Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Rewards of Waiting

I feel better today, calmer, quieter, more at peace.

It is 28 degrees with a forecast high of 45, but my winter coats are here, my scarves, my gloves, my Koolaburra boots. I have all I need to stay warm and dry.

Today my three things to do are: 1) find a blank journal so I can get back to my pages, 2) rent a storage locker for my soon-to-arrive adjusting table and, 3) reprint the application for my Georgia chiropractic license. Oh, yeah, plus the other assignment of making a list of my things and where they are. Think I’ll also make a list for matters left in the air, still needing attention.

I will go to the noon meeting for another dose of sanity and because it’s Day 2 of my seven day commitment to Lucinda, my new ‘temporary’ sponsor, who has six years to my almost-nineteen sober, but has been close to meetings and working the program while I have not. Plus, how can I deny the wisdom of someone determined, willing and able to help?

Last night I ate a delicious meal cooked by the childhood sweetheart I told you about, Randy Jeffers. He made flat-iron steak with fried green tomatoes and cornbread, all of which melted in my mouth.

I feel so blessed. I have all I need today; warm clothes, a bed in a warm house, Bugsyboodles, home-cooked meals and a stocked refrigerator, hot green tea, friends-new and old, family, adventure and most of all, love.

2009 is winding down, bringing a close to the first decade of this millennium. I spent it all in California, having arrived there in January of 1999. Now 2010 is looming large and I have been given the gift of a lifetime.

Two years ago, almost three, I bought a card at the Akashic Bookstore that reads, “If I had known I would get to spend the rest of my life with you,” he said, “ I would have started the rest of my life much sooner.” I knew, then and there, that I wanted THAT man. Imagine my surprise when, on Facebook, I found him. Rather re-found, and re-connected. He says he let me go once and isn't about to again.

So here I am. Back in Georgia. Back where I started. Only the 17 year-old boy is now 53, and the 16 year-old girl, 52. We’re done with our wild ways and adrenaline rushes. And, we’re ready for love, the kind that lays dormant and lasts a lifetime.

So, welcome 2010. And, welcome love.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Settling In

Shocking. I got here and am all in a dither. In fact, I’ve been so discombobulated that I have…cried daily, lost it and yelled insanely at someone I love whilst shaking like an aspen leaf, forgotten that this is an adventure and that adventures require guts, stamina and a sense of humor. All of which seem to have flown out the window somewhere around Texas. If anyone happens to be traveling east on I20, would you be on the lookout for them and Fedex them to me??

The trip itself was actually a blast. Carolyn is a great companion and we took turns driving and taking pics…the driver being relieved of picture duty, though on the 2nd day you’ll be frightened to know that I actually took pics WHILE driving. This I don’t suggest or endorse due to the danger factor. You know, two hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, etc.

We made it to Georgia safely on Sunday, the 20th, then I spent the next few days till Christmas sleeping, relaxing and just plain resting. Christmas with the family was wonderful. One of the highlights was my great-nephew, Braydan, falling asleep at the dinner table with his head in my lap. When the table was cleared and everyone up but me and Braydan, Randy lifted his 42 pounds of sleeping-dead weight and plopped him back down in my lap on the sofa, where he slept for 2 full hours till his mama woke him up to leave. It was so very sweet.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been here for a week. Time is flying. My chiropractic table will be here tomorrow or Wednesday. I’d been frantically searching for the paperwork, not remembering who had even picked it up and unable to locate my notes with the mover’s phone number and info. The spa thought they’d given it to me but I have no recollection of them doing so.

Today, determined to reclaim my emotional well-being, I drove 20 miles to an AA meeting and almost wept with relief when I saw the big blue triangle on the side of the building. I opened the door to a large room peopled with other alcoholics and fellow-crazy-persons. Just being there helped. A man named Chuck immediately reached out his hand and welcomed me. Bobby ran the meeting and invited me to share, so I did, and everyone in the room said “Glad you’re here, keep coming back”, as we do in AA when one of us needs help.

Afterward, I stayed to get a meeting schedule, talked to a man named Mike for a bit, then Lucinda took me by the hand, sat me down and said “Here, do this…” and gave me a list of things to do to keep me in the moment and out of the crazies. Included on my list are: make a list of where all my stuff is (since that is a large part of the source of my crazies) and share my list with her when it’s done, go to a meeting every day for seven days, do three things every day, and check in with her every day.

Now, I did not set out for that AA meeting to be put to work but…I am so grateful that I have been. And feel better already. And, you know what? I came home, ate a sandwich, started looking through these boxes again and…lo and behold…THERE the information on my table mover was!

Did I say I was settling in? Well, maybe I am, maybe I’m not.

One thing is for sure, though, I’m in Georgia and it is my choice. And it’s all good.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Saint Bugsy and the Texas Border Patrol

Out in the West Texas town of El Paso...”

Driving through El Paso, Carolyn and I oohed and ahhed at the immensity of it and gaped at the lights of Ciudad Juarez. I chattered and listened to a wise man sing, then tell us (again) the road ahead was deserted. We kept going, I had a destination in mind…the I20 split.

On the other side of El Paso we discovered he was right. It was…well…deserted. Except for one no-tell motel with peeling linoleum on the counter and a sign that said ring the bell. We did. Then looked at each other, wrinkled our noses, shook our heads and left.

Getting back in the car we decided. What the hell. Two more hours to Pecos. It’s 8:00 now. What’s an adventure without having to do something you don’t want to do???

So on, weary travelers, on. We’ve been in the car today for 11 hours. There’s only one English radio station, KHAY Country. It’s dark. And we’re on Louise and Jeanne’s excellent adventure.

But wait! Hark! A Holiday Inn Express sign. 35 miles. Thank you, God.

Now, all we have to do is make it through the line at Border Patrol and in a few more miles we can unload, peel our stuff out of this packed-tight car and call it a night. Bugsy has been a cat-saint again today, sleeping quietly and sweetly in his cage, not making a sound.

Yesterday was emotional. And exhausting. But exhilarating.

And now, thank God for Bugsy. Who just got us through Texas Border Patrol.

Added 35 miles and what seems hours later: We're holed up in the Holiday Inn Express in Van Horn, we three share a king bed in a smoking room, grateful as hell that we didn't have to drive one inch further or stay in that car for one second longer...

We also realized that our four day journey had now blossomed to five. We won't be home till Sunday. Wahhh!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holy Smoke

Only two more days left? Noooo...

I'm not ready. Not hardly. But so close. Still more pieces of furniture, file cabinets and a desk to sell. Records to purge and box. Paintings to get to Vonder, who will sell them for me after I'm gone. Clothes to pack, some in boxes for UPS.

Thank you to Charloa, my wonderful friend who drove 50 miles each way from Ojai this evening to bring me dinner from Gelson's (with leftover rotisserie chicken and roasted veggies for tomorrow!) and spent a couple of hours with me eating and listening to the whole story. While I stuffed my face and then stuffed the fireplace with records needing to be destroyed. (And, yes, I burned my left ring dip joint.) Oh yeah, Happy Birthday, Charloa!

The last two mornings I woke feeling not so great, but managed to make it through both days. And emptied about 2/3 of the stuff from the garage on a rainy Saturday morning in California in exchange for a few bucks for the road. I also got to meet more fascinating people. The teacher, Esther. Keith from Ventura came back by, bought another lamp for his store. Larry, 35-year retired L.A. Country Sheriff, hung out in the garage, out of the rain, swapping stories with me and picking up first one treasure, then another to add to his pile. An hour and a half and his Navy-cinnamon-roll-story later, he left with my card, his new treasures and a smile.

My first words to everyone who walked through the garage door yesterday, "Don't look at the prices, just put whatever you want in a pile and tell me how much you want to pay for it, I'm making deals today!" Invariably, they did. Some gabbed and stayed awhile, others grabbed a few things and left. I even sold my scissors (the ones I used to cut price stickers). For a quarter. And had a blast.

The longer I live the more I know that my role, my real purpose in life, is not about what I do in exchange for money or a roof over my head. Someone once told me I was like the front porch on a grand old house, one with a swing that you want to sit in and hang out. I asked what that meant and he said that I'm easy to talk to, that I make people comfortable right off the bat. What an interesting metaphor. For one who is quite partial to wraparound, rambling porches replete with swings, I kinda liked it.

The ability comes, I think, from being a shy child, forced to learn the art of small talk in self defense. Later came a job that demanded I speak up, demand respect. Later still, in AA, I learned to speak my truth. Somewhere along the line, I found my voice.

Lately, it seems to be on overtime. Another defense mechanism. When nervous. Or exhausted. When needing to push on. I talk.

So I don't pass out. G'night

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cold Hard Rain

Five days left and I'm faltering. My hands are heavy, my heart is pounding, my face, bright red. I looked in the mirror. Because it feels red. And it is.

I feel a heavy sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and my heart has bottomed out somewhere around there. I'm beyond. My limit. Of coping.

Can't deal with one more straw tonight. The last one did me in...

Goodnight. I hate going to bed feeling this way. But I'm left with no choice.

So, may tomorrow bring brighter fare. In spite of the predicted rain. I'm predicting a cold one. And it's falling in Georgia tonight...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Moving Memories

I ran across this picture of Maya today, while purging my garage of old papers and things. It was in a heavy, but beautiful frame that Carolyn gave me years ago. I'm keeping that frame, though I should be chucked in the head with it for even thinking it. Goodness knows where I'll put it. Maybe in Carolyn's duffel bag.

She's a riot, Carolyn. A few days ago, she called and told me she was bringing nothing but stretch pants and teeshirts, in a carry-on duffel bag. Considering we'll spend the next three to four days cooped up in a car with the cat, cross-country, I'd say that's wise. Plus, she'll have room for the heavy-ass frame she gave me that I can't bring myself to part with...

Because there are certain things worth lugging around. Like Daddy's metal foot locker from Korea. And memories of a bird who touched my life for a while. Maya was a pink, leathery ball when I met her. And a beautiful, spoiled, willful little shit when she died. With an astonishing vocabulary. I wonder if she would have mellowed out over the years, had the coyote not intervened? I'm pretty sure she'd have been singing songs.

At 52, you'd think I would hit that laid-back, mellow phase. I wonder if  I could and still make a living when I get back home? Until I can join Jimmy Buffet in a warmer-watered paradise cove. Writing novels. Kicking back, catching fish and singing songs.

There are other things worth taking. 20 years of my journals, a third of my books. Pictures, even the big, bulky, framed ones. One beautiful photograph of Gurumayi. Mama's jewelry. Mine. Half my clothes. Coats. For sure my coats. It's much colder in Georgia. Brrr...

I'm getting a taste of it today. It rained continuously from 1:30 in the morning till around 3 in the afternoon.  At times hard. High in the 50's with a cold west wind. I'm bringing my thermals. Socks. My mm-mmm warm Koolaburras. My ancient, but faithful sub-zero, leather coat from Jackson Hole. My raincoats. I'll be fine.

Eight more days. I think I actually might be ready when it's time. The gargantuan task is on the way to being done. Two more moving sales. More craigslist ads, sales. Pack my office. Ship stuff off. Drop off the clothes I'm not taking.

At a time like this, I am grateful that I've moved so many times over the last 11 years that I've not accumulated much. Yet, I still have LOTS.

This weekend I met that man again. The one from 36 years ago. He flew to California to see me. I still like him. A lot.

And, I'm excited about coming home. To him. To Georgia. To my family. To my friends. To Christmas with Amanda and the boys, before they leave to be with Josh in Korea.

So, here's to memories. The old ones, who truly never go away. And to the new ones. The ones we make each and every day, for the rest of our ever-loving lives.

Friday, December 4, 2009

One More Day Till the Smoke Blows In

It's past my bedtime. So what am I doing here, in front of the computer, at 10:45 at night?

I worked a full day at the spa seeing patients, including a late and hectic lunch hour spent fedexing a package, grabbing a chicken wrap and eating it on the go, picking up garage sale signs at Staples, then dashing back to the spa for my last two appointments of the day.

I'm not complaining. I'm grateful for the work. And for, and to, my patients. Today, at one point I was so touched, I couldn't speak through the tears clogging my throat. I just blinked and nodded, unable to answer.

After work I dashed off again, this time to Byron's Auto Repair to drop my car for service for the long trip to Georgia. On the way, a lady in a big, black Mercedes clipped my bumper changing lanes, then sped off around me and away, like nothing had happened!


Karma stepped in and we were both stopped by a red light, though she almost went through the yellow. I hopped out to do a quick damage check on Betty, as Mercedes lady peered guiltily in her rear view mirror.

Seeing nothing but a small scratch on my rubber bumper, I waved her off with two hands like 'get the hell out of here, you've done enough', and got back in my car as the light turned green. (I admit, I'm not always gracious.)

At home, I indulged in a mild breakdown. Not a full-on crying jag. Just a mini I'm-never-going-to-get-it-all-done-by-myself melt. Then it passed, and I pushed on, through several more hours of Getting Stuff Done.

Tomorrow brings with it good tidings of great joy, and it's this that keeps me awake and sitting in front of my computer. To say good night, good morning and...bring it on!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

14 Days, 13 Hours and Counting...

Just two weeks left and, while I think everything is on target and under control to be out of here on the 16th, there's an underlying fear that I just might be experiencing a severe case of denial.

Today, in my office at the spa, I looked around and thought 'oh shit'. So much to be done. To keep the panic monster at bay, I shut down that thought. Everything in its time.

I have begun to suspect that I am in dire need of help getting stuff done. Which means I must call in reinforcements. So this is a shout out to all those close by, "HELP!"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Bridge Builder

~by Will Allen Dromgoole

A pilgrim, going a lone highway,
Came at evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, deep and vast and wide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim.
The chasm held no fears for him.
But he paused when he reached the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim near,
"Why waste your time in building here?
Your journey ends with the close of day,
You never again will pass this way.
You've crossed the chasm deep and wide.
Why build ye here at eventide?"
The pilgrim raised his old grey head,
"My friend, in the path I've come," he said,
"There followeth after me today
A fair-haired youth who must pass this way.
The chasm which held no fear for me
To the fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim.
My friend, I am building this bridge for him."

Today I navigated Kanan pass from the Ventura Highway to the Pacific Coast Highway, passing through canyons, past vineyards through three tunnels and lots of curves. After cresting the Santa Monica Mountains just past Backbone Trail, the ocean lay before me, her vista bared, in all her winter glory. This time of year, the ever-present marine layer is stripped away, revealing a startling, 160 degree view of the ocean.

This, by far, is my favorite route to the PCH.

I was sulking. And why not. I'm not immune and I certainly have it in me. I had just gotten off the phone after a conversation in which I was apparently the only conversant. The other party had not even done me the courtesy of listening to my side of the story. And I had rendered such  a passionate discourse. It had something to do with rebels.

Rebels come in all shapes and forms. Farley's Free Dictionary says to rebel is to dissent from an accepted moral code or convention of behaviour, dress, etc. I am a chiropractor by trade, but I choose not to wear a white coat in my practice. I also get to pick my hours and, because I don't like alarm clocks, I see my first patient at 10:00 a.m. I often, however, stay late for the after-work crowd. And work on Saturdays, for others. For this, I am a rebel. My work fits me.

An alternative definition for rebel is: to express opposition through action or words; "dissent to the laws of the country". And, another: to break with established customs. I am aware that my individual efforts, coupled with yours, will have a positive impact on our world. So I'm choosing to grow my own vegetables. This spring, I will do just that. That's one less bag of fertilizer, one less tree to make the bag, one less truck to get it to market, less gas consumed. I will pick it at the peak of perfection, plus have the pleasure of tending it and watching it grow.

In my opinion, rebels are not just insurgents, are not all organizing the overthrow of a country, a government, a regime. A rebel turns the spigot off while brushing his teeth, watches BBC because it's news and not commentary. A rebel reaches out her hand to her fellows because she can. Encourages. Cheers. Allows. Gives her time.

A rebel builds bridges. Even when the bridge is just a hand.

There are giants who walk among us. And giants tend to be rebels. Even when they don't think so.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Santa Angel Winds

It's 8:00 p.m. and this day has worn me down to a big ole' pile of mush. Normally, the Santa Ana winds don't bother me much. But there are times, like today, when they push me right up to my edge emotionally.

I decided to see just what's up with these winds, what causes them and why they play havoc on my serenity level. This is from the UC San Diego website:

"Any low-pressure system in the Pacific off the California coast may change the stability of the Great Basin High. The Great Basin High winds then turn southward along the eastern slopes of the Sierras. The low-pressure system over the Pacific literally sucks the winds through the mountain passes of Southern California toward the coastal areas."

Yep. That's exactly what it feels like. And while it's sucking the winds through these canyons I love, the winds suck the moisture out of everything. Including me. I drink lots of water. And try to ignore the low-level hum of my nerves, twanging like rusty banjo strings as the oaks rattle, the wind chimes sing and the gusts slam against my home.

It didn't help that my schedule changed. My full day at home getting more stuff done, narrowed precariously after two trips to the spa to see patients. Then, when I did sit down at the computer in the afternoon, some jerk had sent me a random hate email, presumably because I'm a chiropractor, or a natural healer, or whatever he thought.

I know, I know. Shake it off. It's not about me, it's about him. Yada, yada, yada. But come on...

Then, Calvin says another band is playing at Fresh & Fabulous on the 11th, so now I either have to change venues for my going-away party, or call Magda and see if there's any way we can get him on stage instead. Calvin and Sam, the Piano Man. It wouldn't be right to have my party without them.

If I'd looked in the mirror early this afternoon, I'm sure I would've seen a sane, calm woman. But what I felt like inside was a doe on the first day of doe season, not knowing where to run. I sat at my computer, hung up in emails and Facebook posts, when wise words talked me down from the edge. Sometimes it just takes a little outside intervention, thank you my kind friend, you know who you are.

There are angels among us, I see them every day. In pretty much every face I see. There is not one person in my life who's not an angel to at least one other person. More likely, to many. And that surely must include my friend, the Judge at fda.gov. Be kind. Rewind. Restraint of pen and tongue. Love one another. I hurt you, I hurt me, too. We are one. Forgive. Forget. Love.

Okay. I'm done.

Thanks for listening. And, thank you to all of my angels. Today and every day.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


As I said before, my decision to leave California was prompted by having been 'backed in to a corner' financially. This came across my mail today, and perfectly addresses that corner...and, elevates it from a place of pain to a place of import.

"In a corner
Somewhere in the Austin Airport
Sept 19, 2007

They’re everywhere. They’re
important. They give us a landmark for when it’s time
to turn. They give us something to shoot for and make a change. They give us somewhere
to go and hide. Let’s go around the corner and smoke a cigarette.
Sometimes they are dark. Dirty. You can’t always get the dust out of the back
on the hutch. Don’t worry, no one will see.
But they are also full of life. Life that isn’t always right in front of us. The
subtle, the hidden, the discreet. Off the beaten path. Corners are their own little
world, sometimes in the middle of the rest of the world. But when you go into the
corner, you feel like you’ve left the rest of the world
It was funny, coming from Houston where there was nothing but Continental aircraft
everywhere you looked. Then you fly into Austin and they have a corner at one end
of the terminal. All the way at the end. Tucked away in a corner.
Down on that same
end of the concourse was a little place called Lefty’s On 6th
Street. If you’ve never been to 6th Street in Austin, make a day or three of it.
It’s a street just off the center of town. Music. Lot’s of it. One of those corners
just off the center of town where everything is not quite so obvious. But you can
find it if you want.

But here in the airport, inside security across from the gates, sits a little corner
in Lefty’s where a young man sat strumming his guitar. I was struck by his voice
at first. I could almost imagine I was listening to Eric Clapton singing Delta
Blues. Then the strumming on the strings
turned to a furious slash and pick that
seemed like a blur. The sound leapt from the instrument and floated across to me.
Here was a man that knew what he was doing. Then he shifted gears and I was imagining
I was listening to Michael Hedges, playing something on a guitar tuned in a way
only Michael could do.

Here was a little piece of magic, tucked away in a corner. Not necessarily the
magic of a prodigy, but surely something for this modest little location, tucked
in a corner of the Austin airport.

Corners are the great frontier of the eclectic soul. The kind of place where you
go to find things that get you funny stares when you talk about them, or a knowing
nod from someone who has been there. Long lines, waiting times and pop culture
familiarity are not found in corners. That’s what makes them so attractive. Treasures
are found in corners; treasures that are valuable, perhaps, only to the adventurer
that makes the find. But the more I go, the more I glance from the road
in front of me and turn corners and find corners and have a cold beer in a corner,
the more bounty I find for my treasure room."

Published by permission from the author, Randy Jeffers

Saturday, November 21, 2009

About a Boy

It occurred to me at 3 in the morning, after waking way too early, that a good story must have more than goodbyes and a general thread of anxiety running through it to be interesting. This one is no different. You know that I'm leaving California, the land that I love. And that I am returning to Georgia, where I grew up.

What you don't know is this: there is a boy.

Or rather, a man. In my memory, we're 36 years younger, and he's 17. I have golfed only one time in my life, when I was 16. Over the years, when relating the story, I never thought about who I had been with. Or why there was no second date. I just remembered being awful at it. And not wanting to repeat the experience. I also remembered laughing hysterically at my amazing ability to swing and never hit the ball. Turns out, he was the unfortunate guy.

It is true that I'm going back to Georgia for economic reasons. I've been pushed in to a corner, financially, over the last three years. And that lately, push has become shove. I've pared my expenses down to the bone, got rid of the expensive car, office and so much more. Yet still, I struggle.

But, the real reason I'm leaving, the thing that makes leaving actually palatable, is the boy.We re-met on Facebook. Totally innocently, I might add. I sure wasn't looking for a heart connection.

When I saw his comment on someone else's post, I thought, "hmm, I remember that name." But not the man. Not even after looking at his pictures. I sent him a friend request anyway.

Once done, my subconscious mind began sifting though the "52 Years of Lost and Discarded Memories" file and the first memory that popped up was the infamous golf outting. When I tried to grab hold of the memory, to flesh it out, I got nada. Till I got home and he had confirmed our Facebook friendship with a message that simply said, "What are you doing on the West Coast? How can I take you golfing if you're all the way out there?"

Lightning bolt. Over the ensuing days of messages sent with increasing fervor and frequency, my subconscious ran nonstop. Even at night when I was trying to sleep it continued, churning, turning, searching for memories of this boy. Occasionally, it brought back fleeting ones. Isolated snatches of an impish, adorable face, very young. Later on, a little older, at the store where he worked, ignoring me. Not much more.

But I know, I feel, there was more. After all, there were eleven-plus years of football games, practice, parades, pep rallies, school hallways. Was my desk in Mrs. Lawson's first-grade class his, from the year before?

Amazingly, he remembers me. He is, in fact, a veritable repository of carefully-catalogued information, including, it seems, my missing memories.

He remembers our "date". And other times. He remembers me. And apparently saw me, at a time when I thought no one did. Or could. I was so busy getting out of Villa Rica, you see. It was too small, and I wanted the whole world. My big dreams seemed too big for one tiny town. (Then, there was the not-so-small voice of my mother saying "run, run away, as fast as you can!")

Why am I sharing this with you, my friends? Because I can no longer hold it inside. It colors everything that I think, do and say. And there's an honesty within me that will not be denied. Because I'm happy, and I want to share my happiness with you.

And because the world can always use another love story.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Drift Off to Dream

I'm tired. And don't really feel like blogging tonight.

So, I'm just here to say hello. And report that Vonder and I made significant headway with the furniture and schtuff today, the furniture's all tagged, paintings, pictures, mirrors, vases, lamps, plants, tables, knick knacks, etc, all with little price labels on them. Mine, with two little zeroes behind the dollar amount, Vonder's, without. We even labeled most of the stuff in the garage.

I feel heavy. More maybe, than just tired. I suppose cataloging one's things for impending sale could do that to a person. Especially one sensitive as I.

I'm selling my stuff. And letting go of a thousand tiny, little, invisible ties.

I'm leaving California much lighter than when I arrived.

Light enough to dance to the radio. Maybe even right up till dawn.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Yellow Wood

A thread of anxiety wound itself through my day today, twenty-eight days and counting...

It stirred up a bad case of shuffling-paperitis, which prevented me from finishing a thing. I did find out the going rate for shipping books. But box size, hell. I need visuals, or dimensions, and they're giving me a number: 108" combined length and distance at the widest point. Whaaat? I'm pretty mechanical but this one, hmmm. I still don't know how big a box I can use.

I managed to get a few small things done, then settled down to billing, mostly data entry. That simple task brought much-needed calm as productivity distracted the beast for a while.

Wednesday is my BNI meeting morning, which means I'm up, by alarm, at 5:00. I've been a member for 9 years, and once a week, for four of them, I've had breakfast with these particular guys. Like my patients, they are my California family. So, this morning, at 7:00 a.m., I said goodbye.

It occurs to me that some may look at my life and see it as a series of leavings, of goodbyes. I am keenly aware of every goodbye.

But what about the arrivals? When I leave, don't I always arrive at my next destination? Yes! Adventure requires a journey, and a journey, a beginning and an end. Seekers travel miles. Over years. For lifetimes.

I recently shared one ending with you, the end of my seeking. I expect to be sharing another one soon. So, stick around...

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."*

Thank you to all my fellow travelers, poets one and all.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

29 Days and Counting...

The last two days have been pretty emotional. Yesterday I emailed the going-away notice to my patients and colleagues here in CA. Last night, this morning and even in to today, I've received many responses.

Every single one has been surprised and sad, yet understanding and supportive. As I said, times are tough. Hmm, this gives me a whole new perspective on the phrase "when the going gets tough, the tough get going". Thank you, to everyone who extended well wishes. I hope to see each and every one of you before I go.

The last two days were productive. I met with the estate sales lady, who will hopefully be including a few of my pieces in her sale this coming weekend. I made the decision to drive, and not fly. I figure if Bugsy has to spend four days in the car and hotels, he'll be so grateful when we get to Georgia and a real house, he'll be happy no matter where he lands!

I did promise Carolyn to bring tranquilizers, in case he decides to yeowl all the way. She said she'd probably be the one who'd need them. But, Vonder says if we fix him some hiding places in the back seat, he'll be happy. I think she's right.

Just so you know, I did try to blog last night, but kept getting kicked out by Blogger. I finally gave up. But I'm back tonight. And I plan on being here every night between now and December 16th.

See you tomorrow!
Pictured: Bugsy with strawberry juice on his face. "I love strawberries!" he says.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Homeward Bound

Change is in the air. Indecision has passed. And joy has taken over in my heart.

I've decided to move. Back to Georgia.

While the decision was sudden, the leading up to it wasn't. A year. Almost exactly. That's when the winds of change first whistled through the valley of my heart, blowing me home. A mini-meltdown in November, last year, resulted in a week at a timeshare in Solana Beach, where I relaxed, got grounded and began the long journey home.

In May, I was there. We went home, Cherry and I, to spread Mama's ashes at Lake Oconee. It took 2 1/2 years to be strong enough, emotionally. Just takes what it takes. Bill couldn't make it. Nor, Josh, who was in Army Advanced in VA, and is now in Korea, wrenching blawkhawks.

As much as I love California, as deep as my ties here go, my roots run deep in those red hills of Georgia, where I played and dreamt as a child. Thinking of going home feels warm now, and comfortable and right.

I wish I could explain the force that moves me from one coast to another, and now back again. Or why I listen and obey. But the journeyer now sets her sails for home.

I'm reminded of Paul Simon's Homeward Bound and search for it on the net.

The words, metaphorically speaking, fit, and the tune is haunting me home.

I'm going home. Back to Georgia.

~ Olivia J. herrell

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Grief and October

It's October and the chill of fall has arrived in Southern California. I turned the heat on a few days ago. Some people have a problem with that and agonize over when to light the furnace. Me? I just crank the thermostat to whatever temp I need to be comfortable.
Now, having said that, I will qualify that statement with: If it's cold outside, I wear sweats and Koolaburra's (handmade boots that are identical to Uggs, only they're still made in Australia vs. China) in the house. In the summer when it's hot, I wear shorts and a tank top. So, even though I use my heat and A/C, I do it as green-ly as possible.

Black Betty's top is up and I'm putting up with the whistle. If my window is open a crack it's better, but then I have the window noise and the cold. Whatever.

October is not my favorite month of the year. I'm sure October could care less.

My mother died in October. Three years ago. Interestingly enough, I can't remember now what day. I thought it was the 9th/10th (she died around 12:45 a.m. so I overlap the days in my mind). But, it may've been the 8th/9th.

For the last couple of weeks of September, during the time when she would've been in the hospital, then rehab, then back in the hospital...the time leading up to her death...I relive (and, thus, process) some of the pain that I was too numb to feel.

I can try to ignore it. Pretend it's not there. Stay really busy and look the other way.

But, eventually, those coping mechanisms fail. And I am face-to-face with the reality of my feelings. I am alone with the gut-wrenching knowledge that my Mama, my magnetic north for 50 years, is gone. And, I relive, in spurts and fits and isolated snapshot memories, her last days on earth.

I am not maudlin. Nor morbid. Just grieving. This is my process.

For those who are grieving, no matter how long since your loved-one passed, your process is your process. No one else can put a time-frame on it. They can expect you to be 'healed' or 'cured' of your depression and sadness right away.

But, the reality is, it takes what it takes.

Grief is not bad. Grief is normal. Grief is even beautiful. Allowing our grief honors the one we lost. And it honors our own Self.

So sit in a movie theater or in front of the TV and bawl at a sad movie. Or in front of the computer screen and watch the video about the dog named Baxter who, in his old-age and approaching his own death, brings love and comfort to the dying as an end-of-life therapy.

Honor your grief. Take a day off. Or longer. Claim this time for your own.

My work schedule is light this week. This worries me a bit because slow work means less money coming in. But, I am being cared for. This I know.

Just so you know, I really am okay. In fact, I'm great. Don't be sad for me. I found AA again. Not that it was lost. :) The rooms are still there. As Always.

Thank you all for being a part of my process. Thank you for being part of my recovery.

Monday, October 5, 2009

It's Alive

If a blog is a living thing, and I'm of the mind that it is, then mine should be dead from lack of attention.

If there truly is anyone out there reading, I'm sorry.

The truth is, I am torn. Undecided. Which way should I go?

After declaring intent, I balked. Hence, my hesitation.

Life is rapidly shifting, changing directions. Activity whirls without and within. Sleep brings dreams. There, I am taught, and I learn.

It's lesson time. Sweet dreams. :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Patrick Henry's Ride

LISTEN, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower, as a signal light, --
One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar

Thursday, September 24, 2009


By James Dillet Freeman
The flowers that blossom in the mind
Are fairer than the garden kind.
Though violets and roses seem
Beyond compare, the dreams you dream,
Though sometimes they are hardly more
Than half-unopened buds before
They start to fade away, more frail
Than touch-me-nots and moonflower pale,
Merer than mists, yet in them you
Catch glimpses of a truth more true
Than any outward forms can show,
A vision of what you may grow
To be, a beauty passing far
All you have, every thought you are.


As my fingers typed, my heart remembered this and sighed. It had touched me when I first read it in a Daily Word in the mid-90's. It fit then.

In fact, I had liked it so much that I typed it in a tiny font, cut it in to a 2" x 3" square, and carried it around in my wallet. I'd pull it out occasionally to reread his reassuring words. And to remind myself that there was never, is never, will never, be another one like me. To remind myself to keep the faith; that as we peeled away the layers of my onion, as I got more and more of the s--t out of the way, learned one more lesson, made one more amend, walked through one more door, I would not only be that vision, but I would feel like it, too.

It fits, still.

Today, it reminds me that my thoughts are gifts, precious and ephemeral, to be written down, cherished, cultivated, loved. I can let them fly by, or I can grab hold and give them life.

Which reminds me. I harvested my garden today. The crop was phenomenal, and I'm grateful for the fruit, but there's a hole in my heart where my plants were. I'll plant more next year. In fact, I've already started, planting broccoli, an artichoke, some bush beans. In time, the sadness will fade.

What does this have to do with growing? Who knows.

But, if the the point of growing is to flower and then fruit, I'm glad that God made me a perennial.

P.S. The anniversary of my mom's passing is approaching. I feel my heart contracting, tighter and tighter as the day approaches. This is my way. I will eat sweet things to keep from feeling too keenly. I will watch TV, write in my journal, listen to my Holosync meditation CD's.

I will go to the spa, see patients and get lost in their lives for a while, then come home, watch more TV, eat more sorbet. I watched Always last night, let loose and cried...and if Steel Magnolias or Beaches happen to be on when I'm surfing, I'll be there, watching, crying, sticking it out for the tough parts.

Because part of growing is learning to cry when we're sad, even if it takes a Ouiser.

And, you're right. The hole in my heart is not about the plants at all, but more about missing my Mama. To Mama.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The End of Seeking aka The Light at the End of the Tunnel

A woman met a man she didn't want to meet.
She liked him. She saw in him a burning light.
From deep within a feeling unbidden
overwhelmed the woman. The feeling
frightened her. How could this be from the
sight of the light in the man she didn't want
to meet? The woman sat still. A memory of a
far off place came to her and remembering
the beauty, the awe and the wonder, her fear
left. The man talked on, unaware. His flame
burned bright in the night. - Olivia Herrell


This is from my personal library, and was penned painstakingly one February, years ago. I was early in recovery in AA, stinging from a long weekend in Hilton Head with my wonderful, but alcoholic mother, who'd spent the entire weekend whining about anything and everything in general, but mostly about me in particular.

There was a man in my life, just then, who was a member of Al-Anon, the sister organization to AA. Though I was sober in AA, I had no defense against my mother's drinking, nor against her tongue when she was drinking.

That man introduced me to Al-Anon, where my recovery continued and grew.

It's been almost 19 years since I started down this long road of recovery.

Over that time I have peeled away one layer at a time, doing personal inventories, making amends, clearing up wreckage, learning to say no. Then learning to say yes. I've spent countless hours in AA meetings, Al-Anon, group therapy, individual therapy, motivational seminars, ashrams, self-help books, meditation, walks in nature, journalling, writing, thinking, feeling, being, sleeping, reading, dreaming, changing...one cell, one breath, one heart beat at a time.

I've had good teachers. The best. And, I'm a good student.

But there was always another.

And another.

Today, that came to a rather abrupt stop.

I even heard the "eeerrrrrkkkkkkkk!"

It was a peculiar sensation. Rather like being slammed against a concrete wall. The wall at the end.

Now, for all my fellow seekers out there: Have you ever wondered how you'd know when you reached the end of your long search? I don't think I'd ever even pondered the question! Yet, now, here I am, at the end. And knowing it.

"What's at the end?" you ask?

The light.

The light that burns bright in the night.

The big surprise? There's really no surprise, at all.

It's what every weary seeker must find.

I don't feel cheated. Not at all.

I do feel deep gratitude. And relief. And not just a little silly.

I bow to my divine, to that burning light within me.

Baba Muktananda advised, "Honor your Self, Worship your Self, Meditate upon your Self. God dwells within you as you."

Tonight, I know, more than ever before, what he meant.

Thank you, to all my teachers. I love and respect and appreciate you, more than you may ever know.

And, thank you to Karen Anderson, Angelic Intuitive, whose loving Spirit helped me to recognize the end.

I will close with this. We all know this story. But...guess what! I found the teacup! :)

Taken from an NPR script:
A seeker has heard the wisest guru in all of India lives atop India's highest mountain, so the seeker tracks over a hill in Delhi until he reaches the fabled mountain. It's incredibly steep, and more than once, he slips and falls. By the time he reaches the top, he's full of cuts and bruises. But there's the guru, sitting cross-legged in front of his cave.

Oh, wise guru, the seeker says, I have come to ask you what the secret of life is. Ah, yes, the secret of life, the guru says. The secret of life is a teacup. A teacup? I came all the way up here to find the meaning of life and you tell me it's a teacup? The guru shrugs, so maybe it isn't a teacup.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Government OF the People, BY the People, and FOR the People

There have been many poems over the years that have inspired me deeply.

During my early years of sobriety, I found this poem, by Edgar A. Guest, in some AA literature, possibly The Forum. I copied it, cut it out, and carried it in my Big Book for years. I refound it the other day, along with several others that I will share at a later time.

This spoke to me, then, and it speaks even more loudly today.


An Edgar A. Guest Poem

I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day,

I'd rather one should walk with me than merely show the way,

The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear;

Fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear;

And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,

For to see the good in action is what everybody needs.

I can soon learn how to do it if you'll let me see it done.

I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.

And the lectures you deliver may be very wise and true;

But I'd rather get my lesson by observing what you do

For I may misunderstand you and the high advice you give

But there's no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.


Please, can't we all stop spouting hate and vengeance and get out of the problem and in to the solution?

Can't we have a little humility and stop calling our country and our leaders Socialists, just because they're trying to help us?

I know this country was built on free speech. But words do hurt. Words are breaking the backbone of our country.

This is one of the most perilous times our country has faced, and division within leaves us exposed to the dangers without.

The real 'enemy' here is not our government, nor our leaders. The real enemies look like you and me and they represent big business. They have a vested interest in keeping us sick and tired and broke so they can profit from it. It's the insurance and oil companies (and many others) who post record profits each year, while you and I go broke, even bankrupt, lining their pockets.

If we have to fight, let's fight to change the laws that allow these corporations, whose only interest is in their own bottom line, to buy our elected officials' votes.

Let's separate the election process from these corporations' profit motives.

Corporations ARE NOT PEOPLE. Corporations should not be allowed to vote. And, believe me, they vote every day with their dollars. How, as individuals, can you and I compete with that?

We can. After all, this is a government OF the people, BY the people and FOR the people. That would be you and me. When we unite, our voice is loud, and our leaders must follow.

Please, please, PLEASE let's unite in the common cause of healing our country. We must, at the very least, be able to agree on that.

Let's all stop slinging hurtful words and labels and become part of the solution, rather than the problem. Let's join the grassroots movement to take our government back.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"What Is An American?"

I love this!

I first read it several years ago. It brought tears to my eyes then, and it brings tears to my eyes each time I read it. I found it in my inbox today, and decided I wanted to pass it on.

Though some things have changed a little, I think this is mostly still applicable today, eight years later.


What Is An American?
A primer.

By Peter Ferrara, an associate professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law.
September 25, 2001 9:20 a.m.

You probably missed it in the rush of news last week, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper there an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American.

So I just thought I would write to let them know what an American is, so they would know when they found one.

An American is English…or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. An American may also be African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani, or Afghan.

An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim. In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them choose.

An American is also free to believe in no religion. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

An American is from the most prosperous land in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the God-given right of each man and woman to the pursuit of happiness.

An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need. When Afghanistan was overrun by the Soviet army 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country. As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan.

An American does not have to obey the mad ravings of ignorant, ungodly cruel, old men. American men will not be fooled into giving up their lives to kill innocent people, so that these foolish old men may hold on to power. American women are free to show their beautiful faces to the world, as each of them choose.

An American is free to criticize his government's officials when they are wrong, in his or her own opinion. Then he is free to replace them, by majority vote.

Americans welcome people from all lands, all cultures, all religions, because they are not afraid. They are not afraid that their history, their religion, their beliefs, will be overrun, or forgotten. That is because they know they are free to hold to their religion, their beliefs, their history, as each of them choose.

And just as Americans welcome all, they enjoy the best that everyone has to bring, from all over the world. The best science, the best technology, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best athletes.

Americans welcome the best, but they also welcome the least. The nation symbol of America welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed.

These in fact are the people who built America. Many of them were working in the twin towers on the morning of September 11, earning a better life for their families.

So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did General Tojo and Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung, and every bloodthirsty tyrant in the history of the world.

But in doing so you would just be killing yourself. Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American.

So look around you. You may find more Americans in your land than you thought were there. One day they will rise up and overthrow the old, ignorant, tired tyrants that trouble too many lands. Then those lands too will join the community of free and prosperous nations.

And America will welcome them.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The American Dream

"I wonder what it's like to grow up in rural Georgia today" I pondered after an ice cream truck, volume full-blast, parked near where I lay on Zuma Beach, and briefly interrupted the magic of the waves and the sun and the warmth of the sand.

It must surely be different now. Even in the south. Can any of you tell me?

There were no ice cream trucks in my neighborhood. My street was dirt and it was called a road. The bus picked me up in front of my house, and the bus drivers, Mr. Spence, then later, Miz Frances, were kind-hearted and didn't take any guff.

I hardly recognize my America anymore. And, I've come to the conclusion that it's my own fault. I left her to others to run, trusted others to look after my land-of-the-free and home of the Braves. I mean...brave.

I do vote. In the beginning, for Carter because I'm a Rebel from Georgia. Then, for Reagan, because my boss/finance professor at West Georgia College told me I should. When I was younger, Georgia was considered a Democratic state. There was no such thing as Red or Blue, only the red, white and blue. We were all one, and we all agreed on that, even those still fighting the civil war.

What has happened to my country? She's terribly broken and the people I've elected to fix her seem to be running around in the muck. Alaska is melting and has replaced California as the land of fruits and nuts. Texas and Hawaii want to leave the union. And Arizona, sensible with medicine, is not so sensible with AK47's. In an 8-mile stretch of Sentator McCain's Arizona, between the Utah and Nevada border, we saw one after the other automatic weapon billboards. I was shocked, appalled and deeply offended, and not just a little frightened.

And our President has taken up golf. Golf!

So now I'm forced to take up government. I can't be any worse at it than they've been. I'm good at problem-solving. And goodness knows I can see the problems, looming as they do in front of my face.

So, I must pull my head out of the proverbial sand, wake up and come to know.

I haven't wanted to know. It was easier to let someone else worry about things like health/sick care, bailouts and fiscal responsibility. What does that mean anyway?

Plus, if I paid attention to what was going on, if I really knew what was happening right under my nose, I might have to do something about it. Much like having to get sober once I knew I was an alcoholic, or close my business after the ink bled red.

I do have a theory.

I didn't want to know, because I was just too darned busy.

Doing what, you ask?


You know. The Dance. You do it, too. We call it 'The American Dream'. I call it 'The Dance'. The more, more, more dance.

This dance is exhausting, it's draining, it kills. We dance longer and harder and faster, performing more intricate, and more dangerous, leaps, hops, whirling, whirling until all is a blur, and nothing is distinguishable. Nothing at all.

We follow the dream and the dream is the blur, while the corporations infiltrate and the tail wags the dog. We're addicted to prescription drugs, sugar, fast-food, Hollywood and sports, don't get enough sleep, consume petroleum in our cars, in our plastic water bottles, our polyester clothes, and even our chapstick. We work like dogs (although, no dog ever worked as hard as I've had to!) and have the fewest number paid vacation days per capita than most any other country in the world.

We're sick and we wonder why. Is the healthcare system broken? Heck, yeah! But what we all seem to be missing is...it is so much more fundamental than that. We eat crap, feed our kids crap, and call it food. All the goodness has been taken out and it's full of addictive sweeteners and fillers and fat. Let's get back to the basics, fruits and vegetables. Let's grow our own. Stop trucking stuff across the world and the country, picking it green so we get none of nature's nutrients. Stop filling ourselves full of 'medicine'. Get out of the house and exercise, feel the wind and the sun on our skin. Do some manual labor. THESE are then answers, prevention, not health care.
But, back to the dance. So, we're all whirling and dipping in our own frantic dance, bouncing one off the other, each spinning our own web, striving, working, spending, more, more, more, more, more, more, more.

There's an old saying about making sure your ladder is against the right wall. Well, for 52 years, every ladder I've climbed has led to another. I've come to suspect that there are no right walls, only ladders, disappointment, falling down, bruised knees, and getting back up to trudge once more. More striving, more ladders, more dance, more blur.

To help fix our problems, we must stop the dance. We must come to know. And we must help America get better again.

I'll finish with another old saying, one we used a lot as kids, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." I don't know where it originated, but it occurs to me, today, as I open once-veiled eyes and survey the broken-ness and divisive-ness going on in our beautiful US of A, that angry, hate-filled words do hurt. They are hurting us. Their words create the dance and the dance creates the blur.

I also know that words can heal. I have words. I am a healer. And I'm a rebel to the core. It's time to remember that I have a voice. Ever heard my rebel yell?


How about yours?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Solutions On a Country Road

Yesterday, it occurred to me that I could simply put Betty's top down...and leave it down. She's garaged at night anyway, and we can go topless during the day. There's no danger of rain for a couple of months, not here in sunny California. With the top down, and the windows up, wind noise is minimal. And the whistle is gone.

This afternoon I donned a floppy hat, climbed in and drove to T.O. for a movie (Harry Potter. Again). I took back roads, sharing Kanan with an older Jag, also topless. There is a sense of belonging, a sense of connection with my surroundings that I haven't felt before. Not in a car.

After the movie, Harold joined me. We stopped at the mall for coffee from Coffee Bean, then drove around the outskirts of town, down Lynn, to Wendy, then south on Potrero, bordering parkland and the Santa Monica Mountains. Here, the road is as windy as any country road, and the parkland gives way to estates and then further, to open vistas of horse farms.

The road here is bordered by white fences, each marching on, in to the distance, then farther, still, to the mountains beyond. Barns and homes are set far from the road, surrounded by green pastures and hay fields, backed up to the hill and mountainsides in this lovely corridor of the Conejo Valley.

Harold was enchanted. And I? Enthalled. Enough so, that I will be drawn to explore, even more, this countryside that I so love. Me...and Black Betty. Top down!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Black Betty

Oh, oh, Black Betty, Bamalam...

Here she is, rescued from the confines of Culver City, freshly purchased from a young woman who is soon returning to the Czech Republic, after studying language here in L.A.

She met me Monday at EuroTech Motors, where Ardy's mechanic drove it, tested it, put it up on the rack and went over it with latex-gloved hands and a flashlight. She needs new back tires and a left front axle (the seal is shot), which my friend, Byron Perry, will take care of next week when he and Kathleen get back from Jamaica.

She also needs a good interior detail job, especially the once cream-colored carpet. Kelly has a guy who'll do it at the spa, so that should be handled soon, as well.

The top is automatic, but I still have to muscle it closed, clamping both sides at the same time. I'm embarrassed at how little upper body strength I have. Either I'm doing something wrong or...it's time to un-wimp! After closing it last night, it whistled all the way home, so I must have to put more umphhh in to it.

But, I can't deny that driving around with that top down, sun shining and wind playing with my hair, that there's a big, huge smile on my face...and in my heart.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ahhh...Home Again!

Coming home is always as good to me as the leaving is. My bed welcomed me with 9 hours of blessed sleep, much needed after several nights of not enough. Its plush pillowtop felt heavenly after a way-too-hard bed.

We stayed at Cedar Breaks in Brian Head and I have the teeshirts to prove it, courtesy of Lynn and Bob, the wonderful sales couple at our resort. Spending an hour with Lynn as she spun visions of their luscious resorts, was hardly an imposition, and I was rewarded with $100 to spend at the resort.

Zion National Park is still as majestic and awe-inspiring as I remember. I walked barefoot in soft Zion dust, which is as red as the Georgia clay back home. We cooled ourselves under cascading water falls blowing in the wind, then later sat on rocks and dangled our feet in the Virgin River. As we were leaving we saw 3 Dall Sheep.

Up above, at Cedar Breaks National Park, the air was much cooler as we hiked through the woods and alpine meadows. I reveled in the summer wildflowers blooming profusely; lupine, Indian paintbrush, Utah daisies, and a myriad of others. The alpine pond was clear and shallow, with funny little stick-like creatures moving around the silty bottom. I must google and find out what they are.

I shall return. It is a place of peace, beauty and wilderness. I am grateful that only a few hours away, in any direction, I can still find these patches of perfection, and, in the finding, find myself once more.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

No Blue

As fate would have it, come Monday, it might be alright, but...I got no car. No Blue. No cute little convertible. Nada. Just a mounting rental car bill.

So, tomorrow we're taking the rental (instead of a Cabrio) up to Vegas, then on to Cedar Breaks, Utah, Thursday morning.

I'm looking forward to the tranquility. We'll be staying in Cedar Breaks, elevation 10,200. The forecast is cool, mid-60's daytime, 40's at night, possible thundershowers a couple days. I'm taking my Koolaburras. And sweats. Comfy clothes. Something, too, for the heat of Zion and Bryce, and Cedar City.

Mostly I'm looking forward to a few days of nature. And relaxing. Some time doing nothing. I'll let Kelly go to the seminar. I'm resting. And playing.

Terry Brooks, you'll be happy to know that you'll be getting another royalty check in my name after today. I bought books 4 and 5, The Tangle Box (Nightshade is back) and Witches' Brew, to read on the trip. I'd forgotten how decadent it is to read to my hearts' delight. My favorite posture as a child was slouched in a chair or on the porch swing, book in hand. I would read until it was dangerously close to time for Mama to get home from work. Then, my sister and I would fly around the house sweeping, doing dishes, picking up clothes, dusting or cleaning the bathroom, whatever our chores.

Inevitably, there'd be that day when traffic must've been better than usual (or maybe she didn't stop to buy a beer for the ride). The dogs would start barking, and I'd jump up from my book, knowing her car was barreling down that red Georgia road. And I'd be in trouble, again. There'd be a lecture. Guilt. Maybe worse if she'd had a really bad day.

No wonder I feel guilty today about slipping away in to a good book and not getting my chores done. In fact, I've deprived myself for years, gleefully reading on vacations and airplanes, but seldom allowing myself the luxury any other time.

I say HOGWASH! Guilt be gone. I am a somewhat reasonable adult, at least most of the time. I can get things done when the doing is necessary and still read each day. Books, novels, are how I take my mind to the playground.

So, for the next few days, I rest, I play, and I forget about the car hunt. When I get back, the perfect one will be waiting. A little Cabrio convertible, cherry, automatic, mechanically sound. One that's absolutely, positively right for me.

Till then, Sayonara.
P.S. Are YOU depriving yourself of something you love? Give back the guilt and reclaim your beloved!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lil Blue

Last week I drove a 2001 VW Cabrio convertible named Lil Blue. Lil Blue is, as you guessed, blue. Midnight blue. She has a black, automatic convertible top, black leather seats, a CD player (that could use upgrading), A/C, 5 speed, tight, peppy and fun to drive.

Her current owner, for the last 5 years, drove her back and forth from Santa Barbara to school in Santa Cruz, so she has 119,600 miles. Tomorrow they (Lil Blue and her owner) will meet me at my mechanic's, so that he can check her out. If she passes inspection, and he gives her the nod, this time tomorrow she'll be parked in my garage.!

And the rental car will be gone, back to the rental car home.

Wish us luck!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Holosync and Threshold

Thanks, Holosync, and Centerpointe Research.

I'm now on Awakening, Level I, about 3 CD's in. It's taken me 9 months to get here. I sit in meditation, listening through the stereo headphones as instructed, for an hour about 5 days a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. I try not to push it. When I do I get a bit batty. Testy, cranky, skintight, coiled spring poised to break out. I eventually do. Break out, that is. I slip and slide, sometimes gracefully, sometimes not, through threshold to breakthrough, to breakout.

It's a brilliant process, one I feel honored to have found. I am changing, growing, by leaps and bounds. I feel it. I experience mySelf in so many new ways. Some fun, some...not so much. There are days when the voice in my head becomes too much and I must shut her up. The whole point, however, is to listen, to learn, to grow, to move on. Meaning, to change. To let go of these behaviours and ways of being that shackle me and hold me back and down.

I find that I am growing ever tired of being boring, after having reveled in it for many years. I am yearning instead for new adventure, new experiences, new ways to play. I am ready to get out there and trek and travel, to explore and experience. To see the Northern Lights and Michaelangelo's David and Sistine Chapel. To put a wetsuit on and go swimming in this ocean that I live by and love, to rent a kayak and risk a little bit of my security for what could just be a big hunk of fun.

Time to listen? Landover, here I come! :)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

Home, finally, after what seemed like hours spent on PCH driving home from LA. The sunset we had hoped to catch did not disappoint. But, it came and went, leaving us captured, marooned in an island of Mercedes and Jaguars, inching along PCH.

AM 980 says it has something to do with a chase that ended around Coastline. Why, oh why didn't we take Sunset instead of Wilshire? Why, oh why, oh why? Always why.

Why not? This is, after all, what happens when I don't listen. If I'd listened, I would have gone, instead to B & N for the third Magic Kingdom novel. (After proudly paying $1.00 today for a new Ventura County library card, the library didn't have it.) Then, I would have come back home and read till my eyes were heavy, in the comfort of my own living room, but nooooooo. I had to ignore my voice and traipse my little behind to LA and get stuck in the aftermath of goodness knows what on PCH. Did anybody catch the news???

I have to get back to Landover. because I must answer a question that is burning in my mind, "Will Ben and Willow ever get to have fun and relax and play?" Or must they always be battling demons and dragons and witches and fear and self-doubt. My gut tells me, I already know the answer.

The answer is no, not in Landover, nor here, in Oak Park, California, in the US of A. There will always be demons to face, dragons to battle (or to serenade), voices to listen to and others to ignore. Our knight, or fairy-being will emerge from within, rise up and save the day whenever called upon.

And, when we don't listen to our inner voices, our scribes, or our inner wizards, we can sit our butts in a sporty little Jag with uncomfortable seats, inching along PCH at sunset, feeling yesterday's anger, that was by no means gone, now turning to helpless frustration. We can stand back and watch as the frustration squeaks out of us in a low-pitched whine and a mini-temper tantrum erupts.

Poor Harold. He, at least, didn't crack. Miracles abound. He just kept inching along. I pulled it together (after all, I'm really not 12) and we finally broke free of traffic, at Coastline. Whereupon, we pulled in to the Taco Bell/gas station where I proceeded to STAND IN FRONT OF THE WOMEN'S ROOM DOOR for what felt like 10 minutes! No lie.

And I can hear this steady conversation going on in there as a line of 8 more women piled up behind me, all of us victims of an hour or more sitting in traffic. Finally, out comes a woman apologizing, with two boys in tow, one must've been 11 or 12 and the other maybe 6! What in the everylovingworld were those boys doing in MY bathroom? When there's a perfectly good men's room that NO ONE else is using. Geez. Puh-lease!

I'm home. I'm safe. I'm ready to crash. Head to pillow. I'm grateful to have a full day scheduled for tomorrow.

And today behind me, new lessons learned.
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