A Suitcase

Packing a suitcase. The mere act of packing a suitcase implies optimism. Surely we will arrive at our destination safely and require the various items we deemed necessary for for our visit to a new place and another way of life for a precious while. Items of necessity jostle for room with items that tell our story. The practical shoes we hope will carry us to secluded hidden corners of a city, so we become less tourist and more explorer. The sparkly dress that everyday hangs in the back of the closet, a wistful reminder of Big Band music, Mojito’s and moonlight. The items that reveal our intrepid selves get to come out and have a carefully allotted place in our suitcases. Our suitcases also tell our stories, the battered corners and the scratch from the taxi in Singapore. The half torn off luggage tag with MIA, and the wobbly wheel that has survived hot tarmac and cold airplane holds below us as we fly through the air.

I smile and shake my head when I see ┬áplastic wrapped status suitcases, carefully protected to look new, trip after trip. And even though I’m opposed to snap judgments about my fellow travelers, I feel there is a difference in philosophy. My suitcase has battle scars┬áthat I wouldn’t trade for new and shiny. New is wonderful, ripe with possibility, when it is new. I adore a new passport, the empty pages taunt me and speak to me. I imagine the stamps it will collect over the next decade and the soft worn feel in my hand it will acquire. It will be just right as it is about to expire. And then, the time will come for a new picture, a decade later, that will remind me that all the memories collected have added their texture and lines on me as well, not just my luggage, and I am grateful for every journey and every mark.

A love letter to the Rockies

The Rocky Mountains restored me in a way I thought only the ocean could. My trip out west coincided with a personal crisis, which if I had been at home, alone, would have devastated me. Instead, the magnificence of the mountains made me feel small and insignificant in the best way possible. To view their majesty from an altitude that has been earned, step by step, is satisfying beyond expectation. The small petty behaviors of flawed humans, and I include myself in that category, pale beside the timeless beauty that wishes to evoke the best within us.

Climbing slowly and placing each foot carefully as we step, is a great metaphor for life. The consequences of poor decisions are dispatched quickly and without remorse by the granite powers that be. Staying on the right path, the one that will ultimately take me to my destination, takes focus both in climbing as in life. To find ones purpose, ones “peak”, is a revelation. We all search for different things, love, recognition, accomplishments. All are reflections of our desire to be acknowledged for our uniqueness. While what we desire may be different, our desires share the common thread, a deep hope, that once we achieve our loftiest goals we will somehow be more ourselves than before. We imagine the “after” as if it will be a shinier better version of us. We dream of love as if the right partner will enhance who we are, and the world will see us through our lovers eyes with kindness and compassion. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all of humanity could see us through our lovers eyes? Our jokes would be funnier and our idiosyncrasies considered adorable

I beleive the magic in the journey is held in the hands of nature. For when we connect with the immovable, the steadfast and the solid we feel the love that will not fail or disappoint. My church is under a blue sky. I contemplate grand thoughts of eternity, and the ultimate source of love, while being reminded by the same sky how frail my small mortal container that I travel through life in. I am a spiritual being having a physical experience.

The beauty of the mountains is that it connects both, our bodies are reminded of this with aching muscles and burning lungs. Our spirit gets to rejoice at the peak only after our bodies have been tested and tried by physical discomfort and our commitment to staying on the right path.

How do we best combine our spiritual journey with our physical one? How to continuously strive to learn from our mistakes and evolve into the most loving and giving version of ourselves? Understanding that is is not external sources that validate us and bring us gratification, but rather sharing our journey with someone who sees in us not only what we are, but also what we aspire to be

I am open to change because I have been broken. The pieces of me have come apart and now I am putting them back together. The pieces are the same but how I fit them in a pattern will be different, must be different. To try and repeat the pattern of the unbroken, the whole, would be futile. My lines now are not straight but riddled with fractures. A new pattern will emerge. I can only hope that when sunlight makes its way through my fractured casing, the refracted light will be soft and as if through a prism new colors will emerge.

 

 

Tactile

For many people scent evokes memories and brings them back in time. For me, it’s touch. I can close my eyes and “feel” the soft skin of babies bellies, the fur of the horse I lost many years ago and the feel of an unshaven lovers cheek. My hands hold memories for me. Folding the pages of a book, poetry that with complicated imagery evokes the pain and joy of love, and pages that tell tales. Right now as I write this, Unchained Melody is playing and my hands tell me that they were once touching skin to skin. I’m physically able to remember the feel and textures of places and people in my life. I both remember and feel the weight of a wine glass in my hand, and I can see the beautiful view of a Valley through the glass, it is late afternoon and I’m in a magical setting. A view before me and cutlery on the table, heavy with anticipation of a perfect meal. Of all the senses, touch is the one I respond to. Yes of course, talk to me and by all means appeal to my cerebral side, but more than anything let me feel the moment. Really. Feel. The. Moment. 

I bake, kneading dough while opera is playing in the background. My fingers sticky with the combination of liquids and solids that make our daily bread possible. As I knead the dough I feel connected to every baker before me, every hand that rolled and patted and shaped the stuff of sweet smelling kitchens. In a different life I would have been a baker or a chef.  I touch the dough and it talks to me, I can feel if I need to add more liquids or flour. I can feel if I have kneaded enough and the dough needs to rest. 

Then once the bread is made, I touch the warm loaf and feel connected to the generations of bakers before me. Humanity discovered the magic of fermentation and yeast, and ever since , hands just like mine have kneaded and shaped, patted and rolled to make the most basic of nourishments. 

My hands are the happiest when they are creating something. Baking, cooking, knitting, caressing and holding. Life is better shared, and our hands are what we use to give the gifts of touch, and love. Homemade bread says I love you.  A back rub or touching a favorite body part says I love you. My hands express the essence of what I am always fumbling to say. I love you. 

Yoga and my life

Yoga and my life
On the mat, life is simple. Breathe in, exhale. Mind and body are connected, moving as one through the poses. Off the mat, life is far more complicated. Yoga has seen me though some tough times lately. Gratitude and forgiveness have been recurring themes that I have struggled with. Forgiving others can be a challenge, and forgiving myself seems an epic task. Melting into my mat, dripping with sweat after a practice and letting my mind come to a place of acceptance has been healing. Many times in life I have had goals that were physical, drop a few pounds or run a 5K, or become a better athlete in a given sport. This time, while still in my early infatuated yoga romance, my goals are more spiritual. To really be present in my practice. To commit to my awareness and focus on the now. To listen to my body as we become fluid and move as one, because we are. Our bodies are not a remote and separate entity we control or manipulate into whatever size, shape or form we desire but rather a physical expression of our spiritual selves. I have, as most women have, focused on my weight as if a number could define me. I have never been significantly overweight, always stayed slim, because to be fat in our society seems to be the most heinous crime. Now, I’m in a love affair with yoga and how it is changing my body and my mind. A number on the scale that would have thrilled me a few years ago, I simply view as a product of hours spent connecting with my true self. Perhaps most successes in life share this. Fame, money, all the things society views as the peak of the human experience, once there I would imagine that it is the journey that is significant. Hubris melts away, and gratitude takes its place. For all we have is breath, it is the first thing we do after being born, and the last as we depart this life. So focusing on this essential piece of being a spiritual being having a physical experience, let’s me know that while I struggle with life off the mat, the insights and the connectedness I feel while embracing the physical struggle of mastering the poses, will help guide me to embrace the journey that is my life.

Scars

I can’t catch my breath, it’s almost on the ground. Walking in my dreams, I gather up what’s found. 

The shards are in my hand, each one sad and true. 

They cut and tear, asking to be made anew. 

I wonder where I went astray, walked a crooked path.

I’m turning to the joy and silencing the wrath.
Dream big. Dream high. Fly above the broken past. 

They make jagged pillows and chase the dreams that never last. 

Dream big. Dream high. I can see you as a child.

Keep running my love, free and wild. 

I can’t catch my breath, it shimmers in the haze. 

I’m waking up not sleeping through the days.

My eyes can see and it stings and burns. 

But the heart remembers and it slowly learns.

Ocean tides

One stage of life can abruptly segue into another. It can also be a drawn out slow sequence of small events, each one adding a thimble full of bitterness to an already overflowing container of injustices. Mine was both, the end of my marriage happened quickly but in fact had been an ongoing demise with the usual suspects of our time. Emails and texts were not so much evidence of wrongdoings as proof that the chasm between husband and wife was now on an interplanetary scale. So what to do next? The route is shadowy and unclear, the journey has taken such a sharp turn that the path can no longer be seen. As a woman of a certain age, a divorcee, I am thrust into the age of reinvention. I am no longer the young bride, naive and filled with illusions that somehow I am immune to facing the jagged edge of the divorce statistics.  Forming a union can happen so quickly, some lust, a few shared goals and a dash of passion and away we go. A dress and some cake will surely form the pillars of our life, gravity we believe will fail sooner than our vows. So when we are thrust into a new age, my naked left hand glaring and seeming to shout to the world that what was two is now one, where to find solace? 

The sting of seawater goes a long way in reminding me that this too shall pass. The beaches I have been blessed to visit are my church. Digging my toes into sand and watching uncaring waves crash to shore is healing. So is the thought that I could just enter those waves and swim and swim until I could swim no more. Allowing that thought room, letting it have a very small corner of my mind is liberating. It affirms that I won’t. All the absolutes in my life have been unceremoniously tossed aside. Now there are only shades of grey. And saying always or never seems a throwback to a time before I realized the impermanence of those words. So I let the dark thoughts have a bit of my mind, but not too much. For there is far more to the strength and magnificence of the ocean than that. Taking life is easy. Hardly a challenge for the ocean, a small wave, a few inches of water, ice that cools our body. We are small fragile beings and being reminded of this fact by the ocean is good. The bigger task at hand is healing. It involves much more than keeping a heart beating. It takes time. But the ocean knows all about time. Ocean currents that circle the earth and see the shores where many a heartbroken human has sat on the beach pondering the meaning of it all. We only need to open up our minds to the possibility that our senses cannot tell us all there is. I can taste the saltwater, feel the small grains of sand sharp between my toes and hear the rhythmical music the waves entice me with. I see the light dance on the water, caress it gently and show me an ever changing palette of shades of blue we have yet to name. Waves will keep coming to the shore and retreating long after the scars on my heart have faded. That thought comforts me. 

Air time

The time spent in an airplane seat is a unique bit of time. We are liberated from decisions, and simply being is enough for a little while. Freed from mundane demands, it’s common to hear that creativity seems to happen simply and with ease on flights. Perhaps it’s from the changing geographical locations, or the liberation from gravity for a few hours. Or perhaps the wonderful random serendipitous events that seem to occur with unexpected frequency. I know that I am more often than not seated next to the loveliest and most interesting people on flights. Luck perhaps? Or does my expectation of pleasant conversation with a perfect stranger play a part? It’s true, I am an optimist at heart, and I approach a trip still, after many years of traveling with the excitement of a child. Glasgow? Why not? Oslo? Why yes! When traveling our day is not broken up into the usual sequence of events, our routines are disrupted as they darn well should be! For when we change our patterns, our rhythms, we change a bit ourselves. We become more open to the experiences of traveling. The joys and frustrations both. And that is the whole point my Dears! Trying new things, looking at views and truly seeing them, not just with your eyes but with your heart. Life is short, a cliche worth pondering daily. So when faced with the chance to chat up the neighbor in seat 7B, or visit Mykonos because there was a terrific last minute deal, do it! And when sitting with a view of the clouds below, let the wonder of the aviation age fill you. As accustomed as we are now to flying, there is still magic to be found in it if we allow ourselves to think about it. Wow. I was in one city a few hours ago, and soon I will be hundreds if not thousands of miles away in another. In the span of human kinds existence, miles were covered excruciatingly slowly, painstaking progress measured in days and weeks. So as I’m sitting in a seat, waiting for my ubiquitous peanuts and a drink, I’m going to smile and savor the brief interlude that is flying.