Comparison and Discontent

Recently, I admitted to myself that I have an on going struggle with jealousy.

I have been harboring this feeling in my heart when I see what others have, or seem to have, or what they have done, look like, etc.When I finally addressed this, within myself, I began to feel a release.It was not unlike feeling a sensation of nausea or a headache slowly subsiding.It was still close by but it wasn’t crushing me anymore.It fact, until I faced up to this jealousy thing, I had no idea how much it was weighing me down.
To covet means to yearn for, crave, or desire to possess. “ Thou shall not covet “ is one of the Ten Commandments.I would venture to say that is not viewed with the same severity as a commandment like “Thou shall not kill“ and it is often overlooked or misunderstood.For one thing, it is an internal act where as “Thou shall not steal“, for example, is an outward action.We tend to think that if we can’t see it, it isn’t happening. It doesn’t count.For another, we live in a society that applauds, encourages, and strives to create envy.Where would advertisers be without the constant message of, ”You want this don’t you? Shouldn’t we want what others have? Aren’t we entitled?”

The passage from Exodus states the following, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Upon reading this, I realized, in essence, this was not just about wanting certain goods.It was about desiring what belongs to someone else.That endless comparison of what they have verses what you have.

I was beginning to see a bigger message to all of this.It is wrong to desire someone else’s LIFE.

Damn, mic drop moment….

Here all this time, I had been desiring to live out someone else’s life and destiny and not fully embracing my own.Once caught a glimpse of this, it became easier to be happy for others in their and good fortune.Yes, I still want “things“ whether they be material objects, relationships, achievements, or opportunities but I want them to be fully mine.I don’t want what is mine to in anyway to detract from what belongs rightfully to someone else.

There is a common, underlying, belief in scarcity in our culture.This belief is rooted in the idea that there isn’t enough to go around.We must complete with others in order to get our needs met.” Dog eat dog ” as they say…

Is this true?

Who benefits from this way of thinking?

I like to think that we all have a unique contribution to the world.I also like to think that comparison doesn’t have to be adversarial and discontent can be a doorway to a deeper conversation with ourselves.

What do I truly want and how can I make it, truly, my very own?

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Your Funeral, My Miles

Last weekend, I finished my 5th Half Marathon.This time around, I did a different training method created by Dr. Phil Maffetone appropriately named, "The Maffetone Method ". It required using a monitor to keep track of my heart rate and staying within a specific range determined by my age.To put it simply, this meant, for me, running SLOW, VERY SLOW during my training runs.This is done to build cardiovascular strength.Along with a low carbohydrate diet, which I dabbled in, training at a specific low heart rate causes the body to use fat as it's primary fuel.I probably didn't follow this method 100% correctly but I will say this; I began to fall in love with running in a way that I never expected. I was able to get up out the door in the early morning, without anguish or dread, and run, on average, around 6 miles on an empty stomach.

In the past, I pushed myself to exhaustion, finding only fleeting moments of enjoyment as I dutifully logged in the prescribed training miles.Now, I have exchanged this " no pain, no gain " type mentality for a more sustainable one.This applies not only to running but every area of my life.

Yes, I will show up, yes, I will work hard, and yes, I will be committed.


No, I will not knowingly subject myself to injury, abuse, or humiliation.

Life is too short.

I counted my training as a success even though it may have resulted in my second slowest half marathon time ever.Why? It was by far the strongest, most enjoyable race I can remember. The weather was near perfect with blue skies and a slight chill.I drank in all the sights and sounds with heightened awareness.I was steady and focused throughout the course, waving, slapping hands, smiling,  and calling out to a handful familiar faces I saw along the course.If nothing else this race benefited St.Jude Children's Hospital, which is a worthy cause and and it was an honor to take part.

I spent that Saturday afternoon and evening  indulging in some well deserved, delicious, and delightful relaxation.

Sunday morning, we received word that a dear friend had passed away.

My husband and I knew of Patrick's illness for about a month and a half.We received a text from his fiancee Karissa on a Saturday morning and decided to drive up from Memphis to Bowling Green to see him in the hospital that day.I believe we both knew this would be our last visit.
We planned another visit but never got the chance before he passed.

Pat was a man who lived on his own terms.He read books, studied music, and played in various bands on the Nashville underground music scene.He is the bass player on an early recording my husband and I did.He rode and repaired motorcycles.Though he was born in Germany and spoke fluent German, he embodied a noble part of the American South; independent, resourceful,  and honest.Today we could make the mistake of using the term redneck to mean southern but there is a huge difference.
He lived with, and for, what was essential.

When I first came to the South, via Nashville in the 90's, I was impressed with how much space there was.( Things have changed quite a bit since then,I am told.)Not just space to live and move but also space to think and grow.One could sit with friends on a patio, under a canopy of trees, and take time to read, discuss, and BE.Having been raised  in New York, everything was so high pressure.The South seemed like a place to find my feet, so to speak, and discover what I wanted, what I truly believed,  and who I really was.

Pat would refer to certain artists, like Louis Armstrong for example, as being " fully formed ".I am not sure I agree. I think artists do go through a learning curve or period of development unseen from most.However, if there was anyone I have met that seemed " fully formed " to me, in terms of personality and character, it would be Patrick.He was solid and grounded in who he was.

 It would seem that being an individual these days is to be an endangered species.A true individual is not defined by something external like blue hair, tattoos, or some non specific gender identification.It is not so obvious.It is something that begins on the inside.It is the cultivation of one’s identity, however flawed it may be, independent of and indifferent to society’s desires or expectations.

This was why a person like Pat inspired me.It gave me hope that real and true brilliance was and evident in the everyman.It was possible to educate yourself.You didn’t have to follow a program that someone else dictated to you.Even if you learned from or were influenced by others, at the end of the day, you lived your own life and took responsibility for it.As the popular phrase says, “Run your own race”.

There is an element of danger, to be certain, when living on your own terms.I believe Pat may have suffered, namely in terms of his health, as a result of this.Perhaps different choices would have yielded different outcomes but there is no way to be certain.Today’s society wants to minimize, if not completely eliminate, the element of risk in our lives.Although I am not recommending being reckless, I think risk goes hand and hand with freedom.To live each moment, we face the possibility of failure or, at the very least, the inability to control or predict the outcome of a situation.If nothing else, when facing a loss, we should take the time be mindful of the choices that present themselves to us in each moment rather than just “sleepwalking ” through a series of reactions.

Attending yet another funeral for a friend serves as a bittersweet reminder of the passage of time.I have more than my share of miles on the odometer.The memories and experiences I have are important to me, though, even if they are invisible to the naked eye.It is currency that I bury deep within me.It reminds me and inspires me.I still have days yet to live,choices to make, and opportunities that have not been revealed.I may be slow right now but I am still in the race.

This is Patrick’s legacy to me; to stay true to myself, live my own life, and run my own race, as only I can run it.
This is a birthright, for all of us.

Patrick Hans Albert

July 10,1965 – December 3,2017

Rest in Peace

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Learning From Resentment


imageI have been fighting a cold for several days.One thing that illness does  is force you to slow down in spite of pressing responsibilities.I feel as though I am a car that is not running on all it’s cylinders.Rest is essential and yet I feel restless.

I have been struggling with what would seem to be a toxic emotion, resentment.It bubbles underneath the surface, seething and stewing.It is different than anger in that it is internally processed.It is a sense of injustice that becomes stronger over time.

Resentment, to me, is when instead of wishing others well, you want to see them fail.You want them to ” pay ” for the harm they have caused you.You want to see them publicly shamed so you can say, ” See, they deserved it.”It is difficult, if not impossible to see people that have hurt you, cheated, stole, or lied, and and see them appear to be happy and prospering when you are struggling.

There is a degree of familiarity to it.It makes you want to ” bite the hand that feeds you “. Instead of appreciating or accepting what is, you ponder about what could have been or should have been.

Unlike anger, it can be hidden behind a smile, a kind word, or silence.We don’t always want to admit how we feel, even to ourselves.

When I sat down with my journal to write, I posed this question; what can I do?

The first thing that came to mind was to forgive.

Ah, yes.Like the saying goes, ” To err is human and to forgive is divine.” Forgiveness does not make any sense to the rational mind.In fact, my response was,” yeah, yeah, I know that already” but there is a world of difference between knowing something and the act of doing it.Once I actually sat down to do it, I felt a release.A burden was lifted and I received some insight.

For one thing, prayer and forgiveness gives you a place to vent.By being willing and making the effort to forgive, you have to acknowledge your feelings and  no one can dispute your grievance.There is no need to justify yourself or convince anyone.You are being proactive in the situation even if you never verbalize it outwardly.The choice to ” let it go ” is yours and yours alone.

There is energy locked up in resentment that can go towards fueling your future success.We don’t even realize how this drags us down and holds us back.As it says in the Lord’s Prayer, ” Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” If we don’t forgive, our prayers are hindered and we stay stuck.

When we bring our offenses into the light of forgiveness, it is easier to detach from them.

I have taken steps in my life to set boundaries, communicate my needs, and honestly assess what I can and can’t do.I make a sincere effort to obey the golden rule and put myself in other peoples shoes.Believe it or not, that is still not enough.I have been burned anyway ( and so have you ).

I minimize my contact with people and situations that are potentially hurtful or toxic.This may seem like a good idea, and it is, but it is also unrealistic and inadequate.We are surrounded by wounded people who wound people.They are our friends, family, co workers, neighbors, leaders and we, sometimes, are those wounded wounders.

They are everywhere

Day to day, we are forced to interact with one another. Some would seem to be wrapped in barbed wire.They cut us and cause us to bleed.Some would seem to be sweet but they are also sticky, drawing us in effortlessly, then leaving us drained and empty.

In spite of our best efforts, we can’t completely avoid this.

Resentment is culmative.It is the result of enduring behavior, treatment, or circumstances that we perceive as unreasonable or unfair,  time after time.

At first, I though forgiveness was it, the solution, but that wasn’t all there was to it.

Here is the surprise, for me.

We use resentment as a distraction and an excuse. Facing it forces us to make changes, big changes, as a result.These will ultimately benefit us but in the meantime, it requires us to face fear, discomfort, and the unknown.We HATE that, at least in the very beginning.

This applies in our personal life but also in how we relate to the world at large.We resent our government, the media, the system, but are we willing to do anything to help change it?

Facing resentment is like a spring cleaning, shaking the dust out and cobwebs out, letting the sun shine in.It is also a day to day maintenance thing.You think of a situation, grrrr…You hear a name and your jaw is clenched.Why?? Can you let go? Forgive ?? What do I do now ?

It may be the motivation we have all been waiting for, but not looking for.


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The Substance Within

IMG_0753I took a snapshot recently of a gorgeous fall day.

God was showing off ,no holds barred, brilliant sunshine, soft breeze , and a touch of gold and red in the fall foliage.Simply breathtaking.There was a strange sense of peace within me; the culmination of a growth process I have been experiencing.If that sounds a little lofty, I assure you it’s not.

I have been writing and performing music, my own music, for 20 years now.These were years spent learning and growing, albeit in relative obscurity.Sometimes, let’s be honest, there is a touch of shame in this.The idea is to win the prize and get the glory, FOR REAL.At the very least,  you want people to acknowledge your work.I will admit, I have not always been the best marketer.Looking back, I can see my priorities were different than what others who were deemed successful on the music scene.I wanted to get better and create honest,and powerful work and that takes time and effort.It has been a slow process.At any rate, when I get up to perform now, it’s the culmination of years of effort that went largely unseen and unnoticed.What is amazing is that there are some nights where I can reach inside me and draw from that well of experience.This is reassuring.

Over the last few months, I am beginning to recognize a glimmer of hope, a sense of connection,a new found strength, along with the quiet assurance that I am on the right path.This is not something I can explain to anyone else, but I know it to be true.

That is not to say I do not wrestle with crippling doubt.I most certainly do.The difference is this; at any given moment I can take a step back, check in with myself, and get back on track.

Like most of us, I spend more time than I care to admit on social media.I see others posting about traveling to exotic locations, landing their dream job, completing grueling workouts, giving birth to their longed for child, or meeting the love of their life.They smile for the camera and display themselves in the best possible light (I have done the very same thing).The photos would say, “This is my life and it is all SO wonderful.I have it together, just look!”

Listen, I post on social media.I read and comment on social media.All and all, I like social media (no pun intended).I AM concerned though,  with how superficial it can sometimes be.We can alter photos and text and create the impression of a reality that doesn’t exist.Most of all, we can lose sight of the full experience of living that is greater than the sum of it’s parts.

Here is an idea; there is a large portion of our life that is lived within us.It is not visible to the public.

Are we too busy presenting ourselves to the world to take time to really know who we are, how we feel, and what we truly believe?

It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in “doing” as well as paying attention to what the rest of the world is “doing” to enjoy just ” being “?

Here’s another thought to consider.

There are some victories in our lives that don’t require applause, validation, or acknowledgement.In fact, these are the ones we can truly savor because they belong to us alone.

When I looked up the definition of substance it said,” the real physical matter of which a person or thing consists and which has a tangible, solid, presence.” This would imply that substance is always physical but I disagree.There is a substance within that is created through years of effort.Just like the roots of a tree, this substance runs deep.Roots keep you grounded when you are in the midst of turbulence.Roots also provide the stability for what is visible.

It has been almost 2 years  since I did a post called ” Inside Out ” which dealt with how our perception can determine how we experience life.Maybe what I am experiencing is just a shift in perception but, if so, that is only a part of it.

There is something inside me I feel like I can take hold of.It is like an invisible thread that runs throughout everything I do.Say what you will, it’s  real, but like the saying goes…..

I guess you had to be there.































































































































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Do You Want To Win The Game or Do You Want To Eat Chicken?

imageLast night, thanks to my dear friend Anna, I went to see the Grizzlies game at FedEx Forum.In fact, at the last minute, there was another extra ticket and my husband was able to go, too.What a welcome surprise!

It was a delight to be walking around downtown on a  chilly Saturday night with Christmas lights adorning the streets.The usual Beale Street neon and steady stream of carousers seemed especially jovial as we walked to the arena.As we cued up to get in, I noticed that the ticket said if the Grizz scored 100 points, the fans would win KFC chicken.This didn’t interest me much because I don’t eat the stuff but my husband was enthralled at the idea.I was more concerned about the Grizzlies NOT losing as it has been their pattern lately.I am not a die hard sports fan because I simply take it all too personally.Anna follows the Grizz religiously and seems relatively unphased by this.She says, ” Anne, I think you take their losses harder than I do.” She’s right. This night, however, I hoped being at the game would bring them some good luck.

When we took our seats in the stands, I quickly remembered the excitement of being at a game.So high up, it felt as though I could dive over the railing and on to the court and I love that breathless feeling.I also love the sound of the players’ shoes squeaking as they move.I settled into my chair and set my gaze on the ball.

Winning isn’t everything but it sure beats losing.In life, winning and losing isn’t always as easy to define.In sports, it is cut and dry.Anna seems to see the Grizzlies as going through a cycle of sorts.There are good seasons and bad seasons.I am not a sports analyst but I believe that to be true.It is also true in our personal lives.There is an ebb and flow.At the end of one year and the beginning of another, I am sensing that big change is inevitable but it’s taking it’s time.WHY??

I think there is a payoff to staying stuck where we are or else we would moving forward.Once we identify the problem, the challenge is fixing it.I think it’s also safe to say that there is a fair share of  ” crazy ” afoot these days.If the problem relates to someone else’s behavior ( and many times it does), it’s temping to just place blame and smugly make accusations without really doing anything to create positive change in our situation and ourselves.We need to be the change we want to see in the world and you know what?

It ain’t easy

It is easier to hold on to resentment and be satisfied with the cheap door prize of, ” I am RIGHT. You are WRONG.” instead of going for the big win, what we truly desire.

The Grizzlies managed to get a lead in the beginning of the game and hold on to it, which has been rare for them.In the past,  they would get a lead, squander it by the 4th quarter, and have us all hanging by a thread until the end of the game.Sometimes, more than a few times, this resulted in a win,which was forgiveable, but not lately.Lately it has resulted in heartbreaking loss.

The Grizzlies won last night with points to spare.My husband wanted them to make it to 100 points so we could get the chicken but I was more than satisfied with the win.I was also happy with the way they won, keeping the lead and not ripping our hearts out toward the end.A win is a win, though, and we needed it.

I would like to believe this is a symbol of hope for the New Year.For the love of God,does it have to be a last second, down to the wire, knock down drag out fight every time? Can it start strong and end strong, NOT gasping for breath at the end? I earnestly pray for this and I realize a large part of it begins with me ( sigh…)

I hope everyone reading this has a Merry Christmas and fully enjoys everything this holiday season has to offer.

Lots of Love,


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It’s All About The Frame

image Continue reading

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Right Now Revisited

Winter is nearly over and yet the weather outside fails to reflect it.Being a northern girl, I do enjoy a little snow and cold.I think the bleakness of a winter landscape can be a call to slow down and look inward. A ” snphotoow day” can be a time of reflection.I like to bundle up, brave the sleet and snow, and take long walks.I like to think that this inner journey can help prepare us for the rebirth of spring which is,  truly, right around the corner.

I can’t remember why, but recently I decided to Google ” Being Fully Present ” in a search. It was on my mind.Yes, it was the title of a December 2013 post I did.For some reason, I needed to explore this topic once again.This post could easily be called “Being Fully Present Part II “.

I stumbled on a site by author and speaker John Kuypers.There were many great points he made about the subject.In fact,when I taught my yoga class that morning, I shared some of his writing  during the final savasana ( which I NEVER do, by the way ).There was one point he made in a piece called  “Opening To Presence ” I found especially revealing.

“We aspire to develop openness to situations as they are by practicing awareness, acceptance, and presence.We learn to relate to people and experiences without strategy or manipulation.”

Without strategy or manipulation.

That really spoke to me.I think there have been times I have had expectations of certain people or things that made me feel as though I had to prepare and protect myself.I think that this could explain a little bit about why we are NOT fully present at times.Here are some examples.

We may block out our feelings during a crisis because we need to function without breaking down.After the crisis is over,we may not have an easy time processing those feelings once we have repressed them.

We may anticipate hurtful comments or criticism so we prepare to defend ourselves.By doing so, we may not really be able to hear what the other person is saying.

We may be resistant to change and blind to the possibilities that are available to us in the present because we want things to be as they were in the past.

Sometimes I think of how our minds and hearts can be bogged down like the hard drive of a computer with too much useless data and/or viruses. Once they are deleted,we can be more aware and alert.

Coincidentally, as I looked at more posts on John Kuypers’ site, he also did a blog post on Robin Williams as I had done some months back.He argued that William’s was not “weak enough”. In other words, he was not able to accept his, as the saying goes in recovery, ” powerlessness over addiction”. As a result, he did not seek out help.This made me think  that this kind of vulnerability is not only necessary in the face of addiction but as we come to grips with life’s challenges moment to moment.Somewhere along the line, we were made to feel like we are supposed to have all the answers, look amazing, and never make a mistake.If we do “the right thing ” ( whatever that is ), everyone should agree with and applaud our efforts.On top of that, if we are hurt, angry, or disappointed for any reason we should “get over it ” because our feelings don’t really matter anyway.God forbid we admit we don’t have it together and need some assistance.

I can see now how we are stifled by experiences that  were painful and we have to take time to examine them if we want to move forward. In childhood, we may have been trapped in situations we had no control over that made us feel powerless.As an adult, we may hold on to beliefs that limit us. such as ” I am not deserving “, ” that is impossible “, or ” if I am successful, I will lose my friends and be alone “.

I think what I have come to realize since my last post on being present is not just why we should be present but why we are not present.The challenge to being present is when we see what is not working and need to make changes.It may mean letting go of a relationship, adjusting to a new way of doing things, facing fears.When we exercise, we build muscle after we exert ourselves, break down muscle fiber, and allow for repair and recovery.This causes the muscle to become stronger.It works in a similar fashion with flexibility and endurance.Even gaining balance can mean falling down several times before we can maintain it.We have to go beyond our ” edge ” to see the changes we seek.

The tricky part, in exercise and as in life, is not going too far and getting injured.Injury can be a result of doing too much too soon which can backfire costing us more time, Maybe you set an unrealistic goal that sabotaged your efforts.Perhaps you ignored what your instincts we’re telling you about someone else’s motives and trusted them when you shouldn’t have.This made you feel embarrassed and disheartened and undermined your confidence.Sometimes we get injured randomly, by no fault of our own.Regardless, injuries take time to heal and when we consider all the potential for getting hurt, we can easily justify staying “stuck”.

Last week, I made the decision to leave a job that I found very stressful.It was also, in sharp contrast,  a situation I felt comfortable and secure in.Wow, now there is something to think about.How many times can we truly identify a situation or relationship that is stressful and yet feels secure at the same time? How can that be? Maybe we have accepted or adapted to a level of stress or discomfort in order to maintain a sense of comfort or security.A trade off.There comes a time when we are willing to leave the “devil we know” to face the unknown.There, most likely, will be adversaries on our path wherever we go even if they are within ourselves.When we get to a point where we are  truly ready for change, it’s usually because we have simply had enough.

Change requires effort and action but also a shift in perception.This can happen in an instant if we are truly present.I had an opportunity to see this in “real time” yesterday.Someone made a remark that caused me to be agitated and upset.It wasn’t so much the remark as it was what was underneath it; a history of disappointments, hurtful remarks, and resentment. How can this be different? I stopped to jot down a few things.

We get angry when……

# 1 We are forced to set boundaries.We would rather if people would just ” know” our limitations and respect that.We don’t want to be the bad guy.We resent having to say no.

#2 We want to meet others expectations and we can’t.Many times this is because we have no idea what they are because they are not communicated ( or they won’t admit they have any).We are made to feel like we failed and yet we were never given a chance to succeed.

#3 When others do not meet our expectations OR they do meet our expectations in the worst possible way. For example, if it looks like a snake, it’s probably a snake.If it bites you, why are you surprised? It’s a snake.Unless you want to be bitten, avoid snakes.Sounds simple right? Even so we expect others to be what they are not and get angry at them for being themselves.

This observation, which I received as a result of being present, helped me to feel better because it helped me to acknowledge my own need for growth.Sometimes it’s them,sometimes it’s us. Most times, it’s both.We have to take some responsibility.What do I need to view differently? What are my motives here? Am I projecting my own frustration on someone or something that is not capable of being more than it is ?

The sun is out, the snow and ice are melting.Maybe it is just within me.



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Thanksgiving- Gratitude is The Reason For the Season

photoI am inspired to write a quick post about Thanksgiving as I was driving in my car yesterday and some ideas came to mind.

In my opinion, Thanksgiving is about, well, giving thanks, being grateful.Many times we strive to be better, have more, do more, etc.This is a good thing but how many times do we take time to appreciate what we already have ? I think that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it isn’t super commercial and it mostly centers around preparing food and spending time with family and loved ones.Unfortunately, in recent years , this is becoming eclipsed by the Christmas season, or should I say XMAS, the “holiday season”, and/or Black Friday, the season of buying and doing, a consumer holiday.My question is this; how much more do we really need? When is enough ENOUGH.

Before this sounds like a slam on materialism, this can also apply to our lives.As I was driving, I was thinking about how hard we can be on ourselves about what we want to achieve and what we have failed to achieve.If we are not grateful for what we have already done, the improvements we have made, the steps we have taken, and the great things we already possess, how can we truly create space for more?

Forgive this analogy but it is like being constipated.

We have to let go of  old things to properly digest new things.We have to pause and be grateful.I think we have all experienced people in our lives that are never satisfied.What ever you do, they are never happy.It is like feeding into a black hole.When a setback or unexpected problem occurs they snap.I think of it as having no reserve in the tank; constantly running close to empty. They seem to be looking for an excuse to explode or stew in their disgust.It would be nice to just evict these people from our midst but they are many times people closest to us like a loved one, family member, co-worker, or employer.I can recognize this pattern in myself towards myself. That is something I can do something about.

Gratitude, looking at the things that are going well or have improved, creates the space for more.

Over the last couple months, I have taken a break from drinking alcohol.So far, so good, but it isn’t a miracle cure.There is still so much more I would like to improve.Suddenly, if by magic, I have been expecting new behavior patterns to emerge overnight.It doesn’t work that way.

Little things mean a lot and I am grateful for little things like my loving, supportive, hilarious, and provocative husband, my home ( as humble as it is ), my health, my noble and reckless animals, my understanding family members, and my creativity which I am still nurturing day by day.I am grateful for my relationship with God, my soul, my mind, and my intuition.I am grateful for the unique place where my life is now, though I clearly do not always like it or ” get it “. Most of all, I am grateful for the ability to BE grateful and recognize what I DO have, but it is definitely a work in progress.

I honestly don’t see the tide of consumerism and materialism turning anytime soon.I do see that there are those, like myself, that are taking the time to drop out on the shopping spree and tune in to the bigger picture.Holidays aren’t going anywhere but we can choose how we celebrate them.

Won’t you join us for, and in, Thanksgiving ?



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Seeing Through a Private Eye

photoFor the past couple months, off and on,  my husband and I have taken great pleasure in watching episodes of ” The Rockford Files” on Netflix.We are on season four.I imagine this was partially inspired by the recent passing of actor James Garner.Before I go any further, let me say that this post is not going to be about death.I also want to express that it is not a longing for ” the good ol’ days “, although it is no secret that I am a fan of 70’s T.V. and movies.This post is going to be about LIFE, right here, right now.

Okay, now that I have that out of the way, why do I adore this show so much? I do like the characters, the script, the fact that you can recognize that it is filmed in Los Angeles , the clever introduction with random answering machine messages, guest appearances by celebrities like Isaac Hayes, and of course, there was the car. Who could forget the Pontiac Firebird and all those exciting car chases, many of which James Garner drove in himself ? The theme song, written by Pete Carpenter and Mike Post, went on to reach # 10 on the record charts and I can remember how much I liked the bitchin guitar solo.Those things all make for vintage television.I can remember when this show was on the air( now I am showing my age).It was the first ” adult ” show that I chose to watch myself.No one else in my household seemed to be aware of it. It was on friday nights, I thought James Garner was attractive.Other than that, I can’t remember any specific episodes.

Revisiting this show as an adult has been a different kind of experience because I am more aware of what this private investigator is up against.Jim Rockford seems to bear the mark of an antihero, which was a popular theme in that era.During the late 60s , early 70s, there was the sense of people working outside, or around, the crumbling infrastructure.To be on the side of justice, you had to find a way to maintain your integrity within a rigid or corrupt system.( Sound familiar ?) Movies like Serpico, Dirty Harry, and M.A.S.H. quickly come to mind.There was an attitude at that time that said,”I am doing my job in spite of how I feel about your system.You may not like me because I don’t have the right appearance.I may bend or break a few rules but I am honest.You need me because I get the job done.” In Rockford’s case, he speaks his truth with wit and sarcasm even in tense situations.What’s more, he stops just short of being overtly rude or snarky.

I like that.

He is an ex-con(which I didn’t put together the first time around) who lives in a trailer by the beach and seems to be barely making ends meet.The simplicity of his life is enviable, though, even in the shadow of the wealthy and powerful.He is a man living on his own terms.He  maintains a close relationship with his father and has a few loyal, yet some times shifty, friends. For such an charismatic guy,his relationships with women seem spotty.Well, I guess that comes with the territiory.In spite of his faults, you would feel secure turning to him in a jam.I can identify with this man, even as a woman.He pays the price for his freedom.He is constantly under the scrutiny of the police, working with unreasonable, and sometimes dishonest clients,and having to face life threatening situations on regular basis.There is no handbook and sometimes he seems to be making it up as he goes along.Being resourceful lends itself, at times, to slightly unethical behavior as he is not above impersonating someone or breaking and entering  to get information for his case.

I may not be in mortal danger, staring down the barrel of a gun, but I know what it is like to have to live moment to moment.I know what it is like to have to believe in yourself and your instincts when there doesn’t seem to be a clear direction.I know what it’s like have to maintain a sense of self, a certain dignity,in the company of those who may see you as worthless.I know what it is to have to grit your teeth, smile, and ” shake it off”.I just wish I could do it with more of Jim Rockford’s charm and style.I also wish I could be as scrappy in a fist fight, fending off thugs and intruders so effortlessly.

Well yeah, it is television after all.In this case, we really DO want to see the good guy win because he is not always good and we identify with that.That kind of realism makes some of the more implausible things forgiveable.

I can remember my mother watching soap operas in the afternoon to wind down as she remarked,”These people have beautiful homes, clothes,  important jobs, take vacations, but where do they get it all? You never see them working.” She found amusement in this and so did I. Today, this seems to be the standard  in most television, movies, and music.I wrote about this is in a previous post, ” Art and Life “. People many times look to movies and television as an escape from their everyday lives.That is understandable.A little sweetness, a happy ending, some great clothes, and an exotic location and I am on board but please give me a little grit, some peppery remarks, and/or a certain irreverent attitude that I can bring to mind as I face my day.It helps me to feel less alone in the world.

I had an outspoken friend when I was 18 who told me, ” People are always saying’ be yourself, be yourself ‘ and so I was and nobody liked me”.

I will never forget that.

There is a drawback to being our most authentic selves.Sometimes people don’t like us.The truth is, we can not make people like us no matter what we do anyway.We may as well be ourselves because, as Oscar Wilde said, “Everyone else is taken.”

I said in the beginning that this was not going to be about the ” good ol’ days”.I am sure there were people watching 70’s T.V. wishing it was still 77 Sunset Strip or Leave it to Beaver.Times change and that is not a bad thing.In some ways, our world has improved.There is a saying,” The more things change, the more they stay the same.” We are in a different time but I think the world still needs antiheroes.We still look to those who inspire us to be all we can be while, at the same time, help us to recognize and accept who we are and what our unique contributions are, too.

Whenever I write these posts, I come to some kind of a conclusion in the process.Here is my latest; watching The Rockford Files is like a visit with an old friend.In my case, that “old friend ” is me.It’s the part of me that speaks her mind, longs for adventure, and cherishes individuality and freedom.When I first saw this show, I was young enough to to see this in myself and nurture it.Now that I am older, I can use a reminder now and again.This would seem especially true when my back is against the wall and both ” cops” and ” robbers” are breathing down my neck.I have more than my share of days when I ask myself,”How did I get here?”

After a brief “visit”, it becomes crystal clear.I can hold my head a little higher.

Being yourself is a dirty job but hell, somebody has got to do it.
















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30 Days and “Counting”

photoI decided a month ago to stop drinking alcohol for 3 months.How did this come about? Well let me start this story at the very beginning as it was part of a process.

One thing worth mentioning is that there is a wealth of information about everyday life that it is easy to forget if it is not documented.

I have been keeping journals consistently for over a decade now.I had been keeping them longer than that,  off and on, from the time I was in my teens.In recent years, I was inspired to keep a journal by the book “The Artist’s Way”  by Julia Cameron.The book advises the reader to journal three pages of stream of consciousness,  long hand writing first thing in the morning.They are referred to as “Morning Pages” although, for me, they haven’t always taken place in the morning.I haven’t even done them every day, truth be told.I have managed to make them a consistent part of my life, though,  and can’t really imagine my life without them.

In May, I was having some car repairs done.( yes, again ).I took some time to sit by the river downtown while the car was being worked on.It was a lovely spring day that was sunny and breezy.I sat on a bench, pen and notebook in hand, to pray for wisdom and listen.I asked about finances somewhere along the line.I got the intuitive sense that if I gave up drinking alcohol, it would help my finances.This came to me as  something more than just not spending money on alcohol.It felt more like a kind of shift, a lifestyle change.Hmmm.

It didn’t feel restrictive or heavy.It felt more like a different way of doing things.

Let me say this, in my heart of hearts, I do not believe I am an alcoholic.If I am, then it will come out sooner or later.I do not believe I am in denial.I have struggled with the “lifestyle” of drinking.Playing music in bars, working in restaurants, and being married to someone who is in a similar position has set the stage for this.I don’t think that this is uncommon.I also don’t look at booze as ” bad ” so to speak.I compare my situation to what happens when you go to the doctor to get an x-ray.It doesn’t necessarily pose a threat to the patient, but the technician steps out of the room because they are doing this all the time.I am in an enviroment that puts me at risk.

After I received this guidance, it took some time for me to actually try it out in earnest and take it at face value.

Several months ago, I did something called “counting” which was inspired by a book called “Money Drunk,Money Sober”which Julia Cameron co-authored with Mark Bryan.The practice of counting is writing down ever penny you spend, what you spend it on , as well as every penny you earn .After a month, you begin to get a very clear picture of what you have been doing with your money.I did it during June and July for 4 weeks.This was not earth shattering for me but it was very revealing.For one thing, I earned more than I thought and I spent more than I thought.What did I spend it on? Well, the number one thing, besides bills like mortgage and utilities, was food.When I say food, I mean groceries, the stuff you prepare at home.The second was alcohol.Now, I didn’t separate going out alcohol from staying home alcohol.Because I was I was doing this exercise, I was more mindful of what I was spending out.It was still more than I expected.I wasn’t spending as much money on gas for the car, clothes, dinners out and/ or entertainment.In fact, the money spent on alcohol was rivaled what I spent om food.Whoa.

Where does this leave things? Well, food is a tough one because I need to eat.I buy the food for my household ( my husband and I ) and I do enjoy cooking and eating healthy food.Food is not only about sustenance for me.It’s also about connection and creativity.Now the question is, is there another way to find that? Have I been squandering my creativity in one place? I work with food and drink and have for many years.I also connect with friends in this way. Actually, from a caloric point of view, alcohol consumption can be eye opening. One leisurely Sunday, I took note of what I drank over the course of a day and the calories they contained.   900 Calories!!    I got a good scare, that’s for sure. After that, I decided to hop on the wagon for 30 days.It was a good thing, at the time, but it only seemed to scratch the surface.

As I pondered abstaining from alcohol, I looked at different articles on the internet written about how sobering up changed their lives.I am not talking about the standard AA ” bottom out” kind of experience but more of a health and wellness variety.In other words, did you notice physical changes, better sleep, more productivity?.Let me take this time to say, I have nothing against Alcoholics Anonymous.It is an excellent program that has helped many lives the world over.I just didn’t see it as a fit for me.

As a result of my search, I stumbled upon Hello Sunday Morning, an online support group more focused on the idea of, as they put it, ” changing our relationship with alcohol”.This seemed to make sense to me so I decided to check it out.It centers around the concept of taking a voluntary break from drinking for a period of time, like 3 months or a year,writing about your experience and connecting with others doing the same thing.I decided to give it a try for 3 months.The people involved in this seemed to be predominately from Australia and the UK.Some are heavy drinkers looking to quit for good.Others, like myself, are doing it to experience a new way of life and don’t see themselves as “Tee total” forever.May I also mention that I am not recieving any endorsement from this group.It is just something I am doing.

It dawned on me how all these years I have been looking for something like this.It’s one thing to be in serious enough shape to consider rehab but what about the rest of us? How about those who just want to drink less? I know that this can be the subject of great debate. There are some who don’t believe there is a such thing as moderate drinking, All or nothing seems to be the norm.In sharp contrast to this, I see myself as being a part of the population whose needs are not being addressed.

It has been 30 days since I have had alcohol and I feel pretty good I am, in fact, sleeping better, saving money, and discovering how to socialize without it.I have been recording my spending and earning, though nor quite as diligently as before.The most troubling expense for me, aside from alcohol, would be groceries and that seems to be roughly where it had been before.Although there is always room for improvement,I can live with that for now.

The hardest thing about this process is looking at all the things I would like to accomplish and knowing that there is only so much I can do in each day.In order to be at my best, I have to take time for me. When I don’t take time, or have time, for the things I enjoy, alcohol serves as a quick fix, or makeshift alternative.I now seeking out the things I enjoy that don’t involve alcohol.It could be a good book, dancing, writing, visiting with a good friend, or finishing a long postponed project.My creative side needs more attention.That is becoming more and more obvious.

I am only  1/3 of the way finished with this journey but I feel as though there is still so much to learn.I am not in a HUGE hurry to get there but, yes, I am looking forward to having a glass of wine again, no joke. Time goes by so fast and I want to have something to show for the 3 months.For now, I am open to all the richness that this experience has to give.

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