Matter. Mater. Mother.

Already the sun is hot
out of season.
Our Mother’s breast
is going dry.
She is taking all green
into her heart
and will not turn back
until we call her
by her name.

(Marilou Awiakta,
Cherokee poet)

cropped-mother-earth-midwifery2
The Mothers Days of my childhood (with construction paper and crayons) were overshadowed by the Mothers Days of my young adulthood (in the shadow of my mother’s alcoholism), and the Mothers Days of my own motherhood (overshadowed by exhaustion), followed by the Mothers Days without a mother, following my mother’s early departure; so that at 50 years of age, with almost-grown children, I find myself leaning toward something altogether new…

Celebrating MATTER.

ORIGIN: from Latin from mater ‘mother.’

I want to celebrate the Earth, as Mother. I know this is cliche, but suddenly, for me, this expanded sense of Mother holds deep resonance, particularly after my most recent experience of mothering:

Yesterday, I appeared at the appointed time at my son’s college for student retrieval day (aka. the last day of the semester.) My husband and I, along with throngs of other parents, mostly fathers, hoisted belongings down flights of stairs, around corners, across parking lots and into cars. Some of these belongings were enviously packed into bins and boxes while others were stuffed into trash bags (where I imagine they’ll stay until August); and yet others were simply abandoned in piles.

I was entirely unprepared for this day. Unprepared from just how much “stuff” there was. Unprepared for how much I’d see left behind. From bed linens to clothing, to furniture and appliances, to books and equipment. Trashed.

I was also unprepared for how much my son and his roommate seemed to neglect the  gift of their living space; and equally shocked that no one else who stopped into their dorm room seemed to notice how terribly trashed it was… despite the colonies of dirt and dust and debris… socks, wrappers, bottles, caps, pencils, books.

The whole afternoon left me soul sick. And I’m not putting this all on two 18 year old guys living on their “own” for the first time. I’m putting this on the lack of true love we hold for Mother in this culture. For how much we consume at any expense. For how much we waste. For how little we care about place. For how careless we are with our bodies and our belongings.

If we claim to celebrate Motherhood, we better start there.

Matter. Mater. Mother.

 

 

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Addiction Rage

Kelly Back

I wake angry. Riddled with residue. Rageful at the past. Pissed that I will have to write my way through what was meant to be a different kind of morning on this, a frosty first-day of spring.

Last night, I took my 13 year-old to Mount Snow for a presentation on drugs and alcohol–a requirement to earn a ski pass.

The speakers were newly married. One–a famous Super Bowl star, turned addict. The other–the mother of a 17-year old girl who died in two feet of water at a party in the woods.

Their stories were painful, provocative and prey-ful. There was some concrete take-way; But mostly, I left triggered.

My family is rampant with addiction. My childhood was flooded in it.

I HATE IT.

I hate fucking addiction.

I’d like to end this piece right there, but the rage hasn’t drained.

There’s more work to do.

I don’t want to feel this.

This pain. This vulnerability. That mother’s loss. That man’s pain. My mother’s vacancy. My Nana’s ugliness. My Gram’s despair. My aunt’s carelessness. (And I’m not even touching my generation or the one after that.)

Compassion. My physician father taught me to understand addiction as disease. But how long does this disease deserve to live? My mother died over a dozen years ago. Her drinking died a decade before that.

How is it still hurting me?

I don’t want it.

I don’t want to lie there waiting outside on the ice with a broken arm calling… “Mom, mom, MOM!”

I don’t to wait for her to arrive without any sign of effort as if she dragged herself to respond to the cries of her first-born.

I don’t want to see her impassive face.

I don’t want to hear her flatly say, Kelly, what is it, without a single question mark of concern.

And I definitely don’t want to feel her rub my fucking head and tell me how beautiful I am a decade later when she’s clearly bombed.

The WOMEN in my LIFE only touched me when they were drunk. Only told me they loved me when they were drunk. Only looked at me with affection when they were drunk.

I don’t want to hear how my siblings and my nieces and my nephews and even my sons are going to avoid addiction. With their minds. Ha!

We have great minds. We have depression. We have anxiety.

WE are hard-wired for addiction.

We don’t have a choice. We will pay the price…

I feel
sad
now,
instead of angry.

And that is enough.

50 Shades of Gratitude

Leave behind the gray and step into gratitude, in 50 shades, of course.
Here’s my list on the approach of my 50th birthday.
No doubt you have yours…
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  1. An entire week, a year, a life… to sense, reflect & write my way to 50.
  2. The gift of my body… to love, to dance, to birth, to nurse, to move through space.
  3. The community of Marlboro, Vermont.
  4. Marlboro Elementary School.
  5. Southern Vermont–where so many find so many ways to celebrate art, voice and humanity.
  6. The state of Vermont which I’ve been proud to call home for 20 years.
  7. SOUTH POND.
  8. NERINGA POND.
  9. The Whetstone Brook.
  10. MacArthur Road.
  11. Dan’s emerging rock sculptures up MacArthur Rd.
  12. Whetstone Ledges Farm Stand
  13. The music makers. Local. Worldwide.
  14. Libraries, everywhere.
  15. Cafes, everywhere. But especially our Amy’s.
  16. Cities. Kyoto. Paris. New York.
  17. The United Nations.
  18. kelly-back-2-version-2-e1386332111765WOMEN.
  19. CHILDREN.
  20. Men, men, men.
  21. New life… plants, babies, animals.
  22. The splendor of frost.
  23. TWILIGHT.
  24. The sun on the water at day’s end.
  25. That time of day when water becomes glass.
  26. 7 Sisters.
  27. ONE BROTHER.
  28. Two sons.
  29. One AMAZING man who has loved me and taken care of me and celebrated me for almost 30 years.
  30. Childhood friends. Highschool friends. College friends. Traveling friends. International friends. Local friends. New friends. Friends to come.
  31. Mentors. Colleagues. Leaders. Teachers.
  32. The SUN.
  33. Conversations.
  34. The male mind.
  35. Male confidence.
  36. Male competence.
  37. The men who have been my friends. Who have fed my mind. Who have complimented me in ways that have nourished me through time.
  38. WATER. Drinking, bathing, showering, playing, watching, gliding, skating. Wine with.
  39. The women who have shaped my life. Who have paved the way.
  40. Bellies.
  41. Birth.
  42. Lovemaking.
  43. Tequila.
  44. Irreverence.
  45. The sacred.
  46. Bliss.
  47. Yoga.
  48. Loving Me.
  49. Being 49.
  50. (Shit, how did I get to 50 already!)
    To Be Continued…

Kelly BackMore on the Path to 50:

FU 50′s
Flat 50
Being 49

Tribute to the 40′s
30′s Retrospective
Turning 20
The Hardest Decade? 10-19
The First Decade

Life After Getting Drunk~a St. Paddy’s Day Tribute

The last time I was drunk was St. Paddy’s Day, 1986.

And no, I’m not an alcoholic. Or a teetotaler.

I still like my Chardonnay and my Margaritas…

But I used to like to get smashed.

What changed?

I grew up, I guess. I crossed the line a few too many times in my early twenties, and drunkenness started to feel ugly and sad instead of fun.

That partying lifestyle is a hard one to sustain. Especially when you’re happy. Being hungover feels like crap.

Leaving the bar & restaurant world made it easier to let it go. So did becoming a teacher and a mother. Neither of those roles is very compatible with drunkenness.

Do I miss it?

Sometimes I do. But mostly I’m surprised that it’s still going on. (Without me  🙂

I guess there’s a lot of pain to medicate. At least that’s what I was doing. I drank to wash away feelings of not being enough. I drowned out anger and confusion. I hid from disillusionment.

When I was drinking, all that pain disappeared; and I got to catch my breath. Only the break never lasted; but the mistakes did.

Both my grandmothers and mother were alcoholics, and somehow I didn’t inherit their propensity for that disheartening disease; but I gave it a good effort–with nearly a decade of dedication.

I still got good grades, had goals, and met them; But I missed out on a lot. Like the day after St. Paddy’s Day, 1986, when my sweetheart and I were meant to be in Wyoming. It was a dream of his to see that great state, and it was the first time that the two of us had the opportunity to get out of town together. We were living in Steamboat Springs then, Colorado, working our butts off at the Mountain, and we were thrilled to have 3 days off in a row, together, to finally explore more of the West (before we headed back to the Atlantic.)

Instead, we spent that big adventure in bed, with one of the worst hangovers either of us has ever had. We fought over the last Ibuprofen and shook our heads at the pile of our mud-laden clothes on the floor. Later friends told us that we had been seen wrestling up the hill on our way home from the bar.

We still laugh at that story, and I tell it too much–maybe to point out that there is life after drinking–even though it seems like the most fun in the world when you don’t know what else you’re missing.

Now I define fun differently. Now it’s about creating more of what I want in my life, instead of running from what I’m afraid of.

And when I have pain, I like to “check IN” instead of “check OUT.” Well, that’s not entirely true.  Sometimes, I’d rather watch Netflix or check Facebook; but what I’ve learned, again and again, is that there’s gold to be mined in my discomfort if I just show up: Pain is transformed. Memories heal. Disillusionment is replaced with new, vibrant visions. Dreams come true. And I begin to like myself just the way I am. I cut myself a goddamn break; and I don’t even have to be drunk to do it.

Kelly Salasin, March 2012

Note: Lately, I’ve been accused of being “High & Mighty.” If that’s what you’re looking for, read this one about drinking: Drunk for the Holidays; or this: Father Who Used FB to Teach His Daughter A Lesson: A Human Rights Issue.

the loss of innocence

Archimbaldo, visipix.com

Who knew you could have a loss of innocence at fifty minus two.

Should I be proud?

Or concerned?

Just how many layers of innocence are there?

Are they meant to insulate?

Is that a good thing?

Or is it make-believe?

Is it better to toughen up?

Questions like these are the ones I ponder this Brigid’s Day.

Because, I like innocence.

It’s spring-like… tender. delicate. full of promise…

but so fragile

~like our community after the Co-op tragedy;

~and our state after the floods.

How do we suffer such loss without hardening?

How do we feel… and then release… pain?

Do we want to?

Kelly Salasin, First of February, 2012

The post before this one: Just Say No

The post that came after: a timeline of heartbreak

Inside the Mystery

Moments after the hail storm, Garden at Solar Hill, Kelly Salasin 2011, all rights reserved

The delight of

fingers

toes…

an infant’s wonder.

One

with the rise and fall

of the belly.

In the distance

I hear a voice

Something about knees and twists,

but it makes no sense

Inside

the mystery

of breath.

Kelly Salasin, June 1st, 2011