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Jack in the Box

Almost everyone has wound the handle of a jack-in-the-box at some point in their life, wondering when the clown would pop out. Some of us played with it once, got scared, and that was it. Some of us played with it over and over again, laughing at the clown. But eventually, we all tired of the toy, and put it down, and never picked it back up.

 

Someone recently told me, “People are tired of hearing about how bad GMO’s are for you, and how corrupt the government is, and how rigged the system is. People know by now. Stop complaining and offer a solution”. I took that to heart, and realized that in my rush to try and solve the problem, I lost sight of what it will really take to fix all this. I know that people are not very eager to hear about how screwed we all are. It’s a very heavy weight to bear. I know quite a few people that have told me flat out, “I don’t want to know” for one reason for another. But as they started explaining, the underlying constant I heard was, “I know, but I’m not ready to accept it and burst the bubble I’m living in. I have my necessities to live, my family and the people I care about are happy, and I have a lot to lose. I’m not ready to sacrifice the familiarity and comfort blanket I have”. When so many of us are trying to create a call to action, we’re presenting information in a way that makes it hard to digest. And I’m not saying we should be spoon feeding people and catering to them and all that. I’m saying, when I’m teaching my students something, I need to explain it in a way that makes them not only understand, but feel confident enough to do it on their own. If I scream it at them, they’ll be nervous and intimidated, and that will hold them back from focusing on what they should be doing.

 

Now, we’re faced with a harder problem. Most people know, or have an idea that something bigger is going on here. But their day-to-day lives are going on as planned, so it doesn’t seem that important to go and disrupt the system that’s allowing them to work, eat, socialize, and they even ‘have a say’ in what happens to them through ‘voting’. And their day-to-day lives aren’t easy. A lot of people in my area have to get up and leave for work by 5 am so they can avoid rush hour and only sit in traffic for 2 hours instead of 3 to drive 40 miles to work. Then work all day, sit in rush hour traffic for a good 3 hours only to make it home tired and stressed and having to put food on the table and make sure their kids do their homework and get dog food and on and on. There’s no time to sit down and figure out a way to win an impossible battle.

 

And that’s what we’re facing. An impossible battle. We’re fighting a family running the largest empire ever. For over 200 years this family has been taking over the world, all from behind a curtain. Well, more like behind curtain after curtain after curtain after curtain… They dictate our money, economy, government officials, elections, wars, coups, terrorism, national security, military, nuclear bombs, corporations, stock market, housing market, news and media, all of television, the education system, the entire entertainment industry, crops, drinking water, natural resources, electricity, garbage/waste, water and gas, clothes, trends, pop-culture, the list goes on. And on top of deciding all of those things for us, they’re injecting us with chemicals and diseases they manufactured, they’re spraying us with medications, more chemicals, and according to some, nano-technology. They’re using subliminal messaging (legally mind you, I told you, they own everything) in our movies, tv, music, etc to influence our choices, they’re teaching generations of peoples twisted and warped versions of not only history, but the world, society, and how to live in it. They’ve taught generations across the world what to think, not how to think. Not how to question.

 

And believe me, I’m not ready for all of it either. I’m still fighting with myself trying to convince myself I can find a balance and fight the system while still living within it.

 

But, participating in it is like winding a jack in the box because you like the sound, and you’re just hoping the clown doesn’t pop out before you’re finished with the song. The same song you’ve heard over and over again, with the same result every time.

 

But when you keep winding the Rothschild’s jack-in-the-box, instead of a clown popping out, you get The Great Depression, or the housing market collapse of ’07. You get countless people losing their jobs, homes, cars, and ability to support their family. People die. Families are destroyed.

Then, just as everyone is freaking out, scared, and ready for a change, they come in, ‘bailout’ their doomed system, stuff the bad stuff back in the box, and put it back in front of you to try again.

And what’s worse, while we’re all picked that stupid fucking toy back up, and winding that stupid handle around again, listen to the same bullshit song all over again, they’re in the background doing more sneaky shit. Building more power for them. Expanding their domain, until they are running the entire world. And all the while we’re over here, winding that handle. “Voting”. “Investing”. “Serving our country”. Paying off our student loans. Paying taxes. Paying mortgages.

 

I don’t know about everyone else, but I got tired of jack-in-the-box a very long time ago. I’m not interested in playing their sick game anymore. And I’m not interested in picking up someone else’s twisted version either.

 

I was always the run and play with everyone outside type of kid…

 

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Hits blunt…

This body is not mine, it was loaned to me by Mother Nature, and one day Father Time will take it away. But who I truly am isn’t made of flesh and bones…
I am made of the same healing water than gives life to the earth
the same wise wind that has seen every corner of the world
the same stardust that created the Galaxy,
and just like everything else that exists, one day my energy will be recycled to experience life in a new way, and to contribute in a new way. With the time I have in this body, I want to live the best life I can, to create a better future.

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Drowning On Dry Land

As kids, we used to play a game every summer. We would grab all the sinker toys we had, and throw them in the pool, one at a time. The first one we’d throw way down in the deep end, the next would be dropped right next to the edge of the wall at the shallow end, the third would be somewhere in the middle, the fourth would be back towards the shallow end, the fifth would be back in the deep end, and on and on it went. We were trying to drop them in the most difficult order we could, for the other person to try and jump in and pick them all up in one breath. We were so competitive, we’d swim and swim and hold our breath until our chests ached, risking drowning at times, too stubborn to come up for air and lose the game.

 

I remember that ache in my chest. My lungs felt like they were collapsing in on themselves. I’d start exhaling a little at a time, so that all my breath would be gone by the time I reached the surface of the water, all the sinker toys in my hands, and I could gasp for air; my lungs would immediately fill with air, and without missing a beat, I’d start throwing the sinker toys to opposite ends of the pool for the next person to try.

 

I remember that ache in my chest. I felt it from the moment I woke up for work this morning. But I wasn’t under water, I wasn’t holding my breath, I wasn’t playing a game.

 

I’ve only had the wind knocked out of me once. I was walking down the stairs holding an overflowing basket of laundry. I couldn’t see where I was going, missed a step, slid down on my back, and landed hard on the tile floor. As I hit the floor, all of the air in my lungs left my body in the form of a yell. My parents came running at the sound. I tried to tell them what happened, but I had no breath in me to push out any words. I tried to fill them again, but it was like my lungs forgot how to work. I inhaled, and inhaled, and somehow my lungs never felt full. It felt like the air reached the top part of my lungs, but couldn’t reach deeper into the rest of them; it was like they were blocked off, airtight. Slowly, that barricade felt like it was being pushed back, and slowly I was able to fill my lungs again.

 

I still have that barricade in my lungs.

 

I woke up today with an ache in my chest, with a barricade in my lungs.

 

I’ve become somewhat used to that barricade. It’s an unwanted visitor that overstays their welcome and disrupts the normal flow of my life. If I take a deep breath, that barricade stops the air from reaching the bottom corners of my lungs; stops me from feeling like I can take a deep breath. But I don’t have to take a deep breath all the time, so for the most part I can ignore it.

 

The ache in my chest is harder to ignore. It pulls my focus, and says, “Hey, don’t forget about that barricade in your lungs. Don’t forget you can’t breathe all the way”. That ache doesn’t care if I’m driving my car, in the middle of a project at work, laughing at a joke, teaching a class, watching a great movie, trying to meet a deadline, trying to sleep, trying to eat… it doesn’t care.

It’s very, very easy to give into the fear that comes with that: with feeling like you can’t breathe. It’s so incredibly easy to start freaking out, and to start trying over and over again to fill my lungs. Experience has taught me that freaking out about it won’t make it go away. Freaking out about it turns it from manageable anxiety, to an anxiety attack.

 

Most days, I accept the barricade in my lungs. Instead of being upset that it’s there and making it worse, I assign a number to it. On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is it today? I focus on that number. I tell myself that I can manage that, and I don’t let the number get any higher. Instead of paying attention to the ache in my chest, I write that number down, then I draw it, then I write it over and over in a pattern. I focus on that number. For the most part, it helps. But sometimes, that ache in my chest decides it’s tired of being ignored.

 

I’ll be in the middle of a task at work, or have my eyes glued to the tv screen stuck on a show or movie, or talking to someone in the elevator on my way up from break at work, perfectly content, not even noticing that ache in my chest, and out of nowhere with no warning, I start having an anxiety attack.

 

For me, the start of an anxiety attack is like having the wind knocked out of me without warning. Fear takes over, the barricade jumps back to the top of my lungs. Then my hands shake and tingle like they fell asleep, my heart pounds so hard in my chest I can see it moving, my body temperature switches back and forth between rising and I feel too hot to chills where feel like I’m freezing, my legs feel empty and weak, I get dizzy, the ache in my chest gets worse and worse, my stomach knots up, and I start sweating.

 

Occasionally, when I reach this point, I can stop it before I have a full on attack. I can focus on my number, exhale all my breath and hold it like that, like I did as a kid playing that game in the pool. I just have to hold it like that, and be uncomfortable for a little bit, and then take a huge breath and let the air fill all the way to the bottom of my lungs. Sometimes I have to do that over and over again, until it works. When it does, I can go back to my normal annoying ache in my chest.

 

But most of the time, it happens too suddenly for me to hold it off. All of a sudden I’m gasping for air, thinking over and over again, “I can’t breathe”. I get scared. Even though by now I know exactly what is happening, and that I’ll be okay, I get terrified. On top of everything my body is already going through, my muscles in my neck and shoulders tense up, and tears start pouring from my eyes uncontrollably, and the pain in my chest gets worse and worse. I know I can breathe. I am breathing in, and out, and I have enough air to say the words, “I can’t breathe”. I know air is getting into my lungs, but I can’t catch my breath. Sometimes I get nauseous, and sometimes my vision blurs. I’ve had attacks that last a few minutes, and I’ve had attacks that go on for hours, literally hours. My brother once told me that sometimes people pass out from their anxiety attacks, and it’s like a reset button. I’ve wished over and over again my body would reset itself, but I’ve never been that lucky. I’ve always had to ride my attacks out until they were done.

 

Sometimes different things can help calm me down, but nothing works every time. Taking as deep a breath as I can, holding it a few seconds and blowing it out fast over and over again sometimes helps. Putting ice or something cold on the back of my neck can sometimes stop the attack immediately. Pushing out all my air and holding it like that as long as I can sometimes helps..

 

After an anxiety attack, I feel empty. Like all of my insides, and all of my energy, and all of my emotions, and all of my thoughts have been drained out of me. I usually need to lie down and rest, or to sleep. Sometimes I’m able to breathe normally after, but other times that barricade is still in the bottom of my lungs.

 

I woke up today with an ache in my chest, with a barricade in my lungs.

 

I didn’t assign a number to my anxiety today. It wasn’t bad enough that I felt I needed to, looking back now, it was at like a 3. Compared to the 5 I had yesterday, and the 8 I had Friday, a 3 was no big deal. I had a pretty good day. I got a lot of work done, I joked around, I didn’t have to be the mean bitchy supervisor to anyone at the office, and I wasn’t worried about that ache in my chest. And then, the workday was almost over. I started to get really warm, but the office is usually warm at the end of the day so I ignored it. My stomach was cramping, but I had some high number days recently, I’m used to my stomach being in knots. And then that ache in my chest got bad, and that barricade in my lungs jumped to the top of my lungs. I got nauseous, and too hot, and my hands were shaking.

 

I tried so hard to just keep working. I tried to slow everything down, and relax, but it wasn’t working. I tried to go outside and get some fresh air, but I was so dizzy that I just sat down on the top step in the stairwell instead. Then I got the chills and felt like I was freezing cold. I started crying and trying to breathe, but I couldn’t.

 

I was going to be off work in 15 minutes, and was going to have to rush to the studio because I said I would sub classes today. So I told myself to be done with the attack by the time I had to leave. I told myself that if I let it happen, and quickly, that I could just move on and go on with my day like I’ve done so many times before. But it didn’t work. I thought I got myself together and went back to my desk, but it came right back.

 

So there I was, at work, in the middle of an anxiety attack, having someone else call my boss at the studio to let them know (last minute, ugh) that I couldn’t come in because I couldn’t talk enough to get out more than a few syllables at a time. It was the worst attack I’ve had in a while, and as usual, I have no idea where it came from.

 

I wasn’t sulking, or thinking about stressful things, or feeling lonely, or feeling sorry for myself, I wasn’t working myself up; I was actually having a pretty good day. That’s probably one of the most frustrating parts. People don’t understand. They want a reason. They want to know what I’m anxious about, or what triggered it. It gets dismissed as me being too emotional, or as something that’s not a big deal.

 

During an attack, people try to help. They tell me to breathe, or try to remind me that I am breathing. And I appreciate them trying to help, just having someone there with me saying it’ll be okay does help (not enough to stop it, but it’s less scary than when I’m alone). But telling me to breathe, just reminds me that you have no idea what I’m going through. I am breathing, it’s not enough, it’s not working, it’s not filling my lungs. If it were that simple, I wouldn’t be here freaking out.

 

But it always stops eventually. The barricade in my lungs is back down to the bottom corners, and the ache in my chest is barely noticeable. I’m tired, and my eyes are raw from crying. I’m tired. I feel embarrassed that I had an attack at work again, and I feel ashamed that I wasn’t able to go into the studio to teach. And I feel like a time bomb, just waiting for the next attack.

 

It’s almost like a terrifying version of that game I used to play as a kid. Like I’m waiting for the time when the sinker toys are just too many and too spread out for me be able to get them all in one breath; waiting for the time when I can’t go without air long enough to break the surface of the water and fill my lungs. It’s like I’m drowning on dry land.

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I’ll either see you at the top, or from the top

Yesterday, I stepped out of my comfort zone.

 

I’ve done professional photo-shoots before. I’ve been doing them since I was probably 8 or 9 years old.

 

But this was different.

 

This shoot wasn’t something I was working for other people. I wasn’t representing a company, an artist, or a show. I wasn’t restricted to behave any type of way. I didn’t have guidelines, spoken or unspoken, about how I should or shouldn’t look or pose. Mostly, I worked with people that either personally wanted, or professionally needed, me to keep things PG rated.

 

Not to say that this has ever been an issue for me, but now there wasn’t going to be someone drawing the line for me about what was acceptable. I’ve never had the opportunity to draw that line for myself before. I’ve always had a slightly rebellious personality; so subconsciously, it was all of a sudden time to decide how far I wanted to push this freedom. I didn’t have a problem with my PG rated box I was living in. It was comfortable, easy, and familiar. But now there are new places to go, and I have no gauge of what’s comfortable for me there.

 

There are a lot of people that I’ve worked with, that can tell you how uncomfortable I am with very sexual dances, or attracting that type of attention in a public way. Yes, I can be super sexual, but only on my terms. Putting that out there for people I’ll never even meet to see, is hard for me. Putting myself out there like that for people I’m not intimate with, but work with and see a lot, is hard for me. I’ve done my best when I’ve been in those situations to come out of my shell because I don’t see anything morally or ethically wrong with it, it’s just not something I’ve been comfortable with personally.

 

Yesterday, the photo-shoot I did became pretty sexy. It fit the theme, and I was fully clothed the entire time, and if I saw anyone else’s photos looking like mine did, I would have said how great they looked. But from the second I saw them, and maybe a little bit during taking them, I questioned them. How do I really feel about putting pictures of me out there for criticism? How do I feel about the potential unwanted sexual attention that could result from them?

 

And then, I decided to post them, even though I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I think I was truly curious to see the outcome. If this is something I’m considering doing, I need to firmly decide where my line is. Because since I don’t see anything wrong with sexy, or even nude, photos, I can easily be swept up in the moment and cross the line of what I’m comfortable putting out there. So, these are borderline for me. I decided to test the waters.

 

As expected, comments were left by guys I didn’t know, but nothing gross or crossing a line. I wasn’t DMed at all, let alone by guys trying to flirt. I got all encouraging feedback from family and friends.

 

But a few people made passive-aggressive negative comments, and there was hesitation in the voice of one or two people’s whose opinion I respect. One or two of the poses were borderline for them too.

 

And even though it’s irrational, I felt a tiny bit of offense at that hesitation in their voices. I was asking for their honest opinion, because I wanted it. I value their thoughts, and beliefs, and even though we don’t always see eye-to-eye, there’s always a respect between us. And I did respect what they were saying. It was constructive-criticism: a compliment. But secretly I was hoping for them to say I was still within the line. I wanted them to draw that line for me, because it’s easier that way. But they can’t do that. There isn’t a line anymore. There are only opinions and comfort levels.

 

My opinion is that there’s nothing wrong with the pictures I took. My comfort level right now is this. These photos are my line. They’re borderline, so anything more would be too much for me. I decided to proudly share my work from yesterday. Maybe in the future that line will move for me, in one direction or the other, but as of now, this is it.

 

So people can make comments, they can call me names, and they can act like these photos lower my value. They can pick the photos apart, and make fun of my flaws. They can act like I need attention to think something of myself, or that people are misplacing their compliments and I don’t actually look good.

 

But all that means is you’re noticing me. You feel a need to ‘put me in my place’ because you think I’m rising above it. You can act like I’m deluding myself into thinking higher of me than I actually am.

 

But I noticed that all my life, people want to push and pull me back down any time I start making moves to something more… that just means I’m growing, and it threatens you. Experience has taught me time and again that those threatened by my growth are those that feel like my competition. Well, I love competition; I’ll either see you at the top, or from the top – the decision is yours, but either way, I’ll be up there.

 

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Slowly, it gets easier…

Painful memories can haunt us if we’re not careful.

I barely ever remember my dreams. If I remember that I dreamed at all, I can usually just recall fragments, or emotions, and then they fade away. This morning was no different. I woke up, and remembered I was dreaming that I was a mother again. I couldn’t remember anything else about it. I was still half asleep, not entirely back to the real world, and still partially in my subconscious where my mind forces me to see the things that haunt me. I heard little footsteps. Anyone that’s lived with a kid knows what I heard. The sound of little feet running to your room in the morning to hoist their little leg up onto the mattress, and pull themselves up to crawl over to you… maybe to say ‘I’m hungry’, or ‘can I play videogames’, or to have an epic war of pillow fights, and slow motion upper-cuts, and saving whoever fell off the bed until we were too tired to continue.

I knew as soon as I heard the sound that it wasn’t real, but that didn’t stop a million memories from rushing back to me.

I know what triggered the dream, and the memories. I also know that I made the right choice three years ago (is it possible that three years have already passed?) , but the guilt of leaving behind a little boy, and destroying one of the most constant things in his little life, stays with me.

It’s getting easier. It used to be every single day that I thought about it, and felt like I was hit with a pillowcase full of bricks in the chest. Now, it’s not so bad. It’s maybe once a week that I think of him, and its maybe once every few months that I feel my heart sink in sadness and guilt at the memory of him.

This morning, instead of a pillowcase full of bricks, I felt like I was suffocating. Like I was in a glass case that was running out of air, and all I could do was look out of it at the memories of seeing tears streaming down the face of a little boy that was too young to understand why me and his daddy weren’t going to be living together anymore.

He was too young to understand that his daddy was in more pain than he knew how to handle. He didn’t understand that when his daddy said and did these things that hurt his feelings and confused him, that he was actually trying to hurt me. To make me feel his pain, and using him was the way to rip out my heart.

He didn’t understand that I put myself, and his dad, in more pain by trying to still be around for him… because even in a decision to do what was best for me, I was still trying to sacrifice myself to do what was best for him.

He was too young to understand that I wasn’t around anymore because his dad was still hurting, and unable to let go of me. And years later, I still can’t see him because his dad is still not able to separate his pain from the situation.

If I’m not careful, my mind will still wander to him. I wonder how he’s doing in school, and if he’s making friends; if his laugh is still the same, or if he’s grown out of that deep, uncontrollable, belly-laugh when you’re play-fighting and start tickling him. I wonder if he still idolized the good guys in super hero movies, and wants to help them when he gets bigger; and if he still shuts down and closes all his doors when he thinks he’s in trouble.

But it’s not my place to worry about him understanding his homework anymore, or learning to be patient when he’s frustrated; or learning to say sorry when he accidentally does something wrong, or if the kids at school are nice to him, and he’s nice to them. I’m not supposed to worry about if he’s eating his vegetables, and playing outside enough. I don’t get to teach him things anymore. I don’t get to wake up in the morning, and know that I’m going to work to take care of someone who’s life means more to me than my own. I don’t have that calm sense of purpose anymore that comes with raising a child.

He taught me to not be scared. He taught me that I’m stronger than my fears. He taught me to open my heart up, and let someone in without worrying that they’ll hurt you. I feel selfish for missing him, because I know loving, and capable parents and family that keep him safe, and happy, and nurtured surround him, and he doesn’t need me.

I wonder if he misses me, or even remembers the happy times together. I worry he only remembers the breakup, and that his dad and me hurt him with our actions. I wish I could still be there for his firsts, and for picking him up from school and asking about his day. I wish I could still be there for his meltdowns, and jokes, and games, and setbacks, and life. I wish I were going to be there for his first date, for his high school graduation, for his first heartbreak…

But slowly, it gets easier.

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A letter…

To the person that changed my soul:

After all this time, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about you. I opened my heart to you in a way I have never experienced before, and have never experienced since. You gave my life such joy, and purpose, and you allowed me to love you without restraint. You showed me how wrong I was about myself, and that I am capable of rising above my deepest fear. If it were possible, I would still be in your life. I would still be there for you every single day; but as much as it breaks my heart, that’s not possible. The only hope that I allow myself to have, is that one day, I may be able to see you and be there for you again.

I feel like I’ve missed so much, and I don’t know if you can forgive me for that. I don’t know if you can understand why I’m not around. Just know that every single one of your tears broke my heart into a million pieces, and if I could have protected you better, I would have. Saying goodbye to you was impossible for me. I put so much of myself into being all I could be for you, that stepping away was like leaving a part of myself behind.

I hope that you are happy, and feel loved. I hope that you are learning, and utilizing how smart you are. I hope that you are growing with integrity, becoming responsible and honest. I hope you are developing your imagination and creativity, because that was what make you smile the most… and you have such a beautiful smile.

If there is ever a day where you need me, I will always be here. I still love you.

always yours,

Jenmer

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silent presence

It makes me so incredibly sad to see things on the news like cop cars on fire, local business looted, buildings on fire etc… All these people that came tonight because they were upset had a great opportunity, and they blew it. The number of protestors out is impressive, but they not only lose credibility, they make the problem worse by not maintaining a peaceful protest. MLK was so adamant about peaceful protests- he knew that if things got bad, it would be used as an excuse to make the injustice worse instead of better – and he was right, he was making a true difference (of course that’s why the US govt killed him). Now cops are going to be more on edge, now they are going to have an excuse to ‘justify’ the profiling and brutality because these violent protestors are reinforcing the stereotypes.
As Americans need to exercise our right to protest, but to truly make a difference, we need to give the oppressors zero excuses. The second a protest takes a step away from peaceful, is the second we lose any power we were starting to gain. They’ll bait us, they’ll make the first violent move to get a rise out of us, they’ll lie and spin things to push their own agenda… but just stay level headed. Don’t take the bait. Don’t move. Don’t physically fight back. Stand your ground – silent presence can be so powerful if used properly.

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