Alive by Christina Knowles

Signs of Life“Alive”

I am alive

Once merely lingering, undeniably,

Through the journey I have thrived

Pain dwells in me

Eight swords still mark the space

But blinded I am bound

To this time and place

I am alive

The searing burn inside

Recognizes the offense

An ache that won’t subside

But still I am alive

The recompense is joy

Laughter that resides

Deep down, a place I thought destroyed

It’s true; I am alive

Excitement of uncertain futures

The Wheel of Fortune turns

Rumors in the cards discerned

Afflicted by the Sword

With dreams that have yet to die

Yes, I am alive

An unlikely state from past mistakes

The Hanged Man now is loved

A Lover, he becomes

Beholden, he succumbs

Driven to survive

Indeed, I am alive

Drifting down a nameless road

The signs of life abound

A Fool’s errand, I know

All around me, a presage

I am a life compelled

A glimmer, just a vestige

The hidden hazards of the Moon

In the Sun dispelled

Still Death, a knight, rides close

Morose, I journey forward

Simply because I am alive

A portent of the end of days

But days till then I’ll spend

With Justice, who sits on her throne

Her sword alone is raised

This is the company I keep

The path I have embraced

While still I am alive

Further down the quiet road

I stride in hopes to find

A way to lift the load

To fix the broken kind

The chaos in the sky

Death about to die

I’ll doctor it the best I can

And breathe into it life

For all around the signs are there

And I am still Alive—Christina Knowles (2016)

Photo: Signs of Life by Christina Knowles. Copyright 2016.

“Remembering” by Christina Knowles

I heard a melody so sweet

Sweet as the words you once whispered to me

A fragrant sound

A tender and unexpected chord

That at once lifts my soul

And tears my heart

A tinge of melancholy among the smiles

Suddenly invades me

Measure by measure

A symphony of memories

My whole being recalls you

Not a particular day

A certain event

But the entirety of you

Inseparable the parts

Existing in a timeless encapsulation

Of every sweet experience

And simultaneously

The deep hollowness

The absence of you

—Christina Knowles

 

 

Tomb by Christina Knowles

Blackened MausoleumDo you mean to kill me slowly?

Breath by breath

Smothering me with every withheld word

Every silent occasion

Your absence screams

What you won’t say

Do you want to break me,

Utterly destroy me?

Do you even realize

Your words unspoken

Choked down and swallowed

Suck the air from the world?

Suffocating, desperate for relief

Sliding, grasping at anything

To assuage the pain that unexpectedly leaps

Into my consciousness

Pain that lies dull and dormant

Until the stillness arrives

Do you want to empty me?

Hollow me

Till I blow away in the wind?

Or turn me to vacant stone?

My slow transformation

Unexplained

In the darkness, I will the coldness to take over

Till I’m the tomb and not the body

—Christina Knowles (2015)

All the Heaven and Hell by Christina Knowles

Lightly falling snowflakesFlowers in Hair

The loving eyes of my old dog

The smile of a baby

Red and gold leaves scattered on the ground

Glistening wet petals in the morning sun

This is all the heaven I will ever know

Holding the hand of my mother as she leaves me

Burning tears of loss, the indescribable pain in my chest

Holding my best friend as she takes her last breath

Angry words from a trusted mouth

Grave news from a doctor’s chart

This is all the hell I will ever know

The soft glow of a crackling fire

Holding hands with the best man I’ve ever known

The swell of love his gaze makes me feel

The time spent with my closest friends

Laughing until my stomach hurts

This is all the heaven I will ever know

The anxiety of deadlines

The crushing weight of responsibilities

Debts to pay and artificial worries

The helplessness of age

The loneliness of loss

This is all the hell I will ever know

Pain and depression

Joy and the sweetness of love

Anger and frustration

Comfort and peace

Gratitude for all of this life

This is all the heaven and hell I will ever know—Christina Knowles (2015)

Photo snagged from Pinterest

Transformed by Christina Knowles

Sun peaking through cloudsSleeping through the everyday

Unconsciously conformed

Never noticing my malaise

When brewing there a storm

Dark skies block the rays

Clouds twist and deform

It’s hard to find my way

Asleep, but in the form

Pain penetrates the gray

In loss I am reformed

In presence I appraise

The life I’ve lived and ways

Ways, my anguish informs

And in the balance weighs

Surviving pain transforms

Illuminated, consciously ablaze

Awake and knowing I will mourn

But joy I hold in yesterday

And love today is warm

—Christina Knowles (2015)

Photo snagged from shutterstock.com

10 Mind-Bending Epiphanies That Changed My Life by Christina Knowles

epiphany1) I’ll never be all caught up. Getting caught up in getting caught up is like a hamster running in a wheel. It’s pointless, so stop trying so hard. Now I make a few daily goals, but getting done with everything is no longer on the list. Knowing it is impossible sets me free to just stop and relax once in a while.

2) Pain is our friend. Whether it is physical pain or emotional pain, it is a signal that we need to do something different. It is the catalyst for change. Embrace it.

3) To some extent, you are already doing what you want to do, or you wouldn’t be doing it. Let’s be honest for a second. We can’t make ourselves do anything we don’t want to do for any length of time. Otherwise, we’d all be thin, healthy, and adept at meditation. So, the fact that I’ve been a teacher for 15 years must mean that some part of me actually wants to be a teacher. The same is true for all the rest of my habitual behavior.

4) I’ve believed lies most of my life, but because of this, I don’t know if my current beliefs are also lies. We grow up listening to and believing everything our parents or authority figures tell us. Then we find out that much of what we learned and believed is not true. We read, discover, and form our own ideas and teach them to other people who grow up and realize that much of what we taught them is not true. Who really knows the truth?

5) Marriage doesn’t have to be work, and shouldn’t be. People who tell you how hard marriage is and how much effort you have to put into it have bad marriages, so don’t listen to anything they say. Who would want to be married if it made your life more difficult? Evolutionarily speaking, the whole point of marriage is to make life easier. Don’t fight nature. Marry someone who is easy to be married to.

6) You don’t have to worry—I’m serious, you really don’t. Worrying is a choice. Sometimes we unconsciously begin to worry, but as soon as we realize we’re doing it, we can choose to stop. I know it’s cliché, but worrying never changed anything except your mood and physical health for the worse. There’s no point, and I’m too busy for pointless things. Whenever I start to worry, I allow myself to imagine the worse thing that can happen. It’s pretty ridiculous and funny, so it snaps me out of worrying pretty quickly, which leads me to number 7.

7) The only people who are stressed are people who care too much. I love the saying, “I don’t know about my bucket list, but my fucket list is getting pretty long.” The quickest way to stress-free living is shockingly not meditation—I’ve tried that. It’s saying, “Fuck it.” If something is going to cause my stomach to turn to knots, I realize that it must be something over which I have very little control, so I choose to not care about it anymore. I realize this is not possible in every case, especially when it comes to the health of loved ones, but as I understand number 6, there’s nothing I can do about it anyway.

8) We can love or hate anyone, regardless of what they are like. Almost 50 years of life has taught me that loving or hating someone is more about me than it is about them. I have learned that I am capable of loving the most unlovable person once I learn enough about them to understand their perspectives, what made them like they are, what is important to them, what they fear and for what they hope, and see them as they see themselves. Conversely, I can despise wonderful people if I choose to see them only through their faults, mistakes, or little annoyances.

9) Everyone is mentally ill, but then mental illness is normal, so no one is mentally ill. It seems like everyone has some sort of neuroses, depression, or anxiety today, so much so, that it’s hard to find someone who is not depressed, bi-polar, who does not have OCD, ADHD, addictive behavior, or some nervous disorder. It’s like allergies. Almost everyone has one. So doesn’t that make it the norm? And if it’s normal to have these brain malfunctions, then are they malfunctions? I’m not talking about serial killers here—serious sociopaths. I’m speaking of all the little idiosyncrasies that are now so common. Didn’t we always have them? We just didn’t label them and medicate them in the past. Get over it; you’re normal.

10) Death is not a big deal to the person who is dead. As a person who has serious doubts about the existence of an afterlife, I’m not worried about it. When I’m dead, I won’t know it, so what’s the big deal? Bury me, cremate me, throw me in a ditch. Who cares? I’m not there anymore. Sure, my life will be over along with all my potential, all my hopes and dreams, but again, I won’t know it, so what’s all the fuss about?

11) We choose friends in whom we see what we like about ourselves. People say that when we dislike something in another person, we are really seeing something in them which is negative about ourselves. I don’t know if that’s true, but the converse is most assuredly true. We really do choose friends in whom we see what we like about ourselves. We like them because we have these things in common, and because of them, we notice the best in ourselves.

12) People continue to lie when the best thing in the world is to be known, known by self and others, truly known. In an effort to be accepted, they never can be, and they are subconsciously preventing their own happiness.

Yes, I can count. I said there were 10 epiphanies that changed my life, but then I wrote 12. Well, as a person about to turn 50, I refuse to be constrained by a number. I am a rebel, and 10 sounded better than 12 in the title. But seriously, when I realized each one of these things, it changed my whole outlook on life, for the better, I’d like to think. So mind-bending? Yes, whenever my worldview shifts and things become clear and my life changes as a result, I consider my mind bent. —Christina Knowles

Photo courtesy of cloudfront.net

What My Daughter Taught Me by Christina Knowles

4842_1117003739426_7812007_nTwenty-three years ago today (March 7, 1991) I gave birth to the most precious and beautiful little girl in the world. Her name is Valerie Elise Knoche. Little did I know then the power she would possess over me for my entire life. Children have a way of doing that. You bring them into the world, you care for them, you love them, you teach them, and try to raise them to be good people, but somewhere along the way, they become completely their own individuals, separate from you with their own ideas, ways of doing things, their own hopes, dreams, maybe even beliefs that differ from your own. Children are the only people in the world that you love utterly unconditionally. It doesn’t matter what they do, you will still love them. They could grow up to be serial killers, and most parents would be right there in the prison visiting them and bringing them cookies.  Well, luckily, my children both grew up to be everything I could have ever hoped for or dreamed they would be.BabyValerie

IMG_0298 Having a daughter is a unique experience. When Valerie was little, she was already independent, a little bit of a loner. Unlike her brother, Daniel, she needed her time alone for her imagination to flourish, and it did. She was always creative and still is to this day. She used to cut up her clothes (much to my dismay) and sew them into doll clothes when she was only four years old. They came out pretty well too. She made 3-D cities out of paper and tape and wrote poems as soon as she could write. Valerie loved to shut herself in her room and play by herself when she had too much of everyone else. She would stand up to anyone and didn’t often give into peer pressure. It was sometimes a struggle to get her to compromise with other children.

IMG_0223 Valerie always had a mind of her own, and I always respected her for this. I could see that she would grow into a strong and independent woman, a woman who could and would do anything she wanted. As she grew up, she became a bit of a tomboy. Her favorite clothes were her brother’s cast-offs, jeans and over-sized t-shirts. Even when she became a teenager and began dressing like a girl, I never had to tell her she couldn’t wear something out in public because she was always modest. She was athletic and crazy strong, especially for someone who was always tiny. She would carry her brother or me around the house just to show us how strong she was.

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Surprisingly, Valerie liked to do a lot of the same things I did. We both love to draw and paint, make crafty things, love dogs and nature, we like many of the same TV shows and movies. We are both loners. I say it is surprising because, unlike most kids with their parents, it seems like she liked being compared to me, which is the greatest compliment I could have. I like being compared to her too. She is friendly, polite, talented, funny, and kind–she has a sweet heart, loves fiercely, and gives generously. Valerie is intelligent and determined. She’s a hard worker, has dreams, and works relentlessly toward their realization. I am proud to be her mother, and love the fact that we are friends as well.

I love to spend time with her, and she loves to spend time with me. She often comes over and spends the entire day with me on weekends. Sometimes we just talk and watch movies. Other times we hike, take a bike ride, go out for tea at Montague’s, shopping in Old Colorado City, or make crafts or scrapbook together. I visit her at the fire station and we hang out watching movies. Did I mention she is a firefighter?206050_2110461455248_4633097_n

1003003_10201202319854203_1877843792_n She is a certified firefighter and an EMT with a local station, and she also works in customer service with a phone company. Valerie has always had two or three jobs at a time, constantly, since she got out of high school. She plans on going back to school to continue in the medical field in some way–paramedic, nurse, maybe even a doctor someday. She has always been interested in medicine and healing. She likes to help people, stays calm under pressure, and once she saved a newborn baby’s life on a call. I told you I was proud.

OldColoradoCityValerie and I also have a love of holidays in common. We have traditions that we try not to miss each year. Every Halloween she comes over, and we watch scary movies and pass out candy to kids who come to the door. We elaborately decorate the house for all the different holidays. At Christmas time, she comes over and we bake Christmas cookies and watch the holiday classics: The Year Without a Santa Claus, Frosty, the Snowman, and Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer. Every year we brave the cold to go to Old Colorado City to Christmas shop in all the little indie stores and tourist shops. Even though she doesn’t live with me, she comes over first thing Christmas morning to open her stocking, which I fill every year. In the summer we roast marshmallows in the fire pit in the backyard and make s’mores.  We’ve done it in the fireplace as well when it was too cold outside.S'mores

It isn’t always perfect between us. We’ve had a few times when we argued and hurt each other. One time she was mad at me for six months and didn’t talk to me the whole time. That just about killed me. I think I cried myself to sleep more times during that six-month period than I have in my entire life. That’s what I mean about the power that children possess. When you have a child, they own a piece of your heart that you will never have control of again. They can cause you more sorrow than anyone on earth. When they hurt, you hurt. When they’re crushed, you’re crushed. When they’re joyful, you’re joyful. And when they say they hate you, it feels like you will die. When they’re teenagers, you feel like strangling them, but you would die in their place without a second thought.IMG_0512

Having a daughter like Valerie has taught me a great deal about myself, about unconditional love, about pain, about determination, and about dreams. Having children taught me that my capacity for love, joy, and heartbreak is limitless. Having a daughter has increased my love for my own mother as well. Maybe we don’t ever really understand our parents until we have children of our own. Maybe we don’t really understand what unconditional love is until we love a child. I love you, Valerie, my Petrushka. Happy birthday. –Momma

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My Crazy 2013 Year-in-Review by Christina Knowles

What a ride 2013 was! I’ve been agonizing over writing this blog for over a week, but it just seemed an overwhelming task to sum up such a year.

Personally, 2013 was a year marked by intense spiritual conflict, feeling like I didn’t belong in the Christian community, and I didn’t understand other Christians.  I judged God on the actions of His followers.  I questioned the goodness and even the reality of God. I lost my faith and temporarily declared myself an atheist.

2013 was a year that the love and acceptance of my husband was tested. Through all my internal conflict, we had none. He loved and accepted me unconditionally despite his confusion, strengthening and deepening our love and commitment to each other.

It was a year of studying and reading, rediscovering my love and respect for philosophy.

It was the year when I lost my father. He was an amazing father who loved his family unconditionally, always made us laugh, and taught me to accept people and to forgive easily. He was slow to anger and gentle.

It was the year I learned that I really did believe in God and love Him, and that no matter how believers act, He never changes and never stops being good or loving.

It was the year I learned that all Christians are different and face this life with their own prejudices and issues, and that some Christians did accept me, even though I’m not typical.

2013 was also the year I determined that I would publish my novel. Several months were taken up with the toil and pressure of formatting and editing it for publication. Then I faced the horrific task of marketing it and myself, with which I am utterly uncomfortable. Every time I post a link to my book, I feel like I am either begging for alms or bragging of my accomplishment. Unfortunately, I understand that the only way to realize my dream of someday writing as a profession is to do this.  However, it did lead me to create this blog, which has become a true joy to me in itself.  Disturbing the Universe has quickly emerged as a place for me to let loose the pressure of my thoughts in the best way I know how, the written word, and it has abandoned all pretense of existing as a page to promote my novel.

This year also brought the terrifying news that my unborn grandson had Spina Bifida. But with that, it also brought into the forefront, the unrelenting love and faith of my daughter-in-law and son.  And when my grandson was born almost 3 months too soon, it brought the indescribable thankfulness of his healthy birth.  Seeing the miracle of his tiny life and his ferocious determination to live and recover brought about an epiphany in me, the realization that even though I had given my heart back to God, I had held back some of it to protect myself from pain.  I continue to realize a new area each day that needs to awaken to become the person who God wants me to be.  As 2014 begins, I see this process continuing, and I can’t wait to see my 2014 year-in-review.–Christina Knowles

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