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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Urban Cardio or the 'Roundabout Way to Chinatown

Zoe and I left the Earth Day celebration and headed for Chinatown. Walking is a given in the city, especially as we head up. We had lunch at Padilla's and the atmosphere was nice the food and service were less than optimal. Seems they had little investment in seasonings or were accustomed to serving customers with no taste buds.

Yes. Good Vibes! I peeked inside but passed on exploration since I know the product offerings. If you are curious, visit

We walked forever, uphill. Forever. Finally we reached a space between buildings and I could see water. What? There is no water in Chinatown. Zoe!!! Even in comfy shoes, my feet are starting to hurt.

See, there's the lighthouse. A beacon to lost ships. If I were at sea, there would be cause to celebrate, but up here in what was Nob Hill and then the Russian District, not even a tram has passed. Just parked cars, me and Zoe.

We are headed downhill. No better news than up as we have been walking for hours now and it takes a bit of control to prevent tumbling forward and being done with it.

Yep, that's the bay. Where are we? North Shore...

Full of my complaining banter, Zoe has ventured on. I must say, I am still rather relaxed compared to how I will fell hours from this point.

Finally, someplace I can call home, or at least rest, for a pint. But no, we move on.
We wandered through the Italian neighbors. Wonderful pastries displayed in the windows. Sweet sugary yeasty yummy scents luring shoppers from the busy streets.

Finally, we made it to Chinatown. There was still a long way to the shop I wanted to visit, but at least we were in the area.

And every thing is on sale. "Best prices." (Not.)

San Francisco is extremely pedestrian friendly. Walking is easy. By the time we made it home my phone battery had died and the step tracker stopped at 9982. That marked over 4.75 miles. We walked way farther than that. We began this morning with breakfast then headed to the Civic Center for the Earth Day celebration. We left with lots of samples and Kevita Probiotic Drink. Zoe and I both had Lemon Ginger.

I mentioned above we stopped for lunch at Padilla's, then began the walk again. By the time we reached Chinatown I was hungry again. But that's something I notice on every visit. This walk for hours and stop to eat, then walk some more process could be a financial pitfall. Fortunately, I am on vacation and personally enjoy stopping at various places for a bite. the nicest part is Zoe will also stop for a bite here and there so that instead of multiple meals, we are sharing single meals, twice. Once we had a bowl of soup at one restaurant, and later picked up and entree at another.

My love of the city is the sights, sounds, taste, and smells. That makes each journey outside the home, an adventure. There is always something interesting to attract and maintain you attention.
It's a wonderful life!
Live it!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Eat it all. I will!

Today’s journey through the city brought us to an interesting opportunity for exploration of pies. Throughout history food has been cooked and served in a shell. Originally, meats were cooked and stored in a thick and heavy shell for transport on long journeys. The first shells were tough, inches thick, and normally leftover after meals. After having been soaked in meats and sauces they were still eatable and were offered staff, servants and the poor. As time passed shells thinned and became more flakey, pastry-like and of course, delightfully eatable.

Today pies vary as broadly as the imagination. Our stop highlights Mission Pie. Mission Pie is a bakery and café located on a corner in the Mission District of San Francisco. Z and I entered to stand at the end of a long line. Ahead we spied a glass case filled with baked pies below and tarts above. To the left, a long list of the available pies is written in chalk in the pillar and chalkboard. Mission Pies offers fruit, walnut, meat and vegetable pies. There are also Fair Trade Organic Coffees.

Got five buck?

“We opened our pie shop in the Mission District so that a person could get into the conversation for five bucks, not twenty-five.” That conversation is about eating locally and seasonally. Mission Pies supports local businesses for its fruits, vegetables, and grains. When asked why walnut instead of pecan pie, the answer is that California walnuts account for 99% of the commercial U.S. supply and pecans must travel 3000 miles for that pie.

“At Mission Pie, we look for opportunities to exchange resources in ways that are fair and transparent. We think food is truly good when it supports health and justice in our communities and our world.”

For five bucks you can get a piece of fresh pie and a cup of coffee. Mission Pie offers a relaxed space to enjoy a meal, snack, relax in conversation, or gaze out the window enjoying the ever-changing view of the dynamic city corner. As Z and I sat enjoying our Lentil Spinach Tart, we noticed the flower garden planted between the street and sidewalk, and the windows that slide open. The evening light filled the space but it is easy to imagine a mild breeze on a warm day caressing diners as they share thoughts and ideas.

I am more deeply committed to supporting and sharing in my local community.

For more information please visit

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lenten Musings 3

As the season comes to a close, I continue to assess the choices I have made and am making daily. In the realm of letting go, I decided the best way to let go of fifty items a day was to use up the supplies I have been storing over the years. My deep freeze was full and this became the opportunity to begin cooking meals for the week, utilizing the items available, without going to the store and adding to the process.
I delayed shopping for eight days. The problem I found was that some “emergency” supplies had gone bad - expired. Seems you can’t save everything for a rainy day. So, we ate up food, threw away wasted items, recycled piles of papers, bottles, and cans I have been storing for reuse. The reality is I will get more. There is no need to save it all.
This week I returned to the store for half and half, no waiting on that. I passed on even looking at the liquor section as that is one of my major obsessions. And since I decided I would not buy any more liquor (or wine) I also stopped drinking it up. I ran out of yogurt and though I replaced my basic needs in one trip, I picked up another dozen or so today. I will be okay with that choice.
I can feel shopping. Those items above do not meet the internal need to just shop, to look, compare, then purchase. As I wade though my feelings around my relationship shift, I find that the lost of both brings up feelings of longing. I easily shift without succumbing but I notice they are connected. In the past, I comforted myself with the knowledge that life was much less expensive without a partner/lover/grrlfriend.  I always receive the best, most perfect gifts because I know exactly what I desire. And I buy for myself.
I am reading, writing, journaling, studying, praying, mailing more cards, notes and letters. I am talking to friends occasionally. More than anything, I have a deeper understanding of the side trips I have made in the last year and am taking actions to correct the directions. My have a better garden plan. I workout regularly - either at the gym, on the trail, or out and back around my neighborhood.
I will conclude the Lenten season in San Francisco with the lovely Z! We will have coffee in the city, tea at her place, share yoga at Yoga To The People. We will take lots of pictures and celebrate Earth Day together. My life is good. I imagined having a wonderful joyous experience and this is it!
Look to this day!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A peek, glimpse, consideration...

This was my garden/yard for 2010. Looking through my pictures reminds me of the returning joy. At times winter seems harsh and barren. Sometimes it is just that, but then I remember the seeds I have planted and the work already done. Yes, there is more for this years harvest and this days joy. But, I am heaping it atop what has gone before and they join to become more glorious, more magnificent.

Just a lovely day on the day.  Headed back in two weeks time. One of my focuses this trip will be photos for my yoga post.

Extended side angle pose. Here's to sharing yoga with family and friends.

Fifty Things

The clutter is kicking my ass.  I say this because as I focus on the fifty items out of the house each day, I see how very much there is and how very little of it I need or use. I find my moments between sleep focused on what can go next, or, on how I have spend so very much money during this time of stepping away from my shopping behaviors.

This weekend I reviewed my checking account after setting up some automatic payments. I was shocked, surprised, overwhelmed, and nearly defeated by the record of my behavior this month. Apparently, I gave up my need to look at what and how I was spending. So, I went back to my journal. Stop! Even in that exclamation, I could feel how much I needed to go to the store. Stop! But, there’s just one more thing I need to pick up. Stop! This is the best time to go shopping. Stop. Think.

I have taken more time to think and feel, picking up my journal to converse with the nagging draw to leave the house and go out amongst more stuff, and bring it home. I am still waiting on some insight.  I’m sure it will come as I continue to withdraw from the behavior and sit with my thoughts and feelings. Until then, I am steady on the progress outward.

For those of us who gather lots of stuff around us (that show has just made the word useless), and feel the need to be surrounded by said stuff, there are varied issues to face. As I love myself deeply, I am taking a loving approach to releasing what no longer serves me. In this relaxed state I have found easier ways to let go than I have known before.

Does this thing bring me joy? How does it bring me joy? Is my life enhanced by its presence in my space?

What memory does this elicit? Can I hold the memory without this item? Is this a memory I even treasure, or is it merely a historical event? Can I give it away and share the memory?

Why am I keeping this anyway? How is this serving my life? What’s the likelihood I will be using this to learn, grow, or be happy in the future, ever?

How many years has this been sitting here? Have I even noticed it before today, while I am looking to pass it along?

Those are a few of the questions that help me pack the stuff out the door. Today, I am packing up my Harry Potter collection. I really enjoyed the books and sharing them with my family and friends.  I have read and re-read them, but that’s enough. I have hundreds more books in the house to ready and fifty-four on my kindle. I think I will be good on reading material. Another consideration, for me, it that these are not reference books. They were entertainment and I was amused. Now someone else can be as well.

I have lots of food snacks that have been cluttering my kitchen. I will be passing them along to people who actually might enjoy eating them. Some items were gifts, others left over from a party. Others were less enjoyable than expected. I may as well share.

It is becoming a rather delightful process, seeing what I can take out next. Today there is still so much, I l know I am treading lightly. There are times I can feel some attachment, but that’s a topic for another blog. Letting go is freedom from attachment; freedom from attachment to the source of our happiness.

Happy spring clearing. May the winds of change be smooth and gentle.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lenten Musings 2

I’m checking into the challenges of keeping focus and commitment during this Lenten season. There are some areas where it looks as if I have made the opposite decision than the one I am living.  The shopping has just gotten out of hand. No matter how I attempt to justify my behavior, the bottom line is, it has continued. Thankfully, during the last week I came across yet another blog on decluttering and accepted the challenge to take fifty things out of my home every day.  Just the thought was enough to push up massive feelings of possessiveness and defensiveness around my collections and stuff.  Stuff – there is a lot of it.  So much in fact that I have not viewed much of it for years.  This became an ideal place to start.  I let go of things I have not seen in years.  If I have managed to live all this time without picking them up, I can probably let them go.  I have hundreds, maybe nearly a thousand books and even though I always start there with letting go, I tend to pick up more along the way. This week, I let go of the books I have held on to because they were given to me by someone special, even though I have no interest in reading them.  I gave away books that I have multiple copies of. I have them for that very reason, to give them away. I save wine and liquor bottles and have had a wine tree in my front yard for a few years now.  I decided now is the time to take it down. Mostly, I was looking for a creative way to recycle my bottles and next I liked the idea of leaving your “whine” outside the door. The concept is that I take things out of the house for good.  Some things can just go to the trash.  Others are on the curb for recycling, and in my trunk I have donations to the local “wardrobe.” As I type, I know there are a few books my neighbor will appreciate. If clutter is an issue, this is a useful way to review what we are holding onto and perhaps why. Some items hold memories and feelings; others are just hanging around and serve us no purpose. How much more freedom we have when our attention is free of useless entanglements.

My relationship shifted from non-sexual to non-romantic. More continues to come up to be processed and as we move through this phase our time together is either task/activity directed or drifts into that foggy emotional space that is up for clearing. I am open to all possibility and freely recognize when our interactions are neither interesting nor amusing. I have begun to ask the questions that lead me to my deepest truth.  “What am I really afraid of?” “What do I feel the worst outcome could be?” “Am I willing to be with what is?” There are the words we speak and then there is the deeper meaning we are hoping no one really gets. Sometimes, there are people who really are paying attention and noticing what we are hiding. Those are my answers and I will not wait to be called out. When you notice who I am, I hope it is not new information to me.

I am re-reading Return to Love by Marianne Williamson.  Many years ago, when I was deeply in love, my then grrlfriend explained that she was not the one and neither was I. She shared that we were together for a greater purpose.  I was heartbroken and thought sad beyond repair, until she shared her tapes of Marianne Williamson on “Romantic Delusions.” The most beautiful thing about that relationship was the resource she shared with me, the moments in prayer and meditation, and the freedom to live and grow both inside and outside our relationship. Years later, I still hold this as my most prosperous experience.  Not that I didn’t continue to grow with each successive experience, but from here I has a framework, a guidepost to find my way. My life and heart opened in a way I had not known so that I could continue to move on and be happy as a choice.

When we are completely happy with ourselves and how well we are living our live, we have the freedom to show up my clearly and presently for others. While it might look like we need to have friends to hear our angst and share our burdens, what we really need is a long study in the mirror with the hard questions.  We need to come to ourselves.  Wake up. This is the day.  Now is the time.  Continually waiting to be rescued from the holes we have dug is delusion. If sorrow is all you think you have, stand on that and climb out. Friends reach out a helping hand.  Friends remind us that the light still shines, but our friends cannot make us open our eyes and see. That’s where we show up, for ourselves.

In Love and Light, for Light casts out all darkness.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What would your best friend do?

I am a strong advocate for self love, especially for loving the body you live in, and in doing so celebrating all aspects of what you look and feel like each day – joy and pain. I live in a house filled with mirrors on most of the walls.  To avoid your reflected image you would literally have to close your eyes and risk bumping into walls. That said, I managed to gain sixty pounds and miss the hip, butt, thigh expansion.  Just missed it.  It helped that I lived in long flowing dresses and skirts, sarongs, and naked.  You would think the naked part would have shed some light, but I was oblivious to the shift for years.  I am quite positive I was between 210 – 220 pounds  for over three years.  Not much on scales, but an occasional check in offered the information.  It was the increased backaches and lack of relief through massage and gentle movement that prompted the check in that found me at 280 pounds. 
“Wow!” was about all I could say. I decided that I would go home and give it some more thought. As I lay in bed, I decided that I would rest for the month and then get up and move with some purpose come November.  That would be my birthday gift to me. I did exactly that.  I joined the gym up the way.  It is associated with a health program for people with health challenges and free of the stereotypical gym rats; lots of elderly men and women, some with walkers and wheelchairs, others strong, fit, and active daily.  Most of all, it was a setting that welcomed those who had been sedentary for years.
I worked out – lots.  The weight came off – lots.  I felt better – lots. Was life better?  Some. I had found a new focus, friends, and activities. My personal relationship did not fare so well.  My partner at the time did not care for movement.  While she was supportive of my going to do, she was not interested in going to do with. So, I found friends I could walk with, and with whom to run and bike.  The problem, eventually, was that those activities took place early in the morning (meaning 0600) and in order to be awake and motivated at that time I had to be asleep by 2100 (9 pm). No more late nights at the club, or just hanging out.  And I didn’t care to have my sleep disturbed. My life shifted, for the better.
The issue I raise is that the one compliment I could count on was how much “better” I looked.  Apparently, I looked like a house before and after my workout program I was, what, a tent, and apartment? Over the past five years, I have regained forty of the eighty pounds I dropped. Initially it was because lack of movement due to illness; then the treatment for the pain (prednisone). After three years of treatment I gave up prednisone and decided to adjust to the sensation.
My question that began this monologue questions the concept of support. Without being disrespectful or nagging, I think I expect my friend to say to me, “Hey girl, aren’t those pants a little tight?” “Are you jeans cutting into your thighs?” “Are those cootie cutters?” If I complain about my back, a reminder that walking with ease the pain, or that perhaps a particular yoga pose might help would seem reasonable from a friend.
If is reasonable for someone to comment on the loss of weight (as though you are looking for it) why not the gaining of same? What is the need of embarrassment? Not that either is necessary from the general public and I have to work hard not to say so.  This is about best friends. You put on a dress that is so not becoming.  You expect your friend to say, “Honey, that color makes you look washed out, etc.” How can we have a truly supportive relationship if the topic of weight gain is off limits?  For me, I really didn’t notice. I was living and loving, dancing and singing, playing, camping, and having the best time. Even in retrospect, it is hard for me to understand how I gained sixty pounds in what seems to have been two years. I know I left a seriously troubled relationship and began a new one with someone who cooked all those yummy foods I had not eaten, ever.  I was delighted to enjoy such indulgences and did so with others who did as well.
Where were my friends?  How is it that no one would offer that perhaps I might join them for an evening walk? No, I am not shifting my responsibility to others, I am just asking, if you can’t count on your best friend to tell you your ass is getting fatter, who can you count on? Strangers don’t count! Neither do rude, nagging family members. Probably not lovers either, unless they also happen to be friends and are signing up for the walk with you.
So, I am that friend.  I still live and love in a sweet large body, with a big ass. I also walk, workout, practice and teach yoga. I lay around and stretch just like my cats and dog. I wear long flowing dresses again and scrubs with no give. My scrubs are the voice of reason for me. My indulgences are few.  Every now and then I eat chips for dinner.  I fine balance after the fact. Balance is the key. This is not a weight loss discourse, but a find support discourse. I walk with my friends and when I notice that their waist line is growing, I speak up.
Some people don’t like scales. Me, I do.  I am not ruled by it (otherwise I would have stopped before I was 280, maybe, or not). I count it as information, just like waist size, or thigh tightness of my pants. Here’s another choice for those reluctant to give voice to the concern. Take a walk or class with a friend.  Go dancing.  Play outdoors. Toss a ball. Jump rope. Balance on line or beam. Find some way to share body awareness with each other.  We eat and drink together.  Let’s move together too. That’s what friends do.
Friends love each other enough to reach out and offer to help shift the situation for the each other’s highest good; in love.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Lenten Musings

During this season of letting go and moderation, I have found that I have exerted little control over my appetites.  My commitment to shop less has been completely neglected. Between numerous shopping trips to the grocery store for my new found yogurt obsession and then picking up a few things along the way, to reading blogs and finding yet another site I just have to check out, I think I have spent more in these last three weeks than I normally do.  I have had one birthday past and one more coming which necessitated gift shopping.  For the most part, I will say I have found some amazing deals that seemed I could not pass up.  Of course, that is the story of my life. 
I was sick for several days and actually stayed inside for four of them. My first trip out made up for my absence.  As I placed my bags in the car, I thought, so much for staying home and saving money.  That has never been a successful plan for me anyway.  I have the same list of needs and desires whether I shop a bit at a time or all at once.  I am not particularly driven by impulse, as much as getting the most for my money.
On the topic of sex, I have had much to process.  Initially, I thought to divert my time, attention and energy from all sexual activity.  On further consideration, I decided to merely give up showing up for sexual activity in my relationship. This decision pushed up a myriad of issues, the biggest and deepest being that neither of us were satisfied with the experience we were having. In a life where I claim to have few (to no) regrets, this has become huge.  What were we doing, that we would subject each other to painful, uncomfortable, unwelcome, useless, deeply intimate interactions?  And why did it go on for so long?  I had been making and taking breaks along the way, but as I reviewed my journal from the past year, I have been unhappy with this situation for seven months. This particular Lenten commitment opened the doors for loads of feelings to arise and for the break-up which was initiated in January to bare its teeth. 
I find, with what appears to be this “extra” time (due to relationship space) that I have become deeply apathetic, nonchalant, and rather hopeless. Though spring had come, I am still tired and it is still cold or rainy. Being sick hasn’t helped at all.  If I were not invested in shopping, I would probably spend my time in bed reading and then heading off to work, coming home to a glass of wine and reading before sleep. The things I thought would occupy my time are of little interest anymore (or at least not these days).  Already, I run a rather loose ship so that my laundry rest in piles on the floor, hang along the way to be closeted, or in the basket.  My first thought was that I would wear clothes in the closet so I could cycle through lesser worn outfits.  That has worked for three weeks.  I have a lot of clothes. Now I see it is a symptom of my even deeper lackadaisical attitude. However, somewhere inside, I believe, this too shall pass. Perhaps, I am a bit hopeful still; at least for spring and change.
I received a lilac cutting which I planted in a pot today.  I love lilac and hope to find a spot in my garden where it will love me back.  I’ve planted radish and beet seeds, but it snowed again and has been cold.  The sun was out today, but no sign of my radishes which mature in 21 days. I have a different potato plan for this year.  I think gardening will get its on blog so I can share my joy and progress.  Finally, the crocuses have come up.  Not the 120 I planted, but about a dozen.  Sometimes it’s hard to consider all the effort I have invested in a bulb garden and observe the minimal return. (As I type this sentence, this is the exact tarot reading I drew - Seven of Pentacles – Assessment, reversed.)
I have great adventures planned for my future.  I honor their coming.  But more importantly is my commitment to live my life, here, now.  I chose to focus my energy and attention inward that I might connect more deeply with the universal power of love and light that guides me.  Some days I merely stand as witness that no matter how I feel, I move on, somehow…
Waiting and reflecting on what I know and believe to be true about myself and the love that surrounds me, I find what strength I need for the day. It is with confidence that one prays, “Give us this day…” for today is all that we are required to live.
Let tomorrow take care of itself.

My favorite quote:

For this is what we do. Put one foot forward and then the other. Lift our eyes to the snarl and smile of the world once more. Think. Act. Feel. Add our little consequence to the tides of good and evil that flood and drain the world. Drag our shadowed crosses into the hope of another night. Push our brave hearts into the promise of a new day. With love: the passionate search for truth other than our own. With longing: the pure, ineffable yearning to be saved. For so long as fate keeps waiting, we live on. God help us. God forgive us. We live on.