A book of personal essays:
An indomitable spirit overcomes a life unimaginable by capturing moments of beauty.
Author, Speaker and Entrepreneur
Valerie Anne Burns
Monday, November 19, 2018
"Gulf Stream Awakening" out-loud
Instead of a written blog this month, below you'll find a literary reading with Out Loud Santa Barbara (sponsored by Arts Fund) where I read an excerpt to the opening of my book, “Caution: Mermaid Crossing" titled, “Gulf Stream Awakening”--Always an honor to be selected when I submit writing.
Sometimes the mighty do fall. It doesn't mean we've fallen forever.
A friend said to me, "You're so strong, you'll get on the other side of this too." I replied, "Maybe, but I think I've reached a tipping point." So exhausted, I was seeing stars when this conversation came about. My long-awaited move came up suddenly the Friday of Labor Day weekend and I had less than 20-minutes to make a decision. I needed to get back to working on the revision of my book and leaving in three weeks for Hilton Head to spend time with friends and celebrate our birthdays.
I'd have to organize, plan, pack and move beforehand. It would be the 8th move in 8-years. I knew it'd be on a budget and I'd have to do much of the physical work. Then I started hearing the stories about the unstable neighbor at the new place, which I decided was the ideal choice if it opened up. The threats and paranoia are a burden to her neighbors and I'd be directly next door. I was so enthusiastic to get the great apartment I wanted in a complex of 105. Why couldn't the Universe provide this desired blessing and leave it at that; no caveat? Do I stay where the insane traffic noise never ends or take a chance on crazy encounters?
This is my life. This is the reality of the situation I've gotten myself into. After losing work during the long journey with breast cancer and health challenges, I took a unit under public housing. Scrambling for every morsel, keeping a roof over my head, and juggling many balls like a pro juggler, I had to pull out all the stops to protect myself and survive with the intention of eventually thriving.
I looked around the place I was in, and all the work and decorating style it took to create a space that feels like me only to undo the creation once again - I was rendered to a paralyzed state. A culmination of the last decade hitting me straight in the face, I found myself in a puddle with little interest to get out of bed unless it was to move to the couch. I didn't do one thing to begin the process of a move and now I was unsure about subjecting myself to a difficult neighbor. The all-too-familiar anxiety took over. It dawned on me that I'd been triggered and that part of the brain that holds trauma began to open its lock. Adding to anxiety for many of us, is the daily disgrace of Trumpism - The wannabe fascist in our face. I'm horrified and madly signing petitions and calling representatives on a daily basis. I watch everything I believe in and have stood strong for slipping away - A barrage of destruction. There comes a point when it's all too damn much! I could feel myself falling into depression. So weary am I. So tired of carrying the world on my shoulders, I wondered if I cared to get through another all-consuming feat. Am I allowed to feel I've reached my tipping point and teetering on the cliff? Do I live up to all the expectations of being fierce and strong into eternity? Fuck that. I knew the overwhelm wouldn't last. I've gotten through worse. But whenever these seemingly insurmountable challenges hit me head-on, I wonder how much more I can take. I go to that place of hopeless romantic and contemplate loneliness. Where's my partner? - the lover that gives me the chance to lean on someone, rest my weary head on a shoulder, be the grounded strength and problem solver, even the muscle to accomplish a move. My shoulders are the only ones to hold straight and forge ahead.
A friend of mine, aware of the move, called me about packing. I asked her to come by and help me with a dilemma first, knowing she'd gone to school to become an ordained minister and counsels people. I was in a flare-up and symptoms of fatigue and pain were intense. I couldn't make a decision. She arrived, closing my door within three minutes to shut out the chaotic traffic remarking she couldn't stand it. Well, that said a lot. She came armed with essential oils and a natural anti-inflammatory cream. I felt calmer from support. We all do and need loving support in times of crisis. After rubbing my shoulders and neck with magic cream and hands, I felt like I could put a sentence together to explain the predicament. Both scenarios - stay with the crazy noise, which included a constant stream of muffler-less motorcycles or go with the possibly troublesome neighbor? I walked her over to the new unit and she immediately said, "Yes, this is it." The grassy lawn, big trees, and still possessing a glimpse of the ocean surpassed the challenge of a difficult direct neighbor. I was relieved to be in the presence of someone who could make a decision for me. I took a deep breath and slowly wrapped my head around organizing, strategizing, packing and physically moving to the new spot. It put me to bed again but I knew I'd have to rally and take small bites. The consistent help in packing I received from the friend that assisted me in making a big decision, my home-town 'island' friend driving up from LA to schlep everything that wasn't too big or heavy (she with a dolly and me with a wagon making the 5-block round trip at least 45 times) was critical to reaching the goal, and help from a couple other friends offering a couple hours got me over the hump to moving through the move. I absolutely couldn't have done it without them. Being able to get assistance when I humbly sent out an SOS filled me with an electrifying gratitude that kept my puttering engine going. It's been one hell of a decade I've gotten through. Thanks, Universe for keeping me alive through cancer, and all the challenges that have been put before me. Thanks to the Gods who rule the stars, for my fierceness and for loving friends who stay by my side and remind me of my strength and humor. Maybe reaching a tipping point where a human spirit feels at the end of their rope and staring into the abyss can prove to be an authentic survival tool. Perhaps it propels us to another layer of our soul in order to gain the inspiration we need to take a step forward; even baby steps to conquer challenge and succeed in overcoming anything from a big wave to a tsunami like challenge. When we swim through it, we are encouraged and amazed by the strength of the human spirit. This is where inspiration and creativity can blossom to start fresh and dream again. Keep on swimming through life, Valerie Anne Burns