Saturday, January 31, 2009


It's happening. Supersized, gluttonous, wasteful, mindless America is suddenly on a crash diet. Actually it's more like chemotherapy. Every day another company closes its doors, thousands of people are laid off. The news every day these days is harsh.

People who are paying attention are scared. I'm scared, definitely. I knew this had to happen, that we could not continue sucking up the world's resources for our comfort and pleasure, filling up the oceans with our discarded plastic packaging. I knew that all those people with storage lockers in which they stow all the extra stuff they will never need would have to, at some point, deal with their shopping addictions. I knew it because what goes up, must come down. Always! The reality of living through our free fall, though, is incredibly unnerving.

Meanwhile, the folks in first class continue their usual lifestyle, as if nothing had happened, paying themselves billions of dollars in bonuses, buying corporate jets, spending a million dollars redecorating their offices. Though it's natural for their conscious functions to scan for what they expect, I'm offended. Wake up, dudes and smell the coffee, please!

Friday, January 30, 2009

After the Ice

Because I've been reading so much about brain function and especially about the neurology of consciousness, I'm aware that what we perceive has as much to do with our expectations and values as with the sensory information that enters our brains. We perceive what we expect to, what we think is important, and we judge our perceptions based on personal values.

I think this is why our new president was so shocked by the school closures during our mini-Ice Age this week.

My dear darling Barack:

Yes you lived in Chicago for a long time and you loved it there, and yes it's true, in Chicago they don't close schools during ice storms. But. This is NOT Chicago, even though that's what your consciousness tells you to expect.

Don't worry about Washingtonian toughness, dear Mr. President. We don't like ice because we live in the south, but we are tough, way tough, just in a different way than Chicagoans. You'll see.

Your friend and supporter Reya.

As a naturalized Washingtonian, I for one am happy to see blue skies and sunshine again, and am so happy that the ice is melting, making streets and pavements once more negotiable. The birds, too, seem very happy this morning. Spring truly is right around the corner. Oh yeah!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Nature of Devotion

What do you worship? Everybody worships something, we're hard wired for it. Though traditionally humans worship the gods in all their many forms, the truth is there are so many paths of devotion, it would be impossible to name them all.

Some people worship idols, like movie stars or musicians or those closer to home, like lovers, children or people at work. With some, the object of devotion is a set of ideas, philosophies, intellectual constructs. Or money. A lot of people worship money. Creativity, in particular in the form of the muses, has long been worshiped. Even addictions are a form of devotion, at least according to the cosmology of Reya.

I see worship as a practice of longing, of allowing the heart to ache with desire. That sweet ache unfolds something hidden, some minute dimension of humanity, brings it to the surface and reveals what was once hidden in three dimensions. It can be unnerving because the practice renders the devotee completely open and vulnerable. Plenty of people, in my culture at least, pretend they have somehow transcended the need for worship in order to feel safe, maybe, to avoid feeling exposed. It's not cool to worship. People get embarrassed.

I am such a fervent devotee that it would take many many many blogposts to name all the objects of worship in my life. Devotion is my birthright. In spite of how dorky it makes me, I prefer the devoted heart to the cool heart. It's just my way. Oh well.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Benefits from and Problems with Mindfulness

I'll never forget my first meditation class, taught by Jack Kornfield in a rented space in San Anselmo, California, long ago during the last millenium. Even then, Jack was a top dog teacher. Damn, he was good! I loved the class, the practice, the dharma talks. I was inspired and awakened, just as I hoped I would be.

Until after the last class, that is, a beautiful session focused on metta, a.k.a. loving kindness. I remember wondering, on the drive home from that amazing, heart opening class, why it's so hard for people to stay mindful, be present. I couldn't figure out why we humans have such a hard time embracing the concept of NOW.

The very next day my sister died. You can not plan for a sequence of events like that. The timing was precise. Because I'd been so diligent in my practice, there was no escape from the grief. I felt so betrayed that day, though enlightened, too. For the first time, I understood the allure of denial. It serves a purpose, it does.

Being present with grief feels exactly like having the wind knocked out of you. Or being punched in the stomach. Maybe both at the same time. It was tough! Once I got back on my feet, though, I immediately incorporated metta into my daily practice. I've said that prayer almost every day of my life since then.

That was a long time ago. Honestly the only reason I'm thinking about it this morning is because I'm grateful for my many many years of mindfulness practice. Why? Because the pavements are completely covered with a thick layer of ice. Every step of my walk with Jake this morning was a Vipassana walking meditation. I was able to stay focused, because I've practiced for decades. Jake slipped and slid, and became extremely annoyed. He didn't fall down because he has four legs. I didn't fall down, either, because I was mindful. Thanks, Jack! Thank God, too.

Another cheap thrill. Oh yeah!

Spoons in the window at Peregrine Espresso on Seventh St. SE between Eastern Market and Pennsylvania Ave. They have the BEST coffee I've ever tasted. Really. As good as in Rome. Better than Paris. Cheap thrills in the form of caffeine! Check it out.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cheap Thrills

For a long time I've believed that the secret to a happy life is the ability to celebrate cheap thrills, everyday miracles, little things - you know what I'm talking about, yes? If you save yourself for the happiness that comes from big wow moments like the inauguration, true love, retirement or a trip to exotic locales, most of life is sure to be depressing or at least boring.

Today's cheap thrill is SNOW! Real snow, maybe four inches of it. This is DC's first snow of the season, and though the flakes weren't those perfect six pointed stars, and even if it didn't snow a lot, and even knowing that tomorrow we're in for a terrible day of slush and ice, even so, today was precious and even thrilling, in a cheap way of course.

Thank you so much, Julz, for doing your native Floridian snow dance. It really worked!


Monday, January 26, 2009

Palms facing up

The trees have been talking to me lately, telling me in no uncertain terms that I'm Very Well Rooted and perhaps now would be a good time to extend, expand, reach out this way and that way in all directions so I'll be able to collect the sunlight that will soon be in abundance as spring arrives.

As an extreme introvert, the idea of networking, connecting with community, reaching outwards is kind of freaky, but I know that to ignore the advice of trees is always a bad idea. When I told them that extension is scary for me, they rustled slightly, as if exchanging a look. Then they told me they would be afraid not to extend their branches. No leaves, no sunlight, means death to a tree. They make a good point.

Today is Chinese New Year. Last night there was a solar eclipse in Aquarius. All the astrologers I admire say that under the influence of an eclipse, everything intensifies. An eclipse at Chinese New Year magnifies that effect. And if the eclipse is in your astrological sign - well - buckle your seatbelt.

Though I was kind of hoping for a few weeks of relative boredom after the big wow of the inauguration, secretly I'm thrilled that all signs point to changes ahead. Though my life for the last several years has been uncharacteristically stable, it has not been tremendously exciting. Last year I let go of a lot of old toxicity, making room for the new. The trees are saying that I must open my hands, (heart and mind, too) in order to actually receive the new. The Sun and Moon agree.

When the stars and planets coincide with the advice of trees, resistance is futile, no matter how scary it sounds. Time to stretch out, extend, connect. And collect sunlight as spring arrives. Oh yeah.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Winter is Better, This Year

At 5:30 last night it was still light outside, proof that the wheel of the year has turned and the quickening of spring is coming.

Ordinarily I am thrilled to see the return of the light, but somehow not this year. I wonder why? Maybe it's because we've yet to see any snow in Washington DC. Unlike the midwest or New England, we usually get just enough snow to cool, purify and bless the land, but not so much that we get sick of shoveling. So maybe I'm still waiting for snow.

I've had lots of good books to read this winter, too. When it's cold and gloomy I don't waste a single second worrying about whether or not I should be outside instead of inside. Completely free of any doubt about how to spend the day, I sit on the couch, drink cups of tea and read all afternoon. An afternoon spent reading is pure luxury.

Spring is hard for me. The beauty of it is almost unbearable to my tender heart, yet of course I can't resist it either. Also every spring it's inevitable that I will have to deal with allergies and face the limits of my aging body. Or maybe I'm just getting lazy, who knows?

Lazy or not, the birthday of spring is just around the corner on February 2, the halfway point between winter solstice and spring equinox. I guess I'd better bear down on all my reading, so I'll be ready to get out there when the warm weather arrives.

Not yet, though, OK? (Speaking to the weather gods.) Not quite yet. Please?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Creatures of Habit

That white dot in the upper left hand corner is the planet Venus. Cool, eh?

At big moments in history, the ability to sense time is altered, there's no doubt about it. Afterwards, it's normal - I guess - to feel disoriented, which would explain my sense of surprise yesterday when I remembered that I have an ongoing life outside of the inauguration; bills to pay, clients to see, a room that badly needs to be vacuumed. As a creature of habit, I am comforted by my routines so in truth it's a relief to get back to normal, whatever that means!

"Normal" is now different than it was before January 20th. Certain patterns no longer exist, such as my habit of tilting against the president. I suppose the folks who supported John McCain can take up that behavior, while people like me adjust to a new habit of adoring the president. Meanwhile I'll have to find other ways to vent my spleen.

Many old patterns will take awhile to unwind. Obama signed the executive order to close Gitmo, but there are still people there in that awful limbo. People are still getting killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And of course there are plenty of people who have completely failed to notice that their lives must change, like the former CEO of Merrill Lynch who, in spite of the economic meltdown and the fact that his company was the recipient of TARP funds, spent $1 million redecorating his office. What was he thinking? Please explain.

It's a cold, quiet, gray Saturday in Washington DC. The inauguration is over. At last we can return to our regularly scheduled lives, now so different and yet in many ways exactly the same. Oh yeah!

Friday, January 23, 2009


The energy of the inauguration is beginning to settle down. Most of the visitors have left town, the national mall is mostly cleaned up, though severely trampled, as I'm sure you can imagine. A few stragglers will stay through the weekend, but after that DC should be quiet until Cherry Blossom time.

My prediction of a city-wide hangover in the inaugural aftermath was completely wrong. Though everyone I know - here and elsewhere - felt wiped out by all the energy surrounding and infusing our national rite of passage, no one reported experiencing the heavy thud of remorse that's a part of metabolizing too much alcohol. We're tired, yes, but hungover? Uh-uh.

Now that the regime of Bush/Cheney is over, people are once again speaking freely. The things that are being revealed are truly shocking. On February 3rd, PBS will air its series Spy Factory about how the National Security Agency spied on all of us Americans, really all of us, ever since 9/11.

It has not been a good time in America. While the rest of us are waking up to that truth, our new president is allowing photographers to capture images of him sitting in the Oval Office, graceful (like Cary Grant), grounded, and OTJ. We have a president! A real president who believes we're capable of cleaning up the mess. If he believes it, maybe I can believe it. Thank God.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Beyond Belief

Will power, self-confidence, popular ideas, a seriously competitive nature and at least some kind of charisma are all requirements for a successful political career. Intelligence also really helps, though many successful political leaders seem (at least to me) unable to connect the dots, which proves you don't have to be smart. Weird, isn't it?

More than anything, though, successful politicians must have superhuman endurance. Like our president, for instance. He got inaugurated, a rather huge affair, after which he made appearances at ten inaugural balls. I imagine he didn't get to bed before 3:00 a.m.

No matter, he was up bright and early yesterday. He prayed, then went to work, began to sign executive orders that will reverse the heinousness of the Bush administration. Guantanamo Bay as well as all our CIA holding pens, aka torture centers, everywhere in the world are to be closed within a year. American soldiers must abide by the Geneva convention. No one at the White House who makes more than $100,000 a year is going to get a raise for awhile. He's walking his talk, already! On four hours of sleep. Wow.

I was wiped out yesterday; felt like I'd been run over by a truck. Obviously I don't have what it takes to run for public office.

Thank God!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Emperor's New Clothes

I love the film The Matrix. My favorite moment from the movie (and I have many) is just after Keanu Reeves has been awakened and brought aboard the hovercraft. His character has decided to meet Morpheus because he imagines being rescued from his boring mundane life in order to be introduced to a life of glamourousness. Instead of slick black leather and groovy sunglasses, though, his first sight is of people with greasy hair and tattered clothing. Laurence Fishburne leans in close and says in the kindest voice possible, "Welcome to the real world."

I'm not saying there isn't greatness in the American ideals or that all Americans are wasteful and clueless or that every shred of American greatness has evaporated. If it had, we couldn't have elected Obama. Our new president has helped me reconnect to the strengths of this country, to the solid core of goodness and possibility, making him - in my eyes - already a great president. I had no idea I had become so cynical.

In the wake of that great, empowering truth telling inauguration speech, I'm asking myself: Can we Americans wake up, give up our bloated, stupid, greedy way of life with grace and aplomb? If we can, how great will that be? If not, well, how sad. And how hard it's going to be on all of us. No one knows how it will fall out, not yet. Well, maybe Merle Sneed knows.

The truth is, our former Emperor had no clothes. What a mess he made of America. And there we were the whole time, complicit, sipping our Starbucks, buying too much stuff, wasting energy, time and resources, ignoring the truth, or complaining but doing nothing about it, feeling powerless to do anything about it. At least that's how I felt.

Obama is right - the world has changed and we must change with it. Welcome to the real world. Right now! Or else! What a great speech. What a great day yesterday was. I love our new president.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

From the Periphery

Last night as I struggled to get to Dupont Circle for the the saging ritual, pushing my way through crowds around Union Station that made me feel more like I was in Calcutta than Washington DC, I suddenly understood how gravely I had underestimated what it was going to be like to have all these people in town.


This morning, people began streaming down Tennessee Avenue on their way to the mall at about 6:00 a.m.. By the time I left the house, around 8:30, it was already too late. We tried, my roommates and I, but got stuck in a crowd so dense that all of us began to get a little bit panicky. So we backed off, thinking maybe a strategic shift to the other side of the Capitol might be a better approach. Not so much, it turned out.

There were a lot of people here today. Millions. Can you imagine? We tried for two hours to push our way onto the mall. It was amazing, humbling, and completely futile.

Finally we gave up, went into the Dubliner across from Union Station and had a drink. At 10:30 a.m. The bar was full of fellow celebrants who likewise could not get to the mall. The scene was cheerful and warm. It felt right to be surrounded by other inaugural celebrants, but not too many. Everyone was having a drink. At 10:30. Wow.

After that, we walked home. It was the reasonable decision. I guess we could have continued to bang our heads against the brick wall of that huge crowd, but for what? I didn't want to spend the day today feeling claustrophobic and miserable. I wanted to celebrate. On our walk home we ran into many fellow citizens of Capitol Hill, all of whom had surrendered to reality as well. Hammer was completely correct when he said today was the day to step aside and make room for the visitors to the city. But do I listen to him? Apparently not.

I'm not complaining. In fact, it was a relief to be at home again, to watch that amazing inaugural speech, that incredible truth telling and call to action, from the warmth and comfort of the house on Tennessee Avenue.

It was a serious speech. I'm glad I was sitting down when I heard it.

OK. The day unfolded differently than I expected. So? What else is new? The important thing is that Obama is our president. Thank God!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Something is Happening

I was working yesterday so was unable to attend the We are One concert on the mall. My last client came directly from there with stars in her eyes. You can find many images on the internet, or watch it online. I saw it last night on my roommates' gigantic TV. Seeing and listening to all those duets that included one black person and one white person, with big ole Lincoln in the background, brought tears to my eyes. I felt the same sense of relief that had me crying on election night. The concert at the Clinton inauguration was good, but not like this. Yesterday's concert was a healing, no doubt about it.

It's dawning on me that this inauguration might mark the end of the American Civil War. Oh - I know - it officially ended in 1865, but as anyone who has ever visited any of the battlefields will tell you, the energy is ongoing even now. It's as if the worst of the battles got stuck in a time loop so that they endlessly replay themselves, kind of like an American Valhalla, with all the gore and guts but none of the glory at the end of the day.

I'll be curious to see whether the Civil War re-enactors are as enthusiastic about their work, with Obama as president, as they have been. For those who don't know, there are huge organizations of people who re-live Civil War battles, down to the people in the battlefield hospitals who scream as if in terrible pain while a re-enactor pretends to amputate a leg. I find the concept completely bizarre. The re-enactments cut the groove of that terrible time even deeper but also reveal how strong the energy of that war still is, how cohesive it still is. I guess to be fair I could admit that the re-enactors are simply dancing in shamanic alignment with what is. It's a grisly dance, a re-wounding. As if this country isn't wounded enough in the aftermath of slavery.

So the energy of the American Civil War is finally unwinding. Well, maybe. I don't know for certain what is happening, but believe me this weekend is much more than the inauguration of a popular president. There's a sea-change, a shift in the wind. It's big.

You can not imagine how happy I am to be here in the midst of it. Don't worry Tam and Val, my shields are in place which makes possible a joyous dance in shamanic alignment with the biggest thing I've ever felt. I am so honored!

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Sitting around the dinner table last night, my roommates and I got the giggles. This is very unusual for us, not that we never laugh. Oh my we are all clever and hilarious. But we don't usually get so tickled as to become silly. Except last night we did. The rising energy of the inauguration is utterly ebullient. Is that the right word?

We were keeping one eye on the pizza, one eye on MSNBC, watching the presidential train arrive at Union Station, and the crowd outside the media booth on the mall. The urge to go to both locations, just to jump around like all the other people, was almost irresistible, in spite of the cold. Union Station is a twenty minute walk from the house on Tennessee Ave. The Capitol is more like a ten minute walk. Eventually common sense got the better of us. Instead of walking down to the mall, we jumped around here in the nice warm house.

Besides the inauguration itself, the one activity I will not miss is "Setting the Stage with Sage". A comic, a rabbi and a shaman are convening a group at Dupont Circle Monday night to burn sage with the intention of clearing the Bush legacy from the White House. What they may not know consciously is that Dupont Circle is the perfect location for this working, since it is one of the "feet" of the Masonic pyramid whose top is the White House. Instinctively they are aligning themselves with the masonic pattern of this city. Perfection!! I plan to arrive early, burn a lot of sage and dance around like a crazy person. I will be completely in my element. It starts at 6:00 p.m. C'mon down! For those who can't be there, be assured: there will be pictures.

Everything about this inauguration is absolutely perfect. No wonder I got the giggles last night. No wonder!

N. Carolina Ave. SE at Eighth Street, just east of Eastern Market.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

More than a Tipple

I was talking to the guy behind the counter at one of my favorite (very small) wine stores, Best Cellars on Dupont Circle. He ordered fifteen hundred cases of wine for this week, yet he's afraid he's going to end up with empty shelves. Apparently the inaugural party scene on Dupont Circle is going to be quite intense.

It's all hands on deck at Schneiders of Capitol Hill this weekend as well (another neighborhood liquor store). And I'm sure every other purveyor of spirits is geared up as never before.

It's a good thing that Washingtonians are ordinarily more focused on their work than on partying. We do drink, oh yeah, but usually the effects are tempered by all the hard work, long hours and serious thinking that goes on here. Tuesday will be a different story.

I just hope the structural integrity of the city isn't compromised by all the partying Tuesday night. The surge of energy this morning feels like a volcano that's about to erupt. Though it's still quiet, and colder even than yesterday, I swear I can feel the ground beginning to vibrate. That vibration brings to mind Pompeii. Yikes.

As for Wednesday morning, can you imagine the hangovers? It's scary! And ... I am so looking forward to it (Tuesday I mean, not Wednesday morning).

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Big Chill

A cold wind blew through DC yesterday, ripping the gray film off the sky and bringing in a deep cold. It was a meteorological unveiling, that wind. It was so dry and so cold, it left a metallic taste in my mouth.

I tried to get all the way to the Lincoln Memorial to check out the energy, but I was blocked every step of the way - by endless rows of porta potties, security fences and Brother Wind's sharp blade. Finally, at the WWII Memorial, I gave up. There will be plenty of time to feel the energy after the inauguration. Go with the flow, Reya, go with the flow.

This morning there is a great feeling of expectancy in the super cold air, like that second right before the gunshot that starts a race, or more aptly, like that moment at a concert when the conductor holds his baton high in the air. The orchestra settles down, the audience settles down and silence fills the hall.

And then ...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

All I can say is Wow.

A series of non-days preceding the inauguration continues. By "non-day" I mean quiet, colorless, empty. No tourists, no one is out and about. It's the proverbial moment of waiting to exhale.

The weather, too, is contributing to this week of non-days. Though we saw a little bit of blue yesterday, mostly the sky was shrouded by a dull gray film behind which the sun looked like a big grayish-white blob. And it's cold, really really cold - for Washington DC, should say. Certainly right now it's colder in Minnesota or Vermont than here, but we're not used to it. The gray and the cold have created an environment of extreme quiet. Even the birds have restrained themselves these last few days. It's eerie.

Saturday Obama will take the train into DC from Philadelphia, following the route that Lincoln took to his inauguration. Sunday there's going to be a huge concert at the Lincoln Memorial. Though the stage will be packed with celebrities, the event is not meant to be a showcase for their greatest hits. Instead, U-2, Bruce Springstein and others will sing songs about the Civil Rights movement, Lincoln, freedom, etc.

Years ago I dreamed of doing a live concert for the dead at Antietam (a Civil War battlefield) as a way to bring healing to that powerful place. This Sunday it's happening! Not at Antietam but instead, right across the river from Arlington National Cemetery, at the Lincoln, next to the Vietnam Memorial. That part of the mall is seriously haunted - ask anyone who has visited the Vietnam Memorial or our huge graveyard for dead soldiers. It's intense.

This inauguration is being structured exactly like a ritual intended to bring healing to the most awful of our national wounds. If I and my former colleagues had tried, we could not have created a more powerful outline for this rite of passage. The election of Obama, the inauguration plans, the non-days, including of course, the weather, are components of a recipe for healing on a national scale. We need healing, big time.

Honestly, I am blown away.

And, for the moment, enjoying the stillness.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Leader of the Pack

Dancer with a tail.

I am loving the fact that Barack and Michelle will spend Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the day before the inauguration, volunteering. They've said they wish we Americans would celebrate the day as originally intended, as a day of national service. If the president can do it, we can do it, yes? Oh yeah!!

Homo sapien is a social predator, not unlike canines, for instance. We instinctively look to our leader to show us how to be, how to live. As a species we are in love with royalty, military leaders, chiefs, warriors. Some of us are born to be kings, most of us are more comfortable following. We are in love with the idea of "the best" because "the best" and "the most powerful" people set philosophical and behavioral templates we can follow. Tucked deep into the primal brainstem is the belief that if we do as our leader tells us to do, we will be safe.

Organizing ourselves according to pack hierarchy is human nature, which is why I am so grateful that very soon Obama will be our president. Because he is a decent person, a calm, thoughtful, caring human being. It's a brand new American behavioral template. I believe the coming year will be quite chaotic for a lot of reasons, among them the fact that our new leader is not the dufus we've lived with for the past eight years.

I could get into a whole thing about how evolutionary it is to try to work in more egalitarian forms, how our democracy, for instance, is our attempt to move beyond pack mentality. But just for today, I'm resting easy in my brainstem, grateful and proud that we've elected Obama. May every American become more thoughtful, more decent, more caring. So may it be!

Sidewalk quilt, with shadow.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Calm before the storm?

After days of dramatic roiling, suddenly yesterday the energy field surrounding the inauguration dropped. Or stopped. Or something. I couldn't locate it in the ether. Puzzled, I walked down to the Capitol to see what had happened.

Here on the Hill and at the Capitol, life was oddly calm yesterday, especially in terms of traffic, tourists, and outdoor activity. Though there were construction vehicles and platforms everywhere around the Capitol, I only saw one or two workers. Stranger still was the fact that there were virtually no tourists hanging around, always a weird thing in DC. Some chairs had been set up on the Capitol lawn, but elsewhere there were tall stacks of them, untouched, like standing stones scattered across the lawn.

Maybe all the hubbub about the inauguration was the peak of the energy; maybe it's going to be less of an event than predicted. Or maybe yesterday was like that moment in between breaths, that pause between inhale and exhale. Who knows? Interesting, though, no matter what it means.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille!

Willow has come up with my very favorite meme of all time, because it's so personal, invites creativity and helps us all get to know each other better. Blog interviews! Oh Yeah. Following is my interview.

1. Besides the increase in visitors to your blog, how has being chosen as a "Blog of Note" changed your experience as a blogger?

It’s been a wonderful, overwhelming experience! First the good stuff – I’ve “met” literally dozens of bloggers I knew nothing about previously. That part has been great. I wish I had the time/space to catch up with all the wonderful commenters. I love blogging and love seeing the world through the eyes of my blogfellows. My blogroll is now so long that there’s no way I can keep up with everyone. It’s an embarrassment of riches.

I had to turn on comment moderation as well as switch off the anonymous comments in order to catch some spam and a small handful of malicious comments. With so much extra traffic, I’ve been impressed by how generous and positive the response has been.

My friend Hammer threatened to kick my butt if I tried to please all the new readers by changing the tone or content of The Gold Puppy. Hammer is always true to his word; I know he is not kidding. Also I’ve seen his boots. Ouch! But seriously, I wouldn’t know how to change it even if I wanted to. Stream of consciousness it has been, stream of consciousness it will be.

2. Are you a native of the D.C. area? If not, what brought you to the city?

I was born in Denver, Colorado, grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, spent my early adulthood in Portland, Oregon, San Leandro, California, Lake Tahoe, California and San Francisco, California. Lord I was born a ramblin’ man [sic]. I’ve been in DC for ten years. The short version of what brought me to our nation’s capital is simple: destiny. The somewhat longer version is that my partner was offered a great job here during the hideous dot-com boom in the SF Bay area. I came along for the ride, and the rest is history. As often occurs when destiny intervenes, my ex and I split up a couple of years after moving here. She left Washington a few years ago. I stayed. Like I said: destiny.

3. Besides your wonderful photography, what other forms of artistic creativity do you enjoy?

Thank you for saying my photography is wonderful! It’s so fun. I believe that therapeutic massage, the way I practice it, is definitely an art. I think of my work as a combination of a very technical kind of sculpture combined with dance and prayer. Other arts I enjoy include writing and drawing. My box of colored pencils is always close at hand. I also love to cook, dance around and sing – sometimes all at the same time. I’m a good cook, but dancing and singing? Not my best thing in terms of skill, though, as the dancer and/or singer, I have lots of fun.

My mother was a big believer in artistic expression. She always encouraged us to be fearlessly creative, bless her heart. One of my great teachers used to say that creative expression is the perfect tonic for depression (something she described as too much energy coming in, not enough energy going out.) She would say, “Are you spiraling down? Get up, dance around, shake your ass, make an apple pie, draw a picture. DO SOMETHING! You’ll feel better almost immediately.” How true!

4. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

This is a great question, the one I had to think hardest about. The transformational process of healing myself to the degree where I was able, finally, to discover and develop my calling as bodyworker/healer is by far my greatest accomplishment. I am very grateful to psychotherapists, massage therapists, homeopaths, osteopaths, and great teachers of the spirit as well as ancestors, spirit guides, animal guides, my dog, my family and of course the great wisdom I call “God” for guiding me through that process. It literally took decades and was worth every dollar spent, not to mention every bit of excruciating self-examination and the inevitable thrashing that always accompanies transformation.

I’m not saying that the transformation is complete or that I am totally healed. Oh no! It’s ongoing through life, to be sure! I was so wounded as a young woman that I could never have taken on the responsibilities of being a healer without all that personal work. Thank you for asking!

5. Which living person do you most admire?

This one is very tough because I admire so many people. I’m an Aquarian who detests things like the Nobel Prize because it’s never just one person who comes up with the brilliant ideas and theories. There are always hundreds of hard working, brilliant people behind every Nobel Prize winner. Singling out “the best” always seems so unfair.

If you’re going to insist, though, I would most likely pick one of the great Buddhists. The Dalai Lama and Pema Chodron come to mind immediately. Give me a first term and I could switch to Barack Obama. Time will tell.

Many thanks to the amazing Willow for making me think! Bravo!!

Below are the rules. I'll interview the first five people who ask.

1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me." Please include your email address if I don't have it. I'll delete it before publishing your comment.
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What Changes, What Stays the Same?

I'll be 56 on February 13. Never one to wait until my birthday actually arrives, I prefer to start worrying about it six weeks in advance, apparently, because I've been thinking about it a lot. Already.

Ever since I turned 50 I've been asking myself what I want for my old age. It's an interesting question that can be posed at any age, though by 50, with the clock ticking faster and faster, it seems prudent to focus on what's ahead very specifically rather than philosophically as I did when I was younger.

I've been taking special notice of old ladies lately, trying to project upon them my own self in fifteen or twenty years, asking myself, Is this where I'm headed? Is this what I want? (I guess technically, with my gray hair, I could be called an old lady. Maybe I should say older ladies.)

So many older ladies are all shriveled up with bitterness and anger, full of regrets about their lives, judgments about themselves and others, scornful about everything that's not as good as the good old days. Others look confused, vague, unable to connect with the world as it is right here and right now. Needless to say, I am not interested in either bitterness or confusion in old age.

My goal is to be robust and jolly as an old woman, lighthearted, clear. I want to be one of those old ladies who laughs out loud without apology, says what's on her mind whenever she wants. Especially, I want to be kind and forgiving in old age. Kind to a fault is what I want to become.

Some days it's easier than others to cultivate these qualities, all of which are rather foreign to me. In early adulthood you could never have found a more intense woman than I was. I was anxious, angry, fearful, and heavy hearted. But I have lightened up as I've gotten older, and it's true that kindness comes more easily than it did even just ten years ago. I'm headed in the right direction.

In extreme old age my goal is to be clear as a bell, translucent even visually if possible. In that way, at the end, I hope to slide effortlessly out of my body when the time comes. Doesn't that sound nice?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Here It Comes!

Lion head and his shadow, a Rajastani guy in silhouette.

DC is feeling mighty lively here at the beginning of the final week before the inauguration. The energy is gathering, beginning to take shape, expanding and intensifying. It's so strong that even the most obtuse among us can feel it. Maybe in Kansas City, or San Francisco, or Portland, Oregon there are people who will not tune in to the energetics involved, but here? Resistance is futile.

Long before we knew January 20, 2009 would be Obama's first day, millions of us pasted widgets in our blogs so we could count down the last days of the Bush administration. The anticipation of change has been in the hearts and minds of Americans for a long time, so it's no wonder that even 9 days out, the energy is so cohesive. Group mind is so very very powerful. It's exciting! And, as of this week, absolutely impossible to ignore.

Silly DC business owners who were contemplating the idea of staying open because they love business as usual, or think nothing should interfere with their schedule, or whatever, have suddenly opened their eyes. Everything is going to be closed, except restaurants and retail. I do mean EVERYTHING. January 20th is going to be all about celebration and traffic jams. I'm so looking forward to it.

Also fun is the process of deciding which inauguration party to attend. There are dozens of options here on Capitol Hill. I've received invitations to parties taking place across town as well. In order to dance in shamanic alignment with the energy of the inauguration, it will be necessary to get fancied up and par-tay that night, one way or another. What a cheerful task, isn't it? Oh yeah!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Road Trip

I hardly ever leave Washington DC. My secret theory is that this city, by virtue of its Masonic designers, is surrounded by some kind of magical force field. Any time I get into a train or car and get beyond the boundaries of the DC diamond, it's always such a surprise.

Outside of DC, my jaw relaxes, my adrenal glands calm down and I breathe just a little bit easier. Why this always comes as a surprise is a mystery to me. I can't explain it. All I can say is that getting out of town is always a Very Good Idea, even if it's a day trip, as was today's roadtrip to Annapolis.

I'm back in the thick of this powerful, wounded, beautiful city, but I feel renewed, reglued, refreshed. How soon will I forget the benefits of getting out of town? Almost immediately, most likely. Weird, isn't it?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Yes We Can

Sitting around yesterday, waiting for "it" to begin to heal, I watched an old PBS American Experience profile of FDR. It was fascinating in so many ways, particularly right now as the U.S. is poised to inaugurate Barack Obama into the unfortunate position of president.

It is a terrible job, being president. Hardly anyone has ever excelled at it, and even FDR, considered one of the greatest presidents in our history, had to get us into WWII to turn the economy around. His social programs were wonderful and helped lots of people, but it was the business of war that made us wealthy again. Yikes.

In fact the most significant truth of American presidents is that they channel the American soul. Maybe that's what sucks the life force out of them - they all age at twice the rate of normal people. Lincoln literally developed giantism in order to hold the country together during our Civil War. "W" was a perfect cartoon representation of the greedy, violent, bloated, clueless American empire just before the beginning of the meltdown. The footage of Pres. Hoover in the documentary was amazing - he was the absolute picture of depression. Someone was quoted as saying, "...if you put a rose in Hoover's hand, it would instantly wilt." Just as our country had wilted.

Hoover detested the cheerful, upbeat, confident and relentlessly positive FDR whose most important accomplishment - and it was a monumental task - was to bring hope to our country during the Great Depression.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?