You were never not…

Every once in a while I look around at my life, I should really do it more often, and marvel at how I was never not going to be where I am. It was never not going to happen.

One year ago, more or less exactly, I was in my apartment in LA, overcome with the feeling that somehow along the way I’d managed to take a wrong turn and was, in fact, not living the life I was meant to live. A horrible mistake had been made.

And even though, deep down, I knew that it was impossible to have made such a mistake, it was not a good feeling. So, I made a drastic left turn and moved back to New Mexico.

One year later, this morning, I came across a journal/scrap book I kept sometime in college. The dates of torn out magazine pages and scribbled entries seem to fall between the years 2000 and 2004. I love this book. A one inch spiral bound journal overwhelmed and stuffed with images, cards, and patterns, bursting to 5 or 6 inches wide. And guess what? I haven’t changed! Images of beaches, vintage clothing, surfers, and women designing lives they love pour out of the pages. The same things I still pin on Pinterest and dog-ear in magazines.

But, the really crazy part?

I’ve manifested the whole thing! My life is the images I tore out and glued in almost twenty years ago. I have created everything I used to want and that I didn’t know how I was going to make happen.

At the time I was making aprons out of vintage tablecloths and selling them to stores. After years of saving McCall’s pattern books and drawing fashion catalogs on the kitchen table after school, I wanted to work with clothing but really didn’t know in what capacity. I wanted a beautiful home and a creative way to make money and to fall in love with a surfer so we could travel to different beaches around the world. Ding ding ding.

Did I make it happen? Did it happen because it was always meant to and all I had to do was show up? Did years of thinking the same thoughts lead me to an inevitable conclusion? And where will it lead from here?

I have no idea!!

But, it is a trip to remember how powerful we and our thoughts are and to remember that we were always heading to where we are now. Even my confusing time in LA, or time spent with the wrong guy, or saying yes to a job I regretted; it was all part of the plan. No matter how curvy the road may have been or how many left turns we take upon realizing we don’t like our trajectory. This was never not going to happen.

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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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The Winding Road

We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

-Joseph Campbell

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Yesterday I stood on the edge of grassy cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and thought about Joseph Campbell’s words, as salty wind whipped my hair and wildflowers rustled my jeans. With my car parked on the shoulder of Highway 1, somewhere between Carmel and Big Sur, California, I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be but also wondered how I had gotten there. Thirty nine, no children, no pets, no husband, a career that won’t let me break up with it no matter how many times I try and for which I am grateful, a month on location in one of the most spectacular places on earth, a full weekend to myself, too may hobbies to count, and a mixture of gratitude, wonder, and uncertainty.

Is this it? Does everyone look around, at their life, and ask that question, not as one of lack, but out of curiosity?

Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.

-Mary Oliver

I am not actually sure what the life I planned looked like. I wanted to be everything from an actress, to a window dresser, linguist, and writer. I assumed marriage and children would just happen though I never thought too much about it. They still might. I don’t know where I saw myself living or what exactly I saw myself doing, I just assumed that one morning I would wake up, look around, and think “oh good, finally figured it out and now it all makes sense.” HAAA!

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On Friday I sat in the front seat of the car carrying a famous actress to a movie set. To my right the sun was beginning to set over the Pacific Ocean and, as we curved around the famous 17 Mile Drive, through Pacific Grove and into Carmel, news about President Trump’s decision to launch missiles into Syria played over the radio. Heaven and hell all in one surreal, twenty minute drive.

How do we let go of how we thought it would be, so we can be present and have gratitude for what is actually happening in our lives, moment by moment, and thereby be of service to ourselves and others?

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive. And go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

-Howard Thurman

What makes me come alive? Getting in my car with my camera on an empty day with no agenda other than to drive, take pictures of what I see, listen to music as I go, and share the beauty that I find with others. Though finding beauty on California Highway 1 is actually unavoidable, I have as much fun doing the same in Georgia, LA, Colorado or wherever else my job and life take me. IMG_4329

I wake, whether in my LA apartment or any number of hotel rooms, knowing that I want to help make the world a more beautiful place and to help others find the beauty in their lives and I wake with a certainty that I can and will do this, though the specifics remain vague. As I let go of the hows, things fall into place and my life becomes a creative adventure that I, along with the universe, am creating one day and decision at at time.

Back of every creation, supporting it like an arch, is faith. Enthusiasm is nothing: it comes and goes. But if one believes, then miracles occur.

-Henry Miller

Faith. Faith that there is a plan bigger than anything my little imagination can conjure up. Faith that we are always being guided and presented with the next right choice, so long as we are present enough to see it. As I repeatedly let go of my ideas about how it should be and accept how it is, I wake more often feeling that I actually am figuring it out and being let in on the secret.

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.

-Rumi

Yesterday’s Theme Song- Astral Plane on Valerie June’s album The Order of Time. Snack- sweet potato corn chips, bought at a little camping supply grocery store in the redwoods of Big Sur. Smell- salty, woody, grassy air.

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The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.

Henry Miller

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Chapter 4- You must have confidence.

“You must have confidence, madam, to live in India.” Lokesh, our driver in Rajasthan.

Lokesh becomes our second driver one week into the trip, in Jaipur, after his brother Hari’s foot is run over by a scooter.

Saris on the backs of motorcycles, sidesaddle, their backs to us, the man driving in front. Colored silk blowing in the wind, sometimes two or three children pressed in between. I realize, as I watch them pass, that I, age 38, am the age of the grandmothers, not the mothers.

Cows, dogs, bikes, cars, trucks, pigs, monkeys, and motorcycles navigate the roads.

Blow Horn. Use Dipper at Night. These words are written on the backs of trucks. Why? we ask Lokesh. Blow your horn and flash your lights so the trucks can see or hear you. Some people need to get places quicker than others, he explains. In our country everyone thinks they are those people, we explain.

On the subject of marriage- Arranged is best, he says. Your parents love you, they know you, they’ve lived with you for eighteen years, they want you to be happy, and will find you a good match. Love marriages rarely work out.

He slows to let us take pictures of particularly well decorated trucks, or camels, or elephants, or elephants in the backs of trucks, or camels doing the work of trucks.

Bahubali is the best movie. Parts 1 and 2. Lokesh tells us to find it and watch it. The most expensive movie ever made in India and his favorite.

He tells us about recent uprisings in towns close by. Tension between Hindus and Muslims runs high. A movie has been made that depicts Hindus in an unflattering light. Threats of violence towards theaters that show it. He agrees it should not be shown. We don’t tell him we actually want to see it.

He tells us which days of the week correspond with which Gods and Goddesses.

I have a sore throat after leaving Jaipur and he pulls off at a chai stand and asks them to add extra ginger to my chai.

On the way from Udaipur to Jodhpur, we stop at the Om Banna motorbike Temple on the side of the highway. Om Banna was killed in a motorbike accident on the site in the 1980’s and, after his bike was cleared by police, it mysteriously made its way back to the site three times. Thus, a Temple.

He explains that village people are the happiest people. Wake with the sun, go to sleep with the sun, grow food, barter. All traditions still going strong. But, change is coming, he says. Fast.

We pass field after field of mustard, wheat, and dill. The villages surrounding Udaipur are amazingly beautiful; with lush fields divided by low, stone walls.

“Tika, tika, tika.”

“A, cha cha.”

Spelled phonetically, both mean something like “ok” in Hindi.

I finally figure out that what look like two lane highways are actually three to four or five, depending. The traffic flows with a chaos that would bring US drivers and freeways to their knees in under one second. Horns and beeps a language of their own.

As I write this, we are hurling back to Delhi and blogging seems a better use of time than worrying about the possibility of dying on an Indian highway. Sometimes it is easier not to look. As the Buddhist saying goes, if there’s something you can do about it, why worry? If there’s nothing you can do about it, why worry?

And, as Lokesh says, one must have confidence, madam, to live {in India}. Dear Gods and Goddesses, all 330,000,000+ of you, please help me to integrate this wisdom into my life.

Namaste, India. Namaste, Lokesh.

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Hope/Trust

 hope

  1.  to cherish a desire with anticipation :  to want something to happen or be true

  2. archaic:trust

  3. to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment.

  4. to expect with confidence :trust

“I hope you can let this go.” -President Trump to Former FBI Director Comey.

vs.

The platform of Hope upon which President Obama ran in 2008 and 2012.

vs.

Hope or Trust.

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I have looked at and said the word Hope so many times today that it no longer looks or sounds like a word, you know what I mean? What is it?  And what if, just what if,  hope is actually what is causing our country to stumble right now? As I rolled this word around in my head, I kept coming back to its implied passivity, a wait and see attitude that can lead to doing nothing or, worse, to expecting others to do it and then acting like a victim if they don’t.  What about the hope that coal mines will come back, that global warming is a Chinese hoax, or that going backwards is ever an option?  As much as I love the optimism it can carry, hope has doubt at its core and there is no getting around it.

What if, instead, we choose trust?  Trust in ourselves and our communities and in the idea of working together, for each other and with each other, to move towards a common goal? What if we begin to demand that kind of reliability within all of our relationships, including those with our government? I have faith in this country and know that we are better than the hoping/wishing/waiting/ burying our head in the sand and crossing our fingers that things will improve trap we seem to have fallen into.  I don’t know that hope is serving us well and think it is time to switch it up.  Just a thought.

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Rear View

Lessons of 2017, so far-

You can not go backwards. 

When changing ingrained habits, you will be tested. 

Humor is invaluable. 

You can only ever make the next right choice. 

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It is up to you and only you to create the life you want. 

Your teachers will come in all forms. 

Until the lessons are learned, the situations will repeat. 

Resistance works. 

Panic achieves nothing. 

Creativity is a necessity. 

Sometimes it is necessary to turn off the news and turn up the music. 

 Your intuition is Always right. 

Life goes on. 

***

As my dad and I recently made what I hope to be the final drive moving things from my house in New Mexico to my apartment in LA, I was struck by the thought that just one year ago, none of my current reality was anywhere on a conscious horizon. For all I knew, I was content to keep living in my house, working as a costumer, and continuing as before. Forever. The truth is that I wasn’t consciously thinking about any of it, but rather just going along. 

Cut to the winter of 2017 and I am living in a different place, working as little as possible in my career of over a decade, protesting my current government, taking improv classes, signing up for multiple other classes, dating, and consciously creating a life that reflects and encompasses who I want to be. 

And I really have no idea what I am doing! Like seriously no idea. I am being repeatedly  tested when saying no to the familiar and comfortable, be they cities, jobs, or habits, as if the Universe wants to be really certain of my commitment. After emerging from the tests, I simply try to make the next right decision on a daily basis, saying no to the things I know do not work, and trusting that at least then there will be room for what does work, even if I don’t yet know what that is. Onward–>

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Easy Peasy

Why do we think it has to be hard? Why not just expect it to be easy? All of it! As I enter into the adventure of 2017, I believe that it will be easy and that all I want and need will appear at the perfect time and in the perfect way, ways that I could never predict. 

Three weeks in and January is shaping up to be even wackier than November 2016, hurtling into the future, asking only one question; are you consciously creating the life you want or cruising along, willy nilly? 

In nineteen days I have mostly furnished a new apartment, found a long term tenant for my house in Albuquerque, begun improv classes, signed up for a session with a life coach, been on one decent date and two fantastic dates, walked in the ocean, learned a new recipe, been asked if I want to be a contestant on a new soon to be televised dating show (seriously), visited with long lost friends, and am writing this from a cruising altitude of 37,000 feet, traveling from LA to D.C. for a little rally with 200,000+ of my closest pink pussy hat wearing friends. And there are still 12 days left until February!

When I was about to start looking at apartments in the fall, friends warned me that the LA market was very competative and that I would likely need check stubs, tax returns, and the like when applying. I proceeded to look at one apartment, fill out an application, and within five minutes was told that it was mine if I wanted it. Um, ok. Easy Peasy. 

So, why not expect everything to be the same? In looking at love, money, creativity, community, and adventure, why not call them in with the belief that they are just waiting to be mine, or yours? They are. And the more I practice this, the truer it becomes. Is it truly possible to have everything we want? Yes, just as soon as we get out of our own way, stop thinking small, acting unworthy, sabotaging ourselves, running for the hills, saying one thing and then doing another, and finally harness this newly discovered superpower and accept that we really are that powerful. For all of our insistence that we want it to be easy, we then do everything possible to complicate, confuse, and mess with that which wants to be ours, simply because having that much power terrifies us. Well, get over it. Accept it. Until you do, it will never be yours. 

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Adventure

Happy 2017, smagik readers! 

On NYE morning, I woke up in a motel in Kingman, Arizona, half way between NM and LA. New Years Eve. 2016 for another few hours. And, as I sat eating my complimentary breakfast, all I could think was “I didn’t realize leaving my comfort zone would be so uncomfortable.” Ha! That possibility had honestly never crossed my mind. Not until I was home for Christmas, loading up my car with things to take to LA, saying goodbye to family, and driving across the desert, again. 

When I arrived in LA, it was drizzling and chilly as I made the fifteen or so trips up and down 48 stairs to unload art, dishes, shoes, files, Christmas presents, one Buddha statue, and a shelf from my car. Once unloaded, I stared at piles of things deemed worthy of bringing west. Wow, now what? “Just keep going,” whispered a voice. 

While home for Christmas, I became aware of two distinct voices raging a sort of battle in my head. One was loud, screaming, scared, gripping, wanting only to stay safe, secure, and to know how everything was going to turn out. The other was a faint whisper that told me to keep going and to trust that I was being guided. And for much of the trip, the screams were winning. It was only after my first panic attack in ten years, late at night on Christmas night, that I realized how quickly and urgently I had been operating for the past few months and that it was time to get quiet, slow down, and come back to the whispers.  

When I slow down, tune in, and keep myself very, very present, it is easy to trust in the adventure and timing of my life. When I move too fast and try to manhandle the universe into doing things exactly how I want them done, WHEN I want them done, panic ensues. 

So, here I am in my fairly empty but cute apartment, sharing walls with strangers for the first time since college, exploring a new neighborhood, and trying to just make one decision at a time. All I know is that this feels right for the time being. I needed to mix things up and I succeeded and I have to trust that I will continue to succeed. 

Because I find there to be the finest of lines between fear and excitement, I choose Adventure as my word for 2017. When handed choices, obstacles, and situations, I plan to make my decisions from a place of “what is the adventurous, and therefor trusting, way to do this?” It builds upon my 2016 word of Faith, around which I know I still have more than a few lessons to learn. I trust that by bringing Adventure into the mix, I will choose fun and joy more frequently, keep myself present, and practice having Faith that I am being guided through the fog. Onward! 


I wish all of you a joyous, happy, present, fun, healthy, prosperous, and adventurous year!! Make it great! 

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Smudge

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Six weeks ago, I came to LA with a prayer; if this is the right move for me, please let it be obvious. And if it isn’t, please let that be obvious too.  I didn’t know what I expected to happen once I arrived, but as a dear friend put it “it’s not a big deal, you’re just going to eat and sleep and work and drive and breathe and laugh somewhere else for a while.” But in some way it felt like a huge deal.  I had spent months of my life, years if you added them all up, in LA previously, but somehow I was always the passive passenger, along for the ride, but never investing or committing too much.  This time it felt deliberate and decisive.

It has only been seven months since I was driving down the 110 from Pasadena towards the transformational training workshop I was taking in a hotel ballroom near LAX, that I had the sudden flash that I should and would move back to LA.  As the proverbial lightening bolt tends to do, I knew that my comfortable but stagnant life was not serving me and that in order to become the woman I envisioned, things had to change.  One week earlier I had thought of my low overhead, inexpensive city, beautiful home, and plateaued career as assets and now all I saw was an under stimulating comfort zone.

And then November happened.  How to even sum up the insanity that was November 2016? Well, you know, you were there! I arrived just in time to attend Día de los Muertos at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, watch the Cubs win the World Series, and to then witness America go to hell in a hand basket and take the the planet with her. And that was just the first week. “What am I doing?” I wondered, as I jostled duffle bags between two different  housesitting gigs.  It felt like the world and I were spinning and I wasn’t sure which way was up and which was down.

In the midst of the crazy, I came back to my prayer. Please help the Yeses to be clear.  And please help the Noes to be even clearer.  And LA just kept being one, big yes. I loved the idea of living in something that I had previously been unaware of, a sanctuary city.  I saw an ad for an apartment on craigslist and, though I’d been planning on waiting  another month to decide if I was going to sign a lease or not,  I went to look at it. It was a yes.  My friend invited me to a dance class at the exact kind of studio I’ve spent the past couple of years searching for in Albuquerque.  I had as much film work as I wanted, if I wanted it.  I had dinner with different friends frequently.  I drove north for an improv workshop at the Esalen Institute, in Big Sur, remembered how much I love improv, and signed up for a longer class in LA, starting in January.  I enrolled in a nonfiction writing class.  And just like that, the life I had started to envision in April, began to take shape.

That isn’t to say my ego hasn’t done its fair share of fear based kicking and screaming over the past month.  We’re 37, why are we starting over? Our house is so much nicer than this apartment, why did we sign a lease? What if we never figure it out and just keep starting over? Oh great, now we are one of a bajillion people living in a huge, smoggy metropolis far from our family and green chile.  Why can’t we just be happy with our job, our house, and our routine and keep it all the same, it is so comfortable.  At which point I have to kindly tell myself to shut up.

Once I am able to quiet the fearful chatter, my gut reassures me that it knows what it’s doing and to keep going,  not having to know where, but trusting that it will be awesome.  It already is.

 

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Here We Are. November 9th.

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What a morning.  What a night.  What a time to be alive.  I went to bed with a lump in my throat and a pit in my stomach, shocked that I could be so out of touch with half of the country in which I live and that I love.  “Where are the adults?” I wanted to scream as it became clear that Donald Trump would become our next President.  “Where are those who know what is going on and how to fix it and make it all ok? How can we possibly be handing the keys over to this most infantile excuse for leadership?”

Upon waking, the reality that it hadn’t been a dream and was in fact very, very real hit me in the gut and my shock turned to a deep sadness which I can’t  remember feeling so intensely since the morning of September 11th, 2001. How is so much of our country and of the world choosing fear, walls, hate, and isolationism when now, more than ever, we need to work as one planet.  After several minutes of crying over my computer, I went for a walk, to remind myself that, just as President Obama assured us it would last night, the sun did rise this morning.

What do we do now? I have zero interest in jumping ship and moving to a foreign country, nor do I care to spend the next four years living as a victim or in despair. How can I, and we, continue to find and create beauty and peace in our lives, our country, and our world? And how do we help and support one another and this planet we call home? It is a scary thing to realize that we are the adults, the leaders, the ones on which our future depends.  As I search desperately for a silver lining, all I can come up with is this- had the candidate I was supporting won, I may have spent the next four years telling myself that everything was being taken care of and that I could just go on with my life as I always had, involved to a  point but not as much as I could or should be.  But, that did not happen.  And now I am faced with the reality that many of the things about this country that I hold most dear are being questioned and could be revoked completely.  So, it is time to get busy.  There are, and always have been, people doing amazing, quiet, beneficial work all over this country to make it a more inclusive, kinder, fairer, healthier, greener place.  I believe, and pray, that this election will be the painful reminder that there is not, nor ever has been, a candidate or person or outside entity of any sort coming to save us.  This is up to us, we are the ones we have been waiting for, and I have faith that we will not only get through this, but will come out better and stronger than ever. But, fasten your seat-belts in the meantime, this ride has just begun.

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Both original photos were found on Pinterest under search words Planet Earth and Rollercoaster