Heat

It’s upwards of 110 degrees throughout much of Los Angeles county today and I have spent the day either in nearby businesses that have AC, reading in a bathtub of cold water, or in my apartment wearing a dress I keep wetting in the sink. The only solid foods I’ve eaten in two days are chips and guacamole, to go with my smoothies and ice cream; heat apparently turns me into a dietary child. I have at times had to work outside in similar temperatures and today I am grateful to be off but worried for all of the gardeners, construction, film, and road workers (among others) who are sweating it out outside. And, I can’t help but wonder, as each year gets hotter than the last and heat records continue to be shattered, how will we, as a species, cope? Already we are seeing mass migration due to war, violence, poverty, and climate change, but we are just at the beginning of the tipping point. Drought, wildfire, flooding, and famine will become more normal than they already are and the coming generations won’t know a time when they weren’t. Are these the good old days, the ones we are living in right now, at this moment? Are these the times we will reminisce about, back to when a 112 degree day made the news, because it was still abnormal? I think about my eight year old nephew and my friend’s three month old baby girl and wonder if they will experience and remember summer as a time for camping, slip and slides, and ice cream? Will there be snow to build snowmen or snowballs with in the winter? I wake in the middle of the night with a weight on my chest at the thought that these really could be the days we look back fondly upon. Where will billions of people go when their crops turn to dust or their neighborhoods disappear under several feet of water? The migration we see now will seem tiny in comparison, and as usual it will be those with the fewest resources who suffer the most and pay the biggest price. Today is Scott Pruitt’s (the pathetic head of the Environmental Protection Agency) last day and for now he will be replaced by the equally unqualified former energy lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler. How men who have children and grandchildren can deny climate change without giving it even the benefit of a doubt, I will never understand. Greed. Greed followed by willful ignorance. While visiting Amsterdam in 2014, I stumbled on a fantastic, huge, multi level bookstore of which almost one third seemed to be about, or in some way related to, climate change. With an average elevation of 2 meters, but with much of the city sitting below sea level, the Dutch are keenly aware of the precarious spot they occupy on earth. One might wonder why the people of New Orleans, Miami, and New York City don’t seem so worried, or why all Americans just seem to be going along, waiting, wondering if and when it will get worse. It’s overwhelming to realize that the beautiful planet that sustains and nourishes us on every level could cease to do so. And equally overwhelming to realize we have created this disaster and that our elected officials continue to perpetuate it. I don’t know what the answer is, other than to do what we can. Support local and small scale farmers, live in small, energy efficient homes, drive small gas efficient cars, resist the policies that take us closer to the tipping point of no return, support public transportation, bike, spend our dollars wisely, investigate, research, stop eating beef, support solar and wind energy, conserve water… it all makes a difference. I don’t want to look back on now as the good, old days. I want our kids and grandkids to have it even better than we did. I know you do too. Stay cool out there!If you enjoy these posts, please follow Smagik.com and please share and comment!

LA

Ten years ago I packed my car and made the first of what would be dozens of drives from Albuquerque to Los Angeles, and back.

The 4th of July, 2008, and 119 degrees in the Mojave desert. I stopped outside of Needles, California, to get gas and a chocolate dipped cone at Dairy Queen and had to eat it in one bite to prevent vanilla from melting down my arm. That night I made it to my then boyfriend’s apartment, overlooking the lake in Echo Park, in time to watch East LA explode in an illegal frenzy of fireworks. Though I’d visited periodically in the year we’d been dating, I remember feeling like a country mouse in the city. That night I lay in bed as police helicopters circled the park outside the window, shining their searchlight inside, looking for someone. It was hot out. I didn’t sleep.

In the years that followed, I became comfortable in LA, joined their costumer’s union, and created a routine between the two cities, mixing slow and fast paced, laid back with competitive.

And then, two years ago, I became tired of that routine and wanted to shake it up, develop a new one, have an adventure, try something new. LA seemed the safest way to do that. The truth is that even in my need to break free I was practical and conservative.

Recently a friend asked me if I thought of myself as a romantic. Yes, I replied. Though a practical one. She laughed. I’m the same, she said.

I make lists but they go something like this-

Watch sunsets.

Learn to make bread and yogurt.

Get a dog. Name her Pearl. If a girl.

Dig in the dirt.

Open a little shop.

Etc.

You get the idea.

And then one day, a few months ago, one of my many lists became one of pros and cons. LA/NM. Uh oh. As soon as I started writing, I knew another move was in my future.

LA Pros-

Fun, exciting, interesting, creative, accessible, museums, concerts, stores, classes, friends, The Moth, live theater, earn more money, inspiring…

NM Pros-

My cute/inexpensive house, family, friends, quality of life, low overhead, dog yard is ready, garden, air quality, commute times, mountains, spend less money…

LA Cons-

Expensive, hate paying rent, need a roommate or boyfriend just to afford renting a house with a yard, much less ever buying one, traffic, air, have to work too much…

NM Cons…

Slow paced.

I groaned. Do I really have to move my stuff down 60 stairs again, less than two years after my dad helped me move it up in a blinding rainstorm with no electricity?

Yup.

A friend asked me today if I will miss LA? I love LA! I will miss it. But, the truth is that my ego will miss it more than my soul.

I also know that it is here, hopefully not falling into the ocean anytime soon, and I will return to work and play, just not to live.

And so the adventure continues. And, yet again, the only constant is change.

Stay tuned…

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Neighbors

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I recently watched the documentary “Won’t you be my neighbor?” about the life and work of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood’s Fred Rogers and, as the credits rolled, I sniffled quietly with much of the packed theater, as we collected ourselves before reemerging into the world.

“Love is at the root of everything, all learning, all relationships. Love or the lack of it.”

-Fred Rogers

I remember watching “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” with my sister in the 1980’s, on the rare occasions we were allowed to watch television. We felt that his questions were directed through the screen to us personally. As he hung his coat, changed his shoes, and zipped up his cardigan, we, and thousands of kids just like us, settled in for a half hour of this kind man’s undivided attention.

That’s still all any of us want, I thought, watching the documentary; to feel heard, seen, loved and to be told that we are enough, just the way we are; scared, curious, unsure, confused, and still totally lovable. We are those same kids at heart.

Emerging from the theater, back into the heat of a late June afternoon and into the news of family separation at the border, I couldn’t help but wonder about a young Donald Trump and how different the world might be if he, and all children, could have grown up aware of their intrinsic worth and with the knowledge that there is nothing needed externally in order to prove that worth or to be loved.

The greatest thing we can do is to let someone know they are loved and are capable of loving.

-Fred Rogers

How different might the world be if we remembered that all we are here to do is to love and that we are given these wacky pods called families with whom to practice? With nothing to prove, no perceived internal lack to make up for, how might we act?

My mother would say to me, ‘look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers-so many caring people in this world.

-Fred Rogers

While thousands of people around the country march today, to protest our government’s current policy of family separation at the border, I am with much of my family, together in Colorado for my cousin’s wedding. I can feel the presence of my beloved grandmother who would have been so happy to be here today. I think about all that families go through together, from death to divorce, elections, and illness and am beyond grateful to have been given my pod with whom to practice this thing called love.

Watercolor painting of me as a two year old, painted by my grandmother, Maryann Clarke.

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RIP AB

Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But, that’s ok. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.

-Anthony Bourdain

Thank you for packing us in your suitcase, including us in your travels, for your humanity, stories, humor, words, for urging us to choose the adventure, eat the unfamiliar, explore, and for leaving so much good behind. You were my role model, inspiration, and my always crush.

Rest In Peace.

If you play…

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If you play a piano and records in a redwood forest, does anybody hear?

If you climb a ladder to nowhere, do you arrive?

If you smile in your sleep, do you wake happier?

If you don’t go, will you regret it later?

If you throw out the map, will the path appear?

If you love them, will they love you?

If the fog obscures, is there a view?

Does it matter?

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Photo taken yesterday by me (as usual) outside of the Henry Miller Memorial Library and along Hiway 1, in Big Sur, California.

India Permeates

Back from India for almost four months and I am surprised daily by the ways in which it sneaks up on me and permeates my life in Silver Lake, a million miles away. Before leaving for my trip, I ran into a friend who hugged me and said “this is the last time I’ll ever hug you. You’ll be a different person when you return. No one comes back from India the same.” I thought he was being dramatic.

Ganesha, god of auspicious beginnings, remover of obstacles, patron of the arts, sciences, and writing, watches as I open my notebook, sipping hipster matcha, and begin to write.

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While there I became addicted to their creamy, homemade yogurt and learned that it is one’s neighborly obligation to lend starter to anyone in need. I buy a yogurt maker upon  return and begin experimenting with coconut milk recipes. Bring the milk of your choice to just under boiling, about 200 degrees. Cool until warm to the touch, about 115 degrees. Mix in starter ( being without a yogurt making neighbor, I buy starter at the health food store, though just adding already made, unsweetened yogurt will do the trick as well). Place in the yogurt maker, or slow cooker, or (if you live in a hot climate, like India, on your counter) and let sit undisturbed for anywhere between 4-12 hours. Cool and, voila, enjoy.

A man we met in Bundi, a healer in the guise of a skirt salesman, crosses my mind frequently. Karma, shakras, energy, numerology- he knew things about me I’d never told anyone.

Baby Krishna looks out over my books from his place on the shelf and reminds me to open my heart. Love. It’s the reason we are here, he whispers, the only reason. Love in all its forms.

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Family is the most important thing, says our driver, Lokesh. I agree and, now 800 miles away from mine, miss them terribly.

Feed the dogs on Saturday. It will bring you good karma.

After three weeks, I was ready to return to the familiarity of traffic lanes and avocado toast. But, little did I know that India had already burrowed into my soul and that within a few months I would feel the urge to return, to plan another trip, and that I had been changed forever. My friend was right.

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A Flower’s Example

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How to follow the example of flowers, trees, and snakes and let our petals, leaves, and skin fall away when it’s time, rather than cling to all that no longer serves? The balance of nature surrounds us, yet following that example can feel more like a blanket being ripped from a toddler’s hands than like some divine wisdom meant to lead us to the best versions of ourselves.

Which stories are on repeat in our heads? What are we afraid of? How do we let go of that fear? How do we trust and have faith that not only are we meant to be happy but that as soon as we let go of fear, we will be?

I woke up a few weeks ago and, though it could have been just another morning, this morning I woke officially sick of all of my stories. You want to get a dog, but can’t because of work? Old story. You want to be the crazy artist instead of wrangling crazy artists? Then go do it. You don’t like your job? Do something else. Seriously, my soul whispered, get on with it already, this discussion is boring me to death.

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On my nightstand- The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer and A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson. Morning routine- Live Awake guided meditations by Sarah Blondin (so good, found on the Insight Timer app), hot water with lemon, followed by stretches and/or dancing.

All of this helps me tune into that inner voice which, though always there, is so easy to ignore when the idea of change seems overwhelming. But, guess what? Suppression will make it ten times harder in the end and, as we know, the soul will have its way.

So, why not listen to the whispers, make the move, get the dog, ask the question, and change the story? You’ll be fine, the whispers say. Better than fine. You will thrive.

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