Heart

Good evening Travellers,

It’s Sunday eve, but this week I’m going to deviate from my usual offering of something splendid to just say a few things, I hope you won’t mind…let’s assume for arguments sake, that you won’t…

I’d like to take a few moments of appreciation here… just a few…

For the miraculous machine that dwells within us all

The thing that started to beat long before your lungs knew what air was

Long before your tongue found words or tastes or teeth

Or your eyes and ears were filled with the innumerable sensations that we take for granted each day

Or your tiny fingers and toes touched this Earth.

Your heart.

It’s a great word, right? Heart…I mean just say it out loud, your heart, my heart…

It’s a word that sounds like it’s loved, it’s got a gentle smile on it and a deeply resonating warmth.

It sounds tender. Like it wants to be deeply held.

I’m talking about the literal thing right now. That sinewy, blood filled muscle of an organ.

At one time, it was so tiny, you might even say miniscule. Beating inside your mom’s belly.

Smaller than the tip of your thumb. And now it’s the size of your fist.

Your heart that beats without fail every single second, minute, hour, day, week, month, year, decade of your mortal life.

Have you ever taken a moment in absolute stillness and placed your hands on that pulsing and just felt it.

When you lie in bed tonight or perhaps when you awake in the morning, just take a moment and place your palms on your chest till you locate it and feel it.

The rhythm that is all yours, just yours.

That’s your life, right there, under your hands. Nestled in your chest.

It’s an odd looking organ, isn’t it? Hard to believe that thing, a thing that looks like it does is driving you forward.

Obviously in symphony with your brain and lungs and blood, but it’s the thing that is pumping life through your body

And when it ceases to do that, we are pronounced dead.

When I think about reasons to live well, I often think of my heart. And wanting to care for it.

Because I think about it’s location in the human body. It’s surrounded and protected by skin, muscle and bone.

Cradled in the center of our chest, in a place it can be defended and protected.

It’s as if it’s anatomical location shows us that it is precious.

It is worthy of your utmost care…

We often talk about heart break. We deeply hurt and say we are heart broken.

Of course this is figurative right?

A metaphor perhaps.

I have often said that Dave broke my heart and then his suicide smashed it into a million pieces, but that’s not entirely true, as my heart continues to beat ever so faithfully in my chest. Right now, as I type…there is no hesitation.

Someone hurt my heart recently from disappointment, but my organ itself feels fine, it’s somewhere else in my body…

Can you really die from heart break? Do our emotions break the muscles or the valves or the stymie the blood flow?

Why did we decide to call it heart break?

Who was the first person that used that phrase?

Doesn’t emotion come from the brain and nervous system? Or perhaps the soul if you are into that sort of thing.

Why don’t we call it brain break? Or say our nerves are deeply uncomfortable? Or say we are emotionally sick.

Just think if there was no such phrase as heart break.

There would be no Shakespeare, or songs, or movies or hell, just all kinds of things would require an entirely different vernacular.

Perhaps the heart is the great hall monitor of our human body. Slowing the blood down, or speeding it up. Trying to keep us in line where we belong.

It doesn’t seem to be breakable, but yet we believe it is…

And we all take it for granted too, don’t we? This life, our heart.

Because it is in fact your one ever present diligent companion.

Someone close to me has heart problems. He’s 85 and has both a defibrillator and a pace maker. He’s now taking medicine to help strengthen the muscles because they are beginning to get tired. As one expects to happen eventually.

I was thinking at their house the other night, or rather marveling how far that heart has travelled. How many beats it has drummed out in his lifetime, how many times his wife more than likely listened to it with her ear on his chest in their youth, and the fact that he made four other hearts in his children that will beat after he is gone.

It’s the kind of thing to marvel at and just think about for a few minutes…

This life is a marvel, just in case you have forgotten…it’s right there in your chest.

Resplendent is splendid’s cousin, right?

Welcome to another wind down Travellers,

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this week in between a lot of working, cleaning, talking, moving, writing, driving, cooking, walking dogs, listening to music, listening to strange stories from various people and (deep sigh) here we are.

At the last sunset of the week. Or the first sunset, however you wanna see it.

Since it’s Sunday, you know why I’m here, or let’s assume you do, just for arguments sake…before I show you the simple splendid moments of my life, I hope you have been noticing your own. I’m gonna keep hoping you do, don’t think I’m not!! Whether you write it down, or take a snap with your phone or just mentally memorize it.

Just be with it. Witness it. Witness, as in stand there and observe and feel with all your self.

Something that makes you think, “THIS is GOOD” when it’s happening.

Give yourself time with things…

I would also like to add a little commentary here. I often see people meme-ing on apps about happiness being a state of mind, or how much I love myself or just this general idea that feels like we are being sold something that says happiness and self-love are like butterflies you can catch and be able to keep somehow. Like a constancy we can attain. Like you should want those above all the other emotions or feelings.

Did these people forget that butterflies will die in captivity? Nothing is constant in this life. Nothing can be white knuckled into existence.

Holding on too tight is called strangulation.

I just want to make sure that we understand each other here, and let’s assume we do. I’m not here to tell you life is meant to be happy all the time or to chase happiness all the time or that you should make yourself happy in order to love yourself. (Everyone nod your head.)

I come here every Sunday to say, Look at this, there is something good and it’s not perfect or forever, but it’s enough.

It’s enough.

When was the last time you thought “This small thing is enough.”?

Good and happy and love are all not forever, but the point is to learn that they are enough in their transcendental nature. Our lives are not cages to lock away things, our lives are doorways that are meant to be inhabited and ultimately passed through.

Now lemme show you some magic…

I really liked this sunrise, don’t remember what day it was. It wasn’t the skies or some magnificent display of colors. What caught me was the way the sunlight was passing through the trees in my front yard. They were luminous. Translucent like stained glass. You could the veins in the leaves. It was like they were glowing from within. I feel like we all forget that around us, at all the times, are these giant living creatures called trees. And sometimes they really look alive…or ethereal.
Yep. Another tree. No, I’m not about to launch into some environmental lecture. Don’t worry…I’ve learned that people either have reverence for this planet or they don’t…but… THIS is my tree that my hammock is under. THIS is my view from lying on my back, swaying gently in the early evening. I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating, a hundred times. Every time I lay here, I marvel at it all. Hammock time could change the course of the human race. Less tv, less cell phones, less filler, more awe. If you get two people in a hammock, great conversation or silence can be found. Just looking at this photo feels like a massive decompression in my body and soul.
My crack garden produced it’s first crack strawberry. I know he’s a little rough looking, but don’t be fooled. For those that are new here, I’m not talking about narcotics, but rather these few rather determined little plants that are growing in the crack between two concrete slabs on my patio. They just spontaneously erupted from nothing, but seem to be thriving with serious vigor. Growing out of nothing, feels like an anthem for human life right now, doesn’t it? And that sad little worn out looking berry was not even a half inch around, BUT damn, he was packed with flavor! All the flavors of the summer to come.
Decided to try something other than a pineapple this week and got a cantaloupe. The smell this melon gives off is so distinct, isn’t it? It’s like summer sugar. And there is something really interesting about the way it feels when your teeth penetrate the flesh. Like a specific kind of resistance that melons have, don’t they?

I was balling this in the early evening, sunlight flooding in the kitchen window and I thought the carved rind seemed artful. Like a meloncomb? And I remember my Grandma Biv always had balled fruits in her refrigerator for me as a kid. And I loved that stupid melon baller so much I bought one as an adult. Don’t use it often, but when I do, I remember her kitchens. And melon balls. The Tupperware dishes they were stored in. And her.

This is a lot of good right here. The kind of good that wells up in your eyes when you remember, know what I mean? And what a beautiful color the flesh is…
I know, more food right? Wait, lemme explain…I was coming home from work Monday night, wondering what am I gonna eat, like what do I even have to eat at home? Which is silly, I just went to grocer two days before, do you know that silly notion? Yea, so I used some canned tomato soup, tiny mozzarella balls and grilled chicken I had on hand and voila!! But really the reason this was good was that bread in the background. Dave used to make that for me, but I’ve found I can make it own my now.

And in that moment I thought, “I can make it on my own now.” Not to dismiss him, but we are nearing 8 months since he ended his life and I think something has begun to shift. I think a part of me, maybe a small part will always be mad at him, but I feel like he is with me, rooting for me. I feel that all the way through me.

Someday I will fully forgive him. For smashing my heart. Twice.

I will.

See that, good isn’t all happiness. But it’s still good.

Other worth mentioning moments…

I’m going to two concerts. I LOVE concerts as much as traveling. It’s a whole story that I won’t go into. I don’t like to jinx things, so let’s just dog ear that page and we’ll come back to it. One of them is a band he loves and the other is the Foo Fighters. I have to say I’ve always had immense love for Dave Grohl as an artist, but having now survived the suicide of someone integral to my own life, I have a whole new level of respect for him. Getting back up from Curt Cobain’s death was a feat, wasn’t it?

I’ve noticed this scent wafting through my backyard in the mornings and the evenings. And it took me a moment to figure it out. It’s my honeysuckle that some random bee gifted me on my fence line years ago. Actually, it’s a small honeysuckle jungle now, AND in the warm air, lying in a hammock, it’s heaven. I catch Lou smelling them sometimes. There are few things in life more delightful than watching your dog smell flowers!

Speaking of flowers, when we were walking home this morning there is this tree. (I know, a tree, AGAIN, I didn’t mean to do this, it’s not a theme! I can’t choose the goodness, for goodness sakes! Maybe I’m channeling the Lorax?) I have no idea what this tree is, but it’s funny looking and HUGE. It looks like lily pads on a tree. In groups. And the flowers look like tiny iris relatives, maybe? But the thing that really caught me was the way the flowers were falling from it’s branches this morning. It was like a soft rain of fauna and I stood in the street and watched as they floated to the ground. There was a blanket of white frothy flowers all around. Actually the three of us stood in the middle of the street and just watched for minutes. It was like something in a movie. Only real. And then we came home.

As I said early on, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and writing this week, so you might want to prepare yourself for possibly multiple blog posts from me? We’ll see what happens….BUT meanwhile, keep your eyes, ears, noses, fingers and mouths open for good things.

Okay, maybe don’t walk around with your mouth hanging agape, or getting handsy, but you know what I meant, let’s assume you did, for arguments sake..

And now, I’d like to leave you with a quote, since I mentioned happiness earlier…this one always makes me giggle when I hear it…it goes a little something like this:

“Ever since happiness heard your name, it’s been running through the streets trying to find you.”

Now tell me, what does happiness look like when you read those words?

What do you see in your mind?

What is looking for you?

Think about it…

I’ll be seeing you!

Sumptuous aka Splendiferous

Good evening Travellers,

It’s a holiday weekend here in America. Memorial Day is for remembering those who died in service to our country. All of my family members survived their service, at least in body. I had a great uncle who was in Pearl Harbor and lost friends aboard the Arizona. He was forever changed from that event.

I always feel like no matter how well films are made about wars, we cannot imagine what it is like in reality. Humans, at least in America, are not often hunted by each other. And I’m pretty sure that’s what war is, us hunting each other down and doing our worst.

If you are reading this and you or a member of your family has or is in our military service, allow me to extend my deepest gratitude. Perhaps we should take a breath here for those who can no longer do the same.

I think we forget each day that life is built on life. Nothing is free here. There is a price. By here, I mean this entire world.

Oooooh, that was an unintentionally serious start for something sumptuous or splendid, wasn’t it?

It’s funny how that happens in conversations, sometimes they just sort of veer off the road. I pretend I saw a metaphorical deer and had to swerve and then I get right back on it..

Like this…

Are you ready for something good? Like the little things that quietly assure that life is indeed still filled with little pockets of goodness.

Let’s talk about it…Ready?

I painted my toe nails the color of the sun!! Because there is no sun here.

Actually I was looking at my feet thinking about how far they have carried me in this life. They are in pretty damn good shape considering the mileage I put on them in the gym and everywhere else.

I think about mobility everyday. And when I go into a studio to move, I think about how grateful I am to be able to do as such. Just gratitude for being able to work out. Just moving and sweating and persevering and doing the hard stuff. And I encourage anyone out there who is struggling to work out, try reframing it as the privilege you have, the privilege to move in a body, even if your body isn’t perfect!!

My grandfather, whom I have mentioned before, had MS and he was in a wheel chair in his 40s. I think of him almost everyday in my gym. And I think about how fortunate I am and I’m not gonna waste it. He wouldn’t want me to.
While I’m ranting about feet and mobility, let’s have some more, because why not? Am I right? Seriously both of my cats perch on the corners of tables like this ALL THE TIME…RIGHT ON THE EDGE. It fascinates me. What is this about? Just tables. Only tables. I have no idea why, does anyone know why? These are the things that happen and make me smile at how oddly weird life is in the littlest of ways…and look at her little paws, so delicate and agile. And dangerous, she has serious claws…
THE RAIN THE RAIN THE RAIN…will it ever stop? We do not know, we do not know… however one early evening last week, the sun came out while it was raining and I love that…the way the sunlight breaks through the rain drops, there is something about the combination of those elements that feel like warmth in my soul. This is the rain you want to remember in your next life. It’s the rain you wanna walk in, dance in and if you are lucky kiss some other fabulous human in…
Two good things happens when it’s unseasonably cooler and raining, bubble baths and unexpected cravings for soup. And when I have chicken noodle soup, I must have saltine crackers with butter. REAL BUTTER, not the plastic crap. It’s something I learned in childhood and have loved my whole life. So simple. I think the memory is a little anchor that reminds me of a time when I had far fewer worries in life. Like I said, simpler. Food can carry so much meaning for us without even trying, can’t it?

I watched a movie again last night that I hadn’t seen in years, Elizabethtown. It’s a Cameron Crow movie and I’m not sure if it’s a great movie, but there is something great about it. And there is something great about watching a movie like that when it’s been awhile. And the soundtrack is to die for, so let’s just all take a moment and listen to these two tracks: Ryan Adams and The Temptations. Because it’ll be good for you…trust me.

I had dinner with one of dearest friends which is always a wonderful thing. I believe we have been friends for over 15 years, maybe? Good grief we are old! She is one of my favorite accomplices that I have had in this life and sometimes she reads this, so thank you!! I’m so glad we still have each other and would never have guessed when we first met that either of us would be here in our lives, would you? And isn’t that kind of wonderful?

And after our dinner, a friend of mine, we are gonna call him a friend, it’s too much to explain right now…to discuss that would be one of those metaphorical deer that we veered off the road to avoid…anyways I stood in the parking lot talking to him in the rain for 45 minutes, so that was good too. He’s one of those rare people I always enjoy talking to for hours on end. He’s the guy in the hammock I mentioned before

Ramona and Faline were sitting together on the couch watching the aforementioned movie with me…by together, I mean touching each other in the most uncomfortable way. Like they were trying so hard to not acknowledge their discomfort, I could see them each thinking, “It’s fine. This is fine. I’m fine. She’s touching me, but I’m fine. It’s fine.” I laughed so hard because they continued doing it even though neither could looked remotely alright with it. For an entire hour! It felt like a very human behavior, know what I mean?

I hope that you have had some good sprinkled into your past week and if not, open yourself.

That’s one of my best pieces of advice in this world: Be open. Stay open.

I say it to myself with some frequency, which means all the time.

Because I am difficult and don’t always listen to myself.

You cannot receive or give if you are not open. Open is scary, but it’s where awareness lives. It’s where hope lives.

Know what I mean?

I said something similar the past two Sundays, so this makes it the third time, which they say is a charm. Why is that? I don’t know. Baseball has three strikes, is that a coincidence?? I do not know….

I’m assuming it’s that same committee that decides all the other things…right?

Seriously, I need to get on that committee…

See, DEER!!

But YOU, I know YOU need to keep yourself open. Front and center. Gaze and mind. Watch for the good. Think ant sized, not rhino.

I’ll be seeing you…

A Seed

Bonne Soiree Travellers,

Last weekend I had the oddest feeling inside my body and in the air outdoors…it felt like summer had already been here and gone, when in fact it really hasn’t even arrived yet. I had that feeling of disappointment one has when summer is on it’s way out…Isn’t that peculiar?

I’m going to blame the numerous days of cloudy hungover skies for that sensation. It feels like the weather has created a blank canvas of sorts, or maybe it’s a too much gray canvas.

I feel like many of the dynamic moments of Spring have be drowned out or muted in a way I can’t fully describe….

But on Tuesday night, as I was walking across the terrace, I spied this luscious little fellow…

The first strawberry.

Summer is indeed still coming…

Lemme tell you, in case you don’t know, strawberries that are grown on their own taste so much more wonderful than their store bought counter parts. I think it’s because when you grow them on your own, they get to take their time.

There’s something to be said for letting things grow in their own time.

Especially people.

Don’t you agree?

I think one of the most difficult aspects of being human is the way we struggle with our own pacing. It’s something that defies explanation really as to how we arrive, where we arrive, when we arrive there.

If you are someone who has battled any kind of mental health struggle or familial trauma or addiction or divorce or survived an extraordinary ordeal of any kind, there’s this moment when you think this thought. I arrived at it and I’ve heard many many others express the same sentiment:

Why couldn’t I have figured this out sooner?

I have an idea, would you like to hear it? Here we go…

Do you know who William Shakespeare is? Let’s go with yes for arguments sake… Will once said “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances…” ok, actually Jaques, a character in “As You Like It” recites this whole spiel, but for our purposes, we just need that one little bit to build on…

If you know anything about plays and theatre, let’s say yes again, for arguments sake…then you know that there is a rhyme and reason to scenes and staging and lighting and most importantly, TIMING. The actors don’t just run out on stage all hands in the air like they don’t care, squealing their lines at random intervals. And that is because…

No one gets to say their lines before it’s time.

Read that again.

I’m pretty sure you can’t arrive to your greatest moments of growth any sooner. No one can.

Isn’t that bittersweet?

There are so many moving parts inside us and those who surround us that have to fall into place, just like timing on a stage.

But the questions remain, how does that kind of time work? How does time become right for each of us? Why can’t we force that time forward, faster? Why can’t we arrive at being the person we want to be faster? Why can’t we learn and grow and heal faster?

I know when it’s a strawberry, those that are rushed into fruition are never as delicious…yea, I know, I just punned, sorry not sorry…

And I can’t help but think about how it all begins…A seed.

Ok, in our case, it’s an egg and a squiggly little sperm, but we are going to call it a seed, just for arguments sake.

Because we were a seed. In our parent’s minds, before we were a literal seed in a womb. We were an idea they thought was worth growing. Ideas are a most powerful kind of seed, are they not?

Consider the human existence we currently enjoy…architecture, transportation, medicine, science, fashion, agriculture, and even theatrical plays, these were all ideas that one or more humans felt needed to be planted and nourished.

We are all seeds that grow at different cadences, in different ways and into different humans. But we each need an unspecified amount of time to accomplish this. And we each deserve the opportunity to do that.

I’ve been trying to think about language for teaching this summer and on Instagram. In movement, if you are a consciousness human, and for arguments sake, let’s say you are, you want to use language that embraces everyone. That means every size, age, shape, color, stage of learning, flexibility and strength. The last thing I ever want to do is intimidate someone or make anyone ever feel less than.

Because I believe that the greatest strength of movement is that it has the power to make you feel more than. And it has the power to help you grow.

SO I’ve been thinking about using the analogy of a seed. And the way we all grow differently yet equally beautiful. I can break down any movement to it’s simplest pieces and then grow it from there. I like the idea of growing at your own pace in movement, because we all do. And I like that this idea feels harmonious with the yogic limbs as well.

In summary, strawberries, Shakespeare, theatrical timing, growth, ideas, you and me. All start from a seed.

So, What are you growing?

.

Monday Musings

Greetings Travellers,

How was your Monday?

I was off work today. Truth be told, unless I have travel plans, I’m not good at taking time off work.

I’m extraordinarily bad at it in fact. I have to have an itinerary of things to do or I feel bad… I get listless and sad.

And I end up always feeling like my life isn’t going to turn out well after all.

Seriously, it’s bananas.

I think I’ve always been this way and I’m not fully sure why…something I ponder…in case you may have missed it, I’m a fan of a good pondering.

This evening, I thought I would share a little list of thoughts that might be worth tumbling around in your brain, should you feel like pondering…these are things that have popped into my brain over the past few days.

BUT FIRST, I found Faline lounging like a boss on the front couch this afternoon…it’s the look on her face that always makes me laugh…

And EQUALLY awesome, since I was home today when the tornado test sirens went off, I got to witness Lou howling. There is something about the way she throws her head back, purses her lips and howls that makes my heart swell. I LOVE IT, so then I howled too and she howled with me. And the siren. This went on for let’s say just long enough for me to not appear crazy. I have no idea why I find that so wonderful, but I do…

Now here’s the list, in no particular order…

~Small Ordinary Moments…do you seek them? do you create them? how many of us are watching for them? They mean so much to our health. The ability to satiate your senses in the moment you are in is of utmost importance to our well being. Humans are not meant for all this mental time travel. Ordinary has a power of it’s own making.

~Which led me to this thing that I’ve been thinking about a lot as I’m inching my way into the Gram: Our strength and our stories lie in our imperfections and our scars, if you edit it all out, what’s left of you?

~I appear to have two plantar warts…one is on the ball of my foot, and I think it’s going to kill me from pain. And it’s little. First it was the divorce, then a pandemic, then two injuries, a feisty squirrel, Dave’s suicide, and now I’ve met an adversary that truly scares me…has anyone else made an internal list of all your pain since COVID arrived? Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like all of humanity is getting it’s ass kicked in very personalized ways, am I wrong? NOT a poor me list, but just a shit list of things you’ve had to deal with…am I right?

~Who first said, what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger? And what were the circumstances in which that person came up with that phrase? Was it an act of heroism or a paper cut from hell? I’d like to know…and why do we repeat certain phrases and not others? Is there a committee? How do I get on that committee? Show of hands, who would like to be on that committee???

~How holding onto our emotions can breed resistance. As in, just changing your words from “I am” to “I feel” with consistency and daily practice helps us separate our identity from our emotions. And that’s sort of powerful, isn’t it?

~Working off of that, let’s ponder the peace we can create in of the practice of self-observation, don’t just feel your feels and think your thoughts, but give yourself some space inside to hold them away from you. It’s taken me over two years in therapy to really get ahold of this and I still have to work at it. I’ll work at it my whole life. I have visualization techniques. We are such busy easily distracted creatures and if you can insert several seconds to stop, step back, observe, it’s amazing what you can learn about yourself. And that in turn will help you learn about others. Funny how that works…

~GOING FIRST, someone is always first in line aren’t they? Are you that person, or are you the middle man or last man standing kind of human? What do we learn by going first in conversations, or into the coldness or into the unknown? What is the value in being first and by going first, doesn’t it put other people at ease? I should go first more often, shouldn’t we all?

~Knowledge is knowing lots of stuff and wisdom is understanding how your mind uses it. Mark Manson said this in his last newsletter that I read and am I the only one who wants to really understand how my body works versus believing it’s just like everyone else’s?

~Resilience, which is a word I just love to say and it’s really interesting how some souls seem to be more resilient than others. I would put it to the nature/nurture conversation, but what if it’s something more than that? I had brunch with a good friend yesterday who works with people who have had truly terrifying lives and we were talking about why are some people able to get back up and others can’t?

~Part 2 of that is something that has always intrigued me and that is our dysfunctional coping mechanisms that we pick up from trauma in youth. Where does alcoholism really begin for example, someone in the bloodline starts it, where does that come from, why is that their vice versus all the other choices? Why did I become an anorexic and not a drug addict? Why have I always been repelled by drugs and drinking for the most part? Why was I able to craft this life, why did I seek therapy, why has EMDR worked for me but not for others?

~What are we really? Fully serious, what are we made of beyond the obvious, because not to sound woo woo, but in my deepest movements or silent moments with my dog or gardening, there is some kind of something, isn’t there? Like THE FORCE. And in the above mentioned thoughts, there is more here, in us, I think…and I don’t feel like it’s a God thing, it’s something about our very nature.

~ The fifth limb of yoga is called Aparigraha, and for me, it’s about expectations and our attachment to the end goal versus embracing the journey AND not attaching to thoughts and emotions that constantly swell within our being. Let’s be honest, we can’t attach to anything in this life really, every single thing is temporary. Most of this world lives in a constant state of change, and attaching to things, wanting same same, just causes us to suffer.

~Lastly, I’ve been thinking about how art works and this includes writing. Isn’t all writing an art form? I fully believe each sets of eyes that find my words will understand them differently. Because we each take everything in through our filter. Our filter is our education, our experiences, our beliefs, our sex, our age, our race, our everything, so I can’t help but hope that all other writers and creators feel this way on some level. How could they not, and don’t all our interpretations make it richer and fuller?? Isn’t that how all art works? I know that’s always my hope, that my words speak to you, in your world, in some way as I write their meaning in mine. Art lets us know that we have never been alone.

~Last thought, We can remain extraordinary, even in our darkness. If I get onto that aforementioned committee, you’re gonna be saying those words again, trust me!!

Good night!!

Squirrel!!

Happy what’s-left-of-Friday Travellers,

How about a little humorous anecdote from my current life…

For the past couple of weeks, I have been engaged in a sort of battle of wills between myself and the squirrel(s). Each morning or afternoon, I go out to my garden only to find that the squirrel has been here doing very bad squirrel things….

Specifically digging, destroying and chewing. Almost like a tiny little dog.

Only not.

It’s almost like nature is offending me. It is discouraging me. The universe is discouraging me. On a very personal level.

And if I’m honest, somehow my feelings are hurt.

Do you know what I mean? Of course you do. All humans think these silly things from time to time. Everyone thinks the universe is somehow targeting them for good or bad reasons.

Allow me to assure us, it is not.

The universe does not have time to single us out one by one.

For the record, my neighborhood is full of giant oak trees. I have four them around my home. It’s one of things I truly love about living here. And I mean LOVE. I remember as a kid always feeling like neighborhoods with lots of trees were somewhere where normal families lived. They represented a life I didn’t have, which admittedly is a strange correlation to make, but that’s what kids do.

And now I live there. In the place with all the giant trees. And with these trees comes squirrels. To me they are my tiny little neighbors that race through the canopies with a sort of finesse and speed that I envy as an athlete. They talk to each other, sometimes quarrel and build huge nests. The trees are their homes and I’ve always found their company sort of delightful in a weird way.

UNTIL NOW…

Let it be said, I’ve not experienced the darker side of squirrels. My fellow home owning friends tend to not like them because they can be destructive. That’s what they have said.

I think it’s been about five years that I’ve been growing a garden and maybe there have been some isolated incidents that I foolishly blamed on birds, but now there is a little fucker in my midst…and I want to kill it.

Okay, see that right there, I’m not a killer and in truth, that is not what I want. That is not who I am as a human.

I mean IT IS, but it’s also not…do you know what I mean??

I wouldn’t in truth want to kill some other squirrel’s parent/spouse/child. The image of a sad squirrel just makes me sad. VERY SAD.

Here’s the real problem, the total honesty of it. My little garden is my joy. I cannot express to you how grounding it is to work in it each day. And joy-filled. I don’t know if all humans feel this way, but I do. I very much do, which is why I write about it with some frequency.

Also, this little patch of green makes me feel like I’m a nurturing person. Which in lieu of the events of the past two years of my life is reassuring. Since I always blame myself for things going wrong, whether it’s my fault or not, I also have learned it’s good to find things to blame yourself for that are positive.

Blame yourself for the positive things in your life. There’s a skill to learn.

This stupid little squirrel is literally chewing and digging up my joy. He is destroying my strawberries that are trying so hard to grow and eating their flowers which means NO BERRIES. And don’t even get me started on what happened to my young spinach. TWICE! Somehow THIS was the morning where I yelled out to the backyard, I HAVE HAD IT!!

(Because I know the squirrels are listening..)

(And I want the rain to stop!)

(Did I mention the never ending rain? The flooding? The rain that has caused my blueberry bush to look fully intoxicated. Like it had a really rough night out.)

I know the digging is their attempt at excavating nuts, which are not actually there. The only good thing about the rain is that it has slowed down their search and rescue efforts. As smart as squirrels are, you would think they would have a map. Or whatever the equivalent is to a squirrel. Or an engineer amongst their colony that sorts out that kind of thing.

I once watched a squirrel bury a nut near these flowers we had elsewhere in the backyard. And then he took a step back, sat up on his hind quarters and arranged the fauna like he was a florist or something. He moved his little hands with such precision and delicacy you would have thought someone was getting married back there.

WHERE IS THAT SQUIRREL? Because he wouldn’t be doing this…

Why is the universe doing this to me??? That was my actual thought. I thought that thought as I stood there in front of my massacred garden. I thought that thought last night as my basement began to flood.

And let’s be clear, I’m very well aware that parts of America are flooding right now, so I’m extremely fortunate. I am, so allow me to acknowledge that before I continue this rant.

Why must things like this happen? I know it’s really miniscule, but for me, it represents my greater struggle. The struggle to find my life in the rubble of my divorce, Dave’s suicide, my arm that’s moving at the speed of maple syrup to fully heal and all my fears about attempting to try to build a business for myself.

It is the struggle to grow something new, to care for it, to cultivate joy and resilience. The garden, my home, my life. And to protect it.

The squirrel is just doing what squirrels do being a little destructive menace. Ok, not all squirrels obviously, just this one or two, I haven’t figured out if it’s a tag team or one little fucker doing this on it’s own. I assume he/she is new to my neighborhood. I know it’s not personal because it rarely is. What happens to us in life is RARELY PERSONAL. And I also acknowledge the squirrel is not a messenger from the greater universe saying, “Just give up Amy” but damn it sometimes feels that way.

In truth, I like to think the universe is rooting for all of us, against all odds. I like to think humans are the greatest wager eve made in all of creation.

But there are still squirrels.

(These are LAST summer’s berries…)

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.

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.

The Miseducation of Strawberries

Happy Monday Travellers,

It’s been a minute, how are we doing on this fine Monday?

I’ve decided to do a whole 30 days writing every single day journey again. Because I’m trying to reassemble my life in a way that makes me feel good about myself. I decided it’s time to give all the effort that I have inside me. This is the first morning I got out of bed at 5am, walked the ladies with the sunrise and now I’m here. This is me resetting my life. A life that I wholly want for myself.

I cleared and planted my garden a week ago. And once again, it’s a never ending source of just feeling goodness and joy in a way that only a garden can. I kid you not, I smile just typing those words. It warms my soul to say those words and to stand in their presence.

There is something about us, as in humans, that I genuinely 1000% believe needs to have that kind of connection to the Earth. Putting your hands and feet in dirt is the best. And I think if we all grew our own food it would change the way we eat. Nothing ever tastes as good as something you have grown for yourself. And I think widespread communal gardens could change the world. I know that’s a bold statement, but I’m dead serious. Everyone working together side by side with the common goal of nourishing ourselves and our families. Just think about it.

I believe there is a whole world living with us that we have forgotten. And in forgetting that we are neglecting something inside of us…

Lemme show you a little something I learned recently…

Look at that lifeless, dehydrated, sad, once was a lively green plant. It looks dead right? Down for the count. This is one of my two containers that had strawberries last year. I didn’t have the idea for this post until I came to second container and in order for you to appreciate the next photo you had to see this one first…

How does seeing that make you feel?

Take a moment, I’ll wait…

Now look at this…

This is not a new plant.

This is what grows underneath.

LIFE.

Life tenaciously continues beneath the surface of death.

This is the other container, which was even more of dead mess than the photo above, but look at those little guys.

Just look at ’em. Never have I been so happy to see life.

Those dried up layers formed a crunchy blanket for the vines to bundle up inside of as the winter raged on. And we had a two week spell here in Kansas with nights of 20 degrees below zero. There should be no survivors. But there are.

The first few years I grew my garden I cleared all the containers because I didn’t know better. And in truth, I don’t like seeing the little carcasses of my once glorious greeneries. It makes sad to look our my kitchen window and see all the dull brown where there was once vibrant chlorophylled community. And in truth, it makes me uncomfortable to see my little garden all decrepit and broken.

What’s more interesting is last year, one or two little berries offshoots appeared in that second container. Somehow they made their way through that winter and the berries that they grew were the sweeter and more luscious than any first generation berries. I daresay they earned it.

Now take everything I’ve just said and shown you and apply it to life. Your life. I’m not gonna tell you how, because that would rob you of the sweetness.

Let’s cue up one of the greatest albums of my lifetime, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” because when the sun comes out and the weather slides into warmth, it’s what I’m feeling right now…

Thanks for sharing your time with me. Please let me know your thoughts. Do you indulge your inner gardener? Are you believer in the come back? Do you see the relationship between death and life as the dance we are all dancing and yet we continue to fight the rhythm?

And are you ready for all this summer yumminess?