (as discussed last week), was the second most-watched video for MSN in 2011. Ms Stewart’s and Marcus’s supporters are hard core, and I’m proud to call myself one of ’em, alongside you gorgeous misfits.

I look forward to seeing the mischief we all can get into together in this new year. Until next time, my lovelies. Be well and be kind to yourselves and each other. I’l be seeing you around–you know where you can find me. Yours, always, KJ. xo

Embrace Your Other. 

*   *   *

A/N: N leaves for his first trip home to Indonesia in two years in a couple days. I really must complete the personal writing project I’ve embarked on soon as well, in case I deploy out with Red Cross again in the next couple weeks. I do hope to be back next THURSDAY with a NEW full-fledged Musings, but we shall see …Thanks for rollin’ with me, Homies. x

PlayList For This MOOMem (if the link cooperates)

Don’t Die in Me ~ Mirah

How It Ends (Instrumental) ~ DeVotchka

Not Broken, But Blinding. We are.

1 Sep
A/N: The images displayed in this essay are not mine–Thank Goddess for Tumblr and Pinterest. Click the image for a link to their origin. So very unbeta’d–all mistakes and typos are mine. Lyrics, unless noted, belong to Marcus Foster. Playlist and GIVEAWAY INFO at the bottom.

In my time I’ve melted into many forms

From the day that I was born,

I know that there’s no place to hide

*drawing in deep breaths* So I wasn’t planning on writing today. I was acutely aware that I had only posted one Musings essay in August but I found myself unwilling to post another MOO until I was content with the quality. I wasn’t about to throw something up on WordPress simply because it was due. Suddenly, August passed by in a rush and I have no idea how that happened without my notice. When we last conversed, I told you that I had some ducks to get in line: Stuff for The Magical Little Practice and some training courses for Red Cross Instructor Certification. I also spent some time in my hometown for several days assisting my mother with some renovations on my childhood home (which provoked some memories long dormant and locked away), and I squeezed in visits with childhood friends, as well as a couple Cyber Soul Sisters @Robkris13 and @Mari. I also had a brief but surreal afternoon and evening with the lovely ladies from the KSIBTU Crew which included the luminous CC (@KstewsBtrThanU), the gorgeous artist Jamie (@JHiggs86) and my fierce August Birthday Girls Iris (@Just2cuSmile) and Kim (@Kimmcarr). But I had planned to be back before now to check in with you all.

A gift from @robkris13 via Comic Con: The stunning display of Follicle Issues Trading Cards!

Here’s the deal: In addition to all those wonderful events of the last month, I have been taking steps to complete a separate writing project that was proposed to me three weeks ago. So when I returned from my visits and completed my Certification courses last week, I tried to gather the energy needed to focus on my new task at hand.

No dice.

I have never been diagnosed with ADHD, but I’m seriously wondering if I should be assessed. I definitely am a tireless champion of PROCRASTINATION, a habit that may never be broken because I’m constantly enabled in it. I was on the verge of despair these past few days, beating myself up over an unreasonable deadline I failingly tried to enforce. I elicited my tired and true writing tricks: Listened to inspiring music; read provocative books and stories; organized my office supplies 🙂

A color-coded map of mah head

Today was that self-imposed deadline. Which means that last night I was a hot mess, and not in the complimentary way. So I didn’t quite have a Dark Night of the Soul, but I had a few moments resembling it’s bleak cousin Melancholia. And Melancholia whispered knowingly to me: “You are in over your head, Chica. You’re not ready for this. You don’t really want this. You’re not good enough to do this.”

For .0234 of a second I believed it. And I felt relief. Like finally I could acknowledge the truth, and now everyone could see it and I didn’t need to swagger around the room anymore in an act of bravado.

And then…I listened to the song that was playing on my speakers…It was one that I featured on this week’s Inspiration Playlist and had listened to maybe fifty times earlier. And yet, I didn’t hear it until last night in that insular moment. You can hear it on the playlist for this essay. Or click it for the YouTube:–>Illuminated

Suddenly my eyes are open, everything comes into focus.

We are all illuminated, lights are shining on our faces. ~Hurts

HURTS

While soaring to HURTS‘s ethereal melody, I found myself hashing out a rambling email to my friend @DeeDreamer16, a soul who also at this very moment is taking the risks to pursue her bliss via creative expression. I hadn’t given thought to the mundane or tedious when I began describing for Dee the post-it-pocalypse of my living room, so I forwent proper grammar, punctuation or politeness. I must have repeated about four times “I am beating myself up, NOTHING is done!” before a funny thing happened. I felt my shoulders dropping from my ears and my breaths growing deeper, slower. And I was writing. I produced full sentences about how I used procrastination as a shield to intercede between not my fears of failure but my fears of success. How I often leave things to the midnight hour because I want to challenge my boundaries and perhaps create my own obstacles.

I wanted someone to call me on my bullshit. However, by the time I hit “SEND” to Dee, I realized that the one person who needed to call me on my bullshit was …me. We are our most brutal critics and the most cunning of wall-builders. And that’s just plain ole exhausting, and I had enough on my plate thank you very much. So I went to bed, nursing my broken and bruised fragments, but lighter than I’ve felt in many days.

When I opened my eyes this morning, what greeted me? Resplendent Synchronicity.

We. Are. Blinding.

It has been weeks since we’ve seen our Reigning Other Queen. In the midst of unconfirmed sightings and speculation, our fierce Snow White was pictured at the Playstation Launch in London, emerging from a maze (a video game simulation?) within proximity of  one Mr Theo Hutchcraft, of (oh hell yeah), the band HURTS…. Seriously, of ALL the people Kristen could have been near? “Well,” the voice-no-longer Melancholia whispered to me…”We are illuminated. We are good. We’re so bright, we’re blinding.” 

But I had not recovered enough to truly be prepared for how the rest of this day would unfold. 

Click this pic to view Marcus's Music Video feat Ms Stewart

A personal favorite of mine, Marcus Foster, is a bluesman, singer-songwriter, poet, guitar player, master sculptor and childhood friend of Mr Robert Pattinson. This glorious morning he debuted his music video for the single ‘I Was Broken’. And the stark, raw, beautiful song of familiarity featured a video spotlighting a quiet, haunting and ethereal young woman, who despite appearing fragile and tenuous, is in fact, the polar opposite. Marcus’s lyrics hold such simple brilliance. We are not shattered, at least not indefinitely. And Kristen’s presence in this video brought me to tears. Compelling and mesmerizing…I cannot seem to break the spell.

But I will stand here till the end, I know that I can take the moon

Haunted by the things I've made

I wasn’t going to write today. I was a bit battered from my own encounter with that insistent wench Melancholia in the late hours of the night. But when my eyes opened this morning, I was inundated with such joyful motivators to still push forward, I simply could not stay away. The exquisite @DeeDreamer had responded to my late-night confessional in the form of an email, and we chatted into the morning about the risks and benefits of pursuing Bliss and the power of synchronicity–when we say “I’m ready”, the Universe has it’s way of supporting us.

So what if I didn’t make my deadline today? It was a completely unreasonable limitation to place on myself, I realize now. Was it not enough that I’d successfully completed my training courses for Red Cross and I’m now a Certified Trainer with a respected and effective humanitarian organization? I have the capacity to teach and share some of my knowledge as a therapist with people who go out onto the frontlines in response to disasters and tragedy. I have the opportunity to go out to the East Coast and work with the survivors of IRENE personally, like I did in Joplin. How incredibly privileged am I?

Well you walk these lonely streets that people send, people send.

There are some wounds that just can’t mend, I do pretend, pretend

I was broken, for a long time.

But It’s over now

Am I not incredibly grateful that my Sister PUSS was granted the opportunity to see a world-renowned specialist for her immune-deficiency illness on this very day? Am I not blessed with the most incredible friends and supporters of Otherness in my every day life? Its incredibly fortifying to see that the Army of Others is as widespread and present as it is. Represented by you incredibly gifted MOO READERS, in the Featured Rebel Royals; in Poet Warriors like Marcus and Robert and …Kristen Jaymes StewartIs it not extraordinary that there is a splendid woman like Kristen Stewart to turn to for a model of resilience and strength?

This morning I hadn’t planned on writing. But I acknowledged and welcomed the kinder, gentler way that I regarded myself. I know I hadn’t experienced some existential crisis of self these past few days, but my confidence and focus certainly wavered. And sometimes, we have to deconstruct the working whole, examine and focus on the little fragments, pieces and cells of a project before moving forward steadily and with certainty. We are resilient beings. We are extraordinary creatures. We may feel broken at times, but that’s over now.

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others are beatific pieces of The Whole.

Embrace Your Other.

* * *

A/N: The lyrics (other than those as credited to Hurts’s ‘Illuminated’) featured throughout this essay belong to Marcus Foster and his song ‘I Was Broken’.

A GIVEAWAY! A GIVEAWAY!  Looky at what the Mail Lady brought me today….My extra ordered copies of W MAGAZINE!!!

I have 2 copies to give away to anyone who leaves a comment on Today’s Essay with an answer to at least ONE of these questions:

1. How have you reassured yourself to finish a task that you once viewed as insurmountable? How do you bounce back after these dark moments? 

2. What do you think of Marcus’s song I Was Broken? Of the video featuring Ms. Stewart? 

3. Have you experienced Synchronicity before? When you needed a nudge or confirmation most, in what form did it reveal itself to you? 

*Musings has it’s own FACEBOOK PAGE now! Check it out and join me for discussions and the sharing of pictures, books, quotes, videos and ideas of Otherness where we’re not limited to a measley 140 characters.

*GINORMOUS Thank you to my friend @DeeDreamer16. You have NO idea.

*GRATITUDE to my Good Reads Girls who give me unconditional support and cheerleading even when I go rogue.

*To Puss. You’ve got this, Sis. You’ve GOT. THIS.

PlayList For Today’s Essay:

Illuminated ~ Hurts

Don’t Die in Me ~Mirah

Outloud ~ Dispatch

Back To The Barre

19 Jul
A/N: So very, very unbeta’d. Please forgive me the typos, grammatical slips and bobbles. I own some pictures in today’s essay. Most of the others, not so much. Goddess bless Tumblr.

“Rocks in my way, I pick them all up. Someday I’m going to build myself a castle.” ~Fernando Pessoa

Greetings, all you Beatific Misfits! I hope this long overdue essay finds you well and healthy? I am hanging, but I’m going to be totally honest: I’m beaten up, overwhelmed, wary, and emotional (even more than usual…scary). I realize I’m over four days late in posting New Musings and that knowledge just makes me twitchy, albeit from the pressure I put on myself, not from anything external. We are our own biggest critic, are we not? I’ve had what I’ve wanted to talk about in this essay outlined in my notebook for nearly a week now, but I’ve not found the articulation. I hope you’ll flow with me.

A part of my ill ease is that I’m still acclimating to being home after my national assignment with the Red Cross. Other causes for my wariness stem from natural stressors that accompany family, marriage and friendships that are moving through transitions. Admittedly a small contribution to my discomfort expels from the atmosphere of tension surrounding fellow “fans” and “supporters” in the Kristen/Rob/Twi Community. And a leeetle smidgen of my preoccupation may surround my decisions for following Bliss.

catharsis

So how do I move forward when I am feeling fractured, uncertain and unsettled? I go back to the beginning. I return to the stripped-down foundation, to the basics. I review what it is that motivates me and inspires me to go forth…whether it be writing or journaling; playing the piano or singing; writing music, reading poetry or literature [or spicy fanfic], listening to music, surrounding myself with inspiring and kind people, walking on the beach, or rereading letters received or letters I’ve sent to someone else. I start from scratch and, in advice  from one of my favorite guilty pleasures, the dance movie, Center Stage, I go ‘back to the barre’.

In the technically meticulous and heartbreakingly beautiful art of ballet, the barre is a handrail either bolted to the wall or a horizontal, free-standing base. It is used for the warm up period before floor work and dance sequences. While sometimes seen as monotonous and tedious, barre work is crucial for all dancers, regardless of level of skill, as the exercises build strength for leaps and turns, sharpen precision, hone speed, and enhance flexibility and balance. It’s the reacquaintance of one with his or her roots and center. This month, I need to come back to my center almost desperately, because I felt that I might drift away, too far.  So, this week’s essay is my own reminder about the significance in returning to the place of grounding.

Since She’s Been Gone

Well, since we last talked, our Rebel Queen Kristen has been spotted just about everywhere among the county of Los Angeles, as well as in Toronto on the Cosmopolis film set and maybe New York City. Girlfriend has been on the move…and without a doubt, she’s got several vultures on her trail (growling). Now, *clears throat* I haven’t been nearly as active as the fierce and lovely Ms Stewart. Nope, since I’ve returned from my assignment last month, the only thing I’ve been actively doing is …emoting.  I have probably experienced and then worked through every single emotion possible, including apathy, anger and elation. A couple of you lovelies have written me and asked me how I’ve returned to “normal” after seeing what I saw and learning what I did while working with the survivors (aka Inspiring Heroes) of the natural disasters in Mississippi and Missouri. When my friend CC asked me how I’m able to be “back and continue on in life”, I answered, “Slowly, painstakingly, carefully.”

patience and gentleness

One thing I’ve very clearly realized since coming home: I have zero tolerance for hate-vom and/or unnecessary drama. No room in my 3D relationships and not in this fandom. Having watched families emerge from the literal ruins of their lives in Joplin, I cannot find it in me to participate in power struggles between factions amongst supporters in this fandom regarding tidbits they’ve allegedly received  first.  I cannot summon the patience to follow the hate-filled and irrational spewage of theories by people who have agendas of generating chaos and disagreement just so they can claim they were involved in it.

I’ve stepped back from Twitter. I still keep my eye on the news around the fandom just for confirmation that our Reigning Other Queen Kristen appears healthy and that she is still employing The Stealth; but I don’t read the twitlongers or Re-Tweets of Nonsensicals because 1) I’d rather put my energy elsewhere and 2) There are people who have made it their job to read and address the hate and hypocrisy. Hats off to @BecauseWeAreNot for spearheading that particular operation.

The Beats were pretty profound, yes?

Soooo, what does one do to carry on without getting carried away? One seeks the counterbalance. Revisit and celebrate what it is that compelled us in the beginning. Ms Stewart has been away from public, prying eyes these days, which is how she likes it best. Kristen’s unique brand of badass-regality is comprised of her ability to move through daily activities–while being tailed, hounded, stalked and scrutinized–with little reaction or fanfare.  She’s admitted in the past to feeling overwhelmed and timid when photographers and “groups [of girls]” approached her in public, but she appears to have connected with that inner compass of calm within herself over the year. This is a Royal Rebel’s way of staying centered.

In addition to a cool and gracious exchange of car insurance information after a fender bender in Hollywood….Well, she runs errands.

She works out in preparation for new film roles (while in SPANDEX, yo)…

…She visits her parents, peruses through vintage clothing stores, trains for horseback riding, and visits her aesthetically pleasing partner in rebelliousness Robert (along with their dog) on the set of his now-wrapped David Cronenberg-directed film Cosmopolis. Kristen carries on with her daily happenings….so why can’t everybody else? Kristen describes herself as “incredibly boring” (an argument that is actively disputed I’m sure by everyone who knows her) and she harbors propensity towards being a homebody who chooses to read books and hang with her cat in lieu of attending high-profile industry parties and award shows. She will, however, attend public events if it means supporting beloved friends:

Dean and his Marylou

The Chris & Kris Mutual Admiration Society

While Kristen flits in and out of public’s viewfinder, ensuring she has time to reacquaint herself with the mundane and normal, perhaps we can do the same…for ourselves…? Precious energy does not have to be poured into analyzing why Kristen is not seen out, or if she and Robert are getting along well. We instead could rejoice for those moments the girl has any privacy. Or better yet:  we could infuse our efforts into our own relationships. Call it a hunch, but I bet that both Kristen and Rob would much prefer we enhance our relationships instead of scrutinizing theirs.

A startling lesson I learned while away last month: It could be gone. All of it–obliterated–RIGHT NOW. Every single person I counseled in Joplin stated that the complete destruction of their lives occurred within a millisecond. Where and how did those people spend those final moments? Checking Twitter timelines? Updating their Facebook status? Dissecting someone else’s private life?

The Fangirl Learned: A Magical Era Ends Emerges

A method of returning to the barre (and in some ways, melt into escapism) for me is the immersion into compelling stories and films. I finished and fell insanely in love with the book Divergent and I saw the final Harry Potter film this week. It might have been too much epicness in too short a timespan, now that I think about it. We may talk more, MUCH more about Divergent another week. For those of you who have not read this incredible book–in my opinion, it is the next best read behind The Hunger Games– DO IT. DO IT NOWWWWWW.

For those of you who have read it (very Big UPs to my Good Reads Girls): Did you find the message as profound as I did? The message being: We are at our most powerful and beautiful when we embrace all facets of ourselves–including the elements we are told are wrong, odd, fear-inducing and unwanted–aka OTHER??

#CannotBeLabeled #AlsoKnownAsOther #FourandSix

And as I begin this new series of wonderfulness (come join me in reading Divergent’s upcoming sequel next Spring, will ya?) another beloved series drew to a close. Last Wednesday evening, I could be found stuffing my purse with packets of tissues and weighing the pros and cons of eating popcorn smothered in “butter” (because you shall go big or go home). I both hated and LOVED that I sat in front of a ginormous movie screen playing the final Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. I expected to shed tears. Many of them. And sure enough, my first tears fell before the haunting screen shot of the title fully formed in front of us onscreen.

Always an ardent book lover, I was a Potter fan since the very beginning. I was 18 years old when the first Harry Potter novel, The Philosopher’s [Sorcerer’s] Stone was first released. I was a freshman in college and I was hostessing for a seafood restaurant part-time when I purchased my copy.  It was the first time I participated in anything that remotely resembled fangirling, and it combined with a burgeoning love for The WB television network’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Fun Fan-Girl Fact #1: I created a 15 minute public-speaking presentation for a college speech course defending the virtues and benefits of watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I got an A, thank you very much, and turned a handful of cynical college cohorts into Buffy fans.

Fun Fan-Girl Fact #2: It was for Harry , Ron and Hermione and not Bella and Edward that I went to the midnight book release events and stood in the long movie lines on premiere days.

The film, Deathly Hallows Part 2, in my opinion, was wonderful. The experience of seeing it at Midnight in a packed theater teeming with fellow Potter fans was incredibly bittersweet but still glorious.  I saw the first movie (Sorcerer’s Stone) via matinee by myself (that may have been the first time I saw a movie alone in the theater) because my then-boyfriend hadn’t woken up from his all-night music writing session of the previous evening. A decade later, I watched the final film in a theater in an entirely new city with a husband who told all his friends on Twitter that he was at the midnight showing of “Harry PORTER“. N has not read the books but over the past few years has seen all the movies. My, what a difference a decade makes.

We’re also nearing the end of the our time with Twilight. Our Majestic Misfits Kristen and Robert are set to return for their third appearance at San Diego’s Comic Con[vention] this Thursday, July 21. This will be the couple’s first public appearance since the eventful MTV Movie Awards in early June.  It’s also the first major promotional push for The Twilight Saga’s final film installment: Breaking Dawn. As I am writing this essay, people (including my crazy beautiful sister @robkris13)  are already lined up at the convention center in San Diego to camp out  for Thursday’s panel–comprised of director Bill Condon and actors Ms Stewart, Mr Pattinson and Mr Lautner. We’ll talk more about Comic Con next time..but suffice to say: It’s kinda a big deal.

TWILIGHT:::

#DeepBreath #BeforeTheInsanity #DidNotSeeThisComing

cozy

NEW MOON:::

Did someone ask a question?

What will this Thursday’s Breaking Dawn Comic Con panel bring…?

We’re granted a double dose of Kristen (uh, Hell yeah) this year at Comic Con as she is sitting on a second panel in representation for her new project Snow White and The Huntsman. This will be the very first promotional event for SWATH. The panel will consist of director Rupert Sanders and the [obscenely] attractive cast. Filming isn’t scheduled to begin until next month in London, so this Comic Con appearance will provide a unique opportunity to gaze stupidly at the pretty  learn about the storyline and characters before production commences.

Hope y'all are near a fire-exit because will this panel explode or...?

This month I have goals (besides enjoying Comic Con and filming updates for SWATH) to expand The Magical Little Practice, launch a consulting firm attached to the MLP, and pursue instructor certification for Red Cross courses. While trying to gather the strength and courage to do all of those things, another healing, magical element emerged this month for me to appreciate.

This is when I turn to you all with wondrous eyes, surveying the friendships and relationships I’ve forged as a result of my involvement in this Kristen Stewart and Unconventional Beauty Support Campaign. Last week, I was blessed with visitors hailing from all corners of North America including Canada. And these ladies are the loveliest, most eloquent , most wickedly funny and brilliant gals. We met through…THIS. Through Musings, through KSIBTU, through our mutual support and admiration of our Reigning Other Queen Kristen and her Deliciously Poetic Partner in Crime, Robert Pattinson.

Whenever it becomes almost intolerable and painful to endure the slander, libel and absurd delusions concocted by the severely unsatisfied Other-Hunters and Chaos-creators in, drink in the sights of people you have met whom embody positive attributes: independent ideas, positive regard, wit, and open mindedness…maybe recognize the whimsy and fierce fashion accessories too…? Dear @Kate_Suena @MyCleverAlias @That_Bitch86 and briefly, Ms @J_carroll7: It’s been a pleasure and an honor.

These counterbalancing people you see probably possess  boundless pockets of joy…and perhaps the tendency for documentarian-like photography (which I support wholeheartedly btw) and the proclivity towards copious alcohol consumption…

night #4?

Also he or she may actually comprehend the awesome responsibility with which we use our words…

These neutralizing souls will most likely hold appreciation for varying perspectives. And he or she probably respects the value of introspection.

So that’s what I’ve been up to these past few weeks. I was all somber and contemplative for a few days, and then slightly combative and irritable for a few others. And now…Now, after spending a week or two stretching and warming up my muscles, breathing deeply and carefully considering the best position for my feet (hopefully not in my mouth, though that’s not a promise) at the barre, I am nostalgically reviewing the excitement and motivation that coursed through me as I researched new Royal Rebels to discuss with you…

Remember some of the Featured Royal Rebels we met this year? They have all traveled through these months garnering accolades from critics and colleagues along with numerous award nominations. They’ve debuted exciting and innovative new projects, released new albums, starred in blockbusters and/or critically acclaimed films.

Jesse

Freida

Johnny

I’ve three people percolating at the top of my head whom I hope to feature in the near future, just a heads up. Anyone you’re eager to see?

Remember those feelings of pride and glee when you caught a clip or video of Our Ambassador of Other Ms Stewart in refreshingly honest interviews or slightly uncomfortable, but always-humble award show appearances?

Remember when we first met because we held respect for Kristen’s career trajectory and her unapologetic genuineness? Remember when we all were collaborators and we would brainstorm new definitions and reframes for negative connotations and labels such as “unusual”, “awkward”, “unconventional” and “odd”?? Remember when we were ecstatic because Kristen appeared to have found a kindred spirit within a bumbling, awkward, intellectual and charming British bloke?

Yeah. I remember too. And I’d really like to return to that joyous, reverent, cohesive place as soon as possible. These past few weeks of drifting, regrouping, withdrawing and re-prioritizing have been exactly the sort of conditioning and healing I sought, whether consciously or not. Knowing I have several goals and hopes to address this year, I must have recognized the need to cocoon before pushing boundaries and charging forward at full speed. So after finishing several books, witnessing the grace and graciousness of a Reigning Other Queen, viewing one tearful but satisfying finale to a decade-long film series; and, enjoying the company of fellow Others amongst The Beats and summertime ideals, I am stepping away from the railing along the wall and moving towards an open floor. However, I know whenever I feel off-center or uncertain, I can always, always find balance along the barre.

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others seek clarity and balance along the barre.

Embrace Your Other.

*  *  *

QUESTION 1: What do you do when you need to reconnect with your roots? How do you steady yourself along the barre for balance?

QUESTION 2: Who is a Royal Rebel you’d like to see featured in a future Musings?

QUESTION 3: Memories of past ComicCons? Hopes for this year’s double-Stewy panel?

A/N:

Opening Pessoa quote provided by @Dizzy_Ladybug

Picture credits for “drinks” and “rings” goes to @Kate_Suena.

Printer’s Ink” courtesy of @MyCleverAlias.

Kristen at the PCA’s is from @CheerySarcasm

Infinite curtsies and bows to:

Bouffant for talking me through stuff.

My ‘Good Reads’ Girls for providing me an escape.

Possum Bestie @Justice_Aussie for “pinning me” with pretty quotes and pictures.

**Playlist for this Essay**

Where’d You Go ~ Fort Minor feat Holly Brook

Belong ~ The Cary Brothers

After The Storm ~ Mumford & Sons

Poison and Wine ~ The Civil Wars

A Light From Within (Part 2): Stories From Joplin

23 Jun
A/N: Most images seen in this posting are not the property of nor created by ©MusingsOnOther. Photos featuring ©Red Cross Disaster Relief in Clinton, MS and Joplin, MO, however, are owned by this author (KJN). Today’s essay, per usual, is unbeta’d and any typos or grammar bobbles are all mine. Also, for whatever reason, PlayList disallowed the Auto-start feature, despite my and Buff’s attempts at usurping.  If the music doesn’t start automatically, and you would like to hear today’s music Playlist, hit PLAY on the player in the right-hand column (below the Twitter Feed) —–>

This Special Edition Musings is my tribute to the incredible souls I encountered over my 13-day stint as a mental health therapist with the Red Cross Disaster Response Team earlier this month. There is an army of Otherness of Rebel Warriors cultivating and swelling in the south. Here are a few of their stories. I am but a student to their sage lessons in growth, faith, balance, compassion, reframing and perspective.  Make room on the Other Homecoming Float for these Rebellious Royals. NOTE: All names of people in the following stories have been changed out of legal/ethical practices of confidentiality…but moreover in a gesture of utmost respect.

“People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” ~Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

I already knew that in volunteering for deployment that I was going to emerge on the other side, changed. I’ve flown countless places in my life, but never with a mission like this. The three-and-a-half hour red-eye flight from my Cali city to Fort Worth, Texas was slightly uncomfortable as I was wedged in the middle seat between a young man who appeared to be heading on his own mission (I’ve seen dozens of SouthEast Asian men leave their home country to join the working ranks of hard-working Cruise ship staff; I recognized his running-shoes-encased feet and the Royal Caribbean pins attached to his hiking backpack) and an older gentlemen with a Jolly Santa-belly who immediately launched into snores as the plane leveled out at cruising altitude. It was midnight and every single seat on the plane was filled. My laptop was snugly packed away in my backpack in the overhead bin, so I couldn’t access all the fanfic pdf-documents I lovingly downloaded for my reading pleasure. But I did have my iPhone which was loaded with all my music, and I had my copy of Entertainment Weekly with Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss from The Hunger Games movie. I also had picked up a couple of actual BOOKS to begin reading in the off-chance I’d get some down time. Thank goodness I had these survival kit items because when I saw that the In-flight movie was Bieber’s Never Say Never I could immediately retreat, retreat, for the love of The Goddess, retreat!!!

I didn’t exchange more than a nod and a brief “hello” with my aisle mates, and I did not feel relaxed enough to sleep on the flight, so I remained awake until we arrived in Fort Worth. Now, you all know I’m a fairly talkative chica, but it wasn’t until my flight into and then a few days later out of Clinton, Mississippi that I was present enough and in the right mindset to actually hold a coherent conversation with anyone else. And oh, my my, those initial conversations were my first indicator that I was participating in something extraordinary.

I didn’t wear the Red Cross vest while on the plane, although my liaisons had insisted I do, so that we volunteers could represent the organization but also identify ourselves to other volunteers in the airports. I was too self-conscious to wear the bright red vest just yet. But I did wear my neck identification. And as soon as I slipped the identifier over my puffy, humidity-treated hair, people began to approach. And talk. And share. And hug. And cry. And change me with their stories.

Unfinished Business

“Hello,” he said to me. I glanced over to see a white-haired gentleman with brilliant blue eyes framed by attractive lines indicating countless moments of crinkling, winking laughter. He gestured to my badge and said, “Thank you”. I tucked my copy of One Day in the seat-back pocket in front of me and turned to my aisle mate at the window seat. Stunned, though I realize later I shouldn’t be, I only nodded my head in acknowledgement of his gracious statement directed at me. The lump in my throat that had been growing prohibited any speech from me just yet. The gentleman, who I came to learn was called Macwore a beige polo shirt with a patch over the left side of his chest. Avoiding any copious staring, I could just decipher the words “Fire Fighters”.

“He always wanted to live in the Pacific Northwest. Now he finally is home.” 

Mac had answered the call and was going to Texas to tame the wildfires that had consumed the western part of the state. Retired for nearly six years, Mac donated his time and services with the volunteer fire fighter association. He and his wife were happy Illinois residents, but they were eagerly looking forward to relocating to the Pacific Northwest, Puget Sound, Washington, more specifically. His blue eyes twinkled when he heard I was a West-Coaster. Then those eyes teared up with an ancient ache when he mentioned his only child, a daughter, who lives in Bellingham, Washington with her 18-month old son. Mac’s daughter raised Mac’s grandson alone since his daughter’s young husband Bryan was killed in Afghanistan 11 months prior.  Mac and his wife hoped to move to Washington to provide support for their daughter and their grandson, and to carry on Bryan’s wishes. Bryan, a fairly new army recruit, had grown up in Chicago, Illinois, dreaming of a time he could live in The Pacific Northwest, near the ocean, the Olympic Mountains, amongst the evergreen trees. After his death, Bryan’s wife ensured Bryan’s ashes were scattered among the Snake River. And now Mac and his wife would move to Washington as well to ensure  their daughter–Bryan’s wife–and her son would thrive. It would begin once Mac returned from his mission to fight the fires of Texas. 

Bryan's home

If this was any indicator of the people and stories I was to encounter the rest of my deployment, I was in trouble. Deeeeep trouble. My plane hadn’t even touched down in Joplin yet, and I was wiping tears and my leaky nose on a paper cocktail napkin in the comforting presence and  kind face of this retired firefighter. “I didn’t mean to upset you,” Mac said to me. “I just wanted to thank you for what you’re doing. There are such good people out there.” Still unable to properly speak, I croaked, glimpsing his Retired Fire Fighter’s Badge: “Yes. There are such good people…everywhere.”

With My Hands

I alluded to it before in Part 1, and maybe in a few of my tweets. But I will say it again now. Nothing, nothing could truly prepare me for the physical destruction left behind in the wake of the Joplin Tornado. I felt better prepared to address and comfort the emotional wreckage, but when I walked through the neighborhoods my first morning out at what’s called The Footprint (where the Tornado actually touched down and carved 12 miles through the city), I was utterly speechless. Any pictures I’ve shown you, or that you’ve seen on the news are pathetically pale in comparison. And certainly, the tales told from the survivors will never, ever be properly conveyed by me, but I will try to the best of my abilities to grant the respect and compassion that these battered but resilient warriors deserve. Because I met a fair share of Other Warriors. Royal Hell-Raisers and Majestic Misfits are prominent in Joplin, Missouri. I was one fortunate little therapist to meet just a few of them. But I will never, for as long as I am included among this plane of existence, forget them.

My first day doing outreach was a scorcher. Approximately 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) and the heavy humidity left me sweating, sticky and sunburned (which is a feat in itself. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve burned in my lifetime). I walked amongst the neighborhoods seen above, having conversations and impromptu storytelling sessions with anyone wandering around or cleaning up, or assessing the unfathomable destruction.

Eighty-three year old Mr. Leland was visiting a friend  just a couple blocks away when the tornado touched down at 5:41PM that Sunday evening. He attributes this visit as the only reason he is still alive today to tell us his story. His house along with his entire neighborhood was completely flattened. When he heard the warning sirens, he and his buddy, who was in his seventies, attempted to duck into the crawl space in the house. Mr. Leland pats his belly and says to me, “I’ve eaten too many fried suppers. I was too fat to fit in the crawl space.”  He held onto the banister along the stairs leading to his friend’s basement and prayed that his four cats were able to escape the violent funnel cloud ripping through his neighborhood.

Leland's neighborhood

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. Never,” he says. Mr. Leland escaped with only the clothes on his back and the rings he accrued from long-ago visits to Mexico on his fingers. He reported that all of his cats survived and any thing salvageable in the rubble is packed in his beaten up camper. He settled on a sagging, cracked plastic chair to eat his breakfast–french toast and eggs provided by Salvation Army in a styrofoam takeout box. With a sigh he turns to me, his withered hands gripping a slender tree branch crafted into a walking cane, and muses, “We will rebuild this neighborhood,” and a moment later: “I’m hungry.”

I. Am. Done.

The Ultimate Fighters

“K, I need you. Can you help me connect with this young man here? He’s lost everything. His house, his car, his place of employment. He won’t talk. He…he’s still in shock.” A case worker, Carolyn, pulled on my sleeve, guiding me to a foldout table and chairs set up in a make-shift counseling center in the middle of a convention center/skateboard park. I didn’t know it at the time, but this first meeting with nineteen-year-old Scott would determine the constructs of my role in Joplin. I was named, “Cute Young Thing” by fellow Red Cross cohorts, some of whom were heading into their seventh and eighth decades of life. I became the go-to gal for the “young folks”. To say I was busy is a gross understatement. It became extremely clear, though, that the survivors and wounded of this disaster are not designated to one age group, ethnicity or family background. The grief and pain felt was a universally shared and understood language in Joplin. People who were once strangers moving anonymously side-by-side amid the community were now comrades and co-soldiers from the trenches.

Laura rested her head in her hands while she awaited the case worker to call her in for her interview. She closed her eyes and  began counting her exhalations out. This is how I found her. Slumped forward, murmuring numbers to herself. “Four…threeee….two…one…”

Laura can’t stop crying. She started as soon as she sat down in the fold out chair in that convention center where we Red Cross workers were administering counseling, case work and linkage to financial assistance, home associations, dry goods and medical help. She looked at me when I sat down next to her offering her bottled water and said, “It’s the first time I’ve been able to sit down. And I can feel it now. And it hurts. And I can’t stop crying. I can’t. stop. crying.”

I sat next to Laura and cried alongside her while she spoke of the nightmares that assault her every night when she tries to close her eyes. She simply cannot sleep. It was on her property, in her pond that the body of 18-year-old William** was found, to the heartbreak of a community and nation. Up until the discovery of his body, there was hope that the newly-graduated teenager was found alive, even after he’d been torn from his SUV while driving home with his father. Laura’s nightmares all centered around the discovery of William’s body, sometimes inserting twisted images of her own children or grandchildren’s bodies. Thankfully, her own family members (composed of four males aged 18 through 27 and their families including three grandchildren aging from 3 through 6) were spared, but their houses were not. Laura recounts the survival story of her three-year-old granddaughter and her parents. Granddaughter laid flat in the bathtub, beneath the body of her father as the twister removed their house from its foundation. All that could be heard in the silence after the roar of the storm was a three-year-old’s prayer:

“Please please please please please…Protect Mommy. Protect Daddy….Please please please please please….” 

While the chair holds her upright, and the grief and exhaustion settle over her, this day, Laura is confident that her fiercely brave granddaughter’s pleas were the powerful protectors for her family. She gripped the card with the local counseling center’s crisis phone number on it, counting through her deep exhalations. “Four….three….two…onnnnnnnne…”

My heroes: Search and Rescue

“I guess I fell in love with Joplin. I will rebuild my city. I will.”

Scott wore a thin white tank top and baggy jeans. His blonde, spiky hair was making a point: keep your distance. A bouncing knee, and shaking fingers were the only indicators of discomfort displayed. He tilted his chin up at me when I settled into the foldout chair across the table from him. “Thirsty?” I offered him a cold bottled water. The heat of the day hadn’t yet reached its peak, but it was climbing, and the skateboard park housing our resource center was packed wall to wall with folks seeking aid and resources for rebuilding. Scott waved me off, but not unkindly. He was a handsome guy, and his soft tone of voice and manners only enhanced his looks. He was not exactly sure why he was face-to-face with a stranger talking about the disaster that befell his work place (the twister had completely wiped it out–a casual dining house) and home (“I’ve nothing to go back to”).  I’m not exactly sure what the  catalyst was, but suddenly Scott felt comfortable enough to tell me his story.

He was driving into the parking lot of his restaurant when he saw the twister rip the roof off of the building where customers and several co-workers were inside. He spoke of the single thought that rumbled through his brain: “GET THEM TO SAFETY. GET THEM TO SAFETY”, and how adrenaline must have gifted him with strength to gather four or five co-workers and form a human chain via latched arms. He wound one of his arms onto the piping below the industrial kitchen sink, and held onto one of the line cooks with his free hand…until his vision went black. He later learned that he was knocked unconscious by a rogue brick.

A restaurant on Main street

When Scott finally smiled, I caught a great view of his chipped front teeth. “Is that from the tornado?” I asked.

Scott leaned back in his chair and shook his head ruefully. “Nah, that’s from a fight.”

He motioned to his ear that appeared to be missing a chunk. “So is this.”

He showed me several bruises on his arms, and a gash on his head, results of the flying tornado debris, and several pictures of his demolished restaurant  on his cell phone. It turns out that our young hero Scotty is originally from Louisiana, near New Orleans, where he was moving up the ranks in the Ultimate Fighting world. When he moved to Joplin two years ago, in an attempt  to walk a path less physically taxing, he never believed he’d grow so protective and prideful of this new city. Now, in the aftermath of the tornado, he is determined to rebuild his shattered neighborhood using his own hands. Since relocating to Joplin, Scott has grown fond of rebuilding cars and greenhouses. He had saved his co-workers on May 23 but he himself was also redeemed when he called his family in Louisiana to ensure them he was alive, and for the most part, unharmed. Because while he had felt aimless two years ago, leaving his family and Ultimate Fighting back in New Orleans, he realized he had finally found in Joplin a place for home, a place worth defending.

"No, Joplin is Home now for me," he assures me.

To Have Found Their Way Out

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross was a psychiatrist, activist and pioneer in researching grief and loss and dying. She founded the Kubler-Ross Model, otherwise known as the Five Stages of Grief in her seminal book On Death and Dying. The Five Stages explore coping mechanisms and raised sensitivity in the aftermath of great or impending loss, and I found that everyone in the community was experiencing elements of every stage of grief in Joplin, MO.

When I arrived in the city, it was a Monday afternoon, exactly seven days from the original disaster. People were just now shaking themselves out of the shock and numbness. They were feeling the crash after the burnout of adrenaline. While I settled into my sleeping quarters (my army cot was one of seven in a classroom within a large Baptist Church, with no working showers), I was given the orientation about the fiercely determined people that formed a community in Joplin, MO. Every day had been riddled with power outages, new medical emergencies, new discoveries, new losses, and many, many funerals. As you can imagine, there were moments of unfathomable, devastating, horrifying heartbreak…along with glimmers of miraculous, loving, compassionate light. I encountered reframing and perspective-changers with every single hour. I heard shrieking, rebellious yells. I was inundated by OTHERNESS and a wild, unconventional beauty.

While I was profoundly effected by every single person I encountered in my mission, including colleagues and other staff,there are two different stories in particular that I believe were the culprits for literally consuming and then altering my essence, my soul. Both events took place within 24 hours of each other, near my last days of deployment. I couldn’t speak of these stories to anyone for days, weeks afterwards, and not even my husband N understood the profundity of these tales until I shared them with him just three days ago. See, three days ago, I had received a wonderful gift of a massage, and the therapist had started working on my neck and upper back, accessing painful muscle tension that I referred to as “Joplin Knots”. Not at all surprisingly, I cried through the final ten minutes of the bodywork session, and through the time it took for me to redress afterwards.

Our bodies will hold onto grief and emotional unrest long before and after our brains recognize it as grief, for what it is. And while I was in the Grief Stage of Depression in the two weeks after my return from my deployment, I can say that the massage induced my dive into the fifth and final stage of grieving: Acceptance. Which is why I can  now share with you a little of what I saw in the fields.

Angela and Chris  are very young parents. She’s still in her late teens and he has just entered his twenties. They are engaged to be married, after Chris proposed to Angela a couple of months ago. But they will postpone the wedding until later, much later. When I met the young couple, it was under the most horrific circumstances I’ve ever witnessed. She was in a wheelchair covered head to toe in bandages and her right arm was wrapped in a splint and held in a sling. She had two metal pins holding her forearm together before her scheduled surgery in 5 days. He had an angry red gash, held together with staples, in the back of his head, and a swollen ankle the size of a grapefruit. They both came to the convention center for assistance since their home and their car had been completely shattered. They couldn’t come sooner because up until that morning, they were both hospitalized for their injuries. But the loss of their home and even their own physical wounds could not even begin to hint at their utter devastation.

Angela and Chris were at home with their roommate when the massive F5 Twister touched down in Joplin. It was just the typical Sunday evening for the household: Angela tossed around ideas on what to prepare for dinner, Chris watched  TV. Their sixteen-month old son S ** snoozed in Angela’s arms. Afterwards, Angela and Chris could only tell me about the sounds they heard (the roar of the wind) and the agony of impact (from the wooden planks that sliced through Angela’s arm, their roommate’s torso, and Chris’s head). They can tell me that Chris threw his body on top of Angela, the baby and the roommate in the only protective stance he could think of, when they heard the roof caving inward, on top of them. Chris did tell me, with tears streaming, that he saw his two beloved dogs crushed beneath the plaster and debris. But it is wordlessly, that Angela shared the depth of her grief with me. She silently showed me her cell phone, pressed a few buttons, and launched a slide-show featuring a smiling, cherubic, sixteen-month old Baby S.  It is then that I realized  I sat with the heartbroken, shattered parents of the youngest tornado fatality.**

Unbelievably, Angela and Chris’s story grew even darker before the dawn. Stories of ghastly “family” greed (in the form of looting and stealing) and another death of a family member issued an almost lethal blow to their fragility. I sat next to Chris and held his hand when he received the phone call  from the hospital advising him that their roommate had just died from her injuries. That’s about as far as I’ll speak of their experience because I cannot possibly convey how crucial privacy and respect is. However, I can tell you that I spent four hours with this young couple and I am absolutely certain that I’ve never met a more courageous, more beautiful pair of people in my entire existence. And I’ve never cried over clients like I did for Angela and Chris. After my time with the young couple was over, my colleagues Don and Ginny found me curled up in the fetal position, sobbing on the bench in the smoker’s area behind the skateboard park/convention center-turned resource center.

As Angela and Chris recalled the murky horrors of their week to me, there were tears, there were moments of anguish and fury, there was shock, sarcasm and desolation. There were, miraculously, a couple of moments of levity too: I asked Chris to tell me how he proposed to Angela, and it was slightly scandalous. She had another boyfriend at the time. And I can tell you that with the combined efforts of various social, governmental and religious organizations, this young family was able to create and hold a proper memorial service for their beautiful Baby S, they were able to link with housing assistance, and they were able to cover their medical bills including Angela’s impending surgery.

“There was never a night nor a problem that could defeat a sunrise or hope” ~Bern Williams

Quiet Moments of Majesty

Before I share the second story that stripped me down to nothing, I did want to inject a moment to breathe and ground. I know it’s intense. I’m at nearly 4000 words already and this is my edited version! I’m panting and aching along with you, believe me. This is the most difficult Musings I’ve ever written, and it’s taken me nearly three weeks to gather the courage to try sharing it with you. Do you see now why I groveled and thanked you so profusely in the last essay? For providing me with a little bit of lightness while I was away?

To protect the aching rawness I felt, I found myself withdrawing from nearly everybody when I returned from deployment. I was coming down with the flu, of course, and I had just spent about two weeks in the trenches of an emotional battle ground. The grieving process, as well as the time warranted to process the flooding of information can vary in presentation and behaviors, from person to person. We all have our own way of recuperating and recovering from adrenaline rushes and shocks to our systems. It’s crucial that we employ self-care to prevent any destructive propensities. Remember we’ve talked about self-care here? I pulled back from an online presence and began taking long walks in the park each day. I began reading books that I had placed aside. Our Reigning Other Queen Kristen employs self-care by withdrawing from the public eye to cocoon. I imagine she reads voraciously, tries out new recipes discovered on the cooking channels, plays guitar, listens to music. Indulges in her self-proclaimed obsession with her cat Max “Jella”. She hangs with her beloved family. However, when she emerges again, she is exquisitely splendid.

Although her grounding trumps anyone else's grounding.

Just two days after dazzling us in Balmain at the MTV Movie Awards, our lovely Rebel Queen Kristen surfaced in London, England in another strapless mini-dress designed by Balmain, to present GlamourUK’s  ‘Man of The Year Award’ to her On The Road costar and friend Garrett Hedlund. She arrived looking like this:

And then this picture of them:

Makes me almost unbearably excited for….

And while I nurtured wounds, and cocooned away these past couple weeks, the Ambassador of Otherness herself reminds me and everyone else how time away from the race and the chaos can be beautifully rehabilitating. She reminds us that while there are sadnesses and stressors in our world, life will continue to move onward regardless. And …also she reminds us to keep perspective. There are natural disasters of wildfires, tornadoes and floods; great losses as well as great triumphs happening every single day. Do we really have the time and energy to spend on set-stalking and online bullying? Can we instead appreciate that people (famous and otherwise) have a talents and gifts to contribute to the betterment of society without engaging in Twitter fights or online discussion-board-mud-slinging?

I think we can. I know we can. I know we can take a look around us and see the blessings bestowed upon us in forms of family, friendships, faith, work, play and rest. I know we can exist consciously, with an in-the-moment awareness; contributing to society by living joyfully and authentically and honestly.

Take a page from Ms Stewart’s book on Royal Otherness Etiquette: show support and build up your fellow Dreamers and Rebel Royals.

Chris and Kris. Mutual Admiration Society.

Take pride in encouraging Royal Rebels like Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and the battered but not-beaten Joplin residents for their pioneering, unconventional ways of being. Let’s stop picking apart how other people choose to live their lives, and instead encourage a little embracing of unconventionality (Otherness= Beauty) within ourselves.

I’m wrapping up now. This is the longest Musings on record, and I’m still planning on sharing one more sliver of Otherworldly Beauty that emerged from Joplin AND I wanted to show you the item for another MOO Giveaway. So hang with me just a leeeetle bit longer, yes?

An Anonymous Grace 

Joanne and her husband Bill were in the grocery store parking lot when the lethal funnel cloud descended upon them. The couple looked forward to sharing dinner at home together, and had stopped at the market to pick up the ingredients needed for their meal that evening. The darkening skies were ominous and there were the warning sirens, but the couple wondered, were they perhaps more about precaution than true urgency? The sudden deafening roar of the winds encompassed the middle-aged couple, and before Joanne knew what was happening, Bill shouted at her, “GET DOWN, ROLL UNDER THE TRUCK! ROLL. UNDER. THE. TRUCK…NOW!” Joanne, stunned and frightened, froze and didn’t  feel the slap of concrete on her shoulders and arms when her husband shoved her to the ground.

“He didn’t know me. He just held onto me.” 

She didn’t have to be reminded to roll under their truck, because the 200 mile-an-hour gusts of wind had already blown her beneath it. She felt the jolt of her own body hitting what she thought was a wall. However, “The Wall” grunted, “OOMPH“, and wrapped an appendage around Joanne’s midsection. He did not let go. Joanne suddenly realized that the “wall” she had hit was really another person. A large man with a huge expanse of a chest had hooked one of his biceps around the front axle of the truck, and wrapped his other arm around Joanne like a vice. And he held on. He held onto Joanne as she screamed and thrashed  in the wind; as she called out to Bill, needing to know his whereabouts…

The Wall held onto Joanne so tightly that her ribs cracked. The Wall held onto Joanne even as they watched Joanne’s husband flip and toss away into the funnel cloud. The Wall hung onto Joanne as she sobbed beneath that truck, after the winds died down and only an inconceivable horror and silence hung in the air. And somehow, that stranger, The Wall of a Man now known as The Man Who Saved Joanne’s Life, learned Joanne’s name, and attended the funeral for Joanne’s husband Bill, five days later. 

So there you have it. This essay was a tribute and love letter to a few of the many Royal Others I met, fell in love with, cried with, and changed with in my little journey to the South. This is me brushing aside pettiness, snark, sarcasm and blame, all components interlaced with fear. This is me bowing down in awe, humility and deep gratitude for the reminders of grace, compassion, resilience, strength and courage in our moment-to-moment living.

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others’ true beauty is a light from within.

Embrace your Other.

*   *   *

An Epically Long A/N including GIVEAWAY Deets: 

**William is the one name I kept as is for this essay. Will Norton was 18 years old, having just graduated from Joplin High School when the tornado winds pulled him out through the sunroof of the Hummer he and his dad were driving. After nearly 5 days missing, his body was discovered in the pond of my client “Laura”.

**Baby S was the youngest Joplin Tornado victim. He was ripped from his mother’s arms during the storm. CNN did a special report on his story.

A NEW MOO GIVEAWAY

A few months ago I found a local mom-and-pop T-shirt making business. As an experiment I made a couple of shirts with a few MOO-inspired phrases on them. I sent one to Ms. Kristen Stewart, Ms Queen Other herself as a birthday gift (A burgundy shirt that said “I AM OTHER“). That leaves just one One-of-A-Kind Musings Tee (made on uber-soft American Apparel fabric, in Women’s Size L) that I’d like to give away to one of you Majestic Misfits.

You can enter to win the drawing for the T-Shirt by leaving a comment answering at least one (or all) of these questions:

1. When did you know you were Other?

2. How do you embrace your Other in your daily life?

3. Have you encountered moments of quiet majesty in unexpected places? 

4. How do you employ self-care? 

I’ll announce a winner in a MOO MEMO posting Thursday, June 30.

*   *   *

Specific shout outs and vice-like hugs to: 

My sister Puss for letting me cry. CC for texting check-in requests. Mari-Pai for asking if I’m ok. Bouffant for talking me through some dark, dark moments.

To PrimaryColors1 and Beammeup_00 for your generous offers of shelter and supplies upon the word ‘Go’.

To MyCleverAlias, Kate_Suena, JRollin5, Mel452, That_Bitch86, DeeDreamer16, ThistleandFi, TakeMeToBliss, Buff_82 and KStewsBtrThanU for checking in on me and cheering me on.

Last but never, never least: Thank you to my CYBER SISTERS & READERS  You provided the most powerful web of support by being your brilliant, compassionate, witty selves.

TODAY’S PLAYLIST (PUSH PLAY)

Look For Me As You Go By ~ The Innocence Mission

Satisfied Mind ~ Jeff Buckley

Price Tag ~ Jessie J feat B.O.B.

I Feel Pretty/ Unpretty ~ Lea Michele & Dianna Agron of GLEE

After The Storm ~ Mumford & Sons

Fix You ~ Coldplay

A Light From Within (Part 1)

20 Jun
A/N: Most images seen in this posting are not the property of nor created by ©MusingsOnOther. Photos featuring ©Red Cross Disaster Relief in Clinton, MS and Joplin, MO, however, are owned by this author (KJN). Today’s essay, per usual, is unbeta’d and any typos or grammar bobbles are all mine. Also, for whatever reason, PlayList disallowed the Auto-start feature, despite my and Buff’s attempts at usurping. To hear today’s music Playlist, hit PLAY on the player in the right-hand column (below the Twitter Feed) —–>
Whatever day this is that I actually post, I imagine it’s not my usual Thursday. I hope to get back on schedule soon. I thank you for flowing with me.   
“People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” ~Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

*Takes deep breath* There you are, and here I am. Hello, you beautiful, Majestic Misfits. It has been over a month since I’ve posted a New MOO and I am admittedly nervous and shaky. I feel out of practice, super raw and tentative but at the same time eager to reconnect with you all. SO. MUCH. HAS. HAPPENED. And on so many different levels. In the name of confidentiality, and sensitivity to trauma that folks have experienced, I have spent the past week weighing the options of what to share and how to share. . .I am not even quite sure where to begin, so I guess I’ll …just…jump in.

It was ‘A Time’

So, the last MOO essay  I penned posted on May 15. We talked about the Twirling Other Goddess Stevie Nicks, and we explored what it meant to MOther, even if it was against society’s definitions (We’re Others. It’s how we roll). We also surveyed how we women can be both supportive and simultaneously destructive forces out there, especially towards fellow women. Then I shared with you all that I was a few days away from leaving for my first national Red Cross assignment as a licensed clinician on the Disaster Response Team.

I do not think I will ever truly have enough (or appropriate) words to justifiably describe the people, the agonizing pain of loss, or the brilliant strength and faith of humanity I encountered. But I will try and share a few stories with you here (and that’s what PART 2 of this post will be).  In the seminal TV show My So-Called Life, Angela Chase (portrayed by a featured Royal Rebel Claire Danes), Rayanne and Rickie ponder the glory of connecting with other people for a larger purpose outside themselves, and they simply refer to that process as “A Time”. Bear with me as I attempt to begin recalling the people and the moments that comprise the most life-changing, profound ‘Time’ I’ve ever had the honor of witnessing.

I left May 23 for Clinton, Mississippi to offer relief and counseling support to the men and women who had already been out providing food, shelter and Psychological First Aid to the survivors of the storms and destructive flooding out in the communities near the Mississippi River. What I came to find out later was that this Disaster Relief Operation (DRO or DR) was winding down. I had been called in to debrief and support the volunteers and Red Cross staff, some of whom had been in the trenches for 4o days already.

Here’s what I was struck by, while in Mississippi, other than the sheer elation it was to spell out the state’s name voluntarily, and not because I was in a spelling bee:

It’s beautifully green and lush in the most mundane places. Tree-lined highways (empty of traffic) greeted me on the drive from the gas station to Headquarters; and, to the market and to the shelter where I met with clients. See, I grew up in L.A. County, California, where any greenery, if not in protected parks–or smoked–is a rarity. Concrete utopia shrouded in brown air. Even where I live now, any lush growth and flowers are reserved for the national park.

But really, what blew my mind were the PEOPLE. The people–strangers to me–were so very warm, generous, welcoming and open. People looked me in the eye and said, “Well, HELLO THERE!” on the street, in the grocery aisles, at the gas station, and of course at restaurants. There is something so refreshing and comforting about Southern Hospitality and I am so thrilled to have experienced a little sliver of it. If I appeared too alien or unusual, too OTHER to anyone in Clinton, Mississippi, I never knew it. I was welcomed and embraced warmly and lovingly, regardless.

ahhh is THAT what human interaction looks like?

An Other Application

Of course, I got to musing, because that’s what I do, and reflected on how I’m jostled by kindness, etiquette and “common courtesy”. Why is it surprising for people to be kind anymore? Why does eye contact or a friendly passing greeting feel like such a novelty?? I suppose in this time where we spend the majority of our days deciphering words on a computer screen or texts on a phone, its not terribly surprising that the messages conveyed through eye contact and tone of voice are no longer considered integral or necessary in “communication”. Which is a shame. Those nonverbal factors including pitch and intonation of voice, eye contact contain powerful messages. Clues to a person’s intentions, beliefs and identity.

One topic in the newly conceived “What The Fangirl Learned” feature for this blog, pertained to the rise of Cyber Bullying and Online Confidence. It is notable that people present themselves assertively and cruelly as long as they maintain anonymity behind an avatar image and moniker. Would these same people be as blunt and hurtful if they shared their opinions directly with their target? Would Kristen Stewart’s Bull Shit People and Critics ever share their low regard for her if they were in the same room with her, directly to her? I must take a moment to tip my fedora to the brave and brilliant warriors at @BecauseWeAreNot for wading into the mucky secretions from the Nonsensicals and BullShitPeople… and simply holding up a mirror. Yes, Haterade Drinkers, you are that vile and we SEE YOU. My hope is that all of us still experience an instant or two of remembering the human being on the other side of the camera lens, the computer screen or discussion board. It would certainly benefit our Reigning Royal Rebels for us to remember this. . .

She Shines On

Speaking of Royal Rebels and public appearances…. When we last met here in Headquarters Other, we celebrated our Reigning Other Queen’s Best Actress award from the Milan International Film Festival for her stunning work in the powerful film Welcome To The Rileys. We hadn’t seen our lovely Queen for some time, as she was implementing her usual NinjaRebellion and flitting all over the world undetected, un-stalked. YAY. She would continue to fly under the radar until June 5, the day the MTV Movie Awards occurred. And looking at Ms Rebel Royal herself was like seeing the sun for the first time after a decade-long rainstorm. Hole-eeeeee freakin hell.

Where were you all when this stunning fashion DreamTeam of Kristen and Balmain debuted? Kristen wore a scarlet red (YESSSSSS. Red is my favorite color on Ms Stewart) strapless mini dress covered in shimmery grommets and SAFETY PINS, MOFOS!!  The dress, in my opinion boasted one of her–if not THE best–red carpet looks of all time.

Kristen was positively glowing. Blindingly luminous. She emanated pure joy and lightness, and she was giddy and playful for the duration of the whole night. I loved how happy and grounded she appeared. I loved her interaction with Rob and Taylor. I loved her dress. LOVED. IT. Loved it all. I get why Rob stared at her the whole night.

dude. we know.

June 5th, the day of the MMAs was an interesting day for me. I was on my tenth day straight into my deployment assignment for Red Cross, and for the first time, was back from work before the sun set. The day before had been the most heartbreaking day that I can recall in my “grown up” life, certainly my entire psychotherapy career, and I was feeling pretty weary. I had stolen away in one of the tiny preschool classrooms in the church that served as my sleeping quarters. I hadn’t seen my husband in 2 weeks (he was out of town at a work conference when I left for Mississippi) and I hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep nor a proper hot shower in…a long time. I needed a huge steaming bowl of The Pretty to soothe the ache. I sought a reminder of all the blessings in my life that came from musing about Rebel Queens and Warrior Poets. So there I was, hunkered down in a tiny toddler-sized chair watching the live feed on my laptop, which was placed on a tiny toddler-sized table, bursting with exultation over little clips such as this:

Can watch this pure joyfulness on loop forevah

It was a night in which GiddyRob (my Fave Rob) was front and center (yes, Rob just dropped an F-Bomb on live TV that the censors didn’t catch in time; yes he just presented an award to Reese Witherspoon as more of a ROAST; yes, he just made out with Taylor Lautner before gently kissing his hand and forehead), and Eclipse swept all categories brightening an otherwise nearly unwatchable show. After countless moments of “WHAT THE FUCKs?” over the course of the 2 hour awards show, our ReigningOther Queen capped off the night when she accepted her Best Female Performance award graciously (gratitude to the fans who voted) and wittily advising Oscar-winner Natalie Portman:

“Sorry, Natalie, The Popcorn is mine!

So she gets it. Though Kristen Stewart has always gotten it. She knows that her Golden Popcorn statuettes from the MTV Movie Awards are not the Academy Awards that her peers are earning. But she also knows that she wouldn’t be in her fortuitous position as an actress if it weren’t for her devoted supporters. Kristen is gracious and grateful for every single person who sees her work as inspiring and enjoyable and she has more than once publicly thanked the Twilight fans for their incomparable passion. Very classy and…royal of her, yes? Just another reason why Ms Stewart resides atop the Royal Court Float.

O_O

 A Way Out Of The Depths

While sitting there, in the Preschool/nursery room at Calvary Baptist Church watching my live feed of the MMAs, I found it almost impossible to reconcile the extreme paradoxes that comprised my reality on June 5.  I had just driven my pimp rental car (a tricked-out 4×4 SUV, the exact opposite of the car I own in real life) through the little that remained of a Joplin neighborhood in order to get to the air conditioned church that housed a hundred of my fellow Red Cross workers and I. The day before was my brother’s birthday, and when I called the house to wish him birthday happiness, I nearly fainted with exhaustion and grief, and was barely coherent. My mind simply could not wrap around the idea that the scenes I’d encountered earlier my day existed at the same time that the other folks in the world were moving through daily tasks, pushing through another work day, or planning the evening’s dinner, studying for tomorrow’s early-morning exam. That while a four-year-old  girl asked her mother if “The Tornado will come again and take me from you?” in Joplin or Alabama, at the same time, lighting technicians and camera crews were setting up for the red carpet arrivals for another MTV Movie Awards.  I could NOT reconcile these vastly different happenings in my head. It’s taken me over 2 weeks since my return to even begin understanding.

thank you, my Possum @Justice_Aussie for this

A summary for those who hadn’t read about it or seen the news: On Sunday, May 23, 2011 at 5:41PM a tornado with 200 miles/hr (approx 312 kilometers/hr) winds touched down on the city of Joplin, Missouri. Over the course of 19 minutes, the loud, violent funnel cloud measuring one mile wide ripped a 12 mile path through the city (population 50,000). The level of damage, destruction and fatalities left behind in its wake earned the tornado an F5 category rating, the highest on the scale. As of June 14, the death toll was at 153 people with approximately ten people still unaccounted for. The Joplin Tornado destroyed 75% of the city and is now ranked the deadliest singular tornado in decades, and among the ten most deadly tornados in U.S. History. Joplin’s tornado came on the heels of a series of destructive storms and tornados that effected at least five other states across the South and Midwestern U.S. including Mississippi  (the first stop on my deployment) and Alabama where an estimated 195 people died after several tornados touched down. People will tell you that pictures on TV or on the computer will not appropriately depict the destruction. TRUTH. It looked like the Apocalypse had occurred. It looked like a wasteland. It looked the way I imagine it sounded. Absolute obliteration and desolation.

I arrived in Joplin, MO, directly from Clinton, MS, on May 30, on the one-week anniversary of the tornado’s touchdown. People have  different coping mechanisms and timelines in dealing with grief and loss. So by the time I arrived in Joplin, I felt the stirrings of recognition. The numbness and shock was wearing off, and people were slowly growing aware of their feelings about what they just lived through.

Within minutes of arriving in this pummeled and stunned town, I encountered  the electric thrumming of passion, strength and ferocity. And there is promise.

Gratitude. 

Faith.

Resilience.

"I will rebuild", he says.

Beautiful People Do Not ‘Just Happen’

I will delve more personally into the phenomenal stories of the people I met and counseled in my time in Joplin in the second part of this post. Part of the reason for the delay in publishing this essay was my struggle in telling the stories of the Royal Rebels I met in a sensitive, respectful, confidential manner. Another reason for the late posting is my own body’s delayed reaction to my assignment. On day 12, I awoke with a sore throat and sniffly nose, unsurprisingly. By the time I flew home a couple days later, a doctor’s visit had provided me a diagnosis of a “very bad cold-flu”. Additionally, my heart was bursting with stories of loss and sacrifice and dazzling acts of LOVE. Not even I, Miss Ramblelicious, could piece together a coherent sentence. I needed my own brand of therapy to soothe my wounds. Which is where you gorgeous, pulchritudinous, glimmering Rabble Rousers came in. You provided an antidote.

Thank you. THANK. YOU. THANK YOU.

I burst into tears when I was sent the link to the love letter and Birthday Celebration you all participated in, at the generous and gorgeous prompting of my girls CC, Buff and Bouffant. Already I was shocked at the kind words my Team Other Captains bestowed, though I pay them a lot of money (currency is made up of poking, prodding, annoying texts and rambling emails) to say nice things to me and about me, but I am beyond astonished at the loving words and generous wishes you all shared as well. CC was not kidding when she told you all how hard I love those of you on this journey. I do. I love you like a full-body board check in a hockey game. I go big or go home in my gratitude and adoration for you Readers, Sisters and Friends. In addition to check ins with Bouffant and CC, and occasional tweet-exchanges…lines of poetry  and words of encouragement began to filter in while I was away from you…Reminders of #BEAUTY and #RebelRoyalty and #OTHERNESS. . .

From my girl J (@That_Bitch86) who also provided me an anchor long before. #QUEEN

From Katie (@Kate_Suena) who shows me #Other and #beauty in book recs

You could not possibly know how you healed me on June 3, when you chimed in to wish a Happy Birthday/Anniversary to my little blog about Beauty. You did and do. YOU. HEAL. ME. As do sights such as this:

Giggly, LondonStew will ALWAYS Win.

annnnnnnd….ohhhhh mah Good Goddess…just a day or so after the MMAs…Are you KIDDING ME???!?

Well, so. There really isn’t much to say to follow up that, other than that time away for NinjaStew only further proves to be GLORIOUS….So it’s a perfect place to pause until I post Part Two later this week, hopefully Thursday, to get back on Regular MOO Programming. I know I’ve droned on about my gratitude to you all, but you cannot possibly know how much you have provided joy, comfort and cure for me while I crawled through this month’s Other-worldly events. Thank you for your patience as I re-acclimate and try to find my grounding again…Thank you  for tolerating me while I fangirl a month late over the beautiful sightings of our Reigning Other Queen. Thank you for reminding me that no matter where I travel, who I meet, how deep the struggle is to see it…that OTHER. IS. EVERYWHERE. 

We are Other.

Kristen is Other.

Others’ light shines on, shines far.

Embrace your Other.

*       *      *

A/N: Later this week, Part 2 will introduce you all to the pristinely beautiful Rebel Royalty I met while abroad…And we’ll talk more about Kristen’s GlamourUK appearance, because it’s too beautiful not to. And…There’s another MUSINGS GIVEAWAY!!! Until then, be well, be kind to one another.  See you soon. Yours, KJ 

I have numerous people to thank individually, but I’ll wait til the second part of the essay before doing so. Just know that every single person reading this: I felt you. I know you’re there. And I am indebted to you.

PLAYLIST: (PUSH PLAY) 

Look For Me As You Go By ~ The Innocence Mission

Satisfied Mind ~ Jeff Buckley

Price Tag ~ Jessie J feat B.O.B.

I Feel Pretty/ Unpretty ~ Lea Michele & Dianna Agron of GLEE

After The Storm ~ Mumford & Sons

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