Monday, January 30, 2012


This post is dedicated to my dad and Bus Driver Jim.

These two have a lot in common; they are both wicked smart and love techie kinds of things. They have both also saved my tuchas in many a varied situation, but that is a different post altogether. Today's point: Bus Driver Jim recently shared his photo-enhancing abilities with Dave and I . I sent him this picture,

 a picture that my dad took a long time ago when he was a guide on the Boundary Waters (insert link to Jim’s awesome map site, PinPoint). What I remember from the story my dad told me about the picture is more of a feeling and an experience rather than the details. It was a time when he was young and strong and working outdoors. He had a canoe and boots and food in tins and more food dehydrated in baggies. To hear a story like this told from the lips of my father and to see his face change back into that hard-working youngster, well, it struck me to say the least. It showed me a part of him that is exactly like a part of me - the part that loves being outside in the quiet stillness of a morning and the gratitude and specialness you feel when an animal shows itself to you in the low, low light. I'm Really Happy it happened to my dad at that time and in that place. And I wish for everyone in the world to experience fully that awesome connection of human and nature at least once, and to remember it well.

I might share the photo when it is done, but it might not be until after Father's Day because this was my idea: to clear up the light and contrast of the deer, then make the photo slightly larger and framed and give it to my dad on Father's Day. Because I love him. And I love that he had this experience. And I will never look at a deer in the waning light and not think of my dad for the rest of my sweet little life.

Here is actually one of my favorite pictures of my dad. It makes me feel good and loved to look at this one too:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ginger Cayenne Omega Truffles

This is my first blog post written from a more or less drunken state. I arrived home tonight (via back roads) with a baggie full of pebre, a full belly, and a free sample of ginger cayenne omega truffles. I’m sitting here eating White Cheddar Bunnies right out of the bag. I put the cracker box in my burn barrel. Yes, I sit outside and burn my garbage in an old steel paint can and I live in the "city". Thank God for rural Idaho. Thank God.

I just lived through my own personal final episode of “Lost.” I met a woman who was born in Sugar City, Idaho to Morman ancestors who graduated in Speech Pathology in 1958 from ISU and whose kids were friends with one of my very first friends in Teton Valley. I’m reeling just a little.

That reeling, by the way, is most likely from three glasses of red wine and single glass of some Chilean-style sangria that I drank, all while making empanadas, fettucini, and ravioli at my local chapter of Slow Foods' first cook-along. We cooked with lard (something I haven’t seen since my Great Grandma Esther’s freezer) and sriracha (that awesome, red hot Thai sauce that comes in a clear bottle with a rooster on it). We ate for three hours straight and I heard more life stories than I could ever have imagined. Each and every one of them infused my love of the human condition with a brand new zest and validated my current lifestyle choices (ski bum with a shitty work ethic, in case anyone was confused).

Life is short.

If you hate your life, change it.

Life is short.

If you don’t love it, change it.

Life is short so love it, live it, hug people, love people, be patient with yourself and others until you can love them and they can love you back.

When I first walked into this event, I was quite unsure. I wrote a check for $35 and stood alone wearing a blue apron covered with embroidery of an apple-picking scene. Finally someone offered me a glass of wine. Finally the others in the room were drinking wine. Finally people were comfortable enough to talk to each other. (As a sidenote, I realize how f’d up this may seem, and it is reality so take it or leave it.) By the end of the night, I’d had a conversation with a 78-year-old about the benefits and drawbacks of double rocker and traditional ski style. I’d learned from 3 women how they’d met the love of their life and known that no matter what happened, this was the last person they would love. I’d sat at the table with 4 (out of 12) other people who had undergraduate degrees from Missoula. I’d been asked to tell my story.

It’s so funny when someone asks you to tell your story. Where do you start? What do you say? Who really cares? Well, I’m funny enough that at least I can make my story interesting. At the expense of my dad (I know you supported me and my education fully and never said “Most people who go to school for 8 years become doctors” - but it’s just too good not to say!!), I made everyone laugh and reminisce and have good feelings toward their dads who may or may not have been too hard on them through the rough times (my dad was not). And that is what I’m good at; making people feel good. I’ve toiled and worried, felt angst and pain about what the heck am I supposed to be doing with this current blessed lifetime of mine. And you know what? The answer is, I’m here to make you laugh and smile and be thankful and sad for the things that are and the things that have passed. Hopefully, with each passing experience you learn to make more thankful memories than sad ones and more beauty than division, more love than not, and more acceptance than grief. 

After saying all that, I have to admit, that my favorite part of this evening is that I have drunk way too much, eaten way too much, stayed up much too late, neglected my duties, and skied all day with the love of my life. This day has been as fulfilling, interesting, chock-full, and tiring as any day in my adult life. And as I prepare to go to bed (maybe even without brushing my teeth, much less following my prescribed Ayurvedic routine), I am happy, full, inspired, and in awe at the greatness of life and the loveliness of friends, and the freshness of love that I can sit and eat crackers after 10pm, even after a full dinner and know, really know in the depth of my soul that my health and my happiness are not endangered because my love of my fellow man has been kindled and tended all day and into the night and love is what matters at the end of the day. Not green smoothies, not goji berries, not vodka, not flossing, not powder, not flat abs, but Love, Pure Love. That is what makes the world go round.

It is our job to make the world go round.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Follow Your Heart!

When you hear your heart speak, it can be so quiet and faint that you forget what it said or ignore it altogether. When your heart speaks, it is always telling the truth. How do you know if it was truly your heart speaking? Well, as one master says, “By the results.” And my footnote is that after you see the results, you start to catalog backward by asking yourself if the results turned out positively, and in line with goodness, what did it feel like  before you acted/spoke/didn’t act? If the results turned out poorly or you realized it wasn’t the best choice, again, what did it feel like beforehand

This is critical. The other morning I was amazing at my incredible life; feeling lucky, blessed, privileged, happy, peaceful, and all around good. “How did I get so lucky?” I ask myself all the time. What I then realized is that I’m not necessarily all so lucky, although my life is awesome, I’m actually full of trust. I trust that things are going to work out and that my meddling is oftentimes not necessary. For example, if I wonder and worry about how I’m going to get all this work done that I signed myself up for, I stop. I try to frame the thought in the positive. Such as, “I feel fortunate to have all of these incredible opportunities to use my skills and support myself financially.” If I really can’t think of a positive way to frame a situation, which is rare, I offer a blessing. For example, “May this situation turn out for the best.” Or even more simply, “Blessings to you (UPS guy who hasn’t delivered my package, ex-boyfriend who shows up at very inopportune times, co-worker who wants more out of me than I want to give, etc).” I also offer blessings when I am sad. When my cat Enrique was sick, I tried so hard to offer him blessings instead of focus on his pain and discomfort. The thought would arise, “My poor baby! Why does he have to suffer?” and I would try, as quickly as I could, to change my thought pattern to, “Blessings to you, blessings to you.” 

This changing of thought patterns does some amazing things in my mind. First, it gets me out of a big, long, sad, complicated story about how hard life is and how unfair it can be, which albeit true at times, is simply a huge waste of time. Secondly, it puts me in a state of contribution to the wellness or well-being of the world in general. And the tertiary point (I love this word by the way): it puts my focus on the trust in the universe that things will work out and I will survive.

Here is another great example from my personal experience. This is a long one, but bear with me, it’s a great one. The first time I went to Hawaii, I went with a boyfriend. We were not a good match and it was not a good trip. My birthday occurred during this trip, and anyone who knows me knows how much I love my birthday. Not just because I love presents, but because I love the fact that I was born. If I know you, I likely celebrate your birthday, because I love the fact that you were born! Thanks for that, by the way, thanks for being born and being a part of my life!

So, my birthday that year was really painful and raw and I hated it. A couple of days later, the trip had not improved and I was feeling like I was going to lose it in a serious way. I heard a faint whispering of something I’d heard somewhere before. It said, “Ask the universe for a sign. When you think you’re going to lose it, ask for a sign!” I didn’t really believe in this kind of thing at the time; however, I was utterly desperate so I said to the Universe, “Universe, show me a sign that I’m going to be okay because I’m not okay right now. Universe, show me a sign and show it to me soon and don’t make it something stupid like a butterfly or a rainbow or a stranger smiling at me. Make it real. Thanks.” And I sat back numbly and waited. We got to the grocery store in Pa’ia, Maui. I got out and went in alone. I crossed the threshold and passed the registers. Some stickers of surfing cats caught my eye. I grabbed them to bring back to the kids I work with. I turned around and was facing John Friend. (This man is a shining star full of love and grace, a true servant to Goodness, and my teacher of yoga. He is wicked famous in the yoga world and not someone you run into every day, especially not when you’re thousands of miles away from your home. Or maybe he is...)

He recognized me and we had a short and strange conversation. I left. I knew. The Universe was on my side, all I had to do was listen. After shopping and getting back in the car with impatiently waiting boyfriend, he drove right past John Friend on the street without even noticing. We stopped at Ho’okipa Bay - a stunning lookout over a surf spot on the North Shore. As I stood there looking at the ocean, the people on boards and kites merging with the gorgeous blue and white of the Pacific, I felt the insides of me shift. A neon greenish/blackish shape of myself inside of myself lifted up out of myself and hovered above me just long enough to make a 180 degree turn and then settle back in, inside of me. That, right there, was my heart speaking quite loudly. It was saying to me, “I have made the turn, now you must follow.” From that moment on, I vowed to myself never to ever do anything intentionally that went against my truth. I had to learn to speak up. I had to learn to stand up. I had to learn to do what served me best and not cower to anyone else’s commands. 

That was hard. The crappy relationship deteriorated over the next days. And although it was so difficult and inadvertently hurt so many beings in so many ways, and hurt me in so many ways, it was the driving force that got me to stand up, turn around, open my eyes, and start living truthfully. I haven’t looked back since and really haven’t needed to. The truth has a sweet and playful way of keeping you engaged in the present moment and allowing you to trust what’s next. It has a way of calming the past so that blessings can be sent in retro to the ones who taught you to be yourself even through their own bad behavior, as well as sending blessings of thanks to the one you used to be, the one who had the courage to become.

I often have a dream about that trip, that one day when I went up into the shack on Ho’okipa Bay to ask about the surf and the winds, that the very kind and rough lifeguard recognized the fear and sadness in my eyes and hid me under a tarp. When the boyfriend came looking, this much buffer and honest dude told him to take a hike. I stayed and lived on Maui, learning to surf and growing long curly hair that covered me when I slept on the beach in the moonlight. Basically, that is what happened. Only the man of my dreams is tall and svelt, and brighter and shinier and awesomer than I could ever have dreamed. I learned to ski instead of surf. Strands of my hair turned silver and glittery and the moonlight makes them sparkle through my bedroom window at night.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blogging isn't always easy!

I had a lot of great ideas about what to blog about today and now they have vacated my mind. I’m sleeping in the living room tonight. I drug the memory foam down from my bed and threw it on the floor. We are in the midst of a veritable blizzard right now and the noise and cold in my bedroom upstairs kept me up all night and made me cranky and/or spacey today. My friend Pete said he saw me and wanted to leave me a phone message that said, “Hi, this is Pete. It’s 5:00 here, I don’t know what time it is wherever you are. See ya.” I wish he had. It would have made me laugh. Or confused me. And either one would have been just fine.

This leads me to a thought about preferences. Why do we choose what we choose? And more importantly, why do we think that our choices are so much better than the choices of others? One way to tell is by looking at the effects the choices have on our bodies, minds, and spirits; or on others; or on animals; or on the universe at large. If there are no problems for ourselves or others (including animals and the universe at large), then the choice is really harmless and basically boils down to personal preference, which I do not find particularly interesting. If the choice does somehow create a problem for ourselves or any other sentient being, well, those are the situations that I personally like to ponder.

Lately I have been experiencing my relationship with coffee as one of the latter choices. It does create a problem for me sometimes. I get jittery and smelly. My eyes dry out and bulge out of my head slightly. My kidneys put on their protective gear and go into overdrive. My liver slumps and begrudgingly does its part. My mind flits and skips and gets Really Excited at small things, which is fun, actually. My taste buds simultaneously recoil from the bitterness of the strong dark coffee that I love and swell from the delight of the nourishing cream mixed in. The invisible part inside of me that craves comfort, unconditional love, tenderness, and understanding glows and curls up, smiles and softens - even if only temporarily, it is a heavenly sensation. 

What else could calm that invisible part of me, what else could soften the frenzy and not create a problem for myself or the rest of the world? That is a very Good Question and when I know the answer, well, I could let you know, but I’m pretty sure that the answer for me is different than the answer for you. And there again is that beauty of individual preference.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Moth and the Ants

This is a poem I wrote a long time ago. Enjoy:

The Moth and the Ants

The moth was stuck to the sidewalk
He was dying and the ants were coming
He fluttered each time they walked on him
I tried to pry him up
It was not a good idea
The moth is dying anyway
The ants are hungry
This is what nature is
Paradox of beauty and tragedy
The moth will die
The ants will feast and live
It made me so sad
That I sat on a bench nearby
And leaned way back
I smelled fire in the air
Watched dirt blow across the road
I saw a leaf floating in a mud puddle
The puddle was created by a car tire
Ripping out grass at the edge of the cement
The wet mud beneath
Giving way as the grass churned under
The puddle forming
From seepage below
The leaf looked silver
Almost like a feather
It wasn’t moving
Just floating
And that peace held me
All the way home.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Be Love

I consider myself to be a really nice, fair, generous, and all-around good person. And I do have some pet peeves. Here is one of them...

Scenario: I receive a message on my phone, “Blah blah blah blah blah. Call me back.”

I call back. You answer. “Hi,” I say nicely, “I’m calling you back!” Your response is terse with an edge of annoyance and freneticism, “I am really busy right now driving/dancing/next in line to order my coffee (the barista hates you right now, by the way)/calming my screaming kid/working/fighting with my boyfriend/etc, etc, etc.” In my continued, super-friendly voice, I say, “No problem. Call me when you’re not busy.”

In my mind, I am saying, “Why the #*%$ did you answer the phone?” 

Why do you answer the phone when you are really, and understandably, too busy to talk? Just let me leave a message without being exposed to your crazed, self-created frenzy which then makes me frustrated and use that high-pitched “I’m-frustrated-but-still-talking-happy” kind of voice.

The person who set this trigger off in me today is really a nice, fair, generous, and all-around good person. She works really hard and is good to people in need and in general. She supports others to have a job and she nourishes people greatly. She also cut me a great deal when I did call her back later. She also lost her son when he was in high school. He went to a party as an under-aged drinker. The party was hosted by parents of other under-aged drinkers who wanted the kids to have a “responsible” party. Except this kid left in a car and he died.

The number of lessons here are countless. Choose what you will. My take home message is something I’ve been seeing a lot of lately. Always know that every single solitary person you meet or with whom you cross paths has got a story. That story probably has a lot of joy and that story definitely has an incredible amount of sadness. That story is also just as important as yours and as insignificant as yours, all at the same time. 

Instead of getting nasty, give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Instead of putting your own personal story of sadness, grief, and loss at the top of everyone else’s agenda, put theirs at the top of yours. Imagine the pain they feel without even having to know their story. Then be nice to them. No matter what. Be kind and generous and fair and good. Puff out your sweet heart and let it touch them even if you’re just passing them as they drive 15 mph in a 40 mph zone. Smile, wave, offer them a silent or verbal blessing, and get on with it. 

Be Love.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I told my yoga teacher this morning that I hurt my neck and might be moving a bit more slowly than usual. She said something that probably changed my life forever: “Neck pain is a vata disorder (**nevermind the Sanskrit, the rest of this will make sense**). It is basically a result of fear. Don’t focus on specific neck alignment, just create a lot of space between your shoulders and your ears and trust that you’re held by the universe. Open to grace.” 

So then I went skiing. It was windy (vata deranging) and cold (more vata) and I had forgotten my phone so couldn’t call my ski buddy (v-a-t-a). After three runs, I was riding the chair up alone. I said to myself, “I’m analyzing my every movement and I feel really stiff and stuck and I’m not having very much fun and there’s nobody here to help me. Maybe I’ll try the neck thing and trust that I’m held by the universe and I am safe, in other words, just SKI!” I got off the chair, leaned down to buckle my boots, and somebody sprayed me with quite an adept hockey stop. It was my friend Shane. He is a beautiful, graceful, and confident skier. I love to ski with him because he’s way faster than me so he’s usually ahead of me and I can watch him. I do this with all good skiers. I ski behind them and emulate their total movements, not the small details, but the fluid, dancey slither of their tracks down the mountain.

In Sanskrit, this is a lot like drishti, which means something like ‘point of focus.’ If your point of focus is too small and hard and tight, you can’t always see the thing that’s keeping you stuck and causing you pain. If your focus is small, hard, and tight, you also feel small, hard, and tight. Lifting your eye gaze (your drishti) to the horizon or expanding your eye gaze laterally, like how a bird of prey sees, creates more vastness, openness, and expansiveness. 

On the flipside, when one begins to feel ungrounded, crazed, dizzy, and scattered, honing in on a small detail will help to calm the nervous system. This is why when you’re trying to balance in a hard yoga pose, the teacher will tell you to look at the floor close to you. The further away that your gaze wanders, the less stability you will feel. Once your legs and arms and torso get solid and grounded, you can start to play with your eagle vision, your expansive drishti.

So, expansive drishti helps relieve the frustrated, bound-up, agitated feeling of not being able to do something the “right” way. Drishti-expanding exercises include looking up to the horizon, closing your eyes and using your ears to sense the furthest away sounds as you can (kind of like an auditory drishti), imagining you can see the entire 360 degree circle of the room you’re in, and watching the “wholeness” of a movement (like a smooth skier gliding down the mountain or an entire flock of birds changing formation).

Drishti-calming exercises bring frenzy to a still point. Some examples: gently gazing at the flicker of a candle flame, breathing slowly through your nose and noticing that the air going in feels cool and the air going out feels warm (your sweet body warmed it up!), or closing your eyes and watching the glow of the tiny little sun in the middle of your chest.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Chickens I Eat

This morning, Bus Driver Jim asked me where I buy my chicken. My answer was that I eat chicken only a handful of times a year and I usually buy it at the health food store. And it’s hella-expensive. He cracked that sort of smile thing he does sometimes and said, “You’re a real naturalist, aren’t you?”

The thing is, my animal conscience runs very deeply. I love animals, every last one of them. There is something in the core of my being that dismantles when I start to eat something that I know was not treated well and fairly in its lifetime. It is wrong to treat another living being as if it’s life is insignificant and then eat that same flesh, expecting it to nourish you. That’s just bad manners.

I don’t know the size of a chicken’s brain and some may say that they aren’t “smart” enough to know what’s happening to them. I beg to differ. Executive functioning is not a pre-requisite for experiencing pain and stress. In my world, the eating of a sad, angry, or otherwise displaced chicken creates additional sadness, anger, and displacement inside of me.

I grew up around hunters. They don’t stalk an animal just for the challenge of it, they kill quickly and by surprise because an animal running in fear of its own impending death releases all kinds of substances into its body which then change the texture, quality, and taste of the meat. It’s not all tree-hugging and naturalismo to want well-treated meat. It actually tastes better. Anyone who says differently just doesn’t like the price.

Which leads me to the issue of the incredibly high price of well-treated, properly butchered meat. It’s wicked expensive. That’s why I don’t eat it very much. If I were sacrificing the more important needs of myself or another by buying it OR if I didn’t have the financial, emotional, and educational resources to justify it, then I wouldn’t do it. But I do. And so I can. So I do.

But really, none of that is the point. The essence of it all is that a deer, a chicken, a lobster, a fish, a pig are all sentient beings. It’s not the “brain” part of the chicken that knows when things aren’t fair. It’s the feathers that want to ruffle, the foot that wants to strut, the throat that wants to cluck.

And so, I feel confident in saying that if the powers of the universe are ever exchanged among humans and animals ...
the chickens got my back. 

Monday, January 2, 2012


I write a Gratitude List every year and do my best to contact everyone on it in some way to tell them thank you for the ways they have affected my life. I haven't fully done my 2011 Gratitude List, but here is one gratitude letter to my little cousin MTR whom I met for the first time about a month ago. He's 5.

Michael - I have heard from some people that you choose your birth family. You sit high up in the sky and watch and wait for the precise moment that you will be born and who you will be born into. Other souls waiting to be born are up there too, figuring out how to enter this lifetime in a way that serves their highest purpose as well as puts them in contact with the people they need and love from other lifetimes.

This is what I thought of when I met you.

Do you think we were birds or people before? Eagles or brothers? Friends or piglets? In any case, we have found each other again in this lifetime!

Here's what I like about you: your shiny whiteblonde hair, your scratchy deep voice, your good ideas, your shiny eyes and the way you crinkle them up when you're thinking, the big fat hug you gave me twice. You are far away from me now, but another cool thing about having been souls together up high in the sky - we tend to know when the other is thinking of us.

Can you catch me thinking about you?!