Today The Mojave

4/3/17

“The transition from the hot Sonoran Desert to the cooler and higher Great Basin is called the Mojave Desert. This arid region of southeastern California and portions of Nevada, Arizona, and Utah, occupies more than 25,000 square miles.”

Wikipedia: The Mojave Desert (pronunciation: /mˈhɑːvi/[5][6] mo-hah-vee) is an arid rain-shadow desert and the driest desert in North America.

Henry and I left Needles, CA this am, drove through the deeply beautiful lands of a rain-shadow desert, The Mojave, on I40 and arrived in Gallup, NM this afternoon.

At some point on the 5+ hour drive, I became overwhelmed with the amazing and varied landscapes of our country.  I was awed by the multiple layers of rust, golds, pine greens, and sky blues as they textured over and around the Mojave, its mountains, and rocks. As the tumbleweed blew erratically across the highway it seemed to have avoided the paint brush and just remain a dry beige. (Note I said highway, not freeway and that’s how you know I’m not in CA anymore.) The rocks that look carefully painted, are between 1.7 and 2.5 billion years old, and I am a small speck that has a large impact on something so ancient, so grand, so beautiful and so precious.

Between awesome, stunning views and thoughts of responsibility for taking care of what was all around, I was overcome with apprehension over what we have done to our planet? What are we doing?  We have plants and animals in the mountains, deserts, streams, waterfalls, lakes and oceans depending on us. Depending on us like a baby depends on its mother’s milk. Again, what are we doing? Who do we think we are?  Most importantly, the question is, what am I doing, and what is right for me to do?

I believe we are stewards for the plants, animals, and humans of these lands. Dictionary.com . Steward, [stoo-erd-ship, styoo-] the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving:  New regulatory changes will result in better stewardship of lands that are crucial for open space and wildlife habitat.

Sometimes t can feel like the earth is bleeding. As I drove along, it seemed as if I could feel its yearning, its desperation for us to recognize its power, and know how dependent we are on it and how absolutely necessary its thriving existence is for us to just breath and live.

I know I have done some good things for this earth and I know I haven’t. I know my mother was right about using natural fibers like cotton, linen, silk, wool, and cashmere, not just because they felt good, but because they were natural to human living. I know my mother was right about minimally using man-made medicine so there is less to contaminate our bodies and less to throw out and contaminate the waters and all who drink it. I know my mother was right and I know there was a value that says we need to take care of ourselves, we need to take care of the land, and we need to take care of everyone around us. I know she was right.

What would it be like if I could allow these lands to be something sacred; something that I let in enough to change me, rather than always being about me changing it, expecting it to accommodate me, make me happy.

2 Rules Broken or…Wait a Minute…

4/2/17

Rule #1 Stop driving after 5-6 hours, 7 at the most, each day.

Rule #2 Fill up gas when half full.

I got carried away on the first day.  I really wanted to make it out of CA even though I knew that wouldn’t happen.  When I reached Barstow, CA, my gut said not here, go to Needles, even though I reviewed this option at least 3 times before my departure, the first time with the AAA lady and we agreed, Barstow was enough for Mr. H and I, for one day.

As I approached Barstow, it just felt wrong, the energy of the place was wrong, and I didn’t need more information than that. But that meant driving another 2 hours, making the day a 9 hour trip with stops, and forgetting rule #2, fill the tank at half full.

As incredibly beautiful and desolate the Mojave is, it does not have many signs saying when the next gas would be.  I set my GPS to show me gas and the first one was disappointingly way off on the other side of the freeway, the GPS marker said “short detour”. From my side of the road, the tall Mobil lollipop sign was filthy, barely legible, and didn’t look open, but as I drove by I saw it was filled with trucks.  My thoughts took to comforting me for missing the stop; That’s okay, I don’t need to support ExonMobil right now or ever, or for that matter any gas company, but then where would I be? What a mess we are in. Exon, with all their money, should have a clean sign, right?! And on and on.

There, my justification for not stopping was complete. But a slight concern about getting gas felt like a gaping unknown and took me down unnecessary imaginings of driving on the car battery or ending up on the side of the road waiting for AAA, happy I had Henry with me to ward off any weirdos.  As if he would.

The fact is I had plenty of gas to drive another 100 miles or at least 75. Certainly enough to get to Needles. I began to wonder if the energy of the Mojave made me feel the concern for enough gas when I had enough. The fear of being sucked up by the desolation of the desert, getting left and lost there fed my concern for enough, enough gas, enough whatever.

Seeing the dusty Mobil sign made me think it was better I missed it as all the really bad stereotypes of truckers came to mind; the bearded guy, that calls you honey, the guy with nails that are never cut and always dirty, the guy who smiles with too many teeth missing and those left are yellowed and brown, the trucker with the southern accent which gives no credit to how smart they might really be, the blonde cowgirl/woman trucker that calls you honey, and is scarier than all the men put together, and on and on. All the while I knew my feelings would be different with a companion other than my K9, Henry. It would be a discussion about should we try it or drive on.  On my own, I didn’t even want to try it. I looked to Henry for approval of my decision, but he was busily focused on the back of my head working at getting into my brain to get me to stop…just stop anywhere.

Two hours later, I reached Needles with 2 notches left of gas, eye holes in the back of my head, from Henry staring and saying,  “It’s time, way past time to get out of this frikin’ car!”

I want this trip to be uneventful, except for good words spoken between myself, fellow travelers and hotel and restaurant clerks. I want it to be a nice trip, a really nice trip. It can also be interesting, but definitely nice.

And, about the rules for travel, I made them up, I can break them.  Just sayin’.

Rule #3  Do what is needed to make this a nice trip

 

Then Things Seem Inevitable…

“First things seem impossible, then improbable, and then inevitable.”  Angeles Arrien

Angeles was a cultural anthropologist who took indigenous rituals and traditions and taught how to walk the mystical path with practical feet.  She gave more than permission to live a life of following what has heart and meaning.  In fact, she encouraged and expected it of those who studied with her.  She gave me roots in the learnings about treating life as sacred.  She taught the work of listening deeply, going from medium to slow, saying what’s so when it is so and asking, “What’s learning ya?”

I have set things aside in my life because they seemed impossible and I was afraid.  Then I went through a phase in my 20’s when being afraid meant I should just do it, whatever it was. And that led to some really stupid and risky choices, so stupid they aren’t worth giving attention to here. Then I had a family and I took being afraid as something to pay attention to. I heard fears as coming from my inner knowing, speaking to me and guiding me in my mothering and “wife-ing” and in my work as a psychotherapist.

Now, single with grown kids, and collecting social security, I am back to looking at what seemed impossible, a move to Chicago.  With the realization I wanted a change and wanted to move, the move has gradually become inevitable.  And, now with the rental of my home for a year, the mess of boxes, bubble wrap, and sorting, with bags labeled “let go”, this move has become inevitable. As my father said when I moved to CA, “What do you have to loose?”  The adventurer in him could say that with the deepest of confidence in me.  The confidence I am drawing on again, for a road trip back to Chitown.

First things seem impossible and I am sure they are.  Then they seem improbable and then with a push from here or there, they become inevitable.  When I get out of my own way, possibilities seem to show up and say, “Hey, notice me”

Shadows

4/1/17

Each place I travel I will find shadows and each place I will find light.

It is the night before I start to drive to Chicago.  I am in a room with the most wonderful shadows, up at midnight, wondering how tired I will be tomorrow and how far I will drive. I am excited, I am afraid.  The adventure began with the knowing I wasn’t where I wanted to be, then the anxiety of change, the packing, the sorting and now, getting on the road…tomorrow.

I am so aware of all the good thoughts people have for me and this adventure, all the support in words and gifts that make this adventure so much more than my adventure.  It seems it has become an adventure for many and I am so pleased to have people join me.  I am deeply grateful for all who are my traveling companions.  So let’s go along and see what we find, who we meet, what strangers say hello and offer kindness.

Tomorrow we, Mr H and I, are off, with the intention of leaving at dawn and arriving in Barstow, CA.

Almost Diverted 3/19/2017

Everything changes, always.

It is so interesting to feel the rush of energy when the possibility of change seems to pop up unexpectedly.  It is a mix of anxiety, fear, wonderment, terror, muddled thoughts about how do I make this decision. Do I want this possible change or do I want to stick with my plan?  What if I make a wrong decision, and hearing the voice that says there is no wrong decision but not believing it because I am certain it is not true, it is just a good idea.

My sweet neighbors with their very funny 18-month-old have come to live with me because their house was affected by a landslide caused by all the rains here in California.  It is a crazy time. They are having to figure out where to live and I am packing up the house, getting taxes together, and getting other silly things done before I go on the road to Chitown. All at the same time, my neighbors are deciding to live in the house next to the one that is sliding.  It is actually a very lovely crazy time.

And then, the alternate reality, the Possibility, with a capital P shows its beckoning head. My neighbors will have a studio/1 bedroom for rent in the bottom of that house they are considering and it is at a rent I can afford.  I could stay in the neighborhood that has become more congenial since I decided to move away.  We talked about it and all agreed it would be so nice. And then that anxious, fear, terror, wonder and curiosity rushed up from my knees to my throat. I am getting friendlier with that experience and know when I feel it, that it means stop and wait. It does not mean decide. Those feelings and sensations are red or yellow lights, not green.  It seems so much easier if it were just a green light.  So much easier!  I just want to pretend that the light is green so the decision is made. There…done, decided, finished.

I can easily be diverted from my decisions by something safer or cozier, and my reasons for making the decision slips away only to be remembered much later after I have gone down a different road.

I have to remember why I am doing what I am doing. I want to try my work in other parts of these lands, I want to get out of the Bay Area.  And most of all I want to go home. It only took me a few hours to have that come clear.  This is my practice.  This is my work. Listening and listening again.  Am I getting a green light or am I pretending to get a green light?  Am I keeping my journey sacred? Am I letting myself see that things always change, choices and possibilities, and when? Which bloom and which die? Which things are so sacred I allow them to change me?

 

Hygge (prounounced Hoo-ga) 3/7/2017

http://www.visitdenmark.com/hygge

  • The Danish meaning of hygge. Hygge is as Danish as pork roast and it goes far in illuminating the Danish soul. In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge.
  •  Hygge, is a Danish word roughly translated to English as coziness. As the Visit Denmark site suggests, it might contribute to a happier life. Making life intentional has something to do with Hygge. My personal feeling about Hygge is something about slowing down, paying attention to what makes you feel cozy, at home, staying with what has heart and meaning and making daily life sacred.

Making life intentional has something to do with Hygge. My personal feeling about Hygge is something about slowing down, paying attention to what makes you feel cozy, at home, staying with what has heart and meaning, and making daily life sacred.

I have always had a very close connection to Denmark and my friends there.  I didn’t really know why, but seeing the video on Hygge on the Visit Denmark website, gives me an idea of my connection to that culture.  I got to the site by way of someone who writes about their sacred journey.  It is a bit religious and that is not my bent.  But she offered up the link to “Visit Denmark” and I found Hygge. Who knew?

I can hear my Danish friends laughing at my pronunciation of hygge, having once been told I sound too perfect when learning to say Bussen gabte, which I was later told, means the bus yawned. A phrase that is so handy for travel, or really anything I am doing, anywhere, really!

Those were wonderful days, learning how to say Bussen gabte while attending European clown school in Blue Lake, California. Carlo Mazzone-Clementi, was the master teacher (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlo_Mazzone-Clementi), and being there introduced me to some of the most creative people from all over the world.  I was totally drawn to the students at the school who were from other lands and attached myself to the Scandinavians.  They just seemed the most sane, even at a clown school.  My attachment to one woman, Josefine, was deep, we were sure we were somehow related.  Our relationship has endured, even with just a few visits and travels with our families, over many miles and waters.  Being with my Danish friends and our families being together makes me feel full of Hygge. 🙂 .

 

 

 

Thank You Mr. Rogers

“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”  ― Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers

As I have been packing up my house for this experiment/journey, I found my copy of The Atlantic with Mr. Rogers on the front of it.  I also found books by Mr. Rogers that clinical psych students have given me over the years because they knew how I admired Mr. Rogers like my hero. To top it off, in my sorting and  packing I found a toy that when you press different buttons you hear Mr. Rogers’ voice saying, “I like you just the way you are.”  Or, “You make each day a special day. You know how, by just your being you.” And, of course, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”  It was a perfect thing to find.  It made me think about how I am going about this journey as an experiment and how that gives me room to just accept everything as it is, including myself.

What if every piece of this journey was sacred, and each step or action or thought was done with such attentiveness and acceptance that the meaning of each step was a whole journey by itself ?

 

Wondering if anyone might want to drive…


I have been inspired to write this blog as I have had some people say they wanted me to keep them in the loop about my journey. Posting for a driver to drive my car to Chicago on FB has gotten so much attention, curiosity and questions about what the hell I am doing, that I am trying out publishing.

Friends have used words like warrior and courageous to describe me and what I am doing. I alternate between feeling crazy, getting the business done of unloading household belongings, hand-me-downs from parents, and packing. All the while I am considering what it means to be a warrior and courageous. Inside I have a battlefield, sometimes erupting, leaving me bloodied, but when I hold the idea of what I’m doing as an experiment, I feel more permission to be curious, be kind, and have some freedom to listen to my knowing, intrinsic voice.

I am a warrior, I get bloodied, I am courageous and I am crazy.

I moved to California in April of 1982; after a breakup that left me really depressed.  I drove out from Chicago with a roommate who I never saw again once I arrived.  I knew one person who let me stay with them in their home in Woodacre. I moved a few times and finally went back to school because at that time, being a student was my favorite thing to do.  I became a psychotherapist with a private practice, supervised, taught, married, had two wonderful daughters, divorced and then seem to have lost myself.

Or, now, after some years, I think I found myself.  I began to realize that I wanted to be home and hadn’t felt home since we were a family, married, busy doing kid things in an almost uncomfortably safe community of Piedmont, CA.  If you know me, you know my kids always come first and this community was perfect for that; good enough schools, very safe, neighborhoods, etc. But it lost its luster after the kids were grown and I was a single woman again. I have wondered, was it my projection that single women weren’t really wanted there or was it true?  Was it just about me not feeling right there?  I now think some or all of it is so.  With my divorce, the threads of not feeling at home anymore had begun to spin a tale.  I sold the house we remodeled so beautifully and bought another beautiful home in East Richmond Heights, CA.

This blog is about that tale and where my most intrinsic self is asking me to go.  It is about making the steps I take sacred (not religious) but respected and regarded with love. Keeping myself curious and not riddled with bloody self-judgment.

Sometime after Christmas 2016 and a very big conversation with my girls, after a lot of suffering from my internal battlefield, I knew a few things.  The first was that where I lived, though beautiful, was not the right place for me.  I also knew that I wanted to feel home again. After the relief of admitting I didn’t know what was next, I knew I needed to go home to the Chicago area and it needed to be in April. I had forgotten at the time that April was when I came out here to California. 35 years later, I am going back.  Back for at least the month of April and then I am not sure what is next.  

 

Source: Ellen Stern – Wondering if anyone might want to drive my car from…

The Chaos of Personal Change: An Unraveling

At first, things seem impossible…

This is not a how-to, this is just what has happened. Choices I have made, where I have been and what has happened.

This story started too many years ago but I will spare you and only go back to Dec 26, 2016, at about 9 am. As we started to make the bed and ready the room for the next Airbnb-er, my youngest adult daughter started to talk to me about how unhappy I seemed. The conversation continued at the Cerrito Grocery Annex with my eldest daughter joining us.  Both beautiful, with different versions of wondrous blue eyes–my daughters, spoke from an intrinsic beauty that is not about hair length, color or cut, not about clothing or make-up worn, how skinny or fat they are, or how pretty they are. They spoke to me from those hues of blue found in their loving souls, “Mom, you are so unhappy. You need to do something, don’t stay here for us.” Tears welled up from a place I had forgotten resided in me,”We hate seeing you so unhappy. We have seen how strong you are, how you’ve changed.  We want to feel inspired by you, you have lost yourself.” The inside pain informed me and I knew they were saying some things that were true.

Later that day, my eldest and I went shopping in SF and as I parked the car, I had a sense that my wallet was going to be stolen.  Though I heard that voice in my head, I did not act on my intuition. As the day went on, my wallet was in fact stolen. Pickpocketed from my purse which hung too loosely from my shoulder, in that casual, chic stupid way.  Panic shot up inside me like an explosion. My thoughts were like fireworks, shooting around about identity theft, mug shots of the hundreds of people who’d walked past me that day, and wondering why. Thinking of the poverty that lurks in every corner waiting to steal what it needed. Wishing that I had listened to that voice, going over and over what was in my wallet that I needed to replace. What was I forgetting?

My identity was stolen, my finances were at risk. I couldn’t help but miss the ironic meaning of this timing and intrusion into my life, into my psyche, into my soul.

As a good and proper adult would do, I went off to the DMV  first thing the next day to get a new license only to find out that there was a tie to my ex-husband I wasn’t aware of. After much hunting, and searching, I uncovered that there was a photo citation of a female, (supposedly me) driving through a red light in my ex’s truck from 3 years ago. But no one could show me the evidential photo. I ended up in the Wiley Manuel Walk in Court Jan. 3, at 8 am and by 11 am I found that the photo no longer existed. The citation was dismissed due to lack of evidence.  Identity returned with required searching and suffering.

Words like the victim being victimized came to mind. My wallet was stolen and I was treated like a perpetrator for a crime that was no fault of my own. I felt that I was working so hard to not be a victim in my life.  But here it was, official, in my face, undeniably the victim, twice, at least twice.

The conversation with the girls that morning had time to cool in my heart. The stolen wallet distraction was useful, allowing the thoughts and concerns from the talk to find a place inside where they could be attended to with care. Having let my girls down, feeling so exposed, still, aches in my gut and makes me teary. It is a good reminder of a responsibility  I hold for my daughters and my daughters’ daughters and their daughters. The responsibility to keep waking up, showing up and saying what is so (thinking respond-ability…yes I have been in California too long).  The girls became the agent of change I was needing. They spoke a truth I had to listen to. Another layer of unraveling since my divorce 8+ years ago was offering up an opportunity, or as I would joke with my sister-friend, another opportunity to experience pain.

I was not happy where I was living. Though beautiful with green all around, it was not right for me.  These truths were daunting.  But I knew I needed to sit with it knowing I wasn’t happy, knowing I didn’t want to live where I lived and knowing I had not one answer about what to do next.  Finally being pushed so far, I could not even consider forcing an answer, I could only sit with what I didn’t know.

At first, things seem impossible, then things seem improbable…then…

 

 

Listening

“To hold something sacred means valuing something enough to let it change you.” Vijayendra Mohanty

This is an exploration, an experiment; my experiment.  It started with the experience of more doors closing than opening and the realization I didn’t want life to feel so hard.

What if it was Sacred is about change and the unpleasantries of knowing what I need to do and the work it takes to listen to that.  It’s about listening to the quiet voice that says this is the right thing to do even though you are full of anxiety.  Do this even though you will shock people, do this because it is the freedom you long for.  Because you know that deep down it comes from the very wisest place inside you.  It is the constant voice that always hangs around the edges of each idea, of each action and reaction.  And, it says, listen to me, listen to Me. It offers up possibilities that seem completely impossible, crazy, absolutely out of the question. And it talks in whispers getting incrementally louder until it is screaming at me. Do something. Do It. Just do it.