Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Lemondrop Martini

Well in that case, Ms. Caffeinated, I shall oblige.

I get nostalgic just thinking of the glass, frosty chilled, the crunch of the sugar rim, with the palest of hue inside, lemon wedge bobbing. It helps if you pick your lemons fresh and squeeze them on the spot. This is an adult refresher that's not too sweet, not too tart, no garish neon or pucker here. This is NOT dessert in a glass. Nor is it your kid's powdered lemonade stand made into a martini. It is the real deal. Simple, elegant, restrained. Done well, it's timeless.

Ahhh, The Lemondrop Martini....a most perfect summer sipper.

Fill cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add in:

1 1/2 oz vodka of choice
1/2 oz triple sec
1 t. simple syrup (made ahead)
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice (I prefer Meyer lemons if you can get them)

Shake and strain into chilled sugar-rimmed martini glass.
Garnish with a lemon wedge.


Gone Fishing

Sometimes it's important to take a break. Go on vacation. Restore the body, the mind, and spirit. Try not to try so hard.

Perhaps this is one of those times. (Although I hardly think that flying around the country visiting family is the same as a vacation. Especially when you consider our families.)

I went running today. Took a nice long jog up and around the back of the airport, up the hill, down the hill, around the bend. It felt good to be moving, but I'm clearly out of my routine.

While pushing along, feeling the weight of my thighs, it occurred to me that behind all the anger and pain buried in there, is strength. "Drop the pain, find your strength" my inner voice suggested, as I pushed off the pavement with more focus. It was true, I could feel it, there WAS a lot of strength buried in those thighs, bubble wrapped in old memories. The more I move through it, consistently, persistently, the more I know my strength will be revealed and the rest will dissolve away.

I came home thinking of something to write today. As I sat down and stared at the blank page, my idea vaporized.

Nothing. I got nothing.

Just a handful of questions.

Perhaps, I just have nothing to say right now.
Perhaps it just isn't ready.
Perhaps I just need a break.

Until I can figure it out, I'm hangin' up the sign:

Gone Fishing.

(Perhaps today I should just post the recipe for a perfect lemondrop martini. Goes great with fish.)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Car Crash

What's next?

A car crash. Today. On the way to daycare. Husband and child. Everybody's fine. Car is not. Our only vehicle. Tomorrow we board a plane for the inlaws home. Then we come home to determine the extent of the damage.

There are many things to be grateful for here.

Life. Existence. Persistence. Survival.

A sense of humor.

The ability to turn a down situation upwards.

To re-think the meaning of Blessing...Gratitude...Love...Friendship.

It's raining over here in the perfect sunshine. You just can't see it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tough Morning.

I keep thinking about this quote:

"What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open." - Muriel Rukeyser

And more day...I keep going...


Woke up. Felt swollen and bruised. Tender. Puffy. Vulnerable.

Sun beating down. Nary a cloud in the sky. Already I could tell it was going to be a hot one. We bought some daycare coverage today, so my plan was to take off to Santa Monica and do my usual practice once the car got back from drop off.

(Yeah, I know, we're like the only people we know here with one car, but with 2 barely freelancing adults and one child, 2 car payments just aren't our reality.)

It's 9:30a…9:45…10:00…10:15…no car. Where the hell IS he? If this were camp, I would have been running by 9:15 or 9:20. Should I be worried the car broke down again? No answer on his cell phone. He probably didn't bring it with him. Or, he left it in the car and he's not in the car.

I can tell the sun's starting to blaze and I need to just go or I won't be able to go at all. It'll get too hot this far inland. F%&K! This is not what I wanted.

I abandon my packed bag, my wallet, my journal, my towel, grab my water bottle and just go. I'm already dressed for it. I got my feet, don't I? The hell if it isn't Santa Monica and the ocean breezes and the nicely sanded shady path and those stairs. I'll just have to manage around here. I know it's not the same. Lots of disappointment. Now comes the anger. Then comes the tidal wave of emotions.

Vulnerable. Sliced open. Bruised. Taken advantage of. Waiting. Disappointment. Anger. Sadness. Hurt. Determination. I'll show them. Who am I proving something to? Why am I so hard on myself? WTF am I doing this for? What is my point? Who really cares anyway? When will I ever get paid for what I do? What is my worth anyway? What am I doing? Am I being led down the garden path on this one? Who am I following? Where am I going?

I think of the baby and the bathwater analogy. It resonates for me on so many levels. I'm ready to throw it all out. But I can't. What is salvageable?

I think of the upcoming trip. Why do we have to have family? I don't want to go. What would happen if I just didn't go?

I can be all love and bliss on a mountaintop. I can be love to my new family. (Ok, I'll admit that sometimes I don't do so well there either.) But the old one? All the passive-aggressive non-communication makes my stomach turn. And the tone. And who should I see, who shouldn't I see? I just don't have the energy, or inclination to deal with it anymore. Do I HAVE to go? Am I being disrespectful if I don't? Am I obligated? Can I turn my perspective about this around? Like, real fast? Why did I think this might be a good idea? What was I thinking?!

I know, let's all stuff ourselves with eating and drinking. Eating and drinking is my family's safety zone. Cocktails anyone? Dance around the truth? One day to splat out a lifetime of non-communication?! Tomorrow he will take it all back. What was I thinking? Humor them? Can I rise above? Ha, ha, ha. Here, have a cocktail. Chase it down with a snit.

Perhaps my brother was right to just disappear for all these years. Unreachable. Next.

A friend recently said, despite all the trauma in her life, she never really fantasized about suicide. She just didn't go there with her pain. I told her she was lucky. I did. I thought about it. I would never act on it, but the thoughts…they have come, I have heard them whisper in my ear, telling me it is a solution to not ever feeling good enough.

Today was such a morning. As I huffed up our hill, the tears began to stream down my face. I cry-jogged for probably a mile, then stopped at a lame set of stairs, 60 stairs per set. I had to do 20 sets to begin to simulate The Stairs in Santa Monica. Even then they weren't as steep or as long a run, so instead it became interval training. Short sets. Lots of them. Huff 2x2 up them, run, run, run down, huff 2x2 up them, run, run, run, down. Repeat ad nauseum.

I feel like I'm sitting on the edge of a fence. On the one side I've got the covers pulled up to my nose, desperately trying to cozy up and release myself into slumber, take it EASY, fall into the soft feathers and REST safe. On the other side I've got the drill sergeant kicking my ass, pushing me off the edge, forcing me to buck up and MARCH. Kick ASS! Move it.

I am torn.

I am woman hear me roar. Affecting change. Pushing the paradigm shift.

I am also a pussy, soft and nurturing. Trying to make everything ok for everybody.

I am the light. I am darkness too. The whole enchilada.

I am ripped right down the middle, my flesh pulled away from my bones. Amorphous and flabby from the children I tried to bear. Damaged and detached from the muscle that used to be so firm and taught.

A great friend said last night that this work is like cutting yourself open, your organs splayed out for the world to see, with hands reaching in at you, grabbing at your heart, your stomach, your esophagus, your pancreas, moving things around, reaching, touching, grasping.

God. So spot on!

Hey, what do you want? I already gave up my placenta, folks. It's helping grow stem cells that Bush will soon kill. Am I toughening my skin? Do I need more bootcamp? Have I not been pushed around enough? What do I want from all this?

The vista over here is ragged, uneven. Unknown. I am bushwhacking through life again. Not sure where I'm heading.

I am affecting change with my passion, with my storytelling, with my frank honesty. I am telling my life in the hopes that others can hear and perhaps learn from it too. I do see that as the emails of thanks trickle into my inbox. But perhaps a roadmap would help. Perhaps I still need validation…like a small child. Hate to admit it. I AM a small child. My daughter has more backbone than me sometimes.

"NO! I don't WANT to! You can't play with me! I don't like that!" she says. Good for her.

I'm like, "am I ok? Did I say the right thing? Do you still love me?" Me? I'm a sucker and a pussy. Charming.

The dry sun is beating down. It is near high noon. There is almost no breeze. My face I can tell is red. My fingers are puffed out and swollen. My eyes sting with the mixture of tears and sweat and sunscreen. I wish I had put on 50 SPF instead of the 30 I am currently wearing. I see only one other jogger the whole time I am out there. We're f--in' crazy in this heat. The smell of cow manure (lawn fertilizer) is ripe and pungent, forcing its way into my nostrils as I work the stairs. I can't tell if it is coming from up the hill or down. I scan the lawns on both sides. Can't see it but it is ripe shite. I breathe it in and keep going.

The only breeze I feel is an occasional merciful caress against my skin. It's a mere whisper. It is almost non-existent except for the breeze I make as I push my body through the hot air. As I walk back in the direction of our house, I search for moments of shade. A fence casting a slight shadow…or a tree throwing dappled shade against the sidewalk….an occasional bush…every third house or so…a moment of cool to temper my heat.

It comes to me:
This is a break…remember to say thanks.

Hehe, thanks.

I keep hoping for an easy patch…I just don't think the universe is willing to give me that right now. So onward I march. Until I can figure out what's next.


Cocktails anyone?

(These are my words. They may be right. They may be wrong. So be it.)

Why Blog?

Why blog, I ask myself? Why express yourself in this format?
Does anyone want to hear my meanderings on the page?
What do I have to say that hasn't already been said?
Perhaps more eloquently even?

How much do I reveal? How much do I hide?
When do I do the full frontal? When do I tantalize with pasties?
What is sacred material? What is insensitive?
When is sharing sensitive material groundbreaking?
When is it just plain gnarly, attention-seeking or even abrasive?
Even if it is heartbreaking or difficult to both write and receive?

If I unload my pain onto the page, will I be judged a pussy for not bucking up to my load in life? Especially when so many have suffered far worse?
Is your pain worse than mine? More damaging?
Can we measure pain?
If so, where do I fall on the Richter scale of damage?
Does it matter? (The measurement?)

And, if millions of us are "out there" spewing our voices into cyberspace,
Who is hearing them? Who is listening?
Who is it impacting? Where is it getting us?
What is the motivation? What is the benefit?
What happens with a world full of pain unleashed? Then what?

So just keep going, I tell myself…
the writing will lead you in, the writing will lead you out…
just remember, bird by bird buddy, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other…
the writing will bring you closer to your truth, your voice, your place…

As I stand on my blogger soapbox saying, this is radical, this is feminist, this is free speech, this is courageous, this is living out loud, this is life no holds barred, this is my truth, like it or lump it, read it or don't read it, shout it out from the rooftops…this is ME…and then…

People don't like it, people don't read it, people don't buy it, it is tossed aside like some used Styrofoam takeout container, my life contained within its greasy edges.

What if everyone is talking at once and no one can hear?
What if no one cares?
What if it doesn't matter?
What if it doesn't lead to anything?
What if it's just spewage, noise?


What if people do get it?
What if people glom on to me?
What if people misconstrue me?
What if people throw caustic barbs or denigrate me?
Hold me to every irreverent word?

This is my life. These are my thoughts. This is my Truth we're talking about here.

I suppose whenever you put yourself up on a stage, you are saying essentially, look at me. People are then bound to look at you and have thoughts, make comments, have judgements, perhaps disagree, throw rotten tomatoes. It's what we do. It's sport. But this isn't, oh, I just don't like your music, I don't listen to chick singers, I don't get your thing, your tits are too small, you're not hot enough, I don't hear a single. Or is it?

So, if I'm putting myself out there, remind me, where is it I'm going again?

I see I have more resistance… in the form of more questions…

Perhaps I'll put away the wine, pour myself a vodka, take 2 aspirins and call me in the morning.


Food for thought:

"What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open." - Muriel Rukeyser

"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms." - Muriel Rukeyser

"Blogging IS a feminist issue—and is perhaps its most subversive force." -Susie Bright

"Every time a woman's blog proclaims her intellect, her sexuality, and her nurture — all on the same page— she has diced the dominant paradigm." -Susie Bright

"The hand that blogs the cradle informs the world —this, the blog-her generation, is the crux of women's liberation that I thought had passed its due date. Who's drooling now?" -Susie Bright

Monday, August 21, 2006

It's The Wine, It's The Wine...

Tonight my husband and I shared a bottle of wine from the vineyard we stayed at on our honeymoon in Montemerano, the southern part of Tuscany. It was exactly five years and one month ago, give or take a few days, when we stayed at the serene Villa Acquaviva, a much-needed respite during our near month-long pilgrimage across our beloved country, Italia.

For some reason, tonight just seemed like the night to break into the 1996 "Bracaleta" Riserva Morellino di Scansano. We deserved the rare treat. Deep, dark, almost black red, with thick legs, and a fragrant depth, it has held up well in our non-cellar and was, in wine parlance, "drinking very well tonight" thank-you-very-much.

I roasted some cherry tomatoes tossed in olive oil, good sea salt and cracked black pepper until they popped and burst out of their skins, and slid them and their glorious pan juices over perfectly cooked penne, adding an extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, ribbons of freshly pinched basil, and long shards of Grana Padano hard cheese. Served with tart salad greens, the mile long chewy-cottony baguette we picked up from today's farmer's market, this wine stole the show. It soothed our weary souls worn out from the physically and mentally taxing post-construction, post-yard sale cleanup.

Although it seemed a bit of a simple meal to serve with this lovely wine, thinking in retrospect I ought to have paired it with something more showy like a thick ribeye steak, wild mushrooms over polenta, or grilled rosemary lamb chops, I didn't. That seemed too heavy. We've had enough heavy already. We're done with heavy.

I also didn't want a boxing match of tastes going on in my mouth, punch for punch, resulting in an uneasy and weighted stomach. We've already had too much to stomach lately too. Don't need any more complications.

There's something to be said for finding the beauty in simplicity, or finding the one note of glorious decadence to exalt, highlit even more by surrounding it with an uncomplicated cast of perfectly pitched characters.

In the end it felt right to me to pair this gorgeous wine with a clean palate of freshly picked ingredients in the height of season, prepared in such a way as to bring out the very peak of flavor, their highest destiny revealed. This is the true spirit of Italian cooking. Tonight I felt I was honoring their cuisine. Simple. Elegant. Bursting with innate beingness. From soil to table. Not overly-adorned. Not drowning in sauce. Bathed in the most eloquent of wines. It soothed my weary soul.

Ahhh…bliss. Words fail even me.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


With camp over for the summer, and school out for another month, I have my hands full with my daughter. Getting in writing time will be sporadic. So today I'm going to leave you with 2 new posts and hopefully I'll find time to post in the cracks after that. Thanks for your continued support and readership.

Yesterday morning Sienna woke up really early and climbed into the middle of the big bed with us. After several minutes of kicking and flailing while we desperately clung to precious moments of sleep, my husband had had enough of us being pins to her bowling ball and told her "Sienna, go back to your bed or you can play quietly until we wake up." She disappeared without much fuss. Ahhh.

Dozing off, drifting back to the nether lands of dreamspace, we both awaken to a CRASH followed by screaming and crying.

"Oh my God!" We both shot out of bed, jarred awake by the screaming, and run towards the kitchen where we find her.

The picture became clearer soon enough. Sienna had dragged a chair over to the hutch, then put a step stool on top of that, and was trying to climb up to the top shelf where I kept a little bowl of the candy left over from a birthday party goodie bag from the past weekend. The stool had toppled and she had apparently fallen against the wooden back of the chair.

Luckily she was all right, a bit shaken perhaps, but what a scare.

That girl would do anything for a piece of candy or a "treat." She's obsessed with them lately. Obsessed.

Reminds me of when I was a little girl. I so loved sweets too. My mother was very strict with our sweets, no sugar cereals, no sodas, hardly even juice was allowed in our house. Adele Davis recipes ruled. She ran a tight ship supplying us with flax seed whole grain cereal for breakfast, (no Lucky Charms or Capt'n Crunch here), and lecithin and kelp in our homemade vinagrette salad dressing every single night. "Cookies," if you can call them that, were made with dates instead of chocolate chips and soy grits instead of nuts. Yeah. Really stands up to the neighbor kid's sweet version. And this was in the 70s folks, well before this current organic Whole Foods-Wild Oats-ification of family eating habits.

One time, I must have been busted for sneaking some of her stash of secret candy, or maybe I just wanted to eat more of my Halloween candy than the few pieces she allotted us. Either way, I was found out, and after a long tirade of hysterical yelling, she opened up the cupboard, got out a bowl, dumped a mound of sugar in it with some water, handed me a spoon and said, "Here. You want candy? Take this! Take it.That's all it is you know, it's just sugar and water. It's Junk! JUNK!! Now EAT this! Sit here and eat it. And don't you leave until it's all gone!"

Tears running down my face, staring into a bowl of grainy, soupy glop, stirring it with a spoon, I tried to choke some of it down. Gagging on sugar and tears, I wouldn't eat it. I just stirred it around and around and cried. I was trapped.

Wish I knew then what I later learned as a chef. Wish I had figured out the way to transform it into something edible, palatable. Instead, I just suffered through it.

Boil sugar and water long enough, you get caramel. Add a few nuts, you get nut brittle. Add more water and boil it to "the softball stage," you get taffy or chews. Boil to "the hardball stage" add some flavoring and color, you get hard candies and lollipops.

Sugar and water transformed.

Learning the ways of alchemy…

I'm just so grateful to be here. To be alive.


Today I gratefully acknowledge that my husband stayed home with Sienna so that I could get in my same running practice I have been doing throughout the spring and summer. It felt weird to go and park up by her preschool without her, but you just can't duplicate running along the bluffs or those killer Santa Monica stairs.

I was stairstepping right behind a LAFD fireman. I had just had this conversation yesterday with a group of ladies at a women's luncheon.

"Do you ever see the firemen working out on the stairs?"

"Oh yeah, all the time." I said.

"Really," someone else said, her eyes widening at the prospect.

"Yeah. They're there on certain days at certain times," another single woman pointed out, proud to be in the know.

"Well, I see them all the time when I go in the mornings," I offered.

The whole time up and down the stairs, Mr. Fireman was calmly stepping, one stair at a time to my 2s, barely breaking a sweat, his radio squawking.

"This is 101…to 106…we got a blah, blah, blah…"

It was greek to me. I tuned it out. He must not be on duty if he's on the stairs.

"This is…blah, blah…respond to…respiratory distress…"

Hey, difficulty breathing. Yeah, me too, I chuckled to myself as I huffed up higher, right behind him.

I later heard "…we got a hemorrhage…"

We got a bleeder, folks. Bleeding out, I thought to myself...picturing vivid scenarios in my head.

At the top of the 2nd set, I turned off to go back to the concrete steps a bit west of there and do a round of those stairs. Halfway down, I hear a blast of sirens, one unit, two units, 3 units, everyone was called. I'm sure my fireman was too. Was he tired and sweaty?

I wonder what the call was this time?

As I reached the top of the stairs, I saw a clump of trainers around a gazelle who said she had a calf strain and had to take it slow. She was long and lean, easily 6 foot tall. All legs that tapered down to skinny ankles. The kind of body that can wear nothing but a midriff sports bra, lycra shorts, and be stunning. Jeez, she was beautiful. Her pro-sports body a work of art. I later saw her trying to jog a bit along the bluffs, but her injury prevented much of a run.

It occurred to me that no matter what body we have, what our bodies have been through, whether abused, battered, broken, dysfunctional, we HAVE a body. We have a shot….at life. We have the present. The gift AND the moment.

What are we going to do with it?

With that awareness, I was filled with gratitude for my chunky body, plodding along, not as gracefully as the gazelle but with as much or more strength and determination.


Saturday, August 12, 2006


We can only be where we are until we are willing to try something different.

The following insight was written as I contemplated the word "surrender" during an intensive Vinyasa Flow Yoga series with Max Strom, taken after a long period of physical and emotional recovery. I offer it up to you or anyone else and hope it is helpful:

I bow down, humbly, and surrender my chaos, my hurt, my pain, my tension, my struggle. And gratefully open…to my flow…that I may step into the current of my flow and be guided…carried…that I may float…with the current…with gravity…with all the resources…seen and unseen...known and unknown…instead of resist them, ignore them, fight them.

I surrender to the higher good of my life. I lay down my burdens and struggles and float…and in doing so, create the life of my dreams, the life I am meant to live…the life, the journey where everything comes (and goes) naturally, easily, effortlessly, divinely.

I enter the flow…it is is Divine.
I am grateful.

I forgive myself for where I am (where I'm not),
what I might have been (what I'm not),
and allow myself to be who I AM. Right Now.

I am here now. All has led me to be who I am. Every piece (good & bad, loving & hurtful, destructive & healing) has contributed to the totality of me. I shall use all these pieces. For they are all mine…all part of me…and they make me who I am today.

I honor both our joy and our pain. The suffering has led me to great insight. The challenges have made me strong--a survivor. But not like some iron-clad suit of armor. No. Strong and flexible--a true warrior. Open-hearted, loving and kind--yet fierce and protective when I need to be. Through the fire--my heart rips open even more. Through the pain, through the transformation, I love even more. I feel even deeper. Through my brokenness, I become Whole.

Resistance is hard. Swimming upstream is exhausting. Banging my head upon a closed door, got me nowhere but bruised and battered.

As I surrender deeper into me--into nothingness--into the One--I see it is not all for naught. It is all for Good--for the building of Me--for the work which pours out of me--for myself and for others to see.

As the last vestiges of resistance release their white-knuckled hands clinging in futile desperation, it is, finally, a relief. It feels good to let go. It feels good to stop fighting. It feels good to step into what is meant for me. It is scary, it is unknown, it is not quite safe--yet it is inevitable, as the force of the current is too strong for my meager clinging. I must let go and become what it is I am yearning to become. I must surrender to what is already happening, knowing it was meant to be.

As I exhale, my destiny unfolds before my very own eyes. I surrender to its true Glory and Beauty and Ultimate Wisdom. And I am grateful.

Thank you for reading.

Yogis to The Max

"The goal is not to tie ourselves in knots - we're already tied in knots.
The aim is to untie the knots in our hearts.
The aim is to unite with the ultimate, loving, and peaceful power in the universe."
- Max Strom

Calling all yogis and yoginis...

For anyone looking for a fantastic and soulful yoga teacher, I whole-heartedly recommend Max Strom. I had the good fortune to study with Max for about 10 months before he sold his yoga studio in LA and moved to Ashland, Oregon. During this time I deepened my practice, had many physical and spiritual breakthroughs, and as an added benefit was able to rebuild my broken immune system. Connecting Vinyasa Flow yoga with breathwork and meditation, he weaves knowledge of physical, mental, and spiritual teachings into an intricate dance of compassion and transformation for all levels.

Not content to rest in one place, it turns out Max is now teaching workshops all across the country and in Europe as well. Have yoga will travel. Check out his site and read his story. It's inspiring. If he is in a town near you, I highly recommend you sign up. Namaste.

(No he didn't pay me to write this.)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Last Day Of Camp!

This morning I fought so much resistance to get up and get going. It was Sienna's last day of camp and my last chance to do my running-stair climbing-writing routine as I know it, until school resumes on September 12th.

You'd think I'd be excited. You'd think I'd be eager to get going. You'd think I'd want to make the most of it. You'd think I'd push ahead to see what insightful "goodies" lay waiting to be discovered by my practice.

But instead, I woke up tired, poorly slept, puffy-eyed, tender-stomached, and reluctant to get going. I thought about blowing off my last day of freedom and going shopping instead. Didn't I need some new running shoes? Didn't we need groceries? Couldn't I take myself to some nice sushi lunch or something? Ugh.

Getting ready was a no-brainer for Sienna. It was "Pirate" week at camp and today would culminate in a Treasure Hunt. She
chose a black ghost tee that said "Boo," a black mini skirt, lavender tights, (she put those on after the photo was taken), and her new brown motorcycle boots.

It took me AGES to get a "comfortable" running outfit together…bras were too constrictive, pants too baggy, shorts too short, etc, etc. Finally dressed and packed up, we left a half hour later than usual. I'm in no hurry.

When we got to camp, instead of making the usual "I-love-you" notes, we went out to the Big Yard to see what was going on. Her friend Maisie was already creating a modern work of art on her face with face paints. Cool, face paints. In honor of Pirate Day, I painted black eye patches on both Sienna & Maisie, and then asked Sienna where we should say goodbye.

"The Gate!" she said, both girls running ahead giggling.

Our goodbye was short and sweet. Once again, no drama. Can you believe it? She finally masters the goodbye on the last 2 days, almost a year later. Hee.

Free from attachment, facing my last day of my practice as I know it, I was curious what lay on the other side of all of my resistance. When there's a lot of it, I've learned that it usually means there's quite a gift on the other side if you can push through it. What am I resisting so much, and why? My curiosity is peaked.

So, off I go, this time camera in hand. I really want to "document" my path. I took it easy half-jogging, half-walking, stopping to take pictures along the way. For a recap of "my running/stairing/writing practice," check out my July 19th post titled Resistance.

The Sentinels

The Prostrate Tree

The Holy Trinity

The Wooden Stairs

Since I slowed my jogging tempo down in order to snap photos along the way, I took on another round of The Stairs to make up for the cardio loss. At the bottom of the 4th set, I decide to head left and explore those other stairs I had discovered a few weeks back. What the hell, it's my freedom. I can spend it however I choose.

These stairs headed west, weren't very steep, and led to a path which quickly turned into a densely overgrown wooded area. Shoes, clothes, blankets and food wrappers were discarded here and there among the trash, and it occurred to me that down and out people camped out here, here in the very affluent Santa Monica Canyon. Whether they needed a place to crash, to get stoned, to get off, or to get away, people squatted here. I was filled with a sense that at the wrong time of day, this might not be the best place for a barely dressed woman jogger to be exploring alone. I wasn't really afraid, just aware of the shift of energy I was heading into, yet I was determined to explore the road less traveled. My awareness ever vigilant, I followed it all the way to a dead end on someone's private gated property. Realizing this path is heading nowhere I want to go, I turn around and quickly retrace my steps back to the 1st set of steps and climb up them. I am back on my path.

Suddenly I am flooded with the realization that half my life is already over, that I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, or board an airplane and not make it back. It occurs to me that it's high time I stick to my path. No more detours. No more doubting. No more time wasting. No more road less traveled. Done a lot of that already.

How about finding your path and following it to its rightful pot of gold?

I am struck by the irony of all that resistance. I AM on my path, I AM working my path, chronicling my journey, sharing my insights…THIS IS what I am supposed to be doing.

Now, if I can only get paid for it…!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Marathon-in-Training, part 2

Today's insight:
This is a break, remember to say Thanks.

All along the run today, I repeated it over and over like a mantra:
This is a break, remember to say Thanks.
This is a break, remember to say Thanks.
This is a break, remember to say Thanks

What does this mean?

As I contemplate the whole endurance--gratitude--strength training thing, it occurs to me that in order to get stronger, in order to endure longer and take on more…distance, load, responsibilities …I need to recognize the points along the way where I can take a breather, rest, relax in motion. To find the point of imbalance and breathe through it while heading back towards balance, without necessarily letting it stop me.

Taken in this light, obstacles, delays, and setbacks become opportunities to slow down, ponder, reflect, rest for a minute, and reset. Therefore, obstacles taken with gratitude and a shift in perspective become gifts in their own way. Certainly they build stamina.

The esteemed and illustrious Jennifer, (for some reason I can't get the links to work on Safari. Try this:, spoke of the concept of taking the rocks of our lives, (be they pain, trauma, abuse), and turning them over to reflect on their inherent gifts. Though challenging, when one is able to see the gift of a difficult situation, true healing has occurred. There is a release of the pain and negativity. Wisdom is gained. (That which doesn't kill us certainly makes us stronger.)

No matter how difficult, challenging, FULL your life is at the moment, think of it this way:

This is a break, remember to say Thanks.

Do you feel a shift?

What if this crazy life of mine, so tight and so full, is really a break from a bigger whirl? What if this is really the downtime and I'm gearing up for even more? What if I've been complaining about delays and obstacles, longing for "float time" when this IS the time to heal and rest up? I can't possibly know what the universe has in store for me around the corner, can I? What if this is just the beginning? The training course for the real marathon to come?

With this in mind, I thought of my own small miracles, which allowed me to catch a break:

Getting caught behind a slow stair-stepper.
Swerving around a cluster of tourists taking up the whole jogging path.
Being able to run/write 3 days a week during camp.
My daughter's ability to put herself to sleep now. (FINALLY!)
My daughter's easy, carefree drop-off this morning. (WTF?)
My ability to have a child.
The possibility I might not have any more.
Being in a relationship.
Watching a relationship fall apart.
Having a roof over my head.
Having a $1000 brake job bill. (Gulp, it's just money, I still have a car to drive.)
Being able to express on paper and to those around me the thoughts in my head.
Surviving the chaos thus far and learning to run with it.

When I remember to give thanks for all I have…my hands, my legs, my heart, my capabilities, my intelligence, my problem-solving skills, my family, our house, our car, our preschool, our community of families, of friends and cherished ones who keep me going, who inspire me, the ocean, the sunshine, the good fortune, the divine wisdom, the ability to create, to think, to speak freely, to pray and worship and disagree out loud…there is much to be thankful for no matter what situation I find myself in.

There are no bombs being dropped on our soil.
There is no earthquake, hurricane or tsunami ripping through our city.
There is no bloodshed over religious beliefs.
There are no epidemics of starvation and disease here.
There is no dictator holding us down.
We are not being tortured and pummeled by dissidents.
We have such an abundance here, and a lot to be grateful for.

By pulling back our challenges and learning to work through them, breathe through them and keep going, we are building endurance. This is how we build strength. This is how we are able to take on more--for ourselves, and for others. Learning to rest in motion, and keep going, builds stamina.

With that, I ran all the way back, stopping once at the red light, remembering to say my new mantra,

"This is a break, remember to say Thanks."

Thank you.

And then, I ran past my turn off point without even realizing it. Oops.

When Small Miracles Become Really Big Ones

Not trying to jinx this in any way, but ALERT THE MEDIA...

Sienna has "gone down" by herself (in parent talk this means gone to sleep) without a struggle Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and now Tuesday night too. Whoo hoo. (This has been over a year coming, folks.)

Somewhere back around last August or September, during that preschool transition, she just "needed" us to help her go to sleep. Either by lying down with her or sitting in the glider next to her, she needed assistance, reassurance, presence to fall asleep. So much drama. Some nights it took up to 2 1/2 hours, usually at least 1 1/2 to get her to go to sleep. There were books, and more books, talking, then no talking, squirming, and flopping, attempts to separate and her creeping down the hall after us. Believe me, it started to take its toll on us. (Understatement.)

I started the "re-sleep training" on Weds night due to an abysmally dark day that nearly drove me to my breaking point. See my blogpost called Distractions.

Determined to take back my nights single-handedly if I must, I began a new routine of outlining expectations, the consequence for not staying in bed, (yes, I resorted to a kind of blackmail...the removal of one of her dolls for a set number of days if she got out of her bed for anything other than the toilet or some extraordinary circumstance), going over the plan we'll follow (pjs, teeth, books, lights out, rub back, kisses, goodnight), gratuitous flattery such as "I know you can do it all by yourself" and "you're becoming such a big girl,"....and voila! she has done it 5 nights in a row now! Before I can come back for the 5 minute check-in, ("No, 4-minutes, Mommy"), she is long gone.

WTF! What took us so long?!

What am I gonna do with all this extra free time?!



Sleep's for pussies.



As if that wasn't enough of a miracle, today at the camp drop-off, she actually was able to say goodbye and separate without a huge showy display of clinging, whining, crying, wailing, or teacher interference.

We made each other our usual I-love-you notes, I gave her the choice on where to say good-bye, she chose the gate, we went over there and exchanged a hug, a kiss, and a high-five, and then she turned around and skipped (yeah, skipped!) away back towards her friends.

"Bye mom!"

What? Yeah, OK, Bye! I said as I exited the gate before she could change her mind.


For those of you taking notes at home, here's our strategy:

Outlining the expectations
Explaining the consequences for not doing it
Reviewing our plan
Gratuitous flattery
...leads to execution of a job well done!

Followed by congratulations and more gratuitous flattery for continued success.

Cocktails all around!

Monday, August 07, 2006


Last week of camp. Nights are solved. Drop-off is NOT! I am grateful for small miracles though. I'll take what I can get, especially since the night routine was going on for 1 1/2 -2 hours for almost a year now. Exhausting. But not anymore.

Moving on.

Today's insight: Stretch.

Stretch your body. Stretch your mind. Stretch your capacity. Loosen to stretch.

Contemplation: Endurance vs. Strength
I thought strength WAS endurance…until I thought about it.

Why is it one person can run for miles, but can't push up the steep steps. Why is it that I can kill those steps twice, but my legs give out after a short jog?

I've been approaching my life as one big obstacle course. Short bursts of energy that take me to the edge and leave me depleted. Push, restore, recover, repeat.

I've been living in Crisis Management Mode. I've been bulking up. No lean "cruise" mode here. The "endurance" record I keep is how many challenges I can avert or survive.

You can see it in my body. It's not long and lean, but stocky, muscular, hard-working. I scan my strong back and shoulders, my thick arms, masculine hands all cut and burned and scarred, short, stubby fingers capable of so many tasks, thick legs, muscular calves, wide sturdy feet. Deliberately skipping over the middle, that part seems disconnected, unidentified, in hiding.

As I write about the body, running, my "practice," this isn't from some vain, "oh, I want to be a size 4 so I can fit into those stylish rags in the mags" kind of thing. I'm not getting all Hollywooded out on you. No. This is deeper. This is like searching for the perfect yoga teacher…one who combines the physical aspect with the breathing with the meditation and larger consciousness picture. I need to heal this body and reclaim it. I need to work it out physically, mentally and make the connection spiritually. They are connected. It is simultaneous.

I am talking about body as spirit. Pouring spirit back into the body. Purifying, cleansing, releasing old baggage and getting the body current and conditioned…for the return of love, of consciousness, of divine wisdom.

For what is shape? What is strength? What is power? What is clean?…as they relate to an approach to life and the way we carry ourselves through life?

My practice of reclaiming my body has been long overdue. I have "avoided" my body like it's not even there. Taken it for granted. Hated it. Draped it. Disassociated. My body has been through so much. I just abandoned it.

But my body holds wisdom.

I have asked so much from my body, and finally it has put its foot down and said No. No way. Not going to do it.

It has been a long road of restoration and recovery. Over four years, really. Perhaps five. A Space Odyssey.

For weeks now, my guts have been churning. Literally. Turning, gaseous, nauseous, tender, exhausted, bloated, weakened, terrified. Waiting to be revealed. I have held off, but I feel today is the day. What the hell, I only have three more days of camp left. If not now, when?

I put my focus there, on my belly, my womb, the seat of my humanity.

"Hey, what's going on in there?"


"What do you mean nothing? Surely this is NOT nothing."

"I don't want to tell."

"Tell what? ….Why?


How childish, I think. "Because why?" I inquire.

"Because I don't want to."

"Because it will hurt? (Pause.) Are you scared?"


"So, if we go really gently, will you try? I really want to help you."

(no answer.)


"mmmm……ok" It's in the smallest, most reluctant voice possible.


There are things my body knows that I don't even know. There are details I'm sure I've blocked out in order to get beyond them. Labor, for instance. Four days of effort, resulting in drips, swells, scars and more scars, but eventually a baby girl. Grateful? Yes. But what the hell happened there?

I was a dancer. I performed Nutcrackers with the Minnesota Dance Theatre/ Minnesota Orchestra from the time I was 7. I moved to New York at 18 and was on scholarship at Steps Studio. I studied dance with some of the greats. I worked as a professional dancer. I did movies, commercials, industrials, music videos, I toured with A Chorus Line. My body was my work. It worked for ME.

Learning to walk again…that first walk…one of the few times my body didn't do what I commanded it to do. Walk. One foot, two feet, collapse. Nope. And the scar…as I described it in another piece…"present, uncompromising, not subtle, still…the gash that unceremoniously divides my belly from my bush." The gash that sucked the consciousness right out of me. Cut me in half. It hasn't recovered. Depleted immunity, bouncing hormones, insomnia, weight gain, depression, virus after virus attacking my weakened state. Sick every 4-6 weeks. Despair. Lost.

That's just the beginning. I've been pregnant for 4 years. Suffering in silence. Love that 1st tri. We're old pals now. I seem to get stuck there…three months of nausea, bloating, weight gain, the emotional rollercoaster, hormonal upset, exhaustion…then no moving on to the "energy months" of the 2nd tri, or the exhaustion and bigness of the 3rd tri, or the final gift...the baby. No.

Instead, no result. Another round of lies and denial. "I'm just feeling tired." "I ate too much over the holidays." "I'm hung-over. " "Can't make it out today. Sorry."

One day I'll write about all that. The "missed abs" (as if the pregnancies just missed or something), the secrecy, the weight gain, the feeling stuck in my life, the toll it took on my relationship, on our bank account, on me, my sense of self-esteem and worth. I'll spill about cutting edge Dr. Chen the CVT -(Chinese Vagina Torturer), and how I almost died on her table, the emotionless messenger Prama the ultrasound tech, my beloved midwives and their invasive pressure to "bleed," the telling them to fuck off and leave me alone, Dr. D the expert and his no results testing, the three times a charm, the unanswered questions, the inexplicable mystery, the frustration and ultimately disassociation.

The question, "are you going to have another?" seemingly so innocent, so "come join the family club," yet such an obliviously personal attack on my ability to procreate, while everyone around me already HAS their second child. (Not like it's a race.) "Yeah, sure, maybe…we're thinking about it." WTF.

Breasts swollen as if containing milk to nurture me back to health, belly protruded as if still holding on to the babies that never came. Legs lumpy and weighty and carrying too many memories. It's time to cut bait. I've already been through enough shit.

So no, body workouts for me aren't about fashion, or feeling sexy, or fitting into those pre-marriage jeans. They're about a return to health, to wellness, to building immunity, to opening to the body's wisdom, and to the slow coaxing of the return to consciousness while I drop the weight I've been carrying, protecting, hiding behind. Bit by bit, I'm dropping it by the side of the road.

Listen. The scenery's changing. It's time to come out now. It's OK.

…to be continued.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Word

It's been exactly one month since I launched this blog, entering the Holy Bloggersphere on Independence day. I am feeling its power, and the power words have to express, release, heal and connect. So in honor of this first milestone, I gratefully acknowledge the power of "The Word."


In the beginning was the word. But it wasn't safe in my house. Words were revealing. Words were damaging weapons. Words were measures of worth. Words were not true. Words were stiffled.

Before I found my voice there was dance. Pure expression. Pure emotion. Wordless. Free from containment or interruption. Passion and pain in motion.

As I got stronger, I took on acting. Being someone else. Transference. Absorbing another's pain and drama. Someone else's words. I could empathize deeply, but it wasn't my story.

Eventually I let the voice out, raw, strangled, unsmooth. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it overworked, sometimes it didn't work. Sometimes it was broken. Still, I sang my tunes, I sang other's tunes. I developed my voice and a persona.

As I tired of lingerie and backup dancers to sell a song, I longed for my creative freedom on the Artist's path. My solo project was born, my lyrics, my melodies, my life stories, my presence, my light. My life in a disc. Wrapped in music, draped in harmony, shrouded in lyrical allegory.

As it freed me, it landed with the thud of indifference. Another chick singer? Yeah, what the world needs right now is another (aging) chick singer. Not a sex symbol, not eye candy, not predictable tales of seduction to a catchy beat.

I put down my sword. Turned back into my life. Big changes on my horizon…relationship, trust, partnership, marriage, pregnancy, home improvement, baby, 9/11, shock, fear, tearing down the walls of safety, shredding the cotton lining that kept me protected. Coming undone.

Like a squirrel with a nut, motherhood scurried me away and shook me senseless, cracked me open, splattering me onto the pavement in the process. Who was I anymore? How would I put the pieces back together again? Could I even go back to what I once was, yet what was I becoming?

When the dust settled, I cautiously stepped out onto the page…Back to words. Pure thought. The undecorated medium. My thoughts, my questions, my life on the page. No visuals, no melodies, ageless, timeless, body-less, sexless, pure. Only words.

In the beginning there was the word. And now, I return, free to speak and use my voice.

I hope it resonates.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Gym Of My Needs (in 2 parts)

(This is for all you "martyr-moms" and "martyr-friends." You know who you are. You, time takers, back of the class.)

As I stand stronger in my self and recognize the conflicts, distractions and resistance that try to distance me from my Truth, I realize there's a new muscle that needs a workout. Although fragile and weak, not used to the sound of its own voice, it is determined to not be undermined this time. So I have begun a new workout to make it stronger.

Today I am going to the Gym of My Needs. It looks like this:

Part 1
Get a clean sheet of paper. Write down your needs. You know what they are. Focus on them first. There are no wrong answers. Recognition is the first step to reprioritizing. See if there are ways to make shifts in your life. Do this daily. Repeat until un-needed.

I Need more personal freedom, (aka. time)
I Need a regular physical workout to release and get clear although losing weight would be good too
I Need to let go of time takers and distractions
I Need my daughter to separate quicker at school and at bedtime, in order for me to get to my work
I Need sleep, more than 4 or 5 hours per night
I Need more childcare coverage
I Need more revenue streams in order to relieve some stress
I Need clarity from distractions like other people's drama or needs I can't take on
I Need to speak up for my needs
I Need to put my needs first some of the time

Part 2
Now get another clean sheet of paper, or you can continue on the other side. Write down what you are thankful for. Feeling gratitude for what you already have is the fastest way to shift from fear or scarcity into abundance and blessings.

I Need to thank my daughter for illuminating my weak "martyr-mom" muscle
I Need to thank my friend G for showing me my "martyr-friend" pattern
I Need to thank the running practice for always bringing clarity, even on the muddiest days
I Need to thank "words" for being the new medium to communicate my process, my journey, to healing, to consciousness
I Need to thank this body for continuing to serve me through all the abuse I've inflicted upon it
I Need to thank my husband for tagging in when I couldn't go on any more
I Need to thank the Great Oneness for its grace and abundance and divine wisdom, for always knowing what I needed and giving it to me, even when it didn't look like that was what I needed at the time
I Need to thank resistance, for I've seen that on the other side of resistance is always a blessing far greater than the pain of facing it or breaking through it
I Need to thank those who might be reading this, for in sharing our wisdom, we all are strengthened and the connection ripples out exponentially

Thank you.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Child overslept today, I have difficulty waking her, finally she's up by 9am! Dressed and out the door by 9:15, breakfast bar in hand, we will be late for camp. My personal time will be affected. This is taking too long!

(I make a mental note to shorten the bedtime routine and begin way earlier, even if I have to do it myself every night for the next month. This MUST change.)

Speed bumps were recently installed on one main road and another side road near our house. Must slow down.

Then, that joyously wide-open cruising stretch on Rose--the 4 lane road cutting a thoroughfare between the golf course and the park--was deliberately repainted into 2 lanes and 2 bike paths, one each direction. Today we are stuck behind a slow moving car, our ability to pass forever removed as an option.

A car ahead of me backs out of a driveway, does a u-turn and lines up to back into a parking spot oblivious to the flow of traffic she is obstructing.

A daydreaming pedestrian doesn't notice his green light to cross until it starts to blink the orange "don't walk" signal holding up my ability to turn right until he wakes up from his reverie and crosses.

A street cleaner truck pulls ahead in front of the courthouse, slowing the line of traffic to 10 mph.

Up 2nd Street a hopelessly confused car changes from the right lane, to the left lane, then back again to the right, where she attempts to turn onto a closed and barricaded street thereby holding up all the traffic behind her until we can one by one swerve around her.

It's an almost comically long delay to turn into the parking structure as I wait for the 2 cars ahead of me, a pedestrian, another pedestrian, an elderly pedestrian (read slow moving), a man in an electronic wheelchair, a father with his preschooler crossing, a mother with her double stroller of toddlers, more pedestrians entering and exiting the farmer's market with rolling carts and bags of produce. The hustle and bustle of daily life is at play, while we belatedly enter the fray.

Once parked and walking, joining the others at preschool camp, the morning seemed OK. Late, but OK. We got through the obstacle course. We had arrived. We were here. We were moments to my freedom, my morning running/writing routine, only 5 precious days remaining over the next week-and-a-half until mid-September when school resumes. I was almost free.

But not quite. Not today.

In addition to delays and obstacles, there are now what appear to be emotional outbursts, death clings and screams, and blood-curdling cries pleading for attachment to mommy at the drop off, shredding my heart, sticking to my own vulnerability, twisting into my primal existential conflict:

Whose life is this anyway? Mine or yours*?

*(Insert: Mine or my daughter's? Mine or my mother's? Mine or my husband's? Mine or my needy friend's? Mine or the unrequited things I pine after like freedom, creative time, productivity, financial float, return of physical well-being?)

When staying calm, loving, rationalizing doesn't work, when making a note for her to hold doesn't work, when 2 attempts to kiss and say goodbye doesn't work, when engaging a teacher to help extract doesn't work, when erupting into anger doesn't work, when peeling her off of my chest, tears streaming down her face, legs wrapped around me doesn't work, I somehow tear myself away, throwing up my hands, crashing out of the gate, ignoring her and my dear friend and her kids--my daughter's best friend--so I can quickly exit. Heart racing, blood pounding in my chest, a conflict of anger, sadness, hurt, disappointment, impatience and regret balled in my throat… I somehow manage to stumble out of there gripped with a wave of swirling, opposing emotions, until I can hold it no longer.

I make it to the corner and the dam breaks. My chest heaves. The tears flow. Who I am crying for, I'm not really sure…my daughter, my heart, my belly, my friend, my pain, my own damn conflicts.

Do I take her home? Do I carry on?

Am I damaging her? Am I damaging myself?

I cry because there is no easy solution. And this has been going on for some time now. Even with camp, it is still not enough. I need more time. She needs more time. It is about to end. She has to learn to separate.

I can't go on like this. Clinging in the morning. Clinging at night, at bedtime. I am drowning here.

At the core of her need is my need to prove I can be a better mother to her needs than my mother was to mine. The knife is always in there taunting me, jabbing me, holding a mirror up to her life and now my own. Twisting, laughing, she's got me where it hurts.

No win on this one.

Jogging along, somehow this brings me back into my conflict with the narrow perspective time taker girlfriend. Damn. There she is, usurping my precious time again. She won't go away until I work through it. I try to kick her to the curb in my mind, but she keeps popping up like those birthday candles that refuse to extinguish. Bwah, ha, ha.

Water, I need water. I try to wash her down as I jog along.

How easy it would be to detach from all of this I ponder, and go into a deep, bliss-filled, heart open, one-consciousness state… On that level we are all one; we are all connected. We rise above the problems until there are no more conflicts. We escape into one-consciousness and non-duality. You are Me and I am You and We are all One Love.

True. Yes. But also ineffective. Will this solve the problem or make it go away?

Much harder is it to come back down into the body, enter into the heart and womb and pull the consciousness into life. Much harder to physicalize and internalize it into ACTION and inter-ACTION. Without falling into drama, distraction, conflict…or battle. Without losing our balance, our boundaries or more importantly, our wholeness of Self. That is the challenge.

This is the work I attempt. This is the work I fail at miserably. This is the work I attack again and again until the punches no longer hurt and I am standing again. Until my heart, its scar tissue held together by tape and crazy glue, pumps firmly and strongly, and my legs, graceful or not, attempt to carry my divinity into every situation.

I can take it. I am here. I am still here. I will always be here.

Until I am gone.