Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Year of 40: January Adventure!

I have decided in order to fully embrace and honor turning 40 (in September) I will embark on an adventure each month of 2017. These adventures will be both grand and small and somewhere in between. And the goal of each will be to better myself, my community and/or the world. In addition to my monthly adventure I will also be doing 40 for 40 in 2017. I will visit 40 breweries, watch 40 musical artists perform live and write 40 letters/postcards. My hope is to document all of this each month in this blog that I started a number of years ago because I continue to believe that 'It Takes a Village'. 

Displaying IMG_5697.JPGJanuary 21, 2017
Women's March on Washington

Why did I March?

At first I was very apprehensive.  I was worried that the organizers did not seem like they were representing a diverse group of people.  After push back and concerns presented to them they found some amazing women of color to organize with them and the result was an intersectional platform.  An intersectional platform that I fully support, embrace and believe in.  If you have not read it you should read it to fully understand what the fight is for, what I fight for.  
You can find the full PDF here.

The speakers at the March represented multiple identities and almost all spoke of the need for an intersectional movement. Do I believe that every person (or even half) of the people present read and supported the platform that was presented? No, I do not.  Does the idealist, optimist person that I am hope that a fraction of the folks present went home and googled intersectional and gained a deep understanding of how we experience oppression to varying degrees depending on the identities we hold and the life experiences we have had. I have hope and I am optimistic. And I was able to share this experience with one of my oldest and dearest friends and am so grateful to have done this with her, side by side.

I feel like I was in mourning everyday after the election and looked at this March like a funeral march.  One in which we celebrated a life that we lost.  And now post March is when the work needs to start (continue) and if all of the quick appointments and awful executive orders are not a call to action I am not sure what is.

Image may contain: 1 person, crowdI marched because my rights and the rights of so many others are being compromised.

I will fight against racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, xenophobia, transphobia, ablesism and sexism.

I marched because we can not fight against any of those things without fighting against all of them.

I will continue to examine my own privileges and read and listen and be in solidarity with those who are oppressed so I can continue to fight.

January 29, 2017

Yesterday and today protests, marches and rallies erupted around the country, mostly at airports in response to an executive order that would ban folks from certain (predominantly Muslim) countries to enter the US even though they had been previously vetted, may hold a Green Card or had other legal reasons to be here.  I went with some friends to Bradley International Airport (Hartford) to be in solidarity with folks affected and to protest this ban.

Both this protest and the DC March felt really safe to me.  DC had porta-potties, was registered and the city was mostly shut down for the inauguration.  At Bradley we were asked really politely to stay behind a certain line but no one asked me to leave, yelled at me or pushed me down. I know that a lot of this has to do with the privileges I hold.

These experiences have made me think about what value I place on risk.  Does change come when we put ourselves at risk to make it happen? Can we make change when we are risking very little?  

On the way to Hartford we talked about what difference it would make whether or not we showed up.  And then we realized showing up may very well be the point. 

I had wondered what would happen post all of the Women's Marches that happened all over the country, hoping 'the movement', 'the revolution', would not end there.  But, people are showing up and showing up for others and hopefully starting to realize why this is so very important.

My plan for my January adventure was to go to the Women's March on DC but it may have ultimately transitioned/shifted/awoken something in me that has moved me to activism.  I am not sure what that will ultimately be or look like but it will not end as January comes to an end. 

My February adventure will be one that takes me on an internal journey.  As I think about February and the dead of winter I think about hunkering down and just going inside.  Stay tuned to hear about what this actually will turn out to be.

Book(s) read:
"Citizen: An American Lyric" by Claudia Rankine


Letters/Postcards written - 1/40
bt - Dubuque, IA

Musical Artists seen - 0/40

(I have tickets for a number of shows coming up!)

Breweries Visited - 4/40

Lamplighter Brewing Co., Cambridge, MA
Tree House Brewing Co., Monson, MA
New District Brewing Co., Alexandria VA
Brew Practioners, Florence, MA

Monday, September 9, 2013

A year has passed...

I think that I may have just written another poem.  I dedicate this post to all who have seen me through this past year.  To those of you who have been part of my village, I say thank you.

A year has passed since what I thought was the worse day happened.  
A year has passed and that day was a day of freedom.

A year has passed and there were times when I thought there was no hope left.

A year has passed and I was so very hopeful.

A year has passed and there were days when I thought I would not recover.

A year has passed and recovery was a slow process that certainly happened.

A year has passed and I did not believe that everything would work out.

A year has passed and life certainly worked out better than I could have ever imagined.

A year has passed and at the beginning all I could say was "I just don't know"
A year has passed and I realized that not knowing led to incredible experiences.

A year has passed and life as I knew it had ended. 
A year has passed and life as I knew it had ended and that was a really good thing.

A year has passed and I thought I lost everything.
A year has passed and I realized I had everything I needed.

A year has passed and I felt very lost.
A year has passed and I found myself.

A year has passed and I hated myself.
A year has passed and I loved myself, cared for myself and nurtured myself.

A year has passed and I was frustrated, angry and very sad.
A year has passed and I was humbled, grateful, loved and supported.

A year has passed and I am happy.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Breathing is supported here

So I have not written a post in three weeks though I have started a couple of times.  My delay in writing is not because things are bad but maybe even because things are good.  I have paused before submitting a post, deleted entire posts because I was rambling about how things are really good.  Why do I feel like only the sad and ugly or the times that I was triumphant are what is significant not the moments of life as good, life as what makes sense.  That is what life is now, life is good, life does make sense right now.  My friend Jenny wrote about it similarly on her blog here: http://jennyfinn.com/celebrate-what-is-honoring-happiness-with-gratitude/

What I have been pondering a lot lately in this positive life I feel like I am immersed in right now is that I am fortunate to be in a position (in life and at work) where I have balance and balance is supported, where I can breathe and breathing is supported.

I have realized that if the job that I am in now is going to be as good as I think it will be it will allow for me to maintain the balanced life that I so very much value.  In the past work was my life, my life revolved around work and for many years that worked for me until it did not.  Until I was in job that was very unpleasant, dare I say even toxic. I left that job and started to breathe again.  I started this new job and breathing is actually supported.  I have made a decision that work will not be my life that it will be part of my life, that it will support my life life, but my whole world will not revolve around the work that I do but instead the life that I want.

Now that being said, student staff arrived this evening, these are the students that I will be supervising this year, one of the main reasons why I wanted to return to this important work, and we will be training for the next two weeks...work will be my life.  I know that these times will exist in the work that I am choosing to do. I also know that I am able to make time in the midst of the chaos (because it certainly is) to practice yoga and breathe...because that is supported.

How do you do the work you love, how do you live the life you want to live and sustain a balanced existence  I am not sure I can fully answer that yet, but hope to examine this on a daily basis and make it a priority...because it is supported.

"Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky.  Conscious breathing is my anchor." 
~ Thích Nhất Hạnh

Monday, July 29, 2013

Necessary Compliments

You look great!

There's just something different about you.

You seemed to be glowing.

I can see a difference.

These are a few things that have been said to me in one way or another the past few weeks.  If you are like me it is sometimes hard to hear compliments.  But I have been humbled by this time and that people can see a marked difference in me.   Those who have commented most are my fellow yogis who I had seen on a fairly regular basis this past year.  One fellow yogi remarked that I never seemed depressed throughout my 10 month transition it is just that I seem so much happier now.  And I never was depressed.  I did have moments of hopelessness and who doesn't, but my hopeful attitude outweighed that.  I have started to write this post a couple of times and each time I think no I don't know that I want to share this in this way.  Do people really care that I received compliments?  What sort of lesson is in this.  Then this past weekend I received another said compliment and thought that I should share the positive and I do think there is something to learn from this.  It feels good to accept these compliments and kind words, it feels nice and it is the truth.  I don't know even how to explain it, but I do feel different. I know that I am the same person but I feel lighter.  A huge weight that I was carrying around was lifted.  Though I had become stronger and figured out ways to carry the weight, to shed myself of it has made a marked difference.

I am really good about noticing when people are having a hard time or something is off.  I make a point to reach out to those people, check in and provide support. Because sometimes it is hard for people to reach out and ask for that support.  Do I notice when people are having a good day? Do I take time to point out the positive? I'd like to think that I do and now that I really understand what that feels like, I will certainly be very mindful of these interactions.  I will point out the good, give compliments and point out the positive changes in people's lives.  It feels really good to have people notice when life is good, have others recognize what is working and to validate positive changes.  We could all use a little more of this in our lives.

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." ~ Leo Buscaglia

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Finding Joy in the Uncomfortable

Some things that bring me joy and cause to celebrate are live music, good friends, comfortable summer days and awesome sunsets.  I got to experience all of these things this past weekend at the Green River Festival in Greenfield, MA.  A nice sized festival for this part of the state that usually has a couple of larger acts (Brandi Carlile was my big draw), some lesser known acts and a good number of local acts.  It is really a lovely festival and the most unique part is that there are hot air balloons launched both days, which even by itself is quite remarkable to see.

Yesterday in yoga my teacher spoke of this time of year, summer, being that time to find joy and moments of celebration and then she proceeded to tell us that we would focusing part of our practice on the pose Vasisthasana and I did not feel like celebrating that or felt any sense of joy as it relates to that particular pose.  I do not like this pose, I am uncomfortable and it feels like everything hurts.  It is a pose that I can not fully do and that is not the part that bothers me, it is just that I am really uncomfortable in it.  There are other poses (like handstand) that I can not do and it frustrates me because I want to but this particular pose I really have no strong desire to do.  
I know it does not really look that difficult, but for me it is!

Damn it, there is a lesson to learn here of course.  Sometimes in life things are uncomfortable, sometimes we do not want to do them, and sometimes we do not need to to do them. But pushing through the uncomfortable allows us to emerge changed and often times for the better. I pushed through in class, never compromising my safety but definitely pushing past my comfort zone and I did get deeper into this pose then I have before.  This same teacher is teaching a more advanced class later this week which I am considering going to with the full knowledge that this pose will again be a strong focus of the class.  I am not a glutton for punishment but a believer that if we can find moments of joy and celebration in the times that are uncomfortable in our life we will be all the better.  There are things in life that we may not look forward to; a long car ride in traffic, a meeting that can not be avoided, a visit with relatives, a new workout routine. How do we prepare ourselves for these uncomfortable and seemingly unpleasant moments? How do we celebrate them, find joy in them and then even start to look forward to them?

If I can find joy in Vashisthasana then I can pretty much find joy in anything! So here's to finding joy in the uncomfortable!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Yes I Will

Today at work one of my new colleagues said that one of the things she appreciated about me when I interviewed was that I really seemed to be low drama.  I thought this was kind of awesome and the fact that this came through in a fairly stressful situation (an interview) really does speak to the work that I have done on myself these last 10+ months.  What I put out there has certainly come back to me.

wrote about Redefining Jinx a little bit ago and the thought that what you put out into the world will comes back to you so instead of thinking that you may cause something to not happen by talking about it instead that only helps to manifest it into reality.

I heard this song recently by Michael Franti and it reminded me of this thought that I had and that I am so glad that I stuck to my guns, kept positive and will continue to put good energy out into the world.
"I believe that what you sing to the clouds,
Will rain upon you when your sun has gone away,
And I believe that what you dream to the moon, 
Will manifest before you rest another day.
So stay strong, and sleep long, and when you need to,
Let the morning take you out on to today.
And when you find you're at the end of the road,
Just lift your head up, spread your wings and fly away" 
"Yes I Will," by Michael Franti and Spearhead

Sunday, July 7, 2013

In memory

There are things in our life that are constants, things that exist even when life is swirling around and everything seems out of control.  That thing that you know you can depend on to be there for you even when everything else around seems to be failing you.  I know, and have talked about it on this blog, that we are always in some sort of state of transition.  This constant thing is that which is present during these transitions.  It could be a person, a physical activity like running, a pet to come home to, a spiritual practice or maybe any combination of the above.   

I was at a 4th of July party talking to a new friend and we we were talking about life and how her job was starting to get a little bit boring (she had been in the same job for some time) and as we continued talking she realized and noted how actually the job she was in had really been the only constant in her life.  And the more we talked the more she realized that having that constant stable thing in her life was not a bad thing at all.  So for her that constant good, albeit boring at times, thing for her was her job.  It made me think about what has been a constant in my life over the years.

This afternoon I was having lunch with a good friend and her very intellectual, 12 year old daughter and the three of us were talking about this and the 12 year old chimed in and said, "Like dance, dance has been a constant thing in my life."  She got it and understood the need for it.  I then somberly shared with them what I thought about when I thought about my constant, what had gotten me through move after move, job after job, transition after transition.  A year ago this week I had to say goodbye to my constant, my stability, what I came home to for 10 years.  A year ago this week I had to make the most difficult decision thus far of my life and choose to say goodbye to my friend, my companion, my little man, my roommate, my four legged friend, my Shane.  He had been the stable thing in my life at times when things seemed turned upside down.
A year ago this week started the beginning of what could have turned out to be a really bad year.  A year ago this week marked the removal of my constant.  A year ago this week I had no idea what was in store for me.  A year ago this week I never would have believed what I would be capable of.

Though this constant was no more I was still thrust head first into a year of major transition in my life.  As I look back now on the past year I can see that I had some other very meaningful constants in my life that came in the form of good friends, my yoga practice and my community.  We need constants, the things we know we can depend on to be there when all else fails. Most of the time these constants are things that just exist.  Until we take the time to think about them we may not have ever realized that they have helped us through the rough times until it is too late.  What is the constant in your life? What will you miss if it was no longer there?

In memory of my beloved Shane, April 1(ish), 1999 - July 7, 2013

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The journey has just begun

Today marks the end of a nearly 10 month journey; tomorrow I start my new job.  I was fortunate to participate in an amazing yoga workshop today, led by a very dear yoga teacher, Amy Reed,  that truly served to mark the end of this journey.  It also helped that she opened the workshop talking about her very own 10 month journey which then of course made me think about my 10 month journey. And though this journey is coming to an end I am looking forward to the one that will begin tomorrow.

I really do enjoy a good journey, I love to travel and I love taking on a new adventure.  I have journeyed around the world twice (read about that here: Around the World Via Ship).  I have driven back and forth across the U.S. to move and roadtripped many times.  On those physical journeys I have always surrounded myself with people who were supportive, fun and all around good company to accompany the journey I was on.  Those journeys are not unlike the one I was on recently.  Though the purpose of this particular journey was not to reach a physical location, it certainly was about traveling, seeking and reaching a destination.  There were many twists and turns in this journey, many hilly roads and obstacles to overcome but I did indeed reach my destination.  I did this with the help, guidance and support of the good company that I chose to keep.  Like many journeys you take often you  head out in one direction thinking you will end up in one place and instead you venture elsewhere, veering off course not where you thought you would be but exactly where you are supposed to  be.  I was lost in September, very, very lost, and it took dedication and patience to arrive where I am right now, exactly where I am supposed to be.

It is 10pm at night right now and I just finished hanging things on my walls in my new apartment, the finishing touches I feel necessary to make it feel like home and ready for what new journey lies ahead of me. The amazing journey I have just taken deep inside of myself has allowed me to emerge more ready than I could have imagined to start this next journey.  We are always traveling somewhere, we are always on a journey and  sometimes we are just not aware of it until something grand occurs.  Revel in life's journey, be present to it, learn from it and you will emerge better from it.  I certainly did!

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." ~Lao Tzu

Monday, June 24, 2013

Endings lead to new beginnings

I spent last week moving into a new apartment, because like I shared in my last post one of the many amazing things about my new job is that it provides me with housing.  I sit here now in this new space still needing to unpack some boxes but I am really happy, I am extremely content.  

Throughout my time this past almost 10 months now I have filled my time with some different things that have supported me in different ways and now that I will be starting a full time job my time will be filled differently.

Working in retail for the first time in my life was one of these things.  When I first started in October I had mixed feelings about this work (I wrote about that here).  What I came to realize is that I was working with colleagues (they laugh when I call them colleagues) who appreciated me, the managers supported me and my needs and I was valued for who I was and the work that I did.  I know that retail is not the career for me and I admire those who commit themselves to this field. There are a lot of people out there who are not very nice and when you work under the guise of the customer is always (or almost always) right it certainly tries your patience.  And the ability to have educational moments with people even when you know you should can not usually happen (and boy do I like educational moments). Tomorrow I will work my last day in this job, with the exception of an occasional weekend or holiday shift, and I feel grateful for this opportunity.  Did I make a lot of money in this role? No.  Did I connect with people in a way that was meaningful? Absolutely.  I feel like though I was not hired to be in a helping role, the ability to connect how I know how to connect allowed me to build some deep relationships in a job that could have been void of such things.  I have not worked for 2 weeks but went into the store this afternoon and was greeted with hugs and people truly excited to see me.  This right there affirmed this job as an essential piece to my journey. 

I am getting to stay in my community, the community that I love being a part of.  Because I am not going anywhere the relationships that I created and nurtured in this retail gig can sustain and continue to flourish.   These colleagues probably do not even realize what an essential part of my village they have been.  

In the grand scheme of life 10 months really is not that long of a time.  I know that in life we have some moments that seem significant but this time has certainly reinforced that every moment is significant and more importantly every relationship is significant. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Packing ramblings (part 1 of many)

Life has been stressful this past year to say the least, however, I certainly managed it well and all in all I remained fairly grounded throughout.  One thing that has always stressed me out has been having to pack and move.  This time it is a great thing having to move since I get an apartment as part of my new position so moving right now is something that I get to do.  I get to start a new job and get a new apartment as well.

Packing up is still stressful even under these circumstances, but I am using this time to really try to purge some things that I do not need and those things I have not looked at or used in the past 5 years.  

To pack up in this way is different then when I have moved in the past.  I have blindly moved boxes from one place to the other that are labeled memories or photo albums and this time I am going through every box.  I am holding on to things like music boxes that hold sentimental, family significance.  I am tossing lots of doubles of photos, negatives and pictures of people I can not even name.  I have moved boxes of candles, picture frames and other knick knack things that I have not used to decorate in years these go in the pile for a tag sale I will have.

I have a few appointments this week, but I am not working yet. This week is dedicated to the packing process, to the purging process and to the wow that was a good memory and I do not need that anymore process.

I have two boxes that I just do not know what to do with.  One is all of my VHS tapes, some of which I have replaced with DVDs and the others I have not.  I have a DVD/VCR combo, yet I have had the videos in storage for five years.  I am pretty sure these will not move with me (except for a few gems like my original copy of Annie the Movie).  And then there is the box of CDs.  All of these have been put into my itunes library yet they are really difficult to part with.  Part of that difficulty is that I can remember spending hours reading over and memorizing lyrics from liner notes.  An itunes 'album' and a physical record, cassette or CD are quite different.  I like the feeling of having the physical CD, however they have been stored for the past 5 years.  So I think I will hold on to some of my favorite artists and some that hold significant value and then sell the rest.  But for now those boxes will be put to the side.  

OK so really the above paragraph was more about me processing what I will do and less about sharing anything of interest to anyone who may be reading this.

I have just gone through a box of "memories."  This box contains college acceptance letters, copies of recommendation letters, old report cards, awards won, sorority memorabilia, playbills, a book of poetry I wrote circa 1988, and a variety of other things.  The most significant thing that I found was letters written by exchange students that my family had hosted when I was younger most of these were from 1992-1993.  It was really nice to be able to read these and remember such great times.  My only regret is that I have not stayed connected to some of these childhood friends.  I tried to search the internet but do you know how many Santiago Garcia's exist in Spain!  I do think I have located one of these friends on Linked In and sent a message hoping it was the same young man that I knew 20 years ago.  I think I am going to keep these letters they brought back some great memories and allowed me to reconnect.  Maybe the next time I move I will get rid of them but for now they will stay.

I feel like my stress level associated with packing and moving revolves around transition and change.  The way that I am approaching this task now, taking time to sit with my memories allows me to really get excited about what new memories and life I will be creating.  Here's hoping this attitude keeps up as my week progresses!