I aint no hero, that's for sure. I'm just a regular gal who is trying to make it through the day, day by day.
IF you want to learn a little more about me this is a reprint from something I wrote several years ago, for a public speaking class (of all things) that I was taking. Our assignment was to tell the class who we were, within a certain amount of time. So, here's what I wrote - and I still think it does a pretty good job of summing up my philosophy of my life:
Generally speaking, I am the kind of cookie who crumbles, not the
smart kind. Still, the smartest things I have ever done have been
admitting that I was powerless, and then sharing with others, all of
life’s joy and pain. Not holding it in as if it were mine alone.
Yeah, I am a cookie who crumbles, but life has graced me with the
knowledge that even the crumbs are sweet.
For years, when people would hear my stories, they would respond by
telling me, "Chelise, you are so strong." But I never believed this.
I always thought they were wrong. I can see now, what they were
talking about. It’s the fact that when life is a roller coaster, I
have a tendency to wrap my arms around the people and places and things
that I love, and hold on.
My mother once wrote a poem, and in one stanza she vowed to "bring
beauty up." I hope she knew, before she died, that she had
accomplished exactly that. Like all parents, fostering the miracle of
life - bringing beauty up, is exactly what my mother did, when she
raised my brother and me.
I think it was Albert Einstein who once said, I don’t know one
million of one percent of anything, and this is definitely true for
me. I am a veritable plethora of misunderstanding, every day that I
get up and walk out my door. But who can argue with the fact that as
long as you are still breathing, you still have the chance to learn
more? We are all like Michelangelo, who, after painting the Sistine
Chapel, said, “I am still learning.”
As I stumble around out here, there are a few things which make the
journey more beautiful. I may not know much, but these are the things
I do believe:
I believe in sunny days, and I believe the rain washes the world
clean. I believe in preserving forest and rivers, natural places,
spaces that are wide open and free. I believe in redemption and
healing. I think you can find them by eating applesauce, or reading
the Tao out loud. Or sometimes, simply by realizing that you have made
your mother proud.
I believe in the sacred wisdom of Buddha and Krishna and Kali. I
believe that Christ was a prophet in our time. But I also have some
problems with organized religion, I think there is reason why the terms
rampant insanity and Christianity rhyme.
I believe there is at least one angel sitting in every tree, and
that when you learn to see them, all of life opens up and becomes the
most lovely kind of poetry. So I believe in reading poems to your
children, and helping them with their writing. I think parents waste
their time when lecturing their kids about coloring inside the lines,
or minor indiscretions, like nail biting.
I think the Bible is full of wisdom, and I do believe that for
everything, there is a season. I believe we all suffer periods of
sadness, rage, and, grief that seems unbearable. But I think that if
you focus on why me, you are way too caught up in searching for an
I don’t think that grief needs a reason to be. And in truth, when
it comes to my own grief, the word unbearable, has never applied to
I think it is something wonderful, and a miracle in addition, this
gift we all get called the human condition. Who could ask for anything
I know that airplanes can be guided like bombs and fly into
buildings. But I know too, that heroes will follow. I think everyone
on this earth should be wary of blind patriotism, I find the military
concept of necessary losses, awfully hard to swallow.
I believe the Rolling Stones were right when they said you can’t
always get what you want. And I think they were on to something, when
they suggested that sometimes, you just have to let it bleed. But
unlike the former song, my experience has been you don’t even have to
try, you still get what you need.
So I believe in music, reggae, rock, hip hop and the soul soothing
that comes from listening to a slow country ballad. I believe that art
is everything we are, it can show you the way we are distinctly
separate, and also that we are one huge collective we.
I’ll tell you all this, these few things I know. But I’ll also say
I’m wary of the word believe, I worry about assumptions, I try not to
espouse rigid philosophy.
I know that the ones we love sometimes leave us. That even what
seems permanent, gets annoyed by assumed permanency, and responds by
going astray. But I also believe in reconciliation, and the fact that
we are all energy. I believe in quantum physics, because physics will
tell you that energy never really, goes away.
So mourning, like joy, and pain, and sometimes lovers too, will indeed come and go.
But just like the sunrise, all of it, is as it should be.
To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in a while. ~Josh Billings
Happy Father's Day, Dad.
Thank you for being creative, for being an artist, for being a writer. Thank you for showing me that self-made is something that is possible and worthwhile. Thank you for showing me that creativity in any form is a worthy endeavor.
I saw. I paid attention. They were good lessons.
I love the picture above. My brother looks just like like my fabulous little nephew (his son) Adin, and oh my, something was making me giggle, wasn't it?
I don't know who the littlest boy is, in this picture, but I love that my brother and I have matching windbreakers on. And that my father is quite intent on making that cow be his friend. But what I like the very most about this picture (it makes me cry a little) is that beautiful smile on my mother's face.
My Dad, early 70s, standng next to our prized "Art Car" - a 1957 Chevy station wagon, that my parents collaged top to bottom.
Here I am atop my father's shoulders. We were at some kind of street festival. There are so many things I love about this picture. Where to start? My faux fur jacket? My fathers shirt (!), or the fact that when he put me up on his shoulders, he took off that silly bowler hat, and put it on my head. And I'll just bet I was proud to be wearing it.
This afternoon, my incredible God Daughter Alyssa participated in Oakland's Open Studios. She's a photographer, and my GOD she is talented. She is just incredibly talented. She creates these extraordinarily sensuous photos, that somehow remain innocent, becaus she knows just where to place an errant puzzle piece or penny. I"m so proud of her.
Afterwards we had dinner at her mom's house, my best friend Jenna. Jenna is recovering from a lumpectomy and is getting ready to begin radiation treatments. It's invasive Breast Cancer but it doesn't look like any of those nasty cells got into her lymph nodes, so we are all holding our breath and breathing at the same time. Isn't it funny how life is like that?
I doodled away while I hung out at her house. Here's my silly little girls:
I think I was preoccupied with women and strength. What do you think? :D
I'm writing again. I have a memoir that I am working on, but the writing got jumbled up in the midst of my breakdowns, so I am moving a bit slower on that one, but still, I have it and I am having fun with it.
I don't how exactly this fiction piece cam to me - but, as can be the case with writing, a story kept developing in my head and it knocked around in there begging to be told. The first draft title is All of Me. Some of it I wrote at home, some at the hospital.
It's ready for readers. If you are interested, let me know. Here's a preview and a little graphic cover I made to go with it, for now. It seemed to fit - again, if you are interested in reading it or reading more as it is uploaded, let me know and I'll send you more info or put you on a mailing list to be alerted when a new chapter has been uploaded:
~ ~ ~
All of Me
Shauna Sover is a loner, but not by choice.She believes that everyone she has ever loved has left
her.Her sole comfort is a confusion
about whether she ever really loved any of them anyway.She holds closely to herself in a world that
calls out for recklessness, and when she gives in, she pays the ultimate price.
In All of Me, Shauna
learns that every price has its reward, and every reward has its price.Purgatory is the space-in-between, the place
where you can finally determine the true value of your choices and mishaps.
The space in-between is where Shauna finds herself, never
even having realized she was lost.Knowing small pieces of who are you are, is rare.Finding your way to the land of All of Me is the point of the journey.
You flew off with the wings of my heart and left me flightless. ~Stelle Atwater
I have a broken heart. I have a lot of broken parts of me, all trying to fuse back together, but each needs the assistance of my heart, and alas, it is so so broken right now.
I lost a friendship. When we were still friends, I knew I was lucky beyond belief. I'd found a brother, a confidante, an uncle for my children (they loved him too) and there were times, so many times, when my grief over my childhood, my parents, seemed to be answered by a benevolent universe that gifted me this man, to be my friend.
We did not have a fight. If I had to guess, he might say: "We grew apart." But he forgot to tell me, and I hadn't noticed.
I have a best friend, Jenna. She is a universe of stars shining brightly in my life, keeping the dark out - it can never be completely dark, when Jenna is my friend.
About a month ago, Jenna had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from her breast, on a Monday. My heart was beating at the top of my throat all day long. There was molassses in the air, I was so sick with worry.
Tuesday afternoon, we got word that the surgery went well. The molasses thinned a bit. Like warm honey. But there was still that worry, that helplessness.
An hour or two later, my other best friend, the male one, called me to explain that his new girlfriend, who is Christian, sent him some literature that explained that it would be a sin if he continued friendships with other woment. He was allowed to see me if we happened to meet in a crowd, but under no circumstances could we go to the movies, or out to lunch, or to have our long rambling phone calls.
In other words, the context of our relationship was gutted.
I can't tell you in words how this upended my tenuous stance on the world. According to what he was saying, our entire friendship had been a sin.
I hate defending myself. I hate even having to say this. I love my husband. I never would have spent time with someone of the opposite sex if there was even a hint of attraction. I DID NOT feel that way about my friend. I felt, most completely honestly - like he was a brother.
We joked about it, my friend and I. That we were long lost siblings who had finally found eachother. People came up to us on the street and asked if we were siblings. It was eerie. It was wonderful.
When he began to have heart palpitations several years ago, I left work early and rushed to the hospital and sat in the emergency room holding his hand as he was hooked up to a heart monitor. I pleaded with God. "No God, not this heart. I love this heart. I love this man. Don't take it away."
When his own heart was broken over some woman or another, I listened, I hurt for him. I believed in him. I beleived that one day he would find the woman who was lucky enough to capture his heart and heal his lonely soul.
When my own heart was broken, I'd sleep on the pull out couch in his apartment, and he would sit with me for hours, watching tv, movies, anything to keep my mind off my lost love. He'd sit there, until I fell asleep.
When I married, and would argue with my husband and storm out of the house, I'd call my friend and he knew just how to take my husband's side without making me even more enraged. He was my hostage negotiator when I had taken my own heart for hostage.
Over the years he has shown extraordinary generosity to me and my family. There is not a room in my house that does not have something of him in it. Funny pictures, silly gifts, and larger ones too.
Sometimes we would talk on the phone for hours, and even if I started out crying, by the end I would be laughing. He was the funniest man I had ever met.
~ ~ ~
Oh, my heart is so so broken. Our entire friendship, as it turns out, in his mind, was a sin.
~ ~ ~
This is such a huge loss, and I don't know how I will get through it. That is the absolute truth. Did I ever get over the loss of my mother, my father, my firt divorce? And now there is this.
~ ~ ~
My illness sneaks in here, and wants to tell the rest of the story. It turns out that my friendship was not important to this person. I had imagined it. I took too much and didn't have enough of anything to give back. I am broken. I am lacking. I can't expect anyone to stick around, ever.
I can not believe in or hold fast to love, because I am not worth being loved, and sooner or later, everyone will figure this out - and leave.
~ ~ ~
I never in a million years, NEVER would have predicted that I would pick up the phone on that day, and hear him explain that our friendship had been a sin. NEVER.
~ ~ ~
If you are thinking that maybe he was attracted to me, and that is why he felt he had to end our friendship, well that's not it. He didn't seem particularly picky about the women who came and went (no pun intended) in his life, except that they had to be very slim. Very slim. Mary kate and Ashley style. And me? I'm as pudgy as the pillsbury dough boy. I am definitely not his type.
~ ~ ~
His phone call knocked me to my knees. My mother had shot herself again. My father was gone, endlessly gone, still, again, gone.
I stopped eating. I stopped sleeping. Nothing was solid. My family was a hologram.
It was too much and too painful.
My family and I decided I had to go back into the hospital, there was talk about locking knife drawers.
My husband's touch made me claustrophobic. What if I needed my husband? What if I started to believe that he loved me? How would it feel when he too dissapeared? I didn't want my husband anywhere near me.
~ ~ ~
And now it is a month later. I am home. I have figured out how to hug my children again (by remembering how incredibly beautiful they are) and I am trying trying to let my husband back into my heart, because all this crap, this pain, so does not belong to him.
Iam trying, because I want to continue living despite who comes and goes.
I am trying because I have two beautiful children.
I am trying because Jenna, who loves me still, is in the fight of her life.
I am trying because despite the fact that I feel fractured and frightened and flightless, my husband keeps saying he loves me anyway. No, as in, "I'll take you as you are" - but as in - he'll love me in ANY possible way that I let him.
I am trying because I don't need to fly right now. One step in front of the other seems good enough, for now.
~ ~ ~
And, as for the friend who is no longer a friend - I hope for him that he has found that woman finally, who can capture his heart, his huge loving heart, and treasure it in the way that he so deserves. I hope that she can see what an amazing and wonderful man he is.
If this is the case, if he has found the love of his life, then the sacrifice of our friendship means nothing. If he can be happy, and I can find my way back from this broken heart, then this is worth it.
After all, this is sort how the world goes around, eh? It just keeps on spinning.