Monday, February 27, 2012

Sargent Gaia Reya

For most of my career, my professional persona could be described as a series of behaviors I refer to as Mama Gaia Reya. Grounded, patient, tolerant - in Mama Gaia Reya mode I make time and space for my clients, time for their aches and pains and all the stress that's a part of living in this crazy moment in history. I make space for healing by layering on the creature comforts: two fleece table pads, a table warmer, LL Bean flannel sheets and soft blankets, fluffy pillows and essential oils and music playlists designed specifically for my clients. I light candles, switch off most of the lights and pull the blinds, creating a nest-like space in which my clients can completely relax (if they're so inclined.) I think of Mama Gaia Reya as a wonderful facet of the three-dimensional me. I feel proud I can channel that, and provide the sumptuous space. I do.

But lately I've been seriously considering an invitation, from the Sufi acupuncturist, to share work space in his downtown office. For a long time I've wondered how I might design my life so as to get off the Hill occasionally. It's harder to leave the village than you might imagine. I've tried various work situations, none of which wowed me into continuing. This is why I've hesitated to accept the invitation even though I'm flattered as hell that the Sufi acupuncturist considers me a suitable colleague.

There's no point in trying to duplicate downtown what I've cultivated here at the chateau. No way it will ever feel as cozy and nurturing, as peaceful and healing as Chateau Seven, my massage studio. But then it occurred to me that people downtown in the middle of the workday might not actually need to get all greasy and spaced out halfway through their day. Office workers need to get out of the office sometimes so they can clear their heads, breathe, get some blood moving, gather their wits about them. They need to return to work refreshed, alert and ready to take on the piles of paper on their desks. Actually I'm certain the work is probably in their computers, but imagining a stack of files is much more compelling, don't you think?

My idea is to schedule half-hour sessions in which I'll do a combination of Shi'atsu, passive stretching, compressions, breathwork, myofacial release and Reiki. I'd like to engage them in the process. What I mean is I'll have them flex and relax the muscles on which I'm doing release work, do various kinds of breathing, that sort of thing. I might even lead them in guided meditations, teach them how to calm themselves. I can't imagine Mama Gaia Reya working in this way, but I can see Sargent Gaia Reya kicking their butts in gear then sending them out the door ready to take on the world.

Of course I'm exaggerating about kicking their butts. I think I am. And who knows if this will convince them they can take on the world? If I decide to go forward with this, it won't happen until summer hence I have time to work with this technique, get a few willing guinea pigs here to see how they like the treatment.

In celebration of the new healing persona, I went out into the garden after work today, ripped a bunch of ivy off the stone walls of my beloved chateau. It felt so good!

You never know what's going to happen next. At least I never do. Onwards and upwards indeed. Shalom.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

early spring

With the fountain switched off for the winter, the reflections at the American Indian museum are sublime.

It's yet another gorgeous day in Washington DC. I'll be working today but I have a big break at lunchtime during which I'll be out there, walking the circuit around Lincoln Park, wandering through Eastern Market, bumping into neighbors and friends (as is our custom here on Capitol Hill.)

The powerful upward rush of springtime energy is palpable. Spring arrived early in DC which I imagine means the season won't be as spectacular as it usually is - but I might be wrong about that. All I know is that even though it isn't quite time, there are daffodils blooming. I saw one tree that has already popped. It's a little weird, I'll admit it.

But as my brother always says, you can not grasp the river. If this is how spring is going to unfold this year, then so be it. A non-winter followed by a freakishly early and uneven spring? This year of the black water dragon really is a tumultuous time. It brings chaos and disorder, necessary parts of the cycle of life, but. Whoa. Or should I say wow?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Solo and De-quirked

I've seen a bunch of stories lately about the trend towards living alone both here in the U.S. as well as in Europe. I pick up on these stories because I live alone, I guess that's why.

There's a long feature piece in the New York Times today about how living alone brings out quirkiness. It is among the ten most emailed stories. How weird is that? I believe this must not be a big news week. If there was something truly interesting going on, who would give a rat's ass about emailing a link to a feature such as this one? I wonder about these things.

Living alone has not magnified my quirkiness, in fact, I believe I'm less quirky than I was while living in the house on Tennessee Avenue, re-washing pots and pans because my housemates didn't really get into scrubbing all that much, for instance. Now that I live alone, I do my dishes once. I think I'm more normal here than I was there.

The people interviewed for the story speak of standing naked in their kitchens at 2:00 a.m. eating peanut butter out of a jar, or leaving a bra on the dining room table. Is that quirky? I guess. Imagine me shrugging my shoulders. I think it's quirky that people believe these behaviors to be quirky.

My behavior is fairly boring. I live in a clean apartment (no bras on the table), I cook and eat at mealtime, post to the blogs, play WWF on the ipad, listen to music, read the New Yorker, do laundry, vacuum and dust, hang out on FB. I also work here which is lovely and unremarkable, I think. During NaNoWriMo I got a little quirkier, rising at 5:00 a.m. to write for two hours every day. I guess that's quirky. Is it?

Living alone has made me less quirky. No one from the New York Times called to interview me, hence the unbalanced reporting in that piece, I think. Yes?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Remembered Sistership

Some cliches are true. The one I'm thinking about this morning is the cliche of unity, you know, all those sayings that teach us how we are interconnected in many ways with each other and everything. It's absolutely true whether you look at it as a humanist, identifying with the qualities we share across all cultures, or from the physicist's point of view, that we share atoms that were once a part of Shakespeare and a whole bunch of other folks. Atoms are long-lived, I'm telling you, and they get around! Reincarnation is literally true at the atomic level at least.

Adoption is a very powerful act, one in which we admit there's more that binds us than blood and atoms. Adoption is an act of faith. It tends to work! Once adopted, we become family which is joyous and sometimes vexing or at least confusing. I use the term adoption loosely, to include not only the adoption of children and parents, but also marriage and many other ways in which we join in community, in family, friendship and colleagueship with one another.

One of my adopted sisters was in town yesterday, which is why I'm thinking about it this morning. She refers to the phenomena of adoption through friendship as "found sisterhood." I love that term and I am savoring the idea this morning. Indeed I am rich in sisters. Oh yeah!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Carpe diem!

The birds are going haywire outside this morning, singing their tiny bird hearts out to the world. Sweet! My eyes are itchy and my nose is twitchy which means the trees are stirring. It's an early spring in Washington DC following the long non-winter.

I opened a big box of Claritin yesterday, and will buy new bottles of my homeopathic remedy for spring allergies today, get some Chinese herbs when I see the Sufi acupuncturist next week. My body struggles with the huge, powerful uplifting energy of early spring, but I've learned how to deal with the struggle. I say, bring it on!

I've got the whole day off today, yay! I love working but I need my days off, too. A friend will be in town this afternoon, a friend who loves to walk around, take pictures, seek refreshment and look at art. It's going to be 70 F. today! What a day!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Big One

I'm not clear that babies exactly get the concept of The Big One even though they are almost constantly experiencing this phenomena. First tooth, first step, first word. Babies experience The Big One when they finally drink from a cup instead of a bottle, use a fork and knife, sing the Alphabet song all on their own. Maybe since life for babies is all about The Big One, the idea of achievement doesn't seem extraordinary.

Once children are old enough to go to grade school, they know all about The Big One. Winning the spelling bee or Science Fair, excelling at sports, playing an instrument at a recital, the first slumber party, walking to school unattended, memorizing The Gettysburg Address - in middle childhood there are many opportunities to achieve what was inconceivable earlier in life.

In adolescence, it's all about hormone-driven Big Ones: love, mating, finding "the one," or sex, conquests, notches on the belt, depending on the temperament of the adolescent. The notches on the belt might indicate sexual partners or Debate Club wins or martial art belt color, it depends. Teenagers expect themselves to excel in some way, but believe they must also fit in perfectly, have the right hair, clothes and friends. They're between a rock and a hard place for most of a decade, they really are. Adolescence is a bitch! I don't EVER wish I were that age again.

Young adulthood Big Ones have to do with expanding one's fiefdom or professional status, making more money, buying real estate, producing children, acquiring stuff, or at work acquiring staff, travel and exploration, status, reputation and glamour whenever possible. Later in adulthood there are Big Ones that have to do with planning for retirement, retiring, dealing with the empty nest, becoming grandparents and dealing with aging.

In old age, there is only one Big One. You know what I'm talking about, the mystery we all face at the end of our lives. They call him the grim reaper, but it's only grim for the ones left behind. I feel that in my heart of hearts. Still, walking one step closer each day to the final Big One is unnerving! People of my age who do not have a connection to the life of the spirit in a way that suits them have a very hard time facing The Big One. Death can't be vanquished or conquered. Earlier in life it seems possible to triumph in every situation that involves The Big Ones pertinent to that era of life because like bees, ants, beavers and other busy animals, we are an overachieving species. But Death? That one is out of our hands.

It's humbling and awesome in the true sense of that word. Whew. Bette Davis was absolutely correct when she said old age ain't for sissies. It ain't.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Early bird

It's not even 8:00 a.m. but I've been up for many hours; it feels like lunchtime. Though I haven't checked, I'd be willing to bet that the moon turned close to the moment I woke up. Oh that moon! But it's all over now.

Sometimes waking is like swimming up to the surface from the bottom of a deep ocean. At other times I wake up fully, suddenly, and without explanation, like this morning.

If I have a big day of work ahead I often try to soothe myself back to sleep. I'll play words with friends on the iphone for a little while, or scan the offerings on facebook. I did a little of that this morning but soon figured out there was no way I was going to get back to sleep. I was finished with prayer and meditation, and had had a cup of coffee, before 6:00 a.m.

Early morning is something I love when I wake up to it. Sunrise is so cheerful.

Back in the dawn of my adulthood I struggled desperately to be cool which, in my mind, included staying up as late as I could. Even though I always wanted to be in bed by ten, I saw many a sunrise after staying up all night. These early mornings were not happy experiences for me, nope. Even when I was twenty-one, eating oysters (which I hate, btw, but I thought were signs of coolness), drinking tiny cups of espresso that, in Kansas City in the early 1970s, was nothing to write home about, yes even then I was not a cool, groovy night owl. Seeing the dawn after staying up all night is an awful feeling for me. It means I will miss most of the day ahead. I know that much of the remorse I used to feel, seeing dawn after staying up all night, had to do with the detox involved in hangovers. Just as significant is the fact that I love a good night's sleep - at night, should say.

At fifty-nine I feel very secure with how not cool I truly am. It's not cool to wake early, to go to bed early, but that's how I roll. Oh well. I never touch oysters anymore and the espresso I drink these days is sublime, but I never drink it after noon, nope. After my birthday meltdown, I seem to have settled nicely into 59, into being exactly who I am right here and right now. Thank goodness!

Blurry but dramatic.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The drakes and me

The moon is finally dark today, thank goodness! This first moon of the year of the black water dragon has been explosive on many levels, but in particular it has outed all kinds of secrets, from previously hidden affairs of the heart to previously unseen cancers to previously hidden aggressive tendencies. The daughter of a client was bitten by her rescued pit bull mix, a dog she was very fond of, and proud to have rescued. The bite was serious; it crushed the bones in her forearm and the dog's teeth pierced the bone so deeply that marrow extruded from the wound. That is really a bad bite! Made me think of Jake and thank god that he never bit anyone. The dog has been put down, the girl is in the hospital where she'll stay for awhile until they're sure her marrow didn't get infected.

I am a black water dragon by birth and yes I do love stirring the deep, dark waters at the bottom of the sea, I'll admit it. Nevertheless or maybe because I have this tendency, I felt no hesitation about speaking directly to the black water dragons. I have been begging them to settle down, a rather useless act since dragons are fiercely wild and can not be domesticated in any sense of the word. What I "got" is that they were laughing at me since I am one of them. I asked if they planned to calm down a little bit with the dark moon. Indeed they seem exhausted by all the stirring and troublemaking. They really went on a bender to launch their year. They "said" they will sleep at the dark moon, but their "tails will continue to twitch." Hmph. There's no safety net this lunar year, apparently. Do you have a deep, dark secret? All I want to say is look out! It could all come out into the light. It could. Maybe it won't. Who knows?

It feels calm in Washington DC this morning. Brother Wind is blowing a bit and it's cold, but I don't feel the upturned energy of recent weeks, I'm not sensing upheaval. At least not yet! The day is young.

I have clients and more clients coming today to luxuriate in the warmth and softness of my new massage table. I'm looking forward to a satisfying day of connection and healing. Hope your day is splendid. Shalom.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Among my unpopular opinions ...

Disclaimer: I am going to catch hell for this post.

The artifacts at the National Holocaust Museum are not part of the permanent collection. They are on loan from Poland. Did you know? I didn't. Many of those loans have expired, and Poland wants the artifacts returned. I say yes, send them back! By all means, we must honor that promise.

The generation that lived through WWII and all its horrors (I include Hiroshima and Nagasaki, also all the heinous things that went down in Russia, in the horrors) is now dying off. Soon there will be no one left who personally remembers the Holocaust. To me this signals an opportunity to shift gears, to take the next step in healing from those terrible events. Hanging on for dear life to the horror of it - forever - is not healing. It isn't.

I believe what is remembered, lives. So what we remember is the worst of it all, allegedly so we will never repeat that experience. It doesn't help me in any way to think only of the most grisly details. The soul of Germany was completely destroyed after WWI. People were starving, there wasn't enough to eat, there weren't enough young men with both legs to work, to get the country back on its feet. When we humans are struggling for survival, we tend to look for the Devil. I see how it is that Hitler came to power and it freaks me out. When people are desperate, their judgment is affected. I don't see the German people of that time as wholly evil. They were fighting for their lives; when someone came to power who felt confident to point the finger at the Jews, I see how it was that people bought that evil lie. The entire country suffered a psychotic break.

This is not about me forgiving the Holocaust! What I wish is that we could begin to look more deeply at that era, find wisdom, compassion and healing from the events that occurred rather than furthering the horror, remembering the awful details from the camps: the piles of shoes, the hair, the bunks from Auschwitz. People tell me these artifacts are powerful reminders, but to me it's like passing a gory wreck on the highway, stopping to gawk. I do not see that this serves a positive purpose. In fact I believe we dishonor the people who wore those shoes by focusing on how they were tortured and killed while forgetting how they lived, the world they inhabited, before the war. I know, I KNOW ... you're going to let me have it now, hey?

Likewise I wish every museum in the world would return the spoils of excavation, send the mummies home along with the objects they were buried with originally. We've seen them, we have photographs. Let the mummies rest in peace. I abhor the desecration of ancient tombs and I think we desecrate the memory of the people who died in the camps by staring lasciviously at their teeth, their shoes. It makes me sick.

I wish to honor the victims of the Holocaust. I would love it if the museum became a library, a place to learn and study. The pictorial archives of the world that existed before the Holocaust are fascinating and life enhancing, tucked away in the library on the fourth floor of the museum. I love the library in the museum! The archives make me feel hopeful and happy. I have never been through the main exhibit as I know only too well it would make me want to throw up. There's no way that would help me in any way.

People say that remembering the horrors vividly in some way makes us better humans. I've had many an argument over this. No one has yet convinced me that this is true. We are still practicing genocide, aka "ethnic cleansing" in many areas of the world today. Has it really helped anyone to exhibit these sad objects? I think there was a time when it was important for people to learn these details, but that time has passed. Send them home, I say. Let's take the next step towards healing. Please?

L'chaim, and shalom.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Gurus: an idea past its expiration date

Here ye, here ye! The Age of Aquarius is NOT about gurus. It is not about heroes we exalt above all others, it is not even about the leaders we agree upon, such as prime ministers and presidents. The Age of Aquarius is about us, the collective, the power of the individual to do good deeds within reason, and with those who are closest. If most individuals were conscious of their own power, of how much impact they have on others, well, whoa ... that would be an Age of Aquarius environment.

Once we needed heroes and kings. Don't ask me why. I think it's instinctual, pack animal behavior. But as was obvious during the Arab spring (one example), the energy of evolution at this historical moment is not about following the guidance of a selected leader. We're more connected than ever before in history. We think differently than people did even 100 years ago - very differently. We're changing fast, we are!

Because we are just beginning to work collectively, we're sometimes clumsy. For instance, many have criticized the Occupy movement because it wasn't focused. It's that very aspect of the movement that thrills me. Giving over personal energy to a leader makes groups easier to manage and organize. Also, it's true that in some situations and environments the Age of Pisces model works well, is necessary in fact. But in many situations, a designated leader means the faceless followers lose their sense of responsibility and investment in whatever it is they're doing together. Or the leader becomes so transfixed by the glamor inherent in leadership that he or she makes terrible mistakes.

I'm thinking about this today because of the dust flying around John Friend, the founder of Anusara yoga. That school of yoga is extraordinary philosophically and elegant in conception, full of grace. But what came through him, what he created, went to his head or ego, or something happened because it has come to light in the past week or so that he's morally bankrupt, sleeping with students, employees, doing sex magic, oh my! Several of his top teachers left the "brand" (as they call it). Both of the yoga studios I'm associated with have withdrawn their affiliation to him, though they will continue to use the philosophy of Anusara in their classes. Talk about a big kerfuffle! Good lord.

I could write a very long post about why I object to conjuring and sorcery of every kind, including the ritual use of sex to manifest a particular outcome (which is what John Friend was often doing with his employees and students) - but not today. Maybe tomorrow.

The collective thinking and action that is part of the Age of Aquarius is exciting, brand new and potent! Who knew that, for instance, the Komen Foundation would turn around on a policy change as quickly as they did following their decision to throw Planned Parenthood under the bus? It was US, the faceless age-of-aquarius-zillions, who individually expressed our distaste for the decision. We did not stay quiet, waiting for a leader to speak for us. Because of Facebook and Twitter we were able to put our voices and opinions together. Komen noticed, and acted quickly. Wow!

All together we were able to influence Congress as it considered internet piracy legislation as well. And how about the fuss over Ellen as representative for Penney's? The groundswell of support for her was truly heartwarming Who knows what we will spontaneously voice next? Anything could happen. I'm telling you, it's the Age of Aquarius, a time when each of us must stand tall and do what we think is right, give voice to our thoughts, share those thoughts via the network. We must remember that everything we do has an impact. We are powerful!

I am loving this new age.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012


On my other blog a couple of posts ago I wrote that in order to be spiritually healthy, one must grapple with the primary philosophical questions such as why are we here, what happens before/after death, is there some kind of Big Plan, etc. The details and particulars of belief systems are not as interesting to me as the act of facing these questions, figuring out the best possible answers. For most, that involves thinking hard enough to approach brain freeze, opening the heart wider than imaginable, and navigating through a few ideological collisions. The physiology of spiritual health feels like old-school pinball to me. It really does.

It's a dynamic process and can be dangerous when people get too involved, but the people who never wonder about the big questions tend to strike me as dull, lifeless, stressed out. Precarious, finding a belief system that fits. For the spiritually healthy, that includes ongoing engagement, crises of faith, and the ability to change one's mind. Belief systems are not set in concrete.

On Monday, I grappled. I grappled all damn day. As I grappled, I blamed the cake, the pan I baked it in, the cookbook. I blamed the massage therapist who came to the chateau, I blamed PEPCO. I tell you my finger was pointing in all directions, including inward. I was so in the swirl, I could not see the forest for the trees. I couldn't see that birthday number 59 was a formidable rite of passage. Wow. Or should I say Whoa!

I lean hard against the societal paradigm that old age is bad, disgusting, and embarrassing, I advocate vociferously, and constantly, it seems, for my feelings of happiness at getting older. To be content about the aging process is like swimming up a quickly moving river, sometimes without a paddle, I tell you!

On my birthday I got caught in a whirling eddy of breakage. Besides what I've already mentioned, lightbulbs in the kitchen popped, a big chunk of rock dislodged from the stone foundation of the chateau, I dropped a glass that shattered into a million pieces. Fifty-nine was a major shakedown. I felt, for most of the day, as if I were standing on a high hill, leaning into a fierce wind while my scarf blew off, my gloves blew off, my glasses blew off. etc. Imagine me uselessly shouting Make. it. STOP! into the wind. It was like a bad dream. OMG

Yesterday everything was different. Once I was through the portal, the gate closed, the wind calmed and everything fell together rather smoothly. I LOVE my new table! It is far and away superior to my old table; twice as plush, sleek and well designed, and the face rest is adjustable in many different dimensions. I don't like throw-away consumer culture. The old table was fine. But my, my, this morning I'm asking myself why I waited so long to replace it. I feel like a real professional with this new table. My clients are going to LOVE it.

I could berate myself for failing to realize what was happening on Monday. As a shaman, I know I can't plan for the power to go out and my massage table to break on the same day, and the fact that the fateful events occurred on my birthday is in the category of you-can't-make-this-stuff-up. If I'd been clearer, I would have realized immediately that trying to bake a cake was a silly idea that would only add to the ongoing drama. I'm not going there, though, blaming myself for my imperfections. Apparently, I had to grapple. I'll begin grappling now with the fact that I'm going to turn 60, I think. Maybe if I start immediately, my transition next year will go more smoothly. Then again, maybe everything went down exactly as it should have. Sometimes I must grapple. Oh yeah.

Onwards and upwards. Shalom.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


When life is good, when a person has only minor problems, sometimes those small annoyances loom larger than they should, larger than they are. For instance, the baking of a cake can become a Really Big Deal. Yesterday I got up early so I could bake my birthday cake for a dinner party in my honor. It was a recipe I've used many times from a cookbook I've had for such a long time that the spine is long broken, and the pages are stained with the detritus of cooking.

Perhaps I've made the cake too many times, which is why I didn't check the recipe and inadvertently used twice as much flour as I was supposed to. I was miffed when I realized my mistake, but still determined. I went out, bought more ingredients and started from scratch. But the second go-round was as bad as the first even though I used the right amount of every ingredient. I kept at it, though, thinking maybe when I added the filling, or made the frosting, it would be better. But no. It was a sticky, gummy, heavy, yucky awful mess. After investing many hours trying to get it right, I threw the cake, the pan I baked it in and the cookbook into the trash, walked to a nearby bakery and bought a damn cake.

What a birthday.

In the midst of all this, a massage therapist came to the chateau so I could receive on my own table, something I have never experienced. The massage was blissful but in some mysterious way, while adjusting the table height to suit her needs, the therapist broke my table. It snapped like kindling when I tried to fold it and put it away. My table! I've had that table since 1997. I went from annoyed to panicked in a heartbeat. I NEED a table in order to work. Ordering new tables takes at least a couple of weeks and no massage therapist can afford to take that kind of time away from work.

Deciding to deal with it later, I dressed up, went to dinner upstairs. The martini I drank helped me become more philosophical about the upsets of the day. We engaged in great conversation, ate delicious food - yep - it was a fabulous turnaround. But then I woke up at 2 a.m. An extreme quiet shook me out of my sleep (I am very urban). The power had gone out in the chateau! It's the first time that has happened in the year and a half I've lived here. I spent the rest of the night worrying about it all - the table, the damn frickin cake, the fact that my apartment is all electric. Good lord!

Morning is more clever than evening. The power was on by 7 a.m. I found a way to buy a table today. I have a wonderful friend who will drive and help me schlep the table back to the chateau. The cake is in the garbage.

Fifty-nine is the end of the decade of my 50s, a wonderful decade of my life. I guess the double cake failure, table breakage and power outage are symptomatic of what I'll be doing this year: letting go of this decade of life. Onwards and upwards! Indeed!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Onwards and upwards

The funeral was really nice, believe it or not - and appropriate, since the person who died was old, sick and ready to fly high, unlike Whitney Houston and so many others who have passed away recently. Death is good and proper and even kind of encouraging, when it happens at the end of a long life. The experience was life affirming. Wow.

Speaking of life affirming, my birthday celebrations are ongoing already, though I won't be 59 officially until tomorrow. Last night dear friends hosted a beautiful dinner and a tribute via poetry so beautiful and loving, it brought tears to my eyes. Tomorrow I will receive massage on my own table here in the chateau because a therapist I know is willing to come over here. Yes! After that, I'll work on one of my very favorite clients of all time, bake a cake, then have drinks and dinner upstairs. It's going to be an all-chateau birthday. Oh yeah!

What is not to love about this fantastic birthday? Life is good and I am grateful. L'chaim and Shalom!!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

When it rains it pours

It's gray and gloomy and chilly today - a perfect day for a funeral? What is a perfect day for a funeral anyway? Maybe instead of thinking in terms of perfection I should say the weather is dancing in shamanic alignment with the event. Today's funeral is not as sad an event as recent deaths occurring within my circle of neighbors, clients and friends. The woman who died, the mother of a friend, was very old, very sick and has been on the verge of passing away for several years. This is as it should be. Still, it will no doubt be a somber affair. Given the gloomy weather I'm glad I'll be wearing something colorful. The suit can wait for another day.

After a day of intense work yesterday, and given the onslaught of craziness all around recently, I decided to kick back, watch some stupid TV. The new episode of NCIS was available for streaming, so I tuned in, expecting to see a murder mystery solved by the wacky characters on the show. But NO, the plot centered around a moment in which the life of the main character flashes before his eyes as a bullet speeds towards him. He is between life and death through the whole episode.

For heaven's sake!

Have a calm, lovely Saturday, y'all. Please don't die, OK? L'chaim.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Candy as a verb

What a crazy week, good lord!

After work yesterday, instead of buying a suit I went to Whole Foods, my favorite place to shop. I love buying food so much! For my birthday on Monday I'm baking a cake composed of layers of creme de cacao drenched sponge cake filled with a rich amalgamation of ricotta, cream, shaved bittersweet chocolate and minced, candied orange peel, frosted with a coffee/bittersweet chocolate icing. To. Die. For. Anyway I decided to candy my own orange peels, not a difficult thing. The schlep to Whole Foods was well worth the effort, since they always have organic oranges. (Y'all know not to eat the skins of commercially grown fruit, right? Peel apples, oranges and lemons before eating unless they're organic yes? Eating pesticides is never a great idea.)

I'm pleased with the candied orange peel strips this morning. they are drying and crystalizing nicely. As for what I'll wear to the funeral, well, I think I'll take Ellen's advice and wear something colorful, if indeed I can find anything colorful in my closet. I do think I'm going to keep shopping for a suit, though. I felt so good in those suits. I felt important - ha!

Today it's pedal to the metal for me in terms of work. Onwards and upwards to the weekend. Cheers!

Thursday, February 9, 2012


The dragon full moon kicked me to the curb yesterday. Yes, I blame the moon. No, I do not blame my massage therapist for canceling at the last minute because her sister had a massive stroke, no I don't blame the dear friends who told me that an old classmate of ours, a guy who was adorable the last I saw him (in high school), died from complications around his terrible addictions, and no I do not blame a client whose brush with divine light sent her to the hospital, or my friend's mother who just died.

Nope. I blame the moon.

I felt lower than dog's breakfast, as a Texas raised friend used to say. That's low, people! I wanted to cry which is quite unusual these days. After certain hormonal imperatives become obsolete, aka after menopause, crying is not as attractive a pastime as it once was. But I was tearing up yesterday nevertheless.

Following my recently revised rules around regaining happiness - or at least some balance - I prayed, then got off my ass and out of the chateau. I went shopping for clothes, something I really never do as I normally hate that activity. I tried on suits, lots of suits. Really. I tried on charcoal grey suits with tiny pinstripes, pale tan, black and navy blue suits at Ann Taylor and other boring, predictable stores. The weird thing is, I thought they looked good. Conservative, yes, but good. They fit well and felt good. Strange, hey? It was a strange moon.

When I'm done with work today I might go buy one of those suits. Maybe not. Perhaps I'm still reeling from the effects of that old devil moon and perhaps it would be ridiculous to spend hundreds of dollars on a suit.

I'm thinking this morning of a dear one who, at a young age, lost several family members all at once. Even as a little kid, he insisted on having a suit. I think my shopping spree was an homage to this friend, also to the folks who have recently passed away. Getting older means I'll be attending more funerals. I'm going to one on Saturday, in fact. I need a suit. Don't I?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Full Circle

I love that pool of gold light behind the tree, featuring its shadow.

A couple of wonderful revelations about old age have arrived just in time for my 59th birthday this coming Monday. Timing is really everything! Thanks to the gods of perfect timing.

For a long time I've been confused about why young people experience old people as deeply disgusting. But after reading an article in the New York Times about disgust, a reaction that is part of our survival instinct, I get it. In the article they pointed out how, if rotten food wasn't truly repulsive, we might eat it, get sick and die. I'm thinking that from adolescence until mid-life, people are in the grips of powerful hormonal imperatives to successfully mate and procreate. Old people would necessarily seem disgusting since mating with someone on their way out of the cycle of life would not be successful in any way. An old mate can't protect against predators, hunt or farm, build shelter, cook, let alone sire or bear children. So what good are we anyway? Well, we know the stories of the past, we have wisdom and humor, we're great spiritual advisers. That's nice, hey? But do you think the brainstem gives a rat's ass about spiritual advice? Ha. I think not. Hence, people in the throes of the potent urge to mate, have sex, have babies, look at those of us past all the sturm und drang and are mildly to extremely disgusted. At last I get it!

It's also becoming clear that in old age, if we wish, we can stop being ashamed of everything. Babies feel no embarrassment. I'm beginning to see how I can regain that freedom as I get older. It's a small thing, but lately I haven't been wearing makeup, other than lipstick of course. I've always felt it was important to "put on my face" every day; now I'm not as concerned. Slowly, the shame and embarrassment and self consciousness I felt most of the time throughout my teenage years and young adulthood is fading. I'm coming full circle by growing older.

Ahhh! I love this time in life, it is really great. These really ARE the golden years, "golden" as in beautiful, clear, precious. This time of life reminds me of the last rays of sunshine on a clear day in early February. I took some pics of that light yesterday just before dusk, a couple of which are posted here.

There is no part of me that wishes to be young again. I'm so lucky!

Monday, February 6, 2012


There has been a lot of press lately about the joys of living alone. There was a piece in the New York Times yesterday. This morning I heard a report on NPR about the same phenomena. In Scandinavia, 60% of young adults live alone.

I get it, I do. Though we are a social species, in cities we are almost constantly around other people, especially if we ride the subway, walk around, etc. Having a refuge away from other humans is a great luxury.

This morning I was thinking that here at the chateau, in my little nest, I feel like Rapunzel BEFORE everything went to hell. In early French versions of that fairytale, instead of an evil witch, there is a powerful fairy with a verdant, magic garden. Because Rapunzel's pregnant mother craves a vegetable only available in the fairy's magical garden, the fairy knows it is her duty to help raise the child. At the christening, the fairy sprinkles the baby with a magic potion to make her wise, beautiful and kind. But she accidentally sprinkles too much of the mojo. After that the fairy decides the child will be taken advantage of for her beauty, intelligence and kindness, hence decides to build a beautiful tower in which the girl can grow up. There is no end to the luxuries in this tower. In the version of the story I'm talking about, "Parslinette," the author describes in great detail the beautiful clothes, sumptuous furniture, and the numerous studios in which Parslinette paints, draws, plays musical instruments, sews, writes. The tower itself is made of silver, encrusted with jewels and pearls. Parslinette spends her days making art, talking to the trees and animals of the forest, singing, combing her hair and wearing fabulous outfits.

"Who among us wouldn't love such a life?" writes the author.


I should mention that even in the Parslinette version, when the prince finds the beautiful girl in the tower and "marries her immediately" - you know what that means, right? - the fairy is not amused. The ardent prince is tossed out the window and the girl receives a rather serious haircut. They find each other in the end of course, but oh my, it never goes well when characters decide to trick a powerful fairy. Yikes.

When I ask for visions of what's ahead in my life, what I "see" is a time when I'll again live with others. The soul of the chateau, a grand old lady, says I'll know exactly when it's time to leave my beloved nest. It isn't for awhile, apparently, as I'm told I'm still settling here.

Not that I always know what's best for me, but I'm just offering, in case the soul of the chateau or the Fates or the ancestors are listening, that I could be here awhile, living alone, happy as a clam - literally. I'm in no rush! Also apparently I am in sync with pop culture. Is anyone up there listening? Yes? Thanks.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What I have learned

I finished the happiness survey this week. The results are rather hilarious, though provocative. For instance according to the samples taken during the last 3 weeks, I'm happiest when sitting at the Matchbox bar. Ha! Though I enjoy my sojourns to the Matchbox, there's no way I'm happiest there. I had been drinking when the survey text arrived, so I was not as measured in my responses to the questions. I'm sure I pushed the slider all the way to VERY GOOD when asked how I was feeling.

Where am I happiest? I've been asking myself. Happiness for me is not connected to location, not even in the chateau or at the Matchbox bar. By "happy" I'm now thinking of being in the flow of the moment, undistracted, and minus the almost constant, low-level self-scolding I discovered is a part of my mind's ongoing monologue. OK, in order, I am happiest when:

1. Praying. I am not always happy to meditate, but I'm always happy while praying.
2. In conversation with someone I love.
3. Writing
4. Walking around in this beautiful city
5. Cooking
6. Working
7. In the shower. Hot water brings everything into balance: body, mind and spirit.
8. Futzing with pics in photoshop
9. Cleaning house
10. Dancing

The things that interfere with my happiness mostly have to do with being in physical pain of any kind, or when I have not been able to sleep well or have not eaten the right food. If I eat well, I am happy, if I eat poorly, I am queasy and when I'm queasy, it's hard to be happy. Same goes for times when I'm tired, sleepy, or have been sitting around too long. The bit about being what I eat is key to understanding how miserable I was growing up. That was during the 50s and early 60s so you can only imagine what I was eating. My stomach hurt all the time. No wonder!

"Boosts Personality." Whoa. Google 50s food ads. Scary!

The jewel of wisdom from this experience is pretty simple. If I'm not feeling happy, rather than sitting around self-analyzing, something that doesn't help as much as I think it should, I need to pray, then get off my ass and do something physical. If I can self express in some way, such as cooking or writing, or engaging in conversation with someone I love, my world of unhappiness can be turned around, just like that. Snap! It's a great lesson. Thanks, Harvard Happiness Survey!

Happiest Sunday, y'all. Shalom.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pen pals

I love reading historical stories of lovers, separated - sometimes for years - who wrote letters to each other every day. Every day! Writing was what we would think of as unbearably tedious. Can you imagine dipping a quill in ink, scratching out a few letters, dipping again? If you made a mistake, you had to start over! And people complain about the "keyboards" on iphones. For heaven's sake.

I'm thinking about it today because I wrote a friend a long letter last night. I'll put it in the mail box today. She's in New York; I wonder how long it will be before she receives it? It was very fun. I'm determined to write a few letters by hand, put them in the post, to see if I can recapture that patient art. Back in the day I was a serious letter writer. I had a fountain pen and sealing wax that I loved using until I got old enough to recognize how dorky that was. Of course now I'm used to instantaneous connection, even moreso now that I have an iphone. Taking time to write and address the envelope, affix a stamp, seems quaint and old fashioned.

Did you know that postage stamps are now "forever" stamps? That means the price will never increase. The poor post office is about to pass its expiration date, it seems. But until it goes belly up, I'm going to get back into the practice of writing by hand, using the forever stamps, walking to the mailboxes (now few and far between on Capitol Hill). It's a labor of love. Oh yeah.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Soul Train

Even for an energy whore such as myself, this week has been a bit much! Yesterday a very dear friend's mother died. Today is the funeral for the young woman who died Monday. Good lord, the wind blowing through the pearly gates between this realm and the next is fierce. Every gate is wide open, it seems, at least in my little corner of consensual reality. Don Cornelius? Really?

These deaths - also a miscarriage and a number of pet deaths - clustered together this way, are provocative, but not in a bad way. One of the hardships of growing old is witnessing the passing away of the generation into which we were born. Icons such as Don Cornelius, peers, celebrities and pretty much every one of the greatest generation - our parents, aunts and uncles - are gone or going.

I'll admit to being a bit unnerved by it all. And ...I turn 59 in eleven days. gulp.

Y'all, life is short. Don't wait to live well! Please be as happy as possible, enjoy. It flies by, it does. Wow. Or should I say whoa?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I know February is supposed to be an awful month. It never has been for me. Part of that has to do with my birthday, probably. I share my birth month with a bunch of my nearests and dearests. That probably helps, too.

Also I am very fond of the midwinter holiday, called by many names including Imbolc, Candlemas and Groundhog Day. It is a time of both hope and fear. The light is returning but it's still winter. I like imagining the ancestors taking heart from the increased light, and yet no doubt wondering if the food stored in the cellar would last until the spring planting. I experience the ancient emotions even though life right here and now in 21st century U.S.A. is no longer attached to the agricultural cycle.

February is also auspicious for me because thirty-three years ago today, the little sedan I was driving was hit by a Southern Pacific freight train. As a result of that collision, I found my way into being treated by alternative healers. It's a long story that I might write up for the chateau seven blog. Suffice it to say here: February is a big ole month for me.

Bowing reverently, I welcome February. Shalom.