An evening with Herbert

Buenas Noches Travellers,

This is a very late edition coming to you from the rain drenched plains of Kansas. It’s been raining here everyday for at least five days with no end in sight. By no end, I do mean the forecast for the next two weeks includes rain almost every damn day.

And truly I’m not living on the plains, but rather in the center of a city, which makes what about to say all the more wonderous.

Tonight I arrived home from work to find a most unusual guest on my back terrace.

One little lone duckling waddling along.

As I approached he began feverishly running around. Trying to climb the back step which was twice his height, then trying to run up the siding on the house, then falling down. Then getting up and doing it all over again.

A duckling alone in the city.

Looking like so…

I named him Herbert. Because when I looked at that little face, that’s the name that came to mind.

And obviously I had to catch him because HELLO, dog and cats everywhere here!

I have NO IDEA how he came to be in my backyard as it gated and fenced all around. Did his mother bring him here with his siblings? Had he gotten separated somehow on his own?

We searched the yard, no other ducks in sight. There have never been any ducks in my sight in this neighborhood. Until now.

I’m not gonna lie, part of me gave serious thought to the idea of keeping him. I mean here he was plucked down in my yard in between cloud bursts, don’t we call that fate?

Do I know how to take care of a duck? No, no I do not…

So we called the Wildlife rescue hotline instead and left a message instead. I didn’t expect to receive a call back tonight, so I moved him into the bathtub and set up some kind of livable space for his evening…

He actually seemed to be alright all things considered. Doesn’t he look alright?

I always imagine what life looks like from a smaller animal’s perspective. I must have seemed like a giant that scooped him up into a box with some strange fuzzy thing. And this tub would seem a vast basin of white slickness like he’d never seen before.

I noticed he was shaking, I’m certain he was scared.

I would be scared too, wouldn’t you?

I sat and talked to him and ever so gently touched his back to attempt some kind of reassurance that he was alright.

I’m not sure there is a fear greater for any of us than being completely lost and separated from what you knew to be truly yours.

And since I live almost 14 city blocks away from the nearest body of water or about 7 blocks from the nearby creek, he was far from home, wherever that home may have been.

A nice lady called within an hour of my message asking about him and said she would consult the other lady who worked with her that did more bird rescues and get back to me shortly with instructions to keep him for the night. While I waited I did some online searching and discovered that ducks are not solitary creatures and can easily become depressed or lonely which can make it difficult for them to thrive or survive as ducklings.

It said that they feel loneliness, isolation and grief much like humans do.

The other interesting thing I learned this evening is that ducks, like most other animals, will gladly take in offspring that is not theirs at birth. The nice lady called me back and said she needed to come get him tonight to get him rehomed because he would have a better chance at survival. She planned to take him to that pond I mentioned earlier because other ducks would be there, hopefully a female with ducklings and she would leave him with them.

I have to admit, I’m the skeptic here. Trusting strangers with a super cute duckling that the universe brought to my door isn’t my strong suit, but sometimes you have to do what’s right because it’s right. No guaranteed outcome.

Not a single life here has any guaranteed outcome, does it?

So I packed up my very temporary little duck and said good bye and sent him off into the rainy night with that friendly lady who promised she would find him a new home.

Now let me tell you the weird thing.

This whole event made me think of Dave…There’s a store here called Orscheln Farm & Home that sells farming supplies and each Spring they have Chick & Duck Days. We went several times during our relationship because I loved seeing the chicks and ducklings and holding them. We hadn’t done that in years, but in March he sent me a text with a photo of me holding one of those chicks and asked if I remembered that day. To be honest, he did that half a dozen times before I ever talked to him which angered me and also made me wonder if his life wasn’t as amazing as he thought it was going to be. Otherwise why would you be reminiscing about the woman who you said would be replaced by a better one? I’m going to always wonder if I had said something different, would he be alive still? Was that him reaching out and I failed to see that?

But when I saw this duckling, I realized that strange random wonderous things are still gonna happen in my life.

Because I wasn’t left behind to die, I was left behind to live.

Now if you would all do me this kindness: Pray for Herbert’s safety and long life. Ducks can live up to 20 years and perhaps he and I will meet again someday.

Or send positive energy or whatever you do, just do that…

Splendid Part Deux

Good late evening or Good morning Travellers,

It’s late Sunday evening here and I’ve been mentally curating this post all day…

Remember last Sunday I asked you to do me a favor this week and be aware of the ordinary splendiferous events of your mere mortal life…make a list, via photo or memory or notes…did you do it?

Be honest.

I can spot a fibber from 5 miles away1

I have to admit I needed to take a pause after my last post. But we’ll talk about that tomorrow…Right now, let’s discuss the things that made me smile or giggle this week, and if you didn’t make your own list, I’ll give you this one hall pass, but next week, don’t let us down. By us, I mean you, me and life.

As a person who loves the photographic image and as a film school grad, I take ALOT of pictures. I bet I have near 3,500 on my phone alone. And no matter how long you study composition or lighting or editing, there are these random shots that just could not be planned, and here is one…

This is Ramona and Lou simultaneously doing Down Dog (Adho Mukha Shvanasana)! Facing each other. I’ve never been so excited to have been holding my phone trying to photograph something else entirely and capturing this instead. Probably because of my own movement practice, but also it’s the fact that they are facing each other! As if almost bowing to each other, which of course made me think of Namaste! Because in it’s simplest terms it means “I bow to you.”

THIS IS SO GETTING FRAMED!!!

After many years, and I do mean MANY YEARS, I finally repotted my indoor cactuses this weekend, which was a chore like no other. Because my largest one is over 15 years old. Bought it at Walmart for like $3…it weighs something around a baby whale at this point.

And I started thinking about what it means to be root bound as a plant or maybe as a human. Plants are survivors, but you cannot go too big when you change their pots. Sort of like if you give a human too much time or room, they tend to not know what to do and rarely flourish. Ever notice that? And relocating to a new container is somewhat stressful to plants, like moving a human to a new home or city or country. We all seem to have a threshold for how much change is tolerable and when it’s too much bad things happen. We like to be snug but not too snug and just a little room to grow. Because don’t we all grow a little at a time?

Here’s a yummy one..

These are THE BEST cream puffs in the world. Or at least in my experience of this world. The chocolate is delish, the pastry is delicate and the creamy custardy center is DIVINE. I think this is one of the most difficult confections to master because when one element is off, the whole thing becomes disproportionately disappointing. The fact that I find them so rarely at the Co-op I shop at makes them all the more delicious.

Have you ever noticed how the rare things in life are always sweeter? Not just to the tongue, but the ears, the eyes, the mind, the touch and the heart.

One more photo…

A pineapple. Allow me to explain. Whenever I see a pineapple I will always think of Dave. He watched this show called Psych and there was something about a pineapple and that show. Dave always said that it meant “Welcome”. He was also absurdly delighted whenever he bought one.

This is my third pineapple this year. I recently saw a cute door mat with pineapples and almost bought it. It’s hard to explain, but sometimes these little things call to me. We got divorced and it wasn’t good. Things changed and when we seemed to be becoming friends, I softened. Then he committed suicide. Now these random things feel like he’s with me in a way I can’t describe. It’s almost like he’s smiling at me.

What else?

Some good things that lack supporting photographic evidence…

I ate the last of my Apocalypse Soup. I call it that because I concocted this recipe at the start of the pandemic and I just made another pot two weeks ago. I had frozen part of it and finished it off over a few nights this week. It makes me so happy to make soup without noodles. It’s an act of culinary rebellion. Or at least it feels that way. Also, I put fresh cilantro in the soup. Someone call the police!

I had dinner with a good friend this week and we tried fried pickles. They were AWESOME!! Also, here’s an interesting fact, her family has a Gypsy bloodline in it and I always can’t help but wonder if there isn’t some kind of magic in her. Because the only day this week my arm has felt completely fine was after that night out with her. TRUE STORY.

I cut my hair shorter this week. I love growing out my hair so I can cut it off again. Dunno why, but I find it thrilling. And I love the fact that my hair that had been straight as an arrow my entire life started getting wavy about 10 years ago. It actually began during hot yoga. I think I sweated the straight hair out of me!

Lastly, have you watched the movie, “Arrival”? If not, stop reading, go watch it. It’s easily one of the best films made in the last 10 years. Probably in my Top 25.

I watched it again this weekend, and on second viewing it felt richer or maybe it just has a more profound feeling now. Without giving anything away, I think it’s important to embrace the choices we make in our lives. We all struggle to do so in youth, because youth tends to be abit foolish. And I use the term youth loosely here.

What I know is that if I had known at the beginning how this would end with Dave, if I could have had an emotional enema that gave me a hint of how painful the grief would be, how alone I would feel in it all, and how wide open it feels now, I would do it again. I would choose the pain in order to have all the other moments and revelations that I gained. And I think there is a sort of power in embracing what you chose. It’s taken me 7 months to arrive here, but here I am.

On this Mother’s Day I have been thinking most of his mom. I cannot imagine what this day was like for her, this is her first since he’s been gone. But I am certain she would have had him again, knowing it would all end this way.

This is why you have to pay attention to all the little lights of goodness that are shining just for you. Sometimes it will be all you have to light your way through the darkness. And I believe it’s enough.

They say

Good morning Travellers,

It’s a rainy one here. In fact, all week is clouds and rain.

I’m going a little free form today on a rather difficult topic. I’ve been struggling to go through this door, so we’ll see how this goes…

They say, “Time heals all wounds” I’m pretty sure they were just talking about the ones of flesh, blood, and bone. Those things will scab and scar, while our souls do not have the capacity to coagulate. When our deeper selves are wounded, we seem to bleed in such a way sometimes that all the gauze on Earth won’t make it stop.

We apply pressure. We force ourselves forward, we smile when inside we are dying. We deny.

Friends have said to me on more than one occasion during the past seven months since Dave’s suicide that “You are handling this so well.” I don’t know if I am or not. I don’t think humans are equipped to handle this sort of thing. We are not meant to handle this sort of thing.

I still have occasional uncontrollable spells of sobbing at the most inopportune moments. Like walking into a seamstress yesterday, or sitting at my desk at work. Or after watching Toy Story 4. Or standing at my kitchen sink. Or looking into Ramona’s aging eyes and realizing she will never see him again.

My former mom-in-law said she “Imagined my grieving process is complex because we shared good times and bad times together and time apart.” I have to say it’s so much more than that. It’s so much worse. I have the horrendous thought that lurks still inside that if I had been a better wife, he would still be alive. That I am being blamed somewhere. But then I remember he wasn’t a great husband always either. If I had tried harder to make him stay and go to therapy, he would still be here. But he adamantly refused.

Mostly I wish I hadn’t lied for him because I felt like I had to.

Dave was taking a job to be a guard in a jail. And despite our separation, his commanding officer still wanted to talk to me which was beyond uncomfortable. One of the questions he asked was, “Does Dave have any mental proclivities that might affect his ability to do this job?” And I lied, because I said “NO”.

Because I thought he and his family would feel like I was throwing interference. I abandoned myself in that moment. And I also abandoned him in truth. His depression, anxiety and drinking were out of control and he wasn’t going to survive that job, I knew. I knew who he was inside. And I wasn’t alone in that thought.

Dave had said that “God was making this path for him to leave and go to Colorado.” I think back on him saying that the day he left and wonder what the fuck, are you for real? And in my anger, because let’s be honest if someone you love kills themselves, you are going to find anger riding shotgun inside your mind. I wondered in his last moments, did he think that his suicide was part of God’s plan?

A friend of mine has always said that “Suicide is the most selfish thing a person can do.” That’s one that really requires some finesse, doesn’t it? I know he had suffered his whole life with persistent severe depression. And for those of us who do not suffer under such things, there is no amount of empathy in the world that really gives true understanding, is there?

Before I met him he had already attempted to take his life. There’s a weird phrase “Taking your life”. I can’t help but think, take it where? Like you folded up your soul like a fine pair of trousers and gentle placed it into a little suitcase and traveled elsewhere?

To be clear, in my opinion, suicide is murder. You are murdering yourself. It is too violent to be described with kinder words. I can’t count the number of thoughts I’ve had about what it means for him to have put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Imagine how the bullet blew out the back of his head. A head that I had touched so many times in gentleness. Shattered is the word. His head and my heart.

Were tears streaming down his face or was he relieved? Did he think we would be relieved? Didn’t he know that this match he was striking was gonna burn down my forest and his parents and his sister and his friends?

How much pain is required to do such a horrible thing when we all loved you so?

I’ve come to believe that suicide a sort of transmogrification. I think the person who ends their life changes those lives around theirs by essentially passing their pain into the people who cared about them.

And I think it’s giving up. He gave up. When he gave up on himself, he gave up on all of us.

Humans aren’t suppose to give up, it’s our fucking super power, don’t you all know that?

Obviously, again, I’m still working on that anger in between my life and random spells of sobbing.

They say “Just be happy.” Dave said his dad would comment to that effect quite often throughout his youth. Leave it to humans to take positivity and make it toxic. Our bodies are not lamps to be rubbed to summon an emotion like a genie. A human life encompasses all the emotions, but we do have to let them go. Emotions and thoughts are not our identity, yet so many of us are raised to believe that is so. Read that again. And unfortunately there are so many of us who live with mental health issues that are overwhelming and make it virtually impossible to arrive at that understanding.

They say, “One find one’s destiny on the path one takes to avoid it.” I will wonder my whole life why he did this, could it have been avoided or was this the way the story was always going to end. On a selfish note, I wonder, was I meant to love him and lose him? Was this my person and now I’m left to wander alone? Or was I meant to care for him, and I failed? Was he entrusted to me and I failed? Was he meant to care for me and he failed?

Are there those amongst us who will never have reprieve from their mental suffering?

I would do anything to prevent someone else from choosing this, if you are thinking of choosing this, please seek help. Please tell someone. Tell them now.

Because if no one has ever told you that your life is worth it, then let say it, “Your life is worth living, no matter how hard it may seem. You belong here with us. You matter. Your life has a reason. You are an “on purpose.” .On my word. I don’t believe life is ever wasted, maybe you are just lost, but what’s lost can always be found. Tell someone.

The last time I spoke to Dave was a few weeks prior to this event, and he told he had sat with a gun three times. I asked if he was taking his meds and he said yes, I asked if he was in therapy, of course he said no, but he did talk to the jail’s therapist from time to time.

It had been over a year since we talked, I had believed he was happy in Colorado and had found his better job, better house, better life and I assumed the girl he was convinced would be there. He told me that was what would happen. I told myself that’s what would happen.

But it didn’t. He didn’t find any of that from what I can tell…because they say, “Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.” Which is completely true. You are either your greatest ally in this life or your worst enemy. It is you that will pick yourself up off the mat in the prize fight. It is you that will hold yourself in the shower crying. It is you that you need most of all in this life. Without you, you are lost.

I have no idea what went wrong because I had said he wasn’t to contact me after our divorce. So this call was the first. He told me twice on that call that he had always loved me and I told him that he had been an asshole, but I had forgiven him. And I apologized for my part in what had gone wrong. I apologized for any pain I had caused and he just said he had always loved me. We didn’t get divorced because we didn’t love each other, we failed because we didn’t know how to.

They say “This is mental health awareness month.” I say, well, we could call that a good start. I believe that mental health is the egg before the chicken. I believe until we drag our fears out into the light too many souls will die in the dark. And for some it will be a slow death of many days versus a gun in a living room. There is no shame in struggling.

Lemme say that again, there is no shame.

And I’m going to use this space time and time again to show you that’s true.

Splendid

Good Sunday to you Travellers,

I thought before I hit some heavy topics this week, I’d come back for something I think is always important. The thing that balances us, saves us, floats us along and creates buoyancy in our souls.

The tiny little life boats that we need in our life.

IN FACT, I want to challenge you in the next week to take a mental tally of all the little things that made you smile or warmed your heart or made you laugh out loud. These things that are the bread and butter of life. Everyone has them and in times like these, they become all the sweeter.

Let’s begin with a small victory of mine, THIS SONG. If you open it as a second link, you can listen while you read this, which would be lovely. Or if you would rather, just promise promise promise to listen to it after you are done reading my words.

This song was the closest thing to “our song” that Dave and I ever had. After the divorce, I had to put it away, which is fucking criminal, because Sade is easily one of the greatest singers of the past 30 years. It just made my heart hurt so much to hear it then.

But now, now that he’s gone. Gone gone, it’s like a link to something good that once was and will forever be. I remember telling him when this song was playing when we were first dating, that he was a gift to me. And no matter how the story has ended, it still remains true.

No matter how much pain his suicide has caused, the memory is still as it was.

The best part though is the end, when she introduces her band. There is just so much love and warmth and comradery in her words. It’s just the best. Listen. You’ll see what I mean…

Ok, and the fact that virtually no one is holding a cell phone is this video. I have secretly hoped that this viral pandemic would bring us all back to the value of being present in reality. Nothing is better than the real, even in pain. It’s real. Reality is still the sexiest filter.

Three things this week that I can’t show you, but want to mention in terms of just being sweetness.

First. A good friend came over and hung out in my hammock Monday night. We talked for about four hours, and he’s one of those people who is on a path to change his life and I feel lucky when he gives me glimpses into who he is. And he also enjoys things like hanging out in hammocks under big trees, so it was awesome.

Second. Last year we met a stranger when we were walking in the early morning hours. The best kind of stranger. The ones you say hello to and exchange a few kind words and then reencounter occasionally. The kind that feel reassuring in a way I can’t put into words.

This one is a man who I’m guessing is probably in his 80s, possibly over 85, he’s pretty spritely. He has a walking stick. He jokingly asked if I was walking the dogs, or were they walking me. We may have encountered him half a dozen times last year. Tuesday morning, I saw him walking our way, and he said the same thing. And there is a sort of happiness in seeing older people thriving and surviving that is different than seeing my peers or younger people. It always make me smile. It makes me less afraid of aging.

Third. Lou has a hot spot, which if you’ve had a dog you probably know what that it. The part that really made me giggle was when I gently wiped the spot, and then dried it before we put the ointment on it. I said to her, “Now bend your elbow and hold that there so it dries.” AND SHE DID. I don’t know if Lou is just extra smart or extra perceptive. I don’t know if it’s the dog in me or the human in her, but she just does these things. And it’s the best in a very distinct way.

Now, lemme show you some things:

It’s called Tatsoi. It’s a veggie for salads. I’ve never had it before or even heard of it till this year. I bought it on a whim and a recommendation from a new nursery I went to. It reminds me of Bok Choy in it’s texture and taste. And it’s just lovely. Trying new things is the best.
So this is Charlie’s new thing, the lazy leg hang in the air, just don’t care. It’s whatever lies beyond fully relaxed and it makes me smile so big. I can’t help but feel at times that he may be more comfortable with only one front leg instead of two. Because he can move in so many ways that four legged cats can’t…
The last chocolate chip cookie. I’ve written a few posts on here, but THIS ONE has always stayed with me. Read it. My words about how I was lucky to have me for my cookie baking abilities after my divorce. It was the first time I ever thought such a thing about myself. In my whole life. But this photo is actually about the smell. I’ve been smelling my food alot lately before I take a bite, especially sweet things. Homemade things. People seem to just inhale food in this day and age, I say take it slow. Stop and smell the cookies. This bag smelled like heaven.
LILACS. Do I need to say more? Speaking of using your nose wisely. Lilacs are the quintessential smell of warmer days to come. The floral gatekeepers of summer. They look like teeny little purple parasols, just barely opened. And the scent is BIG, WAFTING and just says WELCOME.
I have a terrorist squirrel in my midst. He has twice destroyed and consumed my baby chard. I guess it could be a girl, like a mean girl squirrel. But this squirrel has met it’s match! I got this flower yesterday to plant in the hole that little demon made, and I made myself laugh when I saw it in the sink like this…I thought wouldn’t that be wonderous to have flowers growing up from your drain. Just randomly. I know it’s not practical, but it would be grand.

I’m sure you have these little strange moments too. I can’t imagine we are not all equally gifted each day, but you have to be present and pay attention.

Go pay attention to your life. Look. Feel. Roll these things around in your mind, or put them in your mental pocket.

This is how we survive.

And lastly, I just want to send some kind of hope to those of you who are in India. I’m not sure if the news is accurate, but it’s heartbreaking watching from afar to what’s happening. We feel your fear as we have felt it too. God speed to your safety, recovery and whatever world lies beyond this for all of us.

O.K.

Hi Travellers,

Let’s start with the obvious, I’m not going to write everyday. Not because I would not like to, but because it’s not what I’m feeling pulled to do. It’s the not the direction I’m going, BUT I am going to show up multiple times a week. I want to be 100% authentic and use the words when they are necessary, true and can contribute to your life. I want this blog to contribute to your life in the best way.

I realized I was using the writing everyday promise as a sort of holding my feet to the fire experience. That never really works, you just end up burned.

I’m going to speak under the assumption here that we are all familiar with the story of the tortoise and the hare. Or at least the very important lesson of that fable, “Slow and steady wins the race.” There is also the lesson of don’t be an arrogant bunny as well, but do I need to tell you that?

Ok, just in case… “Don’t be an arrogant bunny. No one likes an arrogant bunny!”

I think if we are all honest though, humans wanna be the jack rabbit. Not the turtle. I think we still tend to believe that the rabbit is the better competitor. I think this is why we continue to get in our own way at every turn.

The thing is, we have more in common with that turtle. That little guy’s home is on his back in the same way that we are at home in our bodies. Turtles have hard shells to protect their very soft insides. And when they get flipped on their backs, someone has to assist them to get them turned back over.

Most of us are the exact same way. We wanna hide our vulnerability, protect our hearts, and be impenetrable to harm. Especially heart break and disappointments. We believe if we harden ourselves we can hide or call it protection when that’s not true. And god forbid, you should have to admit you need to ask for someone to help turn you back over.

I have been experiencing a most unpleasant situation for about 10 days. I have somehow injured my left arm, or rather pulled three muscles, which led to wrist pain. I have NEVER had this happen. And I think when injury or illness is the exception in your life, it becomes infinitely more difficult to handle.

The thing about our bodies is everything is connected, the kinetic chain is what it’s called. Our muscles, ligaments, tendons and even fascia to some extent, work in a linear symphony. And when one structure goes rogue, it all goes to shit. Somehow I either injured the shoulder or the wrist and the rest of the structures in that arm got called into the fire and now I’m working to re-establish their harmony. I’m going to a professional today to have corrective work done.

This whole experience has delayed my plans. I cannot currently do any form of planks. Unlike most humans, I LOVE PLANKS and have a bizarre aptitude for them. I also had to abandon heavy weight training and take off some time from working out.

Take some time off. As in slow down… I don’t know what words would accurately express to you how hard that is for me.

Because to the casual observer, this may not seem like a crisis, but to those of us who are indeed turtles in our shells, this is a four alarm raging blaze. The thing about being IN your body, being present in it, empowering it, learning to possess it in such a way that you bask in your own strength and mobility as I dare say we are all meant to, when you have this kind of thing happen it sucks. A LOT.

I have cried frequently and had small little mini breakdowns which I’ve decided is okay. I think I have finally arrived at it’s okay to cry and feel your feelings. They are yours, no one else’s and we really need to stop judging other people’s feelings. And it’s been in private, where if we are honest is where most of our feelings are felt.

And I think I’m learning something finally which is why I came here today. Because maybe you need to hear someone else tell you this is their struggle. Maybe it’s yours too?

Let’s just all agree right now that we are indeed here to help each other, okay?

I realized about 5-7 days ago that all my life I have required an exterior voice to assure me that everything is gonna be alright. I have heard friends, family, strangers even so assuredly state how things are gonna be okay. Everything works out in the end. You’ll be okay. And I would take comfort in that, all the while inside doubting abit if it would indeed be true.

First it was my Grandma Max who I depended on hearing it from. Her house was the shelter my mother would drag me back to between marriages. Into the basement. I often wish she was here to see me. I wish she could see that I escaped finally and was doing it on my own. No matter how hard it is. I try to remember the sound of her voice with some frequency to preserve it in my mind. Because it makes me feel okay.

Then it was Dave. He would always do his best to assure me that I was going to be oaky. I realized at some point in the last 4 years that I had in fact been scared inside my marriage. I had been fearful because what I learned from my youth was life was just a series of crisis. It was never actually okay. But that was about my mother and her inability to regulate her emotions and draw boundaries. Her choices were governing my life and her emotions were ruling over mine. And the thing is once you become an adult, you are going to have to learn to pick up that slack and teach yourself all the things they didn’t. Live your life better.

I’ve been telling myself these things everyday, “You are going to be okay. This is going to heal. You are educated in anatomy and you know how this works. You have to allow time to heal. You have to be kind to this body and trust what you have built. Trust what you have built. Trust yourself. You are going to be okay.

And I think it’s working which is HUGE for me. HUGE!!! And also, FINALLY. The universe is saying “FINALLY, you seem to be listening to that voice I put inside you!!”

And now we come back to that turtle. The reason I’ve had this little incident is because I was acting like that silly rabbit. I had not taken more than a handful of rest days in the past year. I was arrogantly denying my body rest. Yes, yes, I said year. I just felt so strong, but underneath there was a voice saying, “This isn’t smart, you know this isn’t going to end well..”

I’ve been working out for 20 years because I started young. I’ve built a strong body because I did it slow and steady. It’s not a 30, 60, 90 day job people. Life is moving in moments and movement exists in millimeters. It cannot be forced or rushed. For all we know at the end of the race, the rabbit has a sprained ankle or can’t walk the next day because they overdid it. On top of being an arrogant bunny.

If you are out there struggling to change your life, take it one thing at a time. Move with the intelligence you were given. It’s not a race, it consistent dedication to yourself.

You are going to be okay.

And just because…I have to show you something wonderful. It’s my crack garden again…and it just makes me smile so big, so here you go…

The learning curve

Good morning Travellers,

I awoke this morning to THIS outside:

I’m not sure how the rest of the world is going, but here in Kansas, we no longer have seasons apparently. We just have the day we are going to have, without rhyme or reason. Snow in April. You’re welcome.

This little glitch however goes very nicely with something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, learning.

When we are young, our lives are charted by learning milestones. First it’s about our movement. You learn to roll over on your belly, you learn to pull your knees under you to crawl, you learn to sit upright, you learn to reach out to something higher than you to leverage yourself into standing, you learn to fall down and get up. Fall down and get up. Over and over again. After you walk and fall down enough, you will learn to run. Ride a bike maybe. Swimming. Climbing on things. Hopscotch. Jump rope. Throwing a ball. Catching that ball. Running faster and jumping. Dancing. Chasing other kids.

Scholastically we learn about going to school, time, what day it is, words, how to spell, how to do math, how to read, meeting other kids and the realm of socialization opens to us. We learn what we like and what we don’t. What we are good at and what is difficult for us. We learn to keep going or quit.

We learn to brush our teeth, then we lose them and grow new ones. Most of us sort of enjoy that part.

We learn about naps, snacks, bedtime stories. And as we grow up we have birthdays that we excitedly celebrate with fun parties.

We are learning. And that continues with some expectation until college. Then in early adulthood we learn to be on our own, get a job, find a mate, have some kids, buy a house and then well, then what happens?

THEN WHAT HAPPENS.

I’ve felt very strongly for the last five years or so that the fulfillment you are seeking in adulthood has everything to do with mirroring your childhood. Hear me out…

Everyday you are learning, if you so choose. That snow in that photo is teaching one of the oldest lessons in the book: Adversity breeds survival. While I have moved my little garden containers into the garage to protect them and tarped the remaining larger containers, the rest of nature has to fend for itself. And it will. You can complain about the snow or revel in the fact that the natural world will carry on. Adaptation is learning. And it is a marvel to watch and learn.

I’ve spent the last 6 months revisiting my training methodology and what service I really want to offer clients. And learning is the center piece. Not how you look or will look. I’ll talk more about that more in depth another time, but what I want to say is this…

At the heart of our beings is our nervous system and this life is about learning to master it. Your nervous system is your hard wiring AND IT CAN BE CHANGED. It can be expanded and strengthened. Learning a new behavior creates a new neural pathway. Learning new movement creates new neural muscular pathways. It’s a challenge because our repetitive behaviors are like muddy ruts that we have traveled so much that we are stuck in them. Doing something new is like paving a road that has never existed.

You can learn. And learning tastes like a kind of satisfaction that I think most of us have forgotten in our youth.

Remember what it felt like to ride that bike for the first time? And then what it felt like to ride when the training wheels came off? Or what it felt like to read as a child? Maybe like me, you learned to play an instrument. I played piano and at 5, I thought those pedals on the floor were going to make something serious happen when I could finally reach them. That was exciting to learn.

And I remember learning the hard things too. Injuries from sports, broken hearts from boys, friends who weren’t your friends after all, and all the times I did things that I wasn’t proud of either.

We were learning, good and bad. And we expected it then, so why don’t we expect it now?

What would happen if you created benchmarks in your own life for learning?

What if everyday you look for learning especially in the craptastic stuff?

What if you used therapy as a way to learn to create a better life?

What if you learn to be more of something like compassionate or a better cook or a new hobby or working out or eating well or read a new book?

Just think about all the things you could learn today.

New skills, or just everyday lessons. Like with the snow outside my door. If you are dating, try hard to figure out what are you learning. If you are married, learn something new about your spouse. If you have kids, good grief, there’s a fountain of learning. Same with pets. Dog and cats are far more complex than they are given credit. And old dogs CAN learn new tricks. They are wired just like us.

But mostly learn about you. YOU. Do you know you? Do you know how wonderous your body is and this life?

Who are you?

I recently learned that not only is a tonsillectomy as an adult a horrifying surgery, because one of my closest friends had it done. FYI they BURN your tonsils out. But I learned that I actually am a person who gladly takes care of her friends even when it’s inconvenient. And I’m grateful for it. For her. And for learning this is a part of myself that I think I forgot or maybe I’m a better person than I’ve led myself to believe.

Necessity is the mother of all invention. And we invent through learning and learning creates invention.

Learning is what I feel life is about. If you can learn to take any situation that meets you and examine it for the lesson you’d be surprised how it changes. Learn to embrace hardship. That’s a big one. THAT IS A BIG ONE. Hardships have ALOT of lessons you may or may not like, but it’s still learning.

Learning will change your life. And it will change who you are with the people around you.

Consider my words. Look for learning today. Everyday.

All learning is important.

Rest

Buenas Noches Travellers,

AHHHHH, Sunday night….

I have to say I enjoy the Spanish words for “Good Evening” more than any other language. For some reason, those words feel so sublime and exude a sort of warmth.. A simmering or smoldering feeling… like the best summer nights we are all waiting for…doesn’t that very thought make you smile…

Let’s talk about rest.

Or resting.

Say it out loud a few times. Because reading a word and saying it feels differently.

It sounds like a reclining word, doesn’t it? Or like it’s eyes are gently closed with a soothing on it’s face.

Relaxing, restoring, rejuvenating. Resting.

I tend to think of rest requiring some kind of lesser noisiness as well. We don’t want to disturb it now, do we?

I think it needs a kind of internal stillness. Except for your ever beating heart. Have you considered recently how very relentless your heart is?

I could safely say that my modus operandi in this life is “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”.

All GO, Almost All the time. Though I have learned to sleep in the past 5 years.

The phrase “Pace yourself” has always failed my understanding. I can pace myself in the fast lane, but slowing down outside of my sleep hygiene ritual is hard for me to take. I can sit in the silence of my home for an hour or two. I can bask in a sunrise or sunset or the sun shining into my home. I can sit with my cats and dogs and give them their due appreciation. I can savor my food, music, good books, an hour of tv, for a short duration. I can enjoy my garden. I feel I have a solid daily appreciation of the sensual beauty of this life. But I wouldn’t call it rest.

And it has recently come to my attention that I should take a rest sometimes.

I hadn’t taken a day off from working out in so long I can’t remember. Last summer I started working out hard everyday and never stopped…if I was my client, I would have a lecture for that…your body needs to recuperate and recover. It needs rest outside of sleep.

I am honestly terrible at resting. I feel guilty for it and I’m not sure where that is coming from.

Do you allow yourself to rest? OR is this just my problem?

Since I’m all about embracing uncomfortable things, I decided to not work out on this past Friday and yesterday…of course I went back to it today. I also slept in late this weekend and didn’t do as much as I usually do. I’m not sure if that’s actually what “rest” is, but I’m working on it.

I’m working on resting.

OLD

Ciao Travellers,

We have finally arrived at the weekend.

Personally, I feel like I have conquered a serious week of too much. Too much at work and too much to take care of in my personal space. Too much for my body. I don’t feel that very often.

But what’s most important is that I have arrived here.

One week older…YOU are in fact one week older now.

Do you ever think about it? Getting older that is?

How do you feel about it? And where did you learn how to feel about it?

Are you allowing others to determine how you fell about that?

When I was teaching hot power yoga, I had a couple of women in class tell me that when I reached my 40s I was going to spontaneously begin to love wine AND gain weight. I was in my mid-30s at the time and I thought what a horrible thing to say to a younger woman. What kind of sisterhood is this? And maybe their experience wasn’t going to be mine, so WTF??

Safe to say, 40 came and went and yea, not only did I never acquire a taste for wildly consuming wine, I have not had any change in body composition. In fact, I’m on the flip side of my mid-40s, and yea, still going strong. I actually got fitter last year, because I started doing more weight training.

And that’s not meant as a brag, but rather a message to all the women out there who are younger than me, age isn’t something to give up to, but rather a realization that it’s same same. We all have been aging since our first breath in this world. It’s just that we have all these mile markers in youth that make it a celebration of accomplishments and then in your late 20s, that tends to die down.

The question is WHY?

Why do we want to spend the rest of our lives, which by the way is equal at least to the length of time that you have already been here, being miserable about something we cannot control?

Since I have been in my current professional occupation, I have had the privilege of learning where the boundary of “OLD” really lies and let me tell you, it’s a helluva long ways a way from 30, 40, 50, 60, 70s even.

There is something that happens to us around 85 where it appears our bodies make some kind of invisible choice to either continue to thrive or start shutting it down. I could speculate as to why, but there appear to be way too many variables to point the finger at a particular guilty party. I feel 85 is a good age where you may refer to yourself as old. If you feel the need…

What I can say with some certainty is this: AGE IS THE ACCUMAULTION OF YOUR LIFE CHOICES. NOT A NUMBER.

Read that 5 times.

The choices you make have repercussions both positive and negative.

Aging is essentially the product of your math.

Yea, it’s a theory. Yes, another one. They’re just gonna keep coming, so you should get used to it….

Life is really all about bad or good math. Choices we make involving bad bets on the percentages, not adding up things correctly or forgetting to subtract debts in all the aspects of our life. And we will all do a lot of bad math before we die.

Fun example: Squirrels, not dumb animals, but seriously the ones hit by cars, that’s bad math. They didn’t do the proper calculations on the speed of the vehicle, the distance they had to cross on that particular road and how fast they could run. Bad math.

Humans, SO MANY EXAMPLES of bad math. Just think about it.

The quality of your age has everything to do with your math skills.

Excessive drinking, social drug use, smoking, eating a lot of sugar, not moving, not sleeping well, not getting serious about your mental health, how you handle stress, your illnesses, overutilizing pharmaceuticals versus learning to be an advocate for yourself, not drinking enough water, all big subtraction. A deficit that you create in your body.

The reverse or opposite of ALL THOSE THINGS, are positives in your body.

Aging is your equation of those things and your ability to navigate them. Seek answers, be curious and learn about your body/your vehicle, be honest with yourself, and remember nothing is set in stone or predestined, you have the power to ALWAYS change course. You are in fact Dorothy who was always wearing those ridiculous shoes.

Aging is no more of an issue than you make it. I’m completely serious…

I have to also add a few words here that the reason I thought about this topic this morning was because I found myself tearing up at the kitchen sink thinking about Dave. I find that randomly happens…

THIS SONG came up on my Bose. (Yes, go listen to it. I’ll wait. It’s very important to hear this one.) A few days before his suicide, I had heard it again and found myself drawn to it. I kept listening to it and wondering if he had ever heard it. I thought about the fact that is seemed we were becoming friends finally after the divorce. After everything. I thought how grateful I was that I wouldn’t be in my singledom alone. I thought I should tell him both these things. I didn’t. And then he was gone.

Dave’s suicide made me feel old for the first time in my entire life. I think because I realized that for the rest of my life he wouldn’t be simultaneously alive with me on this Earth. And I realized how long I may have left here to live without him. He would never become an old man. He wouldn’t see how his story really ended. Or the ending I hoped he would have.

And for me this is a part of my equation now. I have to figure out how I can add enough positive into my life to take on that kind of subtraction. Because these emotions have a seriously huge number, but I’ve determined I can find an offset in the years to come. I believe he would want me to.

CAKE

Hello again Travellers,

I didn’t really plan out this whole writing everyday for 30 day event very well, did I? This week is stuffed so full that I have not been able to fit in my time here with you beautiful people. My apologies to you and to myself as well. I disappoint myself when I fail to arrive here because it matters to me. It’s hard to select what has to fall away sometimes in order for other things to be accomplished. And I’m yet to figure out how to do it all. I’m still working out this whole how to do life thing. Trying to align my values with my behaviors.

Because you should know if I’m writing about, I’m struggling with it to. I do not have anything more figured out than anyone else. In fact, I think we each have pieces of life figured out, but no one gets the whole cake. We can share the same recipe, but it never tastes the same from human to human.

One of my closest friends had surgery Tuesday morning, so I’ve been doing whatever I can to help her, this is a very hectic work week, there’s working out everyday, walking dogs, cleaning up EVERYTHING and all the general nonsense that keeps a human life in motion and just exhaustion. It’s exhausting. I have felt tangibly exhausted.

I made a cake last night and iced it this morning for one of my meetings today. THE meeting of my day, which is where I present my proposed annual budget to the Board of Directors I work for… I tend to pry them with desserts. Not that they won’t show up, but my baking capabilities are bordering on legend at this point.

Ok, maybe not legend, but I do make really good sweet stuff…anyhow, I was thinking about a few things this morning and so, here we go:

That phrase, “Have your cake and eat it too.” What kind of ridiculousness is that? If you have cake, you are going to eat it. What else is cake for? And why would you want to both keep it and eat it..it’s gonna spoil, especially if it has cream cheese frosting. Everything good has an expiration, doesn’t it? Think about it…

Obviously I had to google it and Google says:

It means you can’t eat a cake and continue to possess that cake once you’ve consumed it. The use of the phrase, therefore, is to tell someone that they can’t have two good things that don’t normally go together at the same time, like eating a cake and then continuing to possess that same cake so you can eat later.

I think there is something fundamentally wrong with humans. It’s like every other lifeform on Earth just goes with the flow of life, BUT NOT US, why is that??

Why do we insist on making things so damn difficult?

Why do we so often sour our appreciation with wanting more?

Why do we want what we know we cannot have? Why do we seek that kind of frustration?

Because I have to tell you, I’d rather eat my cake and savor it. AND in a way, I do get to keep it. You keep the memory of it’s taste, texture, flavor subtleties and that moment. I think there is alot to be said for appreciating rarity versus wanting a never ending supply of something.

One of the photos I included in a this post, was a piece of red velvet cake. Or what was left of it. It was my birthday, I had just cut off all my hair, Dave was with me in one of favorite dining establishments and they brought it out as a surprise. Because they overheard us talking about my birthday and there are kind people in this world still. It was a surprise and not on their menu. Only for birthdays. And I never had another piece again. It was the best red velvet ever in the history of my life. And there’s something about the fact that I couldn’t have it again that for me really sweetens that whole memory. Which is why I took that photo.

The experience of having it and savoring it so fully that one time was enough.

Speaking of enough, yesterday I had a rather heartbreaking conversation with one of my favorite people. He reads this actually and he is 85 currently. He is on my Board and over the years we have become something near family. Yesterday he brought information about Excel, which is a program I despise but he runs quite easily, in case he wasn’t here sometime soon. And it hit me all at once just how close he might be to the out door of this life. After he left, I sat and cried because I don’t want him to go wherever we go next. I am not ready.

And it has been my sincerest privilege to know you and your wife.

This morning I realized, people are the best cake that we don’t just want to consume, but keep forever. But we can’t. That’s not the design, is it? It’s just the worst thing isn’t it? And we are all single pieces never to be consumed twice. No two will ever taste the same.

So my thought for your day is to savor everyone in your life. And don’t want what you cannot have, which is forever. Because it robs the moment of what you do have, which is now.

Help you, help you

Happy Monday to you fellow Travellers,

I’ve decided that Spring is nature’s version of bad dating…hear me out. You give me these amazing sunny warm days where I get to lie on my patio in shorts and bask in the splendor, which was yesterday, but then that wonderousness disappears for a few days or more. I don’t understand what just happened, weren’t we having a great time? Or was too exhausting for you? Was my happiness just too much for you? Were you overcome with emotions you weren’t ready for or is it too soon to commit to the next season??

WTF?? How am I suppose to walk my dogs on these crappy borderline Spring-ish fling mornings?

Then I realized, I think this is how it is every year. I get so excited and then so disappointed…expectations do not always serve us well, do they? Certainly not when we can’t differentiate between what we expect and what we just hope for…

And I just think I’ve got alot riding on this one, I’m trying to secure myself on the other side of grief and I just need some cooperation here…but that’s really about me isn’t it? This is not how partnership works. I’m gonna have to sort this one out with relying on Spring…

Since it’s Monday, I thought I would discuss something that I find very helpful and yet challenging. It’s a very necessary perpetual practice in my life. It’s one of the most important skills I have gleamed from therapy.

As I have said before, let’s be clear, therapy isn’t a cure. It’s where I go to learn skills to survive my humanity. And I go to therapy for a sounding board and I’m a big believer that it’s something we need to normalize. Zero shame, all awesomeness that’s what I’m saying…

And it’s just like Robert Frost’s poem says, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

So go get a pen and paper. I’ll wait…

And no, we are not using our cell phones, actually writing the words here is important.

Here is the question my therapist asked me many moons ago: What do you value? Make a list.

And this isn’t a right or wrong answer, but 100% honesty is required. If you are not honest with yourself, you are lying to everyone else as well. And you need yourself here.

What do you value?

Take your time, just listen to what you hear inside. Don’t wait forever, don’t try to make it look like a good list, because you know the answer.

The list does not need to be a novel, just what speaks to you…

Here is most of mine…

HOME, honesty, compassion, Friends/Family, Furry kids, Health/Mobility, Humility, Tenacity, Vulnerability, Acceptance, Discipline, Kindness, Intelligence, Stability, Communication, Learning, Adventure, Inner peace, Trying new things, Bravery and a handful more.

I wrote this list over a year ago, and I’ve actually crossed off some things and added new things since then. Or refined a word. And that’s how we work, our values change based on what we learn about ourselves, right? Our values change based on experiences and the ability to recognize what no longer serves us.

Or maybe we realize there is something we’ve been missing and when we find it, like a little seashell on the beach of life, we pick it up and put in our little mental pockets we all have inside. We want to carry it with us.

Now here is the hard part, this is the bread and butter. This is what it’s all about: do you base your behavior on your values? Or are you basing it on your emotions and immediate desires or need for gratification?? Or is your behavior a misaligned coping mechanism that needs more exploration?

Get honest. Try not to judge yourself too harshly because remember you are the only person in this whole world who will never leave you and therefore, ya gotta learn to like this person and believe in this person. Get on your team. No matter what other persons have told you…

I have my list in my planner, I see it everyday and I find that the more I work on it, the easier it becomes. I’m not saying I get it right all the time, because I don’t… I think we go into autopilot so much in this society that we really don’t pay attention to what we do each day…Do you remember what you did yesterday?

This is not an easy thing, BUT if you will consistently do the work and observe as you are about to make a decision or react or behave in a certain way, you might be surprised to see how often you abandon what you value.

Just pause and ask yourself, does what I’m about to do align with my values? Am I making this choice from that place or where is it coming from?

Make this Monday worth something is what I’m saying… Take in all words I just left here for you. Make a list. Trust me this one time. It works. Not easily, but there is a feeling that this cultivates inside that I would diminish with mere words.

Good luck!! And let me know how it turns out!!