Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday Simplicity

I love Xmas lights. It's one of the things I love best about the Dec. holidays. Recently I drove down College Avenue, a street that runs from Oakland to Berkeley. It's filled with restaurants, cafes, home decor shops, boutiques, etc., etc. I used have a love/hate relationship with the avenue. I say love/hate because it's filled with many things I had wanted/desired or thought I "should" have to live a satisfying life yet those items felt out of reach... It was like the items housed in these stores belonged to someone else having a more productive life.... Yet, as I drove down the street on this past night, I looked up at the blue lights strewn across the tree tops that align the street and was amazed at their beauty. My eye then traced down the tree-line to the red-lit globes floating on the trees next to the street corner. The street looked magical. It had been a few years since I'd lived near this avenue and I tried to recall if I've ever seen the avenue decorated so beautifully. I couldn't remember but then I thought, why should this year have been any different? Perhaps this street had always been decorated with beautiful lights yet I failed to notice. I remembered the stress of holidays past, filled with worrying about getting the right gifts, etc., etc. I probably had looked at the lights cynically because they reminded me of the pressure to shop for the holiday. No matter the reason I hadn't noticed then in the past, they filled me with wonder now and made me very happy.

This year, I'm only exchanging gifts with my immediate family and there is very little to buy. I'm also in the process of selling off what I don't need. I've been watching the holiday shoppers - some happy, some stressed and I'm glad that I'm not joining in on this annual splurge. Not having that pressue has given me the time and space to enjoy what I really love about the holiday. For me it's as simple as sparkly lights. Well, that and a gift-card to my favorite coffee-house. It's all icing and candy-canes after that :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Free at Last

Nothing stirs me up more than reading a story about a wrongfully imprisioned person being set free. This story about a Texas man had my tears rolling, (unfortunately I was at Starbucks at the time). I don't know how I would cope with the anger and resentment of being wrongfully imprisioned - and with having years of my life stolen from me. This man chooses the higher path of putting resentment behind him so his life ahead of him can truly be free (there I go tearing up again....)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Monarch

On a walk yesterday I saw a shadow of a butterfly near me. I couldn't spot exactly where it was. Then as I continued to walk along, it came into my vision. It sat on a plant, flapping its wings. One seemed battered and broken. With my spirits downtrodden lately, I could relate to its battered wing. Then the butterfly took off, flying fast in front of me. I caught up to it as it sucked nectar out of another plant. On close inspection I could see that on one wing, the bottom wing was missing. That didn't stop the butterfly from flying, even with a damaged wing. I took inspiration from that. If the butterfly could keep flying fast and free than so could I.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Things can come up Peaches

I have a certain childhood memory - the go to memory when I want to feel indignant about my upbringing. This one will always make me mad, feel uncared for and burn into me. What is it? It's the one where my father and brother went into my bedroom when I think I was in kindergarten and threw out my "stuff". I am person who can get attached to things, especially my creative projects. I scrawl pictures and writings on paper when I get ideas and they lay in piles. To the outsider, this can look like an unorganized mess. That is what, I guess, how it looked to my father and brother. All I remembered was that my piles of paper were gone... and my sense of security hurt badly. How could they have thrown aways things so dear to me? I remember feeling hurt but I don't recall saying anything at the time. Still, they don't know how badly that act hurt me. To them, these pieces of paper created a mess. To me, my precious things gone, tossed as if they didn't matter was unequivical proof of how missunderstood I was. (I think if I were to delve a little deeper, why I really hold onto this memory is that I felt badly for my propensity to creative messes. Why else would they have gone and thrown things away? I felt condemned for behavior for being a "slob".... but shouldn't they have known what those papers were for... why didn't they ask me...???)

So unloved, me... I replayed this memory again, getting indignant, mad at my dad when another memory sprang up. I thought about the peach pit ring. My father is not a crafts person. He spent most of my childhood wrapped in legal briefs as he is a lawyer by trade. Yet, for a reason unbeknownst to me, he made me a ring out of a peach pit. He wittled the peach pit down, drilled a hole and varnished it. I don't know how long it took him to make it but no matter how long or short it took, I always cherished it because he made it especially for me. I thought about him taking the time to do this and I realized that rather than me going to proof of when the times I felt misunderstood, to appreciate what I did get. I know my father loves me and we can't always control how people love us. It would be great if in every relationship we have, we have a guide book to say, "this is how not to hurt this person..." But we don't. We do the best we can with the information we have at hand.

As a child, the ring was a bit bulky to wear, and certainly doesn't fit my adult hand. It's been sitting in my jewelry box for years. But I won't throw it away so I decided to repurpose it, into a necklace using beads I've also kept from my childhood. My dad took the time to make me a ring and in that creative act, we have a bond. And using my creativity, I can repurpose my childhood memories to remember the good.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Creative Deceivers

It takes a lot of creative thought and activity to be a crook - or a crook that doesn't get caught. This thought occurred to me as I've been obsessively watching the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (starring the delectable Jeremy Brett). In order to catch the criminal, Holmes has to open his mind to all the possibilities of the criminal's intents and actions. He has to think outside the box, just like the criminal mind. And the successful criminal has to stay two steps in front of "the law". You have to be quick on your feet and cool under pressure in order to deceive. To come up these criminal scams also takes creative thought and energy.

I don't know why criminals do what they do; why they feel the need to live life this way. I wonder what they could do with their clever minds for good... What if they created something positive? Rather than a scam, an actual business? These compentant criminals could be great managers, captains of Industry. Yet maybe they are already, tucked away in financial institutions, or someone skimming off their companies profits. Is it the rest of us as do-gooders that don't see the criminal before us - or does it reside in all of us? Haven't we all tried at one point to get 'away with something...' When do breaking the rules become a good thing? My answer to that is when it is done to serve the common good...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Floating thought

I’m often amazed that people think they have to look to the skies to understand spirituality when it can be seen in the smallest of places… first within our hearts… the disconnection begins when we look outside of ourselves for spirit when all along, it’s within....

Monday, July 5, 2010


As firecracker bangs rattled in the distance, I reminisced about last year's 4th of July fireworks' display in Sonoma. I went off on my own to the field where the city set off its show. After a few starts I settled on a spot I thought would be secure after the evening turned dark. Sonoma, particularly that section with few lights, could get inky black. I watched how families rolled in, spreading blankets out. More of a rough crowd gathered nearby. (Rough in expletive language, what was in their souls I didn't know). I tucked my knees under in meditation stance to ward off the profanities, blocking the negative expressions around me...

As darkness weighed down, I looked around the field wondering if I had made the right decision to sit where I was when a woman, if I had to guess her age 60ish, asked if I was alone. I admitted I was and she asked if I wouldn’t mind if she joined me. I didn't and she sat down similarly crossing her legs. We began the usual getting acquitted chit-chat. We talked about why we both ended up there on our own. I told her I was fairly new to Sonoma. She told me she could have gone to her relatives that day as per usual but she wasn’t up to it that year. She explained that recently she'd been diagnosed with a brain tumor. My immediate response to hearing her diagnosis was simply, “That sucks." I didn’t prevaricate. I didn’t try to make her feel better. I guessed that at her relatives' house she would've had to hear all the usual things people say in that situation. Whatever was pressing on her head, on her experience, imploding or exploding, I didn't tax her to share.

Our discussion turned to politics and where we thought the country was heading. She shared her career history and I shared my career expectations. Finally, the fireworks display started. We watched together and turned to each other after a particularly glorious one exclaiming, ooh, and ah!!

At the end, we parted ways. She wished me good luck. I may have wished her that too. As I walked to my car I saw her near me. She stooped a bit, huddling against the cold night, and wound tight in her thoughts. I fought the urge to walk with her. There are times when we all really need to be alone.

What I took away from my experience was this: In my time of needing company, the universe had sent me this woman to sit next to me. And, in some way, being able to tell me about her tumor, someone who didn't have any expectation of her also helped. There are times when you need someone to acknowledge the truth of your pain so you can in turn accept the truth of your circumstances. I find that once you can accept that truth, you can heal. Can anyone ever heal if their pain is always denied?

I never saw the woman again so I don't know if the explosions in her head were ever freed. I hope that wherever she is, she has peace.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

White Water

For a few weeks, I’ve felt like I’m drowning; that feeling of not knowing which direction is up – the one that will take me to safety. I conveyed my downtrodden feeling to a friend, and when she asked why, I bypassed the immediate surface response and felt for the real truth which is that I’m not living the life that I want and I don’t know how, right now, to make it work. She understood and stated, sometimes it’s hanging on and riding through it. Seeing where she was, a mother of three who worked full time, a wonderful wife, and an active writer seemed to me like someone who had the key to knowing how to make it work. Yet being able to relate to me - someone whose nearest goal is to be able to have her own house again – gave me reassurance that she had been where I was and pulled through. Her words felt like the light beaming from the light-tower on the water.

Submerged in water, it’s hard to see the light from above. I know this first-hand, because during a white-water rafting trip I had completely let go and found myself deep in. The desire to let go and experience what could happen overtakes me sometimes, which is what happened in this case. In a half-second decision, as water splashed and flooded the raft, I let go and I slipped down. Though I had a life-preserver, I pludged in so deeply, I had no sense of where the water's surface lay. All I could see was green. And it surrounded me completely. I didn't know which direction to swim. I may have started to panic then a hand came in and pulled me out.

The hand belonged to our raft guide. He panted and fell back into the raft after my rescue. I felt foolish and guilty for what I’d done; guilty for putting our guide at risk and guilty also because my friend on the trip had a dire fear of drowning. Yet at the trip’s end the guide said his highlight was pulling me out. My friend felt grateful for seeing that I could be rescued. And I felt grateful that my half-second decision to fall in wasn’t a fatal mistake.

I’ve wanted to let go recently but fortunately I’m surrounded by faithful friends. One opened up her house to me, another saved my bacon by giving me 100 dollars when I really needed it, no strings attached. My recent bout of wanting to give in is not feeling a sense of direction or life purpose. The boat trip gets much harder if in fact you don't know where to go. But I hung on with the faith that my vision could/would clear. Happily, today, my storm, at least the one where I couldn't feel a sense of purpose, has blown over. For the first time in a long time I felt a new surge of energy for my career path. Though I may have rapids to pass over, having the courage and faith to stay on has showed me that I can turn my life into the direction that will give me bliss and the one that is full of light.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

"You must unlearn what you have learned..., " Yoda

This is what I realized knitting is for me, unlearning. I have for some time, possibly since childhood, wanted to learn how to knit. I remember my mother’s giant knitting needles stuck in yellow balls of yarn. I don’t remember her using them honestly. Perhaps that's why I didn't seek her in attempting to learn. But I recall those needles and the mystery that laid in them in how they worked... Anytime I received a hand-knitted scarf I cooed. Inwardly I thought, "could I do this?"
While in Sonoma, I caught the bug to once and for all learn to knit. I saw knitting circles at the local pub but I hestitated. Was this the crowd I wanted to fit in? For whatever reason, on Twitter I followed someone who had yarn as her avatar. She tweeted about her knitting group and I decided to join in. This circle was at a coffee house and for anyone that knows me, if anything, I'm a coffeeholic so that was extra incentive.
Though I tried to get materials in Sonoma for my last minute decision to join the group that night, I couldn't find any (one of Sonoma's drawbacks) so I went empty-handed to my first meeting. I thought I'd sit back and watch... No going... Kat loaned me her needles; Sasha loaned me her yarn. Sasha casted the needle, showed me the basic stitch and I was on my way. "Oh boy!!," I cheered. I was making an actual row. "I'm knitting," I exclaimed to Kim. "You are, you are making magic over there," she replied. I was all aglow. We chatted. I dropped a stitch or two which Kat fixed and I continued on my merry knitting way. Then our knitting story time came to a close and I returned the needle and the yarn before it turned into pumpkins. (Now that I think about it, the yarn color was orange... whoooooow).
The next day I traveled to Novato to pick up my own knitting supplies. I barely knew how to navigate the needle sizes and the yarn but I picked what seemed the most Universal. ('cause I am, afterall, rated U for Universal). I got home, flug open my new wares and stared... I tried to recall how to cast (actually I didn't even remember the word "cast") Kat, the group leader, had told me I could find videos online. I did. I watched. Rewound. Paused. I tried to imitate the narrator's movements. And I tried. Somehow, my thoughts couldn't connect to what the narrator was saying. I couldn't tell if I was doing it right. Flustured, I tweeted, "how could I learn how to play the violin yet I can't coordinate knitting needles... argh!!" Or something to that effect.... The answer came, via a tweet reply, that I had to unlearn what I had learned... Actually the tweeper said that I must have a strong mind (nice of her) and that my mind wanted to go one way and not the other. This I thought was an incredibly insightful answer....
I returned to the knitting group. I explained my consternation and showed my needles. Kat watched as I tried to cast. She showed me how to do it, returned it and I continued, not doing it right. She watched and caught my fingers movements. She said that for whatever reason, for whatever habit, my fingers wanted to go one way. She literally fastened her hand to mind to show the right way. I relearned.
I have no recollection of my old fingers habits. All I know now is that I have found the rhythm to mastering the basic stitch. And have done it enough to know where the errors are... I have found yarn forgiving as I've unraveled rows to correct mistakes. And to go back "on line" so to speak.
Normally, I can pick up things quickly. I like to get right to the point. In this instance my thoughts and behaviors were so ingrained that I questioned how well I do learn things.... Perhaps I'm encouraging old habits instead of expanding my horizons. Whatever the reason, I'm glad I could learn, be open, and have people willing to wrestle my hands so I'd get it right. Whether or not I'll get to the level to be able to make a sweater or socks I don't know... For now, I'm happy going by the row.... :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

PMS post of the week

We were at a break during the presentation. I reached up to my ear, startled, and exclaimed, "I lost my earring." Only one co-worker remained in the room to hear my angst-ridden cry. As I lunged to the floor in a scurry to find my lost earring, the co-worker sat in her chair, and possibly in her form of empathy, told me how she is always losing jewelry. Her husband doesn't even buy her jewelry anymore. Blah, blah. I don't remember exactly what else she said as I was engrossed in trying to locate my lost silver hoop.

What would you have done in that situation?

A). Never lose an opportunity to talk about yourself. Do what the co-worker sit and sit there going on about yourself...

B). Get off your butt and assist the person trying to find her earring.

If the situation were reversed, I would have, without prompting, asked what the earring looked like and offered to help. I don't think it occurred to this person. Though in fairness, I didn't ask. The irony is, the person works in the service industry. In hospitality no less. So why would I think it would be a given that she would offer to help? [insert sarcastic eyeroll]

I should note that I didn't lose the earring. Not really. It fell off in my apartment. And later, after another earring slipped out of my ear, someone returned it to the Lost and Found. (Makes you wonder why I keep wearing earrings.) My earrings have safely remained in my ears since leaving the temp job but the memory remains - the memory of extremely bad manners. Perhaps I'm being unfair, afterall, I lost the earring and it is my responsibility to find it. And looking to a person whose behavior is to constantly lose track of things doesn't seem reasonable. Perhaps she has a belief that things can't be found and therefore she constantly loses things.

I don't necessarily lose "things" - I've had both pairs of earrings for 15 plus years. What I tend to lose more often is my patience, my time, and my temper expecting people to act in what I consider to be thoughtful actions... Perhaps my time would be better spent in rubbing my silver hoop earring that is safely in my ear as we speak....

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Life has been a flurry of change.

I’m back in Berkeley. Actually, I never lived in Berkeley before but in neighboring Oakland yet it still feels like home to me. I missed this area so much that when I lived in L.A. I didn’t visit for I knew that my heart would always pull me back here. Strange it would seem that when I decided to return to Northern California that I didn’t immediately return here to what is known to the Bay Area residents as the “East Bay”. I wanted to yet I felt a pull to take me elsewhere. I looked as far out as Lake County but that I felt was too far away. I settled on Sonoma.

I never intended to stay in Sonoma long but I ended up being entranced by the rolling hills full of vineyards that changed with every season. After feeling crushed in L.A., I wanted to feel space. Sonoma has nothing but space. It’s an area in California where there’s actually still farm land. I loved it. I got used to being more car dependent because I lived outside of “town” or rather outside the city of Sonoma. My idea was that I would build my freelancing and work from home. My first week I toured around the area. I met a business woman in downtown Napa who just happened to be looking for a writer. I passed off my business card. This encounter made me feel like things were happening as I wanted. I then emailed her. I heard nothing back. Then the housing market collapsed and major panic about our economy gushed. I felt relived I wasn’t back in L.A. were I would have felt the crush of everyone’s panic. Sonoma seemed protected somehow. I continued to try to get freelancing work. No nibbles. I met a fellow writer who shared similar interests. I felt this was a good sign. In the meantime, I finished my website and worked on my book proposal. I met with some publishers who showed interest. Then the rejection letter came. And I still had no freelancing gigs. Desperate, I felt I had to go back to my standby of temp work. At my first gig the woman hiring me liked I was a writer. I could help with their website. Again, I felt this was a good sign. The actual job was being an executive assistant which I hated. And the work on the website never came to full fruition. I decided to leave this job because promises remained empty. I had a dry spell then I went to work at a marketing firm. Hallelujah. I adored for the most part the job and the company. Yet the work they needed me for ended and again I needed to find something to sustain me. All the while I wondered, if I had moved to Sonoma to do my creative work, why wasn’t I doing it. All my energy seemed to go to just survival. I hadn't worked on my books in months. Thanks to my writer friend, I got a freelancing gig. This gave me hope. But the work itself didn’t sustain me. I then got a two day a week steady temp gig. This seemed like a great solution. Still, it didn’t sustain me. All my expenses seemed to be going to just paying rent, which I kept getting later and later on.

Come April, my time was up. My landlords, although always gracious, wanted me to come up with a plan of how to get the rent money to them on time. They realized times were tough but I had been paying them week by week (as soon as I got paid, I would try to pay them what I owed). It was then I had to come to terms that what I was doing wasn’t working. I was trying to sustain something that wasn’t happening or could never happen. Meanwhile, my credit had gone to shambles.

Moving would have seemed the obvious choice. True. But I had spent a couple thousand dollars to move up there and I felt trapped. I didn’t have the money to hire movers and the reason I hired a professional moving company to bring me from L.A. was due to my hideous back surgery for a herniated disc 6 years ago. Moving by myself, which I often did in my twenties, meant using my back which these days I tried to use as gingerly as possible; but moving was the obvious choice. And it happened, with help of friends, I moved; and my back, though sore, survived. I felt like a lost part of myself was returned. I’m not as injured and broken as I had thought.

Most of my adult life I’ve felt money challenged but I recalled the times I felt flush with cash. That was in shared housing with low rent. After living alone for close to a decade, I thought about the adjustment. I also thought about a friend’s remark from my twenties about an older roommate of mine. My friend said, “I don’t want to be in my forties having to live in shared housing.” Consequently, this friend today has a nice house, two kids and a minivan. His comment reverberated through me because I felt that going back into shared housing meant that I had failed in being able to take care of myself as an adult & I was retreating into 20 something behavior. Which brings me back to Berkeley. Part of my decision not to initially return to the East Bay was that I didn’t want to retreat into my old life here which I fled for what I hoped would be a productive career in Entertainment. I’m now living in a room in a friend’s house which feels very similar to my old room in Oakland. I’ve been going to the library for wireless access. That said, I'm fighting the feeling of being a student. Perhaps that isn’t so bad. Perhaps being in the position of feeling like a student instead of an adult who is supposed to know it all will help me in my next phase of life – whatever that will be.

I’m still in transition. My current housing situation is temporary. The majority of my belongings are in storage in Sonoma and I have no idea really of where I’ll be in the next few months. I’m working on being ok with that. I’m also working through feelings of sadness of a failed vision in Sonoma and focusing on what could be the future here.

I am a person prone to melancholia. I view it as the creative’s purview. Yet I’ve always been able to bounce out of it from a sense of wondering and wanting to know what the future would be. In Sonoma, when things got very rough I just wanted out. I mean really out. More out then I’ve ever wanted before. I didn’t feel wonder. I didn’t feel hope. This lack of hope scared me most of all. I didn’t want to care anymore. Things haven’t exactly flipped over now that I’m down here but I can see the signs of change. There’s something on the horizon. And part of that is being open to the possibility of change and seeing the workings of what already has by just taking the steps. :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Cubicles in offices seem to be like apartment buildings. Forgetting thin walls, people speak in high-volumes without thought that what is said inside these fragile, metal partitions navigate around the corners and into the main workplace. They forget their words get trapped inside the numerous other partitions that surround them – that these conversations are as clear outside the box as if someone is standing right next to you. Or do they forget? Perhaps they don’t care? Or is it lack of realization.

Last week, I felt particularly raked over by one, in my opinion, highly personal conversation. My work isn’t stimulating but it takes attention to detail. High-volume talkers can pull at my thoughts and take me away from my work. This conversation, so unbelievably loud, not only pulled but dragged me in, begging for attention. This person’s father had recently been diagnosed with a pulmonary disorder and he was talking to someone on the phone about his father’s care. The conversation wasn’t light-hearted - more heartbreaking because it could be life-threatening. And though my normal compassion would have reached out to this person, I couldn’t help wondering, “Why the hell are you having such a personal conversation in the middle of the workday in your cube? Why the hell can’t you take your cellphone and go into some distant part of the office so we don’t have to hear this?” Does his of lack of propriety note a lack of professionalism? Or is it appropriate to spill this information out into the work ether? As I wonder about this, I’m struck about the concept of containment and what we contain and what we share and with whom? What I’m asking of this person is to literally compartmentalize his conversations and not let the personal ones spill over the walls. …

Perhaps what bothers me is hearing the private lives of people I don’t know through means I didn’t choose. I hated apartment living because lives spilled over into my sphere - from cellphone calls passing by my door, loud lover quarrels to casual conversations shouted from one side of the building to the other. I didn’t want to know these conversations because I didn’t want to know their intimate life details. I wanted to hole up in my apartment, deal with my own thoughts, are not be encroached upon my others. Perhaps if I were raised in a large family where boundaries were trumped on a daily basis I wouldn’t have these strict thoughts. But I like my independence and independent thought and not getting swept up in what I find to be inappropriate displays of…. Oh, what shall I call it – humanness?

Perhaps it’s my over-saturated, caring nature that feels my boundaries are overstepped when I hear floating bits of personal information. There was a time in life where I dreamed of living in a cave, high above the world. My in-law apartment is sort-of cave like. I only have some conversation spill into my sphere from my landlords which is why I often turn the TV on.... Boxes, cubicles, even log cabins. Is it all for the sake of boundaries in our interconnected world?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Seeing Things in Sand

Letting things wash away....

I just watched a video of an artist who draws giant figures in the sand. He stands close to the waves, creating; knowing that his endeavors will wash away in a matter of hours. This doesn't deter him. His focus is on the moment, one line at a time. I saw the freedom in this approach. His canvas is ever-changing. Nothing permanent. It's all in the creation of the now. He knows he'll have to create something new the next day. Maybe that's what motivates him to continue.

His work reminded me of the idea of the Tibetan Sand Mandalas.

Take a look at this amazing man: