Tag Archives: Leah Griffith

A Romantic Rumor

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I grew up with a diaphanous father who floated above me like a caption bubble saying, “?”.

He was a romantic rumor, a previous chapter in my mother’s book of life, leaving behind no photos for his three little girls to frame and fawn over.  There would be no frame hugging in this family. No searching his dark eyes for our own, or comparing the curve of our noses to his; no joy of discovering a trace of ourselves in his image, thus… answering our desperate curiosity. The only evidence of his existence was our existence.

My dad was an old movie reel flickering in my mind, with imaginary memories, conjured by a credulous child, intoxicated with prime time fathers, and aching for paternal adoration.

I was always comparing my invisible father to the other girls’ dads, which never worked out well for me. I suffered like an amputee with an inflamed phantom limb… finding no possible way to soothe it.

I felt that I had been gypped by life; everybody that I knew had two parents, but I only had one. I assumed that I was somehow to blame for my father’s absence, after all I was little girl number three, and in my little girl mind I thought that he was tired of daughters. I envisioned him throwing his arms up in defeat when I was born, and tromping off to find another family where he could have his very own little boy. Of course all of this was nonsense, but the actual reasons for him leaving were incredibly complicated; certainly nothing a mere child could possibly comprehend.

Father’s Day continues to be a holiday that I view from afar, like witnessing the customs of a foreign country. There is still an empty seat at the head of my childhood table, and a little girl waiting wistfully by the darkened window. She knows that he isn’t returning, but she’s found nothing else that could take his place.

Appreciate every moment that you have with your dad. Hug him, tell him you love him, and do nice things for him, for there are many children, both old and young, who have never experienced a fathers’ love and the joy and security that it offers.

For those of you who have known the void of a fatherless childhood, my message to you is this: Accept the vacancy in your heart as part of yourself; offer it honor and appreciation. You are the incredible person that you are, because of that vacuum. You have had to find your identity independent of a father’s influence. You have had to be brave and resilient during hard times, when a strong hand wasn’t there to guide you…or hold you.

Be proud of who you are, and of the family that you have…that coalition of love that worked doubly hard in order to fill in the gap left by your father. And remember, love is love, whether it comes from a male or a female, it doesn’t matter because love comes from one original source and will never leave you or be depleted. Love holds all things together.

I decided to re-post this article and dedicate it to all who can relate. ❤

Cursing Louder Than a Northern Gale

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I was directed to write a love letter to myself by my wildly loving friend, J Clement Wall. My initial thought was “how romantic, a love letter to Leah”. But then I felt the unction of resistance, that inner speed bump, which slows down forward motion, and I knew that I wouldn’t write the letter because it required a generous portion of bigness toward one’s self that I was pretty sure I didn’t possess. So I put off the assignment indefinitely.

As it turns out, I have a stack of untouched assignments issued by homespun sages, and as much as I admire these gentle troubadours, I sometimes feel a bit of intimidation by their bright-eyed bullet lists containing the secrets of life from the lates and the greats. I’m cynical of their pastel outlooks, such Monet hearts, and then there’s mine, mucked up and muddy from all my fall downs, tramping along with my broken toe cursing louder than a northern gale, measuring myself against all that isn’t me and feeling the small of it.

It’s the familiar cycle of self-abandonment

that I move in and out of

and it hurts more than the toe, or the stretch and yawn into each long day, because I’m not really here. I’m not anywhere. I’m tucked away within the folds of forgetfulness, waiting for the courage to fly back to myself.

So, I’ve decided to go ahead and write that love letter because I could really use one right now, and with Valentine’s Day nearing, I figured what a perfect set up for me-mance.

Yes, this is for me.

So here goes.

My Dearest Self,

First I’d like to say that I feel I owe you an enormous apology. I’m sorry for abandoning you when you were a little girl and that you’ve had to struggle with this self-abandonment issue your entire life. I underestimated the powerful connection between you and you–that big U within. I left you fluttering like a baby moth, banging into the low glow of this shabby world, and injuring your delicate wings. My looking away cost you your ability to fly, and forced you to walk barefoot across the dirty asphalt of your childhood. I wish I could have remembered who you were back then, but the pain was real, and the darkness of the journey unexpected.

You were a real hero (although you didn’t realize it). No matter how many times you got knocked down, you found a way to get back onto your feet. You faced the unlovely with an open heart, and even forgave the ones with weapons. You remained kind, which is the best type of miracle of all, offering what little you had to those who had less. If only you had offered the same generous love to yourself. I see now that it was your mother’s gift for alchemy that helped to cultivate your richness of soul. She was also a hero, but like you, she never learned to spread her wings.

You still are my hero.

I need to tell you how much I love you, and even though I sometimes pick on you, and underestimate your talents, I never doubt your ability to do great loving things.

Since you were a child you’ve desired a slow-dance intimacy with life, seeking a love powerful enough to lift you into the heavens where the stars sparkle with joy at the sight of you. My wish for you is the redemption of this divine romance–that you lose your cynicism, and look within, where you will discover that the one who steals your breath away with each kiss is always present…always you.

I wish for you to uncover the treasure of unconditioned authenticity; the putting away of the measuring stick, the better and worse, and see that every inch of you is the perfect “enough”.

I wish for you to step out of the tiny–that box, which was designed by your fears, and realize the dreams that have been nesting in your heart, those golden eggs you’ve been tending for years, are about ready to hatch.

And finally, I wish for you to never forget who you really are… that you were created from stardust and love. Always believe the rumors of your greatness–and how much I absolutely adore you.

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Love,

Leah

Jonesing on the Porch

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Christmas in the trailer is so different than any before. It’s so quiet that I feel tempted to buy a used guitar, sit on the porch, and sing to the youngins. Of course I’d have to wrangle some youngins, because mine are oldins, but wrangling youngins might land me in jail. I remember the good old days when neighborhood kids were part of your extensive family, obligated to help you with your groceries, run to the store for you, and, yes, even listen when you sang.

The world has shifted, and for me, Christmas has shifted too. For those of you who don’t know this, we’ve recently moved from our 2500 sq ft home to a 300 sq ft trailer. We sold our furniture and stored our stuff. Actually, I was able to squirrel away an amazing amount of stuff in the cupboards, draws, and tiny closets of our tinny little trailer, but I have no idea where I’ve put most of them.

That’s kind of how I feel about Christmas this year. I have no idea where I’ve put it, or where TO put it, and this is making me blue.  Not boohoo blue, but more of a brooding blue. I’m missing the familiar traditions, which I thoughtfully strung around my old Christmases, and because of this I feel a sort of vacancy inside. It’s like Christmas has gone out for a stroll, without telling me, so I’m here on my porch, wondering where it went.

I know that I have to start from scratch with Christmas, but it doesn’t seem fair, because it took me a lifetime to create the old Christmas.  I feel totally polarized. Yesterday I stood in the middle of our trailer for 5 minutes holding a string of lights and then put them away because there was no place to hang them, and if that wasn’t crappy enough, I’ve been waiting over a year to finally have a working stove, so that I could make sleigh loads of holiday cookies, but now I can’t because I’m on a low carb diet, which was recommended by my cardiologist. “Oh” you say, “Don’t eat them. Make them and give them away”. That would be like telling a zombie not to go for the brains. I have no self control in such situations.

The truth is that I’m afraid to let go of my little holiday habits because the world has gotten so damn scary. My Christmas traditions helped to cushion me from all the chaos and clatter, like a soft pillow over my head, Christmas muffled out the discord. Okay, so maybe it was a bit limiting, even smothering at times, but I was willing to overlook it because, well…it’s all that I knew. But now my pillow has been taken away, and I’m jonesing on the porch, because that’s the only place I can string the Christmas lights.

I know I sound like a whiny ass baby, and maybe I am, but I’m hoping if I sit alone on my porch long enough I might discover something profound.

Ommm… in the deep, Leah silence, I am being called to this very moment, where a powerful light is shining. Sort of my very own Christmas light, originating from a place that I’m sure I’ve been, yet I can’t name. A familiar place where Ma’s hot chocolate never grows cold, color crayons are perpetually pointy, and life is its own answer. A place where one needn’t look outside of their own full heart to find happiness, for love resides within, a generous love that desires to consume fear, hate, and indifference, and is capable of rocketing you into your incredible life every moment of every day. It is the reason for life, which also happens to be the reason for this season.

Wow! Where’d that come from? I must have been channeling George Bailey and Gandhi.

Happy holy days, people. May you discover that you are not as powerless and alone as you might believe, and that your small hands are actually God’s hands, waiting to ease the world’s woes. So go forth and be merry woe easers, and if you’re in the neighborhood stop by the porch for a nip of rummy eggnog. I’d invite you in but…there’s no room at the tin. Ta dum dum.

Perfectionism Triggers Apocalyptic Meltdowns

The Booth

The Booth

I’m a perfectionist. I used to believe that the badge of a perfectionist should be worn on the outside of the jacket; after all, perfection is the highest rung on the behavioral ladder, the blue ribbon of attributes, and the ideal to strive for. At least that’s what I believed. Yeah, what a crock of steaming you know what. Perfectionism is a disease like alcoholism, Tourette’s and pink eye. It’s a maniacal malady, which manufactures mirages, and measures mankind. God that felt good. And you know what else feels fricken good—letting go of perfectionism. Firing the police of people pleasing, the Nazi of not good enough, the shaman of shame. That felt good too.

Living, and running the family business from this tiny trailer, is an exercise in imustbenuts, for my first nature is to produce an aesthetically pleasing environment. Well, that lasted for about a day. It’s like trying to keep a white tablecloth clean at a pie-eating contest. So I choose not to drive myself, or, Mike, insane trying to keep up with that expectation. If I’m going to keep my sanity I’m going to have to go with the cluttered flow, and stop judging myself, and Mike, for the mess.

I’m also an idealist, which I believe is prerequisite for becoming a perfectionist. I get an image in my head of what something SHOULD look like, and then I go for it. I have images for everything, including people and food, and when something does not live up to the image that I created in my sick little mind I become unhappy. At least I see this now. For years I hated myself for so many things, but mostly for not being quite up to par.

So I’m probably living in this tiny trailer so I’ll learn how to appreciate the important things in life like love, truth, joy, and gratitude—things with real value that won’t burn up should an apocalyptic event occur.

Living here isn’t so bad. I actually appreciate some things about it—if I allow myself. I love that when I sit at the booth sometimes the squirrels will sit on the privacy fence, which hugs the trailer, and look directly in my window at me. They’re so close that I could count their whiskers. I love the canopy of tropical vegetation, which shades the courtyard on hot afternoons and dapples the ground with buttery drips of sunshine, and the urgent cries of the hawk, which wake me each morning inspiring the notion that each day is important. I adore Deja, the landlord’s Rottweiler, who stops by for a snack and a nap, snuggled in beside Little Dog, at the base of the booth, warming my feet as I work. And then there are the numerous fruit trees, bowing low with juiciness. Boy, I could wax poetic over some of the things here…there’s Duck Duck, the guard duck, who acts like she doesn’t like me, but lately I’ve noticed her quack softening when I walk by, and the tree house, which I’ve yet to christen, but I’ve purchased some rope so I can hoist my laptop and coffee up, leaving my hands free to help me climb the steep stairway.

Then there’s the blessed privacy from the world. Sometimes I can hear it out there, rumbling beyond the jungle walls, but if I pretend a bit, it’s easy to convince myself that I live on a tropical island inhabited by me and Mike, and a few friendly natives.

Yes, if I don’t listen to the stories in my head created by my neurotic perfectionist alter ego, about how a woman of a certain age should have more and be more, I could find it easy to enjoy this very simple life style.

My mother used to say to me, “Leah, you wouldn’t know what was good for you if it landed on your nose.” Well, Ma, I think I’m learning.

If the Trailer’s Rockin

tr33It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Why? Well, let’s just say that my life has radically shifted—everything shakable has been thoroughly shaken. (Thank you God/universe/big bang/karma/my own stupidity.) I won’t go into the gritty details, not in this paragraph anyway, but let me just say that life hasn’t turned out according to my script. You might want to put on a bib because writing about this could get really messy.

Soooo, 57 is a stable age. Right? One would think that my 401K would be locked and loaded, my mortgage paid off, my credit rating stellar, and my vacations well planned…I’m imagining annual treks with bffs, sharing morning mimosas, toasting our lifetime achievements.

Surely by now I should be self assured or at least pretty-damn-sure…breezing about in trendy linen clothing, taking a bit of Botox to soften the years, laughing too loudly at parties, and hosting family gatherings, where grand kids tumble across my expansive lawn, parading about in red white and blue gingham, proving that my life has been fruitful, my heritage proud.

It seems a woman of a certain age should be both financially and personally stable. At least that’s the message the media has been powdering my arse with forever, triggering a discontented itch—causing me to crave a much younger, thinner, richer version of myself, thus suffering for years over what I’m not—thinking if I only had the accessories I would be happy.

Oh. My. Gawd. Somebody give me a lobotomy so I don’t think like this any more! I wasn’t born to perfect my resume, decorate the house, or buy into the herd mentality that a good life should match your high dollar sofa. I wasn’t born to amass an acre of stuff so that my kids can sell it off like the pulled gold teeth of a cadaver. I was born to experience life not promote capitalism.

I was born to overcome the scary, and the ouch, of my youth. I was born to grow brave enough to question everything so that I can figure out who I am, and then perhaps help others to see who they are too. But mostly I was born to love, and then, whether I like to admit it or not, to die.

Yes die. That’s the natural way of this world and I am tired of death being presented as some sort of evil surprise. Of course I speak of old folks dying, not of the young. When a young person dies the loss is stunning, and the grief wider than the echoes of eternity, because their experience here was cut off, and we miss them, but for the rest of us old farts, death is our ticket to renewed vitality. Be a little more appreciative.

I always thought that the two paths spoken about in Stairway to Heaven, and all those other songs and stories, were heaven and hell, but now I know that the two paths are truth and lies. I’ve believed too many of the lies, and the scary stories that sprang from them, which caused me to lose touch with myself. For most of my life I didn’t know how to live it. I was struggling with a stringy ball of threads, pieces of fears and fables collected over the years, none of them long enough to knit a mitten of truth.

Why bother writing about it now?—because if I don’t write I’m going to explode. And now, after some major shifts in my life, I feel a drive to put things on paper. I’m not really sure where to start so I’ll start with this morning, and then weave in and out of the past present and future. images

My husband, Mike and I have just moved from our spacious 2500 sq. ft. home to a 300 sq. ft. trailer, which has been permanently parked on a jungly lot behind a big house, and although I’m thrilled to be able to finally hang a sign on my door that says, “if the trailer’s rockin’ don’t come knockin’” I’m a bit squeamish with the whole ordeal…sort of like the way you feel when you first try canned tuna fish…yuck—wait for it—wait for it—YUM! Well, I’m still waiting for the yum.

Our decision to move into this tuna can wasn’t much of a decision; it was actually our only option if we wanted to stay in Florida and live independently. Our home was in foreclosure, and because of our stinky credit rating (due to said foreclosure), rental agents were holding their noses and crossing the street when they saw us coming. When this little trailer hit our radar at the 11th hour we jumped at the opportunity like a couple of greedy seagulls on a Mc-fry. The universe had finally spoken! We felt lucky to have it and still do.

Right now I’m typing at my booth. I have to sit center in the seat as the flooring is soft in places, and it would be a huge pain in the ass if I fell through the floor before my first cup of coffee. Anyway, sitting in a booth makes me feel like I’m in a diner. I keep waiting for, Flo to refill my coffee.

The best thing about living in this tiny trailer is that nothing is too far away: bathroom, refrigerator, TV, pepper spray…they’re all within 10 steps of my centrally located booth. The worse thing about living in a tiny trailer is that everything is so close that it makes me to feel claustrophobic and off balance. I already have a collection of interesting bruises from bumping into shit. One looks remarkably like Jesus with an Afro, and I’ve spent half the morning trying to figure out how one would sell a bruise on Ebay.

Back to gratitude…we are to the moon and back grateful to be here, in a trailer home of our own, and even though my 4lb Chihuahua causes it rock like Elvis when she changes positions, and the only place to put our big screen TV was at the foot of our bed, so that my husband spends most of his spare time in a cinematic coma, nesting like a pin-eyed pigeon on a drive-in movie screen, we are extremely thankful to have our own little space in the jungle.

Happy Thanksgiving America, and to the rest of you…Happy Everything!