Monday, December 15, 2014

Joy and Good Tidings and Stuff Like That

Last Christmas I gave you my heart, but the very next day you gave it away. This year, to save me from tears, I'll give it to someone special


Yeah, that's right, I used Wham.

Sooooo, it's December again . . . there are parties and decorations and celebrations of religious holidays, birthdays for some of us, and then New Years, so there is much merriment to be made. In my life I like to have a pretty fair amount of alone time, I would say slightly more than the average person, so while this time of year is full of so much joy, it can also be a bit much. Nonetheless, would that all my problems were made of such sweet stuff as many social engagements with many friends . . . woe is me. ;-)

This can also be a transforming and introspective time of year. It's a time to look back and take stock over the last year, even if you don't want to, it seems we do. Plus the sun is only out for what seems like four and a half hours a day, so why not, eh?

Putting up the tree is a time of remembrances and memories. When I was little I loved it so much that it was a task generally saved for my birthday. (When I was a kid people didn't spend the mountains of money on children's birthday parties they do now, mama made a cake at home and made something special for dinner, I didn't have to set the dinner table that night, now that's a birthday). It was a family event and I just about pee'd myself with excitement every year. I wonder if my brothers and sisters felt that way? They're older than me and it may have just seemed like a chore to them, BUT TOO BAD BECAUSE IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!!!!! (I seriously have not changed one bit). When you pull out those ornaments every year it's a trip down memory lane, and it's awesome. The wine glass ornament I got on a girls wine tasting weekend in Palisade, the crown penguin ornament I bought as a gift but loved so much I kept it, (oh, it's true), the ornament I stole from a bar (oh, it's true), the ornament Ruthie made for me, the ornament my neighbor made for me, they all have such sweet memories, they are each their own short story. I always put up three stockings; one for Lucy Lulu, one for Delilah Jane, and one for me. Last year was the first year I put up Lucy's with no Lucy in the house. Her stocking is still up this year, as it always will be. I miss my sweet baby girl, and her stocking brings her memory to the forefront again. But at least I still have Delilah trying to climb the tree and knock all the ornaments off. Ahhhh, to be a mom to kitties.

When I put the tree up I watch goofy Christmas movies, duh. But the granddaddy of them all, the Rose Bowl of Christmas movies, It's A Wonderful Life, is saved for Christmas Eve. Now here is a movie that will make you look back on your life. The weeks prior to Christmas are in full swing, but on Christmas eve all the dust settles. I curl up at home, I make real cocoa on the stove, the only lights in the house are from my Christmas lights and the black and white beauty of Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart. The hub bub is over, and I rest. Every now and then the ghosts of Christmas's past drop in. One snowy year my sister had forgotten to bring all the stocking stuffers and Santa gifts for my niece and nephew from her house to the family home. They were wee children at the time so not waking up to the goods from jolly ol' St. Nick was unacceptable. My sister and I drove from Littleton, in the middle of a snowy cold night, to the only 24 hour Walgreens in the Denver metro area at the time, on Colfax near Casa Bonita, to get the kids whatever we could so they would know they had been good that year. Another year, the first Christmas my brothers and sister and I spent with no living parents, we all stayed up late and watched Eraserhead, then we ate fried chicken from the Colonel around midnight or so. I was 17 that year, the first year of my life I got to stay up late on Christmas Eve rather than go to bed early for fear Santa wouldn't come. Hey, no parents, we made our own rules.

So 2014 is about to fold in on itself. How did this chapter of your life go? I hope it was a time of immense love and pleasure and growth and delight and laughter. I hope that even when your ship faced stormy times you stayed afloat, I hope if you were adrift for a bit you enjoyed it and learned some new things along the way. When you look at your ornaments this year, or light the candles on your menorah, or celebrate winter solstice rituals, I hope you are able to look back at all the wondrous moments that filled your life this year. This year I witnessed marriage, I witnessed the fruition of a much longed for pregnancy, I witnessed an engagement, and some joyous endings to bad habits gone on too long . . . death of some things can hold the same amount of joy as the birth of other things. As the earth begins her journey around the sun yet another time, I hope you will take time to sit in quiet wonder at the incredible person you are and all the good you have wrought, probably more than you know. You may have smiled at a stranger and changed their entire day. You may have hugged your loved one a little longer and made them feel how special they are to you. You may have hung your kids old, ratty, falling apart ornament made from popsicle sticks and Elmer's glue on the tree to remind both you and them of how beautiful and lasting love can be.

It's dark. The year is pretty much over. Take a few minutes from the holiday schedule, sit, be still, count your blessings and maybe even enjoy a hug and a movie and hot cocoa. Why not, it's dark nineteen and half hours a day.

God bless us everyone.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sleep Waltzing

I sleep in late another day, oh what a wonder, oh what a waste. It's a Monday, so mundane, what exciting things will happen today? The yard is full of hard rubbish, it's a mess and I guess the neighbors must think we run a meth lab. We should amend that . . .
-Courtney Barnett

Everyone who knows me knows I love sweets, I love Christmas, and I love yoga. I can bake cookies at home or I can buy them from a store. Christmas ornaments can be made or purchased year 'round. Yoga can be done at home, at the park, or in a studio. These things are all constant. But of course, in our lives constants can still change. My favorite bakery can stop baking my favorite cookies at any point in time. Christmas can be spent with family one year and then riding a ski lift alone the next year. Yoga studios can change philosophies, teachers, location, or even close up shop.

I have gone to the same yoga studio for four years. Today, I attended my last class there. They have closed up shop. In that studio I have expanded my yoga practice and grown in my personal life. I have cried in that studio. I have hugged others as they cried. I have laughed there. I have been drenched in buckets of my own sweat. I have smiled and I have cursed. I have felt the tentativeness of maybe balancing on my head one day to the "I got this" feeling of headstanding in the middle of the room with no problem. Yoga is part of my life, and like life, it is a journey. The community from that studio was a rare and particular experience, an experience I will likely not have again.

But . . .

what waits ahead?

This time last year I went to work, I went to yoga, and then a few nights a week I saw the man I was dating. Every last one of those things is gone this year. But, only that job is gone. Only that man is gone. Only that studio is gone. In my life I have another job, I will find another yoga studio to call home, and I will have love. The things that I desire are not gone, only the outer vessel in which I knew them before.

Recently I went to my friends book signing. My friend, Tracy Maxwell, wrote a book called "Being Single, With Cancer". I hope that you will all seek her book out online and buy it. Why? Well first because if you're my friend I will support you in your endeavors, but also because cancer can take on my many forms in our lives. A person, a job, a situation, a relationship, an addiction, can all be "cancers" in our lives. By saying this I do not mean in any way to diminish the magnitude of having the dis-ease of medical cancer, nor does Tracy which is why I urge you all to check out her book. When I heard Tracy speak she said (and I believe she took this quote from someone else but for the life of me I can't remember or find on Google who it is) "Cancer is not a gift because I wouldn't give it to you. But cancer has been a blessing because of what I have learned about myself, how I have grown and found strength". That may not be an exact quote but you get the picture. Tracy has had a rare form of Ovarian cancer three times . . . and in the years I have known her I have never seen her look healthier or happier. She has taken control of her life through diet, surrounding herself with positive energy at The Unitarian Church (you know, the kind of church that loves everyone and couldn't care less about your sexual preference or political affliiation), and by writing a book to help others. She used her experience to gain personal strength and help others. C'mon, that's awesome.

My new neighbors across the street from me are a same sex couple . . . with five boys. FIVE BOYS! They have a gosh darn houseful. They are an incredibly happy, open, loving, caring, and sharing family unit. One of the women (I won't use her name because I haven't asked permission and it's too late to run over there now) shared her life experience with me. She was in a heterosexual marriage for 20 years because she was taught that is what one does. Four of those five boys came from her marriage, they are the blessing that came from a situation that wasn't right. When she finally knew "I can't do this anymore", she lost much. She lost her business, she lost many friends, and even some family members. She has been shunned by people that supposedly love her - but only conditionally it seems. As she tells me the story she starts to cry and I am so happy that she has seen past the crazy neighbor bit of me and down to the comforting bit of me. You know how much I love to laugh with all of you, but you also know that any one of you can call me anytime and cry yourself a river, I will always listen. My neighbor found an amount of strength that maybe she didn't even realize she had, until she had no choice. And the unequivocal love and the happy home life that they show their boys every day is crystal clear.

Life will let you know when it's time to rise up. Life will let you know when it is your time to be called upon to make a difference, be it large or small, everyone of us leaves us a legacy. Sometimes it can seem like a damn shame that the call to action can be the result of something so immensely painful, so cancerous, but that's what it takes I suppose. How could Tracy spread her positive message to other cancer patients and survivors without having had the experience? During a session with a guide/healer/mentor that has helped guide me through this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year, I ask her "Why did these lessons have to come at the cost of a broken heart? From someone I loved? From deceit and surreptition?" She laughed good naturedly and said "Really? Do you really have to ask that? How many people have come in and out your life that you didn't love and made very little impact?" Ah, yes, I see. Think of the times in your life you have had mammoth changes. Was it because you just decided on a random Tuesday over your morning coffee break "hey, I'm gonna move out of my comfort zone and aim for discomfort in order to find something awesome"? Doubtful. Or was it because something huge happened and you had to, you wanted to, but you also had to. The time comes for us all and there is no turning back.

Will it be peaceful? Nope. Will it be fraught with change and perhaps loss? Yep. Will it be worth it? Abso-frickin-lutely. And you can do it. Oh yes you can.

My neighbor is happy. Tracy is happy. I am happy. I have laughed more in the past few weeks than I have in a year, because everything in my world has changed, and continues to change. The "cancers" that visited my friends and myself are not gifts, because we wouldn't give the hurt to any of you, but they are blessings because wow oh wow, we are making differences in our lives and the lives of others . . . just as every one of you do . . . and don't you forget it. You're awesome, keep that shit up.

Deep experience is never peaceful - Henry James

Sunday, October 12, 2014

It Only Gets Better

Hello, boys and girls
This is your old pal, Stinky Wizzleteats
This is a song about a whale
No, this is a song about being happy
That's right, it's the happy happy, joy joy song

-Ren and Stimpy

A few months ago I wrote that I hate Spring and Fall, remember? Of course you do. And remember further that I wrote about having a decidedly difficult year but I felt sure it would end up being a stellar year? Right? Yeah? C'mon, you remember. I wanna tell ya, I was starting to fear I may have to eat my words about the year getting better and learning good things from being on crapped on . . . repeatedly. It seemed the tears would never end and the pain would be endless as well, and the hope I was fed over and over, only to be lied to over and over, would never end . . . but then, I decided I had had enough.

Sometimes we wait and wait and wait for something bad to become something good because otherwise, what was the point? How will it feel better? Why all this crappity crap and no lightbulb of goodness at the end? And perhaps most importantly, we want to believe people are good. I think that's what it really boils to, we want to see people in a positive light, when we're hurt we want it to be made right. Sometimes though, it just isn't and when that happens, you have to walk away entirely. Change the streets you walk down, change the restaurants you go to, change your thought patterns, change everything because happiness is a choice but it's also a habit that you can form or you can break. Change begins with you, with me, within each of us and most times, the catalyst for change is a massive bowl of rotten cherries. I will never thank the person that inspired change in my life this year for the lies, the torment, the heartbreak, the degradation, the deception, and the rejection that was served to me repeatedly (and let me be very clear, it is only the list of ick I just mentioned for which I am not grateful, there were certainly good things as well). But I will say this, the project I have started in my life (more on that in the months to come), the changes in the way I view myself and others, the unquestionable light and love I feel in my life now are a direct result of my saying to myself "this is it, I never want to visit this place of anguish again and I will do the work it takes to make that happen."

So, it's fall, that's where we started this story, remember? ;-) fall.

When I was a kid in Midland, Texas my parents liked to go on a long walk after dinner. Mostly it was just their time, away from 5 kids in a 3 bedroom ranch house, but every now and again they would let me tag along. I always loved it, such a pleasant time away from the chaos of 4 siblings, a dog, and the baby doll I had mothered and taken care of all day while the older kids labored away at school. Such is the life of a young girl. When I was a young 20 something living in Capital Hill I liked going on walks late at night to see the craziness of my neighborhood. When I was married my then husband and I went on walks often. It's a nice way to connect and get away from dishes and bills and laundry. I have walked at night around the neighborhood I live in now for many years, most every night in the summer but I can be seen out in a snowstorm as well. When you walk you really see what's in your life. Houses you've driven by a myriad of times become real, not just part of the scenery. You hear children laughing and music playing and birds chirping and the sound of lawn mowers and sprinklers. In the winter you hear the magical silence of snow falling and peacefulness (oh yes you can hear peacefulness). It's time for a change in my life, and I have changed the path of my walks. It's good to change things up, see new things, go down different streets and see different people, leave the past behind, and I felt it keenly just the other day because . . . it's fall. I laughed at myself when I realized what a beautiful fall night it was and how I had poo poo'd fall not so very long ago. The leaves are everywhere, I don't have to sleep with the air conditioner on, the air is fresh, and most symbolically . . . the trees have shed what no longer serves them. The trunk of a tree is the soul, the core, the strength of it. The leaves are beautiful, but not permanent. What remains in tact every fall, every winter, year after year is the solid, sturdy trunk. Every year the things that no longer serve, the leaves, shed away. The trunk remains strong and, this is important, takes some time before growing leaves again. The tree doesn't rush out and say "OMG I NEED MORE LEAVES RIGHT AWAY! WHAT AM I WITHOUT PLUMAGE?!". The tree is sturdy enough to withstand the withering away of things past and is wise enough to know that rest is good to prepare for things in the future.

It's the same in our lives. When one thing falls away, there are those who will immediately rush to call the next person to fill that space, those who can't spend time in hibernation, but I fear it only allows the same thing to happen again. Anyway, that's not really what I want to talk about. I want to talk about happiness! Listen, I am not even kidding when I said I was greatly concerned I was going to reach the end of this year feeling just as rough as I did in the beginning of this year and I am so happy to report that many good things are starting to roll into my life. And it's because I spent time on my own this year, thinking, crying, writing, digging into old yuckiness and clearing it out. And it was hard work! Holy cow what a year of difficult memories, anger, doubt, not understanding, questioning and finally . . . the start of a whole new path, from revolution to resolution. I don't want back what I had, because it wasn't enough. I won't sit on the floor under the dinner table accepting whatever scraps may fall my way. F*** that noise. I feed myself, I feed myself well and if others won't offer the same, then they can shine on. Even in situations where you may feel like you can't just walk away, maybe a job, try to find what you can to move forward. You have to have income (at least I do, no independent wealth here) and you may feel trapped. What else can you do to make your job more agreeable? For a while I got in the habit of working through lunch, NO MORE. Unless it is absolutely necessary I leave the office every single day for an hour. I read. I write. I may just sit outside, but I get the hell out. And is there something that you love doing that has nothing to do with work? The Black Dog's Dad is a remarkable artist, he spends most of his time away from his day job painting and showing his art. It can be tiring, and sometimes daunting, and I certainly don't know the answers in anyone else's life, but doing something that is more aligned with your spirit, even if it's just on the side, can make you feel so great AND . . . you never know what may come of it. Leaving a job can be harder because you need money. Leaving a person can be done in an instant but it hurts infinitely more and infinitely longer . . . and we don't do it in an instant. We drag it on because, again, hope springs eternal. Hope isn't bad, but we know when it's misplaced and yet we still linger.

But check out those leaves and that sturdy tree. That tree is doing just fine without those leaves, and new leaves will arrive in time, and all on their own. Not manufactured from some website where trees and leaves get together, it just happens naturally. Some of the leaves have fallen away in my life, and it was very hurtful for a very long time . . . sometimes it still is . . . some hurts take longer than others, but my life is full of good things. It doesn't mean circumstances necessarily changed, the situations that occurred in my life didn't magically resolve and get better, I wasn't given enormous amounts of money, I haven't fallen head first into the greatest job of all time, but I have changed and that makes my world change. Even in the sad moments that I, of course, still have, I know there is light now and more light coming. I have happiness and when my job makes me want run outside screaming and pulling my hair out, I remember that it doesn't define me and I am working toward other endeavors that make me happy. My boss can kick and scream and make herself blue in the face, she has no say in my life.

There is so much in life to be happy about! Trees and leaves, snow and sun, 80's hair bands (I will listen to Bad English sing "When I See You Smile" all day, no joke), pretty dresses, friends, books, weekends, and new paths in life . . . leaving the old behind.

Yay Fall!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Life As A Dance, Life As A Painting

Only love can bring the rain that makes you yearn to the sky. Only love can bring the rain that falls like tears from on high. Love, reign o'er me. Rain on me.

-The Who

I was remiss in posting in August through some fault of my own and some fault of my internet connection giving me the virtual finger for a bit. Damn you technology, how I both love and loathe thee. Just as well because while I had many thoughts bouncing around in the big rubber romper room that resides in my head, few of them reached any sort of conclusion. Good writers can simply write . . . about almost anything . . . at almost any time. An average human, such as myself, taking up space on the planet and on your computer needs inspiration.

I am inspired today by emotion and expression and a movie I just watched. I am quite fond of British movies because of their beautiful use of language, because of their dry and steely wit, because they have far better music than most American movies, because the actors are quite regular looking and not all Americanized glamour-y, and because Brits have the ability to be restrained even in the most egregious situations. They have a calm, regal, stately demeanor that I sometimes wish I possessed. There are, of course, the Sid Vicious types (there are exceptions to every rule) but the general population seems to be far more understated and elegant.

I am rarely understated and elegant. Oh how I wish I were, was, am, could be, will be . . . but alas . . . I almost never have a firm hold on elegance. The movie I watched is "About Time", a sweet story about families and love and the usual bit of happiness with an order of time travel on the side. In this family of well read, well bred, and well spoken English countryside dwellers is a sister who breaks the mold. She is not quiet, she wears purple, she gets in trouble and, quite contrary to all around her, displays emotion quite openly . . . and they love her. They love every loud and brash and strange and different bit of her. They never question who she is, they never ask her to change and even when she finds a calmer way of life, she is still herself. Her brother is the "good one" and he marries a "good girl". I watched the movie thinking how lovely this young couples marriage is, but then I remembered, it's a movie. In real life people who love each other also get angry and have fights. I'm sure when this movie couple of "good guy and good girl" has fights they sit down in the parlour, pour some tea with milk, play Nick Drake in the background, and validate each others feelings with thoughtful and poignant verse. I imagine there are people like that in real life, but I don't know them; that's because my life is a rainbow incarnate and not a snooze fest.

I wrote before about wishing we could change things in our lives, wishing we had done things differently. That feeling affects us all, but unlike the movie, we do not have the ability to travel back in time (at least not that I am aware of) and make things come out right. We do, however, have the ability to look back at those times and move forward on to new times. It's natural for people to get frustrated and want to leave jobs, leave relationships, and sometimes move away. Even as adults we get the child like notion of running away, of fleeing. But what does that fix? You'll just repeat the same things over and over at a different job, in a different relationship, in different surroundings, but nothing has really changed. Stifling emotion, running away, switching partners rather than muddling your way through either a fight or a chat in the parlour with tea and biscuits won't change a thing. So I say . .

let it the hell out peeps!

Showing emotion is not a detriment and, in fact, is a miraculous way to break free of the bile that you've been holding back. It allows you to get to know more about the situation, the person, the frustrating job, and it propels you ever forward. You don't always need to change the situation, you don't always need to change your surroundings and your external influences . . . instead see what happens when you let it all out and stay, learn the value of staying, express emotion and stick with something. Emotions are a glorious painting of who we are, wide brush strokes and vivid colors. Some people are more like water colors and soft kittens, how lovely and peaceful that can be, but even the mewing kittens of the world have claws, so don't think you can hide from it. Expression is a dance, and while it may be a nice waltz at times, there are also times for a full on get down on the town boogie. I remember hearing an interview with Eric Clapton many years ago about his son, Connor, dying. The mother of his child is Italian, he was saying how her side of the family was wailing with grief and how his side was so reserved and almost embarrassed to express their sorrow. It opened his eyes to the wonder of letting it all out. He found it strange and frightening but also, enviable, as he felt forced to mourn privately by his very British-ness. I am wildly unfamiliar with this feeling of reserve, just as I am wildly very familiar with other feelings, I am wildly expressive about pretty much everything. And I love it in others, I want to know when you're hurt so I can help soothe. I want to know when you're uncomfortable so I can be there to comfort. Without expression, how can others step in to give you what you need? As most of you know I love going to yoga. I love it for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is you can cry all through class and not one person will look at you like you're the crazy one in the bunch. I have cried in class and I have witnessed others crying in class, yoga is safe harbor for your emotional deluge, so let it pour like Morton salt.

There have been times in my life when I have truly wished I was a little calmer, a little more obtuse, more of sweet walk in the park and less of a weekend long festival. But in the end, I'm ok with being me. While it's not always easy bein' green, it beats the hell out of beige. And the sweet wife in the movie that always does everything right and never raises her voice?; as the years pass she cuts her hair and starts wearing mom jeans with baggy, mundane sweaters. No amount of life force zapped from me will ever make that come to pass. I will take wild unabashed emotion and floral prints mixed with plaid any day over that.

Get out there my loves, and get it said!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Everything you are is perfection

Words meant but were left unspoken take on a different name, and hearts mend that once were so broken as time heals the pain. 'Til you can find it in your heart to forgive, if not to forget, such a part of life that you lost.

-Paul Weller

Ahhh Paul Weller, my one true love ;-)

Some of you know 2014 has not been a stellar year for me. Some of you don't know . . . 2014 has not been a stellar year for me. You know what doesn't suck about stuff that sucks? The growth and learning, oh hell yeah, you know it. Like we don't all already rock it out enough everyday, we get kicked and learn to be an even greater version of ourselves. BOOM.

So I want to talk about shoulda, coulda, and their asshole brother, woulda. Screw these guys, they suck. Sometimes they come into life posed as helpers, they try to make you think they've arrived to help you grow and learn from your mistakes, but such is not the case. Their sinister purpose is to make you feel like crap and beat yourself up. They love it, but they can go straight to hell. Everyone makes mistakes, some big, some small, some completely on accident, but all based in the eyes of the beholder. Being beaten up over the foul balls in life, holding grudges, constantly bringing up something long gone and failing to forgive, are the mulch that feeds the filthy breeding ground of shoulda, coulda, and woulda. Compassion and love is what makes us grow. Think of the times you've screwed up at work. You know you need to go tell your boss, how do you feel? If you work for someone who wants to see you flourish and grow, someone who is encouraging then it's not going to be half as bad as if you work for someone who has their own demons. Now let me say, we all have our own demons to some extent, but there are those who need to make themselves feel big by making you feel small, and then shoulda, coulda, and woulda come around to haunt you. They rob you of sleep. They rob you of self worth. They give you the impression that if only you had done that one small thing differently then all of life would be different now. Is it true? Maybe, but only in that one instance. If there is something in your life that is going to go haywire, be it work or love or family or child rearing or bowling, it was bound to go haywire at some point anyway.

We're all going to screw up. People with mouths like me will say things they wish they hadn't. Meek people will not say things they wish they had. We'll all wish we had taken a risk, not taken a risk, spent money, saved money, there are a million and ten things in life to feel bad about, but stop it. It can become so insidious, until you start to believe you really are a bad person and maybe even start to manifest it because you believe it. And the thing is, you're awesome the way you are. Sometimes I shoot before I aim, I try not to and mostly I succeed, but it's ok if I don't from time to time. When I fail I apologize, I'm still Laura Ellen, I'm still awesome.

Here is what I've learned in the not so stellar (and yet will quite likely turn out to be very stellar) year of 2014; shoulda, coulda, and woulda can blow me. Everyone can always learn and grow and evolve and continue moving onward and upward in life but along the way, do not forget, DO NOT FORGET . . . that you are crazy f***ing amazing right now. Not later, now. And people who try to hold you victim to some stupid mistake you've made can go wander around in their own barrenness, that is their issue, not yours. What can be harder though, is when we do it to ourselves. Other people are going to find fault with you here and there, regardless of whether it's actually there or not, but you, YOU need to love you. And you know what's awesome about you? Everything. Hell yeah baby, everything! Your off key singing, your fear of public speaking, your mismatched socks, your aversion to mustard, your fear of bees, your resolute hatred of cactus and your insane love for squirrels, these things make us all beautiful.

During this very, very tumultuous year I have sought guidance and counsel and love and sympathetic ears and shoulders on which to cry and relied heavily on my feet to take me out on walks and calm my spirit. I have learned much about me and, I will admit, I wish I had learned it earlier and I often times think if I had, then things would be different now. Maybe, who knows? Shoulda, coulda, woulda, but it's the shit sandwiches in life that guide us to change. Tears and walks and anger and sadness and wondering brings us all closer to happiness eventually, but only if you dig in and do what it takes. Stop beating yourself up, others are going to do it enough for you . . . and stop listening to those that do. As I said before, anyone holding something over your head and unwilling to forgive has their own issues, think how badly they're beating themselves up. Things in my life are lookin' up, and it's all because I love me, and because I love me I have a far greater capacity to love others and offer compassion and know when a situation is not right now for me . . . and I know not to beat myself up. I am so goddamned amazing (remember, I have a deal with God and I am allowed to say goddamnit) because I surround myself with amazing people. I am deeply indebted to Shelly Reimer for her candor, counsel, and insight. I am grateful over and over again for the support and love of my remarkable circle of friends; you have all held me up when I have been down, you have all given me enormous amounts of compassion and understanding and patience. And my wacky, confounding, devoted and insane family, I would not be at all who I am without all of you . . . for better or for worse. ;-)

Look back enough to learn, but your life is now. Don't be a slave to your past.

Hey, 2014 second half . . . I'm comin' for ya!

Saturday, June 7, 2014


"I'm gonna write about the birthday gown that I bought in town when you sat down and cried on the stairs.
You knew it did not cost the earth, but for what it's worth you made me feel a millionaire and you wear it well, Madame Onassis got nothing on you"
Rod Stewart

This month's story is short because it's simple; be kind.

On Memorial Day I was in my front yard gleefully doing my inner city container gardening (would that I had an entire back yard and a full garden, but such is not the case in life for now). Anyway, it's a good thing I wasn't in my imaginary back yard because on that beautiful, sunny, hot day an older gentleman stopped his car across the street from me and did the "sumpthin' ain't right here" lift of the hood. When there is a head buried under the hood of a car pretty much nothing good is occurring . . . unless you are at a car show where peering under the hood is a pleasure if that's your thing. This car was beautiful. I wish I could tell you what it was, but I can't. It looked like an old Cadillac but I wouldn't swear to it. It had been restored and was immaculate. I wondered if he wasn't so delighted with his car that he just needed to stop and stare at his amazing engine, car people love that stuff ya know. After a few minutes he crossed the street and he asked me if I could get him a bucket of water. I thought I misunderstood and he wanted a glass of water, but no, he needed a bucket. It was hot after all, maybe he had a mighty thirst for a whole bucket of water. Who am I to judge anothers drinking vessel of choice? So I popped myself in the house and got this nice man his bucket of water, pronto. No older gentleman is going thirsty on my watch! Turns out the "head under the hood" thing was not engine adoration but, indeed, trouble. I asked him about his car and he said he had put in a lot of work on it, this was the maiden voyage, but there was no way they were both getting back home without water stops along the way. He wanted to buy my bucket. He pulled out his wallet and tried to give me $5.00 for my cheap ass plastic Target bucket (Cheap Ass Plastic Target Bucket should totally be a band name). Of course I didn't let him pay me. He tried again and we bandied a bit until I said "I insist. Knowing you have gotten home safely is surely worth the price of a bucket". He thanked me and went on his way. Now this story in and of itself is not entirely captivating, any one of you would have done the same. What is captivating is that yesterday I came home to find that bucket on my front step with a note from the older gentleman thanking me for the use of my bucket. I damn near sat down on my steps and wept. I will keep that note until the day I die. That note is a reminder that there is goodness in the world and sometimes it doesn't take any more than a kind word and cheap plastic bucket to find it.

Every day we have choices in how we act towards others and, let's not forget, how we act towards ourselves as well. As the Dalai Lama has said "Our prime purpose in this life is to help others, and if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them". People are going to hurt you, most by accident, but others will just be careless and thoughtless and selfish. Sometimes it can feel like the world is full of hurt and anger and sadness and fear. People hurt others based on their own fears, that's their damage, not yours. When others act demeaning toward you, that doesn't mean you need to be demeaned by it.

Happiness is everywhere. I was already happy when I was just planting my flowers. Then helping a nice man made me even happier, then when he repaid my kindness with a kind word, c'mon, only ice cream could improve that story. But even if kindness isn't repaid, it's still worth doing because it just makes you feel good, and sometimes that's enough. Smile at a stranger, not in a creeper way, just a smile. It makes people happy. Hug someone you love. My yoga instructor hugged me after class this morning and I didn't want to let go, and she didn't push me away and make me let go until I was good and done. There's almost nothing better in the whole wide world than a real hug, c'mon, only ice cream can improve on that. Yoga, hugs, and ice cream; feel free to use that as a band name, I've got dibs on Cheap Ass Plastic Target Bucket. Pay for someone's coffee, go visit people when they're sick, send a birthday card, or say a prayer. Help people. Love People. Be kind to people. And when people harm you, remember this, THEY CANNOT DEMEAN YOU. When I think of this I think of Gandolf saying "YOU SHALL NOT PASS"! And so they shan't.

So, like I said, short and to the point this month. Be kind to one another.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Shoulder Seasons

Gonna take a trip to Laredo, gonna take a dip in the lake. Oh, I'm at a crossroads with myself, I don't got no one else. Possibilities at the door, I won't be needing them anymore. Oh, is this the first time in your life it's hard just to get by?

-Band of Horses

I hate spring and fall. There, I said it. I HATE SPRING AND FALL. I hate them because I am an all or nothing kinda girl, I have little patience for things that are half assed. I don't like half assed relationships (piss or get off the pot). I don't like leaving events early just to miss traffic on the way home (if you've committed to it then you've committed to all of it including traffic so make the best of it), I don't like black eyed peas without cornbread (who does that?). If you're doing something then be a Jet and be a Jet all the way from your first cigarette to your last dying day.

That's why I hate the shoulder seasons. Winter is beautiful, the snow is pristine and the world is full of quiet beauty. Winter is snowboarding and snowshoeing and long walks while the snow falls and warm sweaters and Bailey's Irish Cream in your coffee. Winter is a time to nest and snuggle.

Summer is freaking awesome! Sundresses with flip flops, all day every day. Everytime I walk outside and feel the sun on my face it feels like a big hug from Mother Nature. Summer is a time to take a nap outside and plant living things and ride my bike and eat salted watermelon. Summer is a time to be languid and oozy and drape yourself across a porch swing while saying "Sugah lamb, will you pour me some more lemonade? And bring mama a nice cold beer to chase it down with".

Winter is cold. Summer is hot. Spring and Fall are iffy and non-committal. I can't stand iffy and non-committal. You don't know what you're getting. There is the hope that something good this way comes, but hope doesn't always amount to much. And how long does hope expect you and me to wait around before we say "screw you, I've got other places to be and the bus is pullin' up".


So this brings me to getting what one wants in life. I have set an intention on what I want in my life. In looking back on a situation recently experienced I can see, with the clarity of hindsight, that while I have had a goal, I only had the goal, not the means to reach this goal. Without smaller milestones along the way and without focus I addled off into a realm that could have been, and should have been, avoided. I only had wishful thinking, not a path of intent and vision. I have never much bothered with baby steps in attaining what I want because they are not the big finish. Now, however, I am learning the value of the path, the value of its equal parts of pain and pleasure, and the lessons that both bring.

Often times we can get so focused on what we want, we fail to see when the ship is sinking. Life will bring us all what is best, and so many times we fight it. We push and push and push for something so crazy wrong for us until it blows up into something that, akin to Humpty Dumpty, can't be put back together again . . .

and that's ok.

As C.S. Lewis tells us, there are far far better things ahead than any we leave behind. Sometimes it's hard to believe, but give it some time, it's true. Setting an intention can be sticky, because it requires focus but also, an equal amount of letting go and allowing life to bring its greatness to you. What if you want to be the CEO of Oracle and you push so hard for that you don't leave yourself open to being the CEO of Apple? Have a vision, have focus, have clarity and intention and fortitude, plant that seed and if tulips bloom instead of gladiolas, don't be sad-iola. (insert your eyeball rolling here). Or hell, be sad-iola, that's ok, and then move on and love your beautiful tulips.

So, do spring and fall suck? Well, they're not my favorite BUT, spring beckons us to plant and be outside and shed the layer of cold. Fall brings football and the excitement of change. In my life I am opening myself to the beauty of what life brings randomly on my chosen path that doesn't feel random. Make plans, and then be open to the curves those plans will take. Know who you are. Know what you will accept. Know what you will not accept. Let others be who they are, it's ok if it doesn't align with who you are, they are on their own path just as you are on yours.

Don't go changin' . . .

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I'm looking through you, where did you go? I thought I knew you, what did I know?
You don't look different, but you have changed. I'm looking through you, you're not the same.
-The Beatles

At some point you have been, or will be, told a lie by someone you trust . . . . or trusted up to that point.

You will find someone with their hand in the cookie jar, you will point out said hand in said cookie jar, and that person will look you straight in the face and say “It’s not what you think”.

But it is.

It’s exactly what you think because you’re not an idiot. That’s right, YOU are not the idiot. You may feel like an idiot, but you aren’t the one who engaged in idiotic behavior. Unfortunately, you are the one who feels like you’ve been kicked in the stomach. You are the one who feels betrayed. You are the one who is now looking at the person you thought you knew and wondering “Who are you? Do I know anything at all about you, other than you’re a liar? How long have you been lying? What else have you lied about? Was anything you ever said true”? In one fell swoop everything you know, or knew, is cast out the window and the person you thought you knew is a stranger; you throw the baby out with the bath water. You begin to look back in your history with this person, the sniglets of questioning that showed themselves before, they suddenly change from nagging thought you once pushed away to “Oh my God. Then? Did you lie then too?” You want to believe that person, oh my word how you want to believe them, you don’t want to believe what is happening, but it is.

People tell lies to protect others. People tell lies out of fear. People tell lies out of embarrassment or shame. Are there acceptable lies? Sure. Does this skirt make my butt look big? No . . . no it sure does not. Do you like my new hair cut? Yes! Everyone loves a regulation military flat top on a woman, it’s quite fetching! Some lies are just rhetorical answers to rhetorical questions. Other lies truly do protect; without deception no one would have hidden Jewish people in closets and basements and barns during WWII, without deception the abused would have nowhere to run and hide and find shelter from their abusers. But others are just flat out cruel. Few things are worse than the pain of being purposely deceived for the benefit of the liar, and only the liar. Your emotions are not even remotely interesting to the cruel liar. Even the painful truth is nowhere near as painful as the slap in the face that is a lie, it’s not about “you and me and getting through this rough moment”. It’s about ME (thinks the liar) and getting as far away from this as possible with no thought whatsoever of anyone else or consequences.

But as William Shakespeare reminds us, the truth will always out. And it does, the truth is always, always revealed. First, you can tell someone is lying while it’s happening, it’s obvious. Next, people love to talk, good Lord how people love to talk! Either through gossip or the liar’s own inability to shut the hell up, the truth will be told; give people enough rope and they will indeed hang themselves. But last, and perhaps most important, it’s just the way of the karmic fates that preside over our morality. Untruths are always uncloaked. Lies make life unbalanced. They briefly tip the scales in one person’s favor under very covert and questionable circumstances, since that’s not fair the yin and yang of the world won’t keep it that way forever. Lies take away our freedom of choice. When someone paints an incorrect picture for you they have robbed you of your choices on how to proceed. Your own free will in a situation that involves you and your life is taken. You are not given the option of how to handle the situation for yourself. Lying clearly sacrifices the liar’s dignity, but it also sacrifices the dignity of the person on the receiving end. It brings everyone down to a base level. Lying is also arrogant. Lying says “I have the upper hand. This situation is about control and power, not about faith in you or me or our ability to get through this difficult moment so I am going to take control and orchestrate everything my way”. Thus it is decreed, the gavel bangs, all rise, kiss the ring of the controlling liar as you exit.

Arrogance, deception, furtiveness; all dangerous and dicey and slippery. These are the facets of lying that we can look to when we are in pain after having been victimized by lying. These things help us to feel less victimized and gain some foot hold again. We need these power moments of anger to help us swing the pendulum back our way just a bit, we need the shift of power. And we need these moments of strength to give us some respite from the bitter pain of being so utterly disrespected. The crush of knowing you mean so little to someone that they would rather wave you off with a lie than have an above board conversation with you is shocking. It can be destroying to learn this person has no self respect, no respect for you, and no respect for whatever relationship it is you have. Lying is cruel . . . cruel to all involved, be it voluntarily or involuntarily. Lying is bollocks.

As always, I like to bring my real life experience stories around to a positive end, so let’s move on and make with the happy!

Remember, everything really is for the best. Sometimes you need to learn the person you have faith in is absent of integrity and undeserving of your faith. Sometimes it’s the only way to get the muck and toxicity out of your life. It can shake your world and leave a terrible void to lose respect for someone. This person who once stood tall in your eyes is reduced to a simpering mass of timidity. It hurts to see it happen, but it is for the best. This is not a place you should be. Throughout the roller coaster of emotions that occur; anger, shock, devastation, nonchalance, tons and tons of “chalance”; and the physical response of stomach knots, remember this . . . it is not about you, it is no reflection on you, and let me reiterate this is not a place you should be. Get angry, cry, write terrible songs and crappy blogs, then drop it and move on.

One day, when you can, if you can, try to send some good thoughts out to the person that deceived you, they need it. Something is going on inside that person that has nothing to do with you, nothing at all. Their actions are coming from somewhere sad, or hurt, or fearful. They didn't lie to you, they lied about themselves, remember the difference. You don’t have to love what they did, and I’m not suggesting you go back for more (let us harken back to THIS IS NOT A PLACE YOU SHOULD BE), just try to separate the behavior from the person. You will eventually forgive and forget, like the Taoist river flowing over the rock – you will not beat your head against it, your life will move on, you will shine on, leaving their rock of deceit in your wake, but they will still carry the deceit. Now the balance of power has shifted your way, but who wants that? Just as lying is arrogant, so is being didactic, so play nice. Try to keep life balanced, try to be fair and loving.

Nature, time, and patience are the three great healers.

Love all y’all!