Monday, March 30, 2015

Re-entry chats

My dad likes to tell me, or let me know in other non-verbal ways, that I am not needed here.  He is just fine on his own.

So, when he stands outside my door sheepishly waiting for me to ask him what he needs, I know that something is up.

Me: What do you need, Dad?
Dad:  Do you feel like climbing up on the roof?
Me:  Huh?
Dad:  There's a leak in the solar panels that go to the water heater.
Me: And how does me climbing the roof help?
Dad: I need you to take pictures of the leak and then I will figure out how to fix it.
Me:  Couldn't we call the plumber?
Dad: I don't need help…

Yeah….this was my re-entry after nearly three weeks away. 

The universe would like me to know, nothing has changed here.

We are working on negotiating the idea that alternate plans might be available.  We have still not really been able to agree on that yet, but I am trying to remain hopeful.

Friday, March 27, 2015

NRU silver linings edition (mostly)

There are times when, even though I continue to read all the news, I can only bring myself to share those stories I found uplifting in some way.  This week has turned into that time ... so here you go.

It turns out that there are those who have tons of money who know how to do the right thing, even when entire countries can't figure it out.  This couple restores my faith in humanity (for the moment).

I know that many people disagree with the notion of raising the minimum wage ... I can only imagine that they are those who have not earned the minimum wage since they were 15.  And by that, I don't just mean when they were young ...but also when young people didn't need to have modern technology.  Again, we can disagree on whether or not folks *need* technology, or to move out of their homes, or buy things that they want ... the fact is, no one has the right to tell others how to spend their well-earned money (or their pan-handled money for that matter-- but that's another story).  So, I am excited about the cities and states that are taking the step towards a living wage for those who fetch our food, clean up after us, and handle our crazy shopping habits.  On my meager, starving-student budget, I am willing to pay what it takes for others to live their lives, are you?

This is the *mostly* story of this edition -- I just read this review and WANT this album... if you are going to make music about the crazy shit going on in Mexico, it should also be beautiful and stylish and just plain good music.  Putting this one into my music budget pronto.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Poetry Thursday - wishful thinking

Writing became such 
a process of discovery
that I couldn't wait 
to get to work
in the morning.  
I wanted to know
what I was going to say.
~Shannon O'Brien

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Erin Prewitt & why you should *like* her!

About a year ago, there was a terrible accident near my hometown.  An educator, training for a marathon, was killed by a young woman who was driving under the influence.  His death shook the community.  My initial reaction was to make a note not to run on busy streets; and, of course, to grieve for the wife and child he left behind.  It threw me into a little bit of grief PTSD that almost cut my off from compassion, to tell the truth.  I had to catch myself being afraid to think about the earthquake this one man's death had created in our community.

Quickly it turned out that this man was so well loved by the community that his name was every where, and venom towards the young woman spewed through the newspaper, social media, etc.  It turned out that we had a connection to this man, through his wife's mother and father who were in the same water aerobics class at the gym.  Also, he had taught at the school my niece attended as a freshman in high school.
Candle on Altar at home...
All the while, I was wondering at how some lives get more attention than others ... deep in my own grief over the loss of my brother and sister, I wondered at how so many people had mobilized to collectively grieve, remember and honor this one life (while at the same time vilifying another).  I wished, many times, that there was a way to make my own loss mean more to others ... as if I could know what was in the hearts of others.  But, I realize now that it was because we were all grieving, in our own ways, so privately, that the sense of community I saw in this other grief almost stung me.

As you know, I am a newshound, so, I followed the case via the newspaper, while I saw glimpses of the public grief on social media.  And I was so pleasantly surprised to see that the family of the man who died had figured out how to promote forgiveness in the wake of their grief.  [I wrote about it here recently].

lovely driftwood from beach!
I was reading this article this morning when I thought again of Erin Prewitt, the knowledge she holds, both as a grieving widow and a researcher, about prisons, life sentences, forgiveness and healing.  What I love about Erin is that she does not claim to have it all figured out ... she is not the person who waits to tell you the story until she knows exactly how it all plays out. 

She is so excited to tell you about what she knows now, and she does so very coherently, that she both enlightens you and gives you a glimpse into how you can do the same.  Don't wait ... get in there.  Her latest blog post provides another insight into her thinking via her grief journey.

I hope you will read it, like her on FB, follow her on Twitter (if you do those kinds of thing) and otherwise help to spread the word about Erin and her work.  I think she is one of those people who can shine light on a whole lot of things that would make life better for a bunch of folks.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

NRU woo hoo

I am not a cat person (or a dog person for that matter), but I love mountain lions.  I love the images these lovely cats pose for with the "secret" cameras.  When you see the photos, I am sure you will agree that these cats are totally onto the fact that there are cameras in their midst.

GRUNION!  In my family home, the running of the grunion is legend.  I have never seen one, though I have actually gone to try to see them. In fact, it was freezing and no fish were running around on the sand. But the story goes that when my mother was pregnant with me, there were many grunions running.  She said she ate so many of them that she never wanted to eat them again.  But the legend of the grunion took on new life as inside joke when my older sister decided that we should call children with front teeth missing: grunions.  One tooth, actually, is a grunion.  And two missing, double grunion. 

Ok...somehow I didn't know this story ... or I don't remember it.  MLK Jr was stabbed? By a Black lady?  By a Black lady who thought that the NAACP was after her?!  What a story.  Crazy.  Then again, getting on the inside of this story made it all the more sad...takes me to very melancholy places.

This one doesn't quite fit the "woo hoo" subtitle of this post, so I better go ahead and stop collecting articles and just post this...but I couldn't not post it.  It is heart-wrenching, heart-breaking to read this story about Mr. Hill who was shot in Atlanta this month by a police officer - his family, and the reporter, go to great pains to make clear that he was not *just* another (unarmed) Black man shot by a white police officer.  The contours of this story are what make it truly heart-wrenching ... the help that this young man needed was just beyond his reach, apparently, *and* we live in a world where being a young Black man and mentally challenged more likely than not means that you are more likely to met with bullets than compassion, understanding or medical attention.  Truly, truly heart-breaking, may his soul rest in peace and may his family someday find some peace to hold their hearts. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

New Moon, Solar Eclipse, Spring Equinox...

In case you slept through the solar eclipse (and don't live in the tiny sliver of the world where it was visible)... here is video.  You can still be a part of it!
not a new moon but a full one...

I hope you are readying your intentions for the new moon and the turn to spring... for those with little time, the three minute new moon ceremony.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thursday ... chant day

Feeling light within,
I walk.
-Navajo Night Chant

Monday, March 16, 2015

NRU - kitchen sink edition

It breaks my heart that our actions have caused our beloved sea lions to be so distressed. I ran into another one at the beach the other day.  There was nothing I could do but talk to it as it looked at me through its sad "disney" eyes (as my sister used to call them).  It was so tired, so hungry, yet still alert and able to scare away curious dogs.  Feeding one, two or three hundred is not the answer.  We need to change out ways now... but I am still proud of Sea World for doing the right thing to try to help

On a lighter note, I am sort of addicted to these pieces from the LA Times on the dating scene in LA.  Some are silly and others salty, and still others overly romantic.  But almost always somewhat entertaining.

Ah, it turns out that older females (at least orcas) provide much needed wisdom that may impact survival ... good to know that older females of some species are not only useful but an integral part of the community.  Maybe we can find the need for other species' female elders.

These personal "opinion" pieces in the NY Times are some of my favorites ...  this one is about a woman's journey and how she ended up childless, somewhat by choice and somewhat by circumstance.

Ummm...this seems like a tour I should plan on taking... need a partner or partners in crime, and maybe one designated driver.

I think I need one or two of these... seriously.

California, the land of complicated relationships, never ceases to provide interesting disputes over beaches, and this is another one.  I can't wait to hear the outcome.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Quote Thursday

A human being is part of the whole, 
called by us "universe," 
a part limited in time and space. 
He experiences himself, 
has thoughts and feelings, 
as something separate from the rest-- 
a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. 
This delusion is a kind of prison for us, 
restricting us to our personal desires 
and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. 
Our task must be to free ourselves 
from this prison by widening 
our circles of compassion to embrace 
all living creatures and the 
whole of nature in its beauty.
- Albert Einstein

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

break down, break through, writing break

It goes in cycles for me ... that is the world feels like it is beginning to cave in, but I don't notice it until I am feeling consumed by the darkness.  When I look back, I see the signs that I ignored, mostly in my own behavior.  Short tempered, touchy, overly sensitive.  These are the not generous descriptions.  There are equally not generous descriptions of those who I feel put upon by. 

Ultimately, though, I know that these are just the symptoms of my boundaries collapsing, and the first casualty is always myself. 

I have been super careful with my workouts and even meditation.  Even on the days when I haven't made it to weekly meditation, I am still finding time to be mindful, even if it is just a few minutes. I have tried to incorporate at least my metta practice into my walking.  I use these mantras to counter the obsession and ridiculousness when I feel it rise in my chest.

It is helpful ... but it doesn't take the place of a more holistic self care that includes getting work done for myself.

My little breakdown a few weeks ago that led to my little breakthrough (and shift in my attitude and perspective -- for the better!) seems to have shortened the amount of time I can go before I FEEL the boundaries dangerously melting away.

It's a good thing -- better to feel it sooner than wait for the complete meltdown.  Like the toddler kicking and screaming, tears streaming down his face, on the floor, my meltdowns leave me feeling utterly helpless, vulnerable and like there is no way out.  It is never pretty to get there.

So, after all the good work I did when I debriefed the last breakdown, I am moving forward.  This afternoon I will retreat from my parents' home to a friend's house for some writing.  My plan is to write long hours the first five days before I have to add back in work for money, but then to continue writing for at least half days for another week or more. 

I have to make progress on these papers -- and my PhD program -- or decide that it is really not the right thing for me.

I decided it was better to really give myself the space, emotionally and physically, to try rather than to just throw in the towel.  If at the end of my writing retreat I am still inclined to quit, then, at least, it will be because I have made that decision.  I am trying to remove any possibility of resentment - perhaps an even more useless emotion than regret or guilt.

Friday, March 06, 2015


Many people do not understand the divide between archaeologists and native peoples when it comes to "discovering" or studying historical sites.  I think this piece unwittingly offers a pretty good look inside of the schism ... though it is much more sympathetic to the academic's perspective.  As someone who grew up wondering about the Lone Woman on the island after reading The Island of the Blue Dolphin, my heartstrings are pulled in many directions.  I would love to know what those academics might find, but I also feel like her tragic life might best be left to literature.

It is hard to believe it has almost been a year since this plane fell out of the sky.  I cannot even begin to imagine how the families are coping -- not being able to fully give up hope and begin to grieve as there is so much unknown.

We just don't know the impact we have on the lives of others. I think of teachers all the time in this respect, but I forget about law enforcement.  This StoryCorps brings it home does this piece on NH.  These are bright spots amid some very dark ones.  I also think about all the negative interactions we all have and how they also impact others (and ourselves).  My dad's constant animosity to what I feel is showing care and concern and he feels like losing control of his life.  Ugh...

I am just not sure if I can go there with this show... I watched the first ten minutes and I was not captivated, but I was also sort of watching it through covered eyes.  I hope it does well for Scott as I like his work, but I am not sure we are all ready for this much *reality*.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Poetry Thursday, really quote

There are two kinds of light
the glow that illuminates,
and the glare that obscures.
-James Thurber

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Not a life list

During my birthday month, and I started to think of "gifts" I could bestow on myself.  I am sure I have already explained that I think it is most important to give yourself the gift you want rather than *hope* or *expect* someone else to get it for you.

My mind turned to trips and things that I couldn't afford.  Likes, wants and antojos change with the season, so this is not a life list.  Besides, waiting and planning out all these "lasts" might not be the best way to use our time alive.  Just a few things I was thinking about ... many of the things on the list cannot be just "gifted" to me by myself or someone else; but like all things, that doesn't mean I don't want them.

Machu Pichu

a year of writing in Italy or France

good hair cuts

an Italian practice buddy (speaking)

one for French too

tighter fitting pants for men -- yes, it is a gift for me and all other women who are tired of looking at saggy and otherwise loose-fitting pants/jeans/shorts etc.

good wine


quiet, down time

good sleep

pleasant conversation with my father

grow old happy instead of grumpy


birds singing and flowers blooming (and rain ... at night, preferably)

daily meditation practice (getting closer)

that compound of friends in their third phase

an electric car

spa time is always good, ten thousand waves spa time is even better

beautiful clouds and the presence of mind to appreciate them

I get bored with the wishing and wanting ... so these are really just top of the head, and looking around at the world just now.

This one is a panorama, so hopefully it will get bigger if you click it...

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Searching for word of the year, finding beauty

Made as large as possible here to give you the best sense of the beauty.
As I waited, characteristically impatiently, at a light the other day, this was the sight out of my window.  When I see clouds like this, I do miss New Mexico.  I recall the long drives to Gallup and the reflection of gorgeous clouds seemingly imprinted onto my car as I peeked out the side and rear view mirrors.

I have always been fascinated by clouds ... the shapes, the way the wind moves and changes them, the way they give in to those inevitable changes with such grace and ease, making something new and beautiful instead of balking at change. 

It seems like flawless beauty, perfection created from air swishing around... with no one controlling or directing or criticizing. 

It feels like the essence of ALLOWING, no boundaries or barriers, no excuses or defenses, no regret and no planning.  It is being in the present moment. 

And appreciating the moment and the next and the next is the goal of the meditation training. Cloud gazing, like wave watching the other, is a pretty beautiful way to meditate.

I have been searching for my word of the year for a bit ... and this one, allowing, is the only one that has felt moderately comfortable and genuine.  It's not flashy.   Maybe there is some other word out there.  I don't know.

In some way, it feels like a continuation of other words.  But it feels bigger than just opening or practicing being vulnerable. It sounds like inviting the world to just to its thing; makes me feel a little like I am willing to give up some control... wouldn't that be amazing?!

Here is the whole photo since I don't think the above will show it all.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Beauty after the storm

Sunday morning at 3am, I woke to thunder and pouring rain.  It had already been raining since early evening.  I worried it would be too wet for my nephew to play soccer or for me to take my run.

I know, I know... we need the rain.

But by morning, the sun was bright and we had these lovely clouds promising more rain at some point.

I decided to take my run on the beach ... and was rewarded with a friendly sea lion, dolphins and a majestic great blue heron.

This is where I meditated after my run.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Giving in isn't giving up

This phrase is too true in too many situations, but today it is my message to Oren.

I don't know Oren, as in I have never spoken directly to him or met him in person.  But, I know Oren ... the person who has given so much of himself for his community, and who has enlarged that community by giving so generously around his illness.

I check on his twitter and facebook religiously ... hoping for good news and bracing for bad.  He has been very silent lately.  And I have been worried.

I saw some posts on fb by others this morning ... and my heart sank.  There are so many things I want to do, and none of them will help.  But I thought I could put out here what is in my heart.

Dear Oren,
You have been brave, so brave, even in those moments when you thought you weren't being brave.  Brave looks and acts differently in the many situations we face.  You have exhibited brave by being present, by admitting the pain and fear and bewilderment, by writing those letters to your kids, by believing in the treatments, by accepting the limited successes, by succumbing to the inevitable.  Giving in is not giving up.  There is no way to see all you have been through in any way as giving up.

At a time when I needed to remember to live despite the pain, I turned to your story.  I used the strength and courage and bravery you showed to remind myself to hold on.  I used the vulnerability you recounted to remember to be compassionate with myself when I felt like I was giving up.  I realized that sometimes you have to give in to the pain and the grief in order to get through it -- to whatever is on the other side.

You are and will always be a bright spot in this world -- through your life, your words, your tremendous wife and beautiful children.  You have given us your living legacy.  I cannot begin to thank you enough for sharing your journey with the world.  You put it out there -- fearless, brave, strong, courageous and intensely human.

I wish you peace.  I pray your pain is manageable.  I hope you are surrounded by all the love possible.  I know that there are many of us out here who do not know you that are sending it all your way.

All my best to you and your family, now and always.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Poetry Thursday, for Oren

I am sure I already shared this one, but it jumped out to me again as I think of Oren and his family and all they are going through (read tomorrow's post for more details, or this one)

the wisdom 
lies in 
engaging the life
you have been given
as fully
and courageously
as possible
and not letting go
until you find
the unknown blessing
that is everything.
~R. N. Remen

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


 The news has been full of sea lions in distress.  I got a first hand look a while back, an about 8 month old sea lion, who really looked like just a pup, had pulled itself up on the rocks at the beach.  I had taken my mom (and LUCY) for a walk at low tide to see the tide pools.  And there was this emaciated pup.  When it stretched its little head up to see what we were doing, it looked like a super model, bone structure visible.  There was already a volunteer there keeping track of it.  The volunteer told me that at that point there had been more than 80 rescues and the centers were over capacity.  I asked if that was for the state, and she said it was for the county.  Less than two weeks later, they are already over 100 almost what it was for the whole year (we aren't even at two months!). It is disheartening ... sad and distressing, but more so because folks see these little guys and feel compassion ... but still take plastic bags at the store and throw their trash where it will end up in the ocean.  They still get in their SUVs and crank up the ac.  I'm sorry ... but we are doing this to them.  So, no we can't save them all, one by one, but we can change our habits and stop pretending that we are complicit in climate change.  The volunteer told me very clearly that the problem is the changing tides (read climate change and excess water changing the sea level) that is disrupting the sea lion feeding patterns.  Heartbreaking most of all because it is preventable.  It's not too late to change this ... will we do what needs to be done or just dump on the volunteers for not being able to "rescue" each of these adorable creatures?

Wondering if the Republicans think this is judicial overstep, or if they just think that when the rulings go against them.

American lynching has a wider scope than we generally discuss.  This article is a promo for a book, and it focuses largely on Texas. But there are more comprehensive books that describe the use of lynching not as a way to sentence (mob style) suspected criminals, instead in California lynching was used as another way to take away people's land and especially gold claims.  For those who do not want to review our historical atrocities (see the comments), I wonder if they watch FOX news that does real time lynching of anyone and anything that does not fall into their viewpoint.  History is what it is, we obviously cannot change it.  But if we want a different (better, even) future, then we must learn the lessons of history.  That includes taking responsibility for our actions rather than excusing them.

Early Tuesday morning, my alarm clock radio started giving the news as it does every day.  About six am, the local newsperson announced there was a collision between a truck and the commuter train, and minutes later, I heard the emergency vehicles from all around our home rushing to the site.  All day, I heard updates, read some in the newspaper, and most unfortunately read posts on fb speculating about the driver.  The thing about jumping to conclusions rather than applying compassion is that it diminishes our own humanity.  I think the appropriate response to this kind of tragedy should always start with care and concern for all involved, including the truck driver and the many people responding to the incident.  Of course, my heart breaks for those on the train and their families, waiting to hear that everyone is "ok."  This commuter train is the one that I take into Los Angeles when I can.  At least two times in the past few months I have been on the train when an "incident" caused significant delays.  These incidents were probably suicides - thus they don't get widely reported in the same way that this collision did.  However, I believe at the heart of this matter is the same real pain of grief that those whose depression drives them to jump in front of trains.  Compassion, however simple and small a gesture it may seem, is the appropriate response, unless you can also muster love.  It's what we all need more of ... everyday in every way.

Monday, February 23, 2015

RIP Wil Smith

I woke to the news that this man had passed ... I remember the first time I heard his story on NPR.  What a lovely legacy to leave his daughter.  I am sure, though, today, that her grief may not allow for feeling legacy.  Wishing peace and light to Olivia. 

New Moon Altar

For my new moon ceremony last week I decided to clean my desk and decorate it as an altar.  I used all of the treasures I have been collecting on my beach walks.

The candles and pictures were already there.

I have been collecting the tiny bits of sea glass and small shells in a small glass I pilfered from a local restaurant.  But the other shells and magic rocks were in piles all around my room.