June 28, 2013

I'm Selfish...

The humidity in our county is uncommonly high and the temperature is 100 and it is only 1:00.

So, if you go outside, it totally feels like living in South Carolina again, which, in the summer, was pretty miserable for me, way back when!

I have a pool in my backyard. This morning, while doing the few chores I have, I was thinking that it would really be nice to call some friends or various family members to invite them to come float with me this afternoon.

Then I was thinking how nice it would be to just float quietly by myself. No splashing, no conversation. A nice glass of ice tea at the side of the pool. No music. Just floating on my back, ears submerged listening to the sweet music that water makes in its stillness.

A solo float won out. I didn't call anyone. I am grabbing a towel, the ice tea and headed out to just be.

I am selfish. I feel guilty but only a tiny bit. Tomorrow is projected to be even hotter, I will share tomorrow...maybe.

June 24, 2013

Nice is Relative!

I live in Redding, CA.

It is June 24th and I am wearing a sweatshirt and levi's.

This is nice.

It is very early Monday morning. I jump out of bed. Vacuum, mop the floor in the kitchen and dining room, fold the towels and load a couple of stray dishes from last night in the dishwasher.

I take my dog, Rex, outside for a little bit of throw-me-the-toy.

I fill a tall glass with water and a little bit of green tea, grab a book, light a couple of candles (cuz I am an old hippy and love the smell of sandlewood). Now I am going to sit on a lounge in my backyard and read.

That is nice.

Ding-dong goes the doorbell!  Really? 8 a.m. Monday Morning and you are at my door?

I appreciate that my soul is your priority and that I am at the top of your Monday to-do list but puhleeeese...back away from the door before someone gets hurt...go home.....stay there!

No, I don't want you to read the bible to me.

No, I don't want to know what Watch Tower has to say about anything let alone whether we should pray to Saints?

Yes, I know, that was not nice.

I don't, really don't, want to be rude, but LEAVE ME ALONE!

Obviously, you haven't read my previous blog and you don't know that I am the Mean Girl!

Next Monday I am going to get naked, cover my face with ashes and draw an upside down pentacle on my naked chest with said ashes. When you knock at the door, I am going to greet you with a giant grin and cheer, "Yeah! Another volunteer for the pyres of sacrifice!"

Bring extra undies, I think you're going to need them.

That was not nice either, but I couldn't help myself....and behold, I am in a good mood again...

Now, that is nice!

June 21, 2013

My Little Pretties....

I worked as a photographer's assistant today. It is a position I enjoy...usually.

Today was an all day shoot of hundreds of dancers, ages 2 through 18 or 19.  The dancers were all in such beautiful costumes and incredibly cute or beautiful or both.  A couple were just as incredibly grumpy and uncooperative.

But, no matter the difficulties with the little ones, in no way did it compare to some of the mothers (and 1 dad).  Some of the mothers were just wonderful and not surprisingly, so were their children.

Some of my duties included keeping the adults from knocking over light stands, tripping on wires, distracting their children from the photographer and trying to keep them quiet so that the kids could hear the photographer's directions.

When I asked the mom's to please step behind the line, or not to use flash as it will mess up the professional photo which other people have payed for or distract the kids or just hold their voices down....OMG....one would think I had just asked the Queen of England to pole dance.

They did their best to let me know that I was "no one" and therefore my requests were to be ignored. It was funny, the more unruly and rude the parents were, the more unruly the children were,. Funny how that works, huh?

About half way through the day I ran up to the bathroom. When I walked in a mother gave me a really ugly look (wish her face had stayed that way, actually, it kind of did!).  While I was washing my hands the woman's little girl said, "Look, Mommy, there's the mean girl!"

Oh, the responses that flew through my head:

1. Oh, Mom, you want mean? I'll show you mean.

2.  Funny, how you, precious child, think I am the "mean girl" when you were with the photographer 15 feet away from me while I was wrestling with your uncooperative mother.

3.  Mean Girl! Freakin' A!

Instead, I smiled at her and smiled at her mom and left the room.

Let me tell you why I was helping. Why I had to, sometimes, be more forceful than was actually necessary.

There were electrical wires, expensive equipment and equipment that if one of you mother's, or your unsupervised toddlers or dancers, had tripped or fallen or knocked over, someone could have seriously been hurt. Or you would have been paying the photographer and his lawyer, as well as the Convention Center lawyers and your lawyers large amounts for reparations.

I asked you several times in my "nice girl" voice but, apparently, you don't speak "nice girl".

I, also, wanted your pictures to be pretty and your pretty little face to be seen, but your mom kept talking and calling out your name and we would only have gotten a profile, or the back of your head or your pretty costume pulled over your face because you were done with the chaos and moms! When the photographer was trying to direct other groups it would have taken twice as long, so by the time you got to take your group shot you would be tired, cranky, hungry and beyond itchy in your crinoline skirt. You would have been making the "this-isn't-fun-anymore" face or crying. Or your mom and 1 very obnoxious dad would have ruined the picture by washing it out with the flash of their cameras, I-phones and I-pads.

"Mommy, is this my picture when I was a ballerina?  How come my face is a big bright light and my forehead looks so big?"

Next year, I am going to wear my tall pointy black hat, paint my face green, park my broom next to the sign-in table and I am going to show you moms what "mean girl" means. 

I'm hoping several of you mothers return because my nice-lady-trying-to-help personality  ran away about 3:30 today and might not ever come back.

p.s. Moms and 1 obnoxious dad, when your kid climbs out the bedroom window when they are 14 to  catch a bus to anywhere-but-here seriously think about what you taught them about honoring and respecting authority and boundaries.

June 13, 2013

Road Trip

Headed to Soquel today to my nieces graduation.

We'll watch her and a ton of other kids walk down the aisle, stip up on stage, shake hands with "The Man" (male or female). then home for a little party for my niece.

Then she will dump us old people like a ton of hot potatoes (literally, a ton) and go off to Graduation Party Central.

Then us old people will sit around the fire pit, remembering what it was like being 17, newly graduated, filled with dreams. Then we will sip some wine and thank the good lord above that we are not 17 not even 27 for that matter!

That means Road Trip.  Clean underwear, clean my house real good in case a truck hits us on I-80 or the Big One hits while in Santa Cruz!

I haven't done a gratitude journal for a few weeks, so, just in case, I thought I would jot a couple of things down.

I am thankful for my wonderful husband. He is a rock. If I die on this trip (or anytime in the near future) I am going to come back and visit his place of employment and bitch slap two or three guys really, really hard.

I am thankful for my three children. What a wonderful blessing you three have been in my life. Every moment has been a lesson in love and gratitude. Thank you for choosing me when you flipped through the catalog of available parents before conception. Thank you for being the most intelligent and humorous people I know.

I am thankful for my sis. You are my best friend. I've enjoyed stealing signs with you, Lost weekends, sharing secrets and all the rest. You are an incredible woman and don't let anyone, a-n-y-o-n-e tell you different. ( I will come back and do some bitch slapping for you too...make me a list!)

I am thankful for my brother and all his work getting us cousins together. You are a good story teller, keep it up!

I am thankful for Mom and Dad,  for too many things to list but especially that conversation you had a million years ago with me, Dad. The conversation that re-instilled hope in my little-girl heart.

I am thankful for my grandchildren. My heart tries to burst with all the love I have for you. Each and every one of you is so special in your own way. You will impact this world and make it a better place, you already have.

I am thankful for my two daughters-in-law and son-in-law. Thank you for making my children feel loved and cherished. Of course, I am thankful for my grandson's girlfriend, she is sweet and positive and makes him feel loved.

I am thankful to my friends, family, COUSINS~ OH, COUSINS!

Now that I have written this and tears are flowing I have decided not to wear underwear on the drive down....what the hell...rules are meant not only to be broken but twisted!

I think I might also use a fine point Sharpie and write "Bite Me" on my ass!

p.s. add A Dream by Priscilla Ahn to the songs to be played at my funeral at Brandy Creek.

June 12, 2013

The "Overview Effect"

This morning a friend who I have known for at least 47 years, maybe 48 or more posted a video about the "Overview Effect".

This phenomenon begin with astronauts viewing the earth from space.

I think it might have been Rusty Schweickart who said that, in his first couple of orbits, he would look forward to those cities and parts of earth that he could relate to; Los Angeles; Houston. Before he realized it, he began to look forward to seeing South Africa, the Mediterranean. He could no longer relate only to those limited cities or landmarks, the planet earth itself became home to him. He realized that that "blue marble" floating in the darkness of space was his home, our home.

Edgar Mitchell also had a profound experience. He shared it in an interview regarding the "Overview Effect."  He said, "I realized that the molecules of my body and the molecules of the spacecraft had been manufactured in an ancient generation of stars. It wasn't just intellectual knowledge -- it was a subjective visceral experience accompanied by ecstasy -- a transformational experience."

He continues to explain what an impact it had on him. "The experience in space was so powerful that when I got back to Earth I started digging into various literature to try to understand what had happened. I found nothing in science literature or religious literature or doctrines but eventually discovered it in the Sanskrit of ancient India. The descriptions of samadhi, Savikalpa samadhi, were exactly what I felt: it is described as seeing things in their separateness, but experiencing them viscerally as a unity, as oneness, accompanied by ecstasy."

"...seeing things in their separateness, but experiencing them viscerally as a unity, as oneness, accompanied by ecstasy."

Have you ever experienced Savikalpa samadhi? Have there been moments in your life, however fleeting, when you don't only see but experience a sight with all you have, all you are?

 The birth of each of my babies introduced me to Savikalpa samadhi.  I, also, visited that state of being many times. Sometimes in the middle of the night, sitting on the couch, looking at the toys on the floor, blanket forts built around the table, while nursing one of my babies.  I sometimes have that experience when surrounded by my children, their spouses and grandchildren, in the middle of chaos.

At other times while floating on my back in the ocean, a lake or pool of water, looking up at the clouds or maybe sitting on a warm rock at the side of a mountain trail.  Walking through the blossoming almond orchard that I planted. Making love.

I have even experienced it standing at my kitchen sink, washing dishes as I watch my grandbabies splash and swim in the pool.

I have often dreamed of visiting space. The excitement of being strapped into a missle, vibrating with the power to shoot tons of weight out of gravities grasp and into the vacuum of space. To witness the sun surrounded by darkness and not the blue tones of earth's atmosphere, to see our entire planet, the flashes of thunder, the blues of the oceans, the desserts and mountains

As beautiful as that vision is, I would never, ever, trade the fleeting moments of samadhi inspired by being 'in" the world, being a mother and living life rather than observing it.

June 11, 2013

The Salute

Photo Courtesy of Nicole Chelonis Photography
The Fishing-Pole-Squirt-Gun-Bubble-Wand Salute!

"A happy childhood can't be cured. Mine'll hang around my neck like a rainbow...."
 ~ Hortense Calisher

June 09, 2013

The Chains on Your Heart

The heat yesterday was not record breaking for our area but, at 110, it was dang hot!

Some pretty wonderful women in my life had been planning our Saturday for a week. We were going to meet at the Sundial Bridge at 9 a.m. and walk the River Trail for an hour or so, head over to Dutch Bros for some iced coffee and then on to my house to swim.

Extreme heat beats out the best laid plans time and time again. but it still didn't beat us down. We skipped the walk, went straight to blended and iced coffee, fruit salad and lemon bundt cake, great conversation in the house and eventually, the pool. We dove, floated, jumped, laughed, talked and had an excellent day.

Now, using the phrase "excellent day" does not explain anywhere near how wonderful the sharing was, the gathering of women.  Words are so limited.  Maybe that's why I am so enamored with words and their roots, as if I am looking for a magical key that opens the mind to really, truly being able to "share" an experience or event.

The women gathered cover the spectrum of ideologies, religious, spiritual, conservative, liberal, moderate, Catholic, Protestant, herbivore, carnivore, old, young and older!

The seeds of an exchange of ideas that could have been miraculous or enlightening or just plain consciousness-expanding germinated several times. Quite often, though, it seemed that almost immediately, one woman or another, with the best of intentions, would beat the possibility of possibilities to death. Sadly, without actually holding the bible, it seemed to me, it was the use of the bible, or their understanding of the bible's teachings,  that was used to crush with more efficiency than Thor could ever have expected from his mighty hammer any sharing of "feelings" or different beliefs.

The women, sitting poolside, are all bound together through love. We are not offended, typically, when one of the more conservative, religious sisters crushes one of the other more "liberal" sister's questions or notions or beliefs with an obviously holy heel. Funny, though, how the more liberal or moderate sisters will smile and move on, never really expecting that her feelings or beliefs or even questions would be treated with the same respect or honor that we treat the conservative sisters thoughts and beliefs. There is an apparent entitlement and arrogance in being a fundamental Christian and conservative, it seems to me.

Funny, it is typically those conservative sisters who complain about the youth of today and their apparent "entitlement" issues the most!

After everyone left, my husband and I were sitting, enjoying the quiet. I shared with him how wonderful the day was. When you are surrounded with so many loving people, enjoying the activity and each other, one's cup is filled and, truly, "runneth over."

Now, my husband and I are a little micro-climate of the group of women that had been at the house. He is a conservative man who is a devout Catholic. I am of a more liberal bent and, while born, raised and a practicing Catholic, I relate more to the mystical side of the church and not the "rules" and "laws" of the Church.

He believes with everything in him that the Catholic Church is the church that Jesus created. Peter is the rock. He is horrified that Protestants took the bible and ripped out 6 books and tossed them aside in the 14 or 1500's. He is horrified that Luther changed some of the words in the bible and then created his own church on those words.  We both are extremely sad when our Protestant or Baptist friends make comments that belittle Catholicism without any understanding of the truth. They repeat what they have been taught by people who can't prove their "truth" without putting down another's "truth".  That is sad. (Note: We Catholics do not worship statues!  We did not add books to the bible! We do read the bible.)

So, my husband and I were talking about a couple of the conversations and how quickly some ideas or subjects were dispatched with the speed and efficiency of an assassin's bullet.

Our conversation, quickly and sadly, turned into a heated debate.

I was trying to explain to my husband how I "felt" as a girl, woman and older woman in our culture and how part of that "feeling-less-than" came not only from the secular aspects of our culture but also from some of the basics of being female in a Christian-patriarchal culture.

While I was trying to express my "feelings" my husband became incredibly defensive. And then, defensive of his defensiveness.....the mood and day spiraled into darkness.

Now, you all know that I digress, but follow me on this. It does lead back.

When you place a Chinese Beta Fish in a large aquarium; place a sheet of glass in the water to divide the space; the Beta Fish will learn what his space is. You can eventually remove the glass sheet and the Beta will not leave the space he has learned is his own. He will never spread his beautiful fins and venture into the water past his invisible barrier.

A baby elephant can be raised with one foot chained and the chain may be 15 feet long or 20 or 5. That baby will learn how far the chain allows her to move. You can pull the stake out of the ground and she will not venture even a foot more than she has learned are her limits.

I apologize to all of you who are going to be offended by my next statement because many of you will be offended.  In no way am I trying to be offensive, my intentions are from my heart and soul, I swear on a bible....

So, speaking of the bible.....May I share with you that the bible is a wonderful Primer. It is an awesome Dick and Jane book about God.  It is full of those things that introduce us to a Concept and a Being that is indescribable, undefinable and all those "UN" words of limits and limitations.

God cannot fit into that book, Catholic, Protestant, King James or New American Standard...it is an introduction. God is bigger than that book. I compare it to the word I tried to use to describe how wonderful the day around the pool was...words are inadequate to describe that which is not physical!

When someone you love is trying to express how they "feel" it is not an attack on your beliefs. It is an expression of emotions.

If defending your religion-of-choice becomes more important than actually trying to understand another human being's feelings or beliefs, then our world will continue to be buried in war, hunger, violence, poverty.

If you want to shut someone up from sharing an idea, if you are afraid of an idea that doesn't fit in your box, if you want to defend your little space of the aquarium or your well-trodden ground then I don't believe you get what Christ's message is or have the slightest clue about God.

When another human, who loves you, who honors you and your beliefs wants to share their thoughts and beliefs, just to share, not to change yours and you slam the moment down because it makes you uncomfortable, I will keep you in my prayers, that God will release the chains of your heart and break the limiting sheet of glass in your mind.