Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Trust me...

Discipline: the act of adhering to strict guidelines now for a greater result in later.

My desire to question the incessant thoughts running rampant in my head has lead to mind-body awareness exercises such as meditation, yoga and fasting.  The critical voice in my head came out in full force during a 30-day yoga challenge saying, "you can't do this", "you don't follow through with anything", "what in the hell is wrong with you?!"  This critical voice caught my attention because never before was I so aware of how negative and sneaky it was.

Last September I decided to up the bar by disciplining my mind through fasting.  My intention was to put myself in an uncomfortable situation and learn from it.   I believe discomfort to be a key ingredient to strengthening and healing the inner self.  For ten days I drank only water and tracked in a journal the thoughts in my head.  I realized that our convenience-based society where quick, efficient, and easy are the norm, it is in turn creating laziness and a disdain for anything having to work for. The problem with easy is in order to quit an addiction, change a habit, or transform your life in a positive way it is NOT easy.  The question is not whether it is easy but whether it is worth it?  And more importantly am I worth it?
More often than not, we impulsively think and act on thoughts , without so much a question as to their validity.  The problem is the voice telling us to "have just one more bite", "I can always quit smoking tomorrow", or "it's not that big of a deal", is a liar.  Without curiosity and discipline, the impulsive behavior continues, we feel negatively about ourselves, old patterns continue and worst of all we don't trust ourselves.  No wonder we feel crazy, out of control, and confused.  The ability to be consistent, draw a line in the sand, and stick to our goals builds trust.  I believe trust to be sole basis of change.  
If you say you're going to do something, do it.  If you don't know, don't think you can or don't want to, be honest and say so.  Honesty with yourself is the key ingredient to rebuilding trust. Remember, the voice in your head is critical or complimentary depending on your emotional state.  The less developed, weaker, emotionally scarred voice says "you don't follow through with anything," "this is impossible" and "you're worthless and I don't believe in you."  To be empathetic to this aspect of yourself, let yourself know you're learning to trust yourself again, and that you've got everything under control will help soothe yourself during those times of utter confusion and lack of direction.  Step by step trust will start to return and the goals you set will be met.  Start small and simple.  An example would be to promise to read this blog each week.  Once you do that, then move onto bigger and better, well maybe not better, things.  Ha.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

White's only...

Bench for Carlotta Walls LaNier  of the Little Rock Nine
I am grounded in Elkhart, Indiana at my boyfriend's parents home.  To sit and type an email is such a luxury.  I am sitting in a recliner, with a warm cup of coffee, next to a fire with luxurious internet and electricity at my fingertips.  Everything is amazingly convenient here.  I like that I forgot this lifestyle and have grown to appreciate an existence "without".  

The day prior to Martin Luther King Jr. day, Miles and I walked the grounds of Central Little Rock High School in Arkansas. It was here desegregation of the all white school took place, where nine African American students were escorted by Federal troops into the school building on September 23, 1957. While there, I envisioned the fear and uncertainty that each of these individuals must have faced in their decision to take a step closer to human equality.

Speaking of equality, we watched the movie "Lincoln" last night.  It stirred  emotions inside me from great frustration and sadness to a peace of mind that there are individuals with reasoning and awareness such as President Lincoln's, in times of great confusion and strife.  I suppose that's what I hope for my life;  to be faced with adversity/ignorance and hold to wisdom and love for humanity.  I'm toying with how to apply my mental health degree in some form that is both creative and innovative.  The way I experienced the "system" as it is, is not as effective as it can be, which is fine, but just not for me.  

This adventure of mine is close to the end of its fifth month.  I look back three months ago and the experiences and memories seem like forever.  I have experienced such an incredible amount of life that it seems, compared to most, that time has stood still or even stopped.  I had a theory years ago about the secret to the fountain of youth, or at least how to slow down time.  Time for children moves slowly due to the constant processing of new stimuli and creating their schema for life.  I have basically reverted back to having "child eyes".  Instead of accepting someone's opinion of something, their judgment based off of their experience, I get to be objective and see firsthand for myself.  I realize how often we accept our reality from textbooks, other people's experiences, the web, etc. without experiencing it firsthand.  

And most importantly, I thought of my experience of visiting the Lincoln Memorial, standing in the same spot Martin Luther King, Jr. stood and gave his eloquent and iconic speech and seeing countless names of soldiers who had died in the Vietnam War.  No one can take these moments from me; the silent, sorrowful moments where I have felt utterly lost by the immensity of human pain and suffering that has gone before me. To even feel that pain for a moment is more than I wish for anyone, past, present or future. Although I am only one person, I vow to use my time on this earth to do as the great Martin Luther King did before me, and add as much peace, love, and understanding to a world desperately needing it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Shave the small stuff...

As I said in the “Shave the Quails” post, my birthday was the day to shave my head. Well, I did it. While in Pecos, Texas a big bellied barber cut and shaved off my hair. He was very worried I was going to change my mind during the cut and asked several times “you sure you're not going to shoot me?” Needless to say I didn't shoot him.  Rather, I had a huge smile on my face and was relatively at peace. Not having hair makes me feel surprisingly powerful and beautiful. I am blessed to be able to make a choice to help someone who isn't as lucky to have the same choice.  I will be posting the video shortly.

We are currently on a desolate stretch of highway in northern Texas, heading to Big Bend National Park. A moment ago we hurriedly brought the van to a halt so we could catch a glimpse of a pack of javelina (a pig-like animal), a first for both Miles and me. When we reached the van we were so overwhelmed with joy we slapped hands for a hearty high five.

All in all, life is good. Being passionate livers of life, Miles and I continue to push through the rocky, prideful moments, where nothing is going right
 and it may be easier if we packed it in and went home. It is our honesty that gets us through. It is our ability to say “that hurt when you did that” and for the other to listen empathetically. It's not always easy, and it's not always fun but together we continue to keep pushing to see what just might be on the other side.

Friday, January 11, 2013

No coincidences...

All is well on the home front, for now.  We are stopped in Tucson due to Miles' insistence on watching "Can't Buy Me Love".  Oh well, to each his own.
A big thanks to the gang at Wedge VW Repair and Restoration for renewing my faith in the automotive service industry.  Our last experience with a VW service station was less than optimal.  Paul and Rod took good care of us, and my girl received new brakes, along with a fixed heater and windshield wipers.   
Not only did we get great service, but the owner of Khyber Halal, the Afgani restaurant next door, cooked us a FREE steak gyro dinner while we waited outside for the van. Up until that point I felt somewhat frustrated and uncertain about where we were going and what we were doing next.  Yet, as this day unfolded, all uncertainties dissipated.  

The last story comes after we exited the Scottsdale Goodwill. When we reached the van we were stalked by a lovely couple in a pickup truck. They believed the Westy's previous owner to be a Middle Eastern drummer from Seattle they had known in 1994. Whether it was or wasn't didn't matter because this inquiry led to the realization of our shared similarities. This musician/artist couple, who lived simply off their music and odd jobs to get by, were so generous to treat us to dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant. The rich, connected conversation lifted each of us in different ways. At one point in the conversation, a gentleman at the table next to us interrupted, “Excuse me, but I overhead what you were talking about and I'd like to join in”.  For well over an hour the six of us strangers talked as old friends. As we parted at the restaurant's closing time, we discussed our belief in there being no coincidences, and that each of us had co-created this magical evening as we let go of our expectations and opened ourselves up to the moment. I mentioned the necessity of a minimum of eight hugs per day for emotional maintenance, to which we all laughed at our exceeding this benchmark. All in all, it's days like these that make me oh so grateful to be alive and traveling.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Purposeful wandering...

Life takes us in different directions. Each path is made of the choices we make, moment to moment. I witnessed a woman this morning in her early 20's, fully dressed, backpack on her back and a gallon water jug in her left hand. She walked passed me as I sat curled up in a blanket with coffee, staring off at the horizon where the sun had made itself known. We allowed our focus to turn to each other and in that moment life stood still. I became curious. Who is she? Where is she going? What led her to this moment in the desert, miles from civilization, just walking?

Afterwards, I chatted at the Oasis Club, a private members only club, where membership per month is $20, or $5 for a weeks' worth of conversation and coffee. I chose to abstain from coffee and do conversation, my forte.  I was the youngest amongst the group where ten of us talked about life. Even though I was an outsider, the new blood I brought brewed excitement. The conversation took on a where are you from, what is life for you like outside of the Slab and so forth. During this, a police officer drove by quite quickly which sparked up frustration. “I don't see why they don't stop in and talk to us. We're just people. It's as if they like to throw their power around and use it as intimidation.” And then the group proposed a mandatory police walking around communities idea, which caught a lot of agreement. One gentleman said that our proposal was already in action in some jurisdictions, which everyone was pleased with.

The most noteworthy piece of information I took away from yesterday was when I asked what ingredients made a “Slab society member”. Up until this conversation I had proposed smoking weed as the only criteria. The response I got was surprising and in earnest:  “We're real here. Nobody is better or higher than anyone else,” said a long bearded, beer bellied, Harley biker looking type. He had stayed out of the conversation until this moment. “We don't care who you are, how much money you have, or any of that bullshit. We're just real.  People here look each other in the eye.” Everyone seemed satisfied with that response, and nodded in agreement; the movie director, the full time Slab resident, the newbie retired woman, and the closest to death man I have ever seen. 

Life lessons, as told by the river...

"Rain poured down, the river flooded but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock." Matthew 7:25

..and that's great. However, there are many who sit at the water's edge, studying the eddies and currents, waiting for the appropriate moment in which to launch
 a homemade raft, like Papillon (1973),
into the great unknown to see what's beyond the bend. To some, clinging desperately to a
chunk of granite
 for all time is, well, comforting. But why? It would seem some people are roots while others are leaves.
Thank you to all the roots in my life for allowing me to be a leaf; going whichever way the wind blows me.
 It makes all the difference. Someday perhaps, I too will cling to a safe repository shelter
my ever growing family, but for now, I choose to brave a swift current in order to travel, to see, and to see what I see. To the journey...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Shave the Quails

Part of me has always identified my beauty with my hair. The story of me is told about how beautiful I was as a newborn baby with a full head of hair.  When I was young my mom kept my hair long, always brushing it and keeping it in stylish pony tails. When it rained, ringlets would form around my face, gaining praise about “how cute” it was. And lastly, I always envisioned my dream wedding with my hair long and flowing.
Mom and I

Hair. What an interesting sense of security it gives us. I am surprised at my attachment to it.

When I was young, I witnessed my mom lose her hair and go bald. Her long, shiny red hair had been a large part of her identity during her teenage years and early twenties. Her “fiery” red hair became a lens through which people identified her spunky, firecracker nature.To lose her hair meant losing a part of her identity, her self worth and who she was in the world.
Student and teacher
In my continual desire to push myself outside my comfort zone, I have decided to shave my head.   I want to to connect with my inner beauty in order to transcend our culture's “perceived” idea of what beauty is.

I am donating my hair to a charity that provides wigs to cancer patients.  And will be doing this on January 14th, my birthday.