Babies in the Driveway

I don’t have health insurance. So, when it’s time for a women’s health checkup, I do what lots of women do. I make an appointment at Planned Parenthood.
The experience is enlightening. It’s frustrating, empowering, confusing, and humbling.
Arriving, I drive past huge signs featuring fetuses and sad looking babies lining the street along the clinic. I wave nonchalantly at a man yelling about hell as I try not run over the dismembered baby dolls all over the driveway.
A kind man in a blue vest boasting the word “Escort” walks me from my truck to the front door. I’m just here for a pap smear, I think. I wonder silently what kind of fear would be coursing through my body if I was walking in pregnant, and I thank the man for being there.
I walk in and to my left is a security desk. I pass under the metal detector and through one door, and then push a button to wait for another to be unlocked by the woman at the desk, who sits behind a glass divider.
It’s strange. These precautions keep people safe. And yet, it is their presence that reminds me I should be afraid. Like a ticker tape that reads, “You are safe here. This place is dangerous.”
The woman who does my intake is awesome. She listens carefully as I explain concerns. She is thorough and knowledgeable as she answers my questions. She is understanding and compassionate as I express frustration and confusion. Frustration at my confusion, and at years of inconsistent information about what to expect from and how to best care for my body.
Before we leave the room, she points to a block of text on my medical history form that states Planned Parenthood is a safe place that understands the personal and potentially painful nature of certain topics. She tells me to read it and then asks gently if I’ve ever experienced abuse, assault or intimate partner violence.
I tell her I was sexually assaulted in college. It was a date rape, I clarify. And I feel confused. I realize I still haven’t found language to describe that event, or the last ten years of processing, deconstructing, discovering, and making sense of it.
She asks if I’ve been able to talk to anyone about it. This I’m clear on. I tell her yes, absolutely. I’ve done a lot to work and move through it.
I appreciate her sensitivity. I’m also keenly aware that it’s her sensitivity that has me feeling sensitive. Generally around this topic, I have freedom. I have power. But right now, I’m not sure how to communicate that.
I’m pretty sure she doesn’t want to hear, “I healed when I realized that night was my responsibility. I healed when I realized he’s human too, and we both made choices and we had vastly different interpretations of how those choices played out. I didn’t know better and it wasn’t my fault. But it wasn’t his either.”
Telling her I was raped is one thing. She’ll hold my pain like a newborn baby and make sure I have everything I need to sooth and care for it.
Telling her I wasn’t–or that I spent years believing I was, before choosing power by taking responsibility–I fear that’s something else entirely. I fear I’ll be banished as a “baby killer.”
“You’re safe here. This place is dangerous.”
She shows me to the exam room. I undress and wait. When the Doctor finally comes in, she tells me she wants to do a couple other tests I feel are unnecessary. We discuss it briefly. She seems annoyed.
We agree on starting with the pelvic exam and going from there. By now, I’m stressed and tense. She’s moving too quickly, and she’s telling me to relax.
I tell her to stop. I check in with my body. I breathe. I relax. When I’m ready, I tell her to continue, and she does–still moving quickly but more gently now, and within a few moments we’re finished.
It’s the least comfortable women’s exam I’ve ever had, and it’s ironic that it’s happening here, and that it’s immediately following the most gentle check-in on sexual and emotional well-being that I’ve received.
“You are safe here. This place is dangerous.”
I pay and leave, and the Escort tells me to have a good day. He rolls his eyes as the protester continues yelling about fire and brimstone. “You get used to the crazy,” he says. “It’s always the same.” I nod. I tell him I get it and wish him a happy New Year.
As I’m about to turn out of the lot, I decide to stop and roll down my window. I turn down the Christian radio station I listen to every day, and the man who’s been yelling about God and baby killers comes up to my door and asks, hopefully, if I’ve changed my mind.
I tell him I’m not pregnant. I came for a wellness exam. He gestures to an address on the paper he’s been holding out to me and tells me should have gone here. “You’ve gone to the Devil’s House.”
I tell him I know God, and God knows me.
“They’re going to Hell for killing babies, and you’re going too, if you don’t repent.” He starts to tell me about all the ways God punished baby-killers in the Bible, and I tell him not to preach at me like that.
He stops and apologizes, and stays quiet for a moment. I look at his eyes. They’re brilliant blue. Scared. Hopeful. Gentle. His words cast stones. His eyes speak of tenderness.
“I paid for an abortion in 1978,” he says. “I’m a murderer. But I repented and God has forgiven me. I’ll keep praying for your salvation.” A horn honks behind me.
“Thank you,” I say. “Same to you.” I roll up my window and drive away, and I do. I pray for him.
A few years ago, I would’ve been so angry at him. I wouldn’t have been able to see his eyes through my own judgements of him. I wouldn’t have been able to hear his Love through his hate.
Now, I just see myself in it. The same way I see myself in all the mornings little ironies.
Because life is this way, isn’t it? It’s both safe, and it’s dangerous. It’s scattered and orderly. It’s clean and so so so messy. It’s sacred and profane. It’s crazy and judgemental, and also steeped in deepest Love.
The kind of Love that has everyday people show up to walk strangers safely to whatever door they’ve chosen. The kind of Love that drives everyday people to spend their entire lives screaming for babies and souls and salvation.
Like with a lot of fights, I no longer know which “side” is right. I no longer care. I’ll hold the space for both.
I’ll let Love show up in blue Escort vests, and I’ll let it show up like dead babies in the driveway.
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A VitalFinancials “Money Wellness Thought”

This article was originally published as a guest post on the VitalFinancials Blog. I’ve been both a client and collaborator with VitalFinancials since 2014. This is my story.

 

Three gold boxes, all different sizes, sit neatly stacked on the bookshelf by my bed. Every day after work, toting a small stack of cash tips from my job at a local brunch spot, I take out the boxes and spread their contents on the floor around me.

Inside are my “Funds,” separated by small sheets of white paper, each paper-clipped to a stack of cash. There’s a fund for Tithe, one for Travel, one for my pup, Shiva, and one for Plugger (my aptly named pickup truck). There are also funds for Groceries, Gas, and Vitals (for everyday essentials like body care products). And of course a Flex Fund, for those purchases that don’t fall neatly into any of the other categories.

Once I’ve tallied up my tips, I pull out the pencil and pad of paper that lives in the largest box and enter the numbers into my cash register. Then I divvy up the cash to the various places it needs to reach. It’s a fully self-created process, individual to me, and rooted in my own personal money realities.

My paychecks cover my monthly fixed expenses (rent, utilities, etc.), loan repayment and savings, and my cash management system gives me the satisfaction of knowing that my day-to-day wants and needs are covered. All of it feels powerful because it allows me to experience my money in my hands. I feel responsible for its creation, and for its use. And, when it comes to money, feeling structured, prepared and empowered is a pretty new experience.

In 2014, I showed up to my first meeting with Natalie lugging a monstrous blue binder containing the years of financial baggage I’d been too overwhelmed and clueless to deal with. Letters from creditors about accounts in default. Notifications of missed student loan payments. Bills, balances and court judgments. I had no idea where to start cleaning up the mess, I just knew I couldn’t keep moving through life with my head in the sand. It was time to do something different.

That was just over two years ago. Since then, my journey toward financial wellness has led me from that place of scattered but determined uncertainty, to a place of calm confidence around my money’s present, and future. It’s a whole new way of Being with my money: confident, secure, and authentic.

When I first lopped that binder onto the table Natalie and I shared during our initial consultation, I was looking for answers. I believed I had no idea what I was doing. I believed that transforming my financial life came from deferring to the wisdom and expertise of certified Money Masters. “Here’s the mess I made. Show me, oh Wise One, how to clean it up.”

But. What I’ve discovered during my time with Natalie is the answers aren’t “out there” at all. It’s me who has had the tools and wisdom all along. With that wisdom, I’m now able to channel what I do know—like what I want, what I love, and what I’m good at—into creating a life that honors who I am and what I’m here for. And that is a spectacular place to stand.

The Suprising Freedom in Can’t Not

For years, I’ve been talking about how I should cultivate a regular workout routine.

It’s not a platitude. I’m not just shoulding for the sake of shoulding. I truly do want it – or, I at least want the effects of it: being fit, feeling strong, having the sense of being grounded and alive in my body. The endorphin highs and deep, restful sleep. And, of course, a metabolism that can actually keep up with my obscene love of chocolate truffles…

And yet, no matter how many times I “start working out,” exercise as a HABIT never sticks. The resistance is so strong that I’m exhausted before I even get out the door. And every time, in my off-the-wagon-yet again defeat, I wonder: “How will I ever get beyond the ‘This freaking sucks’ phase? How will I ever actually enjoy working out?”
Continue reading

Direct order.

 

It starts.

One line, then two,
then you

become something.

Uncover some new verse
in the Love song you’re writing to Life.

With each lifted pen,
each splash of ink
that adds another piece
to the puzzle you’re discovering

in the blank pages
of your wildest dreams…

Who says

that being responsible to your Bliss
is unrealistic?

Who says it can’t be you?

You?

And what army?

Well, arm me with Grace then.
And forge my sword out of Faith,
and let my war paint be
the ink I spill until I die,

Let my war cry
be each and every chorus
my Heart has ever sung
to the Life I  know I was born to capture.

Take no moment prisoner.

Kill it. With every breath
till there’s nothing left

so that if you have to die in battle,
it’s the only war worth fighting

Life.

Raise the flag. Take nothing back.

There is
nothing
else.

It’s yours.

Raise your sword.

And write.

Undefeated.

Did you know
I love playing??

With words. With tongues.
With Love.

It doesn’t haunt Me,
GAME.

Or loss.

Life never asked you to be
The Boss,
never said you have to show up
The Biggest Winner.

Where…
is the fun…
in that?

And you:
you should know
from now on,

there’s no way
you haven’t already

Won.

You are the One.
You’re It.

You’re every cliche, kitten-clad
inspirational poster
announcing YOU
are the one you’ve been waiting for.

So yield the floor
to your Spirit, child,
and ask It to roll the dice.

Raise your bets on life
the way you raise your glass.

Let your Faith be the toast
you make tonight.

Soul doesn’t need to know the odds,
it’s played this hand before
and it’ll play it again
whether you score big this time or not.

So take your shot. Aim for it all.

Put every chip in the center
and play for your Living.

You weren’t given
those cards so you could fold ’em.

Hold em’ close to your chest,
ask your Heart to bless ’em
and then throw your Self in.

That is winning.

Be undefeated.

It’s Your turn.

Hidden in Plain Sight

I found Love today.

It was hiding
behind my story about
being unlovable & invisible.

It was there the whole time.

Silly.

I kicked and scraped and wailed,
I ducked and tucked and cried out
to a world that
“doesn’t even see me!”

and all the while…

Love was there.

I did not know to go searching.
I thought, as we so often do,
that I had that shit covered,
had it handled,
but come to discover…

I…

was really buried under a mound of
“You don’t get me!!”
behind a cloak of
“Stop telling me to quiet down!!”
inside a shell of
“Why don’t you notice me??”

When it’s i who’s the one prone to dodging,
when it’s i who runs away,
so afraid of “losing myself”
in another’s gaze,

as if fear even knows my Name at all…

Because the Truth
is there is nothing
Love won’t do to share its Self.

It cannot help being seen.

Silly.

All along…

The one who wasn’t looking
was me.

 

Wanderdust…

And so here’s what’s really driving the car:

Deep down,
I’m just so afraid that “roots”
are going to feel more

like shackles.

But then again…

a feather in the wind
doesn’t bud.
It doesn’t blossom.

It may brush against a million arms,
tickle the world with its whimsical charm,
it may spend its whole life dancing joyously free,
finding safety and home in
being held by the breeze…

But it’ll never bear fruit.
It’ll never give shade,
or grow huge and wise.
It’ll never be made
of the same kind
of alive.

And so…

What to do?
What to choose?

Do I spend my life wandering,
constant change,
adventure around every next corner?

Do I live always chasing the next gust of air?

Or do I choose soil,
dig my home in the earth,
and plant my Heart there?