“Life is a four letter word.” ~ Lenny Bruce
I’ve always wondered how other people could just do it over and over again.
Some make it sound downright charming, even sexy.
A day doesn’t pass for me without hearing my neighbors savoring each minute they do this to the point that I have to call the woman on her cell phone and tell them pointedly to tone it down.
One wouldn’t be caught dead doing this in church.
I refer to swearing and cursing in public which now seems to be tolerated behavior. Erstwhile “bad words,” however said out loud or printed, still riles more than a few, which included me until recently.
The four letter words never made it to my mouth in life before I joined elephant journal. I even questioned the the gall of people bringing it up in conversations to make a point or to express emotions.
“F**k, traffic was so bad!”
“He’s a piece of s**t.”
“D**n, you’re hot.”
One expletive filled morning last week, I sat under a canopy of orange trees heavy with orbs of fruit.
Azure blue sky patches peeked through the pepper trees. Birds chirped in staccato rhythm and underneath my neon pink Nike runners was a bed of dried leaves, coffee berries, crushed pine cones on pebble, rock and fallow soil layers. The legendary mountains that the Chumash revered for centuries completed my natural wallpaper.
I raised my right hand straight up into the air and it served as a vane for the energy waves coming from every direction.
But why am I feeling completely f**ked?
I’m so sorry, Ojai. I feel you and I hope your ears are covered.
A deadline loomed for a thesis to be delivered the following week. As I typed on my keyboard in my nature nook, I chipped away at the formidable writer’s block that had set in alarmingly at the start of the 16-week Elephant Academy Apprenticeship.
Thank God, one of the most important things I’ve learned from the elephant journal blogs and the finest people I’ve ever worked with in my entire life was the practice of deep breaths in and out, focused on only the breath.
I can deliberately bring myself to live in the now and to simply be just by breathing right.
Deep breathing helped me tremendously and it relieved some of my stress and anxiety from the life event monsoon of my 2015.
Surprisingly for me, cursing and swearing without caring what people thought was now a great stress reliever.
However, writer’s block stubbornly held on. At times through the apprenticeship, the cursor on my screen remained stationary for hours until I hit the little red button on the top left corner of the screen and horrid article drafts went to unsaved oblivion.
The problem I faced was deciding on what to write about for my thesis. I knew quite well by now what resonates with readers—empaths, narcissists, letting go, coping with depression, recovery from heartbreak, life transitions, romantic love, love for self, meditation, sex and the words f**k and s**t in blog titles and verse.
I had to get over my initial shock as to how gratuitous it all seemed with the F-bombs.
I consider myself a Subject Matter Expert in all these areas, minus meditation and sex, based on my life experiences.
So I mentally sift my memories of 2015 for blog material. Happy moments aplenty (see #5), but it was greatly an “annus horribillis” (thank you, Queen Elizabeth!).
I narrowed it down to five watershed moments as a basis for my thesis topic:
1. Should I write about the day when I signed on the dotted line to turn over possibly everything I owned and earned in this lifetime? H**l no. I’ll have a book by the time I’m done.
2. How about the night when a much beloved pet took his last breath in my arms, almost a year to the day I had to put down his foster sister, Sam? These dogs were practically my children and I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to either one.
3. There’s the betrayal of a person I trusted and he showed no remorse. He, by any definition, was a fopdoodle.
4. What about the morning when I was told that my ex-husband and the father of my children was diagnosed with a terminal illness? I was empty of any sympathy for him, even thinking that he deserved it for the pain he caused me and many other people in this life. How did I get completely, horribly heartless? If only he wasn’t such a smart a**.
5. Here’s a good one: the story of how I met and fell in love with a man so beautiful inside and out. I considered him a soul mate, perhaps even my twin flame—a popular topic for elephant journal. He was a sculptor and he carved my stone heart into a loving, laughing, hopeful work of art with his tender hands. I broke every rule in the dating playbook and he made me feel young and beautiful. Age was just a number, really.
Wait, did someone just say, ‘Bulls**t”?
I couldn’t choose.
No single story this year or from any other year defines who I am right now at this very minute, with my head in the clouds that hover above the Topa Topa mountains. I had to pick a topic now and start typing. Anxiety was tapping on my shoulder and it was time for “Breathe in, count one to ten silently, breathe out, repeat.”
The soothing Ojai air did its work. It wasn’t too long after that I felt a s**t load of relief and abandoned my mental inhibitions, one by one. I started typing, the words were flowing and I was wishing that it could always be this easy.
See for a long time and even more so in 2015, I’ve held back the universe in its attempts to heal me and to release my genuine self.
I allowed life to f**k with me, tear me up and make me watch only sad and awful moments of my life up on the big white screen in my head.
With this in mind, I took a break from typing and the breeze reminded me to come back to my breath. My shoulders relaxed and my hands stopped shaking. I sat with this and God for who knows how long.
After one long breathing interval, I threw my head back, set my eyes on cloud feathers in the sky and screamed at it with all my might: “F**k you!’ I repeated this probably 100 times until my throat started to ache. I’m letting all the cr*p go for now and it felt so good even though I lost my voice.
I was spent, but I wasn’t done.
Hey universe, please hear my three wishes, d**n it:
I want to be in charge of my own self.
I wish for a life devoid of attachments to earthly possessions.
I ask for love, peace and the power to forgive.
I didn’t really need to be in Ojai for this ceremony of release. This could have happened in my bedroom in Los Angeles.
I know Divine Providence led me here, maybe for no other reason other than to have the spirits of the Chumash tribe that settled here 13,000 years ago channel to me a bit of the energy vortex power that runs through this Nirvana.
Ojai, I thank you.
This magical place reminded me that wherever we are, the present is all what we truly have. It is all around us, crystal clear and powerful. Take it captive. In the peace and serenity, nothing can harm you and everything becomes extraordinary. Anything is possible. No swearing needed.
I left Ojai, renewed and restored, with my thesis draft on a thumb drive. The learning gem—proper breathing—gleaned from the last 16 weeks, was and is a sanity saver. I realized too that what I signed up for was more than a writing and social media apprenticeship. It was a boot camp of and for life that I needed to be schooled on again, even for an old lady like me.
I also learned that four letter words such as f**k and s**t , in the right context, can be quite empowering. Prudeness, fear and anger are so last season. Hopefully writer’s block as well.
Finally, I want to thank elephant journal for teaching me how to breathe.