Tuesday, July 23, 2013
I am making something. granted, we make something(s) everyday - messes, meals, mistakes, amends - all sorts of things get made in the process of living. and hooray for us! the simple act of rising out of bed each morning is a victory in and of itself. all that said, the nature of the "making" I am here to tell you about is something a bit more exciting and special than my usual daily makings.
a couple of days before I turned 33, I had a panic attack. the ceiling crumbled and the walls started marching towards each other. if you've never felt the unique and profound earthquake of a panic attack, then perhaps you don't know how absolutely convincing it can be in the moment that your world is collapsing (just me?). it's an intense moment where you are sandwiched between wanting so fully to live while feeling like you might not make it through the night. that night, amidst the chaos, I was desperately searching for something, anything, to grab onto to pull me through the abyss. and somehow, though I can't remember exactly how, I stumbled upon an old piece of short fiction I had written a few years back:
(click here if you'd like to read the piece)
I read it that night and thought, "hey, this is pretty good." I felt a rare satisfaction for all the small things I had accomplished - the stories written and never shared. and then I thought, "I want to share this one." and then in a flash a set came into view and the colors and details rushed in filling my brain. I forgot all about the panic and instead become very excited and focused on getting it all down...
and here we are, almost two months later. I've been lucky enough to bring together a bright and talented group of people willing to collaborate on realizing this vision. I'm excited and scared and overwhelmed and determined - all those feelings that come with actually doing the things you've talked about and imagined doing.
and this, my dear human reading this, is where you come in. it would mean so much if you could help us with this project. whether that means chipping in 5 bucks or 500, or simply sharing this link with anyone you think might be interested in supporting such an endeavor. kind thoughts or words are also greatly appreciated and felt. please take the time to visit our kickstarter page, we worked hard on a little stop motion video depicting a scene from the piece. enjoy :)
Monday, November 12, 2012
lately I've been vacillating, or oscillating, or whichever word better describes the pendulum swinging of the soul over the unfettered, unknown, undefined black space of uncertainty. the future. human history. my life. death and its inevitability. these are the things I find myself pondering while driving, or brushing my teeth, or watching america's next top model (in the failed attempt to stop thinking about such things). I look at puppies and wonder what their sweet squishy minds are going on about? perhaps they know the answers and so fret not? perhaps they understand the futility of worry, so worry not? perhaps they are simply thinking: eat, sleep, poop, repeat... I just want a break from the perpetual breakdown. I mean, yeah, I'm gonna die. we're all gonna die. putting the weight of that thought on the scale of my daily life doesn't do much but make my tummy hurt. I think I'm going to make a list, lists are like a mother's tit: they soothe, they satiate.
things I would like to do if I get the chance before I inevitably die as I am inevitably going to do one day perhaps soon or perhaps not for a long time (in no particular order):
1.) go to the grand canyon (I can't believe I still haven't done this)
2.) get paid to travel and sing my songs for people happy to hear them
3.) make babies, 2 or 3, or 8
4.) get electrolysis on my wolverine neck so I can stop wasting my life shaving it OR accept its existence and let it grow like the wild
5.) walk from the pacific ocean to the atlantic ocean
6.) learn to play the cello
7.) make some decorative pillows
8.) become an expert on something and then talk about it in a ken burns documentary (there's still time)
9.) roll down a hill in scotland
10.) eat sushi in japan
11.) go to newfoundland, just because I really like that its name is 3 words crammed together and then pronounced differently
12.) do that cheek swab ancestry thing and find out where I come from
13.) make a short film in which I eat so much ice cream that I projectile puke milk shake
14.) make enough money to pay for my parents to finally take that trip to ireland (and go with them)
15.) inspire people to be more open and honest and vulnerable, by being open and honest and vulnerable
16.) write a book, or several books on various things
17.) take a long trip on a boat somewhere warm
18.) begin again (for the tenth time) and actually finish anna karenina and brothers karamazov
19.) sing in front of a full orchestra and give people goosebumps and make people cry (in a good way)
20.) learn how to love and live heartfull in the moment knowing that it's all we really have
wow, I feel better, lighter, brighter! perhaps you would enjoy making a list...
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
jesus h christ the first, what about all the glory on high? what about sunning your buns in the sun, or taking in a new landscape, or studying the crinkles in your laughing friend's face? what about pizza for pete's sake?! what about the gentle feeling of the breeze on your face as the sun is taking its break from shining on your side of the globe? what about love? that feeling that scares the pants off you (sometimes literally if you're lucky). what about dancing in your underwear in your room and thinking you're about the coolest dude on earth and if only everyone could see you in that moment, you'd be famous, so! fucking! famous! what about all of that?! why can't that be what we talk about when we get together?
why must we talk so much about what's going wrong when clearly SO MUCH IS GOING RIGHT?!
I mean, come on! hummingbirds! mountaintops! baby talk! donut holes! moonwalks! dinosaur bones! the world is so full of so many incredible things we could talk about, and yet here we are, talking about parking tickets, and rude waiters, and ingrown hairs. I declare a new holiday! So Much is Going Right Day. tomorrow, July 12th, talk about all the good and decent things about the day you're lucky enough to spend miraculously experiencing this crazy little show we call being a human being, living on earth, figuring out to the best of your ability what that means to you. happy holidays!
Friday, June 15, 2012
I haven't written much for a long time now. It's not that I had been too busy, it's that I had lost my voice. I had loaned it out to someone else. I had borrowed theirs in exchange. this is me, getting my voice back. this is me recovering from spiritual laryngitis.
hello world, it's me, bethany ann toews. I have some things to say.
1.) I think people should get out and walk more often.
2.) If you look around for them, you will find heart shapes everywhere.
3.) if you are warm and open, you will be met with warmth and openness most of the time.
4.) there are prices to pay for honesty, but I still think it's the best policy.
5.) when you hide, treasures you could find will remain hidden.
6.) peanut butter and chocolate are suitable replacements for romance.
7.) dreams are not destinations but rather fields in which to take off all your clothes and run around naked in the sun.
8.) fact: if there were no birds, there would be spiders the size of cars.
9.) there are no stressful situations, only stressful responses.
10.) it is good to spend a little time each day in solitude and silence.
11.) food tastes better when it is shared with others.
12.) sex is awesome, but if it isn't an option, laughing feels pretty awesome too.
13.) french fries are fucking delicious.
14.) love is an act, not an idea or a feeling.
15.) the only thing harder than letting go, is holding on.
16.) there is nothing wrong with you.
17.) donuts are health food if you feel joy while eating them.
18.) babies are fucking cute.
19.) getting lost is just part of finding. finding things will often lead to losing them so you can find new things to lose.
20.) we are all a gift meant to be given. give, receive and give again. you can always give more of yourself, there is always more to give.
Monday, June 4, 2012
Thursday, November 3, 2011
sometimes you need to just go and do the damn thing. maybe you don't have enough money. maybe you're not prepared. maybe you will be short on resources. but fuck it. go. do that thing that's been bouncing in the back of your brain, making it hard to focus on what's at hand. your hands are nimble and want to be filled. fill them. put tools in them. if you don't have tools, build them. carve things out of trees. fashion things out of stone. the thing about putting yourself in the eye of the storm is you no longer have a choice, fight for your life, or die. in the middle of an impetuous sea, you will find a way to shore. we want to live. put yourself in a position where your life is threatened, and you will be made immediately aware of this. the determination to wake to another day. the desire of the heart to keep beating. hold your breath and your lungs burn with the will to keep breathing.
I just had the privilege of being a part of a big leap of faith. hands held, we all jumped! a group of talented and curious people searching for something to fill their hunger, decided it was time to be their own source of nourishment. when there is no food, you have to go hunting. so that's what we did. we had an idea and we actually did something with it. it is an honor to see that when it happens, no matter what the outcome. so many things burst and fade within the walls of our skulls. the courage to take those sparks and build a fire and sit in that burning, to be consumed by the flames -- it is truly a beautiful thing to see. we all came with our own reasons, our own struggles and expectations, and we all left changed. knowing you can do it, that's what we are hoping to learn. we over complicate it, like most things. but really I think it's that simple, we want to know that we can do it. we waste so much time wondering. we don't know until we try.
so here's to making shit. in this case, a movie shot in arkansas. one giant group hug of an effort. I will keep you posted on its progress...
Thursday, October 20, 2011
this is david church. he was born on october 27, 1924. he owns 10 acres of land here in story, arkansas. I met him today while I was eating a cheeseburger at the bluebell cafe. he had come in to cure his lonely with a cup of coffee and two little debbie honey buns. his wife of many more years than I have been alive, was lost to cancer a little over a year ago. he talked with me about the adventures they had together and shared how hard it has been living without her. my heart swelled and ached simultaneously. I was blessed by his openness. I was blessed to be a witness to his story. everyone has their story. there is so much to gain in just sitting and listening. I was lucky enough today to ask someone willing to share. david was lucky enough to find a little more than coffee and honey buns waiting for him at the cafe.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
sometimes it's all you can do. sometimes there are shards of glass floating in the air, mixed in with the food you eat, stuck into the clothes you wear, falling like endless reminders from the sky, settling into your scalp, getting in your eyes. in times like these, you just breath. it's the simplest and most difficult of tasks. it's necessary first of all. if you can't manage this much, you can't live. you must live. breath. keep breathing. pain is just a sensation. pain means something new and better is trying to live. let it live in you. let it grow. trust in this process, it is all there is. it is enough. it is more than enough. you are and always have been enough. breath.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
if you're doing something and it's really hard and really scary, it's probably a good sign you're doing the right thing (unless you're learning how to juggle for the first time using flaming axes -- then I'd say that's another story). but as my brilliant friend jamie said, usually it is in the areas where we have the most to offer, the deepest capacity to give, that we are the most afraid to go. why is it? us silly humans, afraid of our potential? it's incredible really, the mind games we so expertly play, convincing ourselves not to head down the path that we ourselves have laid with hoping and dreaming. maybe we're afraid of what will be left after the wanting has been met? maybe we are afraid we won't be able to take enough naps?
I know the lullaby of taking the easy route, I know how I have let myself be rocked to sleep for years at a time. I know what is at stake -- holding yourself accountable for all you are capable of -- them ain't no small potaters folks. we are ALL so capable of SO MUCH. that's a lot of work and responsibility to take on. it is nice to watch mindless television. it is nice to eat one too many pieces of pie. it is easier to put our hopes and fears in someone else brave enough to face the music. but inside, our blood and our bones are dancing and our skin is crawling to let it all out and we get weird rashes and we lose sleep or sleep too much or have diarrhea or cry when dogs bark at us. we're all learning how to live with so much feeling, so much longing, so much confusion on how to find our way to happiness. but what we're all really dealing with is the overwhelming fact that nothing is permanent -- that is a thought that is so hard and so painful for our grasping hands to hold.
you can love something with everything you have and eventually you will lose it and it will break your heart. you will have to start over. you will struggle with feeling like a 5'7" newborn baby. the pain will make you lose yourself for a bit... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
but then! you find yourself again! and you can't believe your eyes! you are gorgeous! gorgeous! still breathing! still believing in the process of life. still trusting that you know what you're doing even though you also know you don't really have a clue about anything. you keep going, 'cause that's what the trees and the birds and the wind are doing. you just keep going. you smile at strangers and you open your heart to everyone you meet and you accept that some people aren't ready to receive you, but the ones that are, with shiny eyes and equally open hearts, will constantly remind you of the gift of getting to share this experience with each other.
I believe there are blessings hidden in every bombed building, there is something to extract from the rubble and I suspect that if nothing else, it is simply the will to love. to keep loving no matter how hard that is sometimes, no matter how much it hurts or confuses or disappoints. to just keep loving, because I suspect that when it's time to take your last breath, you're not thinking about all the csi episodes you're gonna miss, but about whether or not you loved everything and everyone with everything you had.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
a feeling takes form when you give it a name. I have been feeling many feelings lately, and in the state of feeling so much feeling, I have contemplated what it is to feel. I have explored the multi-colored rooms of sensation and emotion. I have noticed how you can feel seemingly contradictory things within the same emotion-- the pleasure of longing, the pain of laughing too hard, the fear of getting what you want. we are complicated creatures. thank the heavens for music. in this time of intense feeling, I find music is like a warm hug of belonging on cold lonely nights.
two nights ago I found a name for a feeling: night rainbow. I am currently sequestered up north in a cabin in the sawtooth mountains. I am here to face my fears. I am hiding up here so that I may finally learn how to stop hiding. I am here to make music, and then to share that music and hope that it serves as a warm hug of belonging for someone else. I am here with my friend and collaborator, jaffe zinn, and so far so awesome. I am enjoying the ride of elation to frustration within minutes of each other. we work well together, and that comes as a big relief to both of us. it's not an easy thing to find. collaboration at its finest, pulling out the best of each part, making something wholly better than you could have alone.
the other night at the end of a long day, we stepped outside into the darkness to discover what I could only name a night rainbow. glowing around the moon, a rainbow of light. it seemed too perfect for how we were feeling and what we were doing. finding the colors in the dark. and so the name was formed for our collaboration. and now, a little peak of our night rainbow.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
feeling lost? wanna find yourself? I suggest you head out into the desert alone in the middle of the night with no cell reception and drive with only your headlights guiding you through a torrential hail and lighting storm. that's what I did last night. here are a few things I learned:
1. fear is a temporary feeling you can push through
2. you can never really see what's ahead, it's good to practice getting comfortable with that
3. you are braver than you let yourself be most of the time
4. music is like medicine on dark lonely nights (and pretty much all other times too)
5. lightning is beautiful at a distance and terrifying up close, but it's still the same lightning
6. your mind will tell you to stop long before you need to
7. the consequence of doing what scares you, is that you become aware of your power
8. it's good to remember yourself before there were cellphones
9. it's perfectly ok to give yourself a pep talk, out loud
10. we are only as lonely as we let ourselves be
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
I am awake. it is dark outside. I want so badly to pick up the phone and call someone right now, but I am giving them the space they need. so I let the space spread like an inky blot, I surround myself with its blackness. what doesn't kill you...
we love, we love hard. sometimes that love takes form as the perfect and pure thing it was intended. sometimes it gets distorted, filtered through fear and doubt and selfishness. the intention alone is not enough. we must watch that love like a hawk. we must constantly take stock, is my love being expressed as love, or has it been cleverly disguised as disappointment or judgement? is my fear of loss turning my love into a hard ball instead of a soft hug? it's easy to become very convinced that what we are doing is right, in response to so much wrong done upon us. but then sometimes a gift, in the disguise of a gut punch, forces you to realize you might be the one to blame for all your dissatisfaction. maybe the love you'd been missing was there all along and it was you that was shutting it out, calling it by another name. maybe you were too busy sinking into the vicious pit of self pity to notice that what you were wanting was right in front of you all along. ah to be a victim, it can feel so juicy, so victorious in its twisted way. but how is the world to respond to someone who feels so unjustly treated? all the blessings bestowed upon your head, tossed aside and dismissed as one more example of how you just have it so much rougher than you should. I am trying to stay with the fact that remains, I am lucky to be here. I am lucky to love, even when loving leaves you sick to your stomach in the middle of the night.
here is something I have been sitting with these past few days: strength is the softest thing you will find. strength is softer than a bunnies tail. strength is not hard like I have been thinking for too long now. I want to soften. I want to open wide and say aaaaaaah. I want to let it all in and have faith that it won't destroy me. I want to trust. I want to let down these walls that I've convinced myself were protecting me, when it is clear now, all they have done is keep me away from the one thing I am wanting--love.
here's to staying soft and open and loving like you mean it.
Friday, August 19, 2011
yesterday on the phone with my friend jamie, while engaging in one of our usual meaning-of-life-weight-of-the-universe conversations, I said, "life is just a series of days. are we enjoying each one?" she told me to write it down, maybe even share it. this is me writing it down. this is me sharing it.
and it's true, life in all the things it is, is just a series of days. and so I ask myself, am I doing my part to enjoy each one? and yes, there it is, the cliché that can only be so because it is dripping with pertinence, with truth and necessity. (how strange that we dismiss something because it is said too much-- perhaps it is said with frequency for a reason?!) it is when I forget the importance of taking it day by day, step by step (ooh baby), that I start to suffer. it is when I blow it all up into this grotesque form, too large to face, too heavy to carry, that I feel like I can't "take it". life is so many things we can't know or understand. why spend all our glorious time here floating in the abyss when we could be splashing in the waves-- the place where the infinite meets land? sometimes it feels right to float, but is it also good to have something solid beneath your feet. and we're back where we (or at least I) started, keeping it simple (another invaluable "cliché") . taking a walk, being glad you are able. enjoying the sky in all its endless incarnations (it never fails to amaze me, a sky! above my head!), eating a piece of fruit that came from a tree, I repeat, eating a sweet and delicious treat that grows on trees! (how have we ceased to marvel at such things?!), talking to someone, perhaps familiar or strange, showing them the kindness that is always coursing through your heart.
I have been nervous lately, people seem tense, waiting to burst, to yell or shoot someone in the face. I want the world to sing the lullaby that always hums in the quiet spaces-- the spaces in between the wanting and the having. I want to sing it for others, when they have lost the ability to hear it themselves, when it seems the world has become a cruel place designed for their personal torment. I know how it feels to see it that way. I also know what it feels like to be completely and utterly helpless to the wonder that is getting to be here. (said slowly) we...get...to...be...here! why? we don't know. but, we are here! and while we are here, we get days to play with. we get measurements of time to spend growing or shrinking as much as we please (or don't please). we get seasons to change and challenge the nature of what is possible. we have so much and never enough. we get to ask, and not know the answer. yes, that seems like a lot for a human to handle, but we've been handling it for so long and despite how awful the news reports are, I would like to believe that we are more good than evil, that we hope more than we despair, that we are more interested in sharing than possessing. I choose to believe that, because that's the world I want to live in. as long as I am here, I want to try my hardest to enjoy it.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
unsticking yourself can be sticky when you're feeling stuck. I feel stuck. there it is. the first step taken with my bubble gum soul. it's hard to move through this feeling. I see the other side. there is a cool breeze blowing, whispering a welcome to me, "come to the other side, you'd feel better once you got here". but here I stand, eyes gazing, mouth agape, stuck. what it is exactly? this feeling. the desire to move mashed up against the overwhelming feeling that I can't. I have a reoccurring dream that I need to run but my legs will only move in slow motion as impending doom races towards me. a failure to survive. a failure to thrive. all I want to do is thrive. to jive walk my way into a room full of awesome. to shine like a light that's been waiting for years to do its thing. building building building...burning bright. I feel like a light bulb left in the dark.
I am my own worst enemy. no one is to blame. chew on that one young lady.
I want the freedom that comes with movement. movement away from the bullshit I've been believing for too long. movement towards the truth that is always humming in my head but is drown out by the cacophony of lies I surround myself with. I need to be able to find peace and quiet inside, even in the middle of a busy street. I need to quit finding excuses, quit laying blame, quit being lame. I want to feel different, be different, act different, live different. I want to do the things I say and say the things I do. I want I want I need I need me me me KABOOOOM!!! destruction. ashes. a seed. some sunlight. some rain. some oxygen... me, still here, still growing, still trying. that's all I can do.
Monday, February 21, 2011
I'm pretty good at giving; I learned that from my mom. one thing that I am not so good at is receiving; I think I learned that from my dad. I left home at 18. I remember the first time I got the flu away from home, never had having a mother seemed so valuable as when I was puking alone. being on your own hardens you, it makes you tough. growing up, my father held the aura of a man who had survived alone in the woods for years--I wanted to be that man. so when it was time, I went out into my own woods, I fed and clothed and sheltered myself. I kept myself company many lonely nights, trying to ignore the scary sounds that hide in the dark.
and here I am, over a decade since I had my mom to feed and comfort me or my dad to keep me safe. I have taken care of myself, for that I am proud. but I am starting to think I may have over-corrected. tonight it struck me how alone I still feel, even though I have a loving boyfriend and family and many incredible friends. while making my bed tonight I was overwhelmed with how many times I have completed that act in the silence of an empty apartment. something about it saddened me so deeply. something made me long for another person to help me fluff the comforter like I know my mother would have.
there is tremendous strength in giving. I enjoy giving to others. I like knowing that in my own way I can help others with the unavoidable difficulty of life. but then, when I am in need of such comfort, I find I don't ask for it, or allow for it to enter into my space. in all my desire to be tough, I have forgotten the incredible grace that lies in softening. to be self-reliant is commendable, but to be open to other's care takes even more strength. there is a vulnerability to letting yourself depend on someone that takes a lot of courage. I think I have proven that if I had to, I could survive on my own. it's good to know that. I needed to know that. but, I am not on my own, and it's nice to have someone help you when you're tired of helping yourself.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
be willing to risk that the world may not hear the music to which you dance--you may appear as a crazy person, but that's no reason to stop dancing. as long as you hear music, dance.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
it is raining outside and my heater is broken and I am happy as can be. I am camping out on my bed. I am wearing a warm hat, wool socks, sweatpants and a big sweater my boyfriend gave me. with me on this quilted island I have everything I could possibly need: books, a journal, my guitar and a cup of tea. I'm not leaving until I have a story to tell.
lately I have been craving adventure. the other day I ran into my friend john, he was wearing a marvelous new hat. he said "hello" and then warned that he might smell weird - he had literally just returned from an 8 day journey and was as yet unshowered. he smelled fine. when I asked the nature of his trip, he told me a wonderful tale. a friend of his had told him to be at the airport at 7am and to bring a passport, no other details were given. so when john's alarm went off at 5:15am, he gathered his things completely unaware of what laid ahead.
how does one pack for a mystery?
he settled on the clothes he was wearing, a pair of pants, a pair of shorts, two t-shirts, two pairs of underwear, flip flops, echinacea, toothpaste, a toothbrush, chapstick, a murakami novel, a journal, sunglasses, and one packet of space ice cream (just in case). upon arriving at the airport, he was told by his friend that they would be flying to buenos aires. and so they did, and they had an awe-inspiring time ripe with rooftop sunsets and intoxicated bus rides and hot norwegian girls.
while listening to him, I couldn't help but notice the pulling in my gut for such an experience. why didn't I have a friend buying me a ticket to buenos aires? why didn't I just arrive from an exciting place with these stories to tell? and then it hit me, running into john that day was my adventure. I don't have to go somewhere to experience life. yes, traveling can pry open otherwise sleepy eyes, but I can just as easily force them open with my awareness. I can board a plane or stay in bed, it doesn't matter, as long as I give whatever I am doing my full attention. my life, wherever I am, is the adventure, all I need do is live it.
Friday, January 28, 2011
he left again this morning. you would think that it had little effect on me anymore, but no matter how many times (and oh there have been many) that I have kissed him goodbye and said "come home soon", the soon feels so far away, like some impossible goal. he is going to japan this time, and australia. I am going to be here, like usual, keeping our apartment anchored to the earth. while he flies, I will do my best to stay grounded. yesterday he was telling a friend on the phone how lately life for him has felt like one cherry after another is falling on top of his sundae. it's scary almost, just when you think it couldn't get better, a fatter and juicier cherry flops on the sundae. I told him this morning when the alarm went off, myself already awake in the dark, that I felt like I was once the biggest cherry on that sundae, but it was hard now to compete with all the excitement that was swirling around like caramel in his sweet life. he got still and I could feel him thinking, and then he wrapped me in his arms and said, "no, you're the bowl, without you, there'd be no sundae."
Monday, January 17, 2011
don't use art to get love. don't use your tits or your pouty wet lips either. don't use your eyes and their slow blinking lashes. don't use tired eyes for that matter. don't use lies or excuses, or half-arsed proclamations you may mean at one moment but won't in another. don't use anything but your red banging drum of a heart. let that be the one and only thing you use to get love. then you can use art to talk about that love or the loss of that love or the longing for that love or the crippling strangling fear of that love. only then can you call it art.