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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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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When the world trips over itself to make you smile.

Do you ever feel like the world is tripping over itself to show you its beauty, make you laugh, excite you, nourish you, and wake you up, but that, until you’re ready, open, present, and willing, the effort goes unnoticed?

My sister recommends the perfect book that is exactly what I need to read, this relates to the radio show I happen to hear while driving to work, which happens to be down the PCH at sunrise, after which my favorite song begins to play, etc, etc, etc. (Not to belittle the magic, but there have been too many of these moments to mention).

Let go. All roads lead to letting go. Every book, every podcast, every teacher. Let go. Let it flow.

Fly. Trust.

Ok world, I hear you, thank you.

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39

Love after Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

-Derek Walcott

IMG_3963I’ve loved this poem since the first time I heard it, years ago. That idea of coming home to yourself and saying “oh, hello there, look at all of this awesomeness I have been too preoccupied to notice. Hello life, hello self, hello world, hello beauty, hello late night moments of contentment, morning stretches, new songs, old recipes, friends…

Today is my birthday and all I can say is thank you for the clarity that grows a bit stronger every year….the idea of time as a spiral rather than a straight line, a journey that can be mistaken for going in circles until one realizes the lessons lead us around until learned, but always go deeper, never really repeating…the certainty that my intuition is always right, even when I choose to ignore it… the realization that my four/ten/eighteen year old selves knew what they wanted and I am simply coming back to that certainty now…the soul will have its way.

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39.

Soundtrack… Boxer Rebellion-Ghost Alive

Diet…Waffles

Exercise…Dance, Laughter

Destinations…Biarritz, Portugal, Bruges

Goals…Love, Draping, Embroidery, Dog, Patternmaking, Presence, Gratitude

Color…Pink

Currency… Abundant Prosperity

Tarot Card…Queen of Wands

Advice…Let Go

Muah!

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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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2018! Love it!

IMG_1759I keep thinking about one year ago and am so happy it is now and not then! Not that it was bad, but… I pulled into LA with a car load of stuff last NYE, unloaded my car, went to dinner with friends, and returned to my empty apartment afterwards. It was foggy out and smelled unfamiliar. I woke on New Year’s Day, 2017, and assembled my bed so I’d have somewhere to sit.

Today, one year later, I went for a walk on the beach, after making breakfast and waking up late. I returned to that same apartment, now very lived in and full of furniture, and thought about 2017.

What a wacky year! Both personally and for the world. I told a story on stage to a bunch of strangers, took several classes, made new friends, performed improv on stage for an audience, and continuously felt like I was coming home to myself after taking a twenty year detour. I recommend that feeling!

As I look forward towards 2018 and backwards to where I have been, I see that each year’s chosen word has built upon the last and helped to get me to where I am right now.

2017 Adventure

2016 Faith

2015 Joy

2014 Happiness/Congruence

2013 Centered

2012 Confidence

And, while I continue to use each of these as a foundation, I choose LOVE for 2018! Love as the antidote to fear, just as adventure is the flip side of fear’s coin too. Love that can only be given and received once one has the confidence to know they are worthy of it. Love that comes from a centered place rather than one of neediness. Love that springs forth when one is happy and making congruent choices in their life. Love that is joyous and generous. Love that is given away with a faith that no matter what happens with it, the giver will be fine and that there is always more to give. Love that is entered into with the spirit of Adventure and Fearlessness.

As we look towards the future, with all of its possibilities, good and bad, Love is the only route I see. 7.6 Billion people on a tiny planet; so many differences, assumptions, misunderstandings, fears, traditions, religions, commonalities, languages, stories, songs, cuisines, views, and families. How can we look towards each other instead of away? How can we be of service and benefit one another? How can we open instead of close? It all begins with Love. We can do this. I can do this.

What is your word for 2018?

Happy New Year!

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Radiate

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What a week! What a month! It's like my nervous system, and those of everyone I know, are on constant high alert, waiting for the next twitter bomb, threat, shock, and proverbial shoe to drop.  I'd love to blame the eclipses, which we are in the middle of right now, but science and nature are getting enough flack lately, so I'll just blame us.

As I listened to our President threaten North Korea, I found myself thinking, hmm, this makes my already sparse earthquake survival kit seem even more lacking than it already is.  The Army Surplus store around the corner from my apartment advertises Survival Supplies, be they for an Earthquake, Burning Man, or Nuclear Attack and, curious to see what they had, I popped in. Food in sealed pouches guaranteed to last for a decade. Bullets. Gas masks. The list goes on and on. No, thank you. This is not the kind of stuff I want to buy or worry about. Nor is it the kind of world I care to live in or survive should the unthinkable come to pass.  I left the store without buying anything.

When I walked outside, it was a quintessential gorgeous LA day, 75 degrees and sunny.  A tree nearby was literally raining down purple blossoms.  Wow, I thought, this could all vanish with the push of a button.

Later that night, as I was laying in bed, I happened to feel one of my breasts through my T shirt and was startled to feel a strange bump. "WTF is that?" I thought. After finding a doctor who could see me quickly and getting my first mammogram, it turned out to be nothing serious, but for the second time that week I thought how quickly the lives we all take for granted can change forever. I also thought about how fortunate I am to have great health insurance and how unfair it is that so many in this country don't and that this will cost lives.

We take for granted that we will wake up in the morning and, still sleepy from the night before, drink our coffee and head to the jobs where that one guy will make us laugh and that other one will annoy us and then we will sit in traffic and eat dinner and not think twice about any of it.  We take for granted that Nazis are bad and that the President of the United States will have no problem saying so.  We take for granted that everyone wants to live and that in a war of mutually assured destruction, there will be no winners. We take all of this for granted because it is logical, fair, makes sense, known, etc.  But, then we remember that we are living in the era of alternative facts and this turns everything as we know it upside down. And the reality of the perilous tightrope walk we call life becomes more obvious than is comfortable to admit.

So, what to do? Radiate love in the face of fear and hate.  Value your health and take care of yourself in any way possible.  Help take care of your community.  Savor the beauty of being alive and create more of it.  Show up, speak up, stand up, and stop taking any of it (the fact that we are alive, on this planet, with each other, at this time) for granted.

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