Saturday, January 26, 2008

Market day

The sun has been mostly out today and I've been so relieved. I know we can probably use all the rain we can get -- even if it causes flooding -- but when it's been raining all week and the forecast has the rain continuing for at least another week, a break feels really good. And hey, on a somewhat related note, did you hear about the avalanche in Southern California? I just like to say that -- there was an AVALANCHE in Southern California. It's the kind of thing I associate with the Alps or the Himalayas, not the land of Baywatch and Hollywood. Totally trippy.

Anyhoo, the break in the rain meant that I got to visit my local farmer's market. Actually, I'm lucky to have two year-round farmer's markets within spitting distance of my house, but it's the Saturday morning one in San Mateo that's my favorite. Even in winter when there aren't a lot of foods naturally in season, we can get tons of locally-grown fruits and vegetables. Today I kept it simple, picking up onions, garlic, broccoli and broccoli rabe (or rapini), mandarin oranges, sweet potatoes, and a lovely bunch of tulips. I still had salad greens, green onions, strawberries, and grapefruit leftover from going to the market last week. It's a literal cornucopia.

Most people think that vegetarians eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, but that has not always been the case for me. I go through phases where I eat mostly grains and legumes or I'm heavy on the dairy, which never makes me feel good. So right now I'm placing a huge emphasis on fruits and vegetables -- not only does it make my diet much more colorful, it's much more flavorful as well. Almost every meal is a delicious treat -- last night, Sean got stuck working late so I "whipped up" Savory Loaf (a grain side dish that is truly savory), a beautiful green salad with toasted pine nuts and gorgonzola cheese, and a baked sweet potato. It was incredibly simple, but simply delicious. This weekend's highlights will include a veggie fried rice with toasted almonds and a red lentil soup. It makes my stomach rumble in anticipation just to think about it.

While the spectacular array of foods and flowers available is my primary reason for going to the farmer's market, it also just makes me feel good to be there. There's such a sense of community, reinforced by occasionally running into people I know. Lots of families and couples and friends and individuals walking around, interacting with the people selling their wares, mostly with smiles on their faces and a spring in their step. There's also a sense of sustainability, as at least half of the attendees are carrying "permanent" grocery bags from Whole Foods and Trader Joe's or baskets and bags purchased just for the market, and everything is coming from relatively local farms. And finally, there's a bountiful sense of self-nurture, like I'm doing something that is good for me and just the act of doing it already makes my body feel better. Utilizing my purchases is almost like a bonus instead of being the purpose.

Apparently there are 90 farmer's markets in the Bay Area -- wild. I feel blessed to be in an area of such abundance. But farmer's markets are cropping up all over the country, too. When I visited my family in Rome, Georgia last summer, my aunt and I went to an early morning farmer's market at a local church. While it was mostly people with large gardens sharing their extras, it was still a testament to the power of community. I was happy to be able to support the locals in their endeavors, and kind of wished I had a fledgling farmer's market that I could support at home too. But large or small, professional or amateur, I always look forward to market day, to the feelings it engenders and the spoils I get to take home with me. Namaste.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Antonia's Line

I finally watched Antonia's Line this evening. What a treat. Sad, but beautiful, wonderful. It's a sweet tale, but a powerful one too, about living life, about what's important, about love and death, about being yourself no matter what. It's Dutch, so it has that wonderful rhythm European films have that I love so much. The characters have so much, well, character, and there's magic in the air. If you haven't seen it yet, treat yourself. If you have, remind yourself.

And as this long chronicle reaches its conclusion, nothing has come to an end.

Ah, meditation

I am having a good, if sleepy, day today. The rain is a nice backdrop for me to work in, creating a soothing, meditative state. I got up early this morning so I would have time to do my morning pages before making a yummy breakfast (vanilla-cinnamon french toast using whole-grain bread and real maple syrup -- yum-o). I've been trying to cook three meals a day lately, and I find it to be a timing challenge to finish my morning practice before putting breakfast together by 7:15. Starting my morning practice after Sean leaves for work, however, means it's the only thing that gets to utilize my most productive hours of the day. In seeking balance, getting up earlier appears to be the best solution.

Today worked out so well I almost even had enough time for my meditation, but it would have been noticeably short so I held off until later in the morning. And I'm really glad I did -- I got in a couple of hours of freelance work and still had a full hour to dedicate to meditation before lunch. This full hour is something I've been trying to fit into my schedule for over a week as I've been wanting to try out a new meditation recording I picked up -- Kelly Howell's Awakening Kundalini. Oh wow, it's a good one. I was already loving the brainwave techniques she uses and most frequently meditate to her Retrieve Your Destiny "Side B" meditation. Awakening Kundalini uses the same theta-wave meditation music found on Retrieve Your Destiny but adds a guided meditation to it. It starts with an introduction to the concept of Kundalini and instructions on how to use the meditation and what the different breathing techniques are, so the first use is a little time-consuming but let me tell you, it's well worth it. I'm looking forward to seeing how it opens me up over time.

I love meditation. I know for some people it's something they "should" do, something they're "supposed to" do. But for me it's something I truly love with all of my heart. I love the feeling of connection it leaves me with, the sense of cleanliness and purity inside and out. I finished meditating today and I was hungry, but at the same time I felt very FULL. I've spent the past couple of hours almost in a daze because my meditation brought me so into the present moment I'm really looking at things, really absorbing my surroundings. It's a little like being high, but an all-natural, totally reattainable high.

If you have trouble committing to a meditation practice, I really recommend listening to something while you are meditating. First of all, it's a natural timer so you know upfront how long your meditation will be depending on which recording you select. You have no excuse to peek at the clock to see how much time is left -- if the meditation is still playing, you still have time left. I typically shoot for 30 minutes because I like how it makes me feel, how it gives me enough time for that sense of connection to really sink in. In addition to Kelly Howell's meditations, I love the gong meditation on Music for Deep Meditation: Tibetan Singing Bowl. If I'm really crunched for time, then I'll do a 15-minute meditation. For that I typically use the "Deep Trance Meditative Music" track off of Caroline Reynolds' Soul Stretch.

The other reason I recommend listening to something is that it gives the layers of your mind something to do, especially when you're just learning how to meditate. If you think of your mind like a pond, your thoughts usually dance around the surface, causing ripples as they plunk down onto the water. Meditation pulls you down beneath the surface where it's still and quiet. Having something to listen to gives that surface-layer something to be distracted by and allows the rest of your mind to sink into the depths. Or at least that's the way I think of it.

All I can say is that it's the best way to spend 30 minutes each day. AND it makes the rest of your 23 hours and 30 minutes go so much more smoothly, gracefully, and presently. Namaste.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Learn to Fly

I was driving home from the grocery store this afternoon and this song came on the radio. I'm singing along thinking, I really like this song, I'd forgotten all about it. Then we come to the chorus and it is, of course, all about learning to fly. It seemed too appropriate not to post it today, since, in case you hadn't noticed, learning to fly is what I'm all about these days.

This concept speaks to me on at least two levels. One, it's about learning, growing, expanding. And two, it's about FLYING, not just surviving or being adequate--it's about being more. This in a nutshell is what I want my life to be about, not just today, but from here on out. There is always more to learn and there is always a space to expand into. Hear hear.

The song "Learn to Fly" is another one from 1999. I believe (although I might be mistaken, I'm definitely no expert) that it was the first big Foo Fighters hit here in the U.S. While I enjoyed it when it came out, it didn't make a huge mark on my landscape. It's one that over time, the more I've listened to it, the more I like it. Perhaps a little bit of nostalgia--songs that remind me of specific periods grow on me precisely because they are reminders--but I've also grown and changed a lot over the past decade. Whatever it is, I now think this song is a lot of fun, and 8+ years after it was released, I am now a proud owner of it. Thank you, iTunes.

Artist: Foo Fighters
More information:
Song: Learn to Fly
Album: There Is Nothing Left to Lose

Run and tell all of the angels
This could take all night
Think I need a devil to help me get things right
Hook me up a new revolution
Cause this one is a lie
We sat around laughing and watched the last one die

I'm looking to the sky to save me
Looking for a sign of life
Looking for something to help me burn out bright

I'm looking for complication
Looking cause I'm tired of trying
Make my way back home when I learn to fly

I think I'm done nursing the patience
I can wait one night
I'd give it all away if you give me one last try
We'll live happily ever trapped if you just save my life
Run and tell the angels that everything is alright...
Fly along with me, I can't quite make it alone
Try and make this life my own

Tibolt Quote

We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.

~Frank Tibolt

yes is a world

I was all set to write about the power of action today, but as I was swapping out my "Quote of the Week" this morning, it occurred to me that as much as I love e.e. cummings poem that was there, I haven't necessarily been LIVING it.

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

Reading this poem, even if it's my hundredth time reading it, gives me chills. It speaks to that part of me that has spent most of my life asleep, that part of me that yearns for me to stand up and truly say YES that all of life has to offer. It speaks to me in the language of my soul, answering a call that my spirit has been crying for a long, long time.

I'm still at a point where I'm not sure I know what living a life of YES would truly look like, but I think I can work backwards from what it would not look like. It would not look like settling--it would be making choices that serve me and my goals. It would not look like accepting table scraps and saying thank you, can I have some more please--it would be recognizing my power and strength and the gifts that I bring to the world, knowing my value and expecting it to be seen. It would not be gray and flat and lifeless--it would be full of color, fully fleshed out, vibrant, animate, alive.

Sometimes I'm blown away by how difficult it is for me to speak my truth, to stand in my power and tell the world that I'm here, that I'm a force for good in this universe, that I am a voice of wisdom and understanding, that I am a conduit for God or Infinite Intelligence or Source or whatever you want to call that all-powerful, all-encompassing ONENESS that is the creative source of our universe. The DailyOM this morning struck such a chord with me, talking about that feeling of spinning our wheels, possibly even feeling like we're going backwards, but needing to remember that each step is a step forward. Forward progress, it's all forward progress. That can be so difficult for me to recognize some days, when I find myself stuck in a pattern that I thought I'd caught and eliminated 10, 15, 20 years ago. How long am I going to allow myself to be stuck under the mantle of "I'm not good enough"?

But this is when I have to take a deep breath, let all that tension in my shoulders and my stomach dissipate and remember that the "I'm not good enough" of 2008 is a mere shadow of its former self. The truth of my forward progress really is self-evident--when I let go my perfectionism and judgment, I can see it clear as day. And this past year has been about moving what I know from my head to my heart, into my body, so that I can FEEL it. I suppose this next year is going to be about moving it out of my head and body into the world, really putting my money where my mouth is and living the life that I truly want, that I know I deserve, and that I truly was born to live. This year is going to be about shifting my self-definition, how I perceive myself internally and how I describe myself to the world.

I am a writer. I am a coach. I am a spiritual intuitive. I have unique gifts to share with the world. This is who I am. Do you know who you are? How do you want to define yourself moving forward? Are you ready to share that definition of yourself? I cannot promise you that this kind of shift will be easy, but I know that, for me at least, it is necessary. And I hope to even have some fun with it along the way. Namaste.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I asked Sean this morning if he'd like to pick a song in honor of his birthday. I suggested Bob Marley. He countered with "Freebird," primarily because of its Guitar Hero II status. Then he thought about it for a moment and came up with Red Hot Chili Peppers. That seemed appropriate seeing as the two things I remember most from the first year of our relationship are Soul Caliber (does your soul still burn?) and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

We met in 1999, the same year that Californication came out. I'd been a huge fan of Blood Sugar Sex Magik and was disappointed in their 1995 release One Hot Minute (who wasn't). Californication was a piece of college nostalgia dressed in new clothes. Sean would get up most Saturday mornings and put the CD on -- if you weren't awake yet, "Around the World" would do it for you. (Around the world / I feel dutiful / Take a wife / cause life is beautiful.)

The album moves through a wide variety of musical styles, which is probably why I enjoy it so much as a full album. The first four tracks are a wonderful ride, growing progressively mellower as we move from "Around the World" to "Parallel Universe" to "Scar Tissue" to "Otherside," my favorite from the album. You can see the video here. (I heard your voice through a photograph / I thought it up it brought up the past / Once you know you can never go back / I’ve got to take it on the otherside.) "Californication" and "Road Trippin'" are also good ones to call attention to, and by now we've singled out half the album.

While I think the Red Hot Chili Peppers now are ghosts of their 90's selves, it's always a good reminder that they were living large there for a while, and such a pleasure to ride along with.

Road trippin' with my two favorite allies
Fully loaded we got snacks and supplies
Its time to leave this town
Its time to steal away
Lets go get lost
Anywhere in the U.S.A.

Lets go get lost
Lets go get lost...

RHCP website:
More information:

The passage of time

I'm feeling a little under the weather today. My whole body is just crying out for me to curl up in bed, to turn off the rest of the world and retreat. It doesn't help that it's raining. Antonia's Line came from Netflix so I may give in here in a minute, but I did want to do a quick post.

It's my husband's birthday today. I love birthdays, mine or otherwise. I think I've had more fun celebrating this birthday than Sean has, but that's probably pretty usual for us. I believe that life should be celebrated, and that includes the passage of time, the gaining of wisdom. He likes to joke that we'd be old by now except that we have neither kids nor a mortgage, apparently requirements for that title in his book. I don't think about getting "old" so much as I think about flexibility, agility, knowledge, practice. I think in many respects I grow younger as I age, so there may be a point at which Sean is robbing the cradle.

In any event, wherever you are today, please take a moment to honor the day that Sean was born in whatever way seems suitable to you. His idea of honoring it is to play video games, of course. Namaste.

Monday, January 21, 2008

All Too Much

One of the best things about pretty much every job I've ever had is the travel I've gotten to do for work. For years, every time I traveled for business I either got to extend it to visit with family and friends or I was abroad, specifically in Asia. It's not like I traveled a lot -- just a few times a year -- but they were memorable. My best trip for my last company was when I got to attend the 2006 Austin City Limits Music Festival. While it was hotter than my California-adjusted body could handle, the music was beyond INCREDIBLE. I got to see Aimee Mann and Gnarls Barkley and John Mayer and KT Tunstell and Thievery Corporation -- some really good stuff. And I got introduced to Gomez, who I had the honor of watching from backstage as I was hanging out at the Heineken tent. I'd heard of them and recognized one or two of their songs, but I didn't really know them.

In the year and a half since, Gomez has taken over the world, or so it seems from my perspective. Almost without fail, any time I heard a new song on the radio that I liked it would end up being a Gomez song. I've bought enough of the album How We Operate from iTunes that by now it probably would have made a lot more sense to just have bought the whole album ages ago. "All Too Much" is a fairly new love of mine. It's a rockin' song, it makes me want to sing along, to groove. I honestly have no idea what the song is about (even after reading the lyrics) and I don't care. It's catchy and fun and highly addictive, the kind of song you can get stuck in your head -- like I did today, incidentally -- and you really don't mind. So Gomez, tell us, what's your secret? You make it look so easy, like you don't even try.

Artist: Gomez
More information:
Song: All Too Much
Album: How We Operate

You can make up a list
Of the things you want
...Could be anything.
When you've crossed them all off,
And there's nothing left,
To start again.

The occasional milestone on your path,
Shows how far you've come.
But the record will show,
And it's all too much,
And not enough.

So step right up,
Everything's just fine.
I'm only here to do what's right.

If it cannot be slowed,
And it's too late to change,
Just cover up
Keep it spinning around out of control,
Til it's hard to stop
Like a moth to the flame, you can't resist
You have to get involved.
Why did you get involved?

So step right up,
Everything's just fine.
I'm only here to do what's right
Don't worry about it

Tell us what's your secret?
How come it works every time?
You make it look so easy,
Like you don't even try.
Tell us what's your secret?
Have you got something to hide?
If giving up so easy,
Why do you even try?

And the record will show
You were falling fast,
It was all too much,
And you weren't fast enough

So step right up,
Everything's just fine.
I'm only here to do what's right
Don't worry about it

Tell us what's the secret?
How come it works every time?
You make it look so easy,
Like you don't even try.
Tell us what's your secret?
Have you got something to hide?
If giving up so easy,
Why do you even try?

It's like you don't even try.
It's never all too much
Yeah, and not enough
It's like you don't even try.
It's never all too much
Yeah, and not enough.

Ooh, look! Bright and shiny!

I'm struggling a lot with focus lately. I seem to have completely lost my ability to multi-task, or even single-task, with any degree of success. I get distracted really easily -- Ooh, look! Bright and shiny! -- and don't always make it back to whatever I was working on originally. I used to need music on in the background to help me concentrate -- a sort of white noise to cover up all the real noises happening around me -- but now I find myself getting sucked into a song, turning it up so I can really listen to it, wanting it to be in the foreground of my attention instead.

While my productivity has dropped to an all-time low, I don't think this is a bad thing, really. It's like I'm reprogramming my brain to process things one-at-a-time when the corporate world had me processed on multiple input. My last job was especially ADD-inducing, with everyone on email, IM, the phone, and talking to someone at the next desk all at the same time. Every now and again I wanted to bury my head under my arms and scream. But habits are hard to break, and even now I have an obscene number of browser windows open (19, including this one) and I find it difficult to sit here and just type, focus on what I'm writing, without going and refreshing all of those windows to see if anything requires my attention.

There is a definite art to actually staying in the moment, with your mind on a single point of focus. Gurus and mystics have been talking about this one-mind concept for centuries, possibly millennia, and it doesn't sound so difficult in theory, but man is it ever hard to do in practice. I have about a hundred thousand things to do today (okay, really it's probably about a dozen, but who's counting) and I get antsy, wanting to cross things off the list, instead of truly paying attention to what I'm doing in the moment. The irony is, my inability to sit still on days like today keeps me from finishing anything that I've started and I feel like I'm behind schedule the entire day. If I could just be completely in the moment with what I am doing RIGHT NOW and focus my entire attention on it, just think how quickly I would be able to complete that task. I'd be crossing things off my list left and right, relaxed and in the flow, trusting in my inherent ability to get things done instead of feeling anxious about it and getting in my own way.

As I sit here writing, resisting the urge to multi-task, I can feel myself relaxing. It feels like this concept of truly paying attention, truly staying in the moment is sinking in, and I can definitely feel it resonating within me, the core of my being saying Yes, you're getting it, thank you. So let me experiment with this today, moving on to my next task and focusing on it with the same attention I've been giving this, taking things one at a time, rejoicing in each individually completed task. Wish me luck. Namaste.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Amaze Me

Every now and again I'll be sitting at my desk with some music on in the background, or listening to my iPod on my way home from the city, or in my car running errands listening to a mix I've made, and I'll just get struck with a deep upwelling of emotion, tears in my eyes for what appears to be no reason and a yearning to be out on the open road. Inevitably, it's because the song "Amaze Me" by Girlyman has come on, and I've just been struck anew by the power of their harmonies, their melodies, and their lyrics. While some music makes me wish I was a singer-songwriter, other music makes me wish I was in a position to support singer-songwriters just getting started so that their music can be spread throughout the world. Girlyman's music definitely brings out the latter instinct in me, and back when I had a job, I'd have these overwhelming urges to quit my job to go work towards getting them, and others like them, more famous. More recently, you're likely to find me allowing those tears to come, allowing myself to feel the emotion their songs bring out in me, and just kick back and enjoy, feeling blessed to be able to experience it.

The most striking thing about this song for me is the haunting quality its melody takes on when done in three-party harmony. Knocks my socks off every time. The second thing is that it feels written for me (sheepish grin) when they talk about " From Decatur, Georgia To California," i.e. from where I was born to where I live now. The third thing is that I am transient by nature, I love to travel and to take road trips and to see our country in all its glory. I can remember on a road trip from Chicago to Breckinridge, I was driving through Nebraska and everyone else in the car was asleep. I was struck by how beautiful the landscape was on a rainy, March afternoon, and I didn't have anyone to share it with. This song reminds me of moments like that.

Artist: Girlyman
More information:
Song: Amaze Me
Album: Remember Who I Am

Amaze Me

by Ty Greenstein
(© 2001)

New Jersey born, yeah
The flat land of Nebraska
From Decatur, Georgia
To California

Let's dig up the map and
Let's leave while we're happy
I wanna see Tucson
Before it's all gone

Amaze me, America
Save me from armageddon, high road to heaven

Eight hours at the airport
Wanna hightail to Gulfport
Wanna sit on the back porch
And stare at the stars

From the chemical water
Of new york's dirty harbor
To the rock of gibraltar
At the end of the world


Let's dive to Atlantis
Let's hear what they'd tell us
From the bottom of the ocean
I really want to know them


Creative urges

I was fiddling around on Google this morning and stumbled across this image that just struck a deep chord with me. God, do I ever wish I were artistically talented. I'm in complete awe of people who CREATE. I have trouble thinking of myself as a creative person, even when I'm doing things that are inherently creative, but it's something I've always yearned for. Kind of like when I was little and I just loved my cousins' Southern accents and I wanted to be Southern so bad it hurt. I didn't realize that it was what was on the inside that mattered, I could only see the external stuff. Now I don't identify myself with just one part of the country -- I honor my Southern roots and Yankee upbringing just as much as I honor my Californian home. But I digress.

I think that the creative urge is one we all share, that it runs deep within the parts of us that make us human. It's related to the urge to procreate for sure, but I think it's more than just that. Our conscious minds might yearn for remembrance, to leave a little piece of ourselves behind when we pass on to the next realm. But our souls yearn for an opportunity to express Who We Are, to get deep into the heart of the matter, of whatever matters, and connect with it, feel it, shine a light on it, and show it off to the rest of the world, whatever it is. When I was cleaning out my linen closet last week -- and boy, am I ever still reveling in that -- I stumbled across a bag of painting supplies. Damn, I've had those a long time. Some of those oils paints and brushes are from a painting class I took in college. I have to say, I was one of the least skilled people in that class, but I had so much FUN it just didn't matter. One of my favorite classes in high school was drawing. Now that I was good at, I admit. I even had one of my ink drawings submitted for a state art show. Sadly, I never got it back, but I remember how good that felt, and also a little scary, that something I had made was being shown off to so many people.

These days, most of my creative urges get channeled into making mixes for friends. Ah yes, I still do love those old mixed tapes I got from boyfriends and made for myself back in high school and college. So now I burn CDs, sad that they have to be so much shorter, but still enjoying the whole process, from song selection and arrangement right down to cover art and typeface choices. But of course by now, we all know about my love affair with music. What I really crave is a creative outlet that is 100% me, where I'm not just sharing other peoples' talents with the world, but my own. Writing, painting, sculpting, collaging -- whatever moves me for the day -- I need to find that outlet, find that way to express myself in a creative fashion, let out some of this pent up creativity that has been seeking a place to go. Who knows, I might just surprise myself and be an artist after all. Or I could just have a whole heck of a lot of fun. The outcome is not what's important here, it's all about enjoying the ride. Namaste.