Eat, Pray, Whaah? Part 2

A couple of days later an editor from Penguin Random House contacted me via email to work on the final draft. She was in New York, I was in California. She’d give me some suggestions and I’d write them in until the project was done.

The final copy was published in March of 2016.

Here is an exert from my essay: Making Peace With Myself.

In September of 2000, at the age of twenty – eight, I made what I thought would be the most important commitment of my life. After years of courtship ( I needed to be sure it was true love), I decided I was finally ready to take the leap. I was entering Roman Catholic seminary. I was going to be a priest.

I met a man at the start of my second year. He was handsome and we had many things in common, including love and devotion for our overbearing Hispanic mothers who dreamed of being able to say they had priest for sons. Soon, we discovered something else we shared, and that we were both trying to escape: homosexuality…

Manifesting FUN!

The whole process was a fun little adventure that all started with a prayer: “I want to do something fun!”

The Lord answered in a big way!

Happy Easter!

Eat, Pray, Whaah?! Part 1.

It all started on a cold windy night the first week of January 2014. As I peered out the window into the crisp dark air, I pulled the cotton blanket I received for Christmas closer to my skin…feeling the warmth of peace.

I felt gratitude: While I enjoyed a long winter break, I rested in the safety of a warm house far away from the normal stresses of life. But as blessed as I felt, I found myself still wanting. It wasn’t a material want, but a desire to manifest more. So I made a simple request: “Lord, I want to do something fun! Help me find something fun.”

The answer? Start a blog.

It was my first experience into the blogging world. What better way to get attention than hidden behind a screen in the safety of my own room. Even with all the layers of security, there was still a sense of vulnerability.

From a creative standpoint, I was able to express and design the blog exactly how I wanted. The layout of each post was simple: start with a bible quote (the Divine), write about a specific life experience (me), and end the post with a pop video (worldly). Very simple, very basic but it kept me inspired.

Throughout the journey, I blogged mostly about the past…processing it, crying over it, making fun of it…. Little did I know where an exercise in blind faith would lead.

In the summer of 2015, on a marine layered morning, having slept in way too long, I came across a Facebook post. Author Elizabeth Gilbert announced the upcoming 10th anniversary of her travel narrative Eat, Pray, Love. To commemorate the event, fans were asked to write on how the book impacted their life. The top fifty entries would win a place in a companion book entitled: Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It.

I didn’t hesitate. I’d done my own version of the retreat back in 2010. I submitted my version without a second thought. It was something fun and required minimal work. By August of 2015, I received an email confirming my place in the book. An editor from New York would soon contact me to begin the editing process.

I was floored.

Crank. Out. Content.

I reached a personal goal…content. I have no background experience as a writer or with professional blogging but I wanted to try something new. With a couple of short stories whirling around in my head, I decided to start with WordPress as a motivator.

My next step is to work with an editor to polish up each story for grammar, clarity and ideas. I’ll be using Fivver for the help. It’s fascinating what technology can help us create.

Here are the six stories I’d like to start with:

That Pink, Wavy, Elongated Tongue; The Grubb Twins; The Loneliness Cold; Mr. Patrone; The Ketchup Stain; That Boy; That Girl.

This part will take a bit of time, which is fine. Summer break is in about two months and I hope to have this project completed by then. All I can do now is open up my heart and allow the evolution process to begin.

Also a quick shout out to all the twenty – four followers who have taken the time to either follow or like my content…I really appreciate you.

Blog Highlight: Beauty Beyond Bones

I’m about three months into the blogging universe. It’s such a huge space with so much talent and creativity it’s hard to capture it all in one sitting…heck, I don’t think one could ever catch up. It’s like Netflix – the queue goes on forever!

As endless as the rabbit hole is, there are some ideas and blogs worth visiting on a regular basis. For the month of March our blog highlight focuses on Mental Health. Beauty Beyond Bones is an inspiration…not just because of the content but the organization and aesthetic of the blog itself is beyond.

When I look into the future, I imagine my blog will look something similar to BBB. The content is real, personal and vulnerable. All three ideas create a full, breathing, living human being on the other side of the screen.

Beauty Beyond Bones has taken her pain and published her own book: Bloom. An interactive journal of past experiences with anorexia. Even though I don’t personally know her, I love her for this. This is definitely someone who has taken her struggles and turned it into joy.

If you haven’t already, please take time to follow the links above to peruse a website that will not only inspire but motivate the reader to take charge of their own pain and experiences.

That Girl; That Boy

Oleander Elementary: 1981

Long natural golden hair…the kind that was allowed to grow since birth. Fresh-faced skin with tiny freckles scattered from the hill of her nose down to the sides of her cheeks.

“Carrie, can you take this to the office please?”

Her hair’s natural highlights allowed the eight year old into the most exclusive places on campus: the teacher’s lounge, where all previous and future teachers praised her graciousness. The principal’s office, along with his secretaries — the ones who couldn’t help how adorable she looked behind the desk.

“Carrie can you collect the test papers?”

She dominated the enviable classroom jobs. A responsibility handed over to the mini adult with organizational skills far beyond her years. Because of this, she was allowed to walk around the room without the slightest raise of a hand.

She was the smarty who gave extra special care and attention to those students who had no clue as to why they were in school to begin with.

“Carrie, can you reteach this small group? They don’t understand repeated addition.”

I was in that small group.

Carrie was that girl when I was enrolled in Ms. Kelly’s third-grade class at Oleander Elementary.

***

Spinning round and round and round…with the back of my left knee folded over the jungle gym bar. My right leg stretched out, guiding the number of rotations while my hands clasped together over my shin to keep the balance.

This was where I excelled the most…the jungle gym. Here was the place for everyone — girls as well as boys — whether you were smart or lazy, athletic or clumsy. All of us gathered here for one reason: to release the pent up energy from the struggles of sitting through a thirty minute lesson. There was no place for critiquing who did what, or how things were done…it was a race to complete as many activities as possible before it was time to go in.

…until Carrie came along.

Just her presence alone would part the Red Sea of students clamouring for an opportunity to glide freely on the swings. Her energy, the deciding factor as to who was first in line at the tether ball court. All Carrie had to do was appear and things would magically change for the better…or in my case…the worse.

It only took one phrase, said out loud, in front of a bustling recess crowd to change the carefully chosen words etched on the early years of my tabula rasa.

“Eddie how come you play with girls and not boys?”

Before then, no one ever noticed or even cared that I was a jungle gym star. As far as I knew, no one else noticed that every single person in line behind me was a girl…until Carrie pointed it out.

“Yeah Eddie, why do you play with girls?” another observer judged.

One by one, each word took down every high kick, cart wheel and somersault I had mastered up to that point. While the crowd closed in, the birth of my passive/aggressive nature broke free as I racked my brain for an answer. There was no answer…at least not at the moment. All I could do was shrug my shoulders and walk away before the start of a scene.

Soon after, I couldn’t escape Carrie’s piercing observation. From that moment, if Carrie wanted to play, all she had to do was point out the obvious:

“Eddie, isn’t that a girls game?”

***

The taunts from Carrie had escalated to such a degree that I no longer sought out the calming effects of the gymnastic routines cultivated through hard work. I avoided the “girls” jungle gym at all cost. I couldn’t manage the judgemental looks as I approached the blood of my heart, the skin to my bone routines I had worked so hard to craft. Every time the sole of my shoe touched the sand filled playground, each third grade eyeball formed an invisible fence with a sign that read, “Get Out!”

In its place I found solitude and safety within the trees. After lunch I’d run to them as if they were huge soldiers ready to guard me from the politics of the afternoon playground. I’d hide behind them, protected, as I watched all the kids and Carrie from afar.

Every afternoon Carrie would sit idly on the lonely bar stationed between the classroom portables and playground. It was an arched shape piece of metal that really had no use except for the one or two stragglers who used it as a go-to when all the equipment was occupied. Carrie used it as her throne. She’d sit on top with her feet dangling close to the ground as the gleam in her eye carefully monitored the playground.

Nestled within the safety of the wooden soldiers, Carrie sat as an open target. A vulnerable, open target on which I could release all the pent up energy I had stuffed inside without any hope of release. That energy was a force. As I started to move past the trees and onto the grain filled sand dunes of Oleander Elementary’s primary playground, something inside of me snapped.

I, too, had become an open target. At any moment Carrie could jump off her throne and come at me with her giggles and highlights as she shamed me back into the trees. But that day, I wasn’t having it. I was determined.

As I approached the throne, I had no idea what to do next…her energy was powerful. I felt my determination weakening, melting away quickly as she came closer within sight. By the time I was in front of her, there were no words to describe how I felt; no language to communicate the hurt she had caused over the last couple of weeks.

So…I pushed her.

I pushed her off the bar…and down she went. The back of her head hitting the ground first. Luckily it was sand. Luckily, after the fall she cried immediately.

From that day on, I became that boy: the one who pushed Carrie off the jungle gym bar.