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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sharing a Moment with a Scatter brained, totally unfocused Schmuck.

While Ellie and Bill were sharing Ellie's very first donut ever Saturday...I was thinking 1) how grateful I was to have a bit of a cold so I didn't have to share any of MY maple-glazed donut... 2) Are we going to be late for swim class?  3) all the books I wasn't reading.

Here are the books I'm reading (slowly) now:

Deepak Chopra’s ‘SuperGenes’ (Audiobook - I was curious).  

Janice Y. K, Lee’s ‘Expatriates’ (Kindle - for my book club).  

Deborah Harkness' ‘The Book of Life.’  (Real, live book.  For the sheer pleasure).  

Also, still finishing ‘Self-Reliance The Wisdom of Ralph Waldo Emerson - Inspiration for Daily Living’ - edited by Richard Whelan.  (Real, live book).  You’ve heard of intellectual curiosity.  This book satisfies my ‘deeper meaning of life’ curiosity.  Ralph reminds me there is more to life than making appointments on time and washing dishes and facing my fear of spiders.  

Side note - I trapped a baby tarantula-ish type spider in the garage yesterday under a Tupperware cookie dish and a flat piece of cardboard.  He THUNKED against the sides, trying to escape as I carried him as far away from the house as I could get without losing the light from the house.  I let him out ve-eeery slowly.  He paused, weighed his options, then RAN back TOWARD THE GARAGE!


I ran too.  I ran so fast I almost clipped my hip bone on the side of the truck as I careened around it and lunged for the garage door button, terrified.  I didn’t look back.  I can only assume I made it back in time.  The sound of the garage door closing masked his approach, if he made any.

Anyhoo.  I’m also reading ‘Laws of Life’ edited by Hargopal Kaur Khalsa.  (Real, life book - research about Yogi Bajan.  If I’m going to teach I need to learn more about Kundalini’s founder.)

So.  I’m sitting here thinking…I feel totally all over the place.  I can’t focus, and what have I done all week?  Maybe, just maybe, I should STOP READING 5 BOOKS AT A TIME. 

I can’t start a book and focus on it until I’m finished.  A shiny NEW book always dangles by, even when I avoid Barnes and Noble!  So.  I’m reader.  I’m a reader with ADHD.  They say admitting you have a problem is the first step.

I’m committed to reading Supergenes.  But that’s an audio book and doesn’t really count.  I’m going to finish the Expatriates but it isn’t to my taste so far (I suspect there is a loss of a child coming up and….so…) to get THAT taste out of my mouth I have to read one that makes me feel happy and cozy and wonderful again.   

Ahhh, thank you Deborah Harkness.  And I started Self-Reliance awhile ago.  It’s just so dense with stuff that totally blows my mind I can only read a little at a time.  Let my mind rewire itself, then go back to it.  While that’s happening I’m working on being a good future Yoga teacher - by being a constant student now.

So.  Five books at a time.  No wonder I feel like I’m all over the place.  I’m trying to live my life with everything I’ve got.  In doing so I’m scattered in ten different directions.  All my heart and mind to Ellie, all my intelligence and creativity to my writing.  All my spirit and soul in my Yoga.  And to Bill?  A bit of everything.  

Why does life take so much darn energy!?  Why did that crazy spider try to run BACK into the garage?  Why is Trump still leading in the poles?  

Some questions have no rational answers.

I went to an Alignment workshop with Cat McCarthy at the Yoga Studio today - it was quite helpful.  Stacking the bones in the right position before moving the muscles.  Doing downward facing dog in a way that doesn’t make my wrists feel like they’re going to snap in two.  

I feel like my LIFE needs re-alignment.  I need to figure out a way to live that doesn’t make me feel like a scatter-brained, totally unfocused schmuck.  

Maybe I can try doing one thing at a time?  Then moving on to the next ‘thing’?  Cleaning out my sock drawer is a good start. (And not while listening to a book on my phone with one ear and reading Ellie a book and cooking supper.)  

Read Ellie a book.  Stay there, in that moment.  Then organize my socks.   Stop multitasking.  Be in the moment I’m in.  Be with the people I’m with.  

As I write this I realize Bill and I are sitting on the couch together, our knees touching but our minds in totally different places.  I’ve got my headphones on listening to silly nature music sounds and writing this, he’s watching Batman Begins.

So.  I’m signing off so I can be in this moment with him.  

Who are you sharing this moment with?

Sunday, January 24, 2016


So, rejection.  You’ve heard the hype.  It can be a stepping stone or a stumbling block, it’s up to YOU….well I call BP!  Bull Pucky!

Rejection is hard and I hate it and I don’t want to feel it again.

It is especially hard for me, as a creative person, to put myself out there and then watch as I’m judged and found wanting.  OUCH.  It HURTS I tell you!!  Makes me want to curl up in a fetal position under my blankets and nurse my injured ego like a puppy with porcupine quills in it’s nose. 

I recently submitted the book I wrote to a few agents and a publisher.  One agent responded to me quickly - nope, not for her or for anyone else she knows.  But, this turned out to be a good thing actually.  In writing my query letter I realized I had some gaping holes in the story.  


So I’ve been working this week on filling in the holes.  It feels good.  I feel like I’m making it better.  I have a long learning curve but it does bend toward ‘better’.  One hopes.

Eventually it will be so good no agent or publisher will be able to resist it.  And then no self-respecting book club leader would dare not offer it as their next read.  Dreams are nice aren’t they?  Even if I get hit by a bus tomorrow I had hope in my heart and that matters more than the actual fulfilling of the dream I think.  Well, maybe not, but almost.

And then today I finally scrounged together the courage to offer my services as a Kundalini teacher to my new favorite yoga studio in the Woodlands, The Woodlands Yoga Studio and….I wasn’t rejected exactly but it was more like, hey, let’s get to know you better.  

Which is also fair.  And to be honest I’m not sure Kundalini Yoga will work here in Conroe, Texas.  It is a beautiful, gentle practice that helps strengthen the nervous and immune systems and solidifies will power.  It’s great for those struggling with addiction, or for people with health or mobility issues.  But there is a component of meditation and spiritually to it, and if you aren’t a secure, open minded person some of the terms can be a little off putting.  

I like to remind anyone who hasn’t taken a Kundalini class before to remember that we’re all just talking to God, and if the term ‘God’ offends you in Texas well, you’ve got bigger problems than I can help you with, yeah?

So I’m going to take a few more classes, introduce myself around, see what happens.  I’m going to continue my home practice and continue to seek to broaden my knowledge a bit more.  

On the book front I’m editing again, fixing the holes, and when I’m done I’ll try again.

What drives me to put myself out there into the thorny world to be poked and pricked?  What pulls me from under the covers and insists I try again even though it hurts?  I wish I knew.  

Stubbornness?  Yes.  Insanity?  Probably.  All I know is, even though it hurts and sometimes I feel like I’m out here in no man’s land spinning my wheels and getting nowhere, I have to believe each set-back is only serving to draw me closer to my goal, to refine, to clarify, to make stronger.  In any case, I’m trying to succeed at the things I love to do and thankfully I don’t know any other way to live.  I wouldn't want to live without my dreams.  They make my life feel full, and make it shiny with vibrant yellow joy and deep blue hope and hard red hurt. 

Don't give me no black and white world thank you very much.  I like my colors just fine, even when it hurts.

So if anyone knows a good miracle cure for prickly thorn marks on my ego, send it my way.  I’m going to need it by the tub full.  Although luckily my ego is shrinking daily - less surface area to scratch at now, world, ha HA.  I guess I SHOWED YOU! 


Monday, January 18, 2016

A Dew-Drop, Perfect Chocolate Truffle Moment

I didn’t know there was so much joy in a morning.  Hot tea.  Full sun.  Ellie sitting beside me ‘reading’ her book and drinking her juice while I sip my tea and think about the art of writing.  I am reminded of a quote I put at the top of my To Do list in my phone about a million years ago.  I don’t know who wrote it.  ‘If I want nothing, I can find joy in everything.’  Actually I think it was a quote from Buddah.  He was pretty smart for a guy who lived so long ago.

Not that I don’t want things.  But right now, right here, I want nothing else.  Nothing else either added to this moment or taken away would make it any more perfect.

The sun won’t always shine in.  Ellie’s book won’t always be free of sticky pre-chewed cheerios.  My phone won’t always be fully charged and ready to play my favorite songs.  (Right now it’s ‘I Am’ by Nirinjan Kaur)

I won’t aways look to the right at the garden and see the fruit of my labors basking in the morning sun.  Or, rather, the onion seedling of my labors.

Toby won’t always be quietly and drowsily laying in his bed by the couch.  Bill won’t always be puttering around in the garage already at 8:12am hard at work even on his day off.

But today they are, he is, and this is JOY.  

And that moment stretches out and is broken.  The day lurches to a start.  Toby wakes up and scratches his ears.  I drink my last drop of tea.  Ellie almost falls out the chair trying to grab a passing dust mote.  I have to pee.  Like a dew drop poised at the end of a leaf the moment is beautiful and whole and perfect and then it falls to the ground.  Splat.  

The rest of the day begins and it’s a mad dash of poopy diapers and IPAD related temper tantrums and then…one perfect moment eases in and the world slows and stops again.  I kind of live for these moments.  I’ll finish with a quote that perfectly sums up what I’m trying to convey and how I feel about it:

‘It was one of those evenings when men feel that truth, goodness and beauty are one.  In the morning, when they commit their discovery to paper, when others read it written there, it looks wholly ridiculous.’  Aldous Huxley

Go find your dew-drop moment people, it’s out there waiting for us to stop and notice it.  Hurry - like a perfectly made chocolate truffle in my house - it won’t last long.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Great Grammie Debate

Death is the most final of topics.  Slightly less scary to consider than giving a presentation to a room full of people.  

Speaking of which, my brother Tony wrote and delivered the Eulogy for my sweet, stubborn Grammie Orser Sunday.  He's a writer and a good preacher too, who knew?  

Anyhoo.  Grammie was 97.  God wanted her home earlier but she digressed to acquiesce to His request. 

I guess she figured her prayers would do more good this side of the veil.  And pray she did.  She could often be heard pacing her small house restlessly, praying ceaselessly for her family.  She was a sweet, sincere woman who held an iron will behind her soft eyes.  I loved her very much.  

I inherited my sweet tooth from her, and my love of debates.  There was nothing like a good back and forth about the necessity of water baptism, or whether cremation barred you from rising in the Rapture.  For the record, I said no, Grammie said a definite maybe and why risk it...I responded with 'ew' and If God can raise the dead He can surely put my ashes together.  

She didn't always agree with how I dressed, or cut my hair, or if Yoga was really from the Devil.  But she always loved me.  First, last, through the middle of her admonitions, she always, always said she loved me and was praying for me.  We could always agree I needed more prayer.  I will miss Grammie so much, and will miss those prayers too.

From everything I’ve seen, learned and experienced in my life I have come to the conclusion that we don’t really die, we merely change form.  I am as sure of this as I am about anything that can’t be proven in court or measured in a beaker.  Of course we can’t know anything for sure after the Big Plunge happens but if nothing in this world really disappears, only changes form than I suspect that we humans, being part of this natural world, will do the same.  Grammie isn’t a block of ice anymore she’s a small body of water that could be raining on us shortly.  So to speak.  She’s doing some fancy moves on her Sea-Doo in heaven for sure.

An exercise I always thought particularly helpful in my quest to be better today than I was yesterday, is to imagine what people may say of you at your funeral.  And then imagine what they would REALLY say.  Then try to live my life to align with the fantasy and not the Reality Right Now.  I don’t do this like, every Friday night for fun or anything.  I’m not quite that morbid.  I did it for the first time when I took a course at work, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Cliche, maybe, but it does tend to put things in perspective.  Lord knows how many of us could use a dose of ‘perspective’.  Myself included.

Anyhoo.  Grammie was not just a person to me, or a grandmother, she was like an institution.  Some sort of national monument that would be around forever.  I haven’t quite grasped that my world is different now.  

I’ve never known a time in my 36 years when she wasn’t around, baking rolls, grumbling about the length of skirts, reading her bible, eating her toast and jam.  Looking for her teeth, her glasses, her comb.  

She isn’t really gone though, not really.  Every time I see a piano, or eat white cake with chocolate frosting, or hear someone singing a hymn sincerely but slightly off key, I’ll remember her.  No more debates down here Grammie, but looking forward to discussing whether or not purgatory exists and for whom it exists at a later time.  

It doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong, what matters is the people we question these things with, and the time we took to explore these things together.  I wish everyone had someone they could talk to about the deeper questions of life, the important ones that don’t have solid answers.  If we all had someone like Grammie to talk to, the world would be a better place, even if no one agreed with anyone in the end.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Unfolding Myself

"There are no great acts, only small acts done in great love."  Mother Theresa.

I’d like to teach yoga.  I got my certificate just after Ellie was born, 200 hours of Kundalini teacher training, level one.  Since there doesn’t seem to be any Kundalini Yoga teachers within 500 miles, I figure I have a good chance of being approved to hold a class.  Or a terrible one, but only one way to find out.  

I’m not an obvious choice to teach Kundalini - I feel like a perpetual student and I approach it as in all things with a considerable degree of skepticism.  (Chakra, what?)  There were at least 4 other people in my 6 person class that were better teachers than me, better students, better yogi’s.  Heck, probably better people too.  I didn’t feel the need to embarrass myself by trying to teach something I wasn’t sure I’d really gotten a handle on myself in Virginia.

But here, in the middle of Texas with no one else around to do it, I am starting to feel the irresistible pull to put myself out there.  Maybe my yoga studio won’t want me to teach.  Maybe no one will show up.  I don’t think those things really matter though, I think it matters that I get myself ready to show up.  I have to look at it that way because the whole thought, of me in front of a mostly empty yoga room pretending to be an expert and trying to teach this practice that I love…is a little terrifying.  Ok, a lot terrifying.  It’s Xanax-scary.  I have no idea how I can make that happen but I have to do it.  I have to start, at least.

Lastly, I am reading ‘Self-Reliant’ a book of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays put together by Richard Whelan.  So far it’s a brilliant ‘translation’.  He kind of mulls through the 19th century rhetoric for us.  For those of you with the intelligence and patience to weigh through the originals well, be my guest.  I've neither the wit nor the patience for such an undertaking.

So.  I have a lot of favorite new quotes but my favorite today is:

“If you would be a man (or a woman!) speak today what you think today in words as hard as cannon-balls.  Be sincere or be silent.”  

I.  Love.  that.  

For someone who has spent her whole life trying to make everyone else feel better…this thought is a little profound.  Like, echoey in my heart profound. 

I always seem to fall into the role of being a mediator, seeing both sides of the issue and trying to smooth the waters has always seemed like what I was ‘supposed’ to do.  I make things better.  

In the process I make friends (You’re so nice.  You’re so reasonable…).  I seem to have a knack for seeing what people need me to be, and I just kind of morph into that, to make them feel better.  If I’m being stupid-honest, to make them like me better.  Ugh.  Embarrassing.  But mostly it’s because I thought that’s what a good person does.  They don’t ruffle feathers.  They don’t cause problems.  And they never say what someone else won’t want to hear.  They soothe.  They smooth.  

That’s what a good woman does, yeah?  We heal the wounds others leave with their thoughtlessness and their anger.  But I’ve gone too far overboard and I’ve forgotten my own voice.  

And, maybe I’m not doing anyone any favors.  Good ‘ole Ralph Waldo seems to be saying that sincerity isn’t just something we should do, it’s something every decent person must do if they are to honor the God given light and soul within them.  Maybe there would be less darkness in the world if I stood up and said what I really thought instead of avoiding conflict at all costs.

The funny thing is, that wasn’t even one of my underlined passages.  I kind of skipped over that and highlighted things before and after it.  But it rolled around in my head all day, words like cannonballs, words like cannonballs…

Completely unlike the passages I did underline.  Like ‘trust thyself’, like ‘do broad justice where we are, by whomsoever we deal with, accepting our actual companions and circumstances, however humble and odious, as the mystic officials to whom the universe has delegated its whole pleasure for us.’   This ties in with my ‘acts of love’ Mother Theresa quote.  Do good where you are, with who you see everyday.  Do it in love.  Let go of the results.

My other favorite, of course, ‘do not bark against the bad but chant the beauty of the good.’

But words like cannonballs rolling around in my head like…well…cannonballs.  The weight of the words has turned my heart, I think.  it seems to tell me, don’t be afraid to say what you know is right.  Have courage.  Be the light you want to see in the world.  

I may never be a great teacher.  I won’t know all the answers.  I won’t know all the poses or all the mantra’s.  Someone in the class will be smarter, more dedicated, stretchier...but I will learn.  And I will adapt.  I will have courage.  And I will try.  I will unfold myself into this work.

‘By doing his own work, he unfolds himself’.  (RWE)