Monday, December 26, 2011

Perfect and Embarrassing

Yesterday, Christmas, was perfect. Things I hold near and dear to my heart were missing. Frivolous things like a large flat screen TV or car that runs were also missing under the tree. Well, okay, kind of difficult to fit a car under the tree anyway, so I'll let that one pass. It was perfect nonetheless.
Twenty years ago, perfect would have been defined for yesterday as a large home with 3 or 4 fresh faced children in matching red velvet dresses and dapper sweaters with curly hair and ribbons. It was also defined as a large house with a grand entrance and garlands of evergreen trailing down a stately staircase. It meant a large family gathering with twinkling crystal and a china pattern I'd picked out for my wedding.
Not one of those definitions of perfection have come to pass. And yet, yesterday was indeed perfect. Not everything went smoothly, I even had a bit of a tummy ache. My step dad sometimes says things that are hurtful or just plain obnoxious. But I love him. I didn't get to see my niece and nephew, and I missed them immensely. And, here's the really terrible awful confession that I argued with myself about sharing. I ran out of gas. On Christmas day. I run out of gas all the time. It is my one failing. If someone ever wants to show me love, fill up my gas tank; physically, take my car to the station and fill her up, and I will feel loved beyond measure. I don't need diamonds or a Mercedes. I need someone to pump my gas.  I did something I never do yesterday. I started my car, and then got distracted. I came into the house, stared into space, scratched my kitties, searched for my phone....ran out of gas. And, to top it off, was in denial. My car is on her last legs. She's been good to me. But she's tired. So, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that she threw in the towel. So, I called Mom in a panic. Meanwhile, I found a gas tank on the ranch, crossed my fingers it contained regular 'ol gas, and threw the dice. Ta da. Problem solved and I was off to Calistoga.
Please don't judge me.
So, why was yesterday so perfect? Because it was mine. It was yours too. Did you sense that, know that; it was your day?
There was nothing fancy about yesterday. My mom and step-dad are very modest. They live for their beautiful walking trails, fish ponds and random gardens they've created on their property. Inside is an afterthought, a place to eat and lay their weary heads. Mom prepared simple foods, but she did make my favorite jello. The one with cream cheese and cinnamon red hots melted in the jello. Yum. More than yum, I happen to know she searched high and low for those red hots; they are difficult to find! My step-dad and I bonded over Malcolm in the Middle. I like to see what makes him laugh.
We called my brother and talked to the kids. We took a walk. We exchanged gifts which is basically money hidden amidst bags of almonds or coffee; more practical things,and, always a Christmas ornament. Just to ensure my status as the spinster crazy cat lady, this year's was a cat. Thanks Mom! On that note, one of the girls in the family I work for gave me a gift on her own. It was a packet of cocktail napkins with, yes, cats, and a curled up kitty thing (?) that looks just like my devil cat that wakes their dogs and thereby their whole family at night. I love her to pieces for thinking of me!
We ended the evening watching "The Help". If you have not seen it put it on the list. I was so inspired. My step-dad could not understand why Mom and I would want to cry on Christmas day, or at all ever for that matter; but crying is a beautiful thing. It reveals the fact that I can be moved. And moved I was. Moved enough to not have one single pang of envy for those who have what I want, or think I want. Moved enough to want to do things in this world that have meaning. Moved enough that all I had was gratefulness for yesterday, and for all the things I do have in this life.
I think today is going to be perfect too.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Don't Blink

Two of my girl-friends, Lexi, Zelda and I had an all too familiar and yet still creepy experience the other night. We had decided to hit a brewery after a meeting we'd all attended. (Not AA). We weren't really after drinking or being noticed. We just wanted a glass of cheap champagne and some girl time to debrief.
I'm not calling myself attractive...but I will say, I believe there is something very attractive about women who are genuinely interested in one another and so content to be in each other's company. That's how things were that night. We were very involved in our conversation. And like a moth to a flame....the creeper came creeping in.
We could all see him, out of the corner of our eyes. It reminded me of an episode of Doctor Who. Yes, did I mention I'm a Sci-Fi nerd? I am. Deal with it. There's an episode where stone angel statues have the ability to move and attack, as long as no one is looking at them. I wish I'd remembered that; as long as someone was staring at them, they had to act like a statue. If only I could have just stared the creeper down into a statue. We tried so hard not to make eye contact, it must have given him the strength to intrude on our conversation.
And, it was one of those awkward intrusions. He used big words completely incoherently, and claimed he wanted to know what we were talking about because it sounded like some (insert nonsense here). We suspected there was more than alcohol involved with this yahoo, as the tell tell residue remained around his nose. We walked the tight-rope of courtesy: enough acknowledgement to not be rude, and yet nothing inviting in our manner. And then he did it. He who barged into our conversation like a drunk toddler tried to turn it around and make us feel badly that we didn't want to stop and invite the powder nosed bull into our conversation.
And, here's where I'm going to get all psychological. He knew he was wrong. From his first creeping step in our direction, he knew the odds were not in his favor. I'm sure alcohol made him roll the dice. Prior to that evening, we had just discussed how people like to turn it around. They know they are in the wrong, but instead of just gracefully acknowledging the wrong, they twist it into the other person's fault. And one can remark on his bravery in trying to meet women. I'm not interested in that right now. What I am interested in is how generous we were in trying to let him off gently, and how much of a buffoon he turned into, well, continued to be I should say, since we weren't interested in inviting him into the conversation.
I am interested in this because I want to have integrity. I am pointing the finger here at me. (and him, certainly him.) When I know I am doing something wrong, (which is rare I tell ya, super rare), I want to look at myself and just stop it. If I could stare myself down into a stone statue in those instances, that would be great. If I look back over times I feel like an idiot, I can trace my own creeping steps toward chaos. Catching ourselves at the first step is big. It could save so much drama. Because, I think when our intentions are pure, we don't need to blame others or be offended or cause offense. Sure, creepers will still creep around, but we need only thank them for taking the time to creep by and send them on their way without a second thought.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Happy, Merry, Feliz, Joyeaux

I've been seeing a lot of commentary about the Christmas/holiday choice in words dilemma some people experience.  I know I used to send out Christmas cards with the baby Jesus on them to Jewish or Atheist friends without a second thought. Then I did one of those huge intakes of breath one day when I realized what an awful, unfeeling, terrible monster I am. Then I took a chill pill. Or several....because maybe I'm too relaxed now.
You see, I don't care. If something basically harmless that gives me joy gets your panties in a wad, I don't care. They're your panties. If someone is going to judge me because I took the time to send a card, and it didn't have their politically/spiritually approved jargon on it, then I'd say they should maybe find an actual cause, like child abuse or slavery. You know, something really actually terrible.
There is a war with words lately, and I grow weary. The irony is, I love words. I have affinities with words just like a I do with people. There are words that make me smile for no other reason than the way they sound. Like plum. Say it. I know you want to.
I digress.
The war on words is like nickel and dime-ing the English language. (Which I have just totally abused in that statement.) I am craving something of substance to be said. I understand people want to be heard. People who feel marginalized, or see that other groups have been marginalized by the  campus bully are trying to use words to defeat the bully. And, words are much preferred over war. But, didn't I begin this paragraph using the term "war on words"?
Honor me. That is what I ask. And I will do the same for you. I won't do that by catering to your whim. Can you imagine even trying to ferret out what everyone actually believes? "Hi so and so. How are you today? By the way, what are your spiritual beliefs (this year) so I can procure the appropriate greeting/card for you?" Kind of a cumbersome idea. It reminds me of an old Saturday Night Live sketch when Dukakis was running for president. He tried to identify with every racial group. He, played by Jon Lovitz, ended his speech in about 20 different languages, which was tediously funny.
Can we not have grace with one another? Can we not accept a person's paradigm and know that their intention is not to force something upon us, but just accept the spirit of their words. I celebrate Christmas. It's in my core. I've got my Grandparent's nativity scene, and I don't display it to shove Christianity down anyone's throat; it represents years of family memories to me. But, if you want to spin a dradle with me, I'm down. If you're an atheist and December means annual ski trip, rock on. If you want to do a dance in the woods celebrating the shortest day of the year...I would dance with you but I get too cold too easily. Let's ease up a bit....and maybe go after the real monsters. You know who they are.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why I am not married:

You probably clicked on the link thinking I would tell you about my troll skin under my clothes being the reason I am not married. No such luck. It was prompted by this: Dylan Stableford gathered together the top 40 stories and videos reposted on Facebook and listed them on a Yahoo News Blog today. I laughed at my predictability at having posted several already. And equally as predictable, posted today's story as well.
Though I have piles of work on my desk, I spent a few perusing the articles I hadn't come across this year.
One in particular has me deeply confused. Was I supposed to find it humorous? You can find it in the above article.
Here's the lowdown: A woman who has been married 3 times shared the six reasons why I am still single. Apparently, having landed a man 3 times makes her an authority. I think Bridget Jones would call her a smug married, and divorced, and married, and divorced, and married and divorced....Her reasons are deeply philosophical. Here's the list, sans inane description.
Cover your ears, she speaks French.

1. You're a b!tch.
2. You're shallow.
3. You're a s!ut.
4. You're a liar.
5. You're selfish.
6. You're not good enough.

Really? Seriously? Here's where I need help; does she really believe this? Or was she just trying to be funny to get to the the last bit? Because, I may be all those things listed, (Those of you who think I'm #1, try not to laugh too hard), but honey.... a lot of my married friends are those things too. In fact, I've often wondered how some friends, (no one reading this of course) ever landed their man in the first place. I've watched women make nagging an olympic sport. Talk about stamina.
Being married is not my goal. Not if it means also being divorced three times. And she's not wrong for being divorced three times; she's not a bad person. She just made different choices, no better or worse than mine.
So, for all those reasons, I say, marriage is pretty much like pregnancy. Some people who aren't expecting it, find they are in that "condition". Others try and try, but for no fault in um, trying, find it eludes them. (But it was fun trying, wasn't it?) Still others take precautionary measures and still land in that position. And the author, find themselves with 3.
There are some mysteries that just can't be explained.
She and I can agree on one thing. It's about love. Or rather, it should be. Being single, married or divorced should all be about love. Loving yourself enough to follow your heart, and loving someone else enough to encourage them to follow their heart.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

And now for something completely different: a poem, if you will.

I wrote this about ten years ago, and it's been sing-songing in my head recently. Humor me.

Levity in Love

Tell me truly
hearts consume me
write these words
so please don't sue me
see me happy
see me sad
send me flowers
say I'm bad
kiss me quickly
Never ending
hold me closely
take me in

These walls cracking
Naked standing
vulnerable raw
see my heart unwrapped before you
break it
seal it
take it all

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


Remember how last week, I wanted to be able to send people on their way with a smile? Well, I need to incorporate that into some other areas of my life. Not a fake smile either; but a compassionate I know deep in my core this isn't really a big deal so I'm going to smile smile.
I have been really frustrated with service lately. How stupid is that? All the things in the world that can get my panties in a wad, and I freak over the kid behind the counter.
I have officially hit middle age. I am so tired of the kid who asks if she can help me as she breezes around the corner into some back room where I can't see or hear her. Not, "I'll be right with you," but "can I help you?" No, apparently, you cannot as you cannot hear me, or see to what I am pointing. Then, when she does come around, I'm not quite ready, so I suggest my friend order. Which she curtly explains to me is already taken care of and she then proceeds to help someone else with a very large order. Not once did she ask if I had any questions. Just a complete disdain for me. (Not me personally, I know she has no way of knowing how absolutely amazing I am. Just that general disdain for anyone who is not as robotic as she is.)
Are your eyes glazed over yet? Mine are. Rants are boring. And this is a rant. This is not the end of my dealings with this girl, but for your sake, I may stop here.
I walked away really frustrated with two things. First, of course, I'm frustrated with the quality of service I experience and hear about. Being accused of bringing your own beer into a restaurant, a beer that had actually been purchased from the bar is just one of the many amazing spectacles taking place in this cozy little hamlet.
The second "thing" I was frustrated with is my self. Why couldn't I just get her attention and assert my needs? Why did I stand there like a deer caught in the head lights staring at the menu on the wall thinking I could wish exactly what I wanted onto the menu. Maybe I stood like that because it didn't make any sense to me. It was a hodge podge  of soups, salads and sandwich's, but what was what? But, I'm ranting again.
The thing is, I can't change people. I'd like to. I try all the time. Through harsh looks, carefully crafted responses meant to zing...Why can't I carefully craft my own desires into something nice to communicate? Like, all I wanted was cheese with a roll. It's that simple. Instead of staring at a sandwich board, knowing I have an aversion to sandwiches, (mayonnaise is the devil and pesto belongs on pasta in my world), it was on me to stop the bus and take control. And here's where the smile comes in. I need to have compassion on those who clearly hate their job or worse, their life. I need to have compassion on myself as well. Instead of being swept into frustration, I need to stop, smile and just say what I want. Clearly. Concisely. Gently. I may get turned down. I may even be laughed at. I may still be talking to a counter zombie. But, at least I'll have some sense of control, and I won't be swept into another rant. What I'm really talking about here is, we can't control what happens outside of us, but we can control our reactions. We've all heard this one way or another. At least that's what I assume. And maybe others aren't as easily as frustrated as I am, though what I read on facebook tells me they are. It helps me to write it out; to see it in action. I don't want the small things to get me down or color my day. I want to wear a smile, and mean it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween and bye bye.

I've been wanting to write all day. I had thoughts brewing that I wanted to explore. Instead of writing, I came home from yoga and crunched numbers for work, which erased any clever thought I could possibly conjure up. Now, all I can think about is the Spiderman on a bike last night who nearly ran me over. Granted it was Halloween, but it was still unsettling stepping back just moments before a skinny Spiderman sped past me, nostrils flaring, legs pumping about 30 miles per hour. Not exaggerating. It's great for Spidey to blend into the dark when he's fighting evil, so he can sneak up on the baddies and what not. But hey, I'm not a baddy. At least I don't think I am. And I had a difficult time seeing around the car in the dark because Spidey got confused and thought he was pervious man. He made a lap around the block and nearly ran into me again once I was in my car. I think I would have outsuperpowered him in that case.
But really, the highlight of yesterday was sitting in a cafe outside under a heat lamp watching the parade of costumed adults looking for a place to strut their stuff. In the search some of them took it upon themselves to strut it for me. For which I am grateful. Because my day was complete when a man in a red flapper dress walked by winking and flirting with me, cigarette in hand. He was all serious sex beast until his ciggy fell, and then he stumbled in his high heels and took a nose dive. It was at that moment I knew my day was complete.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the city of Sonoma, a friend of mine was shaping our future generation.  A girl about the age of ten took it upon herself to give back one of the two pieces of candy she was given because she didn't like it, all the while greedily eying the bowl for a grab at what she would like. My friend gently turned her around and said, "okay then, bye bye."
I remember when I was a kid, (you know, back when we still had rotary phones) my brother and I would dump our candy on the floor and trade. It built negotiating skills at a young age...rather than the rampant entitlement I am suggesting.
When I read that one house in Santa Rosa goes through 5000 pieces of candy on Halloween, I spit out my coffee.
But, I digress. These stories from yesterday seem to be mingling in that impressionable place in my mind where stories connect and illustrate something for me. And, all I can think is how nice it would be to gently turn people around by the shoulders and say, "okay then, bye bye." Society is working out its brokenness and in that process, people's emotional wounding and immaturity comes out and often knocks on our door demanding we give in to their wants. My friend passing out candy is one of the sweetest kindest women. Really. She has a way about her that is gentle and loving. I can just see the little girl walking away wondering what hit her. Because, it was a kindness that my friend didn't give in to her. I can just see her face though, full of mirth instead of anger. I have a (true confession here) tendency to get kind of confrontational when people are trying to grab from me. I want to be able to just giggle the grabbing away, so instead of me fuming about something stupid; instead, someone is walking away from me not quite sure how they got turned around, and not feeling any thing from me but love and "bye bye." Adios grabby person. While I feel compassion for you, I think it's best you be on your way.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Myth of All Good

No one is all good or all bad. There;  I can just stop writing now. Of course I won't. I want to, I've been sitting on this  a couple days, because it feels vulnerable. It's a thought that comes to mind when I'm presented with choices I don't feel comfortable making, judgement calls I can't.
Yesterday in yoga, (I really should rename this blog  Facebook and yoga), I looked into the side mirror to check the alignment of my profile, I caught a glimpse of the same woman picking at her toe nails who picks at her toes every time we get into that posture. It's like part of the routine now; if she is ever to my right, which is the side the mirror is on, I turn my head to see my posture and get a glimpse of her ritual. And, it drives me nutty. And, it's not my place at all to be driven nutty. But when 5 seconds later the teacher says, "nice job [insert toe picker's name],"I get miffed. How can you say someone is doing a nice job when clearly they are more interested in their manicure than pushing their body?
And it's not my place to judge.
It's not my place to judge.
Again. It's not my place to judge.
When I came home last night and hopped on Facecrack to read a message, I saw the most recent posting in my newsfeed was another side of the Steve Jobs legacy. Steve Jobs passed away this week, and it has been an all out worship fest of the man behind iEverything. With just cause. He changed our lives. For better or worse, he changed our lives. And, the article which I saw that night was the first that called to attention a for worse.
While we are busy linking articles, tagging photos, liking videos etc....workers in Chinese Apple factories work in such horrendous conditions, some are taking their own lives to get out.
I sat with that for a moment. I always like the underdog, so someone daring to post something not glorifying this man was brave in my estimation. I also thought about a totally black and white response. Somewhere in my mind, I felt like I should not like the man who lived in a wealth built on the backs of those less fortunate. And then I felt the tension, which believe it or not was similar to the tension in the yoga room. Of course, there is a glaring difference: her activity does not really harm others, much less at a profit to her self. But, the tension is still the same. For me at least.
Because it is not my place to judge.
I can both herald Steve Jobs as a Master Mind, a boon to society, and I can also work, somehow, toward a society where my leisure is not borne out of someone else's misery.
I think back to what I wrote when he announced his retirement:
I keep thinking about Steve Jobs, and his brilliant career. And, at the end of the day, there's not enough money in the world to keep him healthy. I feel for him. I hope he enjoyed the ride with Apple. I hope he enjoys his retirement. And; I hope we all enjoy our days, and live as if there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.
And in the mean time, I can realize no one is all good, or all bad. We're all on a journey. Sometimes we make choices that make us stronger, and sometimes not. Sometimes we harm others and sometimes it is only our selves that we harm.
One thing I know, if I look for the good in people, I will find it. The woman in the yoga class did deserve kudos because she was in the room at all. Steve Jobs does deserve acknowledgement; not only did he change our lives technologically, he inspired many people. And still! It is not my place to judge. I will make it my goal to not worry about good or bad in people, but to live and love the best way I know how and the rest will just be.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pandora and Yanni

I'm kind of embarrassed. Pandora thinks I like Yanni. I decided a long time ago, I do not like Yanni. His mustache is way too 1980's Magnum PI and he is way too New Age for me. So, when I enter modern piano composer Dustin O'Halloran and they play Yanni, I get confused.
It's a funny little test of prejudice for me. The Dustin station is a new one for me, and it's taking a lot of tweaking. I love piano, simple, graceful or melancholic and deep; solo piano is one of my great loves.
But I'm very particular about my music. I love a lot of styles and music is life to me. There is bad music though. Sometimes the line is real obvious. For instance, this Sunday at an event in the park. The garage band playing what I think had to have been their first public performance made me want to punch people in the face. It was so bad, I can only compare it to a billion times worse than your pet peeve. I had to leave. I was so depleted, I couldn't tune them out. From what I hear, the line was clear to many people. They were on the crap music side of the line.
The line is not so clear to me with this new Pandora station. I know what I really like, but other songs give me a not so sure feeling. That is, until I click over and see the face. The bush of black hair. The broom over the lip. I cannot enjoy Yanni. That's all there is to it. While I didn't hate the song, I had a sneaky suspicion it would be guilty by association, and sure enough, it was. Dislike. Please, do not play Yanni again. I don't care that your algorithm makes me want to hear Yanni. I don't.
Which makes me think of the bigger picture. How often does something sound okay, but there is a whiff of something we've decided we don't like, so we just decide not to like it? I've been trying to catch myself in that as I'm reading from a lot of different disciplines. It's challenging to receive things in their purest form and not through our filters, built up through years of experience.
I wish life was as easy as Pandora sometimes. You can just hit the dislike button, and it's on to the next song. In a way it is that easy. Just as one day, maybe Pandora will have the perfect Dustin station, maybe I will have a collection of thoughts and perspectives that resonate perfectly with me. For now, I read and listen and cull and collect. I need to wrap this post up and head over to Pandora now. I think a Nordstrom piano player got into my playlist.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Autumn tip toeing toward me

Without fail, Autumn makes her presence known in my life. While I'm still expecting blazing hot days, for it's always hot during the Handcar Regatta which is next week, I'm looking at the mess of pumpkins sprung from my volunteer patch and thinking of cozy nights with a book and a fire.
I've needed a day to myself for so long. A day where I wasn't cleaning my house for company, but for myself. A day to play sappy piano music on Pandora instead of my usual upbeat fare. And, after last night's humbling experience at yoga, I definitely needed a slow day. After lying in the fetal position in the class room for a good long time, someone came in and asked me if I was okay. My eyes welled up with tears, because I wasn't okay, but the fact that someone cared made me okay.
I love summer. I love to be hot and feel the sun seeping into my very core. I dream about that feeling during the dead of winter. I never want summer to end, but when Autumn comes, I can't help but embrace her with open arms.
I've already written an ode to Autumn last year. And as she approaches again this year, all the same feelings crop up. I've been struggling with some things in my life lately, and my lovely friends want to rescue me. I think in the end it will be Autumn who rescues me. She reminds me nothing is forever. She also reminds me you can't have everything all the time. No one wants a fire on a blazing hot day. At least, no one in their right mind. So, I enjoy the hot day on the river's edge soaking up the sun, and I enjoy the cool Autumn night curled up on the couch with a book listening to rain spatter on the windows. Both are good. One is no better than the other, but they cannot happen at the same time. And that's one of the many gifts Autumn brings to me. A knowing that all things happen in their time, and they are good. I need only be present.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Rant, if you will

I usually like to keep this blog light hearted, free from judgement and full of, well, grace.
This morning, I read something that I am struggling with.
Just a couple days ago, the retailer Target released a designer line that had so much on line traffic it temporarily crashed their system. Sounds like good news, right? Our economy needs recharging.
The designer clothes are lesser quality, so can be offered at lower prices. Great. People snatched up quantities at a time, and are now selling them on sites like eBay, for 3-4 times the original price.
It's appalling to me that we are such a greedy status conscious society that we want what we want regardless. The clothes are priced so low in the first place because often, they are manufactured with slave labor.
Why don't we cut out the middle man, and the slave labor, and take our money to local crafters. Instead of owning what everyone else owns, why not buy something straight from the crafter? I was just in a yarn shop yesterday and saw the most exquisite sweaters. Sure, they don't have status conscious labels, but they were beautiful, and likely made with love and not hate.
I know, there's all kinds of arguments for capitalism and blah blah blah. I'd just like to see people care more about their fellow man than a silly fashion statement that lasts for ten minutes. I should add here, I'm as guilty as the next guy...but I am trying.
I've never asked before, but I would really like your comments.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mean Girls or I am a Mean Girl

I just spent the weekend in Tahoe. It was a much needed girls' weekend away. I am so grateful for the opportunity to get away in spite of the fact that I barely have a job to get away from. In just 48 short hours, I stopped laughing long enough to make a few personal discoveries. I'll share one.
I am a mean girl. Ironically, this morning I stumbled across an online article about mean girls, and moms trying to raise daughters that are not mean girls. I'm thinking the parallels will be minimal; because I'm a grown up. At least in calendar years.
Here's the story. My friend and I set ourselves up on a beach on Lake Tahoe. I packed several books along, but found all I could do was people watch. I'd pick up a book, read two lines, and then a large mustache walks by and I have to make a comment. I didn't think it was a mean comment, I just observed out loud that he missed the stash bash here in town a few weeks ago. For some reason my friend interpreted it as a mean comment...perhaps that was because I had just been rolling around on the blanket having the best belly laugh over a woman's pants that left nothing to the imagination. I kept waiting for the skin tight pants to maybe release...but no, they had a grip on her in a most indelicate way. And lest you think I am super catty, (which only somewhat regretfully I admit; I am), you ought to know this about me: my most favorite person to laugh at is myself.
I had just spent a couple nights previous laughing at my complete inability to follow the dance moves in a dance class I had attended. When everyone faced left, I faced right. When everyone's hands were in the air, mine were down. And on it went. And I laughed; the whole time. I looked like a big goofy buffoon, but I could either get frustrated or laugh. I chose to laugh.
Moreover, if I have a wardrobe malfunction, I want you to tell me; and then I want to laugh about it. If I was friends with the guy who picked his nostril first with one thumb, and then the other for a good long time, I would point it out to him with a giggle and tease him; but since we weren't friends, I could only laugh from afar. The humanity. We are funny, that's all there is to it.
Maybe I also laugh because I love the underdog. I may laugh at your pants, but as I told my friend who informed me this is no excuse, I would jump in front of a train for any of the people I laugh(ed) at. It isn't an excuse, I realize. But I am a big fan of self awareness. And, I am a big fan of laughing at myself, and I am a big fan of laughing at life. What I won't laugh at is someone in pain. I won't laugh at someone who walks down the street in soiled clothes because they cannot afford to clean them. I won't laugh at someone who talks too much because they're nervous, but I will if they are arrogant. I could probably find something interesting to talk about with the lady in the tight pants, or the man with the mustache. Maybe they would find me vapid and boring. The thing is, I wouldn't rule them out as worth while people because I found something about them peculiarly funny. We may not be best friends, but we could still be the better for meeting. Everyone has a spark of life in them. Everyone. It may be buried behind insecurities or bad taste, (in my book), but it's still there. It's still worth finding.
And, if I could, and if it wouldn't horrify her, I would thank the woman in the tight pants. I still laugh at her pants winking at me. If she could swallow her pride and laugh with me, I think we could have a moment. And if it hurt her feelings that I laughed at her, I would humbly and sincerely apologize and cry with her. But laughing seems so much healthier.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My friend Art and his son Matt.

The "Arts District" has been hosting a Sunday Salon Series this year. The last Sunday of each month, a different gallery or artist talks about their work and takes the time to answer questions. I've attended most of them, and have tried to write about what I heard and saw. That pesky little thing called self-edit has left many of my thoughts in the draft folder. Until today. The discussion veered today from technique to philosophy and I said "now you're speakin' my language." You see, I'm a frustrated artist. But I'll get back to that. I love to talk philosophy and ideas, so back to the Salon:
The presenting gallery from today, The Gallery of Sea and Heaven is part of a wonderful program. Becoming Independent is an organization that helps people with disabilities by offering support, life skills and advocacy. From their web-page: The BI ArtWorks program, in particular, provides men and women opportunities to explore their own personal creativity resulting in intuitive, outsider art that receives wide recognition in the community.
I love that there's a place for people with some sort of disability to express themselves. And, without being patronizing, I love the innocence and openness often expressed by someone who is perhaps not as hung up on social standing. And, I discovered, I love the idea of intuitive art.
There was some talk about the term "outsider art" that led to a very brief discussion of what should actually be considered art. By art, in this context, I do mean the fine arts. Barbara, who leads the program shared the story of an artist with disabilities who was entered into a competition and took top honors. When it was revealed she is not a technically trained artist, many involved were very disgruntled. Suddenly, what was good enough to garner top honor, should not even be in the running, because of her lack of training, to say the least. Of course, that was a very disappointing stance.
As the discussion progressed a chord was struck with me. One woman spoke out that art is just putting marks on paper. (Essentially), she was advocating the view that art does not necessarily need training. It spoke to me because she said she hates to hear people say they are not an artist or could never be an artist. Enter me. I think I've mentioned even in this brief blog that I wish I could paint. Well...I can paint. I can pick up a brush, and I can dip it in paint and splash it across a canvas.
My frustration comes from not being able to paint what is in my mind's eye. I see beautiful landscapes; places I want to walk, and sit under trees and slip my shoes off in. I can't replicate these pictures. Since I can't paint what I see, I don't want to paint at all. Here is where I get a little jealous. I would like to be able to explore my own personal creativity using my intuition, rather than being so fixed on an image that I think I want to express. And, obviously, (I think), that idea extends to my writing. I want to produce something, hold it up, say "look what I did," and not worry about whether or not it matches my intentions, or moreover whether anyone else likes it. Then it dawns on me, (did I mention I am a late bloomer?): If I could live my whole life this's just lines on paper, what freedom! If I could let go of every preconceived notion of what life should look like, then I could really appreciate what may sometimes look more like the stick figures of life as much as the lovely Pre-Raphaelite ladies. Even as I'm about to hit "publish post" and find myself resisting, still self editing, thinking I am the only person in the world who needs these words, I remember a recent conversation. A friend shared her thoughts that she thinks she should be somewhere else in her life. Her circumstances took a sharp left and she has found herself in a situation she hadn't imagined. I'm sure it doesn't match the vision she had, but it's beautiful nonetheless.
I remember getting a sneak peek at one of the shows where art from "real" artists was displayed side by side with the Becoming Independent group. A friend wondered if I could tell who did what. Some paintings were very obviously done by trained artists, others very obviously done by a client of BI, and my favorite painting of the show; I couldn't tell. Turns out, it was painted by a client. So take my words, or leave them, but by all means; look what I did.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Life jacket please

Today was not only the longest day of the year; it was my anniversary with the hot yoga world. This I know thanks to the wonders of modern technology and automated email. I've been practicing hot yoga for four years now. Ironically, today marked day 4 of the studio being closed for repair. I thought I would die to go three days without, and as it turns out, it was extended to 4. I wish I had closed down for repair.
I don't know what I would have done had the studio been business as usual this weekend. I go nearly every day, sometimes twice to keep my overall attendance at about 29 classes per month. I might be obsessive, addicted...both. That said, I was looking at 4 days, no yoga. It was kind of scary and wonderful to think about a forced break. (Well....there are other studios) What would I do with 4 whole days?
Somehow, I made it. And, as each day passed, I wondered how I've managed to go so frequently. Yoga is definitely the rock in my day. (You know the 'ol demonstration you've seen at some feel good meeting: If you have sand, water and rocks to squeeze in a container, you've got to start with the rocks and finish with the water in order for everything to fit.) Now, granted, there are people far busier than me who have a more difficult time squeezing it all in, but this is my blog. And this is my four days:
Saturday afternoon, somewhere around the time I would be in toe stand, someone said to me, "shouldn't you be in yoga right now?" She said this as we were hefting a very heavy box over our heads and onto a second story shelf in the barn, precariously balancing on a ladder and an old pool table. Saturday was a very big clean up day here at hoarders anonymous, and I can't imagine toodling off before the job was done. It was a very long day, a dirty day and a necessary day. Sunday, I continued the clean-up/purge in my own house, and realized we really don't use every muscle in yoga. (It's part of the dialogue; we're told that we've just used every muscle, every joint and tendon.) I felt some new ones, some underused ones on Sunday....which also was Father's Day. Though my Father is gone, and I haven't made anyone else a father, I still actually had a place to be. So, another afternoon rolled around where I looked at the clock and wondered how I would have made it to yoga that day.
By Monday, I'm kind of grumpy, missing my yoga and my community. But, as I'm shoving food in my face just before I would normally be doing a breathing exercise, I'm kind of okay with being home.
Which brings me to today. My anniversary. Once again, right around the time I'd normally be leaving for yoga, I had to acknowledge that I was not; I was down in the barn, this time attending to the horses. I had a very full day and wondered how I would have managed to do all I did, and still make it to yoga.
And, here's the thing...well, two things really. Here's the less important thing: I did get some hot yoga today. Who needs to heat a room when the sun is doing such a fine job? I took my mat to the back deck, set a timer for 90 minutes, and recited as much of the dialogue in my mind as I could. Oddly enough, no matter what posture I was in, I repeated "spread your arms out to the side like a 747 taking off." Is it because that's my least favorite posture? Just a thought.
More to the point, I have mixed feelings about these last four days. They kind of feel like a freight train hit me. It seems counter-intuitive to me. I had four whole days not punctuated by the time investment of going to yoga. I had visions of hunkering down and writing all the things I've been wanting to. I had an idea I'd visit one of those other studios. I thought I'd have endless time, and in retrospect it seems like I had less, not more.
I think I'll be rolling this around in my mind for a couple days. One thing I do know; I'm ready to go back. My body misses it. I miss the people. Well, most of them. I have a new appreciation for it though. I'm going to have to work out how it is that I seem to have more time when I go to yoga. And then, if I could just bottle that I'd share it with everyone.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Spoonful of Honey

Last evening, I was invited to a screening of a documentary. I'm not your typical gal, for good or ill. I don't get excited about an invitation to the movie theater. Listening to a heavy breather eat popcorn with their mouth open behind me, and watching the twit text message away in front of me makes me want to punch people in the face. It's true. I'm a horribly violent person.
But, transport me to a swank arts center with beautiful and quirky things to look at and the cell phone doesn't bother me so much.
The New Arts Project in Santa Rosa created a space for about oh, 30 to 50 people to view a screening of a documentary. They provided ice cold lemon water in lovely dispensers. The chairs were a bit rough, but there were not any feet dangling over the back of the chair next to me. Someone's pooch was trolling around, particularly interested in my handbag where I'd forgotten I stashed a half eaten kid's cliff bar.
The movie was Vanishing of the Bees, and it was very well done. I've heard about the vanishing for several years now, and was eager to see something comprehensive on the subject. This piece was more than comprehensive; the cast of characters ranged from down-home bee keepers with great regional accents to an earth mother goddess admonishing us to worship the feminine half of the deity and a scientist in between.
There is, as of yet, no definitive answer to why colonies of bees are just disappearing. Called Colony Collapse Disorder, entire hives, thousands of hives at a time even, are found for all intents and purposes, empty. Millions upon millions of bees are unaccounted for. More than being unaccounted for, they are lost to our crops of fruits, nuts, flowers and vegetables that are pollination dependent. The Bible speaks of a promised land of milk and honey, not corn and soy, but some Big Business thinks the answer to this is to blanket our country in mono crops of genetically modified food and resources. Not only does that idea stun me for its lack of beauty and grace; the implications strike fear in my heart. I have a friend who brought home a parasite from Africa. He's living out the painful ramifications of eating something his body was not prepared to resist. When we rely on importing most of our fruit and veg from other countries, we are at the mercy of their cost and whatever pests come along with.
Right now, the smoking gun seems to be pointing at pesticides. Can we all exhale a chorus of "duh"? The research continues, as does the fight for protection of not just our bees, but our lives. The movie was very informative about the way the EPA operates, the art and craft of bee-keeping as well as the big business end. I must admit, there was a scene which made me want to run and hide. I kind of have an idea now of what men feel like when they see other men kicked in the baby-maker.
I am kicking myself for not pulling out my notes during the movie; there were some wonderful quotes. The one that has stuck with me, from none other than Martin Luther King Jr.:
"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality."
I'm sitting with that thought now, as I contemplate not only the plight of the bees, but communities of people who come together in new ways to celebrate life, gain knowledge and spread goodness.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Self Editing

I've been resistant to the blog, as I've edited anything I would remotely want to say, until I no longer want to say it. I feel this pressure to be funny, and yet, sometimes life is more whimsical or serious. Today, I feel a mixture of both.
Yesterday, I posted something on Facecrack as much for me as for anyone else.
Here's what's on my mind: What is the story you are telling? Is it one of woe or hope? We tell ourselves stories about our lives, and the more we tell it, the more we live it. I vote to tell stories of grace and beauty. Stories of triumph and your own defined success. Stories of gratefulness for what you have and an open heart for what you are to receive.

That's a tough one for me to live by, and yet, I believe it to be true with all my heart. I remember going through something rather painful, and I got tired of hearing myself tell the story. I remember feeling this odd dichotomy of wanting people to know where I was, to rally around me and yet feeling like the more I told the story, the uglier I became.
There is room for grief in stories, I don't regret my grief; I don't regret its chapters in my life. But I don't want disappointment and dashed expectations to be the only chapters in my book.

I've also told stories about the way people have treated me, only to discover much later, that though at the moment it was wrong, in the fullness of time, it was right. She speaks in riddles. The point, at least for me, is to calm down. I don't need to play God all the time. Or ever. I just need to show up.
Show up for the beauty right before my eyes. Show up for the story that's still being written. What may seem challenging right now may actually be a gift later on.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Not Bucket List

Have you ever thought about having a bucket list? Maybe you have already started one. Maybe you've checked everything off your list. I've been toying with the idea of a bucket list the past couple weeks. I don't know why, but it popped into my head recently that I ought to have one, and I've resisted the idea all at the same time. I've been trying to tease out my resistance, when part of the answer struck me. Via Facebook, naturally.
A friend of mine announced she'd been able to check something off her list. My first reaction to her choice was that it was certainly not on my list of things to do. But that's okay, that's why we all have our own bucket list. I'm glad she got to do one of the things she really wanted to do, even if it's not something I would make an effort to do. At the same time, given the same opportunity, I would take it, even if it's not one I would chase.
This is where my thoughts started to really percolate. If I had made a bucket list ten or twenty years ago, would I really care about the things I checked off my list that I had accomplished? Am I resistant to the list because I don't want to expend energy chasing something that won't matter in a decade? There are plenty of things I thought I wanted, and in retrospect, that is not me.
And, all of a sudden, the bucket list feels like life; and I begin to touch on my resistance. Life is nothing like I thought it would be as I imagined it 20 years ago. Not. a. single. thing. (I know, the period after every word to make a point is so tired right now, but I like it.) Part of my process as a spiritual being is to be able to embrace what is happening, and to let go of disappointment and expectation. It's useless anyway. I'm kind of glad I don't have a list of things I haven't done staring me in the face. Not to mention that I've done a lot of things I never thought I would. A thirty day challenge of Bikram Yoga would not have been on the list because I didn't even know about it even 5 years ago, and yet, I could put a check mark next to it. Calming down a gigantic angry horse also would not have been on the list, but I feel like a badass because I've done that. (My apologies to my more genteel readers, but I could not find any other word.) And, speaking of horses, riding a horse into the hills at the base of Petra in Jordan with a man who may or may not have had intentions of making me his tenth wife, also not on the list, but worthy of a check mark.
I like the idea of a bucket list. I like the idea that if we visualize goals, they are more likely to come about. I also like the idea that life is unfolding, and though it's not like I would have scripted it, it's been an adventure I wouldn't trade. I still may sit down and think about what I'd like to accomplish or see or do. It's a delicate balance: chasing dreams and living with hands and heart open wide. I haven't totally released the idea of a bucket list; perhaps, if I had one, it would contain only one item. For now I'm appreciating the free form life I'm living and tending my wide open heart. Where are you?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Be Here Now

I can't believe I'm going to drop this name in my blog: Kim Kardashian. I'm so not a fan of the new breed of (non)reality show famous people, and this post really is not about her. Nevertheless, a recent story concerning her touched on something I've already been thinking about. I heard that Prince recently pulled her on stage and then kicked her off for not dancing with him at his show. I also heard that she was Twittering about it on stage. That is not true. She waited all the way until she got off stage.....but it brought up an interesting point. We've become so obsessed with updating all our moments, we are often not really present to the moment we are experiencing. I can't tell you how many of my friends have updated their Facebook with the news that they are on a date with their significant other. Really? You're on a date? And, you're updating your status? Must be a fantastic date. (And my apologies to my recent "date" in front of whom I checked a Facebook message. I did it on purpose....)

As I was already planning on writing about this, I had to laugh when I saw the above comic this morning. (On Facebook, of course.) The constant updating reminds me of this comic. It sometimes feels like a competition to post the most commented on/liked update. It's a fine line. I do really appreciate much of what I read on these social sites. I'm encouraged, I learn, I grow. I share things because I'm on a journey and don't want to go alone, but perhaps I share to show (off) how enlightened I am.
Then, just when I'm kicking myself for being a swaggering, arrogant and evolved show-off, my mind shifts once more. Yesterday, I was walking underneath blossoming cherry trees, and the air smelled absolutely divine. I wished there was a way to post a 3-d photo and scent on Facebook. I wanted to share that moment because it felt so good, and what would have made it feel even better would have been seeing someone else enjoy the moment. (Of course I should have wished someone was there with me physically. Alas, it's too late, I think in terms of updates.)
While I am technically an introvert, I live for moments shared with other people. My fondest memories include others, and we're usually laughing or eating, or both or neither.
Sometimes, being here now is lonely. (Not so much for Kim, surrounded by Prince fans at a concert), but for others stuck in a cubicle, or home with two or three whiny little munchkins, here now screams for diversion. We've built a little techno community of updates, music, photos and all manner of diversion.
Still, I'm not going to lie, as much as this blog is intended to extend grace to myself and to others, I'm sure a good many updates, including my own, are self aggrandizing tripe, and the author would do better to actually enjoy the moment rather than trumpeting it. On the other hand, when I click over to Facebook, and see even as I write this post, my conservative Christian friend's husband is giving their 4 year old a mohawk, I smile. I'm glad she took the time to share that moment. I'll take the good with the bad; (and really, it's all good), which only proves: I've reached enlightenment before you.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

I am a hoarder

I am a hoarder. It's true. I'm not proud of it. It's difficult to admit because my image of a hoarder has always been a very old lonely person reeking of urine. It's also difficult to admit because there aren't the tell tale stacks of magazines lining my walls, or newspapers tucked every where. In fact, for the most part, my home is tidy and everything has a place. Never the less, a cold hard truth is being addressed. I can't let go.
I save travel sized toiletries and cosmetic samples in case I go on a trip. Thing is, I have more than I need. Moreover, I never ever use the samples on trips. I also have this weird habit as well: whenever I buy something new, say a new lip balm, I don't finish the old one, but "save" it. I do that with lotion and toothpaste and the list goes on. Dirty. little. secret.
I've been in a new phase. The un-hoarding phase. I feel a little lighter every day. I've finished off lotions and lip balms and am watching my contribution to the land fill pile up. I've been dealing with all the odd "gourmet" items in my kitchen that I've saved for a rainy day. The weather has been rather spring like this winter, but I'm pretending these are rainy days and binging on food not normally in my repertoire.
As I go through my stashes of this n that, I feel like Templeton the pack-rat from Charlotte's Web. He would find random objects and save them, just because. I found a tooth token from a dentist I'd never even heard of in my coin box. All I can say is....well, there's nothing I can say, that's just weird.
I think this unloading mirrors my emotional life as well. I think some of us hang onto feelings and even relationships that no longer serve us. Please, don't get me wrong, I don't enter into relationships to be served. But, sometimes the give and take becomes the give and give. Life is short really. Some of the feelings I carry or relationship perspectives I have sap my energy. They just take up space, that should be filled with joy instead. I have some feelings that are like that tooth token. I don't even know where they came from, they're just weird inexplicable feelings that serve nothing. I'm working to banish them.
Some feelings do serve as guide posts to learn lessons. I'm trying to feel what I ought to feel then purge it all out, lesson learned. It's a process, and it's certainly not as tidy as a trash bag I get to put out on the curb once a week. Tidy, or not, things are moving and the results are rewarding.
I'm looking forward to the space, both physically and emotionally that will be open for more beauty and joy as I let go of all the stuff.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Making Myself Share

I have been woefully uninspired to actually write lately. What's more, I've had lots of stories I tell myself about my life and the world around me, but I haven't wanted to share them. I've censored myself feeling like the things I'd like to write about are too elementary, too naive too full of angst or too full of those you had to be there feelings.
Life has been really satisfying lately, but who wants to read about how excited I am to be outside picking up horse poo in unseasonably beautiful January weather? I relish my time in the barn, with the doors wide open. Rain, or shine, I find myself immersed in rain drops or bird calls, and am filled with joy.
I've been thinking on several ideas lately, in the solitude of the barn. One subject was clarified a little more for me today, through conversation with a friend, and for that I am grateful.
I've heard the term "no regrets" bandied about a lot lately, and I had to really sit on it. At the same time I was still sitting on the idea of no regrets, I stumbled across an affirmation someone I admire very much wrote: Please love yourself. Forgive yourself and know there is no thing really to forgive. You have done nothing wrong.
I thought I could understand this on one level, but on another level, I couldn't wrap my mind around it. At the time I was presented with these ideas together, I was walking with someone through a deep pain, caused by someone's wrong actions toward them. I was stuck on the person in the wrong.
I've wrestled with these two seemingly disparate thoughts for a while now. The thought that we have done nothing wrong, and the state many people are in. How is it that we can have done no wrong when people are desperately hurting?
I have come to realize, these words, these ideas are not to free people from owning their actions or from loving one another, but to free people to love one another.
It is not our place to worry about other people's actions, it is our place to worry about our own Being. Here's my theory: if we live in regret, we are likely to continue to make the same choices we regret. If we live in the place of hurting others, we are likely to feel so badly about ourselves we cannot help but continue to hurt others.
Don't get me wrong, the ideas of no regrets and you've done nothing wrong are not permission for those who live to step on other people; they are the truths of redemption. We can be redeemed. We are redeemed. When we move forward in redemption, we are granted a new choice each moment. We can choose to live more fully and openly. When we shed the guilt of regret, we can step out in love, and at the end of the day, all you need is love, love; love is all you need.