guy. friend.

With David

David and I go way back. Way back to a day in 1991 when I picked him up from a bus station in Surfers Paradise. He climbed into the front of my white Kombi and I thought, “Wow. He’s hot.”

He was travelling the world, and had reached out to his network in the pre-internet version of couchsurfing. As friends of a friend of a friend, my then-husband and I had volunteered our couch to him for five nights. Without a doubt, this visit changed my life forever.

I’ll leave out the part about falling madly in love with him, because that side of the story never really went anywhere. But David came to symbolize all that was good about America in my mind, and my desire to live in the US grew stronger. Six years later I moved to Los Angeles. Fifteen years after that, I’m still here.

We don’t see each other often (he’s nearly always lived elsewhere), and there’s usually others around when we do. But last night we had a couple of hours, just the two of us, and it was so nice.

I recently commented on this blog that I need more guy friends.
Well, I certainly have one.
I just wish we could hang out more often.

some days it doesn’t take much

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I live in a beautiful place.
And peonies are in season.
And they only cost $6.99 for five blooms at Trader Joe’s.

Today, that’s enough reason to be happy. Wouldn’t you agree?

we will remember

#shadows

War is a terrible, but sometimes necessary, thing.

I am full of gratitude that I have not experienced it first hand, nor have I lost a loved one to its ravages.

If your life has been directly touched by war, if you have served or been left behind, or suffered in any way because of this awful thing that humans do, my heart goes out to you today, Memorial Day.

They shall grow not old,
As we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun,
And in the morning
We will remember them.

do you sew/run/create for a ‘reason’?

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My friend Christine Haws runs for a reason. Every summer for more than 15 years, she has trained, begged donations, and flown herself across country to participate in an endurance event to raise money for the fight against childhood cancer.

She’s been there, done that, and got the tshirt. Over and over again. And this year she’ll do it again.

It’s her thing, and I applaud her for it.

So when she asked me to craft her a quilt from her souvenir shirts, I said sure. She offered some money. I said OK. Not because I like to sew for money (I don’t) or because I thought it was enough to pay me anything above minimum wage (it wasn’t), but because if I was doing it for free it might never happen.

And I did actually want to make this quilt. To honour Chris, and the effort she puts in for her worthy cause. I usually sponsor her each year, but twenty-five bucks is peanuts compared to sewing a quilt (as you sewists out there can appreciate).

As it was, it took a long time. I pieced the top late last year sometime. I had plenty of excuses to leave it sitting in a crate for months. Breakups, overseas travel, moving, business trips. There’s always a reason to procrastinate, right?

But this morning – ta da!! – I finished the damn thing.

For that, I have to thank Mookie. I had planned to visit her in San Francisco this weekend, but she let me know a few days ago that she was up to her armpits in alligators, and it wasn’t a good time for me to come.

All of a sudden, Christine’s quilt rose to the top of the list.

So here’s my question to you: Do you sew (paint/craft/insert other artform here) for a reason? Or just for the joy/learning experience/satisfaction of the act itself? Or is it a mixture? What do you get out of it?

What’s your motivation?

walking out of the cages we build for ourselves

I didn't even know there WAS an old zoo in Griffith Park until this morning.

I’ve lived in LA for 15 years, and until this morning I didn’t know there was an old zoo in Griffith Park. It’s eerie and sad, decaying, rusty, graffiti’d. Yet cool, in the way that such places can be. (Wonderful review here.) It closed in 1965, and I found myself wondering if J had ever been there as a young child, and what his memories might be.

I considered calling on my drive home to ask him, then remembered it was a weekend, and he would be with his chicky-babe. And suddenly it flooded back, the pain of our breakups, the loneliness of being single again, the uncertainty of a bright future, the sadness of it all.

Suddenly I was caged. And I did it to myself. I walked right into the place of pain that resides somewhere in my head. Minutes before I’d been feeling great. Now I was miserable.

So I only stayed in the cage a few minutes. Because, you know, I really don’t want to be unhappy. Luckily the door was unlatched, and I could I walk right back out again.

How? Through gratitude. I thought about the awesomeness of the hike I’d just taken, and my friend Elke who’d shown me the way, and the gorgeous weather at the start of this three-day weekend, and suddenly I was slipping out through that barred gate.

Happiness starts with gratitude. It’s not happiness that makes us grateful; it’s gratitude that makes us happy. I really believe this, because I have seen it work over and over in my own head.

So I could say that today, I’m grateful for gratitude. Grateful that it works so well, to get me out of the cages I build for myself. Grateful for the teachers who have reminded me of this truth when I needed to hear it.

Ah yes, life is good.

you never know when you’re making an impact

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“I have to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” L told me this afternoon, “for not letting me gossip on those drives to school. It was very frustrating at the time, but now I understand.”

I’d forgotten all about that. Years ago, in response to her constant carping about the other kids, I banned trash-talking in my car. If she wanted to tell about someone who was absent, I only wanted to hear positive things.

We had a lot of silent drives.

She continued, “Now I overhear people, like in restaurants, complaining about others, and it just sounds awful. I don’t ever want to be like that.”

And I thought: wow.
She learned something.
It made a difference.
She’s a better person because of it.

I had no idea at the time that I was creating a lasting change. Frankly, I made the rule for my own benefit, not hers.

I used to say “You never know when you’re making a memory.” It’s also true that we never know when something we say or do will have a real impact, for good or ill.

But I plan to remember this, and hope that my influence always be positive.

You know what?
Sometimes parenting has its rewards.

are you still friends with your bff?

BFFs

“You have a very round face.”

These were the first words 10 year-old-Louise ever said to me, on the playground at my new school. They were not expressed critically; she was being pleasantly observational. I couldn’t be offended.

I envied her. She was also in Grade 5, but was one of the lucky few sharing the Grade 6 classroom. I believed I belonged there too, and spent the year watching her from afar, wanting to inhabit her world.

The following year we were in class together, and became BFFs. Louise Anne Webster, my first real friend.

Together we read Harriet the Spy and kept notebooks. We rode bikes and climbed hills and wrote (and performed) plays. We knew all about sharing bedrooms and doing chores and babysitting in our big families. We knew what it was like to be literate and introverted and not-like-the-other-girls.

We understood each other. Forty years later, we still do.

I am grateful for friendships that survive the decades, that span the rifts of time and place and religion and questionable life choices. Glad that my first BFF and her husband came to spend several nights in my home.

We’ve been able to catch up in a leisurely and gentle fashion, to get beyond the tales of what our kids and siblings are doing, to get to dreams and motivations and wonderings.

More than letters and blog posts and the occasional meal over the years, these days have made clear that the important stuff hasn’t changed, that the heart-and-mind connection remains. And that these connections are vital to me, and perhaps to us all.

This very round face is smiling.

What about you? Has a childhood friendship endured? If so, how does it make you glow?

reminder: pay attention

This little #rattlesnake was lying across the narrow path on our late afternoon #hike.

I don’t want to live in the city (though I like to live near it). I’ve chosen Topanga because it’s not full of shopping malls and chlorinated swimming pools and neatly trimmed shrubs and regular visits from the pest control guy. There’s no Starbucks here. Not one.

I like me a bit of wildness. A jungoidal garden. Coyotes howling at the moon. Waking to birdsong not traffic noise.

But it’s not all butterflies and hummingbirds and double rainbows (so intense) out here. Sometimes it’s venomous snakes.

I’m no Steve Irwin: I’m not going to wrestle a python. But I’m happy to co-exist with the natives who belong in these mountains too.

So I’m grateful to this young rattler, camouflaged in the shadows across my narrow trail, for reminding me that I’m part of an ecosystem.

And further: for reminding me to pay attention. To watch where I put my feet. To be present, here and now.

Or I might step on something I’d much prefer not to.

dolphins

#dolphins spotted in the way to work #ocean #pch #caliphonia

Sometimes I see dolphins while driving to work. It always puts a big smile on my face. I feel so lucky to have a view like this.

one little word: checking in

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My one little word for this year is ‘healthy’. At first I picked ‘heal’, but then decided to aim higher, to go beyond healing, to robust health.

With a third of the year past, I thought it time to touch base. And I’m happy to report that I’m so much healthier than I was on New Year’s Day, when J broke up with me for the second time.

  • I’m at a good weight for my height (50lb less than I was in Feb 2011*).
  • I’m exercising every day.
  • Since forgiving J, our relationship is easy and mutually supportive.
  • After a 20 year hiatus, I recently rejoined Mensa and am enjoying socializing with new people. Not that I’ve abandoned my existing friendships. Me and my girls are still hanging out :-)
  • I’ve had nearly all my annual medical checkups, and everything’s looking good. My dermatologist kindly removed a suspicious growth from my back yesterday, and I’m waiting for the biopsy results, but am not concerned.
  • I’m meditating every day. Good for mental health.
  • And flossing every day. Good for oral health.
  • I feel happy nearly all the time, which feels, shall we say, awesome?

So yeah … I’m pretty content. Healthy is good.

I hope you’re feeling it too.

*I stopped eating grains.

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