The Challengers

On the walls of the day
In the shade of the sun
We wrote down
Another vision of us
We were the challengers of
The unknown     (lyrics from “The Challengers”)

I have been on vacation for two weeks.  Though it’s not the first time I have taken such an extended time off (people asked at work, “What are you?  French???” If only! Mais oui!), It feels like it might as well be since the change in me is profound.

The first week was spent with my sister visiting from Europe along with her kids and husband.  We rented a beach house near Ventura and Shaka and my dad joined as well.  Normally family vacations though well-intended can feel like a pressure-cooker of past grievances.  But it was such an enjoyable time (aside from my sister almost choking on rice and me panic-stricken in the ocean way past my depth trying to rescue my nephew, but I digress) and I even worked on my video projects.  First one is soon to come!  It was awesome to see dolphins and sea lions every day, as we surfed and chatted and fell down and laughed.  The sunsets seemed more vibrant while not having a rush-hour steering wheel clenched in my fists.

vacation

As if time with the family wasn’t enough of an identity reminder, the next week, as Shaka went back to work, my dad went back home and my sis and fam headed back across the pond, I found myself in a staycation of the best sort.  I converted my old audio cassettes to mp3s and I got another shot in the arm of my past (I also realized how annoying I was in these old recordings – but bygones : )

And it comes out to this… I like where I came from (I never thought I would say that).  I like where I am today even more.  I feel more empowered by excavating my memories and putting them in appropriate mental files (as well as actual Windows files – ha).

So with all this blissed-out, love-fest, vacation-girl time, I wondered why I still felt a sense of panic.  A feeling that the other shoe was going to drop.  The internal dialogue sometimes sounded like an external dialogue of theatrical proportions as I was driving around town, working out my worries.

I decided I was going to put old fears in a suitcase that gets lost in a transatlantic flight.  And then dropped in a fire pit.  And doused with forget-me-nots…uh, I wanted it gone.

Progress was underway.  I was driving around, not realizing how hot it was getting and how exhausted I was.  That night, Shaka came home and noticed I seemed listless.  I had a headache and neck ache and felt like I had lost all strength.  Then, right after dinner (with black rice – sooo healthy – sooo hard to find), I threw up.  Shaka looked up signs of a female heart attack – I had most of them.  I scoffed.  It was just hot.  It was just a tiring day.  But I promised him that the next day, I would call the doctor.

I awoke very refreshed but keeping my promise, I called.  The on call nurse wanted me to come into the ER.  WHAT?

Now I was nervous and started to imagine that I was having a heart attack right THEN.

6 hours later, EKGs, Xrays, all kinds of lab work and consultations and a Dr. Oz episode with a segment of women under 55 who have heart attacks (naturally I assumed this was a sign that I was never leaving that hospital bed) – it turns out, I had just experienced a vacation-induced Panic Attack.  Drama much?  If my old cassettes had proven anything, I hadn’t changed all that much.

hospital me

A clean slate feels pretty good (see happy face above – No Pain)

This weekend, Shaka and I headed to our friends’ place in Corona to celebrate birthdays, anniversary, last days of summer (tell that to the weather) and to ground ourselves with a meditation.

Plus there was wine and lots of it.; yummy food, good friends and pool time.  We all felt a bit like we had been tumble-dried this summer with life events.  Many of us had been awakened by physical problems to shift our thinking.  It was very comforting to know that we were not alone with some of what we had been experiencing.  I mean, just turn on the news or sports and you’ll know – the world is crazy lately!

What a balm, a salve, a healing, a …you get it.  It was good.

I made a mixed cd for the hostess.  One of the songs was an older one from the New Pornographers called, The Challengers.

I love the tune. But there is something even more powerful about the lyrics – like we are cutting a swath through this strange plain of existence.

In the end, all these details, all these emotions don’t really matter.  We only have to exist from cradle to grave and experience it all – for good or bad.  But I am grateful for my family, for my relationship, for my friends, for the adventures of the past two weeks.  Grateful for the challenges of what it means to be human and for all these emotions and all these details because they are what make us unique in our common experience.  To be challenged is natural.  How we handle it, is how we learn.

“Until I see you around
Until we clear the accounts
Leave it there
Leave it to us
We are the challengers of
The unknown”

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Zensday Wednesday – Passwords to change it all around

Good afternoon, my Lovelies!  Hope your Zensday Wednesday is looking better than my hair looked this morning.  I can’t be held entirely responsible:  I hung out with Jazzy last night. She made the yummiest salad and a pizza that went perfectly with the wine we heartily drank  sampled.  It was a perfect evening, replete with a gorgeous sunset, some chatting on her balcony and lots of catch-up in her cozy, gorgeous digs as french musique played in the background.  This morning looked a little less picturesque.  My puffy eyes and my pillow head made sure I remembered I don’t live in a movie or a French cafe.  Oy.  

Back to hoping your day is going better than my appearance this morning.  

I read an article recently about a guy who started to make his passwords goals he wanted to accomplish.  Whether it was forgiveness or trip-planning, he began to notice that his perspective on things started to change.  Here is the link to the article.

Password Changed His Life

I started to think that if I did that, not only would I remember my passwords (I recently changed them all and I feel like I have temporary dementia every time I log in to something), but maybe, like the guy in the article, I would start to see my life a little differently.  Sort of a mind game to remember gratitude or will power or strategy or goals.  I have started doing it.  It is going well.  Sort of.  I keep forgetting EXACTLY what my goals are and EXACTLY what I want to bring in to my life (maybe that is the bigger problem, no?).  Funny thing about passwords…they like exactness.

It’s all a process anyway (life, love, this password experiment).  I just want to get better at remembering so that I can start to live with a bit more intention (and also so that I don’t get locked out from too many false attempts at guessing).

Maybe my password should be: iwillsorememberThistime123 – like hastags.  

I will let you know how it goes, unless I can’t remember how to log in here.

#Fingerscrossed456

ZENsday Wednesday – Abstaining from Complaining

I forgot to post yesterday for Zensday Wednesday, but thought it could help a little with all the tension everyone is feeling with all the bad news in the world recently.

Try going 24 hours without complaining even once (even in your head). Start now…okay now. Well, whenever you start it, replace gratitude where a complaint would be. Even if you only last a half a day or an hour…it’s a start.

UPDATE:  I started this around 8:30am today and I must say that it’s like when you put a rubberband on your wrist that you snap whenever you have a craving for whatever you’re trying to abstain from.  Every time I wanted to complain, SNAP, I remembered to be grateful.  Okay, I remembered to not complain and THEN I tried to slip in gratitude.

It’s a work in progress, but I think I may have already changed my aura…wait, that might just be light reflecting off my glasses…whatevs, I will take it!  OMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

Let me know how your results turn out

Katification of Me

It started at the beginning of this year.   I was at a dinner party where I ran into a friend of a friend.

Her name is Kat.  She is beautiful, thin, young and incredibly vapid.

She is of that generation that came out of learning to brand themselves for social networking and have parlayed that into marketing, PR and Networking careers.

I have never had a strong opinion of Kat, other than she was 3 degrees of separation.  And she always says, “hello” to me in a very fabricated, genuine way.

After having one of the longest conversations I had ever experienced with her (10 minutes) at the dinner party, I realized that she isn’t all bad.  But she IS a lot of bad.  Bad for me, anyway.  Bad for my soul (wait?  Too dramatic).  Well, you get it.  Bad in a way that left me feeling like there was still a residue from our conversation. A sentence without a period.

What was gnawing at me?  It wasn’t jealousy (though for the low hanging fruit pickers, that would be obvi but untrue).  I didn’t want to BE her because I like more parts to my personality than she has hair on her head (she has beautiful, brown flowing locks). There was nothing about her that I found particularly interesting, funny or creative. And yet, one day, out of sheer boredom on facebook,  I wound up at her page.

I noticed that on a recent trip to NY, she had posted a photo of the contents (carefully art-designed, naturally) of her carry-on bag.

Among the various items of makeup, scarves, lotions, her phone and her camera, was a pair of headphones.  They jumped out at me on the page.  Was it my insatiable consumeristic nature?  Was it the part of me that loves those “What’s in Your Bag” features of many beauty haul blogs on youtube?  Or was it the ACTUAL beauty of these headphones (sometimes headphones are, afterall, just  headphones)?

It WAS the headphones.  But it was so much more.  It was that with very little effort (or so it appeared), she had so many things at her fingertips which were a struggle for me to achieve.

The headphones represented the disparities in our lives. It was quite literally, a snapshot into her easy life.

There, I guess it WAS more than the headphones and a little jealousy.

Kat’s appeal; her mystery, was that she felt like everything that happened to her, came to her, fell into her lap, was HERS.  She willed it.  Or wanted it, then willed it.

Either way, I found that although, yes, she came from privilege, she wasn’t a brat.

She was just entitled.

The world gave her a lot when she was born.  But she continued to expect a lot – with a smile.

And she got it.

These headphones had been a gift.  Probably swag.  Everything in that photo was simple, but purposeful. Her knowledge of branding was to be envied.  She had created a cult of the anti-personality.  And it was working! Everything was working for her!

I looked in the mirror that morning.

Were things working for me? And if not, why not?

What could I do differently?

If I could take one ounce of the Kat Koolaid and apply it to my own life, how differently would things turn out?

I was going to make this year:  The Katification of Me!

I had never been too materialistic, save for perfume and hair products.

I didn’t want to become like Kat, I only wanted to create a a playing field where I wouldn’t just secretly covet things or lifestyles of others, but rather, I would find a way to have them or create them for myself, while still being me.

It’s strange when you change the narrative of your own story.

Once I started creating a list of things I wanted, I realized that some items weren’t really that important to me.

A dupe might work here, or the real thing there.

I found that craving some materialistic objects made me happy and made me buy a lot less crap.  Like when you eat really good gelato rather than light ice cream.  It does the satiation trick.

Some things fell of the list really fast, like wouldn’t you know it – the headphones which had started this whole thing!  I ended up getting a pair I love for a fraction of the cost.

Some items are still on the list because I still WANT them even after months and months of deliberating if I NEED them.

I wasn’t coveting anything or anyone else’s life anymore.

Funny thing was…I hadn’t even known that I HAD been until it stopped. Weird.

Who knew that a casual acquaintance would help me start to truly love my life and be grateful? Be grateful for what I already have, be grateful for what I want to have, even if it never reaches me.

Be grateful I live in a time and place where for me, this is possible.  And also, not to be so quick to judge someone’s place in my life.  The lesson was quite loud.

I have run into Kat a few times since then.  She has no idea.  I doubt she would care about the impact this experiment had on me, if I were to tell her.

But who knows? She might surprise me. The power of Katification has shown me that anything is possible!