Writing

Revel Heart Manifesto

A Revel Heart doesn’t ask what if. A Revel Heart asks what’s next. A Revel Heart asks what can this injury teach me? A Revel Heart knows that everything is possible in these bodies. A Revel Heart knows that we are performing on a dirt stage, so nothing can be too precious. A Revel Heart knows that whatever is happening internally manifests externally. A Revel Heart is present. A Revel Heart knows that fitness is about more than gaining or shrinking. A Revel Heart is adaptable. A Revel Heart is strong from the inside out. A Revel Heart is free. A Revel Heart knows that physical work is emotional practice. Reveling is turquoise, the color of sky just before the sun sets. Reveling is meeting yourself where you are. Reveling is gratitude. Reveling goes beyond vanity into transformation. Reveling is knowing that you can do more, be more, move more. Reveling is focusing on the feeling of movement rather than the appearance. A Revel Heart honors human potential through movement. A Revel Heart honors itself through movement. A Revel Heart knows we were made to move.

Strengthen. Stretch. Meditate. Move. REVEL.

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RevelHeartFitness.com

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Lily

after Wallace Stevens

Storybooks told of red roses and white dresses. I choose red dresses and white lilies. Among the thorns, deeply underground and naked, the lily bulb expands. I was the song of songs — like two lovers, rejoicing, praising myself. An accident of history, or survivor, the lily and I bloom in the spring, six tepals spreading from a nectary gland.

The lily seeks the sky. It is part of the sought.

The lily sounds like falling — not the thud, but the mid air. Within the silent whoosh, one’s future floats. The shadow fans into spikes, or moth wings, a glass castle. Purple as bruises, pink as peaches, white, quiet as cream and loud as snow. Grace doesn’t speak in just one language. We are all a little scared of things softer than we are.

I know of sun rays, and rain sheets, of limping and savoring. The lily knows itself in the summer, knows the beauty of the end. Moving in slow motion, the lily still doesn’t move slowly enough.

It is dawn. The sky is full of orange and warm, the thin clouds are fickle and fleeting, and the lilies pay close attention. The lilies play with the wind. The daughters must be waking now.

Ways I Did Not Shatter My Heel

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  1. Jumping from a lover’s window.

Although a shattered calcaneus is classically referred to as the “lover’s fracture” or “Don Juan fracture” since an illicit lover may jump from great heights while trying to escape their beloved’s spouse. Wild lord.

  1. Losing my footing on Mount Whitney and smashing the bony bulb against a ruthless rock.

Although I did boulder in my post-recovery pre-Los Angeles five-week Portland purgatory, where I would climb high enough to start to feel the vertigo, that intimate fear, and I’d force myself to let go of the grips and push off with my feet to free fall to the foam crash mat. Humble wreckage.

  1. Scaling a resolute wooden wall in an athletic obstacle race and falling into last, and broken, place.

Although I signed up for a Spartan Race before the cast was even off my foot, and three months after the cast was removed, I ran, still limping and swollen. And jumped bleacher stairs with my feet tied together. And scaled walls. Glory grind.

  1. Drinking and stumbling, catching my too-high heel in the 86th Street subway grate at 4 a.m. on a Sunday.

Although once I surrendered and moved in with Alexis — after leaving the Brooklyn apartment I’d only lived in for three months and stashing my collection of photos, cowboy boots I couldn’t fit over my swollen foot, high school art teacher’s band shirts, and twenty boxes of books in storage — we made mixed drinks in her grandma’s old familiar kitchen and found reasons to laugh ourselves ugly, screech-breathing and wet-eyed, drinking the refreshing inebriating creations we deemed FMLs (Fuck My Lifes). Sometimes you can’t pay rent, but you can buy a bottle of Beefeater gin and a fancy lime seltzer and garnish with raspberries. Mercy alliance.

  1. Attacked by a wolf while backpacking, merciless teeth latching onto my left ankle.

Although Una, a small Boston Terrier, slept next to my casted foot while I stayed with Alexis. One bed, two jaded ladies, and a little protector who curled up next to the unforgiving boot, a healer in a runt’s disguise. Magic guard.

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Restoring Keith Haring’s mural, TriBeCa, 2013

Recrystallization

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I’ve spent more years with New York City than with any man. The city’s hands are gritty and I no longer crave the grip of those steel fingers reaching for the sky, the ever more, ever opportunistic spires, the never delivering, never loving silence of concrete. But promises keep the patient. The city’s greatest feat may be how long it’s able to seduce the intelligent, a glass bottle for intricate ships or a moving car with no exit for the frantic fly.

Which of my choices has kept me here so long? My favorite NYC decision — greener than grey, reminiscent of the ocean and chosen by the thin pulsing skin of my chest — to learn to teach yoga, after an instructor brought a retreat flyer to the café I managed. If I did choose it; maybe transformation is always choosing us.

And if the rigid machinery of history unspun itself right now – I got my unfractured heel back, the tattoo artist apprenticeship in hand, a rented roof over my head – I’d still keep hatching a plan to leave in six weeks, sitting on this rock in Central Park with Sheila. The physical properties of rocks are the end result of the processes that formed them, and over time rocks can transform from one type into another. The most beautiful and devastating thing about time is change. Metamorphic rocks are formed by being subjected to different temperature and pressure conditions than those in which the original rock was formed.

Recrystallization.

Failure is not an option.

Failure tastes like the first sip of liquor; it stings, but wants to go down easy, pushes you away but lures you back in. Failure wears high heels, because failure isn’t actually a failure, it’s more of a misguided friend. Favors the small screen over the big picture, whispers drunken words in your ear: envy, lost, too late. Success doesn’t live for the party, it’s too busy spreading it’s toes in the grass and writing poems about rocks.

Sheila is talking about the route from Portland to Seattle to La Conner to Los Angeles, and I am forgetting that people the world over dream of New York. Travelers think this city is a heroic stag, an impressive spectacle of determination, but it’s a cheetah. Slick and calculating, cheetahs are the fastest land animal; they clock 40mph during a sprint, they stalk prey and then charge towards it, trip it during the chase, and bite its throat until it suffocates to death. Also, they breed throughout the entire year.

Two blondes exposing hungry legs to the first showing of sun in months, smiling. Smiling with eventual finally spring, smiling because so soon I will be gone. Going, with the weightlessness of loss, the salty savory smell of leaving, the bitter sliding down into the dark of the throat as the sweetness of anticipated arrival hits the tip of my tongue.

No one’s doubts or proclamations, not even my first failed attempt at Los Angeles years ago, holds any weight against the persistence that pulls me. Surrender pulls too, like the moon will pull anything on earth. The earth holds onto everything except the water, which the moon has its way with daily. In circuitous failure fashion, the small moon-shaped holes cratered into my pores hold seeds waiting for a someday in the sun.

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NYC sunrise taken from the taxi to the airport  – May 2014

 

October 6, 2013

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The moon electric slides with three planets: Saturn, Mercury and Venus. A triple conjunction. On this day six years ago Jason Lewis completed the first human-powered circumnavigation of the earth. The ladder skydives. I freefall like a parachute chasing its human — the briefest hover, then crash. A kicked pile of bones. A sack of potatoes. So heavy. A surprise every time. They talk about life flashing but I see no past. Keith was firecracker, flame flutter. Sparks backflipping off the concrete with the speed of prophecy. He was 31 when he died. I am 31, in midair. Being reborn again.

October 7, 2013

I lay on the couch, foot elevated and bandaged, and try to read the National Strength and Conditioning Association manual.  It’s hard to focus. I want to move, not read about movement. I spent last year devoted to a meditation practice, electing to sit still. Pioneering an expanse on two square pillows, in front of a worn wooden altar with a candle I can’t see with my eyes closed, but whose flame I can still sense, peeling layers of inherited identity from my Self, and mostly learning to be grateful. I want to pray that I can resume my life, that this is a minor blip, but a deeper feeling chides me for the selfish prayer.

I wish that my intention to be a warrior, be a vehicle for grace, didn’t mean this. Didn’t mean this is going to get worse. The shrewd spine of self awareness is: I know that is exactly what this means. Know I posted this Adyashanti passage everywhere: Make no mistake about it – enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the façade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.

 

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Brooklyn, 2013 (photo by Barbie Frudakis)

 

Getting Free

Let’s make war paint with our own families ashes,
spread them like night across our cheeks,
how bright our eyes shine in comparison.
The shape of disempowerment is the ugliest. It is your own rotting intestines tying you to the cage of your unworthiness, the cacophony of a million little girls innocence lost
every time you move in fear and regret.
As a child, I always dreamt of pianos falling towards my face.
Made it hard to fall asleep for years. Funny how we can love what we fear.

Grief is a cabin, calls you home, burns a chokingly hot fireplace
that makes it hard to go outside.
I should put us all out of our misery. He was a dull knife, lost edge, all talk.
I don’t want to be alive. She was a vulture, playing possum, all talk.
Never thought I’d find salvation crawling from the bloody mouth
of their opposite of love into the dark alone.
I didn’t expect to meet god out there. He, too, travels alone.

A second chance is no longer a second chance if it’s the eighty-fifth. We pay the universe handsomely for these few hours, so give away your demons, limb by limb, tooth by tooth, offer them back to the source. It is a brave thing, to sacrifice your most hardened warriors, to stand emptied and alone.
The sound of breath gives us away each second, safe only in our vulnerability, safe only in the space of not knowing,
safe only in the amens in our blood.

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Los Angeles, 2015