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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Goodbye January

January ends today, leaving quietly in a still grey calm, the first storms of the year left behind, seemingly spent. As many before have observed, the older we become, the faster time disappears, and having less time at our hands we tend to waste more of it in thought rather than in action; is it an oxymoron, a paradox, or just the inevitable downward spiral into death? Ah, winter gloom does not just abound outside, but in my heart as well. I am not interested in the full spectrum light that so often brightens the corners of my office in the darker months, I am not interested in the luscious fruit that sits ripe and waiting to throw itself upon my night’s fasting, and I am having the darndest time making my booted feet walk out the front door. But I know I will do it, I just had to lodge a tedious protest first, hoping words would bring rise to some semblance of the spirit I keep hidden and small and deep. A strong breath in and a sigh…somewhere inside I have decided to ‘go forth into the world.’ And I know that it isn’t the end of January I dread, but the beginning of February.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Winter Sun

The sun is out, shimmering off the remaining leaves that flutter away on the live oak across the street. The wind has lost its icy chill, the day not warm, but welcoming in comparison to the grey weeks we have been shivering through. There is a spot on the ceiling where raindrops were dripping their way through the roof last night and landing on the rug just inside the back sliding door, informants telling of the gutters that have been clogged by the leaves and detritus left by two years worth of winter storms. Although the day beckons me out, I’m not sure it’s going to be all the way up the ladder to the roof to do chores. I know I will love the view once I am up there, and muscle memory kicks in remembering the feeling of carefully bracing myself against the slope of the roof, shading my eyes with one hand while the other I keep raised away from my body at arm’s length, balancing the rest of me against the dreaded fall that never comes. I have been up there often enough over the years to imagine what I would see; the small network of patches outlined by wooden fences that are the neighbor’s yards, green foothills rising from the busy roads a mile away, and the golden fields that stretch out to the hills that rise to become the darker peaks of the small mountains to the north and south of us. There was snow on those southern peaks for a few days last week, the rain meeting the cold high enough to leave a coating of white above our valley for those of us not too busy to look. It’s amazing the huge difference in perspective that a few feet of height can make, and I imagine rising up even further into the wind to stretch my gaze farther, watching the bustle of life around me become like an ant farm as we grow less and less important as individuals. And I find myself wondering how odd it is that the size of the world outside seems to match the size of my spirit inside; both endless and for the most part unexplored. But stepping out the front door into a sunny day seems like a good place to begin, even if the gutters don't get cleaned, no?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Trying to get ready to Vote

As February 5th approaches and the race between political ads heats up I am irritated, confused and just plain mad that we don’t have a better way to review the facts. Specifically I am referring to Propositions 94-97 that deal with the Indian gaming compacts here in California, but I am sure this is an analogy for what is happening in the rest of the country. It’s a shining moment for capitalism, he with the most money yelling the loudest. I have read about the corruption of the Pechanga Band, the charge of Union busting, and the unfairness of how four out of 104 tribes will hold a third the gambling rights in California. I have read about how ‘signature blockers’ were used to try and keep the props off the ballot, apparently so the compacts could go forward unexamined by John Q Public. I also have concerns about how the actual tax assessment will be figured, the thousands of gambling addicts who will have yet more slots to suck up their money and the resulting impact that has on society, not to mention the feeling that we as a state are being bribed big time. I then began my online search for advocates of the propositions, certain I would find compelling reasons to vote for the props, but that side of the equation was hard to find. So hard in fact that I only found one other side; money, it’s always about the money and having more of it to spend. In the beginning I thought, well this sounds good, more help to Indian Nations who aren’t involved in gambling for schools and healthcare etc. But then I read that there are over 60 other tribes with compacts, so that is much less of an impact than I originally guessed. And then more money for the CA budget, but I’m already mad about the way we overspend so why do I think having more money will solve anything? What do they say; you can’t just throw money at a problem. So while I couldn’t find anything concrete to sink my teeth into, I did come away with an impression of wrongness that will leave me voting NO on the props. I think. I still have several days before I have to mail my ballot in to be counted. At least the Presidential race is clear to me

Barack Obama
all the way baby! Anyway, back to my original point, one of the best sentences I read in this three day foray of research was a comment left in someone’s forum asking about how ridiculous it is to watch the political process being played out at signature tables in front of the grocery store. The person paid to gather signatures who often doesn’t understand the issue and describes it incorrectly whether by ignorance or intent. And in front of him there is the bully (aforesaid signature blocker) who is pacing back and forth between the shoppers and the petition, voicing his concerns in much the same way. What a pretty picture that paints, I mean, I know what I feel like coming out of the grocery store, and trust me when I say I am in no mood to make a rational decision about signing anything. So now we have three suspect people in the equation and in these hands we place the power to make or break legislation, how crazy is that? So now that I have strayed from my original objection, the total waste of political ads that are interrupting my ‘pursuit of happiness’, I am spent and not even interested anymore. I’ll just use the DVR and skip the garbage. Apathy at its best, or worst, or whatever, at least I am going to vote even if it is just a crap shoot.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

One thing after another

In the beginning I would stress each night as it approached 8pm, then it was every Thursday night, thinking it’s been a week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks and then I was counting the months, nine, ten, eleven. On February 16th it will have been 2 years since Joey was killed and I am still struggling. Today started with a phone call berating me for my recent blood work, my cholesterol is too high (that’s a whole other story). Then it was off to the dump and mucking about in mud while unloading the truck, I wonder that the stench doesn’t bother the seagulls – maybe they really don’t have a sense of smell, which would make sense. Later, on the way home from my brief visit to the office, I stopped at the gym and discovered that the knee I sprained last March is still not ready to bounce at the rebounding stations in the circuit, nor can I lift weights with that leg yet. My knee has been so much better that it was disappointing to say the least. And then a final stop at the Verizon store to upgrade my phone (per a message they left on my machine) ended up being the last straw for my morning; I was only approved for an early upgrade, for the full advantage I would have to wait until February 21st. And there it was, February, and the realization of the 2 year anniversary just slammed into me. It isn’t that I haven’t been aware of this, the thought had crossed my mind many times over the holidays, but for some reason today it became real; I haven’t seen my son in almost 2 years. I know I am supposed to be positive, that what we focus on expands, but how do you do that when your heart is breaking. On January 18th I began following a six week eating plan by Dr. Fuhrman, and I am counting on that to help me get through the next few weeks; something positive to focus on, working towards a healthy body to help support a healthy mind. So at least that’s something….where’s my Balance spray…

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Family Visit

1/20/08: Back from a weekend in LA to visit family. The drive down was nice, my daughter drove and we listened to a Lake Wobegon book, Pontoon. The time flew, and I am so glad that we are comfortable together, because I don’t have that luxury with my mother. It was also fun that we laughed in the same places. We were driving down to visit my mother, just a quick girl’s trip, and taking down 2 years of Christmas presents for her and my sister that had been accumulating in a large Panera bread bag in my office. The bulk of the presents were for my sister’s dog Yoda who is a wonderfully scraggly little white dog who looks like….Yoda! But cuter. The visit began on a good note, arriving in time for my Friday evening shows on TV, and continued on Saturday with a wonderful lunch at The Elephant Bar with my sister. Then back to the house for presents and games of
which is very similar to speed scrabble with a cousin who had also driven in to town to visit. My sister left for home and later that evening we met my brother and his extended family for his birthday dinner at Buca di Beppo and my visit home began the inevitable downhill slide. I have a series of pictures taken of my children and their three cousins from down south; the five of them had bonded over summer visits to Lake Arrowhead each year while they were growing up and seemed to always settle in quickly to enjoy each other’s company after spending the year 400 miles apart. But of course Joey wasn’t there to complete the five, and it was sad. Then at dinner watching the young men bolt their pizza and cheese bread and pasta I couldn’t help but think “like Joey would be doing if he were here” and the sadness became a consuming thorn in my breath. I had used my balance spray in an attempt to control my stress level at dinner, knowing the first visit since Joey’s memorial could be strange, and was able to keep a calm demeanor plastered across my face. But as the evening wore on I just wanted to be home and alone and escape in my book. A short conversation with my brother’s GF after dinner finished with her saying that ‘we all have something we are trying to deal with’ as she looked away, avoiding my gaze. And it just left me cold. And I know she is right, that I am not special in my grief except in my own eyes, and that we all have our own stories. But at that particular moment, having suffered through the dinner feeling disconnected and so much an outsider it was the last thing I wanted to hear. Sunday morning we packed up, stopped by one of the cousin’s for a wonderful visit with her two precocious children whom we hadn’t seen in years, and on that high note we left for the drive home. As we drove our way north listening to more of the audio book, I continued to worry that parting comment from Saturday night like a dog chewing the marrow out of bone, digging deep and trying to be honest with myself about the depth of my pity pool. I had thought myself on the way out of that cloying water, maybe not ready to dry off yet but at least out of the pool and dripping off the last drops of ‘poor me.’ But no, instead I find myself firmly entrenched, the mud of pity grasping at my ankles as I stand bewildered at the edge of the pool unable to step out onto the dry golden sands that lead to sanity. What the F***! So while I feel I owe her an apology, she didn’t know how much she hurt me, and now I wonder what prompted her to say that to me. Now that I am home, I find myself wondering what she is going through that she voiced her...disapproval? Maybe she just loves my brother and doesn’t understand why I need to distance myself from him. But in any case it has me questioning where I am in the grieving process, and looking around my messy office I know I truly am getting tired of my stasis and tired of my moping. I’ve been reading a series of Celtic fantasies, and I have one book left in the set of 12. I am thinking that when I finish reading it, when that last page has been turned, I will be able to pull myself free of the mud and start walking up the beach. It has been way too long since I’ve felt the sand sifting between my toes.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

An emotional bump in the road

I stopped at the store on the way home to pick up a couple of ingredients for a vegan mac n cheese recipe I’ve been meaning to make. Standing next to the driveway leading into the parking lot was a young man, looking anxious and holding the bottom of a box on which was scribbled “homeless and hungry please help”. I pulled over and gave him the $30 I had in my purse; he was so grateful, thanking me and calling me honey while he packed up his things. Hopefully he was leaving to walk up to the bus station, getting something to eat on the way, and buying a ticket to take him home; hopefully. And all of a sudden I started to cry, hoping he was on his way home to someone who could help him get back on track, and just missing my son so much. I knew from experience to not panic, to just park in the sun and cry myself out, and sit until I could make myself calm. Too many times the flight response has found me back at home without groceries, or gas, or some errand undone. So I sat and waited, then wiped my eyes and blew my nose and left the car to shop. Then lie lie lie in the store as two different clerks ask me how I am today and I exchange pleasantries and saying fine, after all, pretending is sometimes the beginning of reality. And I had been fine yesterday, visiting with friends and driving through the beautiful bay area on a sunny day. So as lies go they were fairly pale. On the way out the young man had been replaced by an older gentleman, this one in a wheel chair, and there went the money I had just replaced. Like I can afford this! Oh well. And now I am home, and wondering why emotion is so draining, wondering about the mind body connection and what the chemical reasons are for my exhaustion. If my new Katherine Kerr book were here I would just curl up and read the rest of the day. But it’s not, and I’m hoping to talk myself out the door for a ride or a walk; maybe after a game of solitaire and a dose of Balance spray.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Stiff Hips

Walking out the front door to a sunny day and mild breeze it felt more like California than it had in weeks. And I was struck by the notion to walk instead of taking a bike ride, wanting to take my time instead of flying by everything on a whirl of wheels, the better to enjoy the weather. I had my earbuds in, connected to a CD player, so just held on to the player while I walked. One of the many projects I have left undone is replacing the battery in my ipod; I have the replacement battery that I ordered months ago, but somehow it’s never the right time to actually do the work – the story of my life these past few years. I keep intending to make a big to do list, but I can’t seem to get it from my brain to paper. I did start to clean my office today, sorting through mail, taking year end inventory of my Orenda products, sorting audio books between private and library. Amazing how much stuff can fit in one little room, piles of “I’ll do that later” sitting here and there cluttering up the space until I can hardly breathe. How I digress…, back to my walk, I head down the driveway and turn left heading towards the golf course. During December I took a few short walks to see how my feet would hold up – I think my plantar faciitis is gone but I haven’t been out walking long enough to really test it out. And today will be no different, my hips are so stiff I feel like I am crippled from having spent so many hours, days and years curled up on the couch reading and watching television and it’s all I can do to walk four blocks over and back. First it was my back injury, then my feet, then my sorrow, and now my knee. I feel like I am Charlie Brown listening to Lucy saying “Good Grief” with her arms thrown up in frustration. The good news is that my knee is more flexible, and if I am careful there is no pain in normal movements, and I’m able to go up and down curbs without wincing. But the stiffness in my hips is bothering me, and I’m unable to take long healthy strides. Short halting steps seem to be the best I can do, and I add another item to my mental list: do more stretching exercises! Once home I sit down at the computer to whine and moan, thinking about all the details I have to pay attention to just trying to find my way back to normal. Eat right (research, shop, cook, journal) stretch, exercise, take my supplements, get enough daylight (use the full spectrum light in the office on dark days) take time to be quiet – which should be easy given my current schedule but it’s not, it’s much easier to play solitaire than sit quiet and just breathe for ten minutes while imagining every organ in my body smiling. So my ranting and raving is about stiff hips, and how this is the direct result of my sedentary lifestyle and a page right out of ‘use it or lose it’. I have got to start moving more, I’ve been so focused on changing my eating towards a plant based diet that I have been ignoring the rest of my life. Yes, I have some physical limitations, but certainly I can be doing more, just moving more in general would be helpful. I need to test the waters more and see what I am capable of now; I need to move!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Not in Arizona

I’m suppose to be in Arizona at Leadership School today; I registered early before the holidays, feeling strong and determined to start 2008 on a positive note, looking forward to being part of something wonderful as they announce new products and sales tools. But even the joy of being part of Orenda wasn’t enough to overcome the emotional backlash of the holidays and the visit to the DA’s office. Maybe it was the combination of those two things that overwhelmed me in a wave of loss that just took me under and has kept me swirling, caught in a riptide of emotion. I had been feeling so positive and even felt I was on the upswing this past autumn, heading into winter with my rose coloured glasses firmly placed between my eyes and my life. I am no stranger to the vagaries of living on an emotional trampoline, and I understand how light and dark play off of each other as well as how quickly we can change our perspective depending on the switches that take us from one to the other. But I had been feeling a new kind of core strength so different and purposeful that I felt it would hold me through the holidays, and that I would come out the other side ready to face the world; ready to get back to work. So I registered for the trip, and then in the turmoil of December forgot all about it, pushing it to some safe corner of my mind where I never once considered it again. A couple of days ago I received an email that the dinner Saturday would be semi-formal, and I just sat here in a daze realizing I hadn’t been checking my business mail, hadn’t made flight or hotel reservations, and that I was in no way prepared to go, mentally or physically.

A big sigh escapes me, small fragments of my hopes and dreams escaping with my breath into a universe that for a moment is too big and too scary for me to face. But it’s just a moment, because the past two years have taught me that I am the one in charge of the light switch, that I hold within me the power to change everything, to see everything in a different light. As I sit shaking my head from side to side, I know that even as I began to despair I was also beginning to secretly garner the will to go forward. That deep inside the strength I have been nourishing will grow to help me survive the next few months as we go to trial, and even to flourish as the year progresses. I know if I can just make that first step back into Orenda, back into helping people, that it will also help bring me back into the light I so crave. So today I will not beat myself up for not being in Arizona, and I will not let that tiny slip into despair rule my day. Instead I will take care of myself so that when the time is right I will be ready; today I will eat healthy and exercise, I’ll work on getting my office ready for 2008, and I’ll join the conference call tomorrow to hear all the news and celebrate with the friends that are there.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Wakeboarding in Suburbia

I would guess that yesterday was our storm of the season, it rained cats and dogs and Mother Nature was really cleaning house with the wind she brought, scouring trees of the last summer leaves and flooding them down storm drains with the deluge of water; which of course led to the streets flooding! I was looking south out my bedroom window at the lake that used to be our street when I saw a minibike towing a kneeboard. I knew at once it must be my neighbor and was inspired to actually get dressed, grab a rain coat and the camera and head out into the hurricane. Okay, it's California, not a hurricane, and at this point the wind was finally dying down, but still....tons of wind and water. You can see the video I shot with my digital camera at This was the first time I've been outside to just be outside in longer than I can remember. I force myself to go out and ride my bike in clement weather, and I run to the grocery store when I need to shop, but to just go outside for the fun of it? It's been ages. And it felt so good! Another neighbor was running his truck fast through the water, creating walls of water twice as high as his truck, and the joy of it was so wonderful. Of course I am talking about young men in their 20's, still full of the vigor and fun and craziness of youth, but I haven't felt that at home on earth in a long time. And taking pictures, and my first ever digital video, was great. I have been taking pictures while on my bike rides, and I have a folder of shots named "around the house" that is full of dogs and cats and flowers. But these action shots were wonderful to frame and catch, different somehow than the 'still life' that I normally shoot. I arrived back home looking like a drowned rat, but smiling and full of energy, two more unfamiliar sensations. I think it is finally time to introduce some smile therapy into my life. For so long laughing as been backed by guilt and sorrow, but yesterday, aside from the one comment to Joe's picture that it could have been him out there playing in the rain, it was about me and doing something spur of the moment led by need and inspiration I guess. This morning as I write this I do feel a tinge of sorrow trying to squeeze my heart, but it's not an overwhelming stab of pain, and I feel another baby step towards my new life.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


The wind blows, and tree limbs sway and bend as the remaining leaves beat themselves against branches mostly bare. I too bend against the wind, sweeping the yellow star leaves off the driveway where they will molder and stain the cement if left in the coming rain. My efforts to keep the brown muck from tracking onto the living room carpet are mostly futile, but it feels good to be outside in the elements. Gone is the icy chill of the past few days, the wind now just a buffeting of cool and refreshing air swept in from the ocean miles away instead of down from the snowcapped mountains to the northeast of us. Four days of storm are predicted and I rush to and fro from the house to the garage packing away the Christmas decorations in a race to beat the rain. Mother Nature has a way of instigating a flurry of activity and prompting us towards chores that might otherwise be left unattended. The gale grows in strength as I cart the red, green and white tubs from the house to the garage. Once there I weave my way through the piles of stuff that have accumulated since the Autumn’s garage sale and I am tempted to rearrange things a little, but the wind has followed me in, reminding me to hurry and not contemplate the chaos. Turn sideways here, raise my arms over the bikes there, and rotate the tub sideways to get past the pile of boxes holding new cabinets for the bathrooms. As narrow as it is, I am grateful for the path that winds a way to the back shelves where the tubs will stay tucked away until next December, and I don’t complain. On the last trip back to the house I notice the wind is less, the clouds a soft thick blanket of grey, and I feel the first hints of moisture in the air as I stand quiet, breathing in the wild damp air. I know I have finished just in time as a drop splashes off my cheek, and I head inside to light a firelog, and settle with my book in the reading chair. Later I sit and listen, the rain beating steadily against the patio cover, drumming a soothing cadence and making me glad to be safe and warm inside my snug little house.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A change of Focus

I had a tough time of it last Friday, meeting with the DA, and going over my son's homicide case brought a plethora of emotions to the surface as well as unwanted images to plague me. I immediately dove into the safe haven of a book; five days and five books later I am ready to work on banishing the gloom and come out of hiding. There is more to the story; the meeting was just the catalyst dropping me close to despair. Earlier that week, on Christmas Eve, I had dreamt of my son Joey. In the dream I knew it was Christmas, and I got to hug him and run my hand over his head as I used to do all the time to feel the soft bristle of his short hair that he kept so close shaved. But his hair had grown, and I knew that time was passing for him still, and while I noticed that he wasn’t all smiles and gladness, I was so glad to have seen him the joy of it carried me through Christmas day. But the disturbing elements of the dream kept pushing their way forward, and as I let myself recall the details it became more and more clear that there was a message for me beyond the comfort of his hug. I feel I need to delve a bit into my personal beliefs here. My grandmother would often say that "The road to hell is paved with good intentions", and in my youth I thought of hell as a place one might go after death depending upon one’s actions here on earth. But my beliefs have changed; I know now that we create our own heaven or hell right here in this life, that it isn't someplace we necessarily go after our body dies. Suffice it to say that I am not happy with what I have created for myself here, that after he died I made a promise to my son that I would not let his passing ruin the rest of my life here, and I intend to work on keeping that promise. So back to the dream, maybe you have had one like it, where it is a true visitation rather than a fantasy. It was such a real moment, and I will be forever grateful for that visit, I needed that hug desperately. But in the dream there were signs for me that I had been trying to ignore. I knew from his hair that time was passing for him too, it had grown and lost its bristle, and in his manner I knew that somehow my struggling here was affecting him there. He was not all happy and ‘basking in the glory of heaven’ – his head hung, and he wasn’t looking at me; his stress and the message was clear...get my shit together and quit holding him back. Can our lives here really impact those beyond the grave? I know that before in my life I have leaned on the strength of spirits gone on, and had a sort of “everything must be good over there” attitude for much of my life. But why would the rules change just because a soul has skipped over to a different plane of existence? I can’t believe that this world is the be all and end all of effort, that there is no other chance to grow and thrive. So yes, I give voice to a couple of things. That I think we continue on our journey of learning and growing after we leave this world, and I believe that my connection to my son is still there, and that what I do now does indeed matter to him, and I think that perhaps my dream was an answer to that unasked question.

Funny, I sat down today to write about working on my stress in this new year, and how important it was to my mental state to get my physical shit together; you know, eating healthy and exercising – the whole taking care of the temple thing so the mind can heal. But as I kept writing and rearranging the words the character of the entry started taking on a life of its own. But the basic message is the same; I need to take better care of myself, I need to work on being happy and setting a good example for my children wherever they are. So to that end I have some tough chores ahead this year. I need to respect the fact that I still have a life to lead here; my own Wyrd to fulfill here so to say. I have some obstacles to overcome, one of them being that like so many others I am a stress eater. I believe we are what we eat, and while I have spent quite a bit of time figuring out what is healthy for me to eat, I am ashamed of the way I can so easily disregard what I know at a moments notice, or at the drop of a bread basket accompanied by those evil little slivers of butter. Food and exercise are so simple and so fundamentally important to creating heaven on earth, why do they challenge us so? It is time to put into practice what I have spent the past years learning, it is time to believe in myself, because after all, I made a promise.