There Is No Other Way

There is no other way.
Boy, do I resist that statement in most areas of life. To lock into the belief that there is only one path, one “right” way is so harsh for oneself and all one encounters. It is so divisive and limiting. Why would you choose to put limits on your own life? Go ahead, find one place where you have believed there is only one way to do something and then challenge that belief by exploring, researching, experiencing.
Each time we put limits on our experience it is a little death to the soul. I believe we are here to experience life, the joys and sorrows, the fullness of the human experience and to know the love of God and our birthright of oneness with all that is created. I believe there are many ways to do this and, as such, there can be no one right way.
Have you ever had a really amazing teacher? One that leads you to discovery, not one that just tells you what is going to be on the test. Because in real life, this life, we cannot know what will be on the test and there is no powerpoint to memorize. In this life you must engage fully and without reservation. A great teacher points the way and you, as a great student, must engage to realize what is being pointed at, do not focus on the teacher’s finger and miss the moon to which the teacher is pointing.
So find those places where you think, “It’s all I know,” or “This is the one right way,” and challenge the idea, maybe try to figure out where that came from even. It can be simple like changing a hand position in a yoga pose, or using mustard instead of catsup with your fries, or it can be big like opening your mind and heart to different religions to find the truth that runs through all, or it can be tremendously huge, like accepting the validity of Associated Press refusing to use the serial or Oxford comma. Yeah, I know, I’m not there with that last one either. But I am open to the argument and that is a start because if there is anything I have learned from my parents, Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle, it is that there is more than just one way.

Happy Birthday!

December 28, 2017

It seems when i read a blog that the writer is so organized in thinking. The posts are timely and on topic. Maybe I will get there one day. Today is not that day.
Today is, however, a day of many thoughts. My middle child turns 21 today. A determined and thoughtful baby has grown into a powerhouse of loving care, academic drive, and blossoming of potential that is so much greater than the sum of her parts. Pretty cool to watch unfold. My main lesson in parenting is to be present and loving and let her unfold in her way, to not force my ideas of how life should be lived or what I think success looks like onto her. She is not mine but rather I am, or was, the steward of this beautiful being.
Today is also a moment to reflect on the life that I partly have created for myself and partly been given as a gift to me. I guess because I am about to move away I am more cognizant of the beautiful weaving of friendships in my life. People who reach out, who love fully and fiercely, who share their view of the world with me and enrich this living experience so greatly.
Am I crazy? How can I leave this beautiful experience, these amazing people?
It is funny how I can go from feeling so full of love for the people who share their hearts with me to fear that I am going to be alone. No wonder it is so hard to make changes, even good changes, when the fear of losing what we have is so quick to pop up. This is how ruts get formed and I should know as I was in a pretty deep rut for many years, afraid of making a change, afraid I could not handle the outcome, at the time thinking and rationalizing that at least *this* is known and knowing feels safer. Yes, feels safer, even if it means a deep and pervading sense of emptiness in my heart as my head tries to find many ways to distract from the call to change.
Now I have chosen to accept the challenge, to follow the path that calls even though I do not know how it will turn out, where it will lead, and it feels terrifying and alone at times, almost overwhelmingly so. Some days I can feel frozen as I take in the magnitude of leaving. I go alone, no partner, no spouse, and go to a job which I have no training, to learn something because it is interesting and I am curious. I go from an urban and vibrant community to a rural place with very few people (which I realize is kind of the definition of rural) and wonder how this is going to turn out? Only time will tell but at least I will not be haunted by this what-if.
So, happy birthday! Birth and nurture your potential, support the full flowering of what can be, playing safe is not really safer and you can actually handle failing, you can handle hurting, trust your inner self to guide you and pay little heed to the path the world wants you to walk. You need and the world needs the unique and unimaginable gifts that manifest only when and if you follow your own path.

New Beginnings

I realize we are supposed to start the new beginnings and resolutions talk on New Year’s Eve or Day and so I am a little early. However, with all I have going on, I pray your forgiveness for jumping the gun.

I think I shall release the holiday season from the societal pressure to do more, be more, party more, reminisce more. No “more”

How about less? Yes, we hear it all the time, less is more. So here we shall celebrate less. Less pressure to appear successful, less stuff to want or buy, less processed food, less busyness and less business, less faux hugs or smiles, and certainly less stress.

This blog is kind of a way for me to fulfill a long overdue promise to try writing. And if you know me personally, you know that I, like Yoda, do not believe in trying. It is do or do not. And I will do. Maybe it will be good, or okay, or kinda sucky sometimes. It’s all right. No, not alright but all right.

Subscribe if you would like to get notifications of new posts. There is no format, this isn’t a blog about any one thing, unless the one thing happens to be whatever is going on in my head and experience. Then it is about one thing.  If you are interested in these goings-ons, let me know. I’ll be happy to respond to your notes and comments. Unless you are just looking to bitch or fight or whatever, then I’ll ignore you like a good Southern girl does and just think, “How nice.” Which is Southern for “eff you.” But of course I would never actually say that. Would I? Of course not. How nice.

 

miracles everywhere

warning- this post is in raw form. it has not been edited for clarity or polished. the reader is warned. 🙂

you can live your life as if everything is a miracle or as if nothing is. albert einstein is credited with that enlightening phrase( and it doesn’t really matter whether he said it or not)

today, christmas eve, is the 56th birthday of my friend who took his life four days ago. i have been doing all the feelings we know and expect, grief, anger, and those heart-breaking I-shoulda/coulda. i should have tried one more time to (fill in the blank), I could have continued to be friends and maybe he wouldn’t have…
and i can argue that with myself in the same way a friend would. “You did all that before, you took all the guns away, you stayed on suicide watch, you called the ambulance and went with him to the hospital, but the truth is you cannot prevent someone from their intent on destruction.” Yes, I know that and yet sometimes those thoughts creep in. Maybe if I had been there more, he would have been able to get deeper into recovery and then he wouldn’t have…
Oh, the ego can get itself worked into a tizzy refusing to accept what is. I don’t know if I have my doctorate in denial but my credit hours are up there. and the sadness of thinking I could have done something, the guilt and shame of the could haves or should haves is choking and burdensome yet I was picking it up all on my own accord.
and today I am putting off getting up out of bed by checking a social media and i see a post by j. iron word “The truth is some people will never wake up no matter how many years they live.” which caught my attention as you may understand. and the post immediately following this post was also by j. iron word, “I love you baby.”
……….sniff…………….
sheesh, even in the retelling of seeing these two posts, the feeling of being seen and understood washes over me, seen and accepted in my frail humanness, seen and loved even when i mess up.
everything is a miracle or nothing is- i choose everything. and this message came to me from him. I need to remember that nothing i could have done would have prevented his death. and that he still loves me and is no longer bound by the fear and monsters and the walls he’d built in his mortal existence. He is with God and he is part of God, like Sandi, like Jesus.

and then i get up and am walking the dog on this cool and clear morning. It’s a beautiful and typical Gulf Coast Christmas with just a few clouds in the sharp blue sky. and i am breathing and open and mindful and feeling the love that he has for me that he couldn’t express before. and i’m so glad it is early on Christmas Eve morning so the neighbors don’t see me crying as i walk the dog down the street. I look up into the sky and see a few wisps of clouds, and it is his face. His face when he concentrated, how he would chew on his cheek and draw his mouth into a sharp line, a forward slash across his very square jaw. and so i see the two puffy cloud eyes and then the strong slash of cloud mouth and I know, Michael has accepted his birthright of peace and wholeness.
and so, on this day of the anniversary of his birth, i am conscious of staying open to the miracles and grateful for knowing God. I am keeping my heart open to the pain of loss, to the miracle of our true identity of one with God and each other, and to the most important of all,
Love, real love, does not die.

Goodbye, Michael

You son of a bitch

That is the first coherent thought I can remember after learning of the suicide of my… what is the word for someone whom you have loved for almost 2 years and to whom you just 10 days before said “Your addiction is killing you and us. I can’t bear this destruction. I love you and I cannot be around you anymore,” what is the term for that person? After 2 years I called it off because the self-destruction of my beloved was too much for me. The broken promises, the chaos and drama, this wasn’t what I signed up for and not how I live my life. He had said he wanted a quieter existence. He wanted gentleness, honesty and transparency. Yet, whether conscious or not, each choice he made was away from connection and honesty and toward separation, isolation, pain. And yet I continued to love him. I could feel the soul behind the pain and I wanted so much for him to know joy and peace. And, to be honest, even after I spoke those words of goodbye, I hoped that he would get back into his recovery program and we could build a life together, a life we had talked of many times in our cabin in the woods.

And I’m set to go to that cabin in the woods in 2 weeks. I had invited him to come with me, to live this dream we spoke of so frequently. And he said right after he just finished this project, after one more thing to do for someone else. But that is what he’d always said to me. I’ll see you for (Saturday, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, your birthday, the play, the movie) right after I finish this project. And it got to where I quit making plans with him because I was tired of being forgotten, ignored, and replaced by the excitement of the addiction at hand.

You fucking jerk

Now there is no hope of a  tomorrow for us. There is no us and there is no tomorrow. Ten days after I said goodbye, he said goodbye. He had been drinking very heavily and took a bottle and a gun to bed with him.

You selfish jerk, this is exactly what I was talking about.

He was in desperate pain. I know that. In a bizarre and unwished for joke of the gods, he and I had a psychic connection. It took me a while to understand that what I was feeling and experiencing was not me but him, his inner chaos, and I never learned how to block out the craziness when it really began to overtake him. Our connection was such that I frequently knew his dreams, we would wake at the same moment from slumber, him saying, “I had the weirdest dream,” and I would begin to describe it. I used to fantasize about that kind of connection with a lover, but this wasn’t what I’d thought it would be. I mean, sure, sharing weird dreams about a red sled on a mountain is benign enough but that wasn’t the typical situation, frequently he was haunted, traumatized, psychically screaming in terror and pain, trying desperately to hide from the monsters. That is what I felt so frequently. And I tried so very hard to save him. I tried to show him ways to cope, therapists to visit, meditations and eating to support a gentler and more loving inner life. Yet after a week or two he would return to his agitated state and work would require his full attention all day, all night, all weekend. And I was left alone with an angry and shut-down being. It was like camping on Mount St. Helens in early May 1980. You knew it was going to blow, but you had no idea how it would go or how devastating it would be. And so I left the volcano that was my lover. And then I got the news, “some terrible news. Michael committed suicide this morning.”

And so he isn’t hurting any longer, for that I am grateful. He had come to me in a dream about 36 hours before he died, and it was a terrible dream, chaotic, screaming, confusing, thrashing about. It was horrible and it was how his internal landscape felt and why he tried, unsuccessfully, to drown it out with his many addictions. He hoped something would work. He hated himself more and more with each succession of failure at drowning out the horror.

How could you give up like this, on you, on life, on us?

Oh sure, he is not hurting any longer but I am. Those he left behind who felt his pain, who loved him, we are left in terrible, terrible pain. And I can’t feel that he isn’t hurting, I feel him still and he feels confused still. I pray for him, I pray he will be taken into God and then remember who he truly is, a child of God, a part of God, knowing and joyful and one with all of us. And I pray that I’ll feel him when he has that peacefulness. I pray I will hear that gravelly voice and see in my heart those green eyes and feel his presence envelope me. And that I will find forgiveness, for myself for not being able to withstand the pain and save him, forgiveness for him for not being able to face his demons.

I still love you

Will I be cautious in the future, will I build my own wall around my heart? Will I hear about someone’s 12 step program and decide there’s no way I’m going down that path again? Every relationship we enter leaves its mark on us; I guess whether the mark becomes scarring that hinders or understanding that opens my compassion further is up to me. Every moment is a choice in the creation of this experience. If I get hurt and choose to build a wall to protect my vulnerability, if I choose to battle the attackers, then soon I will find myself walled in and battling only myself. I see this is true. We create the monster that lurks in our mind and heart and we must be the ones to decide to shine the light of forgiveness and compassion on the monster. Love is the greatest vanquisher of all, because it opens up fully to all. And I must trust my own courage and strength, I must remember to show up and do the things that nurture my being, do the meditations, journaling, exercise and connecting with people every single day. I can honor the soul inside my beloved and tortured friend and remember this lesson of choosing love, forgiveness, and compassion every moment.

Screwing Up Is Good For You!

December 8, 2017
“Houston, we have a… snowday!” It is so adorable how excited Houstonians are. All over social media my fellow Houstonians are posting photos of their home and other fav city locations covered in a light powdered-sugar-sprinkle of snow. As one who likes the cold and appreciates getting to wear my socks and sweaters, I have not put the heat up very much in my house. The inside temp dances around a delightful 67 degrees which also encourages my dog and cat to snuggle up to me. Win-win, in my book. also, being Houston, most of the older homes, or those built between the 1940s and 1980s, do not have a fireplace built in. however, YouTube has taken care of this and I am currently sitting in front of a lovely fire with crackling sound being streamed on my tv. All the visual fun and no clean up or wasted real estate.

I’ve given myself permission to relax and enjoy this lovely and chilly morning and am catching up on magazines, sitting on the couch with coffee in one hand, magazine in the other. Dog is curled up at my feet and Cat lounges on the back of the couch near my head. The November 2017 issue of Nature magazine has an article that is supporting a view I have held for a long time, or at least since I got into science and realized how skewed the sharing of information is. Nature reports on two monetary prizes rewarding research that shares the failure or negative result with the world. Until now only
success has been published, and publishing is necessary to survival in academia. This has led to tremendous pressure to have positive results, pressure which has made some people choose to falsify some or all research in pursuit of acceptance by the scientific community. In my first internship at university, I asked about how we learn what doesn’t work and was told by the Primary Investigator that failures do not get published. Come again?

While it feels good for everything to work out perfectly, I will be honest and say it is my failures that teach me so much more than success ever has. I take many classes and love that dopamine dump when learning something new and making those lovely neural connections. It’s the Aha! that grabs us.

If you have ever learned a new software program by having someone walk you through a scenario, “Ok, click File, then New, then …” and with their guidance you flawlessly execute the desired result in the program. A week later you are trying to get things going in that same program and one false click takes you into a land of “What did I do now and how do I get out of here?” If that has ever happened to you then you know that having someone there to fail with you, having a safe place to fail and learn is WAY more valuable than just knowing what works. Throughout the entirety of our lives it is important to be able to fail and then get back up and try again. We revere Edison for his tenacity in failing and failing better each time, yet in our own present day we deride failure and support only apparent success. How foolish we are to not understand there is no such thing as failure, but there is such a thing as resting on your laurels. Failure can, if we let it, teach us how to be even more observant, even more critical in our thinking, even more present in our life. And while success is so desired, it can lead to complacency, tunnel vision, and even worse, insecurity and lies.

So, how will you treat your failures in life? Will you celebrate them as proof that you are pushing your boundaries Will you have compassion for the people who fail, because you know that living on the razor’s edge means that sometimes you will get cut. Will you support failure as a sincerity of spirit, as a courageous vulnerability, both in yourself and in others? Will you choose to support truth in all its forms, recognizing that it is only one truth and that both failure and success point the way toward it. Get out there and screw up. It’s good for you!

Yippiki-Who? (or About Me)

Hello!

I am excited to share on this blog the experiences, thoughts, and musings (and my ardent passion for the Oxford comma) encountered as I travel this part of the path. In this place it is the journey that matters, there is no predefined goal.

I believe we can know joy and contentment every day and it is an act of deep and true love to care for the life and body we have been given during our time on this earth. Maybe one of the ideas here will trigger an idea for you to enhance your own experience. I will share photos and ideas that resonate in some way for me. There is no way for any of us to know how our words are heard by another. We can know that we hear either what we need to hear, if our hearts and minds are open, or we hear what we want to hear if we are closed.

Just like life loves opposites for balance, I have many opposites within me that will be apparent in these pages. God will be present on every page. If you have trouble with that name, use whatever you like best, Universe, Presence, Higher Power, Being. Also evident on my pages is a bit of potty language and a joyful irreverence. I take very seriously the idea that life is supposed to be FUN!

Helping and encouraging YOU to walk in joy and contentment every day is the highest work I can perform. If any ripple I make has resonated for you and inspired you to reach to God, to smile, to take yourself a little less seriously and to fall more deeply in love with your brilliant soul, please do let me know.

Sometimes the line between love and addiction gets blurred

I breathe in deep your scent

And memories of past days and promises of what is to come

Dance through my thoughts.

As your warm and slightly bitter taste envelopes my tongue,

It is as if you move immediately into my blood

Enlivening me and bringing light to my darkest morning.

Oh, coffee…

I am your willing slave forever.

Contagion

“Fear is contagious and so is courage”      -Elizabeth Gilbert

I read this in an email from Tami Simon of Sounds True. Like all well-crafted guideposts that point to the one truth, it made me think. We as a society are very thoughtful about the people we surround ourselves with in regards to their disease state. We have PSAs about how to sneeze or cough in a crowd, we use hand sanitizer like modern-day armor and tell others to stay home if we hear they are sick. We do not want to catch the disease and we certainly don’t want someone spreading disease in our community. We recognize how disease and illness inhibit our productivity, impair physical and financial well-being, and just get in the way of our constitutional right to pursue happiness.

Yet are we as thoughtful about the internal state of those around us and the fact that this is also contagious? Have we as a society created a version of leper colonies wherein everyone in this group has the same fears? Those who are afraid of not being enough and so must “look” successful via a big house, expensive car, the mate who meets all the check-list wants? Are our leper colonies filled with others who support our illness to the point we pass the fear-sickness back and forth and strengthen it?

Or do we surround ourselves with those who have the courage to walk their own path thus encouraging others to do the same? Are the people around us supporting each other in finding unique ways to joy and contentment, are they able to truly connect on a heart and soul level, can we be different and still be connected? Do we spread the germ of fearless vulnerability and acceptance in our connections with the people in our community?

As we enter the season of (hopefully) connecting with our family and friends, perhaps we should take a good look at what our group has in common, what is the contagion, and make sure it is something we want to catch.

Winter Holiday Soul Food aka Eggnog

Eggnog, ahhhh, that delectable holiday beverage.

A friend posted on a social media site his preparation for eggnog using Alton Brown’s  AGED eggnog recipe. I was intrigued by the recipe but, not being one who handles dairy well, I decided to make it dairy-free. It has been quite some time since I made eggnog and I didn’t remember there being bourbon in it but Alton has never led me down the wrong path before so away I went to the liquor store to get the tremendous amount of liquor his recipe demands.

As an aside, Alton, you should totally invite Monty and me to your place for a throwdown on eggnog.

Having played with dairy-free eating recently, I decided to try coconut milk in place of the six (6!) cups of various forms of cow milk, each richer and fattier than the last. Alton uses milk, half-and-half, and heavy cream (sooooo, why not just use milk and cream, isn’t that what half-and-half is?) but he must be a mutant to be able to digest that much cow milk at his age. For me, and most humans who are not meant to digest lactose as adults, this is a recipe for disaster, bloating, and other activities not meant for company unless you are the proverbial grandpa booming out, “pull my finger!”

However, I am not willing to sacrifice the thick and rich smoothness to get dairy-free. Truly, if your eggnog is watery and thin as tears, why bother? So I bought just about every can of coconut milk in my local grocer and chilled them. It took a little over 4 cans to get the thick cream that had solidified at the top of the can to the 2 cup level but, lucky me, the coconut milk was on sale! For the remaining 4 cups of milk-analog I used a mix of almond milk and the coconut milk remaining from the cream separation. Everything else is as Alton prescribes and I have to say, this eggnog is just what the doctor ordered.

Below is my adaptation of Alton Brown’s recipe for aged eggnog. Both he and I use raw and unpasteurized egg yolks and we are still standing. The high alcohol content of this beverage pretty much sterilizes everything BUT if you are concerned or have immune system issues, by all means do what is right for you and use pasteurized egg yolks. You can also wash the eggs while in the shell to make sure no chicken poo gets into your eggs.

Chill 5 cans of coconut milk overnight, NOT the light version- this ain’t diet time. After they have chilled, open the top and scrape the thick cream off and place into bowl, repeat with each can until you have 2 Cups of the thick cream to replace the heavy cream. Reserve the remaining milk for the 2 Cups of half-and-half that Alton uses. You can see in the photo below how the cream is thick enough to hold the spatula upright.

In a mixing bowl beat 12 egg yolks, 2 Cups of sugar, and 1 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg (yes, fresh does makes a difference). Beat until the egg mixture is pale and comes off the beater in ribbons like egg noodles. I spilled some sugar trying to get it into the mixing bowl. This is why we can’t have nice things…

In a separate bowl combine 2 Cups almond milk + 2 Cups heavy coconut cream from above and 1 Cup remaining coconut milk from the separation of the cream (but don’t toss the rest just yet because you might need more if the mix is very thick), 1 Cup EACH of Jamaican rum, bourbon, and cognac, plus about ¼ tsp of kosher salt.

Slowly stir in the milk mixture to the egg mixture. If it seems a little too thick, add more of the reserved coconut milk.

Pour into jars and place in refrigerator for 2 weeks or more. You can drink it right away but it does develop over time. I’m not a believer in the age for a year thing but a couple of weeks or a month is great, if you can wait that long. When ready to drink, shake the jar very well to reincorporate any separated coconut milk and cream, pour into desired tankard drinking glass and grate some more fresh nutmeg on the top. Truly, the nutmeg balances the flavors miraculously. Don’t skip the fresh nutmeg.

This recipe makes quite a bit of juice so I recommend taking a scientific attitude and tasting the ‘nog every day or so, just an ounce or two, and see what you think about the change in flavor as it ages. I might also add some vanilla and/or almond extract to make this even more interesting, and probably replace some of the bourbon if planning to drink it right away.

Below is a link to video of the liquor tasting as well as a tasting of the freshly made eggnog. I’ve been handing out tastes to everyone I know so I’m not sure how much is going to actually make it to Christmas. Not a bad problem to have!