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It’s like California in the 1950’s, he told me. But, I didn’t quite get it until we landed. Stepping from the plane to the tarmac, a warm, slightly humid breeze blows. On Sunday afternoon, the city of Port Elizabeth looks deserted. As we head out of town, I reflexively jerk repeatedly, not yet used to driving on the left side of the road, right side of the car.

The city gives way to nearly empty highways, happy cows chomping on lush grass, and small tidy farms. Not exactly what I was expecting, but then, what was I expecting? The chaos, sounds, and colors of India perhaps? Different continent, different hemisphere, but I think that’s what I thought South Africa would be like. Instead, it feels like a lush, warm, surfer’s Europe, the vestiges of colonialism still evident.

I have a habit of traveling to places having done almost no research, becoming fascinated, and then reading anything I can about the place while there. I begin to read Trevor Noah’s memoir Born a Crime about growing up in South Africa in the 1980’s and 90’s, as apartheid was crumbling. The intricacies of this country are fascinating!

I am mistaken for Afrikaans repeatedly and stare blankly when people speak to me in that language. I learn a bit about the English and the Dutch legacies and how each changed the country. I read about the townships of Soweto and Alexandra and learn that there are eleven official national languages in South Africa. We are invited to a braai (a bbq) and served fresh calamari, caught that day. We stay at a house on the beach and listen to the waves at night. The sand is covered in shells.

Way down here, at the tippy tip of Africa, overlooking the Indian Ocean, everywhere and everything, from viruses to elections, seems very far away.

Masks and Mayhem

Once upon a time, I took an overnight train ride from Albuquerque to Los Angeles for spring break with my mom and my sister. It was sometime in the mid nineties, pre cell phones or internet and back when they played one nightly movie in the lounge car. On this particular journey, the movie that Amtrak chose was called Outbreak. Umm, whose brilliant idea was it to show a movie about a viral disease gone awry on a train filled with passengers and stale air? Half way through the movie, we got up and made our way back to our train car, wrapped ourselves in any available garment, and tried not to panic when someone sneezed. It didn’t work.

Cut to today. Corona virus.

A global viral outbreak that some are calling a pandemic and others are warning could become one. Either way, not great news for Mother Earth’s human tenants. In the space of one month, it went from a virus that seemed far away, to one that made cruise ships look like the worst places on earth, to one that is reminding us all of just how reliant we are on each other and how intertwined we have become. Surreal images of vacant cities, subway platforms filled with people wearing masks, stories of others paying hundreds of dollars for a box of masks that should cost no more than $20. In the span of a couple of days, panic and mayhem. Well, that was quick. Civilization really is a fragile thing built on the head of a pin. Or so it sometimes seems.

And…tonight I will board an international flight to Africa. We planned this trip five weeks ago, just before the first rumblings of a virus began to emerge from China. We watched as it spread and checked the CDC website’s travel warnings daily. And then, this week, all hell broke loose. To go or not to go? We decide to go.

A beach town at the tippy tip of South Africa awaits, as does a family in Zimbabwe, old friends of my boyfriend’s. During a recent acupuncture appointment, my doctor advises drinking whiskey on the plane, along with lots of water.

The CDC says masks aren’t needed unless you are already ill and trying to keep your germs to yourself or caring for someone who is ill. Nevertheless masks sell out everywhere when news that the virus is in Italy hits the news. I go to every drug store in town before finally giving up. My dad finds some at a lumber yard and gets them to me. I, along with everyone else, just want to do something to feel like we are doing something.

I pack a suitcase that is, no joke, half filled with hand sanitizer, teas, wet wipes, vitamins, and meds. I wear a hoodie with a scarf and douse the scarf in an immune boosting essential oil. My neuroses run wild.

And now we are in the airport, waiting for the first of three flights that will land us in Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa, sometime on Sunday morning. I swing between excited and anxious but keep coming back to faith that it’s all going to be ok.

I am about to head south of the equator for the first time. To see elephants. To meet people I’ve heard much about. To play in the Indian Ocean. And fingers crossed, to return home to a country that isn’t unraveling in panic, healthy and happy.

Circus

A billboard on the Las Vegas strip counts the national debt as it ticks up every second, $70K+ per person in the US, and growing. I am wandering alone, unable to get into a hotel room booked in another’s name. Five hours to kill. Two showgirls pass, photos for tips. I hold the phone and snap one for a man who won’t remember this in the morning. I get a manicure and eat really good vegan food. My nails make my hands look like they’re someone else’s.

At the far end of the strip, Trump Tower looms. The king of vapid and grossest of all.

The city of sin, faux, isms, addiction, fun, the lost and the strange. I’ve been here twice before and always end up feeling hungover after having exactly zero drinks. The smells and sounds of fake.

We leave early the next morning. The smell of smoke from the Tropicana’s lobby permeates my clothes.

And now it’s one week later. Every news source has reporters there for the Nevada Caucuses. A debate in the Paris Casino. A castle in the background on the PBS Newshour. A perfect metaphor for the circus that is our current state of democracy.

And then today, Bernie wins again.

I repeatedly hear “he can’t win.” Though he keeps winning. “It will never work.” “It can’t happen”. Almost word for word what we said about Trump four years ago.

Vibrant-ish

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2020 is taking shape and as per usual, is not what I thought it would be. It’s more interesting! Six weeks ago, I’d been in bed for a week with the flu and, as I wrote about my word for the year, vibrant, I felt anything but. But, now, after almost five weeks of living in my friend’s guest house in LA and working on a month long costuming job, I feel the bustling, buzzing, busy, and brisk energy of the word loud and clear. I feel abuzz, astir, and alive, with an upcoming trip to Africa on the horizon and creative and professional ideas percolating.

LA is what it is; inspiring, vapid, creative, and the place I repeatedly flee. I sit in my car underneath an overpass and pray there won’t be an earthquake. I watch emergency crews weave through traffic trying to respond first to an accident and I sit in traffic with everyone else on a beautiful 80 degree Saturday, trying to get to the beach.

The job goes well and I am grateful for the money and that the people are nice.

Outside the guesthouse where I am staying, my friend’s kids bounce on their trampoline and build an obstacle course out of pillows. I listen to their giggles. How lucky kids in LA are to be able to play outside at night, in February. It’s cold and snowy at home.

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I have pulled back from the news once again, after feeling my energy turn dark and depressed when tuned in.  I’m not sure what the answer is to that dilemma. I don’t like the feeling of hate. And yet those in control of our country bring it out. I attempt to love and find the beauty, but lately find it better to simply turn the news off. Or is it just easier?

I walk along the beach and watch the birds. The one thing I miss most when in New Mexico. Salty sea air.

The moon was just full. Magnetic and bright in a city sky that never really gets dark, but stays a sort of pink all night. I still take pictures of palm trees.

Though doing my best to stay present, to have gratitude, and to just be, I find myself once again counting down the next few days, until I head east and home once again.

 

LaLa

I had a crazy bout of anxiety before returning to LA for the first time in a year one week ago. My life in New Mexico felt completely removed from the pace and vibe I associate with LA and I worried that I know longer knew how to drive fast, merge onto busy freeways, work crazy long hours, and do all that I used to do regularly.

Well, lo and behold, it all comes back! Cellular memory is a thing. But, so is anxiety. The idea of returning had me in a kind of paralyzed fear that my two worlds wouldn’t mix and that it was an either/or, black/white, can’t have both situation. I was scared that past experiences and memories would influence my upcoming stay and was thus stuck in both past and future. Totally not present. (Side note- I’m currently reading “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” by Dr. Joe Dispenza and in it he discusses this exact scared of the future because of the past dilemma and offers solutions).

But, being here for one week has reminded me that there is always another option. This, and that too. Shades of grey. There is an energy to LA that, though it can be exhausting, is also invigorating and inspiring. It’s an expensive, competitive, and difficult city in which to live and thrive and therefor pushes people out of their comfort zones and into leaps of faith. It’s not a city one coasts in.

And I’ve spent much of the past year coasting professionally, as I contemplated new directions and possibilities. I worked in film just enough to pay the bills, started selling vintage clothing online (www.knockaboutvintage.etsy.com) but have yet to launch some of the plans I originally had for that business… Being in LA has reignited those ideas and I feel excited to return to New Mexico energized and inspired.

Think stories, vignettes, and photo shoots…

More to come. Stay tuned.

Freefall, and float

The Avowal

As swimmers dare

to lie face to sky

and water bears them,

as hawks rest upon air

and air sustains them,

so would I learn to attain

freefall, and float

into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,

knowing no effort earns

that all-surrounding grace.

-Denise Levertov

The weeks between eclipses, planets joining together for the first time in centuries, a bad flu, anxiety, post holiday sugar crash…It hasn’t been the vibrant beginning to 2020 that I envisioned last month, but, as these things go, I see that I am right where I need to be. Back to the basics; mediation, soup, sleep, breath, trust, and faith.

With little appetite for over two weeks, I eat broth and bread. All I want to wear are sweatpants and a closet full of  unworn clothing seems absurd. I find it suddenly easy to discard books, dishes, and clothes and scarves once held onto so tightly.

The news makes me cry and I have to ration my intake. Fire and war, climate change, primaries, and extinction.  No way to figure it all out at 3 a.m.

A work trip looms on the horizon; one month in LA, the first such trip in a year. A message arrives-  it is a lovely project with kind and organized producers and cast. This eases some of the anxiety.

I am being guided and there is nothing to figure out. One step at a time. Simplicity. Do what we can. Sleep. Nourish. Care. The reminder that “no effort earns that all surrounding grace”. Just being is enough.

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Vibrant 2020

Wowza! A lot can happen in a decade. But, then, a lot can happen in a year, month, and day too.
The 2010’s.
Though they took up my thirties, I can’t help but relate to the fact that they were the teens of our century. Tumultuous, to say the least. Growth, change, and personal lessons up the wazoo. So grateful that old patterns can change with effort and that the path became a little clearer as new lessons presented themselves. It was a decade that asked me to take ownership of the life I want and to stop living passively.
As I look towards 2020 and beyond, the feeling I want is one of being truly alive and present, confident in my worth and able to stand in the light, choosing love always.
My word for 2020 is Vibrant. Pulsating with life. Responsive. Sensitive. Healthy. Joyful. Present.
Wishing you a truly joyous, smagik, light filled, and peaceful New Year and decade.
What’s your word?

Word…

With just over three weeks left in the month, year, and decade, how’s your 2020 word search going?

I think I landed on mine today. Though clear about the feeling I want to encompass in the coming year, putting all of that into one word was proving tricky. Until today, when out for a walk and boom, there it was.

I’m going to mull it over for another few weeks, just to make sure, but… it resonates.

How’s your word coming along? Can’t wait to hear your choices.

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Wash Over

I have had some great reminders lately of just how fleeting feelings can be. First, I feel uncertainty build, followed by discomfort and the need to figure something out, so I can feel comfortable again. This leads to anxiety because I can’t force the figuring out process which leads to panic and frustration. Going well so far! And then, just like that, it settles down and passes and I can hardly remember what all of the hullabaloo was about.

Repeat.

I am currently sitting on a bench watching waves roll onto the beach and back out again. The sky blends seamlessly into a grey ocean, no horizon line. They roll in. They roll out. Seagulls fight over bits of bread a man below throws their way.

Nothing to figure out. Nothing to do but trust that when you need to know or to act you’ll know what to do and that, until then, just being is enough.

You get there by realizing you’re already there.

Eckhart Tolle