An important weekend for the women…

This weekend seemed to center around women, not necessarily by design, but due to the circumstances occurring around me. My boss scheduled our holiday celebration on Saturday night, a great idea after letting the hustle and bustle of the season fade. We were initially scheduled for a dinner party at Spin down in the financial district of San Francisco. At the last minute, there was a double booking, so we switched from ping pong to bowling.

Rick and I decided to splurge a bit and book ourselves for two nights at the Marriott Marquis right in the heart of the city between Market and Mission. We made dinner plans with our friend Paul on Friday night at a fabulous Mexican restaurant right next door. What we didn’t realize when the event was first scheduled, is that the Women’s March of 2020 would be taking place on Saturday, right in front of our hotel. The older I get, and likely also because I now live in such a rural environment, I’m not the biggest fan of large crowds. I cheer on the participants, but you will not likely find me amid the masses.

Rick and I decided it would be fun to be totally decadent and stay in our hotel room all day, order room service, bring our books and computer, play games and not even think about leaving the room until late in the day when the crowds had dissipated. As the weekend progressed, it turned out I couldn’t have been happier with a slow day to process my feelings.

Some of my readers may remember me writing about the passing of my friend, Carrie, a few years back. Our dinner plans on Friday were with her husband Paul, and a wonderful woman Lisa he has recently started spending time with. Even though it’s been over two years since Carrie’s passing, I still find my throat closing and my eyes welling up when I think of her. Rick kept glancing my way throughout the dinner, I’m sure worrying that I might not handle the evening well.

And he was right to be worried. I’m nothing if not emotional, and at times I don’t do the best job of masking my feelings. I could at times during the dinner see myself from a bird’s eye view, completely split emotionally speaking. Part of me still wants to rage at the injustice of my friend’s early passing, and yet here I was being called on to meet this new friend of Paul’s, who I must admit is an undeniably lovely woman. The battle that raged within me quieted quickly as I found myself genuinely enjoying the conversation and the fantastic food, and getting to know this new woman that I could envision as a friend. That’s when I knew that Carrie was not far from us in spirit and was sending her love our way.

We parted ways fairly early as they had another event they needed to attend that evening. Rick and I made our way back to the room to settle in. Rick continued to look at me sideways, probably still waiting for the dam to break. And of course, I did end up crying a bit, but they were just tears that still needed to be shed over losing my friend so unexpectedly. And I’m sure they won’t be the last. But with the prospect of Paul having such a wonderful new companion, there is at least a new light for me to consider.

We awoke Saturday morning, enjoying the comfort of a Marriott bed. They are the best! It was great not needing to rush anywhere. I yawned and stretched and slowly reconnected with the world around me. I knew that the streets below me were probably filling as I lounged. I was happily cocooned 29 floors up. Once I was awake, I opened my phone and received not one, but two disturbing messages.

The first was from our friend Janet telling us that our friend Ann’s mom was suffering from congestive heart failure and that they would be putting her on hospice care. God bless those hospice workers, God’s angels on earth to be sure. We exchanged texts and tucked the sad news in our hearts for continued prayers.

Next, I read my niece’s blog post about her sister’s breast biopsy that had just taken place. Within minutes I was texting my niece Wendy to send my support and love while she awaits the results. We, too, exchanged texts, and I tucked away Wendy alongside Ann in my heart. So much emotion and it was only 10:00 o’clock.

The morning progressed, and Rick fell back asleep, snoozing quietly beside me. I welcomed a few moments to myself playing solitaire on my computer, letting the tears intermittently slide down my cheeks. The thousands of women 29 stories below me lining up on Market seemed to offer up their strength. I kept thinking about what lovely creatures women are.

And I love men just as much, but that’s another post. This 24 hours had been a lesson about females, my friend Carrie, Pauls’ friend Lisa, my friend Janet passing along the news about my friend Ann fearing the loss of her mother Janet, my niece Wendy worrying about breast cancer, my niece Margie, the messenger. I had to take a pause to realize the women in my life are a force.

Feeling my own need for a bit of reinforcement, I texted my sister in law Lorene, not telling her anything about the day, but just saying I missed her. We both typically move at lightning speed, and it’s a toss-up whether we find time for a phone call, usually not. But within two hours my phone was ringing, and I can’t tell you how nice it was to tell her about my day. She, of course, offered her unconditional support, which can always be counted on, but more important than that, it was just good to hear her voice, to laugh and commiserate with my sissy.

I closed the afternoon out, texting also with my friend Colleen, positive subjects about babies on the horizon and our lovely daughters. 24 hours embracing women on the 29th floor of the Marriott, I didn’t even need to go downstairs to where all the action was. It’s a day I won’t forget any time soon.

Our holiday party was a great ending to the weekend. We enjoyed the comradery of my work gang, also headed by an amazing female. I awoke Sunday morning excited to get back home to write.

To the women in my life, past present and future, those who have passed and the new friends I see on my horizon, I love and thank all of you for being the amazing people you are. And to the ladies who marched this weekend, thank you for your efforts and your commitment to making the world a better place.

Enough

One of the major themes throughout our two weeks in class has been self-acceptance.  Our instructors have done a fabulous job of teaching us to look at how we speak to others as well as ourselves.  It’s a bit surprising to realize just how much I apologize, for this, that and the other.  In the first few days, our teachers would stop us in our tracks when the words  “I’m sorry” came out of our mouths.  By the second weekend, the teachers didn’t even need to say a word.  If one of us was speaking in front of the group and began to say “I’m sorry” you’d see the speaker’s face flinch as if they’d been jolted with a small amount of electricity.  We looked like a bunch of Pavlov’s dogs.

It’s not as easy as you’d think to stop saying you’re sorry.  Tess, our female teacher, is such a little spitfire, I just love her.  And man, she just peers into your face and asks you, “WHAT ARE YOU SORRY FOR?  WHY ARE YOU SORRY?”  And she means it, she wants an explanation for why you are sorry.  In most cases, I find myself realizing I’m not really sorry at all.

There has been a major focus on the idea of being enough, and accepting that we are always enough at all times, regardless of what we can and can’t do, what we do and don’t have, that we are right where we need to be at that moment in time.  Interesting concept for some of us.  It’s so easy to always have my eye on something I think I want or need, or something I need to change about myself.  And not enough time is spent appreciating what is, right now, just this, just me, nothing more, nothing less, this moment being perfect.

The instructors have definitely gotten their point across in a short time, as  I am finding myself contemplating the concept of acceptance and enough throughout my days.  I think of myself as a pretty confident and happy person, but I have to be honest, I say I’m sorry a lot now that I pay attention.  The hike I talked about in my last post, I spent the whole way up saying I was sorry and thanking my angels.  They kept saying, no need to be sorry.  And they were right.  Why would I need to be sorry to someone else for my fear, and needing to take breaks to catch my breath when I’m not used to a hike like that.   WHY WOULD I BE SORRY FOR THAT?  Yet, there I was … sorry.

Check it out yourself, just pay attention to your thoughts, how many negative thoughts run through your brain in an hour, or a day?  We humans can be damn tough on ourselves.

With this philosophy in mind, I will share a really nice realization I had on Saturday evening when I left yoga.  Part of our homework has been to clean and clear our spaces, both internally and externally.  We were asked to purge our surroundings of unnecessary objects.  Since Rick and I moved in the last few years, I don’t have very many items left that need purging, but I did have a pile of old videos from my mom’s stuff sitting on my dresser.  It seemed the perfect place to start my assignment.

On Thursday night after dinner, I got comfortable and started to play each video.  Some were my kids from their preschool years, but there were two in particular that were films my mother had transferred onto video, and they dated back to when I was a toddler.  It was a collection of images, no sound, myself and my cousins going down a slide at the San Francisco zoo, our parents dressed in their Sunday best laughing among themselves, chasing after us, and others with just my parents and I.

I sat somewhat mesmerized studying the films, yearning to see more, searching their faces and actions for some clue as to how these seemingly happy people became what I would remember them as, two very unhappy and unfulfilled souls.  I finished looking at the tapes and went to sleep that night feeling so sad.

As I drove to yoga on Friday night, I was listening to the Beatles station on Sirius radio.  They were playing a collection all weekend of the Beatles’ top 50 love songs as voted on by the listeners, I’m sure in honor of Valentine’s Day.  For anyone who hasn’t listened to the station, they will put together a collection and then play it over and over all weekend, it just loops around and around.  I came in at the beginning of the songs working down from No. 50.  As I came through the canyon they played Julia, which is a song written for John’s mom, I believe, after her death.

I couldn’t help thinking about my mom, and still feeling melancholy from watching the tapes.  I found myself thinking how sad our life together had been, so much unhappiness and turmoil, and feeling like we had wasted our precious time on this earth together.  The mood hung in most of the night, and when I drove home around 9:30 coming through the canyon, Julia played again.  And then again the next morning, and then again the following evening. Coincidence?  I’m only in my car 20-40 minutes depending on where the class is, Auburn or Roseville.  I’m not sure what the odds are of coming into the rotation at the same place every time I get in the car, but I thought about heading to Reno to do a little gambling since my mom seemed to be in my back pocket.

Saturday morning my mood shifted and I welcomed the song, enjoyed my drive through the canyon and greeted the new day with an open heart.   What would day five of this adventure bring?  It was an eventful day in class, lots of yoga and instruction, but what would be the most important part of the day would come as Julia once again played on my way home (of course it did).

Instead of thinking my mom and I had wasted our time together, I asked myself “what if what we had together was enough? What if it was just what it was supposed to be?”  With that door open, my mind raced remembering what I’ve always believed, that we come here to learn and that sometimes our lessons are hard.  With that thinking in mind, then truly my mom and I kicked some ass in this lifetime.  We’d hiked our own trail straight up a rock hill and parachuted down to the river below.  Just maybe I had this all wrong.  Amazing.

And if all that is true, then it would explain my reaction when my mom did finally pass. Hospice had called early that morning to let me know she was close.  She’s been close for three months, but this day was different and I knew it the moment I walked into her room.  I settled into the big blue chair next to her bed with my book.  I’d pretty much said everything I needed to her in the previous three months, so there was no need for words at this point.  She was already somewhere far away.  I watched her breathing all morning, reading a page or two, and glancing up.  Although her breathing was labored, she was interestingly very quiet.  I could not rely on sound to monitor her.

At some point mid morning, I glanced up and found she had made her way ever so peacefully after such an arduous journey.  I sat watching her for a few moments and once I knew for sure her chest would not rise again, I said, “Mom, I didn’t even hear you leave.” I let the tears come, and after a few minutes, the next words out of my mouth were, “We made it, Mom.  We did it.”

They are interesting words for someone who has just lost her mother.  They were not words prepared or thought about beforehand.  They were the words of my heart, and what I was feeling.  And I don’t know about you readers, but to me, they sound like the words of a gal who made it with her mom to the top of the lookout.

I will close with the words of one of my favorite songs from You’ve Got Mail, hauntingly beautiful lyrics and melody.  For some reason, I do believe,  in this lifetime we choose to forget what we know in order to learn our lessons.  It’s nice when we remember …

“Long ago, far away

Life was clear, close your eyes

Remember is a place from long ago

Remember FILLED WITH EVERYTHING YOU KNOW

Remember when you’re sad and feelin’ down

REMEMBER TURN AROUND

Remember life is just a memory

Remember close your eyes and you can see

Remember think of all that life can be

Remember-

Dream, love is only in a dream, remember –

Remember life is never as it seems. Dream

Long ago, far away

Life was clear, close your eyes”

 

Remember lyrics – Harry Nilsson

http://www.harrynilsson.com/

 

If I walk away from this class with nothing more than this realization, it will be enough. But between you and me, I’m not thinking that I’m done.  Until we meet next week,

Namaste

 
Picture taken on our sunrise hike to the outlook over the American River, Overlook Park, Auburn, Ca.

Opening Doors

 
It’s a bit hard to even know where to start on this blog.  One weekend in, three days, nineteen hours, I write from a humbled and grateful perspective.  I marveled all weekend at how intuitive our inner voice can be, and thankful that the universe is always, even though we might not recognize it, offering up what we need.  Sometimes I think we just need to slow a bit to receive the message, as even if the sign is huge with red arrows and large letters saying “SUE TURN HERE,” traveling at a hundred miles an hour, I have been known to miss it.
I can only thank a higher power that when I found myself drawn to the little old-fashioned store front window of Eastwind Yoga in Auburn, that I paid attention to that small flash of recognition that some might call coincidence, but I call a knowing.  At this point in my life, I no longer need an earthly explanation for some things, as there have been far too many coincidences to write off.  I simply don’t believe any longer in random coincidence.
The beginning of this training definitely lived up to its hype.  Amazing weekend … transforming already in three days … what will six weeks bring?  So many self-realizations in such a short time.  I think the best way to describe the class is that it was like having a huge mirror placed in front of you, a mirror not so much of your outward physical appearance (although that too) but one showing your soft sweet underbelly.  And my phrasing might sound pleasant here, today, Monday (as I write this), but that warm feeling came after two days of enormous upheaval in my soul.  And I think I can speak for the group when I say, I don’t think anyone was exempt from giving themselves a hard time this weekend.
Friday was surprising for me, as I had been anticipating this class for months, and the day had finally come.  But instead of being excited, I found such resistance in my heart while I gathered my belongings for class.  As I drove from home, I actually felt like crying.  I thought to myself, “I don’t want to go to this class.  I want to be home with Rick this weekend working in our yard.  What did I get myself into?”  I thought the feeling would pass as I drove through our beautiful canyon, but it did not pass.  As a matter of fact, it just kept building.  I fought back tears the whole way to Roseville.
It was my first time visiting the Eastwind Roseville location, so I found my way, and also found that there’s a really popular little Mexican restaurant right next door.  As I walked past seeing all the jovial-appearing people inside with their delicious looking meals and sparkling margaritas, I again thought, man, let’s scrap these plans and have Rick meet me here for dinner.  I did not enter my class with an open heart.  I arrived blocked and scared and very resistant.
As I walked through the doors, I realized perhaps my biggest resistance was that it’s been a long time since I’ve truly been vulnerable.  And the teachers made it clear in no time that this class would be nothing but being open and raw and vulnerable.  I’m quite sure I wasn’t the only one who left a bit shook up.
On my way out, I passed by the same quaint little Mexican restaurant as the crowd was thinning, still wishing to call Rick and have him meet me here and take me out of this fine mess I’d gotten myself into.
The drive home was filled with thoughts like, “how will I tell my bloggers that I quit one day in?”  (Holy cow … no, holy shit, not good. Check out my p.s. for a cute story about my mom and shit.  I think of my mom now whenever I say that word.”
Saturday began much the same, up at 4:30 to arrive by 6:00 to begin another day, a drive through the canyon seriously out of sorts, which is so not like me.  I usually love my drive through God’s country, how can you feel badly? (Oh, but I did.)
But when I arrived, I felt my kindred spirits around me all suffering from the same affliction of a serious case of self-doubt.  And within an hour, we were all sharing our feelings (sitting in our circle, all eyes on you, just sayin’).  It was in that moment that I let down my walls and explained truthfully how I was feeling (not the rosy picture I so like to share) and found I had plenty of expressive understanding eyes staring back at me (we speak so much more honestly with our eyes than we ever will with our mouths). 
The weekend unfolded from there and by Sunday, as I left, I drove through the canyon with gratitude in my heart, an excitement for the next five weeks, and an understanding that I’ve entered a chapter in my life that will stand out from the rest.  I believe in anyone’s Book of Life, there will be probably three to five chapters that will be pivotal in the story.  They will be filled with the moments that change your life, that point you in a new direction … and fill your gas tank for the journey.  My guess is I’ve just started one of those chapters.
I will digress just to say, on Friday, what I felt I was crying about as I drove to Roseville (which I think was only a small part of it) was my mom.  I just felt so sad thinking of her, and the realization that I would not be in this class had my mom not passed.  It all felt so connected and I felt so melancholy.
When I drove through the canyon just two days later, Sunday morning, on my way to the last class for the weekend, I passed through a thin wisp of fog before I began the descent into the canyon.  I love the pockets of fog on the road down to the river and all along the riverbank … they always transport me to such a peaceful place.  My thought as I drove through this mist was, wow, such a beautifully sheer fog pocket.
As the fog cleared, I felt that same flutter in my soul that I spoke about in the beginning of this post; it can only be described as recognition … a memory, past, present or future … a knowing.  And I could swear I heard my mother’s voice …  “Good luck, honey.  It’s your time.”  I actually found myself looking in my rear-view mirror, not really realizing what I was looking for until I got a mile or so down the road, and then understanding that my mom felt so close that I expected to see her with a smile on her face waving goodbye.
I entered class Sunday morning emotional, but a good emotional.  Happy to be there, and knowing I was right where I was supposed to be.
More to say next post about the class … so friggin’ amazing.  I just couldn’t bear to skip ahead, as the story is all in the moments, always.
As I close this post, I thank God that many months ago I was moving slow enough on my way down the little main street in our small town in the foothills to hear that tiny voice telling me … look at that storefront,  922 Lincoln Street, Suite 100, Auburn, California … it’s a place you will need to remember some time soon.
 
P.s.  My mom was certainly a character, probably always, but I understood that more in her last years.  She had an amazing group of caretakers … you all know who you are if you are reading this blog … but they came to me with the funniest of stories on a weekly basis.
One in particular, my mom needed to go to the bathroom, so she told her buddy/caretaker/Tyler that she needed to take a shit.  He laughed and suggested to her that maybe it would be more appropriate to say she needed to take a crap.
She answered him in no uncertain terms, NO, she needed to take a SHIT.  98 years old.  Clear.  True.  No uncertainty finally for my mom.  And since I wish she could have always owned that clarity in her life, I will always love the word SHIT from here on out.
My British peeps will have to understand if they don’t favor the word.  It’s here to stay.
A final P.S.S.  With class underway and an understanding of what’s on my plate workwise/blog wise/class wise, I am hoping to post twice a week going forward, with maybe a small side note for fun here and there.  This will be the only week that might be hard to get two in, but I’m still going to try.
Thanks, as always, for tuning in.  If I was Carole Burnett (look it up youngins’) I’d be pulling my ear sending love off to my family as well as all of you reading this blog.
Namaste