Trinkets and Armor, 4: Life Can’t Smack You Powerless, If You Keep Your Self at the Ready

 

If you’re visiting from Poets United and wish to delight only in the poetry, scroll down to the end of the post, to read “And I Dare…”.

 

The page where I archive our weekly Trinkets and Armor prompts starts with this quote: “If life rips your heart out of your chest, make something useful (even fun) out of the bloody mess.” A handful of you have messaged me to say that you feel inspired by what we’ve been discussing these last few weeks, that the quote itself makes you “want to do something”, makes you “wish you could join in”, but that some of the issues faced by some of the souls sharing their pains and wisdoms in this project make you feel “like a whiny poser”.

Well, my Wicked Luvs, I invite you to tell that little society-spawned voice in your head to shut it. No issue should ever be as important to you as the one that keeps you from being happy. Talking about it, trying to make sense of it, is not whining or posing. On the contrary, you take power away from the nasty spawn when you plant your feet, and growl, “My troubles matter as much as everyone else’s”. And just in case my intent isn’t as clear as my teeth when someone says, “Magaly, this is your mango!” know that this is me singing, “Join in, my Luvs, let’s dance with each other’s troubles until misery can’t tell whose foot is kicking its face.”

The thought of wiping the grin off misery’s face, one wild kick at a time, leaves me scrumptiously energized. Still, I shan’t linger on it, since today’s topic is not cathartic kicking but self-empowerment through planning, practice, readiness…

 

While I was a Marine Corps Combat Instructor, I learned that there would always be a young Marine who was certain he or she was cleverer than everyone who came before, especially more ingenious than those ancient combat instructors who obviously just wanted to make students’ lives hell, out of pure boredom. So, my fellow instructors and I always kept an eye out for the telling signs.

I spotted the brainiac during a gear inspection, before a 9-mile hike. A usually easy hike, sort of short, on slightly rough terrain (not too hilly… but things could get tricky when you are hiking through the forest exhausted, sleep deprived, with gear weighing as much as ¾ of you). So, yes, some young Marines searched for creative ways to reduce the weigh they had to carry. The clever young man I was watching replaced his poncho, extra socks and skivvies, and some other bits with inflated plastic bags we used for waterproofing. I sighed and headed his way.

“Hey, Devil Dog”, I said to him, “I’m going to check your pack last. You have fifteen minutes to rethink your choices.” I left to inspect my first squad, but glanced his way every now and again. I watched him re-pack properly.

Half an hour into the easy hike, it began to rain. The leaves blanketing the ground became ankle-breaking-slippery traps, the wee hills turned into steep muddy hells, packs got heavier, life sucked. Life sucked even more for a second virtuoso whose instructor explained, in a very loud manner, just how displeased he was at the fact that said genius had deemed it prudent not to pack his poncho or any extra dry gear. “Do you know what hypothermia is? Do you? Don’t worry if you don’t, you’ll find out. You’ll probably get acquainted with the Silver Bullet too…”

The shouting went on and on and… As the instructor’s screams drowned thunder, I searched for my young Marine, the one who had tried to lighten his pack earlier. I found his eyes staring at me from under the hood of his camouflaged poncho, his fingers viced around a roll of waterproofed black socks. I winked at him, and said, “Sure, Devil, you can let him borrow a pair after Sgt. S is done… teaching him”.

I will always be grateful to the Marine Corps for teaching me the same lesson when I was a student: we’ll rarely be surprised into inaction or despair, if we keep ourselves ready for whatever life (or a downpour in the woods) flings our way.

The next few months of my life will be… extra rough. Since this post is getting a bit too long, I shall wait until next week to share details about the incoming storm. Right now, I can let you know that I will spend a lot of time rearranging my closet and cabinets, placing anything I might need after September on spots I can access without having to bend too much or having to stretch my arms, I will cook like a maniac and freeze the yumminess, I will let friends know that our interactions will be erratic (since my sexy bits will claim schedules I can’t predict)… I will get my Self ready for anything, so that nothing can fill my skull with unexpected stress. And while I take care of all this, I will continue to remind myself that all the prearrangements will very likely not be enough. Life is not big on sharing plots.

This week, I would love to hear about how you dance with the unexpected, and how you deal with said unforeseen guest when it invites itself into your life, and tells you, “Yes, dearie, trying to ignore me is futile. You must deal with me.”

 

My poetic contribution for this week is another oldie *slightly tweaked* (partly inspired by Remedios Varo’s “Tightrope Walkers”):

“And I Dared…”

Created
with three legs
and a wheeled limb,
my life is often misery
in a tightrope-walker world,

unbalanced
between two mouths and 5 eyes,
unable to wheel the world
without twisting the known rails.

“Help me, Faery Weird Mother,
I need a prince to kiss and poof!
the weirds that trip me.”

She instant-wished me
a DIY magazine.

“What am I supposed to do with this?”

Hurt,
I flung the failed wish at the world
and wheeled my rage into the woods,
in search of The Cutter.

After
losing too many moons…
I collapsed at the edge
of a pond.

Dare, thought my mouths, fading
into the depths, becoming…

…awakening
from a magic-less sleep,
to say, “Why not?”

I became my own prince,
kissed my-Self
ready for anything,

and I dared…

 

To participate in Trinkets and Armor, please add the direct link to your entry at the end of your comment. If you don’t have a blog or a public platform, or don’t wish to write a post, just add your contribution as a comment. If you can, take a minute to read other entries. Unrelated links will be deleted without explanation.

 

Trinkets and Armor, 3: Boundaries Save Lives (and teeth)

 

If you’re visiting from Poets United and wish to delight only in the poetry, scroll down to the end of the post, to read “Sister to Storm to Dirt to Flame”.

 

In “Normal Is a Self-Defeating Trap”, we discussed flexibility, and suggested that to overcome some of life’s challenges, we must learn to twist and stretch, to push the boundaries of who we are, until we can grow… into who we need to be.

This week, I wish to play with Flexibility’s healthily-stuck-up cousin: Boundaries. When our energy is limited (something that comes with being alive. I mean, when was the last time you saw a zombie beaten by exhaustion? Exactly! The undead will continue to bite even when their guts are gone). Anyway, when our energy is significantly restricted by ailments (or whatever), we must become rather choosy.

I’m beyond possessive when it comes to my time, my wants, the needs of my spirit and flesh. This doesn’t always endear me to most people. But I’m not all that bothered by what most people think of me, since I’ve already learned that trying to be friends with most people is a grueling impossibility. I’m careful to be as selective with my friends as I am with what my mouth consumes, what I let my brain feast on, and with the sorts of activities that occupy my time.

I understand that setting boundaries isn’t easy. You see, I have a dear friend who is often made physically ill by inconsequential political debates, by things people do to each other, by things certain oxygen thieves pretending to be people have said to her… In the past, I used to ask her, “Why do you continue talking to that energy-vampire? Why do you let people, whose words and actions have proved they have neither heart nor brain, drag you into their nonsense?” The list goes on and on… After more than one panic attack, we figured out that my sweet, huge-hearted friend was terrified of what saying “Enough!” might’ve meant. Well, it has meant many moments of tranquility and a much shorter friend list. She still stumbles into random forums of doom, every now and again. But… she can get away before the rot oozed by someone else’s idiocy swallows her whole.

My friend has developed many tools to establish boundaries. Moi? I have a trunk full of them. Let me share 3 out of the bunch: 1. I’m extremely selective when it comes to close friends. 2. I don’t waste my time on activities (or people) that bring nothing but grief into my life. 3. I always, always prioritize.

For me, the last one is the most important. It can also be the hardest, particularly when it comes to the seemingly small things. I’ll use an example from blogging, since… well, we are here, aren’t we? I’ve lost more than a handful of blog friends since I figured out that my energy levels aren’t what they used to be. In the past, I had the time and endurance to read and comment on almost everything my friends posted. But… things change. These days, you might never see me on your blog, if I haven’t seen you on mine first—I always comment on the words of people who comment on my words. It’s an efficient way of prioritizing my blog reading time. If I see you here, I will visit your cyber-home. If I don’t see you, I might visit you (if time permits, but as you already read, time isn’t that great at permitting).

My behavior says nothing about the writing of the people whose work I might not read anymore, but… when it comes to some of them, you’d think that I’ve yelled that their words are fresh crap and their mother’s best brownies look like old crap.

They aren’t happy with me. One spoke of “abandonment”. Another said that I’ve gone “commercial and unartistic” (I don’t even know what that means). The most enraged of them all went as far as to suggest that I’m “comment-hungry”, and that people read and comment on my “over-simplistic poetry” just because they expect me to “fluff their substandard drivel” with “empty sugary”. I shall be as brave as Dumbledore, and “try not to sink beneath [my] anguish… but battle on” *cough*.

Hysterical, isn’t it? I agree. So much… that I postponed the Trinkets and Armor prompt I had readied for today (Stigma) and decided to go with boundaries. You see, it is very likely that I will never go back to most of their blogs. Not because they belittled my ink and my relationship with other writers and readers, but because my immune system and I don’t need their toxic nonsense. This does not mean that I won’t miss some of the writing—some of them are quite talented. But… sometimes, one must let go of certain pleasures, in order to keep one’s sanity (and to avoid skinning one’s knuckles on other people’s broken teeth).

So… my Luvs, how good are you at setting boundaries, at recognizing your limits, at remembering to say, “Enough!” (when you must) and moving on…?

 

My poetic contribution for this week is part of an oldie that’s still a goodie:

“Sister to Storm to Dirt to Flame”

I was Sister to Storm to Dirt to Flame
before she,
who claimed to have chosen me as her own,
fancied glitter could glamour
the broken spine of usurped energy.

Stagnant through time and Realms,
the twinkling twit
has met not the wisdom that feeds
the babes in evolution’s belly—

a witch in touch
with the Nature who made her
would never pretend…

or believe a rogue made of her magic
could shoot arrows through my blood.

 

If you are participating in Trinkets and Armor, please add the direct link to your entry at the end of your comment. If you don’t have a blog, or don’t wish to write a post, add your contribution as a comment. If you can, take a minute to read other entries. Unrelated links will be deleted without explanation.

a wee note…
– Trinkets and Armor is moving to Sundays, starting
August 5th will be posted sometime between Thursday night and Sunday morning whenever *cough*.