The Wall

“Imagine all the people living life in peace…” Imagine, by John Lennon

My husband and I just returned from a beautiful vacation in Los Cabos, Mexico. It was gifted to us by his company as it was to all the top 2015 sales winners. Though Pete and I are not resort enthusiasts as our idea of a good time is being anywhere in untamed nature that has nothing to do with Piña Coladas and people, we were still grateful for the rare time-out together at the edge of the azure Sea of Cortez.

WallThe colors of oceany blues—teals and lapis and cobalt—played with our senses to the point of veritable hypnosis. The fresh sea scents and gentle sounds of waves wherever you inhaled and slumped into a boneless heap of “what-the-hell” and simply gave into the luxury of decadence and beauty—all of it was truly a gift from the gods. And of course, Pete’s company.
There were so many images that reverberated for me during that Cabo Paradise but what has stayed with me the most to talk about today is the beauty and grace and warmth of the Mexican people themselves. I’ve always loved the Latin culture for its kindness, passion, artistry, their love of family and so much more. I couldn’t help but notice during my time spent unwinding that these people smile from their soul. In fact, so many of them would greet us with a cheerful, “Ola!” or “Welcome!” and then touch their hearts. It moved me.

I loved their music. Their striking beauty. The way the staff would relate to each other—laughing, speaking in animated conversations, working together as peacefully as the surrounding sea. There were no sharp edges to them. They reflected the cadence of their land. And I knew that life wasn’t easy for most of them. It wasn’t that long ago that I, too, was a server working along beside these splendid people who made the work—and the inequities of catering to the privileged—so much easier. In Cabo, we discovered that the average salary of most of the workers came to a little over $4.00 an hour. And yet many of them expressed gratitude to be working at the resort even though it was, for many of them far away from their own homes. Continue reading The Wall

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If/Then

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.” ~ Robert Frost

A few days ago, Pete and I headed for a Broadway musical playing in downtown San Diego—If/Then, starring Tony-award-winning Idina Menzel (Wicked, Rent, Frozen, Glee). I was so excited I could barely contain myself.

Homeless in the rainBut as we slogged through the rainy streets towards our gleaming, sparkling theatrical goal, noting all the duded up patrons ahead of us and the warm, shining lights glowing within I couldn’t help but notice the other “patrons.” Those wandering nomads of the streets; most of them hidden under soggy tarps and trash bags, hunkered beneath awnings and tucked into doorways, pushing piles of refuse packed into rusty shopping carts. The homeless. So many of them. I could hear some of their whispers to each other as we passed by. My heart ached. Oh the line. The line is so fine between them and me.

I was instantly filled with equal parts of shame and gratitude. Sadness for them. Gladness that it wasn’t I caught in the rain but rather the I who was heading to a far more privileged path. Lucky me. Unlucky them. How fair was that? I wondered. Why me? Why them? Is it all luck? Fate? Choice? A Cosmic Coin Toss?

And that is kind of the theme of that startlingly incredible musical, If/Then. How did we end up here? What would have happened if one path/person/career was chosen over the other? That’s what they ask over and over again. And then reinforce the themes of Love While You Can; No More Wasted Time; Always Starting Over; and then one of my favorites “What The F–?”

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A Year-End Homage to Friendships, Old and New…

“There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” –Mister Rogers

One of my earliest childhood memories was listening to my parents and their friends sing that song together. I never knew what it meant but it seemed to be sung on my birthday, which is December 31st, so I associated it with something to do with me—though the melody seemed sad. There was a feeling of farewell about it. So whether I carry that well of sorrow within me just because I’m me, or because of that first awareness of the balance of life—the goodbye/hello-ness of everything that one both celebrates and mourns often simultaneously—whatever it was and is “Auld Lang Syne” always gets to me.

And so it is that at this year-ending I pause to contemplate it all and the meaning of this song (awld lan zeyen), which is actually a traditional Scottish song, meaning “Time Long Past.” The eighteenth-century poet, Robert Burns, recorded the song for posterity. It simply means, old times, long friendships, long-ago days.

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Scout

1998-2015

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
~ Dr. Suess

ScoutI called him Scout because when he arrived in my life seventeen years ago, I thought he was a she and of course named the tiny drop of a kitten after one of my favorite Harper Lee characters from To Kill A Mockingbird.

Found in the woods by a Good Samaritan during a rain storm, the eensy creature was carried in a soggy paper bag to the Monterey police office where my dear friend, Kate, worked as a counselor. She called me up and said there was someone she thought I should meet. And she was right. The minute I saw him it was instant love. I learned that the kitty was the only survivor from a litter that had succumbed around him. And that’s the kind of mettle he carried with him throughout his life. He was tiny but tough. Had a don’t- mess-with-me “cat-itude” that somehow morphed into my own psyche as well. I learned from him. Although I did have to teach him to stop growling whenever someone went near his meal. He’d stretch his little feet over his cup and guard it with his life. That’s probably how he survived. I pushed the thought away that he might have offed his brothers and sisters for food. Scout? Nahhhh. Anyway, he soon trusted that he didn’t have to fight for his meals and relaxed into his innate sweetness.

At the beginning he had yet to be weaned from his abandoned momma so I fed him formula from a doll bottle. He’d often curl up in the hood of my bathrobe as I wrote at the computer and then when he was entirely satiated of sleep and food he’d ping-pong from room-to-room doing the kitty burst-and-fly-charge-and-hide dance. An absolute wild child, he drove his old cat brother, Quince, nearly out of his mind. I worried that having a tiny new buddy to harass him constantly wasn’t being fair to poor Quince—at that point being an ancient and creeky feline deserving of some peace and respect in his winter years. But the resulting Scout-onslaught proved to be positive. The little guy reawakened Quince’s inner cat and soon the two were chasing and pouncing all over each other. Scout gave his big bro some added quality years that were a gift.

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Blind Birding by the Bay

Those who have been brave enough to drive with me through the years probably still have fingernail-scars imbedded in their palms from white-knuckling. I specialize in getting lost and rarely found. Have no sense of direction. And will never drive a freeway again unless you put a gun to my head.

BinocularsThat should set the stage for a recent drive I did with one of the best and most patient navigators ever. Did I say that he was sight-challenged, as in almost blind? True. I was directed through the San Diego traffic by my friend, an unseeing eye guide named Claude. A former biologist and “birder,” this amazing genius has socked away an inventory of facts—flora and fauna and a whole lot more—into his brilliant brain. And one recent morning he offered to share his wisdom and memorized street sense with my friend Willie and me.

I picked him up at his home, whereupon he proceeded to kindly sense my inward breathing as I sucked in the stress of traversing my way around praying I’d be able to keep my precious cargo safe. Diminutive Willie was wedged into the back seat and Claude, all six-plus-something of him trying to find comfort in the passenger side. Feeling the inside of the door his fingers touched one of the many rocks I have tucked inside the car. “Oh, rocks!” he smiled. “Yes,” I laughed. “I have them everywhere. And smooth stones.” We commiserated. It seems he collected them as well.

And so our adventure began with me carefully following his directions and faint sightedness (the blind leading the blind?) to an experience I’ll never forget. Following Claude’s lead we rounded SeaWorld Drive (Gag. I wish they’d change the name) from the Hilton Hotel to West Mission Bay Drive turning onto Quivira Road by making two left turns, heading south, and passing the Marina Village Conference Center as the road bent westward again. With each twist and turn, Claude would alert me ahead of time beforehand. I couldn’t believe it. Continue reading Blind Birding by the Bay

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I Know What Victoria’s Secret Is

BrassiereI must have slipped into the rare realm (for me) of self-importance lately. Because the Universe has been having fun pummeling my ego out into the stratosphere. I’m being forced to face the grace of acceptance. Being in the present moment at all times. Being ever more grateful. And being able to stand back and laugh. Because, seriously, life—my life—is ridiculous. Especially in these Mercury in Retrograde moments when communication, transportation, exasperation are so insane that all is one big “askew you.”

Example. I lost my wallet. It vaporized, I swear it did. Went to the bank already hysterical from turning my purse, car, entire world inside-out-and-upside-down looking for the damned thing, began cancelling credit cards, on the verge of pulling my hair out, when the smiling young girl behind the desk asked if that man sitting next to me (Pete), was my son.

She’s lucky she’s still alive.

And the fun continued the next day at the DMV. I know you know how hideously humbling that experience is. I drove there first thing in the early morning to beat the 8 a.m. door opening crowds only to experience a please-tell-me-this-is-not-so line wrapped around the block. REALLY!???? And so we wended our way down the line feeling like so many losers about to be shipped off to our fated punishments.

Continue reading I Know What Victoria’s Secret Is

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Rolling Stoned

“No, you can’t always get what you want… But if you try sometime you find you get what you need.”
– Rolling Stones

Petco Park, San Diego 5/24/15

UNBEFRICKINLIEVABLE! I’m still reeling from it.

The Stones concert was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that leave you wondering if it really happened at all or did we each fall into some universal worm hole that careened us into another world of wayyyy beyond “satisfaction!” Maybe they couldn’t get none of it but we sure did. In all the rock concerts Pete and his high school buddy, Peter (who was with us with his family too) helped worked at in their youth both said they’d never been to one this phenomenal. Too many images to even relate. The sweet kid next to us from the appropriately named town of Grass Valley, passing around weed. The hilarious British invasion in front of us. One of them doing lap dances and playing air guitar with his selfie-stick and threatening to topple over the edge of the balcony causing us all to scream every time he gyrated backwards. Adam, towering above me, his arms flailing wildly as we all were—shouting, screaming, cheering, dancing, laughing, singing . Together, we were each one living breathing entity of Rolling Stonedness forever changed. Amazed by the timelessness (Age? What’s age?) of these mad geniuses—Mick gyrating, strutting, running back and forth prodding his brilliant cohorts to laughter—Keith, Ron, Charlie and some new and fabulous bass and sax players and back-up singers, along with opening act and legend in his own right, Gary Clark Jr.

Posted by Adam Granat on Monday, May 25, 2015

Rolling StonesAdam screamed “Gimme Shelter” and for a brief and untethered moment we got it–forgetting all the trials and travails of the world for this insane sense-bombardment (I’m only now being able to actually hear again.) The noise was deafening. Adam and I could only converse via texting each other. The camera crew climbed two steel towers like lithe monkeys way above the stadium in layers blasting color eye-feasts of fire and cosmic animation and dripping tongues and fireworks and on and on and on. And the sound was more visceral, more gut-pounding, lung-sucking sensation than anything I ever heard or felt in my life.

Keith Richards book

And not once did those mad geniuses stop rolling song and after song each topping the other to the point that we were exhausted like love-sick teenagers in heat. We were all—no matter where we lived chronologically–reduced to youth and beauty and passion and wildness. I will never complain about getting older. I just want to be a Rolling Stone and keep on keepin’ on like them. No, you can’t always get what you want, but for everything that’s holy, I sure got what I needed last night.

WOW.

[Rolling Stones logo source]

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Mother’s Day Musings…

Could it really be 44 years since I nursed my firstborn in a sweet, long-ago rocking chair? And then two years later my second baby boy too? I try to recapture the feeling and smell and sound of it all. Such purity and innocence. The beauty of timing out the rest of the world while holding the entire universe in my arms. I could say no to everything and everybody without guilt because my baby came first. I could laugh and lullaby and coo and cuddle forever and it was alright. I would just rock on and it was as it should be. I knew my place and purpose and discovered the amazement of letting my body take over and do what it was born to do naturally. I never could have imagined that I was capable of nurturing another without running interference. Without me getting in the way of such loveliness…    It’s hard to envision that same me today. Yes, I’m way older (and so are those precious babies I held so close; now splendid men I adore), but the world as it was then has also changed. I often wish I could climb into that space and rock peacefully back in time and block out the daily batterings of overwhelming cruelty ricocheting around the world.  When did we become such an angry planet? Was this always so or do we just know more and much faster than ever? How is it right for mothers and babies of all species to be crying out to each other as the most horrific acts imaginable are happening to them Every. Single. Moment? I  won’t list them here. You know them well.  But on this Mother’s Day I pray. I pray harder than I’ve ever prayed in my life. For the splendid nurturers—both women and men—who are sacrificing their lives for the sake of others. I pray for the care-givers, the healers, the activists, the believers who don’t and won’t give up fighting for the right of others to live freely and with kindness and compassion and love.  One doesn’t have to be a biological mother or father to mother another. And those who can’t or won’t become child-bearers still can be nurturers of life—for animals and nature and so many others who need a loving, protective and helping hand—a shining light in the darkness. That’s what mothering is all about.    I wish I could give the world rocking chairs. And one-by-one we would begin to rock back and forth embracing the beauty of who we are and loving ourselves first before we have the energy and time to love each other. We would just rock all those good vibes into our souls and then gather the rest of the world into our arms and lift it all into a collective lullaby of peace and unity. “Hush little baby don’t say a word. Mama’s gonna buy you a mocking bird…”    Happy Mother’s Day, everyone. I love you…Could it really be 44 years since I nursed my firstborn in a sweet, long-ago rocking chair? And then two years later my second baby boy too? I try to recapture the feeling and smell and sound of it all. Such purity and innocence. The beauty of timing out the rest of the world while holding the entire universe in my arms. I could say no to everything and everybody without guilt because my baby came first. I could laugh and lullaby and coo and cuddle forever and it was alright. I would just rock on and it was as it should be. I knew my place and purpose and discovered the amazement of letting my body take over and do what it was born to do naturally. I never could have imagined that I was capable of nurturing another without running interference. Without me getting in the way of such loveliness…

It’s hard to envision that same me today. Yes, I’m way older (and so are those precious babies I held so close; now splendid men I adore), but the world as it was then has also changed. I often wish I could climb into that space and rock peacefully back in time and block out the daily batterings of overwhelming cruelty ricocheting around the world.

When did we become such an angry planet? Was this always so or do we just know more and much faster than ever? How is it right for mothers and babies of all species to be crying out to each other as the most horrific acts imaginable are happening to them? Every. Single. Moment? I won’t list them here. You know them well.

Continue reading Mother’s Day Musings…

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Being 70

12.31.44

OMG.

“…`Cause here we are
We are shining stars
We are invincible
We are who we are
On our darkest day
When we’re miles away
Sun will come
We will find our way home
If you’re lost and alone
Or you’re sinking like a stone,
Carry on.
May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground.
Carry on!”
–by FUN

Cara at 70

Cara at 70

As we’re heading towards that big Auld Lang Syne-off when 2014 bows out and makes way for what we pray is a kinder and far more loving 2015, I am challenged with a brutal reality that I need to face. My December 31st birthday.  And right now, I could use “…a little help from my friends!”

Sure, I could lie and change my birth date on Facebook. In fact, I did that for far too long and then I changed it to the truth. Too much lying and cheating has become prevalent in our society and I’m over it. Fact is, I am about to be—drum roll—Seventy f-king years old. No, I am not kidding and just writing this has made me clammy and lightheaded. Whoever said that the truth doesn’t hurt is lying. Don’t ask me how it happened. But my mirror tells me that it did, in fact, occur. Mirrors don’t lie. Damn them all.

Continue reading Being 70

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Choosing to Fly or Be Flattened (Another Lesson from an airborne Nature Teacher)

Flying birdThe cats were on it first. Poised in a purrrmanant stance dictated by some primordial instinct they remained fixated and staring at the glass door of our balcony. There, on the other side of the night, pummeling the door and windows in frantic flutter back and forth, was a baby bird. Seemingly lost in the dark drawn to the light beyond the glass, it slammed its little wings over and over again in a futile attempt to free itself from the nightmare.

The cats were hypnotized following the wee bird’s body slams from above and below their vantage points. What to do? Pete and I were prepared to find a way to capture the wayward baby and rescue it as fast as we could. And then, as if by magic, it stopped, turned around, and shaking its wings in what appeared to us as triumph (possibly a birdy “aha moment?”), just flew away into the night.

Relief! Though the cats now had to resign themselves to the boredom of relinquishing their feline fascination with their version of “the food channel,” Pete and I were thrilled to witness the little bird’s freedom. That, and realizing the rest of our evening wouldn’t have to be spent with having to rescue and succor a tiny terrified feathered baby 24/7.

Continue reading Choosing to Fly or Be Flattened (Another Lesson from an airborne Nature Teacher)

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