Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Thing We Want

Dream of West Virginia or of the British Isles, 'cause when you are dreaming you see for miles and miles. When you are much older, remember when we sat at midnight on the windowsill and had this little chat . . . and dream, come on and dream.

-Tom Waits

This morning I had coffee with an old friend of mine after yoga, as I do on most Sunday mornings. I have known this woman for 30 years, not a lot of secrets or polite and blind agreement with everything the other one says, we both calls 'em likes we sees 'em. Talk turns to marriage, dating, divorce, children . . . usual Sunday morning coffee talk and she says "if he's wearing bad jeans, right off the bat that's a deal breaker". I laugh and she assures me, she is not kidding. We discuss if helping a partner learn how to dress better is a fixable problem or if you should just dig someone as is. Cut to story number two, several months ago a friend of mine began dating a man that has turned out to be pretty awesome . . . but he doesn't drink coffee. When she told me this I said "deal breaker". She laughed and I assured her I was not kidding. Coffee is morning bonding time, craving coffee together, getting your fix together, having coffee outside and sharing the paper. She says "what about tea?", but no, you don't crave tea the way you crave coffee, the tea drinker will never truly be on board; they will never understand.

Let's go to story number three. On the way home from Common Grounds this morning I was listening to Radio Lab on NPR . . . because I am a nerd (deal breaker?). There was a story about a woman whose mother was artificially inseminated, she is borne of a donor father. She feels lost, there is a piece of her that she knows nothing about, a bit of her is untethered. She loves her family but markedly feels the differences . . . she is 5'2", everyone else in her family is 5' 10" to 6' 5". She is yearning to know her father, she needs to know her father. (insert your Darth Vader jokes here) And so her search begins. All she knows is where he went to college, what years he was there, and his major. She scours yearbooks from those years thinking "his face will leap off the page, I will know that's him". But it didn't. She started a letter writing campaign to men who fell in her search parameter, about 1/3 of them responded. Many of them even had their DNA tested . . . but none of them were her father. Eventually she connected with a girl on a website seeking donor parents, this girl was born in the same area of the country around the same time. They meet each other, they have so much in common they instantly bond. They are convinced they are sisters and for a brief and shining moment in time she has found something . . . but it turns out they aren't sisters. All her efforts become vapors.

We can want something so badly we convince ourselves it's true, convince ourselves it's right, convince ourselves it's good for us, and that it was meant to be . . . and when that turns out to be wrong it can be a cold slap in the face. How could life deny me a parent? a child? a partner? a family? How could life deny me love and happiness? It seems implausible, let alone impossible. Have I been wearing the wrong jeans this whole time?

We are told to go after what we want, create our own reality, make a list of what you want, manifest those things, don't settle, be diligent in getting what you want.

We are likewise told to live in the now, be in the moment, let life unfold for you as it should, don't be so rigid, chill out, don't worry about "deal breakers".

I suppose like any code, cult, or dogmatic dictate we can make these lessons apply liberally when want, and more scant at other times. Work hard or let things come to you, try to create a relationship with someone that isn't really right or let the people and patterns of life fall where they may. We all have to do what is right for us.

I don't know what will happen with bad jeans wearing guy . . . that's not true, I do know, and it's got nothing to do with his jeans. I don't know what will happen with non-coffee drinking guy . . . that's not true either, I'm pretty sure I do know, and it's got nothing to do with coffee. When someone, something, someplace is right I don't think you need to convince yourself of it. There may be days it's a bit more challenging and you have to remind yourself of why it's right . . . not even someone who wears the right jeans and drinks coffee is a walk in the park every day. But if your phone rings while you're at work, you see that name think "Seriously? I'm at work, I'm busy", then, I dunno, give that some thought, because someone else could call you in the middle of the day at work and you get all tingly and happy. You will create the space for the things that are right, just as those things will create space for you. It doesn't always go the way you want. Just as our friend looking for her father did, we have all convinced ourselves something is right based on how badly we've wanted it, and sometimes it turns out to be utterly wrong.

I'll leave you with another story. Some time ago I was dating someone I cared for very much. I was at his house one afternoon, I was inside the house, I think I may have reading, it doesn't really matter. He was outside working on his lawn, he takes much pride in his yard and garden. I glanced up, and out the front window I saw a tall, gangly, dorky, sweaty man who had just taken off his hat and his sweaty hair was contorted every which way on his head. He looked ridiculous, and I felt a sensation deep in my stomach and I knew, if he were wearing black socks and white velcro sneakers like an old man I would still love him. I felt deeply satisfied, sure, and content . . . but I was wrong. It was not to be, but, and this is a very important but, what I felt was real. It didn't last, it wasn't right, but I still got to feel love for another person and that, my friends, is glorious.

But don't be under the impression black socks and white velcro sneakers are cool . . . they are deal breakers.

Love ya, mean it.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Safety and Banality

Sandy, the waitress I was seein' lost her desire for me. I spoke with her last night, she said she won't set herself on fire for me anymore. She worked that joint under the boardwalk, she was always the girl you saw boppin' down the beach with the radio.

-Bruce Springsteen

Yesterday my fortune cookie said "Be mischievous and you will not be lonesome". This is a tidbit I have known my entire life. I have been mischievous from birth. Once I accidentally broke a cookie jar through a botched attempt at monkey barring my way up the kitchen cabinets to gain access to said cookie jar (I was supposed to be napping). My brother and I brought a turtle in the house and kept it in a shoe box without telling my mom. I "borrowed" my sisters platforms to wear to school without her knowing when I was far too young to be wearing platforms. Mischief makes for good stories. Mischief is far more interesting than "I did everything just right my whole life and now I have this nice tract home in the suburbs. The End". Mischief lights up life.

As I scan my life for this story, I think of the many, many mischievous and enlightening and endearing people I have the pleasure of knowing. I am surrounded and nourished by searching souls. I have a friend who flew to Romania on a whim, fell in love, quit his job and is learning to be a jeweler. I have friends who race their bikes in monstrous conditions . . . and win because they are also bad asses. I have a friend who quit his good job as an engineer to join Americorp, and he has now taken that about 18 steps further and lives almost entirely off the grid . . . I am not kidding, he makes his own shoes for heavens sake. (I heart you Beej!) I am privileged to know some of the most incredible people God has chosen to put on this planet. I know people who start their own businesses, people who snowboard down some of the steepest terrain you can imagine, people who have climbed Kilimanjaro, and people who feed the homeless in soup kitchens. And even in my own family; my uncle was a big deal in the tiny little town where he lived his entire adult life. He didn't go to Africa, he didn't race bicycles or snowboards, he didn't quit his job and go somewhere exciting, but he had the sense of mischief it takes to become a teacher and a coach. He was a great influence in Mansfield, LA, such that there is a little park named for him. His loss was felt by many and I am so proud to call him my uncle.

We, the mischievous, are birds of feather; and often as well have bright plumage, loud caws, beautiful songs, and wings to fly away.

The title of this entry is Safety And Banality and that is, indeed, where I am going with this thread. Safety is important. We wear seat belts, we wear helmets, we wear life jackets, and we even dip our toes in the pool before jumping in. All good things, these. But you know that's not what I'm talking about. I am talking about taking life by the horns, kissing it square on the face and shouting "I LOVE YOU LIFE"! I have a very dear friend, Sara Jane. Sara Jane has played such an important role in my life, probably more than she knows. Sara Jane taught me the joy of spontaneity. Sara Jane taught me to use all my vacation days and all my sick days, why save them? Sara Jane taught me to say yes to not knowing what lay beyond the next hill. Sara Jane taught me to take the road less traveled and not be afraid, or be afraid but do it anyway. Sara Jane taught me to let go of old fashioned ideas of what should be and embrace what is. Sara Jane taught me there are 24 hours in each day, all to be used, and I can sleep when I'm dead. And then there is Shib, my very dear friend and bright light in my life, my Shib. Shib once reminded me that, like Ferris Bueller, sometimes you just have to say "What the f**k", and I remember this often. Why not drive to Dillon at 10:00 pm? Why not go camping on a whim with no plan? What's there to stop you? So what if the laundry doesn't get done today? Don't worry about it, it'll still be there tomorrow. Why let laundry or a clean house or grocery shopping rule your precious time off? People do though, people do.

I was at a friends house once and I saw a postcard from his girlfriend. She was out of the county and sent him a postcard that was as safe and banal as they come. Yes, I am judging. But if my partner in life were on a trip and sent me a postcard that said "Hi, doing this today and that tomorrow", I would throw up a little in my mouth. Wow, super interesting. I'll tell you something else, he never gets excited about his girlfriend. They have been together a while and I would bet much that he marries her, but he is not on fire for her. I have asked him about it and he said "it's easy and it's safe". Blah blah blah. Shoot me, just shoot me. But he's right, she's as mundane and mild mannered as milk toast. Safe and banal. No.Thank.You.

Oh my friends, my many interesting, exciting, adventurous, and beautiful friends, wild horses couldn't drag you all away . . . because every one of you would grab the mane, hoist yourselves up, and ride off in the distance to the next adventure on the horizon . . . and with you all in my life I am never lonesome, just as my fortune cookie espoused. I love you all . . . and


Sunday, April 26, 2015

So Happy I'm Annoying

When I hear that robin sing, well I know it's comin' on Spring, and oooo-eeeee we're starting a new life. I've been shoveling that snow away, working for my pay and all I've got to say is we're starting a new life.
-Van Morrison

Life is full of great things; skittles, puppies, pretty much anything that's orange, and salsa music. A couple of weeks ago in my Toastmasters group we talked about ending up on accidental adventures and turning lemons into lemonade. People shared some very funny and very inspiring stories, and even though all the events started as a big pain in the backside, everyone dealt with their lemons, figured a way to work through the lemons and ended up smiling. Life is funny and awkward sometimes, but mostly it's pretty awesome.

So awesome, in fact, that I'm struggling this month to keep my mind on writing and my brain focused. The inside of my head is almost always like a bucket of forks, but right now in particular, I don't have much to say. I just want to smile, pat children on the head, read books, share good times with my friends, go on long walks, and see super cool stuff at the museum. Most people who paint, draw, sculpt, write music, write poetry, write song lyrics, or create just about anything say that they have a wealth of things to draw from when life is rough, but then it's hard to conjure up anything when you're happy. It's true! If I just run around singing "everything is awesome" all the time, you're going to get sick of me . . . or are you? I love being around happy people. I know someone who is constantly saying how unhappy his relationship is, how he wants to do this or that, how he hasn't lived up to his potential, blah blah blah. What sticks in my craw about this is, he always just says it but never does anything about it. This makes me think he's either settling for less and just living his life out Eeyore style OR he really is pretty happy but for whatever reason just likes to be a sad sack. Either way, I felt bad for him when I first met him, but then as time passed and nothing changed, including his attitude, I got sick of hearing about it. It's ok to be sad, 100% ok, and it's ok to sit with that for a while, but if you're not making any moves whatsoever toward a brighter tomorrow, then you're just the boy who cried wolf, and that's boring. Plus, if you're constantly talking badly about your relationship but keeping it going then you're just a butthole.

Happy is a lot more fun. Happy opens your world up. Happy makes you smile at people and you notice how many people out there are also smiling, smiling at you and everyone else. Happy is motivating. Happy gets you up and out of bed and ready to spend a day among the living. Happy is allowing . . . allowing people in, allowing people to be who they are, allowing you to be who you are, happy is sharing and happy is about a billion times easier than being closed off. Again, and I can't stress this enough, sometimes closed off is necessary and it's ok, but if that's not your natural state then you know how hard it is to not be happy. You miss it, and people miss the real you, the happy you.

This month is short, and quite frankly not that interesting, but I'm too happy to be interesting! I love my new job, I love my new yoga studio, I love my friends and my cat and my car and ice cream and toastmasters and I have a crush and that's super fun and I love rain and snow and sunshine and . . .


Tuesday, March 17, 2015


When I was born they looked at me and said what a smart boy, what a strong boy. And when you were born they looked at you and said what a smart girl, what a pretty girl. We've got these chains that hang around our necks, people want to strangle us with them before we take our first breath. Afraid of change, afraid of staying the same, when temptation calls we just look away.

Barenaked Ladies

So last month we started with confidence and moved on to vulnerability, which is where we're starting today. Oh vulnerability, our tricky friend, our wonderful gift mistakenly disguised as weakness . . . and yet, the very epitome of strength, courage, and eventually confidence.

I talked before about hiding in the blanket fort of fear. It feels safe and comforting, small, warm, cozy. Small . . . really small, smaller still, and darker, closing in until eventually the warmth of your comfort has become a prison and you're clothed in a hairshirt of your own making. You become the agoraphobic neighbor staring out the window at the rest of world, fearful. Not so comforting now, eh?

Opening yourself up to vulnerability is not something people generally relish, but I urge you to think back on situations where you took a risk. Some went well. Some, not so much. But what of those that we label "not so much"? We name things as good, bad, ugly, pretty, smart, dumb, but those are all labels dependent on our own personal circumstance and idea of good and bad. I am astounded when people say they don't like peppermint patties, but apparently those people exist . . . I say good, they say bad, and the truth is neither, or both. And from more complex life situations we can learn a lot about things that make us both happy and sad, and the sad can end up being the greatest thing that happens to us, but if we are not open and vulnerable, how will we know? We'll just spend our existence wearing a hairshirt inside a self imposed prison with stunted growth.

I had a snowboarding incident a couple of weeks ago. I partially tore my MCL and I have some fluid on my knee resulting from meniscus injury. That, in and of itself, isn't very interesting BUT . . . some pretty great things came of that. I had to reach out to people for help. I had to make myself vulnerable. I couldn't get myself to the Dr's office on my own, I had to have help going to the grocery store, and shoveling my snowy walk. There was only one person who didn't respond to me when I asked for help, I was stunned and it hurt. You know what's awesome about it though . . . now I know, I know where that person stands in my life and that is a seriously great thing, so freeing. A chain around my neck to lose, an albatross to free, because I made myself vulnerable. My friends and neighbors gathered around with offers of rides, and crutches, and visits and every sort of help . . . and I took them up on it. I was vulnerable enough to say "Yes, I need help".

As I mentioned above, there is an aspect of freedom in vulnerability. You have no idea what will happen, you just keep yourself open to possibility, and it's so amazing what will come your way. You may have thought that you wanted something very specific, but if you keep yourself open and not getting bogged down in how things are supposed to look, even more amazing things will come your way. Let's think about "The Blind Side". You've seen this movie, right? Everyone has, if not, then I suggest it . . . make yourself vulnerable and try it. What if Sandra Bullock's character was dead set on having two white children that she birthed itself and nothing else at all, ever, that's it? But she wasn't, she was open to inviting someone else in her life and it expanded the joy of her family. There is so much beauty to be found in opening our ideas, or even better, letting go of them. An enormous black teenager from the worst side of town finding a home with a well to do, white family, whoda thunk it? And he was vulnerable enough to say yes, it took openness and courage and faith and vulnerability on everybody's part in that story.

I had a plan for the first 50 years of my life, a fairly rigid plan. My life now in no way, shape, form, or fleeting misty thought whispered on the wind resembles the plan I had. And now, now that I have no plan going forward, I am open to whatever may come my way, and I can't wait for the surprises. All the albatrosses have been freed to go hang around someone else's neck. No more hairshirt, no more prison of comfort because that prison strangled me. Open yourself to greatness to see what happens, and remember that it is all good - even when you reach out for help and get nothing back, it is good, because then you know, and you don't have to think about it ever again. The world is constantly conspiring to make you happy, so let go and let the world spin around you, stop trying to make it do what you want. Ignorance breeds fear, fear brings us shame and shame puts us on lock down. Give them all the finger, be vulnerable. Vulnerability breeds compassion and love for ourselves and others. So do it, you may tear a knee but it will heal, you may lose someone but if you do, did you ever really have them?

Open it up and let the world shine a little love on you!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fear Is A Big Dummy

On we sweep with threshing oar, our only goal will be the western shore. So now you better stop and rebuild all your ruins, peace and trust can win the day despite of all your losing.

-Led F***ing Zeppelin

Boldly go where no man has gone before. Onward through the fog. Yea, though I walk through the valley of death. Buck up Buttercup.

Fear is a powerful thing. Fear isn't real, it's only a story we tell ourselves, but we are powerful creatures and our imaginations are strong. Fear is often cloaked and disguised as protection, fear is sinister and tricky like that. Fear has it's place at times, there is good reason to fear a rattlesnake all coiled up and eyeballing you. Should you encounter this . . . turn the f*** around and run. But I am, of course, talking about the fear in life that robs us of true joy. Fear is limiting, fear makes us live conditionally, fear says you are good enough for some things, but not others. Fear is an asshole. Let's imagine you know someone who does their best to tell you that you can only go so far, who tells you are not good enough for this or that so don't even try, who whispers in your ear what a failure you will be and how embarrassing it will be and then no one will like you and it would be so much better if you just settled for oatmeal raisin cookies because you can never hope to achieve or attain enough to warrant chocolate chip cookies? And who the hell EVER chooses oatmeal raisin over chocolate chip willingly? No one, not one single living soul. Anyway, let's say this is a real person, would you ever talk to that person again? Would you ever, ever say "Wow, you are a good friend for belittling me and enumerating all the ways in which I am not worthy. Thank you kind citizen!" Or would you tell that person to go straight to hell? The voice in your head that tells you you can't do something can go straight to hell, and we all must find the courage to stand up to that voice . . . and just like the cowardly lion, it's there, it's been there all along.

So as I mentioned before, fear can seem like a protective blanket. You can hide in your fort of fear made of blankets and peer out at the world and feel quite safe for a very long time. But what about when you see all the other kids having fun? What about all the other kids climbing trees and riding bikes? Oh but wait, that kid just fell out of the tree and broke his arm, that other kid tried to pop a wheelie on his bike and fell and now everyone is laughing. I can't do that, I may hurt myself, I may fall and people may laugh, I may be embarrassed. True enough, all true, and then where will you be? One day the broken arm will heal, one day the wheelie will be mastered with continued effort, and you will still be in your blanket fort of fear. Your warm blanket of protection ever growing into a relentless prison of stagnation. Oh I know, all too well I know. You think I'm just talking about all y'all and not me? Puhlease. We all have fears. Lorde has been quoted as saying she fears nothing. While I don't believe that to be true what I do believe is that she isn't paralyzed by fear. She doesn't allow herself to stay in one place for fear of what may happen in the next. No one is fearless, but doesn't that make the world so much more warm and welcoming? You're not the only one! I'm not the only one! And guess what friends and loved ones, we are all going to fail and to that I say, BIG DAMN DEAL.

People like to tell me they don't do yoga because they can't, they aren't flexible. Well no kidding, that's why you go. Spanish 101 isn't for people who speak fluent Spanish, it's for people who want to learn. Saying "I don't know how" and "I can't" are true, but do you want to learn? Do you want to try? Then try. I've had a couple of new opportunities and pathways come into my life in the past few months. My first reaction to every single one of those things was fear. You know what's so ridiculous? I had asked for every one of those things to come to my life. We are powerful creatures, if you ask for safety you will get it, but it may be at the cost of joy and passion. If you ask for joy and passion you will get it, and your first reaction may be fear. Sometimes I crack myself up, I ask for something new, I get it and the first thing I think is "eeek! I can't do that! I don't know how to do that!" Well no kidding Einstein, of course you don't know how to do it . . . yet, it's new. But you can, and if you resolve to do it, you will. Not flawlessly, not effortlessly, this isn't a Disney movie. There will be much flaw and effort and skinned knees and bruised ego but if this is what you want, work for it. Option 2: do not expand your view, do not try something that shakes you up, only do things that are safe and easy . . . stay exactly as you are, right now, for the rest of your days, learn nothing, experience nothing. Mmmmmmm, oatmeal raisin because chocolate chip is out of my league.

So fear, well it's f***ing scary, no doubt about it. I just joined Toastmasters and if I don't soil myself the first time I get up to speak I am going to consider that an enormous success. Now here comes the part no one wants to hear (like everything previous has been so heart warming), having courage takes vulnerability. YIKES! Who wants that?! Vulnerability, oh boy, it makes people shrink and shrivel. But I tell you this, being vulnerable and aiming for what you really want, what you really want and not just what you will settle for takes courage. Vulnerability takes bravery and stamina and fortitude beyond compare and that, my dear readers, is where we will go next month. For this month . . . go forth and conquer

Sunday, January 18, 2015


I have often walked down this street before, but the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before. All at once I'm several stories high knowing I'm on the street where you live.

-Alan Jay Lerner

So I had this month's blog all written and ready to go, just another read through to be sure, then post and watch Downton Abbey. It's a beautiful night outside here in Colorful Colorado so I went out for a walk and some fresh air, get a little time away from the blog, then re-read and see if I still like it. But then . . .

I ran into someone I know while I was out and it all changed.

Why do we see people at some points in our lives? Why do we run into people at the bus stop, on a walk, in a bar? In my neighborhood that's not really much of a question because I live in a very neighborhood-y 'hood. I see people I know all the time, but some more than others. Now, I should point out that when I saw this person I had rounded the corner from a circle I take often and was quite near my friends house so not really a mystery . . . but what are the odds? 100%. The odds are 100%, we see the people we are intended to see in that place and at that time, we just don't always know why. Sometimes there's no "why" at all. I saw my next door neighbor earlier today and he asked to borrow an egg, not an incident that I will ever think of again unless I am re-reading this post. But other times, times that give you a strong reaction, times that make you feel embarrassed or happy or sad or melancholy or angry . . . or all of those at once; "Oh my God I don't want to see him, do I jump in a bush?!" or "Oh holy crap! I am so happy to see you I want to run and jump up on you and kiss your whole face!". 'Tis a quandry at times.

A couple of years ago I saw a man I had dated many years before out to breakfast with his girlfriend. Any pain and animosity between he and I is long since gone and we are quite good friends, time heals all wounds. That said, I had never seen him with another woman and I had to check in with myself for a minute; "How do I feel about this? Am I ok?". Turns out I was ok, but I needed a minute to do a scan. No break up is easy, but at least when someone tells you "I just can't do it" and it turns out they really can't, then you can feel good about getting the truth and I believe this is why he and I are friends. The crazy thing about this story is, I live in Denver, he lives in Summit County, and we saw each other in Crested Butte. What are the odds? 100%. The odds are 100%, and he is still my dear friend, I love him more than ice cream . . . well, some flavors anyway.

You all know I write this stuff to make you laugh and to make you feel comforted if and when you do the same dumb shit I do. It takes some amount of vulnerability to share my crazy life and this past year, more than ever, I am learning the value of vulnerability. Being vulnerable relies on truth telling, not acting like you've always got it all together, not being the one-man band with the cymbals between my knees, trained monkey dancing on my shoulder, million dollar smile, every joke a winner, juggling fire, and an enormous bank account to boot. You can only keep that shit up for so long before all the fire sticks you've been juggling fall down around you and burn up all the old crap. Being vulnerable, telling the truth, and opening ones self up is scary . . . but if you are as blessed as I am you have a someone or two in your life that you can tell everything and they love you still, just as much, possibly more for being truthful and real. Real people are way more interesting than fire jugglers, and way more relatable.

More and more I have opened myself up to vulnerable situations and, whaddya know, more and more good stuff comes to me. It's the abandonment of fear . . . no, that's not right, it's the acceptance perhaps of fear. Stuff is gonna scare ya, so are you just going to hide forever? Not say how you you feel? Not spend time alone to find out who you are? Oddly, this is exactly what the blog I already wrote is about, so maybe we can just call this one part 1.

In this case, I can tell you why I saw this person (hellooooo vulnerable, I am about to share something private!). It's because I prayed/sent good vibes/mediated/whatever you like to call it, about this person JUST YESTERDAY. Yes, it's true, I did. I can't tell you more than that because then it's really private and gets into someone else's business and I am not at liberty to do such. You all know you're safe with me, none of your confidences show up here, nor will they ever. But I will take this semi public forum to admit that I thought of this person, and was then drawn in that direction, and then BAM! HELLO YOU ON THE STREET!

Why do we run into people? For fun sometimes, I ran into a friend in Moab a couple of years ago, how fun is that?! For a quick check in sometimes, I saw my friend on the 16th mall shuttle and I am NEVER on that thing. And other times, maybe there are bigger reasons; to let you know you are ok, to let you know you are not ok, to let you know you are loved, to let you know that there other things in the world for you but maybe they are on a different path. If you find a reason, then God love ya that's awesome, and if you can't, maybe it's nothing more than a neighbor borrowing an egg.

I love every last one of you.