Solitude

Solitude means many things to different people.  For me, Solitude feels like an old pal that pays me a surprise visit when I least expect it.  Solitude feels masculine to me, he’s aged and wise and comforting, and I do so enjoy his visits. He only comes to me in public places that I would not expect to be alone.  He never comes to me when I’m home or in my car.  He surprises me, tickles me and leaves me feeling so incredible and most importantly … calm.
I’m not sure I appreciated my solitude as much when I was younger, but the last ten years I’ve changed.  Being an only child, it probably is no great surprise that I would learn to love being alone.  But with that said, I love being with others as well, and what I am very cognizant of, is that Solitude feels that much better when you know you have loved ones to return to.
Some of my favorite places to find my buddy?  I’ve had a few…
A pool, I love swimming, so me alone in a pool is heaven. All the waves moving throughout the pool, whether they be waves I have created physically with my arms or through my chakras system, are mine.  It feels amazing to resonate alone with my energy splashing against the edges of the pool and back to me.  Solitude lets me float and play and dream, and many times figure out what’s ailing me, or what my next move needs to be.  Like a chess board, in life we’ve always got moves to figure out.
Another favorite, the BEACH … definitely one of my true loves.  I used to live on the coast, and when I first moved there, it was not unusual for me to be the only one on the beach.  Can you imagine?  In the four short years I lived there, that already began to change.  But while I was blessed with that treasure, I can’t tell you how many times I walked the shoreline, taking a break to lay down, using my coat as a pillow, and awakening some 30 minutes later to the sound of the waves and a peaceful soul, regardless of what my mood might have been when I stepped foot on the beach.  Solitude sidled up next to my side as I slept peacefully in the sand.
I miss the beach, and have yet to make the river that winds through the hills I live in, my friend, but I will in time.  It’s been a lack of time more than anything that has kept me from that.  (Well, that and maybe the fact that I’ve seen the bears scavenging for food on the other side of the river while I’ve been hiking, not really thinking a nap is the right thing?????)
I recently met Solitude in a brand new place, the train.  My new job (yeah, I know, I still haven’t told you guys about that) necessitates me traveling on the train to San Francisco once every few weeks.  I actually love the train, watching out the windows as the beautiful landscape passes by my window.  Sitting in the first car, I can hear the train’s horn as it sounds going through the populated areas.  It’s constant and muffled inside the cabin, and reminds me of the distant fog horns I heard living at the beach, which I also loved.  I find the sounds soothing, a marker of life moving forward, reminding others to stay safe and be well.
My grandfather spent his life working for the railroad.  My mom told me such sweet stories about him, and her memories being the daughter of a railroad man.  I never knew him, he passed long before I was born, but the way I feel on trains makes me know his blood definitely courses through my veins.
My train ride begins in Auburn at 6:30 a.m.  We are the first stop.  The train sits empty, quietly awaiting us first arrivals that will board in Auburn.  We are also the last stop of the day when we return at 6:30 p.m.  A full day, 12 hours later we pull sleepily back into the station.  The last 30 minutes of the ride are the most beautiful as we snake through the foothills.
Last week during the last 30 minutes, I looked up to realize I was the only one left in the train car.  My pal, Solitude, had surprised and delighted me once again.  The feeling is a bit hard to describe, even for one who loves words … but the best I can describe what I feel is that I breathe deep without even trying, I relax, I feel a little mischievous, I begin to fill the space even if that’s just in my mind, and I enjoy it for as long as it lasts. And when I must part with my pal, I feel like I’m walking on air.
Solitude and I rode through the hills together in my empty compartment until I bid him farewell as we pulled into Auburn.  I tipped my hat, told him not to be a stranger, and that I hoped to see him again soon.
I got my wish today, as I swam my last laps in our HOA pool before it closes this weekend for the winter.  There was only one other swimmer that left me alone for the last 20 minutes of my swim.  Once again, I was blessed to swim alone, and quietly say my goodbyes to the waves for another season, but hopefully not Solitude.
This weekend we join our beloved lifelong friends to celebrate the marriage of their son.  Contrasts in life, the importance of mixin’ it  up …. life is full of treasures.
Namaste

Fire

(I wrote this post a few weeks back, just now getting to posting it.)
When I started this blog, I was writing on average three posts a week.   Down to one these days leaves so much out of the adventure, so I’m hoping in due course I can find my way to write at least two.  I’m so behind in sharing my journey, and it never ceases to amaze and delight me, and at times frighten the shit out of me, so I do so want to share it.  I’ve said this before, and I’m sure I’ll say it many more times, but we humans are much more alike than different, which is why I love to share my story, in the hopes that my readers can find some semblance of connection and hope in my words.
Again, if I was writing the story as I should (although still not sure by whose standards) I would be telling you about my new job.  But NOT happening, even though it’s great and I am pretty excited about it.  Instead …. this week, as I was driving home from our tiny market twenty minutes away (glorious drive through the hills in the pines toward Georgetown) I saw a pretty large plume of smoke over the hills way too close to our home for comfort.
In those first few moments when we humans sense danger, our thoughts splinter in so many different directions.  Wasn’t it my last post I spoke of fire victims? As I wrote that, I was thinking I was safe, different, and lucky.  (What the hell?)   How quickly our worlds can turn upside down, allowing for a much clearer vision that we humans all sail in one ship together.   Vulnerability is a very real part of this human existence, as is loss, sorrow, and grief.
But with that said, part of our journey also includes … hope, healing, love, faith, happiness, and my favorite, the ability to dream.  So, I think in the end, it might just be a choice about what anchor we choose to grab hold of.
As I drove toward our home, heart racing, an interesting reality took hold of my senses.  And this being the closest fire to our home that I’ve experienced, I finally made my list … what to take if you need to evacuate (a reminder I have received over and over again from more sources than I can count, because … wait for it, I live in a fire zone.)  
I will tell you now, we ended up lucky, the fire went another direction and was partially contained by the next day, enough for us to know we would be fine.
What I wanted to share were my thoughts as I stood on my deck looking at my neighbor’s house with the fire behind it looking so friggin’ close.  I love my home and would be devastated if I lost it, but I did force myself to look at the reality that most all we love and enjoy in this life is on loan.  And again, one can look at that as a sad thing or a happy thing.  I’m choosing to enjoy the gifts I’ve been given for as long as I can and feel grateful and happy.  And as for the fact that life can change in an instant, I will continue to plant my head as far under the ground or up my a–, however you want to describe it, as I can and enjoy the grace of each moment that feels good.
My list turned out to be pretty small, which again, is interesting.    Since our children do not live with us, the list starts with our cat, our little box that contains passports and social security cards, etc., our computers, family pics, and my collection of artwork.  I don’t have expensive artwork, but it means a great deal to me.  It isn’t something I could probably ever replace, it’s just from artists that I came to know and love.
What matters most boils down in the end to a very few things, your loved ones first and foremost, and secondly, any precious memories you might be graced to hold on to.  And while we might have some objects we’d like to keep, in the end, they don’t mean anything compared to those we love.  We can always recreate a home if we still have our loved ones.
In closing, I want to thank the tireless firefighters that last week worked hard to save the homes in my area.  I didn’t hear of any losses which is such a blessing.  I have spoken of my dear friend, Colleen, who’s husband, Ron, retired recently from a lifelong career as a firefighter.  She early on reassured me, that in Ron’s opinion, our STATS were good, and that we would be fine.   She also sent me a video of the firefighters working on our fire, the planes repeatedly releasing their fire retardant.
I watched the video over and over again, mesmerized as I watched the planes with each release … a break as the retardant fell, a slowing of the flames, but in the end a fire that I would liken to life, continually reaching for the skies.  It was slowed down by each release, but in no way extinguished.   It was unending, and continued to reach toward the heavens, just as all of nature does.  No wonder …  this earth is a never-ending miracle, and even when we don’t understand or want to accept our losses, they nevertheless (in my humble opinion) are the journey toward a great unknown … just a ways yonder down the road … nothing to fear.
Imagine if we lived each day in complete awareness of what really matters …
Nature … Namaste

Opening Windows

I know I have much to catch my readers up on, and while I feel a bit remiss in not doing so, I just find myself wanting to write about open windows.  I mean, can you blame me?  Is there anything better than an open window after months of hot summer days or cold winter nights, not to mention air so thick with smoke from the California fires?
This past week I have been finally able to turn off the air conditioning and open my windows wide …. WIDE … WIDE.  The fresh air feels just short of intoxicating, filling my lungs not only with such a sweet scent, but I am convinced it also clears my mind of summer cobwebs. I always say we humans can look to nature to see our reality, and I don’t know about you, but I am finding cobwebs everywhere in my home the last few weeks.  Could it be that we humans also gather the same within our souls?
Having been able to finally open my windows, I have felt such a high this past week at times, and I am convinced it has to do with the H20 entering my bloodstream, air that hasn’t been pumped through underground pipes that I don’t even want to think about truly.  Not complaining about air-conditioning, mind you … never … but fresh air is a highly underrated commodity.
My quiet reflective time this week, also known typically as driving, has been filled with such pleasant reminiscences of loved ones both far and near, along with a thankfulness for all that I’ve been blessed with.  What that life could always be filled with a fresh-air bliss …
Aww, but were that so, we would lose sight of the highs and the lows, and I for one, would never opt for that.  The last few months were to be sure filled with some sadness and stress, much of which I’ve already shared in my posts, so I welcome all that is Fall … the cool fresh air, and the change of colors in my garden that I love so much.  I can only hope that any looming sadness or pressure I’ve been harboring over the summer falls to the ground in a few months’ time along with the colorful leaves from my beloved trees.  In the meantime, I will enjoy the beauty of fall, as the colors in the nature that surrounds me change ever so slightly with each passing day.
Here’s to the start of Fall, the passing of another summer, the crops we tended to both in the soil and in our hearts, winter just around the corner bringing a time of rest and rejuvenation, the smell of pine and fires burning (that aren’t bringing chaos and loss to others in the fire season).  I can’t wait actually, but for now, I don’t want to rush this time of fresh cool breezes and the color of fire that will dot the leaves in a few short weeks.  Crazy how much we have to be thankful for.
Sending Namaste to all of my readers, but especially those who have lost so much this fire season.
 
 

Julie, a lesson in human grace

It’s interesting to me that the last post I wrote addressed a fear that life might not provide enough to blog about.  The last few weeks have been filled with more than I can fit in one blog, maybe not even five.  Last night I woke up as is my way, at about 2:00 in the morning, my mind ready to formulate my blog post(s).  I’ve come to welcome the interrupted sleep, as it means I’m ready to continue on this journey with you, my readers.
I tossed and turned for at least two hours, my tears falling softly upon my pillow as I recounted the blessings and sorrows of my life.  I always feel a little bad for Rick on these nights, as I wrap my arm around him for comfort, and then turn away as my mind wanders into writing mode. We shift back and forth together, sleeping dancers, for however long it takes me to finish formulating my thoughts, piecing together the story as I would a quilt, layering the colors and feelings until the vision is as beautiful as my mind’s eye.  (Might not have mentioned I’m a quilter.)
In the wee morning hours, my mind usually finds comfort in my ideas for the upcoming post, and I am finally able to drift off.  It’s such fun to make my way to the computer to hopefully return to the ideas that kept me from sleep.  And in more cases than not, it’s with gratitude and enjoyment that I return.
The past few weeks have been filled with much movement and change moving forward, but at the same time looking back, which is what I want to address in this post,  a return to the past.  I don’t know about you guys, but I see patterns in my life.  I seem to pass through periods that delve into one subject over and over again.  Lessons come to me from all avenues about a particular subject.  And when that happens, I think  to myself that I have something to learn or to reconcile, and in some wonderful instances, just a cherished memory to embrace.
I have found myself revisiting many of my private historical landscapes. An unusual number of memories for such a short period of time have sidled up next to me hitching a ride which I’ve been more than happy to offer up, memories of loved ones who have left this earth, and also loved ones who I’ve chosen to take a different path from.  Either way, the disconnect of yesteryear was in most cases painful and difficult, so the reconnect has been nothing short of blissful, but also extremely emotional.
These memories deserve their own post, in honor of my past, so I will focus only on one in this post, my memories of Julie.
Julie is and was a lesson in human grace.
Julie … if  you know me, you know that Julie was my gal … my Clarence (angel) … my mentor, my life teacher, and in the end, one of my dearest friends.  I am sure my readers can relate and replace the character on this page with the names of their loved ones.
I lost a larger than life angel from nothing more than a human condition.  It took me aback, and it also took me years to reconcile my loss.  But I never lost site of what I’d learned from Julie
A Love Of … not in any particular order … laughter, helping others, cooking, children, her children, cleaning, rising to the occasion, doing your best, being the best of a friend/neighbor/loved one … and what I know she would want me to add is, doing something kind for another without looking for any reward.
When I met Julie, she was in the prime of her life, and I was beyond lucky to tag along on her journey with Chris, her youngest son… Paul, her oldest … and Chuck, her husband.  I was 26 when I moved in across the street from Julie.  Because of Julie, I do believe in love at first sight, because I fell head over heels in love the first time I met her, and that love never wavered.  I was a very unaccomplished young cook, putting it mildly.  And Julie was probably the best cook I’ve ever known.  I used to joke that she could put dog food on the table, and you’d walk away remarking how great the meal was.
We began what would become a cherished experience, cooking together, shortly after we met.  She took pity on me, or probably more likely my husband, and took it upon herself to teach me to cook.  For years once every few weeks about 4:00 I’d get a call asking if I was free to come learn another of her amazing dishes.  I’d drop whatever I was doing and make my way quickly across the street.  She would teach … I would learn … but mostly we just enjoyed those hours together laughing and sharing whatever was new in our lives at that time.  Julie ranks up there with Ron, who I’ve spoken of in previous posts, in terms of people that not only influenced my life, but changed it significantly.
Julie left about eight years ago, and a few months back, her husband Chuck finally made his way to meet her once again.  I have no doubt that they are dancin’ in heaven … she did so love to dance.
A few weeks ago I visited her youngest, Chris, and his lovely wife, Jenn, at their home in Florida for the first time.  It was so special to finally have and make the time to spend with them.  I felt such pride seeing the amazing man Chris has become, and enjoyed getting to know the lovely woman he has the blessing to be married to.  Both of Julie’s sons are amazing people… of course, they were raised by Julie.
As we entered their home, I stopped in my tracks … Julie was everywhere.  I had not anticipated this.  Our room had her bedroom set.  Pieces of her furniture adorned most rooms, artwork on the walls, a basket I recognized on a table, a teapot in the kitchen.  Chris and Jenn, of course, have added a great deal of their own decorating choices to their home, but even their taste, gorgeous but simple. reminded me of Julie.  She could create a space on a shoestring budget that you just couldn’t get enough of, a combination of good taste and good will went into her home … and visiting Chris and Jenn’s home surprisingly took me back.  I fought the tears for probably the first hour or so, but as I gave in and let the feelings wash over me, I quickly found that I LOVED being in and amongst her things.
For a few precious days, I basked in my memories and felt her close.  I laughed with her son like I used to laugh with her … and once again I was reminded that life has such gifts to receive if we reach back for them … so often, we find reasons not to.  (Reminder to self:  take time, make time, remember tomorrow is never a guarantee.)
There’s so much more to this blessed story that I will undoubtedly post about in time.  But for now, I just wanted to share this experience with you all in the hopes that you might find yourselves in my story.  If I’ve learned anything in my 62 years, it’s that we humans are far more alike than different.  We choose to show up dressed in unique garb of different colors, but that’s what makes it so much fun.  So many flowers to enjoy in the garden.  (I think I’ve said that before, and probably will many more times.)
Before I close, I just wanted to welcome my three new readers this week, even when I wasn’t posting!  Awesome … and blogging news,  wait for it … I now have 200 followers.  Compared to many bloggers, that may not sound like much, but for me, that number sounds like heaven.  Two hundred souls joining me on my journey … I breathe it in, then breathe it out in such gratitude.  Can’t wait to connect with you guys soon, lots to catch up on.
Namaste

A wonderful life

I have a number of favorite movies I pull out at least on a yearly basis.  They are all different, but what binds them is that they make me feel good in some way.  One of my old companions is “It’s a Wonderful Life,” about life’s adversities and the power we each have in life to conquer our own issues, but more importantly, the influence we have on others.  I have never watched this movie without crying (big surprise.)  The lesson is so simple and pure and yet so powerful.  We have much more personal power than most of us will ever know in this life.  I think that’s what’s so sweet about the movie, is that it takes an angel, Clarence, to show George the many ways he has changed the world … for the better.  And in my mind, George is you, my reader … George is me, my sweet husband and kids, all of my loved ones, and even those I’ve seen fit to part ways with.  We all have infinite power to lift others, to help others heal, and succeed.
Writing has been a dream of mine for years.  Sometimes I still need to pinch myself to realize I am actually writing a blog.  Funny how a dream is never what you think it will be… it’s better and worse in so many ways … always.  Right?  For the most part, this experience is better than I thought it would be, connecting with others … amazing experience I treasure.  The down side would only be the critical nature my mind can offer up, which is where my angels come in to this picture, so many Clarences I seem to have in my corner.
When I began the blog, no doubt it was terrifying.  But once I pressed send, it was kind of like being strapped into a carnival ride … you’re there for the duration.  When I was small, my friend Colleen and I climbed aboard the Scrambler.  We were pretty young, probably about fourth grade.  We laughed so hard throughout the whole ride that we never opened our eyes.  I can’t remember now who’s parents were waiting for us, but I just remember they thought we were feeling sick based on watching us with our eyes closed throughout the duration of the ride.  Quite the opposite, we had just had the ride of our lives.
This blog has felt much the same.  I do need to close my eyes and my mind at times once I press send, and allow myself a little while to return to the computer, but I’m always just about as exhilarated as that ride once I do.
Since I left work, I’ve been experiencing a huge limbo factor as you might expect.  And numerous times I’ve wondered, is the story over?  Have I written what I needed to write or is there more?  I’ve accomplished my goal, the yoga class, and the end of my career at Virgin.  It was a natural breaking point.  Was the blog over?  I could see both paths, and what I didn’t want to do was work to find something to post about.  The class offered up such great material … would life do the same?
That question on paper now is almost funny, but not when you are in your head thinking through continuing to place your soul on the screen on a continuing basis.  After weeks of pondering, I decided that life would always offer up a great deal to chat about, maybe just not three posts a week worth.  And that once a week would be a great goal.  Finally comfortable with that idea, last week I sat down to write.  I felt almost like I did when I started, excited, giddy and confident again, knowing I had a great deal more of the story to continue with.
And this is where my angels reunite with this post.  I received two comments on my wordpress account.  I many times receive comments from my friends on Facebook, God bless them, they have helped me (more than they will ever know) find the courage to continue and become even braver as I write.
But strangers are a whole different animal.  It’s like a hand reaching out from the dark.  They aren’t reaching because they are your loved one … they are reaching back to share their support for you, a complete stranger.  Having just finished writing in a sense a post where I was committing myself again to this blog (even though no one would ever know that) these two people sent messages that were beyond encouraging.  I actually sat for a few minutes quietly in disbelief after I read them.  If I had been asked to craft an exact message that I needed at that point in time, I couldn’t have done a better job.  Coincidence?  No, not in my book.
Their heartfelt messages made me think of my favorite movie, about imperfect wonderful George, his influence on the world around him, my influences in this blog and otherwise, and my readers’ influences on the world.  Magical connections … I’ve said it before in my blog, united we all could light the world.  I hope you all watch the movie soon and recognize the George in you.
My tagline from the start, “a blog about crossroads, change, aging, loss, health, stress, fitness, yoga, renewal …in other words life”  I feel confident now that we have much more to share with each other.  Thank you dear friends, for your amazing support.  And a special thanks to Paul and Charlotte for reaching back.
Namaste

Questions, Questions and Answers?

I’m sure there have been times to rival this period of my life, but it’s been a while since I’ve had so many questions for myself.  Should I?  Maybe not?  Can I?  Maybe not.  What will happen if I do?  What will happen if I don’t?
Oh, and then there’s the little voice I so dearly love who can truly scare the shit out of me on any question I might be contemplating.  (thanks, but pipe down.  I got this.) 
My cat sits quietly beside me as I write, reminding me that she wants a new bowl of food instead of the cat food I put out a few minutes ago.  I glance over every few minutes to see her patiently waiting for me to get a clue that the food on her bowl is not what she was hoping for.  I try to tell her that I’m writing now, and that the food I already put out is good food.  She’s deaf as a doornail (where did that phrase come from?  Any clue?  Another question that needs answering.)
63 days of freedom so far, future in complete question.  Phrases like “do what you love and the money will come” fill my head.  I want so badly to believe and stay the course.  But my master debater little voice has other options to consider every day, almost hourly.
When I was in college I was nominated by my counselor (such a dear woman) for a scholarship offered by the Bank of America.  It required that I participate in a debating contest of sorts with students from all of Northern California.  I was shy by nature, and had never taken a debating class.  I had experienced one speech class which I hated.  Being center stage was not my thing.  I was much more comfortable as a stage hand, so to speak.  (You can have a lot of fun as a stage hand.)
Digressing …  there were levels to this competition as well, if you made it through one competition, then you went on to semi-finals and then the finals.  I guess somewhere somehow I became quite the little debater as I placed third in Northern California.  Both at the time and in hindsight, I find that incredible.  But I tell the story not to pat myself on the back, although that would be okay too, but really to support a theory I have that I can argue and debate with the best of them (much to Rick’s chagrin.)  And these days, that darn gal is having her way with me.
I come to a decision one day that I will go a particular thought-out route, and she never hesitates to make her voice heard.  (No wonder I won that competition.  And sorry, Rick.)
This morning I had coffee with one of my dear yoga classmates, and bless her heart, she reminded me of what I already know, but can lose sight of.
I think I will be declining my second job offer to allow room for the path that I can see ahead … it’s only a glimpse on the horizon, but it’s there.  As I said in my last post … if only we could dive off that cliff but once, that would be so great.  But this effort takes a constant vigilance and continued dives, not to mention a few belly flops to achieve that brilliant swan dive.
I’ve come this far … I’m callin’ all angels and sending back a message to the universe that settling for a job I don’t want as opposed to pursuing writing and yoga, is not for me.  Holding my breath for the plunge and prayers that I don’t belly flop.
And kitty is happy since Rick got home a few minutes ago to rescue her from her plight of food she didn’t want.  Like I say, there’s always an angel somewhere waiting to help.
Stay tuned, and please send a positive thought my way.
Namaste, and thanks Ally for the lift.

The Wayward Trail

So many thoughts going through my mind this week on such a wide variety of subjects.  Last night was the first time in a while I awoke with my brain racing, and as sweetly as I tried to coax my inner voice, she would not settle down and go back to sleep.  She had a map to work on (these days she’s got 24-7 to figure these things out, you think she’d get a clue that the middle of the night is not optimal.)
It seems that the universe has decided this is the window to make plans to move forward on my dreams.  While I’ve tried to argue that I wasn’t quite ready for a number of reasons … still so emotional and a bit raw after the last few weeks, it seems Lady Destiny isn’t willing to wait … a blessing and a curse.  I have moved through this last week putting one foot in front of the other, so completely unsure of the terrain and whether my walking shoes would be up for the trek, but just listening to my gut, and taking a chance … remembering my yoga hike and the lesson that I could put one foot in front of the other uphill … even when I didn’t think I could, struggling for each breath.
Interesting how the breath works its way through every yoga move, and nowadays all the movements of my life, my choices, my triumphs, and sadly my sorrows.
My wayward journey continues and the further I travel down the path, the more enchanted I become.  Yet I still struggle every step of the way with the “shoulds.”  My dear friend, Ron, that I’ve spoken of in prior posts, used to teach that when you hear yourself say “I should,” it often times means it is something you might want to reconsider, as it’s usually not a choice of your heart.  It’s a condition you have decided you need to act on, many times out of guilt.  Not a great reason to do much.
I can become so confused pulled toward an old belief.  I think of the early settlers risking everything for their dreams, and I mean everything, including their loved ones.
I have it easy, I’m leveraging nothing more than money and a bit of comfort and stress, small prices for realizing a dream.
As hard as I try to gravitate to new music, I return to my Kenny, One Chance at a Life, as I write and think and process and decide … will it be a return to comfort or will I take the chance.
I think of Kenny’s lyrics, endless second chances and I question the heavens above, reminding God that I made the swan dive, I chose the new life, I held my breath and jumped, and I still have to make the choice again and again. (Really?)  I find that so interesting, and as much as I hate it, I love it.  I am being tested and questioned again and again the last month or so … Sue, are you really ready to make this choice?  In so many words, that’s what the universe has sent to me.  And believe me I have waivered, which is why I believe the question keeps recycling.    ”For love and money I’ve made a lot of dumb mistakes in  my time,” another Kenny line.
I have been so tempted to take the easy road.
But today, this day, I feel a pull, a renewed ever so strong pull, or maybe a breeze to help me leave it all behind, another Kenny line, and opt for the choice of yoga and writing and all that I love.
My journey continues … and it seems I chose my title wisely … it is a wayward trail.  Wish me luck to remain true to course, following that light in the sky beckoning me forward.
Namaste

Let it Be

Last week definitely continued in the vein it began, learning of my friend’s passing.  Sadness and unpleasant news arrived numerous times during the week to tug at my heartstrings (actually it was more than a tug.)  It seems to me life needs to remind us from time to time that we are not invincible, nor is anyone around us.  And if I give that some thought, I guess that’s fair.  I don’t much like the reminder, but it does in the end circle around to me feeling so grateful for my life, my health, my loved ones, and all my other blessings.
Ever notice how bad news comes in three’s?  I enjoyed a great day with my sister-in-law in Truckee on Thursday, a very old tradition that we have recently resurrected.  We used to hit every store on the strip.  These days we are lucky if we get one or two in before we’ve found a quaint restaurant to settle into some corner and yack till the cows come home.  (it takes the cows a while)  On her way home she was involved in a collision with a semi -truck coming the opposite direction.  With only a foot or two to spare, she avoided what would have been a head-on collision.  Deep breath needed for that yoga move.
The following day I received the third of my negative stories, the health of another friend in question.  By Friday evening, I just wanted to throw myself down on the floor and cry, too many reminders of how fragile life is.
But … I had another yoga seminar to attend this weekend, a short one to learn about assisting students.  The class was scheduled for Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.  As I left the house, I reminisced to myself about the beginning of my teacher training class in February.  On some level I felt as if I was returning to that huge endeavor, but reminded myself on my way out of the driveway that this was a very short class, and a great chance to meet up with many of my classmates from the first class plus a few new ones, and that I had indeed finished that original hurdle.  As I drove through the countryside toward the center of our tiny town, the universe punctuated my sad week with two tiny dead fawns on the side of the road, clearly having been hit by a car.  (Okay, I get the message.)
I gave into my tears … they were overdue.  It wouldn’t be the first time I drove through the canyon with tears streaming down my face.  My yoga peeps would think I looked normal.  The class went quickly Friday night, and we met again Saturday at 1:00.  We began with a yoga session, followed by the course work.  The short yoga practice was actually perfect, not too difficult, but enough to get your blood flowing and break a sweat.  We concentrated on the mechanics of the poses as opposed to a flow.  As we neared the end, my dear teacher Tess, who makes any class such an adventure, said “we must experience the darkness to recognize the light.” 
I can’t even now recollect what that statement followed, why she even said those words.  (Of course, maybe in the big picture it was just for me.)  But I almost gasped out loud, in fact, I think I did.  Tears filled my eyes, and the remainder of our yoga practice I thanked the heavens for the reminder of why last week had been necessary.
I finished the class on a high, and came home so happy to spend the following day celebrating Father’s Day with Rick, a man I think is a hands-down great dad, to his own kids as well as a step-dad to mine.  We spent a lovely day doin’ what we love most, spending time in our home and our yard.  As the day was coming to a close, Rick said, “honey, come here, quick.”  He was standing at the end of our garage.  Up the driveway was a deer with her tiny tiny fawn …. so damn darling.  They trotted up the hill, a true joy to watch, and a reminder that as brutal as life can seem at times, there will be a light to catch hold of if we keep our eyes and hearts open.
Yoga, ever an inspiration and a reminder of how wondrous this life we lead is, even amidst the sorrow.
Namaste
P.S.  Lorene, words cannot express how grateful I am that you are okay.  And Tyler, new father with much to accomplish in this life, love your attitude.  Never change that.
P.S.S.  Monday morning I caught an early morning yoga class.  The teacher, Franchesca, who has truly a beautiful voice, closed our savasanah singing Let it Be … no music behind her, just her pure sweet voice.  Being such a Beatle’s fan, I love this song any day, but this day it was just what I needed.  I could not believe my ears.  Just in case I had missed it when Tess delivered my message, the angels saw fit to send it once more.  I’ve started this week with a peacefulness and gratitude for my blessings, the gift of this day and both the light and the dark.
“Let it Be”  (one verse)
And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow
Let it be
I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom
Let it Be
..

Friends

Friends are one of life’s amazing gifts.  They aren’t souls that gravitate toward us because they are part of our family, a work associate, or some other mandatory connection that you happen to enjoy (or not).  They enter our lives randomly, and the connection is immediate. Some call it chemistry, and there is definitely that…  there’s an ease we feel in their company, an absence of a need to try too hard, and in most cases a shared sense of humor.  I’ve never had a good friend that I didn’t laugh with … a lot.
My experience has been that friends come in all shapes and sizes and for all different lengths of time.  Some will only be with you for a specific part of your life, for as long as they are needed.  I have thought of those friends as my outside circle.  My inside circle has always been something altogether different, and those relationships have in most cases passed the test of time. Maybe because I was an only child, my friends took on an elevated importance in my life.  I have been beyond blessed and rich when it comes to friends.
A few days ago my dear friend, Cindi, sent me a text asking me to call.  At our age, it’s never good if a friend texts you asking you to call.  Not to be negative, but it’s usually news they don’t want to deliver via a text.  And sadly, my suspicions were correct, we had lost our dear friend, Carrie.  What compounded the hurt when receiving the news, is that I didn’t even know she was ill.  Life is interesting … some friends leave you for whatever reason with a great deal of drama, and some leave so quietly that you didn’t even know they were planning to go.
Carrie came into my life in my young thirties … our girls went to preschool together.  Our children were three years old in a class with an amazing teacher.  There were four of us mothers who gravitated to each other just as our children did the same.  It was a toss up who was enjoying who more, the kids or us moms.  Between us four women, we had a total of nine children, but this class in particular consisted of my Amy, and then Natalie, Taylor and Stevie, three girls and one boy.  We all shared a few precious years together, but in the last year of preschool, Mindy, who was Stevie’s mom developed brain cancer.  We lost Mindy in a short time.  Losing anyone is hard, but there are a few circumstances that rip your heart out more than others … to name a few, a child dying or a young mom dying leaving behind her kids.
We grieved Mindy’s loss and secretly thanked the heavens above for the reprieve.  Cindy, Carrie and I had been granted a stay … we would enjoy watching our children grow into adolescents and from there adults.  But the lesson would never be forgotten.  Giving birth to your children is one blessing, watching them grow up is quite another. 
Carrie and I lost touch for a number of years as our children were not in the same school district, but about ten years ago, we reunited.  And just as most old friends find, it was like no time had passed.  I enjoyed all her same sweet personality traits, like it was yesterday … the way she told a funny story, giggling all the while telling it, her fabulous sense of humor, and the look in her eye as she finished the tale asking only with her expression for your take on this hilarious narrative she had just shared with you.  They were such crazy life anecdotes about aging parents and the like, and always full of the ridiculous, so it was ever so much fun to join in and share the humor with her.
Carrie and Paul visited us probably a year and a half ago, spending a great weekend with us hiking.  As I piece together this story in hindsight, it was probably after that visit that she became ill and my mom also began to decline.  As our lives went in separate stressful directions, neither of us knew what the other was up to, and it wouldn’t have been unusual to lose touch for months or even a year.  There was just that comfort between friends that when the time was right, we would reunite with stories to share.
And it was time to reconnect, I had been thinking of her for a month or so.  She was on my list… I’ll never think of my list quite the same after this.
Our original circle of four has now suddenly become two … a new reprieve, a new lesson about appreciating the gift of watching your children become adults, perhaps marry and become parents in their own rite.
Cindi said something kind of interesting to me when we talked … she said “I imagined this conversation in your blog.”  She was right, this would make its way to my blog about crossroads, change, aging, loss, health, stress, fitness, yoga, renewal … in other words, life.
To Carrie, wherever she is, I send my love and sadly my regret.  I know she is beyond such earthly cares, but nonetheless I hope she knows.  And to my readers, get on the damn phone and call any loved one you have been thinking about, or text or do whatever you do to share that blessed connection you feel with them.
Namaste
The photo is of my daughter, Amy on the right, Taylor (Carrie’s daughter) in the middle and Natalie (Cindi’s daughter) on the left, and sweet Mindy behind in the big white collar.  Like mother(s) … like daughter(s)…always laughing.

Free

Slowing down is an interesting process.  My history, as probably most of my readers, has always been a fairly fast-paced hectic lifestyle, but I would have to say the last ten years were some of the busiest most demanding years of my entire life, for a number of different reasons.  Suffice it to say, my train has been barreling along at top speed for most of that time, so this experience of being unemployed, kids grown, grandkids still but a dream, parents off to higher pastures… leaves my days up to what I plan, which isn’t too much right now.
For the first week or so after my job ended, I was busy with a celebration trip to Hawaii, but once I returned home and Rick went back to work, the reality of this new chapter of my life definitely set in.  And as excited as I was, I also felt terrified to be without my income as well as the other perks of being employed.  I didn’t even get one day into unemployment without beginning to worry, whether or not it was warranted.  Man, that inner voice sure doesn’t hesitate to offer up negative imagery.  Yikes.
For about a week or so, I felt as if I’d done a truly beautiful swan dive from, of course, an extremely high cliff in some amazing tropical land, but seriously, I was screaming and flailing all the way down, not exactly a pretty picture.
It took about a week for me to settle down enough to realize that this was not a worst-case scenario story.  As my defenses let down, I was able to look at the whole picture and realize that I would be fine in the end, and more than that, that I would actually most likely find I that I loved this new chapter.
The conclusion of my employment, as it turns out, has been almost as time consuming as beginning a new job, so many things to figure out, insurance, where to move your 401K, trying to get all your ducks in a row.  I’ve spent hours on the phone, and on the computer, at doctor’s visits before the insurance ends, and even finally after 12 years of procrastinating had a colonoscopy … I’ll save the lessons about that for a whole post, without too much detail about the process … blimey.
As this week begins, I only have a few loose ends left, and I find my thoughts quieting down and moving toward my passions.  I am marveling every day at the ability to take my time with whatever I am doing.  It’s a lovely experience for me, and makes me realize how much I probably missed moving so quickly.  And it’s not that I’m regretting anything, just studying life, and enjoying this gift of time I have been given.  I hope to use it wisely.
We all are unique beings with different tastes and desires.  What I’m being drawn to is spending more time in nature and with my loved ones, also writing and  yoga.  This morning I took my usual walk over to the lake (really it’s a pond trying to run with the big dogs) and sat at my usual picnic table next to the pond watching the wildlife.  The fish were surely jumping, and the sky was as blue as blue can be. I typically stop for only about five minutes as there’s a list of to do’s a mile long waiting back at home, but today, there was no list a mile long.  I had a list, but it was manageable, not to mention nothing that needed to be done today, so I took extra time on my bench.  The breeze came up, and as it moved through the trees so full with their spring growth, I basked in the sunshine listening to the music of nature, the sounds of our earth.  Mother nature’s melody is as beautiful as any notes we humans can create.
And today, coincidentally, I received a sweet gift from my yoga teacher.  When we began our class, we were asked to fill out a questionnaire.  One of the questions was, if I remember right, to select a word that described how you wanted to feel at the end of the class, or maybe just in general, not really sure exactly how the question was worded.  But what I remember writing was “free.”  I wanted to feel a freedom that I knew had been missing from my life for quite some time.  I remember feeling a little funny about selecting that word, because I felt it could be misconstrued.  But nonetheless, it is what resonated with me, so I wrote it down.  I felt that the answer could be misunderstood as my wanting a freedom from my husband or my kids, or perhaps interpreted in regard to my mom passing, none of which was what I was yearning for.  No, the word simply meant a chance to spend my days exactly like I have been doing the last few weeks, choosing how my day will play out, gravitating toward my passions, opening new doors for new adventures, connecting with people, enjoying nature.
I opened the package from Tess with a note and a bracelet with the word I had selected.  “Free.”  I smiled to the heavens above, and sent a silent nod to Tess for being so thoughtful, and intuitive as to when that gift should arrive.  Life rarely disappoints me.
I know that this freedom will ebb and flow in my future, because that’s just life.  But for this moment in time, I will embrace this blessing with great enthusiasm and gratitude.
Endless second chances to take it once chance at a time … Kenny Loggins … the breeze has come to take me and it’s a sweet ride.  Thank you also, Kenny, for writing a song that never tires for me.  It lifts me, inspires me, and reminds me about what is important.
Namaste