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I woke up in a great mood this morning and lay in bed looking out of the window for an hour before finally getting up.

The image of a small row boat in the middle of the ocean appeared in my mind. A boat so small it is able to surf the waves, big and small, in ways a larger one could not. The world, with all of its relationships, jobs, worries, politics, borders, diseases, religions, love, hate, Beauty, confusion, laughter, joy, and sorrow are the waves, while I am the boat.

2017 has taught me to ride the waves and to find my own equilibrium; a lesson I know will continue to be useful in the years to come. It has been a good, strange, funny and bizarre year, has kept me on my toes, and repeatedly shown me that once I let go and trust, I will always be guided to the next right thing.

I ended the day watching a most spectacular sunset on Santa Monica Beach with my friend, and the surfers and the sailboats.

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It’s been just over a year since I signed the lease on my apartment in LA and just under one since I first saw it empty, before it had been painted or cleaned, on December 1st. I started to cry when I entered the sad looking kitchen to pick up the keys and wondered “what on earth have I done?” One week earlier I had seen potential; good windows with a lot of light, dark wood floors, high ceilings, and a killer location. My gut told me it was a good landing pad and had enough of what I was looking for to jump in and commit. Now, holding the keys, I wasn’t so sure.

My gut was right.

And it’s already been a year. Wow!

The parrot who whistles in an oddly human way and lives downstairs is now part of my soundtrack. The neighbors next door let me pick pomegranates from their tree. I walk in the Silver Lake hills for cardio. I made new friends, as an adult, living in LA!

Over the past year I have kept the “what on earth are you doing?” voices at bay by answering with a simple “it’s all an adventure.” There is no big plan, no grand vision that I will check off a list and be done with. But, rather, there are many small visions that continuously guide me in one direction, periodically overlapping and mingling. If there is a grand plan it is happiness and presence and authenticity, to feel that I am actively participating in and creating my life with each of my decisions and no longer passively coasting.

While talking to a friend about my interests in tarot and improv and writing, I said “I’m just getting weirder and weirder,” to which she replied, “no, you’re just getting you-er and you-er.”

I was so afraid to let go of my comfortable life in New Mexico but knew on a gut level that comfort was not my friend, at least not now, maybe not ever. I needed to know what I was capable of and to push myself. The ironic and unforeseen part was that when I chose to uproot and take myself away from that external comfort, a new internal one took its place. I have confidence in myself, my gut, my voice, and in my ability to make a home wherever I am, that I didn’t have before.

What I could never have predicted was that, at the same time I chose adventure over fear, the world was asked to choose as well. It is fascinating to watch how that choice, the way in which we all view change, has split our country and our world over the past year.  Will it be expansion, love, trust, and progress, as we move forward into an unknown? Or fear and constriction as we futilely cling to what once was?

May you live in interesting times.  – Chinese curse.

It has been interesting! Exhausting. Fascinating.

And, the truth is that, for all of us, there is no going back. There is no “oh I’ll just go have a little revolution, personal or otherwise, and then fit nicely back into this hole I have been in!” Nope. We are in it now and all we can do is continue to move in the direction of love and faith, always choosing to see the adventure side of the coin.

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Happy Thanksgiving, Smagicians!

It is in the low 90’s in Los Angeles right now, not exactly cozy baking or cooking weather. This fact would have depressed my younger self who was obsessed with everything being as it “should” be. Thanksgiving was supposed to be cozy, with the final leaves blowing off of trees, a big, happy family who all got along, and a faint hint of snow in the air. But, here I am, away from my family, cooking with a friend, and it is a beautiful, beachy day outside.  As I prepped my stuffing this morning, stirring onions and celery with butter before adding it to green chile cornbread, I made a mental list of all that I am grateful for. Towards the top of the list, along with friends and family, I put a level of flexibility that must come with age. I no longer cling to the idea that everything needs to be some certain and correct order to be great. That idea and pressure ruled parts of my life as a youngster and I didn’t realize it. Around the holidays, this desire for perfection and ideals seems to take over the plans of so many who, at any other time of the year, are logical and rational people who know perfection is a myth. So, don’t go there! Appreciate it all, let it be what it is, and laugh when it doesn’t go as planned! It’s all good!

Wishing you and yours a beautiful day!

Want your house to smell like cinnamon and pumpkin? Want super light, flour-free deliciousness? I posted this recipe before but, it’s that good!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Almond Brownies

Ingredients:

1 C almond butter

1.25 C pumpkin purée

2 eggs plus one yolk

1/3 C date syrup (I used maple)

1 t baking soda

1 T cinnamon

1 C semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Mix almond butter and pumpkin until smooth.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth.

Pour into a greased 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish, depending on if you like thinner and or thicker.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Cool and/or refrigerate. Can be frozen too.

Enjoy!

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One of mine from a few years ago, found while dusting the bookshelves and baking pumpkin brownies.

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October 2017 is almost over. Wow.  With two months left in which, as the previous ten have demonstrated, anything can happen, give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far, for taking a minute to sit and read a blog post, and for continuously doing the best you can.

I recently spoke with a few friends and loved ones who each seem to be asking the same questions, their own versions of the ones I’ve spent the past two months pondering at 2:14 in the morning, instead of sleeping.  What am I doing? Does there need to be an end goal or is this enough? Will the dots ever connect?

Because of my nervous system and brain’s penchant for insomnia and pondering instead of REMs, I have been writing and blogging less than I’d like.  As anyone who doesn’t sleep well knows, the dull, dream like state left behind after a night of tossing about, does not lend itself to creativity. I have had no choice but to turn it into another lesson in acceptance. Acceptance of what is. I can do what I can to try to sleep, but in the end it is out of my control and no matter that I-  1.turn lights off at dusk,  2. take melatonin, 3. meditate, 4. exercise, 5. don’t look at any blue lights (phone, computer, TV) before bed- sometimes I sleep like a baby and other nights I literally never fall asleep. It is what it is. But, letting go of the idea that there is more I can do or that I am doing something wrong, that somehow I can control it, is not easy.

But, as with all lessons we don’t choose but which choose us, they come bearing hidden blessings. My life has become shockingly present. I can almost not see past the end of the month, which is only next week! I am planning a trip to India for this January and you would think it was for the year 2090 by the way I have been unable to wrap my head around the idea of just three months from now. My work schedule changes week by week, I have an improv class starting on Saturdays and a writing class on Wednesdays. And that is it. As scheduled and planned as I can be right now. I’ve tried buying concert tickets or plane tickets to visit friends, only to give them away or end up with a credit for future travel, because in the course of two weeks everything changes.

At least for now, I’ve given up on planning more than a week in advance and concentrate on steering my thoughts and actions in small, beneficial directions. What should I cook today? Today I will call my friends and check in, go for a walk,  write something or finish reading that book, be kind to my grumpy and tired coworkers who are just as sleep deprived as I am,  let that person merge into my lane, try that recipe, do my morning stretches, meditate, turn off the news and turn on music, and do what I can to keep my side of the street clean,  thereby being of service to the world and to myself.  Even as I write this, I laugh at how unambitious and yet totally ambitious that list is. What a paradox that the most basic things we do for ourselves can also be the most difficult to do regularly, for simple does not mean easy.  If anything, it’s often easier to make elaborate, future based plans in an effort to avoid the present, with it’s frequent discomfort.

In a recent email from a friend, she mentioned that amidst huge upheaval in her life and lots of unanswered questions, she is happy that she lives near an open air market with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables for sale. Another friend told me that her afternoon plans involved going home to lie in the grass in an effort to calm down and enjoy the fall afternoon. Yet another was excited because she had absolutely no plans for the weekend.   It seems that if 2017 has been good for something, it has helped us get back to the basics. What do we value? What kind of lives do we want to live? What makes us laugh or what calms us down in the midst of chaos? How can we benefit our communities on a small, human scale? What would we take if a wildfire or flood gave us less than one minute to grab our most important item and run? How do we listen to news of possible nuclear war, global warming, sexual predators, and political ineptitude and keep on smiling? How do we stay present?

These are the questions that run through my head when it is dark and the palm frond shadows dance against the window and I can hear my downstairs neighbor’s snores through the floorboards. It is only by becoming totally present, listening to those snores and to my own breath, that life seems manageable once again. What CAN I control tomorrow? Eating toast and drinking tea in the morning, while listening to my favorite radio show, and then taking a walk? Ok, cool, I’ll do that.

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It’s been busy, ya’ll!

A brief glimpse…

It’s October, 90 degrees out, maybe cooler today, there is smoke in the air, people up north recently lost everything, stopped listening to the news to help with current insomnia (it’s helping), began a writing class last night (seems it will be great), reading six books, the man next to me is talking about rats in his apartment, I want to wear sweaters, fingers crossed for the Cubs tonight (dad has tickets for Game 6 if they do), good people keep appearing in my life, time is passing, so many great musicians coming through town, good dates/bad dates, baked a pie, make more time, patriarchy continues to crumble in all of its ugliness, fall road trip plans postponed, miss my friends when get too busy, to buy: food, clean out closet (again), write every day, woke up at 7, crawled back into bed at 8, back asleep until 11, should I become Cali resident (?), cool breeze blowing, going to beach tomorrow, need coffee, all is good. More soon.

Oh, and yesterday morning I saw three coyotes stalking the streets of LA as I walked to my car in the pre dawn dark.

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One year ago I was wrapping up a Western in the Rocky Mountains and all that has come to pass was yet to be. I didn’t yet take my LA view for granted or know that I would find an apartment with wood floors, make new friends, tell a story in front of an audience, work on a great project,  plan an international adventure, or survive  (at least so far) under a mentally unstable man-child President.

How can we know what the future holds? Thank God we don’t. Or, do we?  We play such an obvious role in creating that future, it’s a wonder we are as repeatedly surprised as we are. Where is our attention and energy and what are we creating by dwelling on things/places/situations and people, over and over and over?

One year ago, all that is real today, was an idea, a plan, or a fear. I was about to pack up my car and drive to California; to look for an apartment, classes, friends, jobs, a new life. I know that I helped manifest everything about the past year, including the election of our President, which truly shocked me.  I dwelled on him, thought of him and detested him, endlessly. But, I also saw myself on a stage, joyful, playing, living on a palm lined street in the hills, with wood floors, meeting cool, creative people. It has all come to pass.

When will I fully recognize this super power? How long until I stop playing dumb, wondering why certain areas of my life seem fuller than others? Everything we desire is always within our grasp, as is everything we fear. Choose wisely.

 

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Leaving my Storytelling and Spirituality Class (the best way to spend Saturdays), I head to Grand Central Market for my favorite fancy coffee at G&B Coffee. As I wait at a red light, a car pulls out of its spot just ahead of me. I will the spot to stay empty until the light turns green. It does. There is over an hour left on the meter. This is going well! I cross the street and head into Grand Central Market. Though it's been a fixture in DTLA since 1917, I only recently discovered it. Full of stalls serving everything from bagels, to burritos, falafels, and pizza, it has not only great food but better people watching. I take a seat on a stool at G&B and order my favorite drink, the "Business and Pleasure," (it comes in three parts, because why wouldn't it?!) and a cornmeal and cheddar waffle. I sit, drinking, eating, watching people and think about what a perfect Saturday I am taking part in.
How is yours? Go do something fun, something that makes you smile! If you already are or did, bravo! Life is short, eat the waffle.

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