Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Antidote to Co-Dependency

Gawd but I love her.  I've been doing a lot of reading and soul searching around my co-dependency issues.  I know, I know, the term gets bandied about like nobodies business.  But do you really understand what it defines?  Look it up.  It's the root of all addictive behaviors.  We all have it.  It's about healthy boundaries, self respect and self love.

I've been reading Melody Beattie's book "Codependent's Guide to the 12 Steps."  So many revelations in there.  But I am having terrible struggles with the whole God concept.  The 12 steps allow one to define God in whatever way makes sense to them.  But then they emphasize a personal God to whom you can had over your burdens.  See?  That makes no sense to me.  The closest I can get to a concept of God is the collective universe, all the sentient beings who have ever lived.  But I seriously doubt they have a personal interest in my well-being.  Nor should they.  They're doing their thing, they are done with this earthly journey.

I found this image on Facebook this morning and it dovetailed perfectly with the reading I did last night. It's humorous, and absolutely spot on.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Not A Warrior


I wrote this in January of this year.  A turning point.  I am amazed how often lessons may need to be repeated. 

Living in self imposed servitude
Denying my best impulses
Giving in to the path of least resistance,
Which turned out to be the most difficult of all.
But at least I was not alone.
The Fool, I was.  The Fool I embraced.
Moth to the flame.
Bugs on the windshield.
My place in the world so small
So unbelievably insignificant.
My feminist persona kept them fooled
Indeed kept me in the dark
I wasted time and years and heartbeats
Because I could not face myself.
My fear of the wide world,
How would I survive?
I was the queen of bravado
Masking the frightened child inside.
when I confessed my enslavement,
she asked “Why? You’re an intelligent woman.” 
Monumental shame rose hot on my face.
Intelligence has nothing to do with self-flagellation.
I will not repeat the past,
encumbered by a lover who promises paradise,
(who can do that for anybody?) and delivers nightmares.
Time to find my own land of lessons and gifts.
Time for me to stand up, to walk
1,000 miles in the wilderness
with ragged boots and small provisions.
Kick my ass, will you?  Kick it hard.
Show me the terror and the beauty
We all possess, the strength we must earn.
Fucking boot camp.  Boot camp for Life.
Sign me up.
I want to be a warrior.

Friday, October 25, 2013

TGIF

It's Friday and I've already done a typical 'weekend' thing.  Stayed with a friend in St. Helena (Napa Valley).  We took a walk yesterday around the nearby vineyards, and today a walk through the Catholic Cemetery near his home.  Here's the view out the back about 7:30 a.m.


The entire valley is a beautiful place; St. Helena exceptionally so.  And the front and back yard of this house is like a healing sanctuary with water sounds and plenty of birds.

This morning we walked the cemetery wherein lie some of the revered of St. Helena - the famous old wine families that have been there for generations.  Lavish head stones and crypts.  Being there got me thinking, and us talking about how we think our lives are so very important and in the end we end up dead - no more.  My friend recently lost his mother to cancer.  It wasn't a sad conversation, just an acknowledgment that we all end up "six feet under" and that this life is likely all we get.  I started thinking about all the years of blogging I've done, and, oh my gawd, what if all that blogging got erased by the Internet?  Maybe I should print the whole thing out?  And then...I thought...what does it matter?  But then I remember the memoirs of one of my ancestors and her family life homesteading with her husband and children in 1910.  Rich memories of every day occurrences.  Barn dances and barn burnings; neighbor helping neighbor; the sod house which was their first dwelling.  It meant a lot to me to read that.  They are no more, but their lives live on through their stories.

So, a lovely, albeit short, visit with a good friend.  Thoughtful conversations, watching the night sky from the hot tub, sleeping like a baby.  As they say, "Priceless."

Hope you have a lovely weekend and appreciate this life we have.  We have it good, my friends.




Thursday, October 24, 2013

Good Healing

I'm not really one for prayers. Kind thoughts, fervent wishes for good things to come of bad, absolutely. So when a friend reached out today for prayers for her injured brother, I went straight to the Medicine Buddha.  I have been chanting the mantra of the lovely blue Buddha for a few months now, in my Sunday afternoon group.  It is truly healing and I find myself thinking of it often. No longer need to look at the book to keep up - I am the leader of the band!



Tayata
Om Bekandze Bekandze
Maha Bekandze
Radza Samudgate Soha

The mantra means:
May the many sentient beings
who are sick,
quickly be freed from sickness.
And may all the sicknesses of beings
Never arise again.

We all have our unique ways of coping with illness (our and others').  I have heard miracle stories of prayer than I can't understand or explain, but I believe that the collective good, loving, healing intentions of others is a powerful thing.   

What do you turn to when the need arises?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Of Cars and Cameras

Well, the Prius is being towed to the dealer because it is deader than the proverbial doornail. Who knows what's wrong, but I'm hoping it's an easy fix that doesn't require that I sell my firstborn to pay for it. She'd probably have a problem with that.

On the sunny side of life, I've connected with a small, new art gallery in Ashland Oregon and they are interested in representing some of my work.  Of all the art galleries in all the world, I happened to get turned onto one in Ashland.  Love that town.


I've had wood framed canvas prints made out of a couple of my images, and I think for some photos this method of display will work nicely, like this one.  12 x 12 and ready to hang.

I've been walking my new neighborhood a lot, and will be posting photos on my Wordless Wednesday posts.  Great old houses, fun Halloween decorations (this town knows how to do Halloween) and lots of tree shots, of course, in the City of Trees.  Having a ton of fun!

Friday, October 18, 2013

TGIF

I'm feeling thankful for the children this week.  This group was at the Zoo and they were having a blast.  They had a list (like a scavenger hunt) to check off the animals they had seen.  Their enthusiasm was infectious.   I was there with my own class.  The learning never ends!

I also spoke in front of two classes of 9th graders at a local high school.  I'm a speaker for Stop Stigma Sacramento and this was my first gig.  The kids bounced into the classroom, full of that energy that only 13 and 14 year olds have.  Their teacher reminded them many times to settle down, to pay attention and give respect to their guest speakers.  I was first up in both classes.  I spoke without notes, because I'm used to public speaking, and I know that reading off a paper in front of teenagers is going to put them to sleep, pronto.  Well, I really engaged them and they asked great questions.  There I was, presenting myself to a group of people as a person with mental illness: clinical depression.  I talked about how good my life has been, despite having this illness; I spoke about having diabetes and how there isn't stigma attached to that, so why should there be stigma attached to mental illness?  Our job as speakers is to show our audience the real face of mental illness.  Everyday people.  Just like me.  Like the organization's motto says, "Mental Illness: It's Not What You Think."  We also provide information on how kids can get more information and help if they need it.

The kids were respectful, curious, and attentive.  They also revealed information about themselves that took courage to say.  They give me hope for the future.

Hope your future weekend is a good one!  Go hang out with some kids!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Moved

Moving.  Is there anything more horrific?  Even with my relatively few items and a very small household, moving was an ordeal.  And I was very organized.  Things are coming together, but I won't have internet service until next Thursday.  I'm at the folks' right now which is why I can post at all.

The day after my move, I had a speaking engagement in the morning.  I'm a motivational speaker for Stop Stigma Sacramento and I spoke to two classes of 9th grade students.  They were engaged and had lots of questions.  I loved it.

The next day I had a morning photo field trip at the Sacramento Zoo.  The subject was "Humor."  Here's my humor shot:


Though, I like this one, too.  My teacher preferred the first one, though he understood why the second one is funny. Other students took much more hilarious photos.  Oh well.  More power to 'em.


My teacher has also sold me, literally, on the Fujfilm X-E1 camera, which is on mega sale right now at B&H in NYC.  It's an expensive camera, but I've seen what it can do and I'm impressed.  And it is light-weight.  Google it if you're interested.  It's a mirror-less digital camera, with excellent lenses and amazing resolution -- you can enlarge digital images to very large sizes without losing quality.  That's been a problem so far for me with my Cannon Rebel XL.  Anything larger than an 8x10 doesn't look good.  It's a big investment, but it's the logical choice in my continuing adventure with photography.

So, whew, I'm exhausted from moving, but I'm uber happy about it all.  And I'm loving my photo class.  And I'm dating a wonderful woman.  And I spent a lot of money on kitchen equipment -- I left everything with my ex. 

Except my Kitchen Aid mixer. 

Over my dead body.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Beautiful Boy

Yesterday I took a hike at a local wildlife refuge.  They have a visitors center where they keep a couple of birds that cannot be returned to the wild.  This American Kestral is 11 years old and he is a diminutive thing, and oh so beautiful.  Kestrals are the smallest falcons in America.




Click to enlarge for the real feel of this lovely fellow.  He was screeching at some birds that were flying by -- screeching right next to my ear.  What a great sound.

It was a perfect day, at one of my favorite hiking spots.  It's in Carmichael, which is a very wealthy area north of Sacramento, and you travel through these palatial neighbors before you get to the wildlife area.  Which is right next to a golf course.  Where they probably use all kinds of chemicals to keep the grass perfect. 


One of the many snags in the area, which is home to woodpeckers who have drilled so many holes in the wood it looks like a shooting gallery.  But there they store their acorns and keep their nests.

Many deer prints were about, and we actually spotted a fox running through the tall grass.  Sneaky little thing, darting his way along, keeping low so as not to be spotted.  Too fast and far away for a photo.  Drat.
I was with my friend J., who kayaks and also has a canoe.  We are planning a trip back with the canoe to spend the day on the river.

Life is Good. 

"In wilderness is the preservation of the world." HD Thoreau.  Well, I don't know about the world, but it does my soul a world of good.

Friday, October 11, 2013

TGIF

It's an exciting day for me:  I'm moving into an apartment on Monday.  So this Friday I will be securing boxes and tape and gettin' to it.  Until my date tonight.  Then, back at this packing thing on Saturday.

I've been living with my folks for 2+ years, and while it has helped all of us, it's time for me to move on.  Just down the street.  I envision dancing around my kitchen naked.  Playing The Cliks at top volume.  NOT listening to Fox Noise even from the other room.  Not having dad hover over my cooking in the kitchen.  When the crazy right wing talk starts I can go to my own home.

And I can throw my date down on the couch and ..... without my parents upstairs.  I can burn incense and chant all I want.  Yeah, well, there are neighbors upstairs, and to the right and left, so I can't go completely balls out here.

This all came about very quickly -- found it, got approved and signed a year lease, secured the movers, all in one day.  It is by far the nicest apartment I've seen in my months of looking.  In fact, I was so discouraged about what I was finding out there that I decided, two months ago, to stay where I was.  Then, a casual walk around the neighborhood and there it was:  a crazy 1960's apartment building that doesn't look too thrilling on the outside, but inside the apartment, it felt like homeMy home.

That's the report from the front lines of a middle-aged lesbian who has been living with her parents waaayyyy too long.  Wish me luck.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Shedding Old Habits

SHEDDING OLD HABITS
"At some point, if you’re fortunate, you’ll hit a wall of truth and wonder what you’ve been doing with your life. At that point you’ll feel highly motivated to find out what frees you and helps you to be kinder and more loving, less klesha driven and confused. At that point you’ll actually want to be present—present as you go through a door, present as you take a step, present as you wash your hands or wash a dish, present to being triggered, present to simmering, present to the ebb and flow of your emotions and thoughts. Day in and day out, you’ll find that you notice sooner when you’re hooked, and it will be easier to refrain. If you continue to do this, a kind of shedding happens—a shedding of old habits, a shedding of being run around by pleasure and pain, a shedding of being held hostage by worldly concerns."
(From Pema's latest book Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change)

And it's a process.  Sometimes you see with clarity, and then the fog returns and with it comes the old habits.  You relive the experience and wake up to regret.  How many times must I do this before the shedding of old habits firmly takes root? I am learning to be loving to myself when I fall off the path, but still I am disappointed that it came to that.  After all, I am in charge of my choices.  There isn't anyone else, even though I love to point fingers and make excuses.  It's all down to me and how I work with external situations that trigger old habits.  Sometimes I think I am chasing the illusion of balance and healthy choices -- do they really exist?  But of course I know they do, as I have had the experience of living them.  My infantile self wants to 'be here now' and stay here as effortlessly as floating in the womb.  But there is always work to do to maintain the equilibrium. 

So, back to the work.  (You know, chop wood, carry water.) 

Have you struggled in this way?  Probably so.  So how do you do it?



Monday, October 7, 2013

Project Complete!


Eve has done it! The project is complete, and I can't wait to receive my cd. I donated to her fundraising campaign because her music inspires me and I believe in financially support creatives and artists. Indiegogo was the fundraising tool. I love that this digital age allows us to collaborate and contribute to each other in many ways.

Speaking of things creative, I've been working this weekend on setting up my own shop on the retail site Etsy. It's called "conLuz" (with light, because, you know, photography is all about light) and features my photography. I am hoping to generate some interest and sell some images! See the Etsy badge on my side bar and go have a look. I was inspired to start this shop because of the other photographers using this site to sell their work. Many have hundreds of followers and produce some very lovely work.

I also recently purchased a great hand-made back pack on Etsy and I LOVE it. It's a paisley print and very 1960s retro.   Go to LauraHoweDesigns to see more of her work.


Happy shopping.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

In Praise of Lettuce

We've been eating the most wonderful salads, all with greens growing on the patio.  Oh, and herbs, too.  Last night I made a pasta dish that was finished off with lots of freshly picked Italian parsley.  Yum.

I have quite the mix of greens going, but silly me I tossed all the plastic sticks that identified what they are.  The long skinny ones are Italian, and they have a pleasant peppery bite to them.  We're eating all the lettuces very young, and this makes them especially delicious.

Don't know why I didn't do this sooner, and I'm going to try to keep it going through the winter.

Do me a favor, wont' you?  Send me your favorite salad recipes (or salad dressing) because I'm running out of ideas!

Friday, October 4, 2013

TGIF

It's been a busy week.  I feel all over the map.  All good (well, mostly) but I just feel spent.  The world of politics has been in a dither so I'm not watching the news.  I'm thanking my good fortune to have such amazing friends, both here and far away, who lighten my load and laugh with me about the absurdity of it all.  I can't imagine life without my cadre of pals...what in the world would I do?  Who would I talk to and laugh with?  Share my burdens with?  Gush over my grandson with?

My friend Laine posts such great stuff on her FB page.  Here's today's great entry:


My friend Robin takes amazing cloud photographs which allows me to see formations I've never seen before!  Here's her post earlier this week. 

My friend Steve meets me for coffee most weeks, and we share, share, share.  Love our get togethers, love this man.

My friend Larry posts great music on FB.  He is into it, man.  And I love his range of musical taste.

I could go on and on: there are so many I care deeply about.  How about you?  Who makes your life special?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Soul Food



Just read this from Mark Morford and I think I shall adopt it as my new creed:

"Eat well, not too much. Exercise every day. Meditate. Have lots of sex. Get outside. Love like you mean it. Quit whining. Read a book. Never vote Republican." 

Today I really appreciated Anne Lamott's Facebook post -- she is countering the craziness in congressional politics by doing good deeds.  That's a healthy and helpful response to those whack job tea partiers who are holding the whole damned country hostage.  Gawd but they infuriate me.

I mean, I'm really upset by this stuff.  I can't even bear watching the news and I can't bear the lack of good reporting on the subject.  The media are a bunch of sheep, I tell you.  So, to feed my soul today I met my good friend S. for coffee and he graciously listened to my venting and witnessed my hand wringing.  And then I gave him the floor and got to hear all about his wedding plans to his sweet man-honey, R.   Gay weddings, galore~!

More soul food: this evening I joined my photo class in Capitol Park for a night shoot.  It was fun, and I learned some helpful things from my teachers.  I also received very complimentary feedback from them on some of my previous work.  That made me feel great!  I had hoped to show you a couple of my night shots, but when I went to download them off the camera, discovered that the battery is dead.  Sigh.  Take my word for it, they were interesting shots of the Vietnam war memorial in all kinds of lighting conditions.  P.S. Here's a couple now that my batteries are charged:








I hope you are finding ways to feed your soul, boost your spirits and generally be at peace in these dispiriting times.  We'll get through this, but in the meantime, it's a bitch.

What Lies Beyond

"Grief Sucks.  Life moves on."  I recently read this.  And, yes, indeed, grief does suck, and life does move on.  Eventually, even...