Archives for the month of: July, 2013

As a child it seemed the summer stretched on forever. Three months was a large percentage of my life at that point. Playing outside with my sister, fighting over Monopoly, afternoons at the pool with Moon pies from the vending machine, weeks with my grandmother in Denver, camping trips, boredom.

Now it feels like I turn around and another month is finished, with the year more than half over. I find myself clinging to each month, trying not to look forward too far, afraid that when I blink it will all flash by. Trying to enjoy each month for what it is good for, to be comfortable there.

July was good for rainy afternoons, soaking up the heat and humidity, drinking beer outside, cruising around on my bike, and planting things in my yard. August will be here tomorrow and with it the last month of warm nights and days at the pool. Time for hikes and drives to Abiquiu for swimming. Sundresses get some more time, but sweaters and scarves are on standby. The Farmer’s Market is entering its prime as produce spills off tables.

Though I’ve been out of school for years, an ingrained clock tells me these slow paced days are almost over and that a more rigid routine is on its way. Time for back to school shopping. I find a comfort in the rhythm of the seasons, regardless of how the routines of my life have changed.

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When is the time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do? Retirement? Next year? Sometime when you’ve got it all figured out? Now? Lately I’ve been trying to answer this question for myself.

For the past decade, or maybe longer, the same lists of goals have appeared and reappeared in journals, New Year’s Resolutions, scrawled lists, and personal manifestos. I have done what I felt I could with some of them, but most have been left for some unspecified, future date.

The lists look something like this-
Learn to surf
Return to Mexico, practice Spanish
Write every day
Go dancing once a month (at least)
Find a German class
Read the books on your bookshelf that you haven’t read
Cook
Spend time with family
Head south of Mexico
Take time off and do the things you always say you want to do
They go on and on, but you get the idea.

My job, as a set costumer on films, should allow me to accomplish all of these things and yet I don’t feel that I ever do. Working intensely for months and then having large chunks of time off, I frequently find myself slightly catatonic once the adrenaline and dust from the most recent movie settles. I’m slowly realizing that the chess game of finding the next job while diplomatically turning down those I don’t want to do, takes up much of my free time. Because the film industry is most similar to freelancing, more than self employment or full time employment, it really is up to me to make it what I want.

Not viewing myself as someone motivated by fear or money, I’ve been taking a good look at that recently and realizing it’s not entirely true. While my job suits me on many levels and I’m grateful for it, I am also aware that, in large part, I do it for the money and it is not my end all be all or my creative outlet. But then, that’s why they call it work, right? I spend hours worrying about buttons, collars, ironing, crazy personalities, and hoping I didn’t forget the actor’s hat after the crew has trudged up a mountain and any forgotten item will take hours to retrieve. When it’s four in the morning and I haven’t fallen asleep because I’m worrying about a silly continuity issue and I know that a seventeen hour day looms in front of me, I often find myself asking, ” is it worth it?” I think if I can be more disciplined in my off time and trust that there will always be another job once I’m ready to work again, then the answer is yes.

Recently I’ve been handed what might turn out to be a gift. I’ve been offered, and accepted, a job on a movie that promises to be exhausting, crazy, maybe fun, and will take me far from home for the first half of 2014. So, now the question is, knowing that that is coming, will I be brave enough to spend the next several months doing the things I always say I want to do and forgoing the immediate security of jumping on a job this fall, to fill the void? Will I finally start to cross things off the list? We’ll see. I think so.

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For the past month I’ve been feeling a bit ungrounded, in case you couldn’t tell from some earlier blog posts. Unsure of where I am or want to be or want to head. Really it’s nothing new, just the same old human condition type of thing! After a particularly exciting and crazy 18 months, I found myself in my house, in my city, in my life, asking myself what’s important to me?

As I began to sift through the answers that arose, a surprising one kept resurfacing. Along with family, friends, finding a creative outlet, getting outdoors, gardening, traveling, writing, exploring, reading, blah, blah, blah, apparently being surrounded by things I find beautiful is important to me.

I will (happily) spend hours rearranging items on a bookshelf so I like how they look. I will spend a few dollars more on a bottle of dish soap because I like the label and if I have to look at it until it runs out, I want to like to look at it. Not being a big drinker but enjoying the occasional homemade cocktail, I consider it money well spent to buy the prettier bottle, for the same reason as the aforementioned dish soap. I am a sucker for packaging, fresh flowers, and pretty glasses and plates. When I take the time to arrange my food on my plate and eat it sitting down at the table, I actually do think it tastes better.

There may have been a time when I wouldn’t have cared to admit how important such seemingly shallow things were to me. I admire friends who don’t get so sidetracked by the outward appearance of small objects. But, when it comes down to it, these things make me happy, so why not indulge? I’m fortunate enough to have a budget that allows for the more expensive soap, so why not just let it be one of the little things that helps make my world a bit more beautiful?

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Last night I sat on the couch with my dad, watching one of the final stages of the Tour de France. An avid cyclist, my dad watches the tour with the eye of someone who knows how hard the uphill climbs and how fast the hills down really are. I watch it from the standpoint of someone who can’t believe people are capable of either those ups or downs.

Growing up in rural Colorado and New Mexico, on dirt roads, I listened jealously as my parent’s recounted growing up in the Midwest of the 1950’s, armies of children on bikes. In an attempt to recreate this, I would ride my bike through the red mud of McElmo Canyon, frequently getting stuck to the point of having to pull the bike behind me, training wheels and all.

Later, my sister and I spent weeks of our summer at Gramma’s house in Denver. To entertain us, she would frequently organize bike rides with friends and neighbors. These often involved very old bikes, girls who weren’t used to riding in traffic, and overly ambitious routes in summertime heat, leaving my sister and I dreading the mere mention of a ride.

Years later, as a twenty something, I find myself on a rented bike in the state of Chiapas in Southern Mexico. Riding up the side of a mountain as trucks graze my arm on the narrow road, I think, “why do I always think this will be fun?”

It was only recently that I found the ride that works for me. Flat. I don’t like going up or down, I don’t like traffic, and I like comfortable, cushy, Cadillac bike seats. I like to cruise. Luckily for me, downtown Albuquerque is perfect for this, with quiet, tree lined streets, and paths along the river that go the whole length of the city. Beach cruising in LA works as well. Once I realized I’m not a rider but a cruiser, it all became a lot more fun!

Sitting in the car on a hill, trapped between two flooded arroyos, waiting for the water to subside. Hours pass. Finally the clouds part and a beautiful pink light engulfs the wet desert. One river is crossed, with another yet to come.

Sitting on the couch, listening to the rain pour and thunder clap. Romantic and exciting until waves seep under the front door, into the closet, and across the room, flooding the house. Shoveling it off the porch with brooms, shovels, a garbage can, but it comes too fast.

Lying in bed on a Tuesday night, with five hours before the alarm will ring. The rain starts. Again. All I want is to be dry and asleep. But, afraid that aforementioned flood might repeat, I find myself outside, digging trenches in a newly landscaped yard. No one noticed that the house, and particularly the front door, was the low point of the lot. Until the rain started.

Wednesday night, I come home to find a hole the size of a grave in my front yard. My dad has come down after a long day of work to dig a low point for me. A place for the water to go. Other than the front porch. It will be lined with rocks. I learn a new term, French Drain. I make sandbags to put in front of my doors when I go to work. Just in case.

Horoscope after horoscope talk about all of the watery influences coming from the planets as we speak. Grand trines and other terms I don’t really understand. People I know tell me they’ve started crying in public for no reason this week.

So many prayers for rain in the drought stricken west, answered all at once. For most of June smoke filled the air as wild fires blazed. Now, the fires are out but mud slides have begun. Like in my yard, once the water comes it comes too fast and has nowhere to go.

In dreams water symbolizes change and emotion. Astrologers talk about intuition and balance. Getting your knowledge from somewhere deep inside, rather than outside or traditional sources. A strange humidity fills the air. My hair has a fullness normally reserved for places east of Oklahoma. The swamp cooler in my home, designed to work in arid climates, struggles to cool the nighttime air.

What does it all mean? I’m not sure. Time to deal with emotion as it arises and try to anchor oneself simultaneously. Anchor through grounding practices, slowing down, paying attention.
Practice fluidity and flexibility as things change or are unknown and there is no choice but to go with the flow. And learn how to swim!

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There isn’t one. That’s the answer. The reality of this has been catching up with me lately in a way that it hasn’t for a while.
For the past several years, I have been completely at home and comfortable with the idea that all you can do is put one foot in front of the other and make decisions based on what you know and feel at that moment and time. With very little actual planning, I’ve watched my life unfold in ways I don’t think I could have conjured for myself. Through a combination of saying yes when opportunities presented themselves and having some vague idea of where I wanted to end up, my years twisted and turned, eventually bringing me to this moment in July, 2013.
I was recently talking with a friend about life, plans, and visions for the future, and I became acutely aware of how foggy my plans felt. The idea of a five year plan made my head want to explode, with one year not much better. Six months seemed barely manageable. Beyond just feeling unclear about where I saw myself, I actually felt uncomfortable trying to predict where I might be by then. One thing I did feel clear about was that the universe seemed to have bigger plans for me than anything I’d been able to imagine for myself and I didn’t want to get in the way.
This fogginess led me to wonder if there was ever a time that I remember seeing my future clearly. The answer was no. I have no memory of where, as a child, I pictured myself in my mid thirties.
And yet, somehow I have been able to manifest a beautiful life. I have a career, albeit a crazy one, that works for me on many levels, a newly renovated home, and friends and family who I adore. And I really couldn’t tell you how any of that came to be. It just did.
Without a map or an idea that A would lead to B and then to C, I’ve lived my life from some place in between faith and instinct. By staying present and making choices based on gut reactions, I find myself where I am. And, though I love the idea of an all knowing map, I’ll just have to trust that what I’ve been doing must be working.

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It always takes a good crash to realize how high and ungrounded one is. A nice long nosedive back to earth.
My recent landing left me looking around, asking myself what I really want and how did I get so far from the things that I know help to bring me balance and happiness.
For the past few months, my method for living has been all about keeping busy and high, jumping from jobs to trips to plans for the future, anything to keep from really being present and looking at where I am right now. I knew somewhere in my gut that this was what I was doing, but didn’t care, happy to postpone the inevitable crash a bit longer.
Now, as I try to answer the question “what do I really want?”, the answer is the same as it always is. I want to be happy in a way that comes from within me, not dependent on outside circumstances and therefor not at the whim or able to be taken away by those either.
I’ve had glimpses of that happiness at times and there is a stillness that comes with it and an acceptance of what is, rather than what I think should be. And the times that I’ve experienced this feeling were always the same times that I was truly taking care of myself. Doing my stretches in the morning, meditating, eating well and cooking, exercising, and connecting with friends. These are all the exact things that I let lapse in my hyper, adrenaline infused quest to stay high, hoping the answers to all of my questions lay in the relationship, the job, the city, and so on, rather than in me.
I believe that all any of us truly want is to be happy but that it is too easy to look for that happiness everywhere but within. So, as I try to reset my internal compass and be truly present in my life, I will also try to be extra compassionate towards not only myself but others, realizing we are all on the same mission.