#MeToo Solidarity, gratitude for the love and support, and the truth that sets us free

About a day and a half ago I came out with what happened to me in academia with this tweet:

I am overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of support.  My heart hurts for everyone who has said “me too, my advisor and department did the same thing to me.”

I have been applauded for my bravery, but I need everyone to know that I am not Wonderwoman. I am not a lone superhero. I am the opposite: a gratefully recovering alcoholic battling an anxiety disorder every day, with the help of a tightly knit community.

Some days this year, I have been too anxious to get out of bed. Too terrified to write a word on a piece that is under contract, and almost finished. There are days I have had to work to brush my teeth and put on yoga pants and breathe.

It is only the unflagging support and unconditional love of my family and friends that gets me through. My tribe is my strength. The genetic luck of the draw landed me with parents who love and support me unconditionally; I am incredibly grateful, but I know that I am the beneficiary of random, unearned privilege. 

My friends are great listeners, good people, and they have been by my side for years. In just one little example, when my father had a heart attack earlier this year, my babyhood best friend was there. This man, with whom I once flopped on blankets in his mother’s garden in the eighties, who took me to my prom when a high school boyfriend flaked out, who married the girl of his dreams (and I knew she was perfect because she was the first human to talk him into eating both asparagus and sushi), drove to the regional trauma center in the middle of the night to be there when the chopper arrived with Daddy, so he wouldn’t be alone. Mom and I and friends arrived an hour later, by car.

This network, these people, are my strength. My god is my strength. I am just an extremely lucky woman who gets to be “brave” because I am surrounded by so much love and help.

To all of the women who said “me too,” I hear you. I see you. I am grateful for you. And you are not alone. The system needs fixing and we will all fight for you. For me. For us. For love that crosses boundaries, and makes all things new.

Namaste, darlings.

And thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Maggie

Recovery two years out, spinach, and wisdom from The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Build tomorrow whilst living today!

In early recovery, there’s a ton of focus on staying in the moment. This is absolutely correct—because sometimes we really do have to keep it in the day. In the beginning, the battle is staying sober. One day, one hour, even one breath at a time. Whatever it takes, to put the very first thing first: sobriety.

Like the unbreakable Kimmy, sometimes we just have to make through it ten seconds at a time!

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And it works. The neurons calm. We get our ninety day chips and clutch them to our hearts like they’re the Hope Diamond, keep them on us like an amulet, and feel like we’ve won a Nobel Prize. Because that ninety day chip, that six month chip, that one month chip—they’re really that precious. We earned them with our blood, sweat, and tears.

Then there comes a time, when the neurons fire properly, finally the cravings go away, the miracle comes—even after the Pink Cloud has faded. And we are really getting WELL!!!

I’m there. I’m really, truly recovering. The first three years are still a part of early recovery, because we’re straightening out the wrinkles (or tearing down the concrete walls) in our lives and hearts.

And I’ve started thinking, coming up on my two year sobriety date, the next right thing is planning more for the future. Taking the skills and dreams I have and putting them together, working hard, and GETTING THE THINGS DONE.

Even something as simple as enjoying making a smoothie, feeling the textures of soft green baby spinach and cool ice, berry juice on my fingers, can be magical. I know I’m putting things into my body that heal, that give me energy to do the work, the writing, the moving on.

So I’m still keeping it in the day. But in the day, I’m looking forward, and working to get where I want to be.

With gratitude and love,

Namaste, darlings!

-Maggie

The Curious Incident of the Toe in the Coffee Shop

I am now home early with my leg propped up on three pillows because of The Curious Incident of The Toe at the Coffee Shop. I shall explain.

First off, I am a firm believer that every coffee shop needs a kooky punk girl to add character–and I am that girl. I have taken the purple ombre hair and run with it. Full-on black liquid liner and wild red lips are my thing, today with tight buns on each side of the top of my head. It goes with the black uniform, it’s a good look for me, and whenever high school acquaintances come through the line, it totally camouflages the fact that I am a 35 year old nearly-phd’d writer serving coffee in her hometown.

I wore makeup I bought in Brooklyn, New York, and shoes I took with me to the Amazon jungle. I carry my travels—my life in the world—with me always.

Today, carrying recycling boxes, I managed to split my toenail open kicking the shop door. It bled everywhere; my sandal looked like a prop from a zombie film. The first aid-kit, however, was well stocked, and I fixed it. My boss worried over my injury, like I was an actual human. I assured her I was fine.

Somehow, I feel like a kid again. Maybe it’s the purple hair, or the fact that I’ve always wanted to work in a coffee shop, or the fact that I am earning money from a community hub, doing work that makes people happy, instead of slaving away for indentured servant wages in the academic gulag. But I am free.

I played a video game tonight, with money earned from tips. It was silly, frivolous. But it made me HAPPY. The endorphins were pumping. The colors and dazzling stars and movement did their job—way to go, programmers! And as I sit here with my toe split in half, healing after being propped up all day, in my high school bedroom, with my pink lava lamp on, I realize. This is actually pretty good.

The best part? I didn’t have to go corporate: I get to be a writer.

I have always wanted to work in a coffee shop—not a Starbucks, but a weird little place with its own drinks and a community. Today felt like a scene from Mystic Pizza. Three girls, in a little shop with an owner who cares about her product and her people, filing orders. Granted, one was in high school, one was in her twenties, and I’m the 35-year-old, purple-haired writer. But there was a camaraderie untainted by competition. Working beside each other, earning our keep, laughing and sharing makeup tips (and tip money), I realize: there is a whole world out there where your coworkers aren’t at each other’s throats. Small businesses are fun. Not only are they a brave last stand against corporate America, but they’re the heart of communities—from the Brooklyn neighborhood restaurant to the coffee shop in a tiny town, population 2,192 (or so I last I heard from the mayor, via Daddy).

The academic gulag isn’t like that. You compete with your best friends for the same national fellowships—and the same company-store-wage, resume-line, in-house indentures. Why? All to earn another resume bullet, so you can win more fellowships, get your credentials stamped, and continue competing with the same winners for the same jobs. Academia is a tiny world.

But the real world is huge.

And there is better coffee.

Take heart, have faith, and create the life you want. Namaste, darlings!

-Maggie

i am the jewel in the lotus, or, the alchemy pain to joy

Pain, transmuted–eventually–to joy.

Sometimes it’s internal emotional combustion. Today, it’s tangible.

I’m making art out of old get well cards.

The reminders of pain, love, struggle, become something like this:

Then, after a lot of work, the magic happens.

This is one of my paper pieces, hand-inscribed with a Sanskrit mantra in brush and ink. Om mani padme hum: I am the jewel in the lotus.

The lotus grows from the mud, just like we do in recovery. And the jewel is your heart, full of love, after time, after letting go, opening up, and revealing the beauty of god inside you.

Namaste, darlings!

Maggie

Chronic Pain, Yoga, Healing, and Celebration

I finally did a proper wheel pose. After starting out in chronic pain, traveling hundreds of miles on a spiritual hunch, finding my guru with the help of my beloved Mayanist archaeology prof, and practicing for twelve years: I did it.

I’m healthy. I’m grateful. And I feel blessed beyond measure.

Namaste, darlings!

-Maggie

feet on the earth

The sea. The mountains. The grass in the park. There is something primal about having our feet on the earth, barefoot.

In yoga, we focus a lot on grounding. Grounding into ourselves, the earth, the ultimate source. Our higher power.

Whenever I’m stressed, I have to stop. Take a breather. Take care of myself. And ground. Let go of what is hurting, binding, release it down. Dig my toes in–never mind the imperfection of the messy pedicure and flip-flop toe stub from the subway–and pull deep from the source. Feel the life in the ground beneath us, the promise in the earth itself.

Wherever you are today, I hope there’s a nice patch of land you can sink your toes in.

I wish you: Peace. Serenity. Joy.

Namaste, darlings!

-Maggie

hope, change, trucks

Hope.

It matters.

And we must not lose faith in people’s ability to change. We can make good decisions or bad ones. Today at the grocery, I saw a truck. A big, macho, green, shiny, expensive, deer-decal-ed bubba truck. The bubba in question swaggered out with his facial hair and muscles and marched into the store. I looked closer.

Amongst the hunting decals, there was a space where something that had been ripped off. Something about the size of a Trump bumper sticker. Lately, I haven’t seen those around, even here, in red-state redneckland.

Bubba’s truck gave me hope today. People change.

Growth is a big part of recovery.

Namaste, darlings!

Maggie

Recovery in Troubled Times

So many folks in my recovery community are having a hard time with current political events. How do we stay sober while the world seems to be falling apart? The answer is simple, and complicated. The simple part is to keep doing the things that keep you sober in good times: keeping it in the day, giving the worry to your Higher Power, and making copious gratitude lists.

Harder right now, perhaps for those of us in recovery, the  more complicated part is not giving in to the societal disease of power and indifference that we see around us.

It helps me, as a scholar of people, war, and human rights (and, weirdly, alcohol), to remember that countless people went through terrible times before in human history. The AA Big Book talks about World War II soldiers who went through the war in recovery; their stories can be inspirational. But on a more macro level, human history has always been full of troubled times: wars, famines, plagues—and we’ve made it through.

Celebrate small victories; I can’t do much about foreign policy right now other than educate those in my circle on how it relates to the USA’s history, and write. So at times like these, its important to celebrate small victories. I managed, after weeks of working at it, to take our household garbage down to just one can (bin for my Brits!); a lot of work on compost, traditional recycling, and my recycled paper art made that happen. Calling wiser friends who may be able to offer perspective, staying tight with your sober people, and being grateful for the things we can do, even if it’s just raise awareness, stay sober, or donate a few dollars (or pounds) to a cause we love. Hold the hand (or paw!) of someone you love. These things matter.

In fact, the simple act of being grateful for what we do have, saying a prayer, making a gratitude list, calling an old friend, or spending some time in nature, is itself a form of resistance. It is looking the darkness in the eye and saying, as Arya Stark said to Death: NOT TODAY!

I was listening to the Tom Waits song “Hold On” just now, and sometimes, just holding on is enough.

We’ll get through this together. One day at a time.

May you be peaceful, may you love, and may you find grace today.

Namaste, Darlings.

—Maggie