THE BLOG I ALMOST WROTE…

 

This is not the blog I wrote this morning.  I scrapped that one.  It started like this:

“Did you ever have one of those days?  I recently found out that the guy I had a 5-year relationship with (a relationship that ended painfully because he just could not make a commitment and I needed to move on with my life) – just got married.”

And from there it got worse.  I went through my relationships and analyzed them, but when I stepped back it was all either bragging or whining.

And nobody needs that shit.

Yes, I was hurt.  The words came out like blood from a still-open wound.  When you loved someone a lot, it takes a long time to get over it. And maybe nobody understands.  But would it really help if they did?  I can talk about why I’m awesome (which is true.)  I can talk about how I’ve been wronged (which is also true.)  In the end, all I can do is learn and grow and carry on.  I don’t know why I was placed on this earth, and I don’t know how long I’ll be here.  I do know that I have been blessed in many areas.  I’ve made some good choices at good times.  I’ve also made bad ones. And a lot of life boils down to luck.

Some of the things I have hashed over for year after year are just like a dog chasing its tail.  As human beings, we get stuck in these cycles. But I don’t want it anymore. I feel like one reason I’m not resolving my biggest issue (being single for way too long!) is that I am spewing out negativity and regret into the universe, the place where my next and best partner (soulmate, amante, lover) is waiting! He’s probably waiting out the storm of negative energy.

So in the interest of renewal, I have decided to change my zodiac sign.  I fear it is the only solution.  I am going to stop being a sensitive (sometimes whiney-ass) Pisces and let my rising sign, Taurus the bull, take over.

Check out a Taurus description from Horoscope.com:

Strong, dependable Taurus leads the way when it comes to reaping the rewards of hard work. Lovers of everything that is fine and beautiful, Taureans surround themselves with material gains. This is a sensual, tactile sign. Touch is very important in everything from work to romance. Stable and conservative, Taureans are among the most reliable of the zodiac. While sometimes viewed as stubborn, this sign will plod along on a task until the very end, ensuring that everything is up to standard. They’re highly creative and thoroughly enjoy making things with their own hands.

 

Now let’s look at Pisces:

“Understanding” is a most appropriate keyword for this gentle, affectionate sign. Easygoing and generally accepting of others around them, Pisceans are often found in the company of a variety of different personalities. Their willingness to give of themselves emotionally lends to an aura of quiet empathy. A Pisces is comforting to be around. While not likely to be the leader, this sign’s presence is strong and vibrant in any cause they put their hearts into.

 

Which one would you want to tap into to harness the strength to change?

Sorry, Fishy, back burner for you for a while.  Hello Bull. And as for the world, better guard your china shop!

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Random Moments of Joy

Today is my birthday.  Sometimes that means it’s a happy day, other times it’s a little sad.  But today, a fairly normal day where I’ll do some homework, teach a yoga class, hang out with my daughter, I feel connected with small moments of joy in my life.

I meditated for ten minutes, and as I did, I gazed upon my altar with gratitude.  I am grateful, first of all, to have my beautiful house and a room where I can meditate and do yoga.  It’s a peaceful room, simple with its bare wood floors, the altar, a few lamps and pillow, and a basket of colorful yoga mats in one corner.  Banners on the wall say Namaste and Peace.  On the altar is a scattering of items I consider sacred; keepsakes of my travels.  One set of prayer beads was given to me in Thailand by our tour guide, Thai (yes that was his name!)  The other I bought in Seattle on a weekend away with my lover John.  Memories of times with him are always bittersweet – five years together that ended on a sad note:  the realization that I loved him more than he would ever love me (which finally gave me the strength to walk away.)

I began then to travel in earnest, and more memories are represented here on my altar:  a dried leaf that fell at my feet while I meditated at Machu Pichu in Peru.  A carved wooden elephant I bought at a Christmas market on the trip to Germany with my mother.  A blessed statue of Ganesha that I purchased at the first Wanderlust yoga festival in Copper Mountain.  Crystals that were gifts from dear friends.  Pomegranate “seeds” from the great Stupa where the beautiful Golden Buddha reigns majestically over Shambhala Mountain Center.  Also from Shambhala, a vial that held water from the Ganges, a gift from the writing teacher at a recent retreat that symbolizes my upcoming trip to India.

Breathing in, I take in the blessings of my life, breathing out I radiate gratitude.  There is so much joy among the painful moments.  Life can be stripped down to just this – breathing and accepting what is.

And yet, the things I listed are only artifacts.  They are, indeed, things.  They represent memories, but they are not the memories themselves.  The important memories are experiences, people, moments fully lived.  And yes, travel quenches something vital in my soul, but I also know that the things I really love and appreciate are not “things”.  They are the people near and dear.  My family.  My dogs  (yes, dogs ARE people!) Especially my children, the very blood of my life.

On this day that commemorates my birth, I am most grateful for these people who bring me the greatest joy. 

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A Rant About Air Travel

 

I love to travel.  Anyone who knows me knows this is true. I love seeing new places, meeting people. I love experiencing the ancient places, different foods, learning about cultures different than my own, and hearing the musical qualities of foreign language all around me.

But I hate the airlines.  Like greedy little monsters, they charge now for those cheap pillows, to watch a movie, for “extra leg room”, and for any other thing they can think of.

This trip I am on is not to a distant place.  I’m just going to New York City, to revisit a place I lived many years ago.  It should not be so difficult to get there.  But they make it that way.

RANT PART A –  Frontier Air.  Remember that name. Large green signs informed me “we don’t charge for carry-on luggage!”  (Well, goody for you, I thought.  No one charges for carry-on, that’s why all women are suffering while learning to pack lightly enough to cram all of our stuff into a small bag to avoid luggage fees!)  As I checked in at the kiosk with my small carry-on suitcase and a tote for “personal items”, I was electronically informed that , despite the signs I had passed on the way in, I could not bring my carry-on without forking out an additional $50.  I ignored this warning – how could that be true? – and continued the quest to print my boarding pass.  It warned me again, adding that if I did not pay here and now, I would be charged $100 at the gate.  I paused.

“Excuse me,”  I asked the lady checking in next to me. ”Do they really charge for a carry-on?”

“Yes, but if you check your bag it’s less.”

That makes no sense, I thought, but sighed and hauled my bag to the counter, where I paid an additional $25 to check a bag that hadn’t even afforded me space for my curling iron.  (Not that I use it much, but I have a new short haircut, and might have had the impulse to glam it up for a night on the town in NYC.) If I’d known, I would have packed a bigger bag!  Or rented out space in mine; I picture five people’s belongings crammed into a suitcase like border crossers in the back of a coyote’s truck.

“It’s because you didn’t book at Frontier Dot Com,” the gate lady told me sadly.  How could I tell her the story of my email inbox tempting me with crazy flight deals through sources like Expedia, Travelocity, and Cheap-O-Air, where I got this round trip to New York for $250, and like an addict, I sometimes wake up from a coma-like state with a new charge on my credit card and a plane ticket fluttering in my hand, and little memory of how this happened?  And I certainly don’t have enough loyalty to one airline to go to only their website and pledge my allegiance.  Especially not now, with this stupid luggage policy!

RANT PART TWO  – TSA and airport security.

Ok, extra fee paid, I truck on through the backed-up security line.  I remember 9-11.  It started before that, of course, this tightening of rules, this restriction of what you can bring on a plane.  It’s nice to feel safe, don’t get me wrong, but I am a sweet blonde preschool teacher, not a terrorist.  I don’t even kill spiders.  But here we go, anyway.  As I stand in an endless line of grumpy resigned travelers, kicking our bags along a few inches at a time, I remember when things changed.   It began with restrictions of what is in your bag.  Then came a shoe-bomber, and suddenly all shoes need to come off.  They put in the metal detectors:  remove your belts, jewelry, fillings from your teeth….   Then some idiot tries to bring in a liquid combo bomb, and suddenly my bottles of shampoo are suspect.  I have been waiting for the notorious Bra Bomber to appear, the result of which would be that all boobs must be freed for inspection before proceeding to your gate.  Some pervy TSA will eventually get his wish!

Speaking of TSA, those blue-gloved, unsmiling aliens….is there anyone in the world so stone faced?  Where do they find these people?  I would love to see the personality test they need to pass before they are hired!

As I went through the body scanner, legs spread, hands up, like the beginning of a weird yoga pose, I waited for my bags to go through the Xray – my little baggie of liquids, my shoes, my laptop, my belt.  I hear one of the TSA (Tough Stupid Assholes? Tired Sucky Aliens?) call for a supervisor.  A little old lady, probably 70 years old, stood with her passport and boarding pass, which was apparently missing a stamp.  I could see her eyes filling and lower lip tremble as she waited anxiously (minutes ticking by until her flight boarded, no doubt.)  Can’t you just check it and stamp it?  I thought.  But clearly I have not been educated in little old granny lady terrorists as the TSA have.  I gave her a sympathetic smile as my own dangerous items finally scooted toward me on the belt.

At the gate, my tote bag was measured for size.  On the plane, I was offered $2 soda or coffee.  I declined; I had filled my own water bottle at the gate.

I’ll make it to New York, and I’ll have a good time.  If I spend money, which I undoubtedly will, it will be at my own discretion.  Flying used to be fun; now it is the worst part of the trip.  At the Frontier counter I joked that I was opening my own airline soon; everything included.  We’d laugh and fly and drink free wine.  It would be cheap wine, but it would be free.  All the agents said they’d fly with me.

(Stay tuned for more upbeat blogging soon, I promise :)

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Happy New Year 2014

As 2013 comes to a close and 2014 begins, I recognize and acknowledge last year for what it was: a year of preparation.  At this time last year, I went on a mountain retreat to the beautiful Shambhala Mountain Center.  I was feeling a bit lost and forlorn, wanting to solidify a commitment to life and living it well, and not knowing if I was ready to completely give up all the past that I was clinging to and be open to new things.

At Shambhala I ate well, slept well, meditated, did yoga, and wrote.  I hiked up the hill to see the Great Stupa, home of the beautiful golden Buddha.  It is impressive.  Up there, in the mountain air where the spire of the stupa stretches into a pale blue sky, reflecting rays of sun and inspiring awe, I let myself be taken over by an all-encompassing peace.  It was the beginning of a healing time.

I also met some new people, and we became the three misfits, hiking and sharing our stories.  There was a thin, sincere man older than me, who had fought cancer.  He was gay and lived alone.  His twin brother had committed suicide by rerouting the tailpipe of his car and dying of carbon monoxide poisoning. My friend was mourning, and searching for meaning in life. Shambhala was the place he went to find it.  My other new friend was a younger girl, a student at Naropa.  She was a recovering bulimic. She had broken up with a boyfriend and was feeling untethered.  And also searching for meaning.  Then there was me – working to make a life in a new place, trying to let go of old problems, recovering from a bad relationship and wanting to find a deeper spiritual self in the midst of emotional chaos.

The three of us hiked up to a spot called the Sun Goddess house.  Outside was a makeshift altar – a bottle of Sake, some coins, a few rocks.  Someone had left a note, a prayer of sorts. We took out a piece of paper and I wrote something I had learned from an energy worker – POC POD.  Point of Creation, Point of Destruction.  It means you have to go to the root of an issue, misguided energy that is no longer serving you, and destroy it where it was created.  My new friends nodded solemnly as I explained.  We each signed the paper and wrote a wish, a prayer, a hope.

Back at my cabin dorm, I wrote a list of resolutions, breaking my life down into the areas I wanted to work on:  love, health, writing, work, money, spirituality, and family. At the end I reminded myself to be grateful and positive.

This year I looked at that list, and I want to reiterate everything on it.  It’s taken longer than I thought to put some things into place, and it’s time to be a little tougher on myself in some areas, and more gentle in others.  But the document still represents who I am and what I want to focus on.

So as we move into 2014, I wish for all of you, friends and cyber-friends, the time to have self-reflection to focus your hopes and wishes for the coming year.  Enjoy what you already have, but dream big if you like.  A new year is full of possibilities!Image

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THOUGHTS ON EATING, DIETING, AND LIVING

 

I am a lucky girl in many ways.  I have had many things go right in my life, and a handful of things go wrong.  But one thing has been consistent in my life – I have always struggled with my weight.  And not in the “oh my God my doctor says I need to lose eighty pounds” way, but there were always at least 10-20 unnecessary pounds adorning my curvy-girl body and obsessing about it is a constant in my day-to-day existence.

I have a feeling I am not alone in this!

Bodies like mine were made for lovin’ and making babies – large breasts, wide hips – and that’s a good thing!  But our society and culture places so much value on the way a woman looks that we are not respected for much else.  And we also place that pressure on ourselves.

This piece I am writing is not to say I have suddenly gotten over it, but with the wisdom of age (I’m fifty now) and the body-consciousness that comes with a solid yoga practice I have come to some realizations about food and my body.

I am doing a quickie Master Cleanse this weekend – 3 days (so far the scale says I have lost 5 pounds, but I also know how temporary that can be.)  Deciding to take control of eating by NOT eating is a powerful thing.  Food is the one addiction that is impossible to quit.  No one NEEDS to drink alcohol, smoke or do drugs, gamble, or look at porn to survive.  But we do need food; we will die without eating if we do it long enough (hopefully 3 days is short of that time!) What is within our control is what we eat, how we eat, and why we eat it.

I am an emotional eater.  I think it’s a girl thing.  Food is the way women tell people we love them, and sharing food together is a pleasure.  Yesterday I went out shopping with my mother; one of our favorite things is the old “let’s do lunch.”  So she had a breakfast burrito at the coffee shop while I had tea.  We talked, of course.  And much of the talk was of food!  (About what to bring for the holiday dinner, about a new restaurant in town, about the food to put in my brother-in-law’s gift bag.) Interesting!  I drank my tea, slightly light-headed, but feeling great. I wasn’t really hungry.  And on day 3, I’m still not.

The reason I eat sometimes, besides to be social, is to gain comfort.  I am in control of what I eat, so I can use that for good or evil.  I can cook a beautiful vegetarian dinner for myself and my daughter, but we eat in front of the TV (her pleasure, not mine, but it’s how we sometimes bond.) I can not eat and feel deprived and whiney.  I can not eat and feel empowered.  I can eat crap and feel justified or guilty. I can sit down and make love to an entire bag of Sour Cream and Onion potato chips since I don’t have a person in my life to be affectionate with.  I can stuff down the emptiness by filling it up with cheese and crackers, or chocolate, or whatever the comfort food of the day might be.

But it does not help me in the long run.  I don’t have any more control of my emotional life having binged on junk, or eaten good food but way too much of it.  I do have control over my eating, whether it feels like it or not.  I can completely ignore food for a few days and feel great.  It’s a lesson I need to internalize for the next time the waiter brings the bread basket over, or I’m out with friends, or home alone with no locks on the cupboards.

The number on the scale is not my value in this world.  In fact, I’m sure that number has gone up due to muscle I have built through yoga.  I can consistently raise my legs up over my head in a solid head stand and hold it for ten breaths.  I’m working on handstands now!  (Did I mention I’m fifty?)  My body is strong, and capable, and curvy and wonderful.  It’s also getting older, and no matter how skinny a person is, there is no stopping the clock.  So I am trying hard to accept my limits and acknowledge my strengths, and treat my body as the temple it is; it houses my beautiful spirit.

A weekend of eating nothing has taught me that I’m capable of being in control of some things.  And for the things I am not in control of, I will let myself relax and let go.

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Iggy Pop revisited – or Not

I admit I was anxious about the weekend.  But I honestly don’t know why.  I didn’t know if there would be any kind of closure, any full circle from where I started.  When I met my rock idol, I was a kid, 18 year old.  Tickets back then were about $8.  I just paid $50 and I don’t even care about any of the other bands.

But I felt I needed to see Iggy one more time.

When we were seeing each other he was in his mid-thirties.  I was a teen.  Now he’s pushing 70 and I just hit 50.  Still, I think his girlfriend is younger than I.  But it doesn’t matter.  I wasn’t trying to reclaim my spot as his #1 girl, if I ever was such a thing.  That isn’t the point.

So, then, WHAT IS THE POINT?

Well, seeing him once more was on my bucket list.  He was my first love.  Our quasi-romance spanned my move to New York at 18 to our parting when I was 20.  We had a few good times.  A few bad, too, when I thought the power of my teeny-bop love could hold the attention of a punk rocker with more on his mind than my vanilla adoration.  I’ve changed so much since those New York days.  I was a clueless, optimistic actress – auditioning by day, stripping by night.  Clubbing in all the cool places that have since closed, and stunned by the fact that my idol had chosen ME.  I was so connected to him that I often knew by the ring of the phone (the old fashioned land-line) that his voice would be on the other end.

Time marches on. That’s not where I am anymore, nor is it where I would want to be.  After thirty years, to have closure on the first important love affair of my life would be good.  But what kind of closure could there possibly be?

I got to the venue – really, just a field set up for a carnival with rides, greasy, over-priced food, and three stages blaring distorted music at top decibel level.  Suddenly I felt incredibly old.  I wiggled my way backstage, if one could call it that.  Guess the old girl’s still got it!  Jim (Iggy’s real name) arrived in a truck and limped, shirtless, up the stairs to the stage.  Yes, he limped.  My heart sank.  But he still put on, from what I could see from the back, a hell of a show.  He sang the old favorite Stooges songs and had forty or so fans come on stage and dance.  He thanked people for coming out, and he was sincere.  A tear of nostalgia streamed down my cheek as I watched him writhe and strut, lithe and muscular as always.  His hair is still shiny; in our days together it was dyed pitch black, now it’s long and dirty blonde.

Back in Brooklyn, in his apartment with the paper umbrellas from drinks at the local Polynesian restaurant stuck in the wall, I used to run my fingers through that silky hair.  But last night I realized how far in the past that really was.

Dating someone famous doesn’t make you any better than any other human being.  Hell, BEING famous doesn’t make you better. And my longing to be acknowledged by him in some manner was misguided and thirty years too late.  I guess my desire was really to affirm that I mattered to him so many years ago.  But I already knew that then, in the ways that were true.  He did care about me.  And that time ended. I doubt I cross his mind or invade his dreams now, nor should I. I wanted to know I had been important to him.  What I should have been asking myself is, am I important to me?

The same old tour manager, who would have remembered me, hustled by, escorting Jim’s girlfriend to the waiting van.  Her legs were like toothpicks.  He hurried back to the stage, and I didn’t call out his name.  Nor did I call out when Jim got off stage and into the car.  He drove off into the night.

I made my way back to my own little beat-up car, to think my little beat-up thoughts.  I, too, drove off into the night.

Forward.  Not backward.

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Travel Envy

When I got back from my last trip – all of June in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Bali – I came home to a garden in need of tending, and another short trip (to visit my daughter in Washington state) on the horizon.  It seemed like I was hardly home at all this summer!  I vowed that next summer I would STAY PUT and work on my house and garden, spend time with my parents, and enjoy local things.

But not so fast, Buttercup….

It’s September now, and I don’t know if I can do it.  How can I yearn for places yet unexplored and stay here in Longmont a whole summer?  It’s months away, but already my gypsy soul is pouting.

It’s partly my own fault, but I am blaming the friends I have met along the way.  You see, when I meet fellow travelers I usually exchange Facebook info with them.  So when I am home, doing my job, paying my mortgage, I can see what my travel buddies are doing.  Often they are still traveling.  One guy in particular, Ben “Jamin”, is on a 5-year trip.  I met him a year and a half ago while we were both volunteering in Chile.  He had bought a VW Kombi in Argentina and was setting it up to be his home-on-wheels.  We parted and went our separate ways, but I have been able to follow his adventures in the great videos he posts online.

Watching the videos is bittersweet; I am not a 20 or even 30-something, surfing and exploring.  I can’t live that life. I turned 50 this year.  Shouldn’t I be saving for retirement now, instead of saving for the next plane ticket?

Why can’t I do a little of both?

I didn’t get to do all this travel when I was young.  I had two great trips to Europe in my early twenties, and then the time escaped, I was married and broke (this is what happens when you marry a guy with no education or ambition!) and I could not sneak much in.  Fast-forward, through a relationship with a man who loved to travel – the opposite of the ex-husband, he was the luxury hotel type – and now, on my own with the travel bug still alive and well, I find ways to do it on the cheap and meet the BEST people along the way!  Things are ticking along at home, the kids are doing fine, my parents’ health is hanging in there.  This may not always be the case.  It’s only September, I have time to gather together a plane fare….

Hmmmmm…..

Where should I go?Image

 

 

(link to Benjamin’s Facebook page and videos:  https://www.facebook.com/HastaAlaska)

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