Afraid of My Own Subconscious

You just can’t rush the healing process, no matter how annoying it is for friends and family.

I was dismayed when my best friend gradually stopped returning my texts. When my old boyfriend, who I had always assumed was still in love with me and would always listen to my whining, finally bowed out, too. And you know you’re in trouble when even your mother says things like, “God, why can’t you just get ever this already?” The general consensus seemed to tip-toe around this sentiment: You wanted to get divorced. Now you’re divorced. Be happy now.

In hindsight, alienating myself from my confidants was the perfect remedy because it forced me to talk to myself. Wow, I annoyed myself, too. Yes, why couldn’t I just get over it?

My crocodile began to emerge as what it really was, once I cared to look. It was my subconscious and I was terrified of it. I had read enough about the havoc that beast can wreak in all the self-help books I devoured in a panic over the last several months.

In What To Say When You Talk To Yourself, Shad Helmstetter, Ph. D. said I’m telling myself all kinds of negative, destructive self-talk all day long. Most of this I picked up when I was a tiny child and my subconscious has accepted it as truth. Often it wasn’t meant to be harmful: “Be careful, you’ll hurt yourself!” “No, you can’t do that.” Of course, sometimes it was plain mean, though. “You’ll never get into college with a C. They’re gonna laugh.” “You’re a big fat yeast roll.” That last one was adapted from the Quincy’s Family Steakhouse theme song by my older sister, who was very skinny. Yes, she actually sang it to me.

In Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz, M.D. told me that 99.5% of the population has unresolved emotional scars from the past which produce the agonizing pain of defeat, failure, frustration and loneliness.

In Healing Back Pain, John Sarno, M. D. talks about deeply repressed anger from childhood causing tension myositis syndrome, which can manifest as everything from sciatica to asthma.

These books were all illuminating and helpful to me, and I do believe that repressed gunk needs to come up and out in order to truly heal, yet I started to see my own subconscious as an enemy. The tragedy of this was highlighted in a surprising way, and the moment of revelation was one I’ll never forget.

At the Kadampa Buddhist Center I attend, we always begin with a breathing meditation. You follow your breath in and out and try not to think of anything else. If you need imagery to do that, you can imagine all your tension and distractions gathering together in the center of your body, in the form of dark smoke. On your out breath, you dispel it.

Simple, right? Not really.

After about a year of doing this very meditation, I realized that I was forcing my breath in and out. Controlling it’s flow, instead of following it. I hadn’t gotten it at all.

Then one fine day, after I had become the crocodile with no one to kiss my false tears, I was able to actually DO the breathing meditation! Finally. Instead of actively breathing, I sat and watched myself breathe. It felt like a balloon being filled and emptied automatically, without any will of my own. And…it wasn’t “me” doing it. It wasn’t my conscious mind doing this benevolent thing called breathing, to keep me alive. My subconscious was keeping me, my ego, “Sarah,” alive.

Wait.

My subconscious is benevolent?

Yes.

What a beautiful, steady, trustworthy part of myself. Suddenly, I had real, wet, salty tears running down my face. How had I been attempting self-love, like all the self-help books say, all those agonizing months since the divorce, without loving the most faithful part of me?

This was Mean Greeting Card #4. To see the others in this series, go HERE.

Thanks for liking, commenting, and following!  Visit my contact page HERE for social network links, or sign up for my mailing list HERE to be the first to see new work.

My Lonely House

MyHero_Instagram

The rebound.

Everyone knows rebounds are destined for disaster. Most of us have been through one already, or at least witnessed the fallout of a hasty new relationship after a breakup–with friends or family, on t.v. or in books, heard about it in love songs, read about it in poetry, seen art about it. The list goes on. This is no great mystery. Why do we do it anyway?

For me, pressure to begin dating as soon as final divorce documents were signed was intense, and expert dating advice abounded.

“Just have fun with it. Keep it light.”

“My sister met her doctor hubby on a dating site. You should try one.”

“Yay, we can hang out again. I’ll be your wingman like in the old days!” (Translation: Misery loves company. Everyone knows dating is a nightmare.)

The urge came from within, too. Mostly it arrived like my descicated philodendrons crawling out of their pots, across the door jambs and up the window panes, in search of lifegiving water and light. Anywhere!

Because, the divorce process was like a trek through the desert, holding scabby hands with a wounded enemy who occasionally vomited on me as my only chance of sustenance. I’ll admit I spewed on him regularly, too, and probably with more acid. Yet, the nightmare didn’t end once the judge whacked the gavel. Next came a new wasteland, with no hand to hold. Not even in friendship.

After years of clinging devotion, Mr. X moved in with another woman only a handful of weeks after he moved out of our family house.

Ex-family house.

My house.

My lonely house.

The moral superiority I felt with never having been unfaithful or not having a standby lined up blew out in the hot stinking blast of his exit. All I was left with was a hand mirror.

I needed to remember who I was, before I was mired in monogamy and sexual obligation. I needed to reclaim the artist I was, before I stopped working to be a stay at home mom. I needed to feel special and important and authentic, and have someone understand me for who I really was, instead of judge me after over a decade of actually living with me. I needed to know that true love was still possible and that great sex was available and likely, all the time.

Enter, the rebound.

Poor Mr. R. He was no match for my subconscious. Had I considered, even for a moment, what Mr. R needed? Do I really need to even answer that? Heartbroken people are so selfish.

Well, I can’t feel too sorry for Mr. R. He broke my heart again presently.

But, why? Wasn’t he the perfect replacement, the one who I had been searching for all my life? It’s laughable once I write it down. With some distance, I can now see the holes in my delusion…

I’d picture the private corner office he was sitting at (not a cubicle), while thinking of me all day long. Sure, the evidence showed that he drank like a fish while watching sports in bars most of the time, but I believed he led a rich inner life and one day I’d see it. Remember that one joke he told two years ago about attending seminary school? Of course, I knew that there was a good reason he would only communicate in texts, too. Maybe phone calls were a thing of the past. And no, he wasn’t ignoring me–it was my fault for being too pushy. I don’t need kindness, because I’m not a needy girlfriend (friend with benefits).

All of my suffering arose from my own disappointment each time he showed up–or didn’t–to be just exactly who he was. In reality. Yes, my heart was broken when he dumped me. I was in madly in love, after all. But, I was in love with my imagination. I had absolutely no patience for the real Mr. R.

Being patient means to welcome wholeheartedly whatever arises, having given up the idea that things should be other than what they are. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

So, why is patience even necessary?

Because it’s the remedy for anger, and anger–or resentment, or constant disappointment, or depression–is a destructive force that places blame outside ourselves and prevents growth. Anger is not accepting what exists before us, and grasping at wishes instead.

Wish in one hand, shit in the other, see which one fills up first. Stephen King

Mr. R wasn’t the problem. The problem was a mind that wouldn’t accept reality and a heart that was rushed straight past the healing process. Yeah, I was sad. I had just gotten divorced, for crying out loud. Denial of reality only brought me more pain, each time my fantasy crumbled a bit more. Each time another bandaid was ripped off.

It was a slow torture that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. So, please take my advice and run screaming from rebound relationships.

Yeah, right.

I hope yours is easier than mine…or at least quicker!

This was Mean Greeting Card #3. To see the others in this series, go HERE.

Thanks for liking, commenting, and following!  Visit my contact page HERE for social network links, or sign up for my mailing list HERE to be the first to see new work.

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness Doesn’t Mean Being Okay With Something

kissandmakeup

I was 26 when my boyfriend almost killed me.

Two months after meeting him, he wrapped my Jeep Wrangler around a telephone pole with me, unseatbelted and drunk, in the passenger seat. After losing my sight and my hearing, feeling my hair fall out and half my face droop with palsy, undergoing multiple surgeries and spending months in the hospital…I married him. That’s young love for ya.

Traumatic brain injury helped.

How does a couple overcome something like that–my ruined body, his dark passenger of  guilt, and the specter of morbidity hanging over us both?

We buried it, of course.

Afterall, we deserved to be happy just like any other two idiots, madly in love. How could one whoopsie daisy destroy us?

But, it lurked underneath every minute of every day, an oozing cancer. Unfortunately, the past couldn’t remain tucked away, because I had permanent injuries that just wouldn’t shut up no matter how hard I tried to ignore them. And once young love wore off and my rose colored glasses cleared, it wasn’t long before nagging thoughts of, “But, you’re just fine. How nice,” and, “What really did happen that night,” and the most ridiculous, “Hey. You never even replaced my jeep,” began to surface.

It got worse from there. The whoopsie daisy polished every smudge in our marriage to obscene high definition.

Years later at one of many marriage counseling sessions, after describing the car accident to Dr. B, he said to me, “It sounds like you’ve got a lot of forgiving to do.”

That sounded accusatory.

What? That’s bullshit, what did I do? I’m the one who was maimed here. Affronted, I choked out something like, “How can I do that? How can I ever be okay with what happened?”

“Forgiving doesn’t mean being okay with something,” he told me. “If everything were okay, there would be no need to forgive.”

“Well…what is forgiveness, then?”

His answer was groundbreaking for me, and I’m sure I’m romanticizing it now, since I’ve thought about it so much–turned it over in my my mind, unpacked it and refolded it a million times since. I’ll try to paraphrase the message faithfully: “Forgiveness is letting go of the pain a person or event causes you. You’re the one holding onto it. You’re the one who has to let go of it.”

Dr. B was blunt like that, and I usually hated him for it. Yet, this time he rang the right bell. So, this was all about my brilliant mind. The mind that had clearly fucked up my own life, in my own power. Well then, at least I had some control.

To let go of the pain I would have to face it first, though.

“That sounds pretty difficult,” I admitted.

“Well. What’s the alternative?”

Indeed.

That sent me on a mission for answers. I had to forgive and I was in this alone. How could I be not okay with something Mr. X did, but still not let it hurt me?

I studied Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Tantra. Religion isn’t my strong suit, since I was raised an Atheist and I have a natural aversion to authority of any kind. I tried my darndest, though. I went to psychics and mystics, learned to meditate and connect to Source, faithfully took up Kundalini Yoga (nearly lost my mind doing that at first). I had my Akashic records read, listened to my soul council, tuned my chakras, cured my allergies, wrote two books, and even started making art again.

Over the years, I began to realize that I was not hurt at all by that fateful event. Not in the long run, in terms of the cosmos. In fact, I would’ve never experienced the richness of my life as I then knew it, had I not been so broken when I was 26. Forget that soulless beauty I used to be. If I hadn’t had my skull smashed, I might not ever have found the beauty within. I didn’t even blame Mr. X any longer. He was the agent of a great change in me, and possibly a divine agent of Karma. There are no accidents.

So, slowly and incrementally…I began to forgive.

The flip side to that was an unfortunate and unexpected byproduct, however. In all this soul searching, I had changed and Mr. X had not followed suit. And from my new hard won standpoint of a meditative, forgiving mind, I began to question if remaining in the marriage wasn’t more like martyrdom.

What a Catch-22! I seek forgiveness to save my marriage and forgiveness is the very thing that must end it! Was this a cosmic joke?

Suddenly, the tables were turned and I was no longer the wounded, but the one wielding the ax. Afterall, I had learned to accept Mr. X for who he was, flaws and all, and I loved him as a person and a friend, even if I didn’t see a lifelong partnership as viable any longer. The resentment was gone, but guilt had taken its place. I was a nervous wreck with all the sifting and sorting. How could I do this horrible thing that I had to do? How did I become the evil one with a dark passenger?

I went back to Dr. B for more marriage counseling, hoping to find help in ending it peacefully.

With snot running down my lips and a wad of soaked tissues in my clenched fist, I babbled something like, “What if marriage isn’t the right thing for me in this case? I think I’ve learned to forgive, but that doesn’t make Mr. X my partner until death does us part, does it? I think I made a mistake. I’d rather die than go on like this.”

Stone faced, he replied, “My main goal is to keep the marriage intact.”

“No matter what?”

“That’s my goal.”

And that’s when I realized the true meaning of forgiveness. I had to forgive myself and I was in this alone. I was going to break people and ruin lives. How could I be not okay with what I meant to do, but still not let it hurt me?

Well. What’s the alternative?

Indeed.

This was Mean Greeting Card #2. To see the others in this series, go HERE.

Thanks for liking, commenting, and following!  Visit my contact page HERE for social network links, or sign up for my mailing list HERE to be the first to see new work.

 

All Worldly Attachments Eventually Bring Pain

Opposites Attract. Oil, watercolor, acrylic, pastels, and charcoal on paper, 15″X19″, 2018.

My first finished painting in over a year has turned out wildly different than I expected, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

The series of six paintings–which includes elephants, sea otters, and butterflies, among other fauna–began as an art licensing idea for Valentine’s Day cards, and they were supposed to be sweet! As I stumbled away from ever worsening divorce complications and limped through the swift demise of a confusing rebound, however, my cute little animals became tragic instead.

Too much work had gone into them to quit. Pen and ink, watercolor, pastel, gouache, oil, acrylic–I had really poured my heart into it, probably as a way to stay sane through trauma. I was lost with them, though, because they certainly weren’t commercially appealing any longer. But I had no idea how such lingering sentimentality would fit into my fine art practice.

Then I realized that these paintings had stayed true to their original purpose after all, wherever they fit, and all my frustration vanished. They capture the raw emotion I felt for months and months, and they are quite comforting to me. Much like a greeting card and much better than well meaning divorce chit chat. I imagine it’s a similar feeling when a loved one dies and you’re forced to sit through clumsy condolences. Most of what people say makes you feel worse.

In particular, the monkey and the chicken are so obviously not a great couple! I’ve discovered people to be invested in the survival of others’ relationships beyond reason.

“No! You guys are perfect together!”

“But you looked so happy on Facebook, what happened??”

And the worst:

“What about your KID?! How could you DO this to him?” (Well, by golly you’re right. I have never considered my kid in all of this. Silly me.)

Of course, I’ve done the same thing to divorcing couples, and I think it’s a reflection of my own anxiety in the knowledge that all worldly attachments eventually bring pain. And, if your relationship doesn’t last, that means mine might not either. That’s darn right personally offensive.

But, I mean, come on. What were a monkey and a chicken ever going to offer each other from the beginning? I think if we admitted that many romantic partnerships are like this, maybe we wouldn’t need so much self-medication.

This was Mean Greeting Card #1. To see the others in this series, go HERE.

Thanks for liking, commenting, and following!  Visit my contact page HERE for social network links, or sign up for my mailing list HERE to be the first to see new work.

A Love Not of This World

This was written by one of my oldest and best friends, Amy. Good to know that February wasn’t easy for a lot of us! Hello, March! Much better energy so far for me. If not for you, this post is a good reminder of where to find true love.

Conscious Companion

 Lord I want
To be up
In my heart
Be
Ohh
Just in my heart, oh Lord
– Moby, In My Heart

Conscious COmpanion_Amy MArtin

Hello Bright Light 💛

I hope this finds you and yours well and at peace in all ways.  Today will be a relatively short post because I have a beach date with my fur babe. We are going to get down and dirty in the sand, salt, and sun!  Thanks to Hocus calling me out on my “stuff” a few months ago, I made a promise to spend my energy more wisely and to be fully present with my beloveds.  (Btw, if you are driving, or prefer to listen instead of reading, you can listen to this blog post by clicking on the link below.)

Let’s get to it.

Do you know that song from Moby?  It’s one of my faves.  Click on the link in the above…

View original post 2,575 more words

Some Things Can’t Be Left Alone

This is my first post in over a year, because I’ve been busy with an endless, vomitous, soul-crushing divorce.

It was unavoidable. Most people we knew were so sorry to hear about it, because they always saw us as a well-matched couple, and they loved us both. Then, my friends and family deserted him, and his friends and family deserted me. We tried a “conscious uncoupling.” That was a catastrophe. We attempted “co-parenting” because that was a pleasant sounding fiction, but we were always at each others throats behind the scenes. I finally admitted that was bullshit, too.

We used to be best friends. And lovers. Co-creators. Now, most conversations with him produce hives.

Yet, this is not an angry post!

I feel inspired and hopeful today, because my best friend Sally sent me the perfect laugh this morning with this horse meme. She’s a therapist and she makes these privately to blow off steam. They remind me of Jack Handy quotes on Saturday Night Live–hilarious in the uncomfortable truth at their core. They’re actually comforting to me (and probably a lot of people), because it reminds me that we all dwell in darkness sometimes. Laughter through the tears.

You see, the divorce was a symptom of a larger change that Sally and I have been experiencing, along with so many other friends it’s astounding. The Aquarian Age, finally arrived? The dreaded midlife crisis? Global awakening in the Information Age?

Like most who find their way here, I stumbled onto a spiritual path not by choice, but because there was nowhere else to go. All all other roads led to more misery, worse addiction, and crippling stagnancy. And once you start walking, it’s impossible to step off the path, no matter how many dark nights of the soul you suffer through.

Mornings are just as often bright and fair.

I’ve spent some quality time painting in my cave through all this. I feel like I’m on the cusp of completion of an important cycle. It’s freeing and cleansing to get everything down on paper. I have a feeling that I’ll look back on these paintings in ten years and understand even more about what I’m doing in hindsight, but for now I’m just letting my heart flow out through my fingertips.

They’re large and on very sturdy paper, so I can work on them layer after layer, while surprising details build up.

I’ve been making patterns out of written words for a long time, but in the last year they’ve started working as mandalas for me. Often it was the only way that I could sit down to work on anything, when I felt like I was at rock bottom. At first I felt guilty about “wasting” so much time, doodling away with no real aim in mind, no monetary goal. Now I realize that the act of making these mandalas gets things flowing and connects me to source energy.

Confusion fades and clarity peaks. Ideas coalesce, and problems that I’ve struggled with for months suddenly find their own solution. Doubts and anger evaporate, and compassion soars.

The thing I love most about the mandalas is that I have no idea where they will end up, because each mark determines the next. It’s my favorite work that I’ve ever made. I have a ton, and I’ll post as they develop.

If you’d like to watch how the work grows, follow and subscribe!

 

Classic Horror and True Romance

poorthingsA Book Review of Poor Things, by Daniel Barnett

Find it on Amazon HERE.

Anyone who has read my reviews for a while knows that I’m a huge Daniel Barnett fan. I was thrilled to hear that his latest book, Poor Things, might fall into the YA spectrum. Barnett’s writing is pure poetry, and this one is his goriest, grittiest yet. I’d say it rests rather precariously on the young adult line, and it would certainly appeal to adult horrorphiles, because this author never pulls any punches and his hits can be brutal. Poor Things is bloody and frightening, with language not meant for virgin ears. Parents, if you think your little miracle isn’t ready for something along the lines of Stephen King’s scariest tales, this isn’t their book.

For more mature teens: dive in. Poor Things is also beautiful and touching, a poignant coming of age story.

Main character Joel has it coming from the first pages, as the bullying, arrogantly jocular older brother to a wimpy, pimply, book-reading nerd. You’ll know immediately if you can’t handle Poor Things, because Joel loses everything (including that little brother) in a violent car crash before you can even blink. The change in him is swift and soul deep, and we experience this story through his new life as a crippled nobody in a tiny mining town.

This life changing event, this one tragic moment, serves to destroy and create. It’s a common theme with Barnett—tear it all down, build it all back up—and something worth pondering for any young reader, especially in those days before the brain has developed enough to understand consequences. Physically incapacitated by his broken body, Joel’s mind speeds ahead: “Adolescence is an earthquake, one that feels like it will never end while you’re living it, and eventually there comes a choice. You can crawl under your desk and hide, or you can stand up on top of that shaking desk and dance.”

He isn’t the only character I fell in love with, not by far. The heavy metal loving tomboy with a white-blonde buzzcut, Ash, is one of the strongest female supporting characters I’ve met in a long time. She’s cool, she’s smart, she’s tough, and she’s best friends with the biggest dork outcast in school. Ash is all soft underneath, and yes, though Joel is paralyzed from the waist down, there is the possibility of romance. It’s hard to say who is the hero of Poor Things, because throughout most of the book, Ash saves Joel’s derriere again and again. Without her, he could never have…sniff…well, you’ll cry at the end, too.

The town of Honaw itself has enough personality to be thought of as another character–an odd and mildly disturbing one from the beginning. Or, rather, the thing which lies beneath Honaw engineers that creep factor. Okay, that’s it! I can’t say any more or I’ll give it away. Yet, bells and whistles aside, this is a classic monster tale. No monster I’ve ever imagined, however. Only Daniel Barnett could imagine such a strange, sad, dangerous beast from the depths of time, and only this guy could make me love that thing by the end.

This review was written for YA Books Central. Check it out HERE to find out more about the book and the author.

Screenshot 2016-05-13 15.12.10

I Vowed I Would Never Make Hippie Dippy Jewelry, But…

stonejewelry

I do now.

With spiritual stones and crystals, no less! Above, you see CarnelianTiger’s Eye, and Jade–all of them used for their healing properties.

How did this happen? It’s not like I don’t already have enough creative projects running simultaneously to ensure I never finish them. Maybe that’s the point: keep creating regardless of the end game.

But, why jewelry?

It all has to do with two recovering addicts, a homeless friend, and a happy little boy. And, BANG! Jewelry making has become one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in a long time.

chakraillust

About a month ago, I decided to work on balancing my chakras with Kundalini Yoga & Meditation. The fire wasn’t lit with, but was definitely stoked by, a book I found in my favorite hippie dippy shop in Orlando, Spiral Circle. By the way, if you’re interested in exploring this, I highly recommend starting with The 8 Human Talents, by Gurmukh.

My nature compels me to seek out every bit of information on a subject, no matter how seemingly insignificant. So, instead of simply working with the one book, each chapter devoted to yogic technique on enlivening each chakra, I went all out.

What is the special mudra (hand gesture) for muladhara (1st, or root, chakra)?

What pranayama (breath) do I use to focus during meditation?

What animal totem can I visualize for swadhisthana (2nd, or sacral, chakra)?

What incense to burn?

What tea to drink?

What sounds to listen to? (Turns out there are recordings of Tibetan singing bowls for each chakra, that you can buy on iTunes!)

And, of course, what crystals or stones are associated with each chakra? Because every piece of info I found led to another, as it often does in the information age, and I kept seeing references to crystals and stones.

Enter, two recovering addicts.

About a year ago, my best friend Sally (who I believe to be definitely recovered, but I guess that’s a thing: you’re always in recovery) was the lucky recipient of another person’s relinquished addiction. This lady was addicted to collecting gem stones, and I suppose the gem stones themselves. I don’t know if it was a hoarding thing, and then the power of the stones also took over? All I know is my friend now has a buttload of crystals and gems and stones–boxes and boxes and boxes of them.

Sally doesn’t necessarily consider that a good thing, and she surrenders them freely to anyone. She had even learned to make jewelry with them, to sell on eBay and such.

I didn’t really need them and I don’t wear jewelry much, though I thought they were lovely. Until the chakra balancing began…

Enter, a homeless friend.

Jeez, I’m not going into that here–that’s far beyond the scope of my humble post. Suffice it to say, homeless friends can complicate situations, and Sally and I…lost touch for a snippet of time.

But, I was knee-deep in my chakra balancing and I needed to put those stones on my body somehow! Thankfully, I had already procured the stones, yet I had no idea how to make jewelry, especially hippie dippy jewelry! Jewelry making was never in the plans.

Plans change, my friends. Float along or drown in the deluge.

And, as my favorite horoscope caster says of the Ares (me):

“Ares, the visionary, the optimistic heart, the one who believes a skill they don’t have is just something they haven’t learned yet.” —Gala Mukomolova, Galactic Rabbit

I drove to Michael’s, I bought some tools and wires and hooks, and I learned to make jewelry. Probably badly, but it’s really fun to see something beautiful completed so quickly. Most of my art takes months, if not years, to complete.

Enter, a happy little boy.

Well, at first he was very unhappy, and this is the strangest thing yet about chakra balancing with Kundalini Yoga & Meditation. My son and I are so close that he seems to be picking up on it, on the soul level.

I’ve been spending 7 days on each chakra, meditating and doing yoga every morning before Liam wakes up. Last week, I was working on my solar plexus chakra, the human talent of which is commitment and purpose. The shadow emotion (what you feel when you have problems with this chakra) is anger. My son had a couple very angry episodes, which were quite out of character, before I figured it out.

Yesterday was the first day that I worked with the heart chakra.

I’ll admit it, that first morning was rough and it continues to be. In the beginning, for me anyway, there seems to be a serious healing-from-old-wounds thing happening. Right before Liam woke up, and I was pondering my morning meditation (and all the angst and loves lost from years and years of dating), I looked at the Rose Quartz necklace I had made.

I am just not comfortable wearing a pink crystal necklace.

I don’t know why. I have a huge, gorgeous chunk of Rose Quartz that I keep on my woo woo altar for the morning soul purge, when I meditate. My psychic tells me it will be ugly and gray by the time I’m done with it. Works like a charm and I love it.

woowooaltar

A pink necklace just isn’t my style, though, so I chose one of the other stones that are supposed to be good for the heart chakra: Jade. About that time, my son woke up, sleepily surfed around for a minute on his iPad, and found a slice of what sounded to his ears like a sad love song: Clarity, by Zedd.

He started bawling.

This child knows nothing about complicated love stories. But his mom does.

In short, I let him wear the pink necklace. Rose Quartz is supposed to carry a “soft feminine energy of compassion and peace, tenderness and healing, nourishment and comfort.” Perfect for my sweet son at that moment.

liamrosequartz

I’m so glad I opened my mind to jewelry making!

He wore it all day…and made me listen to that song all day, to which I privately, inwardly wept. Maybe I’ll wear the pink crystal myself next time. Better make another one.

Beauty and Hope Delivered by Disaster and Monsters

jasonlatshaw

A Book Review of The Threat Below, by Jason Latshaw

Find it on Amazon HERE.

Mountaintop. Humanity’s last stand, after near obliteration from the Threat Below, by which Jason Latshaw’s epic book is titled. The humbled hundred or so inhabitants of Mountaintop, called the Kith, rely on legend mixed with history of the Apriori, their ancestors who once ruled the earth. The Kith are walled into their home in the sky by fear and the persistent Cloudline that obscures vision of Down Below. Their world is meager and desperate, their society stratified and rigid. In the first few pages, a hard line is drawn between main character Icelyn, the prissy, intelligent Cognate daughter of the Kith’s leader, and Adorane, her Veritas best friend and possible brave, brawny love interest. Segregation and prejudice are accepted here as the way for a fragile existence to survive.

Not thrive. Imagine the peak of a mountain at the top of the world, after civilization has fled a deadly, mysterious plague and the planet has probably been flooded by rising oceans. The air is thin. Scrubby trees are more like bushes. Acorn cakes are a staple. Later in the book, Icelyn finds a comb Down Below and she marvels at it. Has she never brushed her hair? You’ll be amazed when you find out what ultrabears and ultralions are. Yes, Mountaintop is the kind of place that, should humanity survive, what’s the point? It’s clear this place is only half of the story. Almost immediately, Icelyn and Adorane wander beyond a rotting, three-hundred-year-old barrier between the apparent safety of Mountaintop and the rumored certain death of Down Below, and there is no doubt about where our heroine and her beau will end up.

But Latshaw keeps his readers guessing right along with the sheltered, pampered Icelyn. The mystery is compelling, even darn right frightening, and each revelation along the way is worth it, not rushed or predictable. In fact, every time I thought I’d figured it out—what the Threatbelows are, or how humanity met its fate, or even who Icelyn herself is—I was surprised by Latshaw’s imagination. He speaks through his vivid characters, some that I adored and others I’d like to choke, and the action happens in their choices, dialogue, and thoughts. Whether the cowardly Kith leader is squirming, the devoted and fearless Eveshone is rescuing Icelyn again, or the constantly shifting morals of Torrain are playing out, this world is revealed by those living in it.

My favorite part, however, is that Latshaw isn’t afraid to delve deeper than his own story. Though fantastical and unique, his world bears enough resemblance to ours to stoke fear and tickle conscience. Gun violence in Mountaintop mirrors the debate over our right to bear arms, especially when these fictitious leaders are using guns to proliferate fear and violence as a means to control the population. One of them has found an ancient text and quotes Jenny Holzer, “Fear is the most elegant weapon. Your hands are never messy. Threatening bodily harm is crude. Work instead on minds & beliefs, play insecurities like a piano.” Latshaw is good at turning a phrase to grab attention, and we find essential truths in gentle statements as well: “So much of life is lived looking away from each other, afraid to face a person as they really are, deflecting feelings and ignoring vital moments.” Or, not so gentle: “They live in a world of magic, but take it all as a matter of course. They didn’t realize it, but they were Gods.” This last is spoken of the extinct Apriori, when Icelyn sees their cellphones and flat screens in a memory. Gods who invented their own demise? Nervous laugher from the crowd…

The Threat Below would be equally enjoyed by both genders, with a strong, admirable heroine (feminine and regal, with very little whining) and plenty of action and violence (gruesome, though not gratuitous). Latshaw’s writing is top-notch, and teens ready to move onto more adult literature should be able to handle the language and the length of this book. Adults will love it just as much, because there are many layers of understanding in The Threat Below, sort of like a Disney movie that is fun for kids but only truly understood by their parents. Not that this book is an easy fairytale read, and don’t be looking for a sweet ending tied up in a pretty package. The journey is worth it, though, and you’ll love every step. Latshaw delivers beauty and hope in a way you’d never expect.

This review was written for YA Books Central. Check it out HERE to find out more about the book and the author.

Screenshot 2016-05-13 15.12.10