Tag Archives: family

We’re not all going to Eat, Pray, Love our way through life, but we can try

9 Jan

When I was a child, my mother often read out loud to me. She would never start at chapter one—instead, she patiently read every single page, including the author’s name, the illustrator, dedication, and forward. The only exception was the library of congress page, although she did always note the copyright date.

For my birthday in 2015, she sent a book entitled Stressed is Dessert Spelled Backwards, written by Brian Luke Seaward with a forward by Joan Lunden; no illustrator this time. I brought this book on a flight to San Diego. I was already well into it, enjoying it thoroughly, but needed to put it down to do something…I can’t remember what. Maybe stretch. Maybe have a drink of water. While it was lying on my tray table, the pages curling upwards, I noticed writing on one of the pages—the title page—one I had skipped because I had read the title on the cover and didn’t think it was necessary. (Sorry, mom.)

She had inscribed it, “Dear Becky, hope this is a help when you become upset. Love, Mom. August 31, 2015.” My birthday. Tears instantly came to my eyes when I read this. I was four chapters in by this time, and it was blowing my mind. I could see why she was drawn to it personally. There is a lot of reflection on the power of prayer, something my mother believes in very strongly. Both of my parents raised me to have a close relationship with God, and, though it has changed, waxed, and waned over the years, that relationship remains inside of me. Call it prayer, call it manifestation, it’s all based on a spirituality that is incredibly personal, and it gives me a connection with the universe, love, and every person on this planet.

Right now in my faith, I have decided that God is a name for life-force. Existence. Love. So when I pray, it is not necessarily to an almighty power. I am praying to myself, to a drop of water, to a strand of hair, everything that holds a vibration—energy. When I think it, when I feel it, I manifest it. We all do. The power of energy is strong.

And now I’m back home, inspired. My muse is sitting on my shoulder. He is wearing a kilt, and has a glencairn of pinot barrel-aged gin in his left hand and a whip in the other. He’s tapping his foot impatiently. So, armed the wisdom of my new-agey knowledge, I decide now is the perfect time to do something I’ve been waiting all of 2015 for. Open my happiness jar.

 

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I’m not going to lie, I saw it on Pinterest. It was January 2015. I was feeling optimistic after a fantastic New Year’s Eve and thought, what a great idea! I find a jar (in my case it was a tall cylindrical vase), decorate it, and drop in memories and trinkets that remind me how blessed I am. I told myself I would read it on New Year’s Eve 2015, but of course I ended up going to a party; you know how those things go. So tonight, a few days into the new year, I am cracking it open to see what gems I experienced over the last year. Here are a few.

  • I have two friends that, when we get together, jokingly call our group the Venus Flytraps. We occasionally have goddess gatherings at my place (or hen party, ladies night, etc.). At one of these gatherings, I decided to print out each of our horoscopes from Free Will Astrology that week on beautiful gold paper and present them to each lady. After the gathering I decided to stick it in my jar to see how it would manifest. My Virgo horoscope read as follows: It is always important to know when something has reached its end,” writes Paulo Coelho in his book The Zahir. Use this advice heroically in 2015, Virgo. Wield it to clear away anything that no longer serves you, that weighs you down or holds you back. Prepare the way for the new story that will begin for you around your next birthday. “Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters,” Coelho says, “it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.” Thud, thud, thud, goes my heart. Letting go in the last year has served me incredibly well. I let go of tired expectations about relationships, old understandings about my sensual and sexual expression. Some of you know that my boyfriend and I parted ways (although I didn’t get rid of him entirely—he is still very much a part of my life as a dear friend). I let free my assumptions about who I am as a dancer, as a runner, even as a writer. I simply am those things. I look forward to seeing what fills the space of the things I let go in the coming year.
  • A Louise Hay Power of Thought card: I allow others to be themselves. This card was handed to me after a particularly snarly interaction with a friend of mine while camping. Now, I love my friend Joe, I do. He is like the brother I never had. But as all brothers do, he gets on my nerves from time to time. And on that day, he had gotten on my last one. I blew up at him in front of 6 others in my campsite. I don’t think any of those people have ever seen me do anything but smile; I’m a pretty positive person 98% of the time. After my little tantrum, I stomped around camp for a while, drank my coffee, and avoided eye contact with my fellow campers. Then, my friend Sarah came up to me and handed me this card. She said, if you love Joe, you have to love him for who he is…flaws and all. I was embarrassed at first, but I soon realized she gave it to me in friendship, not to put me in my place. I read the back of the card: I do not try to heal my friends. I do my own mental work and heal myself. This is the best thing I can do for others. I was so humbled and grateful for Sarah in that moment. It has never left me. Ever since then, every time someone grates on me for doing something that is, in my eyes, wrong, I remember Sarah’s kind offering.
  • In the first part of the year, I cultivated a strong connection with a man who became a very close friend. He has inspired me multiple times this year, and I’ve even used his inspiration in a few of my blogs. After reading one of them, he wrote me this note. “So I re-read your blog as requested. I originally felt touched by the part about the friend who talks about his son living in every moment as I saw a connection to me. Now, knowing you wrote that about/for me I am touched even more. Thank you Becky for your kindness and your authenticity. Your (sic) truly a special person and someone someday is going to be very blessed to have you as a partner. Happy New Year and on-on.” I close my eyes now, and remember the warmth I felt when I read that note the first time, and every time thereafter. It reminds me what special and amazing souls I have in my life.
  • I attended two writing workshops this year, both of which brought me great joy. In one of the workshops, led by Kate Gray, we were tasked to write a short fiction piece. I ended up writing something about belly dance, and loved it so much that I kept it around. It contains many parts that are true to my own life as well as musings of a greater sort. Here is a short excerpt: “Here, she danced for pleasure. For art. To see her hair fly in the air as she spun in a barrel turn. To see the man drop his pita into the hummus because her muscle isolations made it seem as though her hips were no longer connected to the rest of her body. To feel beautiful in stage makeup, and feel the pure delight of washing it off at the end of the night, watching the makeup and sweat and soap bubbles slink circuitously into the drain and flow somewhere else…She grew up with rhythms from all over the world. She couldn’t imagine a life without romantic harmonies, haunting vibratos, and razor sharp words. Music moved her.” HAPPINESS!
  • If you have not read The Four Agreements, I highly recommend it. I wrote each one down and put them in my jar, and they have served me incredibly well this year. You really must read the book, but here are the agreements, in short.
Be impeccable with your word.
Don’t take anything personally.
Don’t make assumptions.
Always do your best.
  • This is an action that has never come easily to me. A friend of mine gave me a deck of cards with meditation words on them a few years ago. Surrender kept coming up for me whenever I pulled this deck out. I decided that Surrender would be my word of the year. And so I have quite happily, and continue to surrender to whatever the universe brings me.

2015 was a year of growth for me. It was not without growing pains, to be sure. Most of these times I understood that there was a bigger message, a lesson I needed to learn. I have to hand it to the universe, it can throw some seriously cockeyed lessons my way, but I do feel strongly that I needed each and every one of them, no matter how painful at the time.

I encourage you to reflect on your 2015 and come up with some of the lessons you experienced, maybe set up a happiness jar for 2016. We’re not all going to get to the other side boasting the ideal job, the perfect mate, and a flawless life, but we can absolutely appreciate the path we’ve taken to get to where we are now—exactly where we’re supposed to be at this time and place.

Roller Coaster of (Self) Love

18 Aug

Hello, friends. It has been quite a while since I’ve written something new. While I’m always learning, always evolving, sometimes I just don’t have the energy to share it with you. Now I’m ready, and I’m very excited to connect with you all again on this level. Life is funny. It sends you lessons, sometimes the same lessons you’ve seen before, over and over, but each time there is a new twist. At times I feel like life is a maze that we go in and out of—we might come out the same opening more than once, but the way that we reached it is never the same way twice.

Trying to take too much control doesn’t do anyone any good. No matter what I do, life is going to happen, and I can either get ahead of it and attempt to control it, or hang on for the ride and hope for the best. The first six months of 2015 I only had enough juice left to hang on… and maybe that was the best thing for me.

I felt lonely. I’ve been single a long time, most of you know this. It gives me a freedom that is amazing, but I was missing having a partner by my side. A month into the new year, something changed in that department. I began a beautiful journey with someone that took me places I never expected. We didn’t put a label on it; we were simply companions, mindful of the love between us and with a goal of becoming better and more aware partners to the people we would encounter down the road.

I spent much of my energy on others. My mother had double knee replacement in June, so I went to care for her for three weeks. Oh boy, did I have high hopes for those three weeks. I was going to get some serious writing done while seeing my school buddies, all while taking care of my mother. That turned out to be a pipe dream. I was working 24/7. When you can’t walk or stand for long periods, there are a lot of things you can’t do…I guess I hadn’t taken that into consideration. I thought I’d be cooking a meal here and there, driving her to the physical therapist and the library…that kind of thing. I did those, plus a hundred more. It was all day long. Every night I fell into bed without an iota of strength to write or even brainstorm. I can’t, however, say that it was all slaving and no fun. I got to see some loved ones. I played some righteous games of Bananagrams. I shopped…and I took care of my mother, who spent 18 years and some change making sure I turned out okay. She deserved every drop of energy I spent on her.

I met someone. Everyone told me It happens when you least expect it—I promise to never, ever say this to a single girlfriend EVER—but it was true in my case. I was finally not sweating the details or intently looking for something serious. Then I got a text from the person I would least have expected it from, which led to an amazing first date and, several more dates down the line, a wonderful boyfriend.

I was having fun. I was laughing with friends, allowing myself pleasure, running, dancing, eating good food, drinking cocktails, hashing, reading, working, hugging, giggling, meeting new people, travelling. I was running myself ragged. It didn’t give me much time to think about things, which is something I tend to do when I have lots to think about! I became somewhat emotionally lazy. At times I stressed myself out worrying. If there is one thing I am sure about myself, it’s that I’m not a lazy person. So why did it feel like I was changing in an undesirable direction?

I got lost in the whirlwind of all these things for a moment. Silly me. I thought I finally knew exactly who I was, what I wanted, and who my community consisted of. I constantly had to remind myself that everything is in its rightful place, at the right pace. And my world shifted, as it always does.

It was scary and incredible. As humans, we should never have all the answers. We should constantly be changing. Part of that is allowing yourself to recognize the gift of taking breaks. Taking time to smell the roses, if you want to wax poetic about it. One thing I always hear about myself is how busy I am. How many plans I make. What if I were to let life come to me for once so I could enjoy the ride, instead of always chasing control?

I know the universe will always provide me with prospects. I just have to slow down, give that control freak a breather, and welcome those opportunities when they come, with the understanding that the maze is always going to change; all I have to do is be present inside of it.

A Love Note

17 Oct

Becky and the trees in their joy!

I’ve got several things I need to write about, but I’ve chosen my trip to the California Redwoods with my cousins Linda, Michael, and Tutu, since it is still fresh in my mind. Indulge me if this seems like “nature porn” to you. My sister, Sarah (the originator of the term nature porn), made me aware that some of my last posts about nature border on…intimate. The thing is, that is how I feel about nature. I can’t help it. Please accept my flowery prose as yes, a love note to nature. Just roll your eyes behind my back. Or nod your head and say to yourself, right on Becky!

I watched The Celestine Prophecy the night before I left for my Redwoods adventure. I have read the book no less than six times, but seeing one director’s interpretation of the story in action was unforgettable. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a book written about eight insights that the main character discovers throughout his journey to Peru. Much of the story takes place in the jungle, a most beautiful and magical setting, and coincidentally much like the place I was to see in my own upcoming adventures. The main character was a naïve history teacher, not knowing that when he got laid off, everything that had happened up until that moment was all a part of his greater plan. One of the insights he learned was that he needed to start paying attention to every little thing that was happening around him. Notice the coincidences around you; they all mean something. His journey also taught him to be in the moment, and manifest what you want.

I have been exploring these themes in my own life for several years now, as you know if you have read my blog before. It occurs to me that each time I experience The Celestine Prophecy I learn something new. The lesson that everything happens for a reason was highlighted when I realized there was absolutely a reason that I watched this movie right before heading to my own magical locale. Of course I’ve always understood that the history teacher made his way to a beautiful place. Every story needs a setting. It just never dawned on me that the jungle was actually a character in his story, as the Redwoods would become a character in my story.

They glowed under my attention, and I in theirs. The minute I was in them, I could feel their energy. In the movie, when the history teacher focuses his gaze on a philodendron, he sees its energy, or aura. It touches him. I felt the same in the midst of the giant trees and their unique ecosystem. As the sun pushed its way down, all the way down—dozens of feet of each tree—the beams would touch and highlight the brilliant green of the undergrowth. The effect was visually magical, and physically warming. The opulence of the trees, and the knowledge that they have seen more than any human can ever tell, was stunning. Did you know these trees have been around since the time of the dinosaurs? The fact that they are still on earth because of the stubbornness and love of a few special people was fantastical. These trees had been 90% harvested until the Save-the-Redwoods League was created to protect them. I felt that history with every move I made. I was being hugged by the spirit of these trees; I could actually feel a lovely thickness around me. Inside, I felt a peace and fullness. Most of all I experienced love. I know it may sound a little silly; trees don’t have the cognitive ability to love. But if I can love the forest, why can’t it love me back?

My family wandered the woods with me. We spoke excitedly some, but mostly we all just drank it in. Tutu, my 82-year old cousin, repeated softly to me, “We are so lucky, do you know how lucky we are to be here?” I appreciated her comment, but instead of feeling lucky I felt more blessed than anything. It wasn’t luck that brought me here; it was my will, and the will of the Universe. It wasn’t luck that led me to drive the five hours each way from Portland to Medford where my cousins Linda and Michael live, and then on another few hours to California. It was my desire to Be there.

I had been traveling for two weeks straight before this trip and I almost cancelled because I was so tired of living out of a suitcase. I just wanted to relax in my own home. But the Universe gave me a little nudge and told me that this was something I needed to experience NOW. Wouldn’t you know it, but the Universe was right again! To share this trip in words is something that is less than adequate, but it is all I have. I hope, if you visit, the trees give you the same love they gave to me.

 

The Travel Two-Step

3 Oct

I’ve processed this whole experience…it’s time to share!

I’m no frequent flyer, but I usually fly 1-2 times a year. I have never had a big problem. A few delays maybe, but nothing to cry about. This flight, however, was of nightmare proportions! I left PDX right on time, heading for my layover at Chicago O’Hare. When I got there I realized I had about 50 minutes until my next flight. Of course my next gate was in another wing (Do they EVER make it easy to change flights?), so I had to make a run for Terminal B, gate F11. My United flight was supposed to leave at 6:45 PM. Oh, and on my almost-4-hour flight to Chicago, there had been no meal service. Four hours on a plane and no meal service? Plus paying for my checked bags?

By the time I got to Chicago I was starving, but I was afraid to stop for food because my next flight was coming up soon. I found gate F11…there were 6 screens up and not one of them said Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which was my final destination. I went up to the counter. Finally a man asked how he could help me. I asked about my flight, and he said it was the correct gate. It was about 6:20, which  meant it was almost boarding time, so I grabbed a bag of chips (ugh!!!) from the nearest kiosk and waited for the lineup.  20 minutes later there was an announcement, “Flight #### to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will be delayed. We will be boarding the flight at 7:30.” Rats! I looked at the girl next to me, who was having the same reaction. She shook her head and grumbled. We got to talking and I found out that Stefanie lived in Scranton, and had been waiting at O’Hare since 2:00 PM. No wonder she was grumbling! 7:30 was close enough that I felt uneasy about searching for food. We were at a dead-end and there wasn’t much available close by. So I waited, and ate a Luna bar that I had packed for emergencies.

At 7:30, it was the same story, only the gate employee gave us the information that the plane was actually in the hold, but we were waiting on crew members to arrive. I had a fleeting thought of volunteering to be a flight attendant. Instead, I waited.

At 8:30 an employee grabbed for the microphone and everyone at the gate bristled. “Flight #### to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will not be departing at 8:30…we actually don’t know where the crew is, so we’re going to delay the flight until 9:45.” Sounds of surprise and aggravation were heard across the room. At that point I got mad and went to find something to eat. I found a grill and bar that was open and grabbed a Greek salad with chicken. Stefanie looked at it longingly when I sat down. Shortly after I returned to the gate, the announcements started. “Flight #### to Cedar Rapids is cancelled,” the gate attendant announced. “Flight #### to Lincoln has been cancelled.” Stefanie and I looked at each other with dread. Did none of these flights have crews? Would ours be next? Did they forget to schedule crews for all of these flights?? All in all, five flights were cancelled. Ours was called last, at 10:30. We were instructed to go upstairs to the service desk for overnight accommodations and to reschedule our flights. Stefanie and I raced upstairs…only to be met by a line that snaked all the way down the terminal. I’m talking at least 200 people. One clerk, 200 people. We groaned, and got in line. We started talking to the people around us. Soon we had a posse: David, a fast-talking sales guy from Scranton, Stefanie, my buddy from the gate, Mika, a woman from California, and me. Mika’s story was the worst, hands down. She had to be at a wedding the next day at 1:00 PM. David and Stefanie were the lucky ones since they lived in Scranton.

So we waited. It seemed the line was not moving at all. Finally a man came and told the back half of the line to go downstairs to another desk where more representatives could help us. We were trying to be cheery. We got to know each other a little, shared other flight horror stories, and giggled so we wouldn’t cry. David suggested we rent a car with the four of us. It was about 12 hours to Scranton from Chicago. I reminded him he’d be travelling with three women, so it would be more like 14 with bathroom breaks. He told us to forget it. Then we hit the front of the line. We heard that there was a flight leaving at 7 AM to Scranton via Detroit, and we all wanted on it. Stefanie had been on the phone the entire time we stood in the queue. She got a hold of her travel agent and quickly realized she didn’t have to wait in line. She’d book a new flight and expense the whole thing. So she waved goodbye and  jetted away to the Hilton across the street. The rest of us weren’t so lucky. We were on personal trips and couldn’t afford to just buy another flight.

When I got to the representative, I asked her what was available. She said there were some direct flights to Allentown and Harrisburg, but none to Scranton. For some reason, I got it in my head that Harrisburg was closer than Scranton, so I asked to be put on the 9:00 AM to Harrisburg. Score! She gave me my hotel and food voucher, and I waited for David and Mika to finish up with their arrangements.  They were lucky enough to grab tickets to the 7:00 AM flight to Scranton via Detroit. By the time we were at the front of the queue, the airport Hilton was completely booked. We were assigned the Crowne Plaza. We grabbed our carry-ons and headed to the shuttle. We waited for the shuttle, and waited some more. After about 25 minutes we were getting a little testy. In the meantime I called my father to tell him the good news about the Harrisburg flight. “Harrisburg!! Aaarrgh! That’s twice as far!” Uh oh. I wanted to cry at this point. I felt like a total moron.

David pointed out that there was a chance I could still get on the Detroit-Scranton flight, but I was just too cranky and tired to care. He grabbed my Harrisburg reservations, whipped out his phone and started talking. He was on the phone for 45 minutes, and I’m not sure how he did it, but he somehow got me a seat on the flight. I wanted to kiss him! During this time the hotel shuttle finally came, and we were off…to the scariest location EVER. The shuttle took us 20 minutes away from the airport to a Crowne Plaza. It was a beautiful hotel inside, but the location made us not want to walk outside at all. The three of us walked in…just in time to get in yet another line. By this time it was 1:00 AM, and we were really sick of lines. When we got to the front, we were assigned our rooms. The nice lady at the front desk swept her hand to the side to indicate the free incidentals we might need. “Do you have saline solution?” I asked, desperately hoping. I’d been wearing my contacts for about  16 hours and my eyes were burning madly. “No, I’m sorry dear. The gift shop is closed and won’t open until 8:00 AM tomorrow morning.” Our shuttle was to leave at 5:00 AM.

I did what I had to do. I walked up and down the line of remaining travellers and asked if anyone had saline solution. One man did, and I almost hugged him. (I should have, he was pretty cute!) I raced upstairs to my room and grabbed two drinking glasses, raced back downstairs and grabbed my glasses that I had thankfully packed in my carry-on, and pulled those suckers out of my eyes and dropped them into the cups. Ahhh…

David, Mika, and I went up to our rooms and flopped into bed. It was now 1:30 AM, and our wake-up call was at 4:30 so we could make the shuttle at 5:00. I slept fitfully, worried I wouldn’t hear the wake-up call. Fortunately, I did wake up. When we got to the airport we headed to the desk to get our new travel documents. Mika got hers right away. David and I…we had seat numbers, but no reservation! Please don’t ask me how this is possible because I don’t understand it myself. David started fast-talking, and worked it out. Whew! We went to the gate and finally, finally, boarded the Delta flight, reuniting with Stefanie in the meantime, who had also gotten on the new flight. The trip to Detroit was thankfully short. My seatmate was a man in his 40s, and was a fun conversationalist. When we landed in Detroit, the four of us waited for each other and went to the next gate. We were anxiously awaiting our final destination, and I thought, we should memorialize this! Here is the picture that resulted:

Becky flight friends
Becky and The Posse

We don’t look half bad for being raggedy and exhausted! Arriving at Scranton, we were giddy to get down to baggage claim. Then we realized our bags were still on the United plane, though we had switched to a Delta flight. We would not be getting our baggage until the next plane arrived. By that time my father had gotten to the airport and was waiting for me outside in the queue. I kept him waiting another 45 minutes while I stood in line to file my baggage claim. At 12:45 PM, over 24 hours after I had left Portland, I was on my way to Danville! Wooohooo! I made dad stop at the nearest Walmart so I could grab some saline solution and another outfit to last me until my luggage came. I had to wait another day to get it, but when I did I was really thankful! But they broke the zipper pull…

Yes, this trip was insanely awful. Yes, I got no sleep and was starving most of the time. But one good thing came out of it. I made three new friends! It was refreshing to see people come together during this situation and become friends and allies. It makes me smile to know that now I have two more friends in Pennsylvania and one in California that will always share these memories with me. Plus I have an instant blog topic! But, just for the record, Universe, I don’t ever want to go through this again. Note that down.