The Human Butterfly Effect: Chaos or Cohesion?

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Humans hate change. We live for certainty and stability in our lives. From the time we are small we look for constancy from our home and community. Instability becomes a thing to fear and often causes the most trauma we experience as children. We grow up spoon-fed on fairy tales that teach us that if we go to the right schools, marry the right person, buy the right house, have the right number of kids, and work really hard we will have the stability we crave. Truth is change is a constant we cannot avoid. Change comes in three ways: chance, choice and, crisis. The important thing is that even in the worst chance or crisis moment where change is inevitable, you still have a choice. The choice is how you choose to react to the change. No matter how much pain the change comes with you still have a choice in how you handle the new situation. Do you panic, do you give up, or do you find a new way to live?

The universal law of cause-and-effect states that every cause has an effect and every effect becomes the cause of something else. So In reality every disturbance in our personal ecosystem creates a disturbance in the lives or personal ecosystems of the people in the community we live in. And as their lives are disturbed, no matter how minutely, there is a butterfly effect that ripples out touching every person who comes into contact with every person who came into contact with you and your change. The butterfly effect is a metaphor for the principal of chaos theory describing the sensitivity of a given system and its dependency on given conditions. Our personal environments, the social systems we live in, are incredibly delicate and are affected by every change that occurs no matter how distant or minute.

When we are faced with a change that affects us on a massive scale and damages our physical, mental and emotional stability, the emotional and mental stability of our ecosystems and those around us are also affected. In these times of dramatic change, it is necessary to try to center and ground yourself, to reach for help and reassurance, and remember that you have three choices. You can fix the problems the change brought, reframe your thinking about the change, or sit in the center of your new normal and become lost in grief for how things used to be.

Change is the only constant and surrendering to its inevitability is the healthiest way to handle it. Surrendering to your new reality will feel difficult at first but it will help your mind shift into flexible thinking patterns that will further aid you when the next change occurs. Ground yourself in the now, surrender your life to your higher power, and pray for guidance as you navigate your new normal with grace. Change is coming, prepare yourself now to be the best version of you so that when it comes you can greet it with the calm and presence of mind that will not disrupt your community through ripples of chaos and fear but with the peace and tranquility of a divinely centered being capable of adaptation and serenity even in the face of upheaval. Your community needs this of you. The ripple effect of one negative, unbalanced person can set of a tidal wave of instability and chaos that is far reaching and traumatic to the small and sensitive individuals that live within our communal sphere so be mindful of how you go. You are important, your life is important, and how you react to the world around you is your greatest gift or your greatest curse to your community at large.

I love you-Keep going-You got this

Self-regulation and the baby steps to joy

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Why do we hurt? Why is trauma so emblazoned in our memory that to touch it with thought is to relive it, moment by torturous moment, until we sink under the weight of the memory. The loss of a grandparent, the loss of a friend, a miscarriage, a rape, a breakup with the person you thought was the one. Why do we hurt until we break, even years after the moment of pain has passed? Whoever said time heals all wounds was never traumatized, and never felt a loss so acute that sixty years later just a fragment of the memory is a punch to the gut.

Two people can witness the same traumatic event, a car crashing into a pole at high speeds. The first viewer is troubled, talks to the police, talks to his family and friends and lets the incident slip into his past. The second viewer is traumatized, cries when he talks to the police, can not discuss the incident with his family or friends, avoids the place where the accident occurred and is shaken every time he sees a car similar in color and type to the one in the accident.

Why did both people come to such different places in terms of how they reacted to the incident? First is the preconditioning of the nervous system. The first viewer has self-regulation, few past traumas and a set sense of self and the world around him. The second viewer has a dysregulated nervous system, lives in high alert, and has a poor sense of self and the world around him. He has been traumatized before, and the world is a scary and uncertain place for him.

What makes the memory so physically painful for viewer two is the amount of emotion he was flooded with when the incident occurred. His preprogrammed heightened arousal to danger, his low self-regulation, and high sense of uncertainty etched the car crash into his memory in horrifying detail. It is the amount of emotion experienced by the perceiver that decides whether an incident is traumatic or just simply troubling.

Self-regulation is key to managing trauma and stopping new trauma from forming. We self-regulate by talking to a qualified trauma specialist, doing deep breathing work to regulate the nervous system, going regularly to yoga or tai chi classes, managing stress, practicing prayer and meditation, and above all by surrounding ourselves with people and environments that help us feel calm and supported. Calming and regulating the nervous system is key to self-regulation and regulating the emotional brain.

So, turn off the news, cut out toxic people that leave you feeling weakened and drained, do not watch movies that are fear based, and lastly have faith in the creator who made you. Dr. Brene’ Brown says, we dress rehearse tragedy to beat vulnerability to the punch, meaning we live in a constant state of expecting our next trauma because it is too terrifying to believe that joy just might be our next great experience. To experience joy, we must first be vulnerable and willing to be open to change. I ask you to lean into your Creator, lean into healthy love, lean into gratitude, lean into your healing work, and prepare yourself for joy; After all, joy was once your natural state of being.

Keep going-You got this-I love you

The Traveling Now

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The way forward is not in the past. To look back is to be trapped in Ego’s memory loop. The memory loop is a Ground Hog Day of unending memory where you fight people who are not there, argue a point with the dead, and wage a battle that was lost years ago, only to fight, argue and battle the same people again the next day, on and on until death. The battle field is small; It’s only in your head, but the pain the memory causes is real and taxing to your mind and body. Letting the past go will heal you on many levels.

Mindfulness practice asks us to live in the now, to quiet the ego mind through meditative practice and prayer, and become one with what Terry Pratchett called the traveling now. How is the now ever traveling? It is traveling because the moment you are in it, it is already passing like a stream you wade through. the traveling now washes around your ankles and past you into the distance, into the past. Is it still the same stream you stepped into moments ago? As a body of water, yes, it is the stream, but the water is different with each passing moment. Here goes a leaf, a twig, a fish, a piece of water grass. This is your life ebbing and flowing around you. When we are lost in Ego’s memory loop we miss the sparkle of sunlight on a ripple, the jump and splash of a fish as it catches its dinner.

When we choose to stay in the traveling now with our minds clear, understanding that thoughts, like twigs and leaves, will come and go, we see the sunlight sparkle, we see the fish jump, we whiteness our lives. Thoughts will come and go; When we learn to observe them and release them with detachment and without resistance, we remain present, embodied and whole. We surrender to the beauty of the moment, missing nothing.

In this now in which I write to you, lives your observer consciousness. Your conscious self reads these words, witnesses your life, and sees all the magic in every moment you experience. Living in the now is where life has flavor, scent, taste and texture because by stepping into your life you are free to savor it. Let go of the memory loop. love and allow your ego to become an obedient servant that whispers instead of shouts. With mindfulness practice, the ego will become the helpful tool it was built to be, handling the small stuff while you enjoy your life.

Keep going-you got this-I love you

No More Masks

This is the last mask I will wear, the one called wife. It was never mine by choice but came hidden in a box with a ring.

How it clung to me, hid me, bent my will and my purpose until I no longer knew myself; my dreams drifting away on far flung currents.

Your joys became my joys, your interest-my interests, and I smiled because I loved you, did my duty by you and the family. But the family shrunk away until it was just you and me and the boy.

What was fun? I washed my 1000th dish, smashing it just to hear it break. What was joy? I fold away another mountain of laundry that will appear again the next day.

The boy made me laugh and in him I remembered joy and fun. He was full of monkey tricks and more wisdom than I will ever fathom. Such a mind behind those chocolate brown eyes, such a heart of strength and love.

He is grown, and you are gone, and this mask called wife lays in tatters, torn as it was from me by a hundred punishments. But you were not the only villain. In pretending that we were happy I committed the ultimate betrayal, the betrayal of myself.

I Go Bravely

I go bravely even though all my cards are played, my house has fallen, my love is broken, and I stand here naked as a babe in the snow. I am blue with the cold of my vulnerability, yet I stand head held high before my demons daring them to come and take me. Is this bravery, this slow suicide we women face because we dared to say no, take a stand, and then find ourselves alone in the elements with no place to turn? If so, I’ll choose this death over the suffocation of your fine cage. You were master, punisher, withholder of love, but no more. I have freed myself and in going free I have taken flight into the chasm of the vast unknown, knowing only that my heart still beats and tomorrow will come whether I have the strength to join it or not. Though my parachute will catch no air and my wings have lost their feathering I will take this fall believing it is better to break and be reborn then to remain whole and unchanged. I go bravely into this world without the insurance of a good life, but with a life, my life, held, captured, grasped tightly in my own two hands.

Introducing a New Voice, my friend Pearl Grace.

Waters of Life


Flow through life like water
Continually moving
Never conforming to a certain shape other than your own
Glisten with the sun
Stir with storms
Drink the rain
Fluidly, glide through rapids
Shoot down the waterfall
Rest in the stillness
And keep flowing
-Pearl Grace

It is an interesting type of funny when you realize that you’re really not alone in experiencing life.  Life keeps life-ing all over all of us.  It is easy to become blinded to the truth.  The truth that everyone has a journey and every journey has mountains and valleys.  We have a lot more in common with each other than we know.  

Each and every person is a phenomenon.  

Beautiful, vibrant souls with hearts that beat, emitting infinite shades in a full spectrum of color.

Day to day.  Moment to moment.  It shifts.  A fluid kaleidoscope of feelings, emotions and thoughts.  Our own internal river.  The very essence of our being. 

Life has its mountains and valleys.  Twists, turns and rapids of turmoil.  Waterfalls where we fly off the edge, free fall down and get sucked under into the eddy below.

This eddy is the place we get stuck.  The weight of the falls continually flow forcefully, downward; holding our heads underwater.  Spinning in the current, around and around; like laundry in a washing machine on rough cycle.  It’s so fast and strong, it feels like we’ll never get out.  Once in a while it eases up and we attempt to escape, but can’t kick our legs fast enough before the tentacles whip out. Snatching us back in.

One of the worst ways to die, in my opinion, would be to drown.  Based on my observation, others would agree.  I see you.

You are the ones who keep fighting and holding your breath to survive.  Realize, if and when you feel weak, lesser, down or angry with yourself, that the opposite of what you are feeling at that moment is true.  You are some of the strongest, most courageous people walking the earth–phenomenons. 

I was asked a question, recently, “if I could write my whole story in its entirety, what is the one, singular, most burning question I would want answered?”

I’d want to know how I haven’t died 9,000 times already!

Think about yourself.  See yourself, what you’ve endured and give yourself some damn credit!

Even though, the water is still a bit murky from all the mud that was spun up, you eventually make it out.  Totally exhausted, floating on your back to the bank where the water becomes clear and still.

When you reach that place and stand up to walk out, something beautiful will catch your eye.

When you see it, you will know.

Take time to gaze in amazement, because what you’ll be looking at will be peering back into your eyes.

This is your most precious rescue…

It’s the reflection of the authentic you.  Being free to simply be. Exactly as you are.  

I believe that this is the journey we all have in common as we live, lose ourselves and eventually come to find ourselves.

I believe that this is the journey we all have in common as we live, lose ourselves and eventually come to find ourselves.

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Home

Feet on bricks that don’t give, hand on door that won’t open without resistance. No peace, no love, no freedom, just him, them, their schedule, their wants, and needs. “Don’t contact me, I have boundaries. You don’t have boundaries.” So silence between mother and son stands as dividing sentry that says do not cross this line again. They were friends once, mother and son, but no more. Single mother with a paycheck son called mom so the two became one as often happens when there is no relief from one another. Boundaries are a new thing to the boundary-less, the used and owned mother so used to selfless serving that she didn’t know that she could state a need and have it heard.

In the beginning, she had said, “no marriage, no children, no houses, no home, I want the world.” And the man, the boy’s father had said, “marriage, children, homes, the world is mine, and you will serve me as I climb vast glittering corporate towers, and fly in jets to all the places you have spoken of seeing, but I’ll go without you.” So the mother waited, grew to grieving for her life, for her future, for the love she sought but did not find, and the child grew and learned to hate her.

The husband grew as well, he grew old, he found no joy in wife or child so he grew busy, sedentary, gray in hair and skin until he was old, old, before 50. The wife watched, trapped in the poverty of marriage where the man holds the cash and pinches the budget and ignores the wife who still serves the boy who always needs but now hates and she is, is what, a ghost in the wake of her youth standing in a kitchen with no one to cook for, mocked for her table cloths too rich, too fine, for saying silverware when she’s meant to say flatware, derided because once she had wished for so much more.

She’d been in college before the man came. But now her hair is gray, her mind slowed by the endless repetition of mother goose, Dr. Seuss, all those cats in their hats, all those endless rhymes, rhyming nothings, so good for the boy, so bad for her who’s mind had wished to wander, but now just wanders, lost over shopping lists, birthday gifts, and the other sundry of simple nothings that weaken the brain and kill the soul. If she got in the car, where would she go? If she made camp under a bridge who would miss her? A cloud breaks and for one brief moment the shy Seattle sun peaks through filling her eyes with light that teases but will not last.

Just Us

Duncan

How little a thing we are when we first begin to be a thing at all. Little breaths, babies’ breaths and babies’ tears, babies’ coos, the little things that define the undefined, the unmolded yet unique being called us. Oh delicious, soft fat arms, milk sent in the fold of chubby necks, the sweet pink of soft cherry cheeks. The us in us is fragrant with possibilities folded into jumpers and onesies and serenaded by a cacophony of vowels and consonants into a guttural noise that means us: Mary, George, Jane, Robert. We hear the sound that means us and we smile or scowl in rotation depending if we want to be wanted or are vexed to be disturbed. Silly brilliant things are names we wear like crowns defining ourselves by them as they define us to the world. Mary Ellington George St. Mari, would be as sweet if she were Jane, just Jane.

As baby bloom lengthens to childhood’s bumpy first steps the toddler emerges with creased brow and declares NO! NO I shan’t! No, I couldn’t possibly! No to everything you say. Simply NO! And little arms are crossed and little heads are shaken in resolute defiance, the simple NO sufficient in its rebellion. I am me, we all cry out. I shan’t, I won’t, I flatly refuse. The beauty of saying No, of being naughty, the tasty succulent delight of owning oneself fully and wholly in the now. NO! We cry, NO! But soft months that creep on cajoling or disciplinarian feet teach us to be pliable, polite, reasonable, inoffensive and sociable. So, we blend, we merge, we become one with society until our sacred self, our defining NO becomes a thing we no longer hold in our hand but have given, somehow, away to the masses.

And how we love the masses. We want them to love us back as we run to catch the ball, hoping it was thrown to us, wanting to hear our melodious syllables called out, here to me Jane. Let’s play Charlie. You are my best friend Mary. We run to the others, are polite and pliable, becoming not so much an us as a we. The we is a many legged creature which stumbles and tumbles through girlhood and boyhood raising one we up, as it throws one we down, decrying that this we was rude, and that we was wonderful, and don’t we all agree that the brown eyed we is awfully good looking in his new jacket? And we clutch to our we’s as they roll us about, spitting us out, taking us up, including, excluding, laughing, and rebuking, until the entire thing is smashed by the something called two.

And so goes us, so goes we, now there is you, and now there is me. A touch of the hand, a catch of the eye, I brush back your hair, your hand touches my thigh. We are sighs on summer breezes, kisses on grassy lawns, hands held between classes, stolen kisses on shadowed porches, a hand slipped up under a shirt. And the yearning grows and grows until we are no longer children but grown grasping things alive and alight with living. We say hello, we say goodbye, hearts break, tears dry, we part, we come together, we lose sight only to find one another once again in a different city, in a different time when laughter lines our eyes.

And if we are smart, we have found our NO! Stomped our foot, said hell yes to all the right things and hell no to all the wrong. We’ve held our own children and set them firmly on their feet. Only to linger now in this kind light of long ago loves and look, just look into each other’s eyes. I who was me, you who were you. And we hold our coffee cups in our knotted hands and remember how brilliant it is to be…just us.

Eternal Spring

Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill'

I believed then, that I would feel young until I was properly old. I knew without doubt that I would travel, climb mountains, ride horses from castle to castle and understand the intricacies of life. I would know interesting people, have close intimate friendships, and that together we would raise our kids and laugh over memories shared through photos of smiling bright eyed children. The holidays would be huge, children, aunties, uncles, moms, dads, old friends and new. My sister would be there. She would always be there and the sun would shine on our Easter egg hunts and we’d laugh, how we would laugh as baskets were filled with colorful eggs. In these made up sunshine memories I never worry about my hair or my makeup or the clothes I have chosen for the day. Bra straps never slip and the children are always happy. Happy just to be. Sometimes in the evening after dinner dishes are cleared away my sister and I  walk in the rose garden and listen to my son play something melodious and timeless on the piano, the sound drifting on a warm spring breeze scented with roses, lilac, and daphne.

I feel myself  take her hand and kiss her cheek and remember when the nurse held her up to the nursery glass so I could see my small baby sister, new and pink in the world. The dream house I live in is always stone. It is a mountain of foreverness, unmovable, unshakable, invulnerable to time and trouble. There is no noise save the music of Duncan’s piano, the warble of an evening bird preparing for sleep, the distant snort of a horse in a pasture far away. We walk unburdened by debt and time’s many troubles toward an evening that promises deep restful sleep and a happy tomorrow. And in the morning sweet spring wakes us with birdsong, the scent of fresh coffee seeping in under our bedroom doors until feet touch down on cool clean oak plank and we are up, wrapped in colorful robes, plaid pajamas, rosy cheeked and bright eyed from the rest, in truth, that only children know. In my dreams I am always young, always draped in bright cheerful colors, always surrounded by my beautiful loved ones. In my dreams I am happy.

 

The Caretakers

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The Killien Mansion during the Lauzon family ownership, circa 1935.

“The council agreed to send a letter of condolence to Mr. F. Killien, though no one knows what he was to be consoled for. Someone in his family must have died,” Gail of the historic society said, reading from the Lowell city council meeting dating from the 1930’s. “They don’t send out letters like that unless there was a death.” That would make a third, I thought, looking around the old home which had been built by Mr. F. Killien for his family in 1924. I hadn’t anticipated a death in his family.

I knew the Smiths (the home’s third owners) had lost a daughter, the Bevers (the fourth owners) had lost a grandmother but now a Killien had died, quiet probably in my old home. I felt the secret twisting under my rib cage as I said goodbye to Gail, the crowned queen of Lowell, the local town historian who has dedicated her life to preserving the memory of the old logging town and its people, three of which had been mourned in the very rooms I now occupy. Funny old house. I pat it like a friendly dog I hope won’t turn and bite. I haven’t told my son about the grandmother who died in the sun room or the young miss who died in the southwest bedroom and I won’t tell him about this unknown Killien either, this condolence that has yet to have a face or a name.

When we first bought the house, it was a tear-down. The roof was caving in, ferns grew from rotten soffits, and the gutters hung from falling fascia boards, no longer catching or moving water. Water is a constant in Western Washington, the rains fall for months without stopping. It undermines foundations, peels away paint, rots wood, and erodes mortar from brick. But the house was beautiful, it was stately. Even in its disrepair it was instantly our home. Set over three lots on a shy half acre it was priced at only a little over its land’s value. We’d have been fools not to buy it, fools not to invest in a growing urban area, fools not to restore the massive home known as the Killien Mansion. But the deaths hung on the home like a cold blanket that would never feel warmth. The home was unhappy and it need to be cleansed.

I lit a candle for the grandmother and a second for the young Miss. I stirred charcoal into the wax and left them to burn out. I said prayers for the dead and salted the windows and doors. I set holy water in a crystal bowl and prayed over it in the sunshine before blessing every window and door in the names of all who are holy. I lit sage and walked through every room, every closet, every hallway, letting the smoke and my prayers cleanse away the past. People have died under my roof and people have been born under it. Infants have grown into children, and children have grown up and grown old, having laughed, loved, and been mourned in their passing. I too plan to spend my life in this home. To live in it until I live no more and this new condolence, this new passing will require a new candle. Who was she or he? What happened?

I know the grandmother made stew. I used to smell it when she came into a room. Sitting all alone the room would fill with the scent of beef stew and I would know that Mrs. (as we came to call her) was paying me a visit. Mrs. also liked the thermostat kept at 64 degrees. I like the house warmed to 68, yet every morning the thermostat was turned down to 64. My husband swears he never touched it.

Now that the house is cleansed it is lighter, happier, free in a way it didn’t feel before. The beef stew scent is gone and the cold blanket feeling has lifted.  I’ve done everything I can for the ones who passed here. I’ve cared for their home and I’ve cared for them, even if from the other side of where they now rest. And even without knowing who Mr. F. Killien received condolence for, I will light a candle for him or for her and pray they have found peace.

Mr. F. Killien standing outside the sun room of the Killien Mansion, Circa 1930.

frank killien by sun room2