Sunday, September 23, 2012

Life List Sneak Attack

After posting my life list, I thought I'd have a little space to breathe. The perfectionist in me was excited to have completed, and posted this challenging (for me) task.

The universe laughed.

I posted it all (the whole list) on Wednesday, and on Friday I saw that Brene Brown was speaking in San Francisco (easy life list check off) . Yay,  I am in in the city all the time at least one day out of every 2 on my weekend, was so excited. Upon clicking some links and making some phone calls I found out that she was speaking in Corte Madera - not my comfort zone. What to do?  I'd rather be vulnerable nearer to home - plus I always get lost when I am in/near marin/san rafael, and I end up at my ex boyfriend's house on the way home, 'cause I don't know how to get home from there.... Yuck.

Brene Brown is big for me. Her work has helped me feel hopeful about my mental health, and also  given me context, and tools, to deal with many of the more complicated and ennervating feelings that have occured again and again in my mind and my life.  So not going to see her would have been a vote for the darkness. Even though I wasn't in the mood for the navigational discomfort that would ensue, I was going to try to make it.

I went, I got lost, I was still early, I felt uncomfortable being there alone in a crowd of people who mostly came with at least one, and maybe more friends, family etc. - However,  I was also free to journal, take a ton of notes, cry super hard (she was so right on and amazing) and pretend I was at my own revival meeting, letting out a stray "yes!" and "uh huh!" at different moments. Interestingly, when another loner attendee reached back and patted my leg I thought she was sorry for me, turned out she was was giving me an "amen sister" and had been agreeing with Brene, and me, (quietly) ... Also met a great mother and daughter in line for the signing, and got to talk about loving food - I sometimes end up feeling like I'm too dark for these group gatherings, in this case I felt seen in some profound ways.

Bottom line - glad I went. Still processing, but wanted to throw up an acknowledgement of the event. Sometimes "Daring Greatly" is  just driving to Corte Madera.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in"

Putting my life list down on paper - was different than I imagined.

I have always had an ongoing bucket list, mostly unwritten.

To write it down, put pen to paper, and own it publicly required some personal housekeeping.

What I needed was a new set of guidelines that made a safe space for dreaming, and a safe space for sharing dreams - dreams are tender, a lot of the time they go into hiding in bad weather.

Below is what I came up with :

If there were no deadlines
If there were no grades
If whatever I did, or didn't do, was fine
If this was an excercise in Play, Inspiration, Fantasy, and Infinite possibility
This is what I would list
On this day Sept. 14th 2012 
3 days after my 39th birthday

Here is the amazing part, after I wrote this, my list came out of my head and onto the paper.

  1. Fill a sketchbook for the sketchbook project
  2. Visit Catalina Island
  3. Stay on Nantucket, and ride a bike with a basket while there
  4. Read at least 7 poems by 5 poets that are new to me - Maria Howe
  5. Publish one of my small art books
  6. Photograph and display some of my art on-line
  7. Visit the Tate Modern Museum
  8. Go to the Storm King art center (sculpture park) in Mountainville New York
  9. See More Live theater, 5 plays in Ashland Oregon, 5 plays in New York City, 5 in London
  10. See Chagall's Ceiling in the Paris Opera House
  11. Hear Joshua Dudamel Conduct
  12. Hear Muti Conduct (Again)
  13. Visit the Chicago Art institute
  14. Attend Moth storytelling events in all of its' cities.
  15. Visit the Storycorps archive in the Library of Congress
  16. Make a point of seeing more of Hopper's paintings
  17. Visit Venice and eat a meal al fresco watching the boats on the canals
  18. Visit some natural hot springs in Japan
  19. Hear a live Bach choral work
  20. Dine at a Secret / occasional restaurant in S.F. and also New York
  21. Eat Shanghai Dumplings in Shanghai
  22. Stay in a Luxury hotel in Thailand
  23. Spend a night, and have dinner at the Awhanee Hotel in Yosemite
  24. Make a sand Castle, with all the trimmings
  25. Stay for a week on a quiet lake in a lodge with a big porch to sit and read on, and a tasty food right there, or an easy walk away
  26. Hear 5 talks lectures by people who interest me- Brene Brown, Ann Pattchett, ?, ?, ?
  27. Hear Tom Waits perform in a smallish venue
  28. Wander through the Paris Flea Market and purchas one small childs toy there.
  29. Hear an outdoor choral performance in Germany
  30. Take a one week retreat in ireland and stay somewhere with a beautiful view of green hills, and/or a lake
  31. Return to Tassajara and sit in the hot tub at night looking at the stars and listening to the creek
  32. Fly first class on a trip longer than an hour.
  33. Own a 1920's Stucco Bungalow without financial hardship
  34. Live easy walking distance from the bay
  35. Return to the the LA County Museum
  36. Find a Karaoke Song that I can nail and sing it loud
  37. Make flowers to transform things that I am ready to let go of done once with journal pages done a second time with tissue paper and affirmations
  38. Make a large piece of art roughly  the span of my arms x the span of my arms
  39. Have a photo session for myself in the style of Amelie (jeunet )
  40. Watch two versions of Bleak House
  41. Take a retreat to Breitenbush in Oregon and soak in their hot springs
  42. Join the local museums SFMOMA De Young/Legion of Honor
  43. Attend 5 VIP Events Black and White Ball Bastille Day Fete at the De Young
  44. Watch all of Fred Astaire's Movies Carefree, Swing Time, Flying Down To rio
  45. Eat food at the SF Underground Market Spam Musubi and Bach Solo Cello while waiting in line - Yes!
  46. Visit Tulum, and Zihuatanejo, and have a room with an ocean view
  47. Stay in 5 separate destinations with an ocean view santa cruz 
  48. Hear Adele in concert
  49. Find 4 vintage tablecloths for my kitchen table 
  50. Have a vintage style day dress made to my measurements
  51. Read the novels of George Eliot
  52. Visit  Columbus Indiana and take an architectural walking tour
  53. Split a spontaneous meal with a stranger while eating alone
  54. Make a Joseph Cornell inspired Art Box
  55. Remember 20 kindnesses that you have done for others, and write them down
  56. Watch all of Howard Hawks' films
  57. Listen to 2 versions of Porgy and Bess
  58. Spend a night on a boat
  59. See the aurora borealis
  60. Mount a mini exhibit of my art - even if it's just one night
  61. Eat at the Beach Chalet in San Francisco
  62. Visit the Public Libraries in Stockholm, and Seattle
  63. Visit the Bodleian Rare Books Library at Yale
  64. Have a gourmet picnic in the shakespeare garden at Golden Gate Park
  65. Remember 20 of your favorite kindnesses received from friends, family, and strangers- and write them down
  66. Receive 10 massages in 12 months
  67. Visit relatives in Minnesota
  68. Fly a Kite
  69. Watch all available Eleanor Powell movies
  70. Make a list of your 20 favorite dance Scenes in Movies 
  71. Make a list of your 20 favorite moments when people break into song in movies
  72. Remember your top 10 favorite dance moments for yourself, and open the door to make at least one more
  73. Make a humourous speech about dating and being single to a group of 20 or more people.
  74. Make an inspirational speech about my personal journey as an introvert that looks like an extrovert to a group of 20 or more people. 
  75. Make a list of my top 50 favorite artists/works of art that have changed me 
  76. Visit/Discover 10 semi hidden food spots Simpatica Dining Hall(portland) n(new york  Rice Paper Scissors pop up on New Years day 2012
  77. Travel to Chiang Mai for the Yi Peng festival
  78. Visit the Noguchi Museum in New York
  79. Visit  5  new "to me" Museums in Manhattan and the 5 boroughs 
  80. Go on a cheese tour in France
  81. Find and visit 5 semi hidden exhibit spaces pier 24 sf
  82. Watch all of Gene Kelly's Movies
  83. Seek out and visit Cornell art boxes
  84. View the Fireflies at Blue Spring state park in Florida
  85. Visit the Magritte Museum in Brussells
  86. Walk to  a field of Bluebells (location TBA)
  87. Attend a performance at the Swedenborgian church in San Francisco
  88. Take a tour of the Maybeck Christian Science Church in Berkeley
  89. Find 5 favorite restaurants in Berkeley
  90. Visit the blue lagoon in Iceland 
  91. Go to the Opera in San Francisco
  92. Stay in a location with comfortable lodging and very little ambient light during the full moon, and stargaze
  93. Eat at the Jimtown Store (Healdsburg)
  94. Shanghai Dumpling Project - cooking papa, heaven's dog, shanghai dumpling king, little dumpling shack in cupertino
  95. Stay at the Royal Hawaiian on Oahu - the lovely lanai and good morning coffee, and floating in ocean watching the stars come out.
  96. Stay at Hotel Vitale in SF
  97. Try the Grilled Cheese at Hog Island Oyster Co- the oysters were the best, and the new zealand white wine.
  98. Have a a gourmet picnic in Central Park.
  99. Attend 5 Inspirational retreats 2 pending: Accordian books with Lisa Congdon, Camp Mighty
  100. will come with time

Monday, August 20, 2012

When the tide goes out

Suddenly the cool water is almost gone - too far away
All of the things that were so simply, absolutely, here
are just as absolutely out of reach.
You blinked,
and the light went out of the sky.
The wind isn't friendly anymore,
and the sand is no longer soft.
It feels so personal. 
It feels so impersonal.
Where is the blanket that you kept meaning to put in the trunk? 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

We Had Everything

Plate: Rob Ryan
Sandwich: Just B.

When you are no longer driven to get it right 
It all becomes so much easier
Like there's more air in the world
Like floating in a big still lake with a starry night sky above you
Less effort more buoyancy
When perfection is off the menu
reaching out, connecting, creating, they're all right there 
within arms reach - here - now

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Baby Steps


I forgive myself.
I remember that I don't know the whole story.
I forgive others.
I let go of striving for perfection, again, and again-
I choose the actions and experiences that I want
in my heart, my mind, my body, my life.
I practice compassion.
I breathe
I choose now
I let go of getting it right 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Let Me Count the Ways

Constant lister, frequent completer of lists  
lists create obligation, 
incentive to achieve. 
The dark side of lists, 
they sometimes feel like little alarms going off in my brain, 
other times they sound like bells. 
Permission to destroy, rewrite, revise lists so they fit the me now.
 Letting things rest like bread so different tasks have the time and space to rise and gestate. 
Choose your own adventure - get rid of the censor make
 wings out of postits 
and fly 

Monday, July 23, 2012

How we play the game

Midday at the Pinball museum in Alameda - hot, still air, busier than I've ever seen it. I'm not good at pinball, but I really enjoy it... love the bells, the lights, the rolling balls the flipping flippers. Playing pinball reminds me of playing the slots, except more fun, and less money lost.

On this day I was pinballin it with my sister ,and a cousin, and tried a new (to me) marble game - at first it made no sense, then gradually with practice it all started to become clearer... It is so easy to forget that with a little time, patience, and repetition most information starts to sort itself, and fall into place. The fact is, I often expect that I should swim immediately when dropped in new waters. The truth is, I may swim, I may flail - it's a big unknown...

The reflexive expectation of immediate mastery, and harsh judgement, when I fall short is what makes me so weary at the thought of trying new things.  The high value gambles can be the hardest to make, I will walk around the world and scrub all of the grout in the house to avoid failing at the things I really want. This keeps me safe, from  the larger world,  and the grout clean - am working on doubling my rate of failure, trying more, forgiving more. Inspired by this post on the Discardia blog

Friday, July 20, 2012

Looking into the Mirror.

Ace Hotel Portland

I first read this poem in The Time Traveler's Wife  by Audrey Niffenegger. Both the book, and this poem, are favorites of mine. So rich and multi-layered. Sitting and appreciating the stratta of self... 

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

- Derek Walcott 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

P.S. Take a breath

In June of 2010  I was 2 years into owning my own business, 3 years out of a hard break up, and about 5 deaths in to a 7 deaths (in 8 years) family death streak.  I was dried out, and yearned for some time out, rest, and contemplation. I wanted to go to Hawaii.

I bought some crazy sandals for the (so far fictitious) trip, and kept saying out loud that I was planning on going to Hawaii - and voila - I ended up with a trip to Hawaii - my dream trip, staying at the hotel of my choice. My head was spinning, and I was thrilled. For the first time I was going on a trip just to relax, and look at the water.

Here's what happened. My hotel was beautiful, so was the ocean... I found out that without any general busyness, or anyone to blame my crankiness on, I was unable to let go. I observed my inner dialogue, and found out that I was mean to myself, keeping myself uncomfortable a lot of the time - I was playing control games. For Example : I need to go to the bathroom, so instead of going, I set a goal to read another paragraph.

This whole unconscious internal cruelty was news to me, and, it explained so much about why I wasn't feeling balanced and loved, even in good situations. Bottom Line, I wanted to learn how to be kinder to me. 

Every morning  I wrote myself letters with drawings, and insights, and mailed them to myself at home.  I didn't want the awareness that I had gained to just disappear, and the letters were a gift to the me in the future. I had been holding on so hard, trying to control the world, that I wasn't able to receive, from myself, or anyone. I wanted to learn how to receive -  I came up with a new mantra: Open one hand, Open the other hand, Open your heart. Easier said than done, but repeating it was a good reminder of my intention. 

The habit of ignoring my needs was going to be hard to break, so I came up with a list to lean on when I start to feel off. This is the list I use(d) for kindness training. 

1. Take a Breath
2. Go to the Bathroom
3 Drink some water
4. Have a small protein snack (nuts)
5. Take another Breath

It was a good place to start. When I returned from Hawaii, I started working the kindness steps, and began learning how to treat myself as someone of worth. The first step being, my most basic human needs. Who Knew.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Here I am, back in the cyber world. My acceptance into Camp Mighty brings me out of the shadows, and into the public place of documenting my dream to reality accomplishments, and the  small adventures of food, fabulousness, and folly that make my world a better place. 

As a fairly solitary bear I hesitate to publicly put pen to paper - however, I love the magic, and if not magic, insight, that can happen within a supportive community. So, without further ado:

Ann Patchett wrote a long essay on writing called The Getaway Car, this quote strikes a major chord for me:

  "I believe that, more than anything else, this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing. Again and again throughout the course of my life I will forgive myself."

So true - the passages that surround this, about being willing to take your perfect mental picture, and birth it however imperfectly into the real world gives me the impetus to get my dreams dirty, and reach out of the ill fitting box of safety, and into the world of infinite success, and failure, humanity, and possibility. So scary - so exciting. These are the roots of reaching out.