IMG_8709What if we never figure it out? What if we never figure out whether a conversation we had with our dad at age twelve inadvertently influenced our future relationships with men or which grain is causing our skin to break out periodically? I was having a similar conversation recently with one of my dear friends, a fellow searcher and investigator of life, while sitting on bar stools at a Cajun restaurant in DTLA. What if we just have to be ok with never actually figuring any of it out?

I have a stack of self help, health, and relationship books that moves around my apartment. At times next to my bed, or on the couch, or periodically back on the bookshelf and, while the books themselves change, the stack somehow remains a fairly constant four books high.  Combine this stack with the journal that is always near, various classes, workshops, and self help groups, and much of my life has been dedicated to figuring it/me/us out. So, what if that is impossible?

I’m starting to realize that may be entirely beside the point of why we are here.  Thinking along those lines has repeatedly led me towards the idea that one day, down the road, I will get it, playing on the idea of destination as goal, rather than  journey.  It also begs the question, “So, you finally figure it all out, now what? Are you just a satisfied lump, content to sit on your couch ‘all figured out’ or a constantly evolving being that will simply move onto new and different questions once some are answered?”  If life has taught me anything, it’s that that destination centric thinking will lead to both suffering and missing out, whereas when we view “it” and ourselves as a constantly evolving adventure/creation/cosmic joke, one in which the journey is the point, then joy, creativity, and fun have room to flourish.

Fun! That word was nowhere to found on my to do/have lists until recently. And, though I do have to be healthy enough spiritually, emotionally, and physically to have it, it is just as important in keeping me healthy on those same levels as any of my diets, workshops or books. When I find myself taking “it” and myself too seriously, all I have to do is remember that we are literally spinning on a big round planet, through space. Why? Who knows?! So, take the day off, eat the cake, write the song, take the class, say yes, quit the job, buy the shoes, go on the trip, and let go of the lists, the rules, and the need to know. Because we may never figure it out. And that will just have to be ok.

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As they do, this week went from “great” to “get me out of here” overnight.  And, so, I got out; out of my apartment, city, and head and into the desert and the awesome Desert X art show.  Desert X consists of 14 installation art pieces in the desert between Whitewater, Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs, all the way east to Coachella.  And, being the Thursday after the Coachella music festival, I avoided both traffic and crowds and had much of the area almost to myself, a small miracle anywhere in Southern California.

I left LA at 9 this morning and headed to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs to pick up a map of Desert X. Arranged like a scavenger hunt, the maps give you the addresses, intersections or GPS coordinates of each installation but it’s up to you which you want to see and how you do it.  And, since getting in my car with good music, my camera, and the goal of finding something interesting and/or beautiful to look at is basically my favorite thing in the world, this hunt was a dream.

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After leaving the Ace, I headed for the Palm Springs Art Museum and Jeffrey Gibson’s tall piece in the Sculpture Garden. It was underwhelming and I quickly left for Rancho Mirage and Sunnyland. Little did I know that Sunnyland is a famed retreat for Presidents and other important people and is where former President Obama presented the Chinese President with a carved redwood bench in 2013 (I sat on it).

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There, I saw Lita Albuquerque’s (nice last name Burqueños!) piece titled Earth.

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From Sunnyland I headed to Palm Desert and Claudia Comte’s Curves and Zigzags. It hurt my eyes to look at from afar, strobing and giving me a bit of vertigo, but in a good way!

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But, the highlight of the day turned out to be Doug Aitken’s Mirage. Located on a hill in Palm Springs, in a residential subdivision where, judging by the no parking signs, the neighbors didn’t seem happy about the crowds flooding into their neighborhood. Models, hipsters, and fellow Instagramers were just beginning to descend, but I got there fifteen minutes before their 3:30 opening time and was able to avoid some of the masses. It was the coolest. A house made completely out of mirrors, inside and out, reflecting all.

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Sometimes all it takes is a good scavenger art hunt, or day trip, to both get you out of your head and to get your own creative juices flowing once again.

Back in LA now and all is good.

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Woke up feeling more in love with my life than usual, for no reason. No work for the next five days, warm temps in the forecast, the faint flutterings of creative ideas returning, and time for the morning rituals I love and miss when too busy working. 

Post meditation and shower, I stand at my counter drinking piñon coffee blended with freshly grated turmeric, butter, and coconut oil, and listen to one bizarre news story after another; Facebook is moving in the direction of virtual reality, one labor force after another disappearing as machines/robots take over, the impending writer’s strike, Nuclear war, every story to do with our current government, and that’s just during the 8-9 o’clock broadcast. 

And yet I feel optimistic, energized, and happier than I can remember feeling. Because… I’m fully in it, perhaps. Participating in my life, rather than hoping/waiting/planning/watching from afar…? Time is moving too quickly to be a spectator here, I want to jump into the gorgeous chaos of being alive on this fragile planet with all of you fellow, fragile, unique beings. 

With story after story about pain, suffering, and messiness in the world, I am more and more enamored with the incredible power of beauty and community, art, good conversation, home cooked food and cocktails, service, laughter, music, rituals, sweat, stories, jokes, and just diving into the madness to get us through and remind us why we are here. Otherwise, really, what’s the point? 

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IMG_8388Last night I leaned against the railing of the Belasco Theater’s mezzanine in DTLA and watched as two friends from high school played to a packed house, with their band “Minus the Bear”.  And, as I watched and listened, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that everyone I know, myself included, is nailing it. “It” being living.  This “creating a life that makes you happy and feeds your soul and makes it seem like there’s a point to all of the absurdity” thing. The often self imposed angst, confusion, and pressure I so frequently felt and saw mirrored in those I love for the past twenty or so years, seems to be lifting. Not that anything has been figured out necessarily, but, speaking for myself, there just came a point when the choice to be happy and joyful had to be made. Or not.

After the show, one of my friends showed me a picture he’d recently come across of us taking our final Thespian Club bow at the end of our Senior production of Titus Andronicus. The world lay at our feet and all we had to do was be brave enough to catch it and run.  He was meant to play music on stage. I had spent my high school years on stage, in art classes, and studying German and had no idea where those interests would lead me, but trusted it would be somewhere good.

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And then life happened.  Things that sparked my creative light took a backseat and I tortured myself frequently about needing to figure it all out.  And I let enough time pass that I actually started to forget the high of being on stage, rehearsing, improving, writing, collaborating, and creating. Instead, I helped others bring their visions to fruition, made a decent living, and ended up with a career I wasn’t in love with.

But, as they say, the Soul will have its way.  And the quicker we learn to accept that truth, listen, and follow, the less we will suffer.

In my friend’s lives and my own, I see the beginning of that acceptance  and the magic that acceptance then creates.  In some ways it feels like I’ve taken a twenty year detour to get back to my 1997 self, albeit now a more confident, experienced, and (hopefully) wiser version.  And I don’t regret any of the strange and sometimes dark paths I periodically chose, for it all helped me to appreciate and have immense gratitude for the clarity and homecoming I now feel.

Standing in the mezzanine last night, it was as if I could hear our eighteen year old selves rooting us on, proud of the choices their older selves would eventually make, guiding us to more amazing lives than we ever could have imagined back then.

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After a crazy autumn and winter full of action, movement, and change, the past month has been eerily peaceful.  I’ve been sleeping well, have felt bizarrely uncreative, content to go to the semi full time part time job I manifested on a TV show with a crew I love working with, and have felt overall catatonic, foggy, and also calm and happy.  As dust settles after a tiny tornado blows through, my new life is falling into place and, like a spectator, I am watching it,  amazed at the ease with which things can happen when they are meant to and when one gets out of their own way.

Yesterday I attended a storytelling workshop at The Museum of Broken Relationships. First of all, you should go to this museum, in the heart of Hollywood, if you are able. Full of items sent in by people from all over the world, each one is accompanied by a story and I haven’t been that moved by an exhibit in a long time. From sweaters to tickets to bellybutton lint, each of us is made of the heartbreak and beauty of life and living and none would be where or who we are without the previous joy and pain that got us there. Second of all, storytelling, gratitude, and finding beauty within the mundane seem to be the common and recurring threads weaving my current interests together. I am being repeatedly led to the next right person, class, workshop, and idea at the perfect moment and, while I have no idea where it is all leading, I can feel the fog lifting.  There is something in the writing, improv, and stories that is working its way out, percolating and, as my nervous system calms and life settles, slowly finding its voice and path.

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IMG_8091.JPGI want to blame Venus Retrograde, work, a recent trip to Las Vegas, turning 38, the news, and Donald Trump for my recent lack of posts and words, but I know that isn’t fair.  So, instead, I trust that sometime soon I will sit in front of my computer and once again turn swimming thoughts into words. But, until that moment, here are some roses to brighten your Thursday evening and to bring a bit of beauty to your life.

Muah!

More soon.

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Since the beginning of the year I have been following ideas and recipes from the book “Clean-The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself,” written by Alejandro Junger, M.D. and recommended to me by my sister.

Though I haven’t written much here about my recent health issues, one of the main reasons for the recent life changes I’ve made is that for  the past several years, and especially the last six months of 2016, my body has been screaming that my chosen path  was unsustainable and that the coping mechanisms which had previously allowed me to power through a job, were no longer working. Not only were they not working, they were making me sicker and sicker with every job and year.

My body was running on empty after years of sleep deprivation and the sugar and caffeine I resorted to, just to keep going.  The cycle of anxiety>insomnia>adrenaline>insomnia>depleted immune system and adrenals> constant colds and sinus infections> vitamin deficiency> hormonal imbalance> insomnia> exhaustion became a constant in my life until I finally stopped ever getting better and had a sinus infection for most of six months. In addition, my skin was puffy, my energy was non existent, my digestion was off, and I knew something, or many things, had to change.

My sister suggested I read Dr. Junger’s book and I related to each symptom he described.  I  won’t paraphrase or try to sum it up, but would highly recommend it to anyone who just doesn’t feel as well as they know they could or should.  Though I have yet to complete the recommended program perfectly, I did it decently well and saw immediate and amazing results.  And then last week, during a long week of work, I fell off of the wagon and into old patterns; coffee, sugar, a whole, large bag of corn chips in one sitting, donuts, wine, and bread. It was all delicious but led to headaches, sinus pressure, puffy eyes, and lethargy, immediately.  So, back on the wagon I go.  Fresh vegetables, healthy fats, meats, and fish, green tea if caffeine is necessary, and no sugar, wheat, alcohol, or dairy.  It will take a couple of days to get back in the swing and be slightly painful for those days, but will then be totally worth it!

Photo taken outside of Matchabar in Silver Lake, one of the great businesses I pass while walking home with groceries.

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It’s Saturday morning and, after a very busy week, I am eating homemade rice pudding, drinking coffee, and finally sitting in front of my computer.  The Tarot book next to me is open to Chariot, the card I have pulled several days this week, it is a beautiful early spring day outside and I woke up without an alarm.  Life is good!

Two nights ago, a friend from New Mexico came over for a cup of tea and to hang out for a bit and while we were sitting on my couch, I had one of those strange moments where you look at your life and think “oh right, I created all of this and here I am.” (I can only imagine that parents must think that every few minutes when looking at their children!) Seeing my friend in LA and  out of our normal New Mexico context, allowed me to look at my new apartment, furniture, and city and see all of the changes that have happened over the past six months in a way that I have been too busy living lately to do.

But, more interesting than all of the differences were the similarities, because the truth is that, regardless of the size of changes life may undergo periodically, it does just go on! I grocery shop, listen to music, do laundry, drive to work (albeit in more traffic), clean my place, visit with friends, cook food, blog, etc., but then I go to the beach and an improv class and to a new downtown restaurant or to a museum and I remember why the changes were necessary.

The Chariot keeps appearing in my cards and this morning I opened my Voyager Tarot book to see what author James Wanless had to say about that. ” Movement brings change, and change brings new experience, learning, and growth- it leads to the achievement of your evolutionary destiny…As Cancer, the Charioteer carries the shell or home (self security) on his/her back and is at home wherever…Travel and test your sense of inner security… To be at home wherever you are is knowing yourself- being centered.”  Though this could mean that ones physical surroundings shouldn’t matter because it’s what is inside that keeps you grounded, I’ve long known that my physical home base was more important to me than to some. It is necessary for me to create a beautiful space from which to set out each morning and that is perhaps why a decade of tiptoeing in and out of LA, without first creating that, hadn’t worked for me.  For the first time, all of my personal items (clothing, books, Buddha statue, tea kettle, photos, wooden clogs form Amsterdam, sewing machine…) are here and because of that I feel grounded and able to keep moving into the adventure.  If you want to call sitting on a couch on a Thursday night and drinking tea an adventure! Seems like a good one to me.

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