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Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Thinning of the Veil

The Celtic Festival , Samhain (pronounced sow-in), approached soon. Commercially, this is the time of the popular Halloween celebration. Houses are decorated in orange and black colors with both playful and ghoulish themes. Children (and adults) dress up as their favorite characters, in alter egos costumes, or frightening attire and wander the streets in search of mischief or favors. This is the beginning of yet another marketing season with candy, cards, and decorations. While fall offers the most amazing color displays we trade it all for plastic, crepe, and chenille.

(Did you know that one quarter of all the candy purchased in the United States is for Halloween? That is the best time to get your Christmas supply, as well.)

Samhain has another significance. In ancient times, October 31st marked the end of summer and the beginning of the New Year. This is the time in which the veil between the world of the living and dead is thinnest and allows those who have passed over to return (believed by some to cause trouble and damage crops). This time is also when priests, shamans, and intuitives are able to make predictions about the future. 

"Oyá" (c) Francisco Santos
Oyá, as the undergoddess of the Niger River, is the spirit of winds, lightning, and earthquakes – creating though chaos and destruction. She clears away the old to prepare for new growth. Oyá brings the winds of change of mind and memory. She gives you the courage to transform yourself. Her association with the marketplace offering shrewdness in commerce and exchange, and more specifically with the gates of cemeteries (as opposed to the entire underworld), reveals her in her aspect as facilitator of transition. 

Listening to the wind chimes, the rustling bamboo and whirls of leaves, I hear change happening. Watching greens become golden, red, burgundy, orange and brown, I see the shift from life to decay. Wood scented breezes share burning from fireplaces, open blaze, or chiminea. We light candles and hang decorative twinkling lights, to dispel the darkness. Our meals become warmer with soups and stews; as do our drinks – teas and toddies, hot chocolate and mulled wine. 

Today we are cooking a cream vegetable soup with new potatoes, mixed bell peppers, spinach, onion and cheese. We are enjoying warm cups of ginger, orange zinger teas, and nibbling on chia seed cookies.

Come Monday, October 31st, we will move the ancestral altar outdoors. I honor the memory of those who have gone before me and passed beyond the veil. For me, this season is a purposeful opening of my heart to allow the flood of loving memories to wash over me, knowing that even in death I am not separated from those I hold dear. 

How are you welcoming and embracing this season of change?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Here’s to the next best opportunity

My actual countdown calendar
It’s been a rough week here in corridors of my mind.. Monday I knew Thursday was coming. Tuesday I was so nauseous when it was time to leave for work, I thought I would have to call in sick. That’s two occurrences (though why do I care?) and then I would want to call in an extra night to make up for the penalty and I couldn’t do that because then I would miss Thursday morning. So, I drug my body to work and made numerous trips to the bathroom to splash with cold water. Thankfully I had bought some way too expensive crystallized ginger that morning and had it in my purse. (Ginger, soda crackers and cold wash clothes – great for nausea) I slept all day Wednesday, off and on. Wednesday night went well enough. I have some opinions about the night but am more interested in letting them go than psychoanalyzing my co-workers and their neuroses. Most of the morning I was merely waiting for the manager to come in. 

Then I was sick again. This time I was sure it was nerves. I wanted to shout, “HELP!!!” but to whom? And what exactly could anyone say to me? I have been on this road for the past three months. I am clear that I would rather spend my nights elsewhere. 

“This is the time of planting, visioning, digging deep to lay the foundation of dreams. There is no room for the faint hearted here. So, pull up your panties and let’s go!” I’m pretty good at self-talk though I wish there was someone who could… There I am, toes on the edge of the cliff, just a gentle wind and I will glide. And I do. I gathered my belongings, walked into the manager’s office and said, “Here is my two week notice.”

He said, “Oh, you don’t want to do that.” In the most insincere voice and style I could imagine. (I do not believe he was at all surprised, but then, I have taken to talking rather openly about leaving, so there.)

“What are you going to do?”

“Travel. Write. Spend time with my family.” But the real answer from now on will be, “Drink beer.”

The Universe applauds my journey. All good comes my way; I am open to receive good in my life.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

More or Less

This is my desk, or was my desk this morning. Today it became a scary  place to dwell. In the past I had become quite accustomed to being in this mass clutter and managed to find what I needed with minimal distress. There were moments when I had to commit to digging about, but they were preferred to figuring out a filing system and then remembering what it was. So, I just kept everything in easy to see piles. But this morning I sat down with my cup of coffee - visible near the mouse - and there was a pile slide. A worse disaster would have been all those papers on the floor. Thus began the clearing.

The hardest part was the mass of recycled paper I keep. Well, recycled everything. As I have such a bounty, I decided to actually recycle the scraps I have saved. I have lots of nice note books and pads, along with journals and sticky notes. I use pen and paper for notes, ideas, quotes, thoughts, and "figuring." Also, with my recent phone crash I lost all my data - meaning, ideas, thoughts, story lines, numbers, passwords, etc - that were stored in what seemed to be a wonderful app. November is National Novel Writing Month and I am committed to 50,000 words in 30 days. My ideas lost, I must think again. This time on paper.

While clearing all that stuff was intense, it was quite fun as well. I found photos tossed in the piles and left there for the last few years. I enjoyed rereading birthday and holiday cards, saved quotes (before app and smartphones), and photos sent from friends. Most of my photos are digital; holding prints becomes nostalgic giving a sense of depth to the memories.

In the process, I gathered a bundle of pencils and pens I will leave at work, color pencils, markers and crayons for my grand-daughter, and a collection I will reserve for myself (and actually store in the drawer). There's still quite a bit to wade through, but keeping the desk clear will be my new priority. Perhaps with all this open space more ideas will begin to flow.

Less. Way Less.

Toward Being Far More Interesting

Happier, Healthier, and Far More Interesting!
I decided not to wait until I am free from my current employment/financial obligations to get on with the life I long to live. I have great plans and now is the time to both prepare for the next step as well and practice living to the fullest. 
Here are a few of the shifts I have made so far: 

Pilates Classes
I’ve been going to my Pilates Reformer classes weekly for the past two months. It continues to be a great check in on my posture and form. However, this is a rather pricey option, so I decided to buy the Pilates Power Gym.  It allows me to continue my workouts at home with the information I learn each week. There are excellent infomercials that explain use and technique, so that even when I return to the studio I have a bit more understanding with which to approach movements. I enjoy the feedback of the instructor and being in the class setting. 

On a more personal note, I have revised my profile for Online Dating. Most of the interactions have been interesting, even if not really my cup of tea. I had the meet up previously discussed, another connection with whom I was talking on the phone for a bit and still another that I write or chat with on line. While not quite matches, they have made exploring the territory interesting.  This profile is almost four years old and only recently have I received any bites…

Here, where I live, I signed up as a Language Partner through the University Women’s Center. This program matches native English speakers with women new to the country and language. We have met twice. Kim is sweet and personable. We had a long delightful chat about who we are and our families. As much as she wants to meet to learn to speak and understand English better, I can imagine that life will be considerably easier for her as she learns the organization of the city. Her biggest complaint was that in this country we are always busy. There is so much driving everywhere; and she is required to cook, always – three meals a day. There are no places to find her native foods prepared to eat out or carry home. Sadly, as representative of the world as this city is, there are few shops that offer the “materials” necessary for them to replicate home. This is a style of forced homogenization. 

Leaving our meeting, I ran through the grocery store for a gift (black raspberry liqueur), almond butter, and flax seeds. What I found, in addition, was Celestial Seasoning Teas at 75% off. Great day in the morning! I now have a fabulous stock, plus lots to share. Could the day get any better?

I signed up for my six week Gym Membership. I had bought a special deal though one of those group coupons for my daughter, Z, who is visiting. She is excited about Body Pump to the tune of several classes a week. For the price they offered, it is worth the money even if she merely makes it to three classes, of any kind. I started my schedule with the sculpt class. It was actually quite nice. I forgot the nice thing about going to classes in the morning is that most of the people in class are older, retired, or stay at home partners. There is no pressure to perform, compete or judge. The instructor was upbeat and talkative, working out at the same time. And while I remember all the moves, I have been away for a very long time. I left class remembering how very much I used to love working out and feeling the thrill of the return.

Z and I attend the power yoga class on Wednesday afternoon and while I will not recommend it to anyone under any circumstances, I will return next week. The music was loud and fast. The room was dark. And the instructor zoomed through her vinyasa flow at sprint speed. Besides the fact that we could not see her or ourselves, we could not hear her most of the time and when we did, had no idea what she was talking about. She failed to call, cue correctly or identify the pose until after she reached and moved away from it. The starting point for her vinyasa slow was downward facing dog. She told us that before we started. She cues it as, “And up!” Lots of pushups and lounges with pulses. Thankfully, I learned power yoga from the originator – Bryan Kest . “All you need to do is breath, move, and sweat.” With that bit of knowledge and understanding, I accepted what I was available from her offering and remembered to be my own yogi. (Another thanks to Bryan.)

I am approaching the last three weeks and have committed to living each days more fully that the previous. There is no waiting for things to come together, fall in place, or be just so. Some day is now and we are called to be here. 

My life overflows with love, joy and happiness. The rest can fall to the wayside.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Not what I expected - Surprise!

Some people really like surprises. Me, I can do without. I’ve watched others dance with glee at the thought of a pending surprise. Me, I have a bad feeling about it all. Others live with a heightened sense of anticipation. Me, all I feel is dread. And when the moment arrives they are wet with excitement. I am just hoping I don’t really end up pissed off. For you see, while, “Surprise!” has fond and happy memories of others, for me it has meant that I was expected to accept and enjoy some situation, circumstance, event or thing which was not my desire, interest, or in my mind even a possible consideration.

“We have a surprise for you. You’re going to have a brother or sister.” I’m the eldest, so this one just kept happening all the way into my college years. This particular surprise shaped how my world looked to me, especially around getting my needs and desires met. It’s the surprise that replicates itself daily – forced sharing, endurance, and responsibility.

“Good morning. We have a surprise pop quiz, test, or other method to put you on the spot around facts, ideas, or thoughts I know better than you.” How much does this suck? The only way through is to have been studied up, be quite knowledgeable about the matter, or maintain a sense of apathy. Otherwise, there are usually groans, pouts and angst.

“Please come to the office. Please see HR. Please gather your things.” Please becomes a scary word sometimes. I went to the office to find that the agency I worked for had lost the contract for services and could not maintain the current staffing level. That day was my last there. Surprise! I went to HR to find that I my contract was coming to an end two months early. I was sick. Surprise! And being told to gather your belonging, no matter how nicely, is rarely a good move, as in “You’re moving to a bigger office – Surprise!” Nope, that’s not what happened. Everything seemed to be going so well. Can’t we work this out differently?

“It’s not you, it’s me.” Well, no surprise there. The only surprise is that we lasted long enough for you to make that declaration.

Dating surprises have turned out especially poor – gifts or questionable thought, lies, misrepresentation, and half-truths, inconsistency in presentation and reality, and loads of cow poo. 

“Here, I found this on the side of the road. You like to collect stuff. I thought you could use it.” That’s my basic feeling for all items bought for me without due thought or consideration of who I am or how I live. The worst part is when I gear up and buy into the surprise aspect. 

I like to limit some surprises. I like to think through what might get in the way. Asking your date, partner, POA (person of affection) specific questions generally indicates that you want a specific answer. I’m asking now so I don’t have to be surprised later. Some things are just that important – gender, gender preference, relationship status, etc. If there is something to hide, reply with either I prefer not to share or none of your business, so I can move on. I am past the excitement of the supposed ex banging on my door, shouting to the world that I let her lover, partner, POA out. This web of deceit was wound by another. They are free to leave, as in, “Get out!”

So how am I going to stand waiting for my first meet up (now to be called a seriously vision impaired date) and watch the person approach with no idea as to their gender. “Surprise!” Not f*&$%^ fair! Just not. 

I planned my day – my time, energy and resources – around this experience. I shifted to make space. The big deal is that I put myself out there. And yes, I have a few expectations. I expect that my preferences be honored. I said what I was looking for and interested in. If that is not who you are, please do not think I will adjust after meeting you. Come on, even if a person could pass for quite a while and we found we were deeply interested in following a progressive course, at what point do the facts become clear (as in spoken). Where is the trust in a relationship with that depth of deceit?

This issue is not about being friends or having someone to share time with.  I expect my friends to be direct and honest with me. The word, “Surprise!” is not supposed to freak me out. Recognizing that we are each in our own space and time working out what works for us, it would still be nice if we considered the effects our work might have on others. 

There are great discussions on when people self-disclose intimate details of who they are. I have a great many transgender people in my life. I understand their struggle with meeting others and establishing relationships. But this is my side of the story.

What I want most is better sorting on dating sites – one that offers several gender identity and preference choices. We can still all contact one another, but we know from the beginning where we stand. Of course, people can still be deceptive, but if we choose to meet that’s a bit of information that carries forward. If I am meeting a liar, I can expect them to lie.

Lets all indulge in a little truth in advertising. It begins with being honest about our purpose, and telling the truth, or at least not lying, about the important facts. Lets be proud of our age, tout our assets, and talk about what we want in a relationship. Using the right words to convey those things in a softer manner is fine and acceptable. But, valuing ourselves first and foremost means were bringing that honesty to a relationship.

I am reminded of a time when I belonged to a community that asked its members to identify so that we might remain women born women. It became divisive and more exclusive than before. And while I could see the irrational nature of fear creeping into the process, I understood the essence of the need to maintain defined space. 

I believe I get to have my requests honored, even if the answer is, “No.” There is no use in pretending you can be what I desire when that is not who you really are. We are both cheated in the process. I have yet to find surprises that are sweet for that exact reason. The compulsion to fit into another’s ideas and standard at personal sacrifice is demeaning, deceitful, hurtful, inappropriate, and not at all useful. 

We are called to show up as our own wonderful selves. That job is challenge enough without trying to be someone else.