Sunday, December 12, 2021

Soothing My Dysregulation


Hello, Invisible Audience,


Last week was the last week of classes for most of my students, including one I’m going to call Jeff.


It took one class to realize that there was something different about Jeff—he couldn’t seem to stop wrestling with other kids, and he was very disruptive when kids were trying to work on the projects or tasks I gave them.


I have to admit it wasn’t going well at first, but then I reached out to a friend who is a counselor for kids, and she gave me some pointers for kids like Jeff. One of the things she talked about was regulation—did he seem to be in control of the ways he was acting out, or did it seem a bit out of his control? It could be, she said, that he was dysregulated—that being able to respond appropriately was actually outside of his abilities.


She had several suggestions, but one immediately stood out as the best way to help both Jeff and the rest of the class, and it was so simple it took my breath away: push the wall.


When Jeff began to get squirmy or chatter away without being able to stop or when he couldn’t seem to concentrate, I’d take him over to a wall, make him put his hands against it, and tell him to push the wall as hard as he could for 10 seconds. Since it was Spanish class, I counted to ten in Spanish for him, stopping a couple times to say, “Keep going! Push harder!”


And like magic, he would do this and then sit down and focus.


I’ve been thinking a lot about that word—dysregulated—ever since. This is mostly because I’ve been feeling really dysregulated lately, but I wouldn’t have thought to apply that word to what I was feeling. Now, I snatch it out of my back pocket and slap it on my feeling whenever it comes up, and it feels like I’ve created a shortcut to something I didn’t know I needed a path for.


My dysregulation looks different than Jeff’s. I get panicky, and I go back over things in my mind again and again, trying not to forget things. I tell Siri to remind me to do things at certain times so I won’t lose track of them. I eat to try to calm down. Before all of this, I would have said I was seeking comfort. Maybe it’s the same thing, maybe not. But watching Jeff push a wall has made me question something I never quite knew I could before: what are my best regulation techniques?


I know what they aren’t. Mediation doesn’t work for me, because breathwork on its own brings on major anxiety. Drinking doesn’t help me, and thankfully I’m not apt to try that one often. A lot of times talking to friends helps, but sometimes it just keeps the pot stirred when I really want is for the damn thing to go away completely. And it hurts me to tell you this, Invisible Audience, but reading doesn’t help—it just pushes the need to regulate down the road to when I’ve put the book down.


The best way I know how to regulate for myself is swimming. I recently joined an athletic club with a pool, and my God, Invisible Audience. On the days I can make it there and have the energy to swim, I come out floating on a cloud. In the summers, just getting into and out of a lake or a river will do that for me, too.


Walks in nature are also one of my better regulation techniques, but only if I don’t take my headphones. I need to be able to hear the wind whispering in the pine needles, and hear the nearby sound of running water or the leaves as they rattle on their branches.


And writing to you, Invisible Audience. Telling you about what’s in my mind helps, too.


Love and regulated kisses,



Thanks for reading, Invisible Audience member. Interested in reading more and supporting me in the process? Check out my profile on Patreon. Pledge as little as $1.50 a month to get access to more of my ponderings and become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

I Am the Boiled Frog


Hello, Invisible Audience.


I have some good news! I’m feeling better!


This is a BIG deal…not just because I feel better, but because feeling better has made realize just how absolutely shitty I felt before, and how low my quality of life had dropped.


Do you know about boiling a frog, Invisible Audience? They say you can put a frog in a pot of cold water and turn the heat on and it won’t jump out. By the time it notices the water is getting hot, it’s too late.


I’m the frog, Invisible Audience.


Yes, I knew I didn’t feel well. But I wasn’t totally aware of the extent of it. Instead, I internalized all my symptoms into ways that I was just a shitty, lazy human being. I convinced myself that I couldn’t concentrate because I hadn’t found the right life hack yet to convince me to sit down and work instead of being unable to concentrate after 20 minutes. I blamed my diet when the truth is I have a better one than most people I know; over the last 10 years, I’ve been on more detox diets and cut out more foods than is reasonable. I kept telling myself that if I could just figure out how to stop self-sabotaging, I’d be able to get more done.




Before I could get to the point where I started looking outside myself for an answer, I had to get angry with the various cultural narratives that I’ve ingested over the years. I had to start listening to myself even more than I had, and to stop filtering the results through a gauze of “it’s all your fault.”


I imagine that I hear you whispering to yourself, Invisible Audience. Of course, you’re saying in my head. Of course it wasn’t you, you poor thing. How could you think it was?


Have we talked about attachment theory? I can’t remember. Well anyway, I just started reading a book about attachment theory, although I was already very familiar with the theory itself. Basically, the theory is that whether or not any of us were able to emotionally attach to a nurturing figure in childhood makes a huge difference in how well we function as adults. Although the book I’m reading talks about attachment theory as it pertains to healthy relationships, there was a line that made a huge impact on me when I read it. I don’t have it in front of me, so I’m going to have to paraphrase it here: if a parental figure is not emotionally available, makes you feel secure, and validates your feelings, emotions and perceptions, you end up questioning your experiences and have little confidence in what you perceive as an adult.


There it is, Invisible Audience. That’s why I am a boiled frog.


It explains why I find it so hard to believe myself, in things as small as whether I think my room is too warm to big things like saying no to people who treat me badly. It explains why I find it hard to let go of unhealthy relationships and why I will wait until I’m falling over from exhaustion before I will finally let go of whatever it was I was trying to do—whatever it was that felt absolutely essential to get done, because someone else thought I should do it.


Attachment theory is mostly about forming relationships, and explains a lot about why it’s harder for some people than others. In this specific book, it has cast light on my tendencies to be very content to be on my own, and also why I turn into a needy, sniveling wreck in a relationship. It explains why I find it so hard to trust myself, and why the first place I go is to, “Gee, I must have done something wrong here.”


There’s this book series I’m reading for the second time—it’s also a TV series on Amazon Prime called The Expanse. In it, there’s a man (Amos) who had a beyond shitty childhood and who is basically a psychopath with very little idea of how to function correctly in the world because of the way he had to survive as a child. To rectify this, he attaches himself to people who are moral and have integrity. When he’s in situations where he’d resort to violence, he thinks about what these people would do and how they would react. Basically, he’s outsourced his moral compass because he doesn’t have one.


I’ve waited too long to do this for myself, Invisible Audience. In my case, it’s not about not having a moral compass, or about asking someone else to reflect back to me when it looks like the water around me is starting to boil. Because I’m so in tune with others, it’s about treating myself as a separate person and looking at my life with more objectivity. If someone else told me they could only concentrate for 20 minutes at a time, couldn’t sleep, and was constantly exhausted, would I tell them that maybe they should do more yoga? No I would not. If they asked, I would tell them that it sounded like something bigger was going on. I would tell them that what they described was not normal. I would offer to do anything I could to help them, and that wouldn’t include reading life hacking books on how to be more productive. It would probably include making them a meal and offering to go grocery shopping for them.


So here I am, the boiled frog trying to remind myself that there’s a different way to do this; that I can trust what I’m seeing. That it’s ok to not be ok, and it’s ok to check in with myself and what I feel up for before saying yes to anyone else.


Love and frog leg kisses,



Thanks for reading, Invisible Audience member. Interested in reading more and supporting me in the process? Check out my profile on Patreon. Pledge as little as $1.50 a month to get access to more of my ponderings and become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons. 

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Leaning In vs. Leaning Back

Hello, Invisible Audience,


On Tuesday last week, I sent a text to a friend that said, “My Wednesday morning class is canceled! Happy Dance!” to which he replied, “Congratulations.”


It stopped me for a moment, because I hadn’t really realized that a canceled class was worth congratulations until I got it. He’s also a teacher, and never cancels his classes. Perhaps it was the realization in that moment that the class was canceled because I wanted it canceled that got to me. 


I own my own business. In theory, that means I control the schedule. At the same time, I can’t very well cancel classes very often unless I offer refunds to the parents for those missed days. Or I can do what I did this session for the first time ever: I scheduled the sessions to be nine classes long, but asked parents to set aside the week after the scheduled last class for a makeup day, if needed. I did this for several reasons. COVID-19 was the main one. Also, coordinating subs and sub lessons was extra energy I don’t have this time around. And third, just in case I had reached my max point or got myself sick and needed the time off myself.


But that wasn’t why I canceled my Wednesday class. I did it when I found out that four of the five students wouldn’t be there, and let’s be honest: having one kid show up for a group class is FAR more exhausting than any other number, because then I’m the only person they can interact with.


My week suddenly felt a lot easier after I canceled that class. Thursday I didn’t have an afternoon class because it was Veteran’s Day, but I’d scheduled a dental cleaning. And right before I went to that appointment, I drove out of town and up a narrow valley to look at a piece of property for sale.


The next morning, I woke up with a realization: I do not need to lean any further in right now. I do not need to spend valuable brain power thinking about how I could possibly make owning a piece of property work, especially because real estate prices have sky rocketed in my area and all I could afford is raw land that I’d have to start from scratch with. This would be on top of handling treatments and potential side effects from my recent Lyme disease diagnosis, in addition to several other related health issues. This would be in addition to running what already feels like a tough teaching schedule. In addition to caring for and spending time with two 3-month-old kittens. In addition to planning an immersion class in Mexico for 20 people. 


I wrote a magazine article a couple years ago and the photographer who showed up to take pictures of the recipe I was making had lean in tattooed on the inside of his wrist. My first thought was cool. My second was be careful what you ask for. Because I know from personal experience that some of us (me) lean in even when the plate is full; even when the more reasonable thing to do would be to lean back into the chair you’ve pulled up to the table and relax into what you’ve already had to eat.

I take on too much, Invisible Audience. For most of my life, the only thing that has stopped me is my body’s spectacular ability to grab me by the scruff of the neck and shake me. It will take illness to get me to slow down. There’s a part of me that finds it really hard not to lean in, and I’m beginning to think that part of me is not a part that I should allow to operate unsupervised. Or, more specifically, without awareness. 


The thing is, I have this really amazing home I really like. My neighbors/landlords are lovely people. They also handle the snow removal and yard upkeep, and their driveway is flat, so even on heavy snow days I can usually still make it out the driveway even if they haven’t plowed yet. The rent is affordable. They’ve watched my cats for me. And living here doesn’t require me to negotiate digging a well or getting electricity put in or living in a motorhome while I get a house built, which is basically the only way I could afford to own land in this part of the world unless something significant happens to the housing market. So my need to seek more and different and better has no grounding in reality. Instead, it is grounded in several things I’ve swallowed and leaned into too often: that any sense of equilibrium means something is wrong. That having enough isn’t good enough. That leaning in is the only way to lean.


Until now.


Love and learning to lean back kisses,



Thanks for reading, Invisible Audience member. Interested in reading more and supporting me in the process? Check out my profile on Patreon. Pledge as little as $1.50 a month to get access to more of my ponderings and become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons.   

Sunday, October 31, 2021

The Grace of Giving Way

Hi Invisible Audience,


Yesterday I took my two kittens to the vet. One of them has been throwing up, but I’m not completely sure which one. I made an appointment and the vet available was a new one I’d never seen before.

I explained that I suspected Oso was the one throwing up and named various reasons why I thought so that I won’t go into here that have to do with the content of the vomit. (wince) But the discussion turned inevitably to their food, and I said Oso won’t eat dry food and he goes bonkers over wet food. 


After some more discussion, this vet suggested that both my cats should be switched to dry food—a kitten kibble, different from the one Hetty currently eats.


He said I should slowly transition the dry food by mixing the new kind with the old.


“Should I do the same with the wet food, then?” I said. “Like, give them less and less and leave the new dry food out for them to eat?”


“No,” he said. “Just stop feeding them wet food. Cats are like kids. If they see they’re getting the food they want, they won’t make the switch until they’re forced to. Just take away the wet food. He’ll probably throw a fit for a while, but you just have to stay strong and eventually he’ll be so hungry he’ll eat whatever you give him.”


My first thought—which I kept to myself—was, you don’t have kids, do you?


Ok, I don’t have kids either, but I have enough friends with kids to know that kids are stubborn as shit and you do not simply starve them until they conform. 


I nodded my head and thanked him for his time, and left, pondering what he’d said. Not, mind you, pondering it because I was going to do it, but pondering it because it had rung a strangely familiar bell in my head and I was trying to figure out why I recognized the sound.


Eventually I figured it out: I used to be like that.


I have no idea how old this vet is, but if I had to guess I would say he’s younger than me. I’m not sure this is an age thing, but I can say that his way of using sheer force of will is something very familiar to me, and it’s something I did especially when I was in my twenties. 


I quit a job I hated and gave myself a year to get a book published. I laugh gently at that Morgan now—now that I know it can take a year to even find an agent, for crying out loud, and a year all on its own once a contract is signed with a traditional publisher before you’ll even see your book in print. When I decided to compile and self-publish my cookbooks, I risked my health and my emotional stability to finish each of them in a year, and was so burned out by the time I got the second one on the shelves that I had no energy to market it. 


I just recently got diagnosed with Lyme Disease, Invisible Audience. I also have the markers of someone who is fighting off mold sickness, and I have an appointment tomorrow with the doctor to go over other lab results that may reveal I’ve been dealing with even more than those two things, which are already a lot. 


As shitty as it was to get these diagnoses, it also shifted my perspective rather sharply. Instead of constant, mystifying illnesses and strange sensitivities to nearly everything—both emotionally and physically—it became clear that there have been large, looming, underlying issues that have made my life feel like a huge Sisyphean trek up a hill for more than a decade. Even if neither of those pieces are actually what caused me to feel so much like shit for so long, suddenly I could see that pushing myself makes me feel worse.


If that seems remarkably obvious, let me just point out to you that until not very long ago, people with chronic fatigue syndrome were prescribed cognitive behavioral therapy and told their exhaustion was all in their head and that they needed to exercise more. Now modern medicine knows this just made their symptoms worse. 


Do you see, Invisible Audience? It wasn’t even all that long ago I thought pushing through the pain or the fatigue was the way to go. Our whole damn culture is built on this idea that you can have whatever you want if you just work hard enough. Therefore, how could it possibly work to do better when I do less?


And yet it seems to be the case. The less I try to use sheer force of will, the more I let myself relax into the inevitability of the truth that is standing before me, the easier it goes. 


I recently finished a book that I started working on 14 years ago. Once I let go of how productive I thought I was supposed to be and just let myself settle into a routine based on how much I could actually do—usually about a half hour, two or three days a week—I finally got the damn thing done.


When I got home from the vet, I started mixing wet and dry food together for the cats. They’ve both been eating it, and no one has thrown up since.


Love and easy does it kisses,



Thanks for reading, Invisible Audience member. Interested in reading more and supporting me in the process? Check out my profile on Patreon. Pledge as little as $1.50 a month to get access to more of my ponderings and become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons.  

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Fraudulent Me


Hi Invisible Audience,


Can I confess something to you, Invisible Audience? I feel like a fraud. For two weeks now I’ve loaded a bunch of notebooks into my car with a suitcase full of worksheets and sharpened pencils and wet wipes and hauled them between my home and Leavenworth and Cashmere to teach kids Spanish. Certainly I am teaching them things. Certainly they’re having fun—or so most of them and their parents tell me. And yet I feel like a big fat fraud that will be found out and punished. Despite the fact that I’ve done this for 5 years now. Despite the fact that I have nearly 80 students total. Despite a B.A. in Spanish and long periods abroad. Even most importantly, perhaps, despite having read the entire Harry Potter series in Spanish, which of course is essential for teaching kids the magic of language.


I feel like a fraud in a lot of ways. As I’ve mentioned, I adopted a couple kittens. I keep thinking someone is going to stop me on the street and say, “What exactly do you think you’re doing? What makes you think YOU, of all people, can support other life, let alone your own?” I feel like a fraud sometimes when I do adult things, like I’m still a kid that liked to play house but didn’t know that adults are supposed to play for keeps.


The funniest small things make me feel like an adult. Going to a drive-thru car wash. Leaving a big tip. Arranging meetings with sales people. Being nice to a customer service person whose help I need. Paying someone to pay my quarterly payroll taxes. Remembering to offer someone something to drink when they get to my house. Getting my teeth cleaned.


Those small things make me feel like an adult, but there are many things that I feel like I do because you’re supposed to as an adult but they don’t necessarily make me feel adult-like. It’s as if I’m waiting for someone to notice that I’m not there yet; like I’m waiting to be thrown out of the adulting club.


I talked about this related to dating in another blog; about basically not feeling worthy. About not being able to take it in when someone complimented me. About not feeling like I deserve good things.


Good gracious, Invisible Audience. Being in my head is exhausting. Not only do I have a lot of physical tasks to do, I carry a huge weight around that can only be described as “shit I can’t figure out how to put down.” And this is one of those things.


I recently heard a podcast on paradox—on holding two conflicting ideas in your head at once. Although I don’t feel like I’m very good at paradox, I nevertheless deal with it every day. Each day, I proceed as if I know what I’m doing. Each day, I feed my cats and make sure there’s enough food to last and buy more before it runs out. Each day, I prep more things for kids to learn. Each day, I load string cheese, snack packs and apple slices into a cooler to cart around in my car with all my other Spanish class stuff to make sure the kids are fed before I teach them things. Each day, there’s gas in my car because I put it there. Emails that require answers get answered. Action items I’ve said I’ll get completed get done. My rent is paid. My hair is clean. My shoes are tied. My mask is on.


So really, the only place I’m failing is in my head. That feeling almost cost me my Spanish class business—I felt like such a fraud that I almost didn’t pick it up again after the pandemic.


But you know what, Invisible Audience? I have felt like a fraud in all my jobs. I have felt like a fraud pretty much my whole life—imagining that if anyone realized how unsure I was, or how I looked naked, or how much of my mental space is taken up by dark imaginings, they would run for the hills screaming. So I kept leaving first, before they could.


Well, here I am. I still feel like a fraud, but I’m not running anymore.


Love and not-so-fraudulent kisses,



Thanks for reading, Invisible Audience member. Interested in reading more and supporting me in the process? Check out my profile on Patreon. Pledge as little as $1.50 a month to get access to more of my ponderings and become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons.  

Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Only Way Through is Through


Hello Invisible Audience,


It’s been a whirlwind for me lately. How have you been?


I’m officially forty now. I start teaching Spanish classes next week. I sent the kittens I was fostering back to the humane society for adoption, left the two I adopted at home, and drove their mother to Seattle yesterday to her new home. This morning I’m going in for oral surgery.


That’s a lot, right? It sure feels like a lot. A drive across two mountain passes with a cat that shakes during car rides the day after she’s been spayed felt like a lot. Finding myself talking a mile a minute to her new family, trying to convey how lovely she usually is and also wanting to make sure I’m not misleading them about her felt like a rock I wrestled with and lost. Trying to convince myself that my oral surgery will go ok when I’ve had terrible experiences with oral surgeries and dental work in the past feels nearly insurmountable. Trying to convince myself I’ll be ready to teach kids next week in the midst of all of that feels like one of those lies you tell yourself because it needs to be true. And knowing the kittens I adopted are fine and in good hands while I’m gone does not lessen the ache I feel being away from them.


Something good has changed for me recently, Invisible Audience. I feel less of a need to be able to see exactly how the future will play out before I lean into it. I feel a growing confidence that I can make it work, whatever “it” is. And yet, simultaneously, I feel this super sensitive part of me rising to the surface—this little girl I buried a long time ago who wants to talk to people about how much she loves cats and needs to over explain things so people understand what she’s really thinking and how much she cares.


This world has been terrifying for me for years, Invisible Audience. It’s felt like I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop; for some new horror to happen; for another way for a person I love to be taken from me or to drop out of my orbit for one reason or another. I’ve found boundaries to be a hard lesson to learn to implement for myself, and a hard one to accept from others. Often, I’ve found myself following through with a decision that I knew was the right one but that made me sick to my stomach to make and left me wondering whether I’d still be standing—and still be loved—after I’d made it.


And now, right when I have decided that I’ve got this, a new wave of sensitivity hits me. Pardon my fear, but what the actual fuck?


Even as I write this, I know the answer. This is how growth works, for me anyway. This is what it looks like to lean in. And for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, I don’t know how to not lean in anymore. When it hurts, I feel it, then I change things. Not always when I want to. Often being dragged kicking and screaming. But it happens. Shit shows up and I deal with it…then more shit shows up.


Today’s shit is an oral surgery. Tomorrow’s will be a drive home. Next week’s will be teaching kids Spanish. In between will be some kitten cuddles, probably interspersed with some kitten attacks while I’m trying to pet them. Because that’s the way life is. There is no sweet without the sully (to badly paraphrase something Cheryl Strayed wrote once.) There’s no way through other than through, I guess.


So here I go. Through. Again.


Love and through kisses,



Thanks for reading, Invisible Audience member. Interested in reading more and supporting me in the process? Check out my profile on Patreon. Pledge as little as $1.50 a month to get access to more of my ponderings and become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

40 Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years


Hi Invisible Audience,


This coming Friday is my 40th birthday.


Although in general I don’t get too excited/upset about getting older, 40 seems like a pretty big marker that has been looming at me for quite a while, so I’ve decided to give myself some credit for the things I’ve learned over the last 40 years to remind me, well, that I lived them.


So, without further ado and in no particular order, here are 40 things I’ve learned in 40 years.


1)    The only constant is change. I don’t always like change unless I’m the one who makes it, but regardless of whether I want it to happen, change happens. To everyone. About everything. And that’s ok.

2)    Relationships bend and break and disappear and sometimes come back and sometimes are better gone. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things, and whether any relationship lasts (friendships or otherwise) has nothing to do with how good the people are in it.

3)    Going to countries where people live differently is the most profound and immediate way I have to remind myself that there is no right way to live and be happy.

4)    A lot of people have opinions about the best way to live our lives—there’s an entire industry built around it. Just because someone is sure about their way being the best doesn’t mean it’s the best for me, nor that I have to listen to them.

5)    Sometimes, everything someone has to give me isn’t enough. That’s not my fault. It’s probably not theirs, either, but that doesn’t mean I have to keep giving them space in my life.

6)    Being alone doesn’t prevent heartache. Neither does being with someone if they aren’t the right one.

7)    I have not outgrown my love for clear, ice-cold, fresh water to swim in.

8)    I will never like scrubbing pans.

9)    I will never like peas. They are disgusting and mushy.

10) The harder I have tried to hold onto things, the more quickly they have squeezed out of my grasp.

11) I am not responsible for other peoples’ needs or feelings, whether they believe that to be true or not.

12) The way I want to write is in long days over short periods of time, i.e. 8 hours a day for 6 months. The way I actually write is 30 minutes a day over years.

13) Similar to the last one, the way I want to be able to get things done is in one single chunk of time. The way I actually get things done is in 30-minute increments until I’ve finished.

14) If I wait long enough, the clothes I’ve always worn will come back into fashion. (Hello again, boot cut jeans!)

15) The only way through is through. I cannot expect to rid myself of the stuck feelings until I have let myself feel the stuck feelings.

16) I’ve come close to ruining several things I love by trying to make money from them. This includes cooking and writing. I don’t have to do this anymore.

17) I’m still worthy, even if I’m not as productive as I want to be on any given day.

18) I’m still worthy, even if I don’t look like I wish I did.

19) I’m still worthy, even if I haven’t hit some of the markers that I thought I would by 40.

20) I’m still worthy, even if I struggle with my health and it prevents me from doing a long, frustrating list of things I want to do.

21) I’m still worthy, even though a lot of the time I feel like I’m faking it.

22) It took me until my mid-30’s to get a pet of my own. That cat, Stella, died in December. Part of the reason I waited was because I always doubted whether I could take care of another creature besides myself. I still wonder that, but have just decided to take the leap and adopt a kitten I’ve been fostering.

23) Another reason I’ve avoided pet ownership is because of my propensity to wander. I haven’t figured out how to reconcile this with my desire to love and nurture another creature. That’s ok. I’ll figure it out as I go.

24) Social media is evil and has caused some of the biggest rifts I’ve ever seen between people who otherwise have a lot in common. It’s also allowed me to keep in contact with people that I’ve met across the world and across many years. Both can be true at once.

25) Try as I might, I suspect I will always want to have one foot in North Central Washington. The Leavenworth area is more home than I’ve felt anywhere else.

26) Reading books will always be one of my favorite ways to spend hours on end. This may mean reading the same books over again to make sure I’ve got a good one.

27) It’s ok for me to want a comfortable life and to spend my money on things that make me happy.

28) I will never succeed at giving up coffee, and I don’t want to. This doesn’t mean I’m not committed to my health.

29) No matter how sure I am about something, I need to look it up just to make sure there’s an actual fact/study/event behind it and it’s not some bullshit I picked up from somewhere.

30) Just because I don’t think I’m good at something doesn’t mean it’s true.

31) That damn onion and all its layers of work and learning and processing is never ending. I can’t change that just by wishing it wasn’t the case.

32) I struggle with conflict and I’m working on it.

33) I don’t have to be different or “fixed” to deserve love or be worthy.

34) When I try to take on others’ pain, I’m just doubling the pain.

35) It’s a sign of respect to let others make their own life choices and trust their lives to them instead of trying to control it for them.

36) Letting others live their own lives is a lot less tiring than doing it for them.

37) I don’t have to agree with someone to love them.

38) When I get angry, it’s a sign someone has stepped on a boundary. I need to pay attention to that sign post and do something about it.

39) When I’m sad, it doesn’t mean I will always be sad. Still, it’s ok to just be sad for as long as I need to be.

40) The only permission I need is my own.


Love and 40 Kisses,


Thanks for reading, Invisible Audience member. Interested in reading more and supporting me in the process? Check out my profile on Patreon. Pledge as little as $1.50 a month to get access to more of my ponderings and become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Stop, Earthquake, Stop.


Hi, Invisible Audience,


Are you keeping track of when I post? If you were, you’d realize that I am a day late for this one. I post every other Sunday on this blog (and on Patreon the weeks in between), and yesterday I wrote up a whole post, then decided to sit with what I wrote. Today, I have decided that there’s something else I want to write instead.


For those of you who don’t know me personally, I’ve dealt with a long list of health issues for quite a few years now—they seem to change and ripple, but underneath all of them is a profound fatigue. About 6 months ago, I discovered CIRS: Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. It has a long list of symptoms and I have a lot of them. It gives me hope that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and I’ve invested a lot of time and money into a specialist who can hopefully help me with this. 


One of the things the specialist did was a food sensitivity test. I’ve done COUNTLESS of these tests, dutifully cutting everything out as prescribed, and found that overall they did not help over the long term. Not only that, but they give me a profound sense of depression, Invisible Audience. Not only do I love to cook, I love eating out, especially with friends. That’s a hell of a lot harder to do when you can’t eat gluten or dairy or soy or eggs or—a new one this time—nightshades. But this one also took out the one thing I do not want to live without: coffee. 


Coffee can make fatigue worse if the adrenals are involved, but the truth of the matter is that I am much less able to function without coffee—to the point where it’s hard to concentrate. Not to mention that I love it! And I don’t go to bars much, so having people who know me at the coffee shop makes me feel like I have a specific community that I feel like I’m a part of. 


I am telling you all of this because I haven’t been sleeping well, so I gave up all but decaf coffee a couple days ago in the hopes of feeling better. This comes on the heels of a change up in my supplements thanks to the new specialist, and so far I’m feeling worse and not better. So it probably wasn’t all that surprising that I burst into tears yesterday recording a message for a friend.

When I looked back at the post I wrote yesterday, the whole thing came down to one thing: I am so tired and overwhelmed. Please, world, stop making me feel this way.

I angrily lashed out in every direction, yelling at everyone with a view about Covid-19 and masking and vaccination, basically telling them all to shut up, because I was being driven mad. I told them that it was none of their business what anyone else does, so please stop acting like people are making their choices specifically to piss you off.


And that’s why I’m glad I didn’t post it yesterday, Invisible Audience. Because do you see the irony and the hypocrisy in yesterday’s message? I am telling you to stop getting angry at others for making you feel this way, because it’s making me angry at you for making me feel this way.


Damn it, Invisible Audience. Damn it, damn it, damn it.


I used to do this with you—do you remember?—years ago. I wanted someone to tell me it was ok that I traveled and didn’t have a traditional career or life. Yet even when people did, it wasn’t enough. It didn’t scratch the itch I had, so to speak. Because no matter how many other people validated me, there was something in myself that wouldn’t take it in.

So here I am again. Overwhelmed, exhausted, angry, and the only way out is through me. I have to decide to let others think what they will about the unvaccinated. I have to figure out how to let the deep pain and anger they express when others’ choices don’t align with own roll off my back. I have to make a change to make me feel better. That in itself is its own can of worms that I have unpacked before and still struggle with, but nevertheless, that is where the power lies. 


I cannot make one group see the humanity in another just so I can sleep better. It doesn’t work that way. All I can do is figure out where I stand—I am vaccinated, and I am not willing to condemn you just because you are not—and stand there. Because part of the problem is not feeling free to say that out loud, which leads me to hide and simply yell at the world to shut up so I don’t have to risk being authentic. It’s like trying to yell at an earthquake to stop shaking the earth and expecting it to listen because if it only knew it was hurting me it would stop.


Some lessons don’t come easy, Invisible Audience. This is one of them. And even so, there’s relief in this realization, and I’m glad about that. It may just take me awhile to figure out how to stop yelling.


Love and Trembling Kisses



Thanks for reading, Invisible Audience member. Interested in reading more and supporting me in the process? Check out my profile on Patreon. Pledge as little as $1.50 a month to get access to more of my ponderings and become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

The Cult of Fitting In


Hello, Invisible Audience,


I recently finished writing a book that I worked on for nearly 15 years. (!!) I am so very excited about this! I have to admit that at times I tried very hard to forget about this book altogether; tried to forget my idea of being a writer completely because I didn’t seem to be able to do it well. I’m not even talking about the writing itself—I’m talking about the “discipline” of writing. I don’t do that kind of writing regularly. I have gone through bouts of writing fiction every day and years of not writing any at all. Throughout the years I wasn’t writing, I would think, “Clearly you aren’t serious about writing if you can’t do it on a regular basis. You don’t deserve to write if you aren’t willing to dedicate yourself to the process.”


Although that’s one way of looking at it, there’s another way: I kept coming back to it because it meant so much to me I could not let it go, despite all the doubts and internalized messaging that told me I was not worthy of the craft because I wasn’t working very hard at it. After all, you wouldn’t hire a contractor who only worked when he felt like it, so why would you trust a writer who hardly ever wrote?


Do you see the fallacy, Invisible Audience? Do you see the lie? The fallacy is that if you cannot give 110 percent to something you shouldn’t do it. The lie is that you must go all in or walk away. And the biggest lie of all is that my process is worthy of judgement by anyone else’s measure.


We’ve become a culture of memes, and I’m just as guilty as the rest of us. I have a whole Facebook group I administrate that’s just memes, for crying out loud. But some of the things I see people making meme-worthy make me so angry, Invisible Audience, like the one I saw today that said, “A wise person once said that anger is the punishment you give to yourself for a way someone else has done you wrong.” 




For years I could not access my anger and instead would move straight into blaming myself for feeling anger and live in shame instead of taking that anger as the bright red warning flag it is supposed to be: the one that is trying to show me that a boundary has been crossed and my needs have been trampled. My anger is here to show me when I’m not showing up for myself; it and ALL my other emotions are necessary roadmaps meant to act as traffic lights on this fucked up, crazy highway we call life. I can no more dismiss anger from my life than I can let go of writing; each time I try I end up weeping in a corner, mourning a piece of myself someone else told me I didn’t need.


And that’s really the crux of this whole thing, Invisible Audience. I am done with others’ ideas of what my life should look like. I will not hate people for who they voted for; I will wait to see what kind of person they are. I will not give up any type of food again because someone somewhere said it made them lose weight, so it will probably work for me, too. I will not assume fluoride is bad for me unless I’ve read the damn studies myself or asked an expert. I will not fucking meditate—EVER AGAIN—because *I* am the only one living with the screaming, agonizing trauma that surfaces and *I* am the one that gets to decide whether it’s helpful to continue to do that, not somebody who has found it is helpful for them. 


Do I sound angry, Invisible Audience? Because I am. I am angry it has taken me 40 years to find some semblance of a voice that I am willing to trust. I’m angry that so much of our discussion is about deciding who to cut out instead of how to find common ground. I’m tired of the constantly shifting sands of fitting in and how they seem to be getting more and more extreme in terms of dictating peoples’ politics, exercise methods, eating schedules, down time, food choices and even which of their emotions they should try to emote more and which ones they should try to extinguish.


When I was younger, I remember coming to a realization that I thought was very profound. Religion and diet have at least one thing in common, I decided: there is no one size fits all. Today, so much of people’s identities seem to be caught up in labels and groups, and it makes me so tired. Can I just sit next to you while you eat your pizza and I have my burger and the person across from us has a salad? Can you meditate while I swim and someone else goes for walks without anyone having to feel the need to proselytize over why their way is the best way? Can we embrace differences and all fit in that way?


Well, I can, and that’s all that matters, right Invisible Audience? After all, I’m not here to get everyone else to fit in with me. I’m just trying to find the space to feel like I fit well within my own skin. So here’s my official declaration: I’m letting go of the cult and going my own way. Come with me if you like, but only if you’ve got room for yourself along the way.


Love and It’s All Me Kisses



Thanks for reading, Invisible Audience member. Interested in reading more and supporting me in the process? Check out my profile on Patreon. Pledge as little as $1.50 a month to get access to more of my ponderings and become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons.


Sunday, August 1, 2021

Fawning as a Coping Mechanism

Hello Invisible Audience,


The countdown has begun. I’m five days away from the end of my stay in Puerto Escondido and starting to think about what “home” will look like. I say “home” in quotes because it is my home but I’ve found that I have come back to myself here in a way that I didn’t expect, and I’m not sure that feeling will stay with me when I’m back in the States. There are so many things I love about the Leavenworth area that I miss, but there are many ways I don’t feel like I fit there that fall away when I’m abroad.


Ironically, it’s become very clear to me that Puerto Escondido isn’t home, either. Turns out I’m more of a mountain girl than a beach bum, yet there are pieces here that I have unearthed that have surprised me. Mostly, it’s a feeling of contentedness with who I am, and the ability to hear myself without the unrelenting noise of the U.S. culture in my ears.


It feels important to tell you that this contentedness has not come without a price. True, I post a lot of pictures of two-for-one happy hour drinks on my social media and talk about the cool things I’m doing or eating, but all this head space has meant I’ve had to face some things that have been surfacing for a while. The biggest and most explosive is my fear of conflict, and how that fear has led me to avoid tough conversations and even let relationships die instead of facing it. This is not a new realization, but it has come to a head lately because of the constantly splintering points of view on quarantining and masking up and vaccination that are coming up now that a large portion of the U.S. population is vaccinated while the unvaccinated continue to get sick. Everyone I know, it seems, has a different opinion on what level of quarantining and masking is safe, and some have very clear and loud ideas about how much others not following their opinion are pieces of shit. And that’s all fine and dandy, Invisible Audience, except when my fawning behavior comes in.


It used to be that the talk around traumatic responses revolved around fight or flight. Something scary happens, the stress hormones in the body kick into gear, and the person either runs away as fast as they can or they turn around and fight off their attacker. This isn’t always a literal physical attack, mind you—it can just as easily be an argument for people like me who suffer from PTSD. But those are not the only two responses to a perceived threat. I learned about a third about a decade ago that applied to me: freeze. This makes sense and it works just the way it sounds: there is a perceived threat and you freeze. You can’t move and just hope your stillness will mean the threat will pass you by. This is literally what happens to a deer in the headlights.


So that’s all well and good but there’s one more that I’ve only begun to hear about lately: fawning. And dammit if fawning isn’t exactly why I find conflicts so painful.


According to, “The fawn response involves immediately moving to try to please a person to avoid any conflict.”




The article continues with a list of fawning behaviors. I’ve only included the ones that I most readily recognize in myself:


·      You look to others for how you feel in a relationship or a situation

·      It is difficult to identify your feelings, even when you are alone

·      At the first sign of conflict, your first instinct is to appease the angry person

·      You ignore your own beliefs, thoughts, and truths and accept those of the people around you

·      You feel self-anger and guilt some or most of the time

·      Saying no to those around you is a challenge

·      You are overwhelmed at times but take on more if asked

·      You lack boundaries and are often taken advantage of in relationships

·      You are uncomfortable or threatened when asked to give an opinion

I may have already been aware of fawning, but reading this list for the first time the other day was like getting punched in the gut. The second one, “It is difficult to identify your feelings, even when you are alone,” is the reason why being in Puerto has been so helpful. I don’t really know anyone here, and I don’t have close relationships with anyone here, so I essentially gave myself two whole months to finally sift through all the noise and hear myself think. I suspect it’s also the reason I love to travel so much alone in general.


The next two after that—"At the first sign of conflict, your first instinct is to appease the angry person,” and “You ignore your own beliefs, thoughts, and truths and accept those of the people around you”—are the reason the pandemic and all the chaos surrounding it has been so difficult. As people around me get angrier and angrier that others are taking a different stance, I find it harder and harder to figure out what my own thoughts are on their views and others. I find myself trying to peace keep for my own peace of mind instead of being able to hear what their concerns are and also offer my own opinion, because most of the time I can hardly figure out what my opinion actually is.


Covid-19 aside, this also explains why it’s so hard for me to have hard conversations, Invisible Audience. As soon as the other person’s voice starts to twang with anger, frustration or any sort of feeling, it’s almost as if I step outside myself, wall off my own thoughts and find that the words coming out of my mouth are about appeasing, placating and consoling. It is infinitely frustrating. Certainly, it’s good to be able to put myself in someone else’s shoes and have compassion for their point of view, but at the end of the day I need to be able to also understand my own needs and have my own opinion. When I don’t in these situations, I end up walking away feeling nauseated by how thoroughly I have abandoned myself. 


Believe me when I tell you I’ve done a lot of work around healing. One of the things they say helps people with PTSD is exposure therapy, which just means introducing situations that trigger a response a little bit at a time until it doesn’t feel so scary anymore; until it doesn’t illicit the same response. This is harder to do when the whole damn world feels like it’s found a hill to die on around quarantining and vaccination. It’s why being able to sit in a foreign country where I can tune out my non-native language is such a relief. Suddenly it’s just white noise; suddenly, I don’t have to take it in.


I don’t have an answer to this right now, Invisible Audience. There’s no pill I can take to fix it unless I want to drown myself in numbing coping mechanisms. And before you ask, I’m not looking for the right answer to the quarantine/vaccine debate, so please spare me your take. What I’m looking for is the self-compassion to recognize this in myself; to let myself sink into a better understanding of what brought me here and how the mechanism works in me so I can have more awareness in the moment when I begin to fawn. And maybe from you I just need to know that someone heard me and sees that I still struggle, but I’m here, and I’m trying. And in my opinion, that’s all anyone—myself included—is allowed to ask of me.


Love and that’s-what-I-think kisses,




Thanks for reading, Invisible Audience member. Interested in reading more and supporting me in the process? Check out my profile on Patreon. Pledge as little as $1.50 a month to get access to more of my ponderings and become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

The Most Beautiful Phrase I’ve Ever Learned: I Don’t Know

I teach Spanish classes to kids and adults. On the first day of the adult classes I always say more or less the same thing: 

“You are going to mess up. There is no way to learn a language without it. The more you mess up, the more you practice and say things out loud, the faster you learn. This is a safe place to say the wrong things. And just to make sure you know that I’m in the same boat as you, I will share with you one of my most mortifying mistakes. I once told my Spanish roommate that I had a penis sandwich for dinner.” 


It sets the tone nicely for the class, because it’s true. It’s also a direct result of what was, for me, the very painful process of learning a language, because when I lived in Spain 20 years ago, I didn’t know how to say the three most beautiful words I know when you string them together: I don’t know.


Anyone who knows me will not be surprised to hear that I am a perfectionist. This does not mean my house is always clean or my dishes are always done, but it does mean that I will clean my house and wash my dishes before anyone comes over because I want to present the idea that I have my shit together. One of my friends is mystified that I clean my house before I leave on vacation or before I even go anywhere overnight. Certainly, part of this is because it’s nice to come home to a clean house. But, if I’m being honest, the real reason is in case anyone has to come into my house while I’m gone. I want it to look like I am the kind of person who always has a clean house. (Spoiler alert: I’m not. And I hate cleaning. I do it, but I’d rather be doing almost anything instead of cleaning—it’s become one of the reason why I prefer living in smaller houses: less to clean. And I like to read books, so you can imagine where my time goes if I know there’s no chance of guests showing up.)


I still struggle with the clean house piece, so as you can see I’m still at least a recovering perfectionist. But over the past 10 years I have learned this one phrase that has taken A LOT of pressure off of my perfectionist thinking and presenting. 


I. Don’t. Know.


“Morgan, why do Spanish speakers say “Buenos días—plural—instead of buen día, singular?”

I don’t know. 

“Morgan, how do you say railing in Spanish?”
I don’t know. 

“Morgan, what’s the population of the town where you live?”

I don’t know.


Now, I am a pretty solid researcher—thank you, journalism degree—and I can look all these things up, and I will, and have (actually, they say both buen día and buenos días, depending on where you are). But it used to be that I didn’t know how to admit in the moment that I didn’t know something. It used to be I’d be more likely to (wince) make up an answer than admit I didn’t know. 


This doesn’t go well when you’re teaching your second language to a bunch of people. I certainly know a lot about Spanish grammar and I have a large Spanish vocabulary—thank you, Latin American language and cultures degree, plus lots of time living in Spanish-speaking countries—but I am not and will never be a native speaker. I don’t always get the prepositions right. I don’t know all the words. I forget where I’ve learned certain slang or vocabulary and whether it’s applicable to other countries as well. Anyone who’s ever really dived (dove? I don’t know) into learning a second language understands this; most beginners do not. Some of them show up to my classes and ask me questions like I hold all the answers when I don’t. I don’t even hold all the answers in English! (Nearly everything I know about English grammar I learned through Spanish grammar.) It’s not my students’ fault they think this. But that doesn’t mean I should let them continue thinking it.


My God, Invisible Audience. What a cluster. I didn’t even realize how painful it was to try to present myself as knowing everything until I stopped doing it. It still took a lot of time—it still doesn’t always come easy—but the beauty of admitting I don’t know has opened up all sorts of space.


There’s a lot that went into the discovery. First of all, I had to realize how much codependence had to do with it—feeling responsible for others’ feelings and needs. I had to realize that I was putting myself on a pedestal and presenting myself as perfect, then being just as surprised as everyone else—indeed, even more so, I’d expect—when I fell off. And above all, it’s a way I’ve used to hold myself separate from others. Because if they know I’m not perfect, they wouldn’t want me in their life…right?


Then of course there’s the flip side: if I can say I don’t know, I can recognize how much it takes for other people to say it. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts I’ve given myself in the last 10 years is starting to recognize and appreciate real vulnerability in others, and to want it for myself and in my relationships. It takes vulnerability to say you don’t know. This is so different from the girl who used to be funny—the one who was self-deprecating and tried to win people through being a know-it-all—the girl who couldn’t figure out why her actions didn’t lead to more profound relationships.


I don’t have it all figured out, Invisible Audience. That’s what I’m trying to tell you: I don’t know. The older I get, the less I think I will ever have it all figured out. But the more I let that sink in, the more relief there is in it. I feel more able to be myself and let go of that perfection that’s kept me isolated for so long. 


Love and I-Don’t-Know-How-Many-Kisses,


Thanks for reading, Invisible Audience member. Interested in reading more and supporting me in the process? Check out my profile on Patreon. Pledge a little bit a month and get access to more of my ponderings by becoming one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons.