Thursday, November 19, 2009

My own small steps towards change

So I feel as if I have been putting a lot of things off. Work has taken over a large portion of my life for the last four months. Before that was grad school, with barely a moment to think. There are really small things that I want to accomplish and that weigh on my mind. I am thinking about trying to tackle one a day, so little by little I can can feel back on track.

-Get back to drinking tea (just bought a tea kettle tonight!) - starting very very small, I have been drinking too much coffee and wasting too much money. So starting tomorrow will try to start drinking tea again. It helps me not get too hyper and then crash/burn

-Clean house top to bottom. Hire a housekeeper to get the place back to shape where it was before my life was sucked up with school and all.

-Get back into a hobby. There are lots that I used to really enjoy and eventually would like to get back involved with all of them but want to start with one first.
Hobbies - painting/violin/Spanish lessons/dance lessons/scrapbooking/martial arts

-Start a morning work out routine again.

-Get in touch with music...can't remember the last cd I bought

-travel - even small trips like maybe to the Grand Canyon or something. Love and miss road trips

-Do a hand stand in yoga! For some reason scares the bezuses out of me.

-Beat a video game on my own! I always get stuck on some point and don't finish. I have so many half finished games.

-Find a placement to get my hours. Saturday 11/21 I went to an info session at San Fernando Valley Counseling Center. I really liked it there. They are very low key and I love that they provide you with some much training and support. I'm going to submit my application there.

Giving thanks

Taking an inventory right now of my life, I am very happy and feel so much gratitude for the people and opportunities I have in my life. It feels me with gigantic warmth when I think about my wonderful husband, home, friends, my job which I feel very passionate about, my health, my drive, my creativity, etc. It is really good to be in a place in my life where I can just slow down and be grateful. That is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday while although the history of Thanksgiving itself has some scary roots with the Pilgrims/Indians not being such bosom buddies as they are made out to be. Thanksgiving is about stopping and being grateful for everything we have in our lives. This is something I try to acknowledge every day. Perhaps it is because of the work that I do but I really do appreciate every moment I have with those I love as life is fleeting and can change in an instant.

So when things are becoming overwhelming just breathe in all the love and warmth that you have in your life and give thanks.

Friday, September 25, 2009

So much to say

Really want to get back on track with updating my blog. I feel that there is so much going on in the world right now. Its almost difficult to know where to start. I feel very passionately about the healthcare reform debate, the environment, politics, etc. Where to even start? I feel that we are on the brink of something. I have heard the clicking of the tracks as we have clicked to the top, we are looking over the edge but we need to just let go of all our differences and fear. Our society in America seems so permeated with fear right now. Its thick with the stuff. Its a different kind of fear. With Bush we had the constant fear of attack. I think the Bush administration encouraged this. It sure played a huge part in Bush's re-election. Now the fear has become more personal. Instead of fear of a general attack, people are afraid that their way of life will be changed forever. Well it will be but this doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. We should never go back to the way we were. Just over consuming with our heads down, only thing of our individual needs. There are broader wide spread concerns. Universal health care has to happen and if done right it will help to dig us out of our economic downfall. I have known to many people that have died needlessly due to no coverage. Our voice has become very important now. Now is the time to speak up and say what we want, ears are listening. I appreciate Obama's open door policy and openness to criticism of his policies. Healthcare reform is going to happen but what happens is also up to the American people if we just open our mouths and heart about what is truly best for everyone.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Back to my primary purpose of this blog


My primary purpose of this blog was to bring up political/social/environmental issues that I feel passionate about and small ways in which I am trying to make a difference. I feel that I have been terribly out of the loop lately. I did just get back from my social action committee meeting at the U.U. church I belong to. We have been trying to develop a way to create a volunteer directory and pretty much get people off their butts and doing something. We had a service titled, service is our prayer and I think it got people thinking about the ways that they can effect change. Other than that I have been thinking a lot about the principles of my community psychology specialization and how I can influence the work that I do. One thing that I have found was that there is a serious lack of clothing at the hospital. Patients actually sometimes run around in gowns or the same clothes the whole week because they don't have anything else. This I see as harming the dignity of the individual. Everyone should have access to appropriate clothing. Administration wants to have a clothing drive which is wonderful but there is just so much clothes you can wring from the same pile of employees. I actually touched base with Buffalo Exchange which buys/trades clothes. They are willing to donate if someone picks up the clothes and if we send a letter of intent. I have shared this with administration which they were excited about and said they would do the letter. Its been like a week now and still nothing. I feel a need to help push this through and am thinking about writing the letter and to other local businesses that might be also willing to donate clothes. My little mission....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pics of tattoo






Oh wow, didn't realize I didn't have pics of my tattoo up. Its completely healed now. I really loved how it came out.

Exhausted!

My new job as a case manager at Las Encinas Hospital calls for Speedy Gonzalez on crack. Its very fast paced and I am working every second nonstop from when I get there until I leave. I hope partially this is because of the learning curve and that things will lighten up as I get used to everything. I am going home completely wiped out every day and feel pretty useless when I get home. I am actually taking naps when I get home from work. Kind of sad... My hope is that I will get used to this routine so I can get a second job on the side where I can collect hours towards my license. Right now don't know if I could handle it. In another week my second job (old job) prob will end so hopefully will have more energy then.

Til then......

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Over due update! Lots of exciting news!



So much has happened. I was offered the position at Las Encinas and will start on July 13th! I feel really ready for this change. It was really wonderful to be able to go to my graduation ceremony on Sunday 6/28/09 and be able to greet/hug my teachers letting them know that I am going to be putting what I learned and worked for to practice. It will be hard to leave my current position. The work itself is often monotonous and unchallenging but putting a smile on a patient's face, consoling a family member, or finding that solution that helps the team and puts a patient at ease has been so rewarding. There is also the comfort of knowing what to expect. My day at work is broken down in comfortable repetitive activities. In the morning there is the slow step into the day with drinking coffee, eating breakfast, checking messages, etc. The same song comes on every morning around 10am. Its this disco fever song or something. That sort of marks that the day has begun and gets us busy. By 11 I have done some tasks and am gettign ready to go over to assist with the lunch program, meaning I help/visit with patients during lunch. I have my lunch and then the afternoon crawls on. I might write some notes, make some calls, spend time with patients/families, surf the web a bit. Its comfortable and generally unstressful. I know the team so well and how they will react to something I say. Although comfortable I feel myself screaming inside at times when things feel so repetitive. There is little change in the patients on my unit. This will be a far cry from my new job that will be nonstop running around from the sound of things.

So besides my new job, I just graduated formally. It was a really beautiful ceremony. I have been officially graudated with my masters in clinical psychology since the end of December but it is only now that it really feels final. It was an extremely hot day on Sunday, so the thought of downing a thick black robe with a velvet long cover did not sound so apealing. Luckily the ceremony was inside at the Roce Hall at UCLA, which was air conditioned. Portia picked me up and we drove excitedly to UCLA. It took us awhile to get situated and find where to park. We went in and met fellow students that we would graduate with. I got my card which said Theresa Collins Journeau. I had them change it to Theresa Collins but didn't think to change my line up number until later. I changed my line up so I would be with the C's and guess what! I was right next to my close friend Deborah Cluff. She was number 115 and they made me number 115.5. It felt so fitting because Deb and I have gone through this whole process together. There were many weekends when we cried, laughed with each other over material and things that came up at school. We dug in our souls during our master's program. During that process we had to bare our souls to each other. I feel as if I bared my soul the most with Deb as she did with me. My master's program has forever changed me for the better. It is one of the best things that I have done for myself and for others. It feels so amazing to know I am on the right path. Wow ok I just went on a tangent. Well regardless to say it was amazing to stand next to Deborah during the whole ceremony. I spotted my husband, good friend and neighbor Ginger, and our friends Meg and Chris in the audience. I had my own cheering section and it made up the fact that my parents couldn't be there. It was a fairly long ceremony. I'm sure much more so for those that weren't students. The speeches were very powerful and found myself tearing a bit. The room was so energized with feelings of joy and accomplishment! Finally it came time for us to go up and get our diploma covers, shake the president's hand, and get our pictures taken. It happened soooo fast. Deborah crossed the stage as I handed my card to the announcer. I walked as they called my name, shook hands with the president, got a hug from the Chair of the Psychology Dept, got my picture taken, and then got hugs from all of my teachers. I loved that part. Just falling into a pit of love and pride from my teachers who were my colleagues, gurus, confidants, etc. during this whole process. I really feel as if I could go to them when I need help in my career and they would be there for me. I am so blessed that I found Antioch. After the president formally recognized our degrees. We stood as he spoke and that confirmation spoken outloud unlocked something for me. I feel as if that moment and that moment among my teachers was the moment that this all felt real to me. I really did this and I am really going on to something greater. After we exited we had a nice after party on the patio. It was quite crowded and difficult to get around but got flowers from my friends Jess and Whitney who were there for Deb and I. I got some refreshments and talked to teachers and friends. Afterwards Brian, Ginger, Meg and Chris, and I celebrated at El Torito. I of course celebrated with some tequila aka huge rasberry margarita that was so yummy. Got these amazing sizzling enchiladas which is kind of a mix between fajitas and enchiladas. Sooo good. Ginger also gave me a certificate to get a massage. So excited, its really close by to our place and the name of the massage is the Serenity Massage. So perfect. I think I will try to get it done before my new job starts. oooh prob should get it before my tattoo on the 12th. Anyway that's enough for now. I'll write a new entry for my visit with the fam this past week and a half.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Interview outcome

So not bad! I met with the director of Case Management at Las Encinas who also is in charge of the Assessment and Referall department. Thought it was cool that he basically said I was overqualified for the Assessment position as its just admission paperwork and inquired if I would be interested in doing case management. I would be managing a large caseload of patients in an acute psych unit arranging everything from the minute that they walk in the door to when they are d/c'd and even sometimes beyond that. I would be working with the team and the MD to coordinate all care. I am pretty comfortable with all of that. Its very similiar to what I am doing now. Its in a beautiful beautitul location. There seems to be lots of room to more around however I prob will be committing to doing the case management gig for a year. Its a big decision and Brian and I talked about it. It doesn't pay as well as I'd hoped but will be like a 10% pay increase from what I am currently making. Hoping to secure a part time position at my current job to do some hours on weekends if they need me for documentation etc. If not will try something part time so I can afford to pay back my student loans!
Well the interview itself seemed to go well and even got to meet the team. They seemed to be comfortable with me and were impressed with my experience. It will be hard work but Im going to work my ass off! The director asked me to call him tomorrow so we'll see if they offer me the job!

Off to an interview today

I'm a bundle of nerves but am trying to collect myself. I made a contact through a student at school and got an interview at Las Encinas Hospital. The position appears to entail completing clinical assessments on intake to determine level of care needed. This is pretty in line with what I was doing at Tarzana Treatment Center so I feel comfortable in some ways but I am never comfortable being in a position of having to sell myself. I believe this is an universal feeling amongst many but I know others who just live for interviews and blow them out of the water like my friend Tanya. Sooo off to Pasadena in about 30 minutes. Ahhhhh!!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Drawing of my Tattoo

So Misha and I went back and forth together over how the tattoo will look and this is it!


Its the second picture, with the lotus flower opening. Its going to look amazing when the jeweled heart is all shaded to look like a shining ruby coming out of the lotus. Getting excited, tattoo is just a few weeks away!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Feeling caged


Lately I feel like I am reacting instead of reflecting and responding. I've found myself snapping at people more versus slowing down and responding the way that I would like to. Its hurt some people's feelings. I think this happens when you are distracted with your own internal world versus really being in the moment, connected to your environment and those around you. I have been distracted lately because all of a sudden the clock ticked and I'm 30. I feel as if I have a lot to accomplish and achieve in a short period of time. This is not so. I have a long life ahead of me to enjoy and grow into. I want a new job and therefore am not being happy and present in the work that I am currently doing. I guess after 3 years at the same place and 6 in the same field I am allowed to feel a little bit antsy. There is a feeling of being closed in. I am reacting like a caged animal, snarling and ready to bite off finger tips of those unexpected hands that lean in too close. I dread being stuck in this mundane world but I know that is all about perspective. Like in yoga, mountain pose from an onlooker looks simple and unchallenging but if you are present in the pose and focus on grounding while stretching up, tucking your tailbone, and a series of other focus points then it does become challenging/rewarding. I need to bring that focus into my world and find things in my immediate space that inspire and challenge me.

Things will come and I have to have faith in that and not live in fear that I will be letting down myself or those around me if I do not accomplish everything that I have set for myself.

Beautiful image



Found this beautiful image today online....just so gorgeous. Love the look in her eyes and the layered on images.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Clean Energy Bill Petition


Copied from MoveOn.org. If you are interested in finding ways to be heard and have political clout then subscribe already. MoveOn does all the legwork bringing issues that you care about. It is as easy as a click of a button to sign petitions, send letters to Congress/President, or set up/attend MoveOn meetings in your area.

This is an issue that is close to my heart, climate change and the environment. Clean energy, clean energy, I know we hear about it a lot but it is about to go away. The way we have been living on non renewable resources is nearing an end. The inevitable is coming and we need to prepare. Its worth doing it right the first time instead of pouring into money into a clean energy bill that will not work. Read below and please sign the petition to tell Congress to go back to the drawing board and create a clean energy bill that will work!
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It's 2009. Democrats have ample majorities in both houses of Congress. President Obama campaigned on the promise to tackle climate change and boost our economy by investing in clean energy.

So why on earth is Congress considering an energy bill that:


Would weaken current law, repealing President Obama's authority to crack down on dirty power plants,1 and
Doesn't actually require the creation of new solar or wind power? (The Union of Concerned Scientists has concluded that the clean energy standards won't make power companies produce more clean energy than is already in the works.)2
Why? Because Big Oil and Coal have teamed up with conservatives in both parties, and they've been successful in weakening the bill.

These are major flaws, but the bill has a lot of really good provisions, too. The key thing is that Congress can still strengthen it—if there's a public outcry. But we don't have much time: Congress is expected to vote on this bill in less than three weeks.

Can you sign this petition to Representative Howard Berman today? Eighty thousand MoveOn members have already signed. We need to double the number of signatures by Wednesday—that means we need 36 more signatures in Sherman Oaks. MoveOn members will personally deliver this petition to many congressional offices the next day. Click here to add your name:

http://pol.moveon.org/cleanenergy/o.pl?id=16315-5815024-oSLMb8x&t=4
The petition says: "We need a stronger energy bill to fulfill Obama's vision of a clean energy economy. Congress should strengthen the clean energy standards and restore Obama's authority to crack down on dirty coal plants."

Congress must change the energy bill to require power companies to produce more clean energy for America. Wind and solar create more than twice as many jobs as coal and oil.3 And Congress needs to hold polluters accountable by restoring President Obama's current authority through the EPA to crack down on global warming pollution from power plants.

The Union of Concerned Scientists analysis finds that the current version of the clean energy standard "won't require utilities to use any more renewable electricity than...would be generated as a result of state renewable electricity standards already in place and the recently enacted stimulus package."4


If we just sit back, we'll miss our chance to go big with wind and solar—and we'll lose the jobs those industries would create. Big Oil and Coal will keep getting billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. And President Obama will be powerless to stop more than 100 new dirty coal plants, which will crowd out the clean energy growth we need to boost our economy.5

There are some good parts of the bill, but these are significant problems. As the Sierra Club's Carl Pope writes, the bill establishes strong long-term goals for cutting carbon pollution and very strong energy-efficiency investments, "but in its present form, it won't do all that's needed. The oil, coal, and dirty-utility interests...were able to prevent enactment of President Obama's much bolder vision...Yes, they will try to kill the green-jobs recovery in its cradle, and yes, they will try to block our clean-energy future."6

Please urge Rep. Berman to fight for a stronger energy bill. Clicking here will add your name to the petition:

http://pol.moveon.org/cleanenergy/o.pl?id=16315-5815024-oSLMb8x&t=5

Thanks for all you do.

–Anna, Michael, Joan, Noah and the rest of the team

Friday, June 5, 2009

Finding Your Divine Self Meditation


Very excited to run a group on Sunday at the U.U. church. I decided to discuss about the divine within each of us and how we connect to it. I feel that the divine is within ourselves and that we can connect with it and each other in many ways. For me meditation/yoga are the ways I connect to the deepest part of myself although I feel connected to everything when I am in nature. This group will offer an opportunity for the members to relax and connect to their divine/inner selves. I will give techniques so that they can reconnect with their inner sanctuary when ever they wish to.

What was really lovely was writing it up. I found this really tranquil music on pandora and instead of looking up a meditation just started to write a description related to what I've heard from teachers in the past and what I myself do to meditate and relax. It was really amazing to see what I already know. I did borrow from one meditation which described the inner self like a diamond as I was struggling, trying to think of how I would bring them inside.

So this is the meditation that I created for Sunday, enjoy!

Find a comfortable seated position but try to sit so that you feel your sit bones pressing into the floor, grounding you. Keep the spine straight by imagining a string attached to the top of your head pulling it up. Now let your arms fall so that your palms are face up in a position of receptivity. Close your eyes very gently. Bring your attention to your breath. You might want to put one hand on your
lower abdomen to tune into how your stomach rises and falls on each inhale and exhale. As you breathe in feel your stomach push into your hand, as you breathe out feel your stomach move away. As you notice your breath go in and out slowly feel all the tension melt away from your body on the exhale. Each exhale you are becoming more relaxed and feel lighter. Notice if your shoulders are creeping up towards your ears. Gently raise your shoulders and lower them.

As you continue to breathe slowly and effortlessly, focus inward. Thoughts of the outside world might come in and that’s okay. Try to imagine that your thoughts are like fallen leaves drifting on a river. Notice the thought but let it continue on its way down the river. Come back to your breath. Imagine that you are being filled with a soft warm light. It’s a warm summer day and the warmth and light are streaming in filling your body down to your fingers and toes. Now imagine that in your heart lies a precious diamond. This diamond represents your divine self. Notice how the light which continues to fill you reflects upon all the facets of the diamond, sending little rainbows of color everywhere. Just stay here and let yourself be immersed in your inner beauty which emanates light and love. This is your inner sanctuary where you can come anytime and visit. If you feel so moved
you might want to ask a question or send a message to your higher self. If not allow yourself to rest in this peaceful warmth, knowing that this part of you is always available to you.

Start becoming aware of your body and the room saying goodbye to your inner sanctuary for now knowing that you will return when there is need. Gently place one hand over your heart. Give yourself gratitude for the time that you have taken to focus on yourself. Can you still feel the warm radiating from your heart into your palm? Open your eyes and carry this feeling with you as you start or return to your day.

Tattoo is booked!


So I booked my tattoo for July 12th which is a Sunday at 4pm, at zulu tattoo. I'm getting excited now and really like my tattoo artist, Misha. She is an extremely tall blonde covered with tattoos/piercings/and red dreads. She is hilarious and put me at ease right away. She seemed jazzed w/ my idea for my tattoo. The lotus/heart tattoo has now been a bit expanded in that it will be a jeweled heart. I really like that concept as something felt missing. It even ties better into my spiritual beliefs as there is a very sig mantra in Tibetian Buddhism which translates to "The Jewel within the Lotus." Its actually the mantra for compassion which seems very fitting for me and the meaning I had already attached to the tattoo.

So the date is set, the deposit down. I'm really doing it. I'm a little nervous but was so happy to get some books from my friend Erin on what to expect when getting a tattoo. Its really helping to alleviate my worries. Erin got me a whole other book w/ pictures of lotus flowers along with its meaning and poems about the lotus.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Gifts we Give Ourselves


So my friend Tanya says that everyone should give themselves a b-day present. Think its about valuing yourself, self care, etc. For this b-day I wanted to have something I could take with me and look at every day to remind me of what to hold important. I found this 3 part necklace that was perfect. It has the word grace on it, a heart, and the om symbol. I've been told that I have a grace about me by other people. I feel that the way that you interact with the people/world around you is so important. I want to continue to try to make my interactions full of grace.

Grace
elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.
2. a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment.
3. favor or good will.
4. a manifestation of favor, esp. by a superior: It was only through the dean's grace that I wasn't expelled from school.
5. mercy; clemency; pardon: an act of grace.
6. favor shown in granting a delay or temporary immunity.
7. an allowance of time after a debt or bill has become payable granted to the debtor before suit can be brought against him or her or a penalty applied: The life insurance premium is due today, but we have 31 days' grace before the policy lapses. Compare grace period.
8. Skipping 8, related to God/religion
9. moral strength: the grace to perform a duty.

Then there is the heart that reminds me to be compassionate and keep an open heart in my life situations.

The om symbol in sanscript encompasses everything in the world. This will remind me of my connection to the universe, to everything and to everyone.
The om symbol is broken down even further in this pieces
Just as the sound of Om represents the four states of Brahman, the symbol Om written in Sanskrit also represents everything. The material world of the waking state is symbolized by the large lower curve. The deep sleep state is represented by the upper left curve. The dream state, lying between the waking state below and the deep sleep state above, emanates from the confluence of the two. The point and semicircle are separate from the rest and rule the whole. The point represents the turiya state of absolute consciousness. The open semicircle is symbolic of the infinite and the fact that the meaning of the point can not be grasped if one limits oneself to finite thinking.


So I purchased it off of chainreactionjewlery, it should be coming soon. Think its so important to remember to take care of ourselves and our own happiness. Its very funny when I buy things for myself I feel extreme guilt at times. It continues for awhile actually. I wonder where that guilt is from? The perception that I'm not worth it or that I need to save everything I earn? There is a fear of not having enough but also guilt whether I really need something. I try to buy more purposefully and plan it out so I side step some of the guilt but it is still a struggle for me.

Can't wait though for it to come. My gift to myself!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Attempting to Answer the Big Questions


5/27/09

Yesterday I attended a meeting at the Unitarian Church that I attend in my area. It was a meeting of the "young adults, " including 20's and 30's. Also who ever is young at heart. I thought, well its down the street I might as well go although it gave me unpleasant chills thinking eeew going to a youth meeting at church, really?
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A little background:
I grew up Catholic even though my birth mother was Jewish and my adopted mother was Protestant. My fathe was Catholic so that had to be the way. I remember dazing out and only coming to at my favorite place in the service, when we had to give each other the sign of peace (handshake). I liked the community feeling and many times would end up shaking the hand of this man that went there who had a disfigured hand. He always extended that hand to shake and I never backed away even when I was little. I liked the feeling of reaching out to the people around me, to extend wishes of peace and happiness.

I remember though even when I was young, questioning always questioning. Why do I need to believe this? The Catholic church did not allow room for me to question or challenge. It was only about blind faith and duty. I was confirmed Catholic to please my parents but tried to not step a toe into a Catholic church after that. My mom supported my questioning too which I am grateful for. She called us "gleamers," that we were just gleaming truths from where we could find them. She didn't hold it as important that I believe everything that a particular church/religion would have me to.

Well after this I started to do my own study in spirituality and religion. I found books in witchcraft, meditation, astrology, and generally spent my time in the New Age section in Barnes and Noble. Those summers when I was a teenager before college, my family and I would spend it on our sailboat. I learned to meditate and about healing around that time.

In college I started to research Buddhism for a school project. All of a sudden, I had it, the Aha moment! That many describe when they find some creed/set of beliefs/etc that just speaks to them, connects everything in their mind. I've taken philosophy and world religion classes but I subscribe most closely to Buddhist/Taoist beliefs. I guess this because of the focus on compassion for other human beings, non judgment, non attachment, and there respect/tolerance for other ways of thinking/beliefs. In Buddhism, life is conceptionalized like a mountain. Buddhism sees different religions as different paths leading up the mountain. They might all be different but they all end up in the same place.

I learned about the Unitarian Universalist Church when I was in Boston. One of the strongest memories I have about hearing about the UU Church was a young girl around 12 years old who I was mentoring as a part of a volunteer program. She exclaimed to another mentor with her face full of joy and happiness, "You are a Unitarian too!" Wow, I thought I never felt that way about any organized religions like that before.
Alot of the people that I was hanging out with in Boston who were really great, caring, tolerant people talked it up too.

It wasn't until I came to LA that I started to look into it. I was wanting to feel connected to a community and was wondering about how we would bring our children up. I felt it was important to have an introduction at least for our children in a religion. What ever I had against it it taught me some basic concepts of good will, do on to others, etc. I felt however that I didn't want to push my children in believing in something like I felt pushed growing up. The more I learned about UU, the more I felt comfortable with it. Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religios tradition that is open to everyone of many different faiths. At the church I go to, you may end up talking to someone who is Pagain, Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, or Atheist. We don't subscribe to a dogma. The minister and visitors who also run the services, take wisdom from all different places, different religions, media, etc. I really liked what they have for the children. They have Religious Exploration which means that the children are taught about all religions. This gives them the oppurtunity to build tolerance, compassion, and decide for themselves the universal questions. Our church is very community minded and I am on the Social Action Committee.

I love that I have found a spiritual community that encourages questioning and transforation.
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So I went to the meeting. There was only a small group of us, only 5 but felt it was a good introductory size. We lit the chalice, and I giggled to the group that it felt like we should hold hands and evoke something. This thankfully got a laugh, doesn't seem that we take all too seriously. We lit candles and set intentions for things that we wanted in our life or to bless someone that we were thinking of. We had a reading and then we listened to a beautiful concerto (forgetting the name). It was a powerful piece that both relaxed and energized me.

After the music we pulled out some questions that created a nice debate.

The questions were mainly around the concept that some have that "God" (insert any name, I like Spirit/Universe) gives us things if we ask. How much is it up to us and how much can we count on "God" to fulfill what we want. For me I said that it was alot about intention. If you do not have a clear idea of what you want how can you put it out there and give energy to it? You need to formulate what you want and the steps that you are willing to do. I don't think that it is like selecting things off a menu. You can't just get what you ask for. Some of the other members of the group discussed it like doorways. There are doorways all around but you have to see and use them in order for opportunities to happen. Other members thought it was important to do everything you can, make what you want clear, and then just surrendor to it. What will happen will happen.

Then there was a question about the purpose of pain/suffering in the world. This was a difficult one. I think it is dangerous to think that all the negative things that happen is a result of neg. karma or neg. thinking. This gives people the sense of powerlessness. I do feel that we are connected through pain/suffering. It ripples through the human race. If we do not have painful experiences also, we often can't connect to another's human experiences. Take the concept of method acting, in order to really get into a character, an actor has to think of a similiar experience in order to access that emotion. One of the other members of the group discussed the concept of Yin/Yang. We need both light/dark. Everything is about balance. Another thought that negative things that happen could be related to the energy that is all around us. Kind of liek the concept of the Butterfly effect.

One girl stated she felt distant from all of this. She felt that things just happen and do not always have a rhyme or reason. She statd that some people have a hard time with this concept and that it depresses them but she stated that it makes her feel free. I guess it is the age old question between free will/destiny. Are things destined to happen? I feel that we have free will but the things that we do can set in motion a certain energy, etc. that will lead us down a certain path. I do not however feel that it is prewritten for us.

This got us also on a discussion about the concept of a soul. I think I wrote some of this up in my Griffith Observatory blog entry, but I feel that we do not carry on or at least not in the way many think. I do not really conceive of a heaven. I feel that we do return to the cosmos/universe/the great ocean/spirit. While some might feel fear around this idea I feel at peace with it. I conceptionalized this for the group by asking them when they felt the happiest. I shared that I do when I am in nature or in relation to another human being. When I feel greater than just me and connected to everything else, that is when I feel the happiest, that is the greatest joy. Others could connect to this idea. They felt that our energy has been going on and on and won't stop while others felt that our energy will change form/dissipate.

We ended with a reading and blowing out the candles. I think that I made a boo boo by helping to blow it out. Ooops....Then we listened to some music. We were asked to bring a favorite art/music piece. Not many did but I had my laptop with me so I pulled it out.

I had them listen to Bright Eyes's "Waste of Paint," that really moves me every time I listen to it.

Waste Of Paint
Bright Eyes

I have a friend, he is mostly made of paint.
And he wakes up, drives to work,
and then straight back home again.
He once cut one of my nightmares out of paper.
I thought it was beautiful, I put it on a record cover.
And I tried to tell him he had a sense
of color and composition so magnificent.
And he said

"Thank you, please
but your flattery
is truly not
becoming me.
Your eyes are poor.
You're blind.
You see,
no beauty could have come from me.
I'm a waste
of breath,
of space,
of time."

I knew a woman, she was dignified and true.
And her love for her man was one of her many virtues.
Until one day, she found out that he had lied
and she decided the rest of her life from that point on would be a lie.
But she was grateful for everything that had happened.
And she was anxious for all that would come next.
But then she wept.
What did you expect?
In that big, old house
with the cars she kept.
"And such is life," she often said.
With one day leading
to the next,
you get a little closer to your death,
which was fine with her.
She never got upset
and with all the days she may have left,
she would never clean
another mess
or fold his shirts
or look her best.
She was free
to waste
away
alone.

Last night, my brother he got drunk and drove.
And this cop he pulled him off to the side of the road.
And he said, "Officer! Officer! You got the wrong man.
No, no, I'm a student of medicine, a son of a banker, you don't understand!"
The cop said, "No one got hurt, you should be thankful.
And your carelessness, it is something awful.
And no, I can't just let you go.
And though your father's name is known,
your decisions now are yours alone.
You are nothing but a stepping stone
on a path
to debt,
to loss,
to shame."

The last few months I have been living with this couple.
Yeah, you know, the kind who buy everything in doubles.
They fit together, like a puzzle.
And I love their love and I am thankful
that someone actually receives the prize that was promised
by all those fairy tales that drugged us.
And they still do me.
I'm sick, lonely,
no laurel tree,
just green envy.
Will my number come up eventually?
Like Love's some kind of lottery,
where you scratch and see
what's underneath.
It's "Sorry",
just one cherry,
or "Play Again."
Get lucky.

So I've been hanging out down by the train's depot.
No, I don't ride.
I just sit and watch the people there.
And they remind me of wind up cars in motion.
The way they spin and turn and jockey for positions.
And I want to scream out that it all is nonsense.
All your life's one track,
can't they see it's pointless?
But just then, my knees
give under me.
My head feels weak
and suddenly
it's clear to see
it's not them but me,
who has lost my self-identity.
As I hide behind
these books I read,
while scribbling
my poetry,
like art could save a wretch like me,
with some ideal ideology
that no one could hope to achieve.
And I am never real;
it is just a sketch in me.
And everything I made is trite
and cheap
and a waste
of paint,
of tape,
of time.

So now I park my car down by the cathedral,
where the floodlights point up at the steeples.
Choir practice was filling up with people.
I hear the sound escaping as an echo.
Sloping off the ceiling at an angle.
When the voices blend they sound like angels.
I hope there’s some room still in the middle.
But when I lift my voice up now to reach them.
The range is too high,
way up in heaven.
So I hold my tongue,
forget the song,
tie my shoe
start walking off.
And try to just keep moving on,
with my broken heart
and my absent God
and I have no faith
but it's all I want,
to be loved.
And believe,
in my soul.
In my soul.
In my soul.
In my soul.

Just reading the lyrics is powerful to me along with Connor's raw beautiful voice it makes it even more so. The song is for me is finding/and believing in your self worth and holding on to it even when life gives you no reason to. My life is not a waste even though sometimes in the past I have felt that way. I have felt I have to prove the good of my existence for some reason. I know I have the right to be loved and have good things happen for me but it has been a concstant battle really truly believing this.

So I was asked to hold the next meeting we will have, which I think will be the following Sunday on the 7th. Have no idea what I will coordinate but I'm excited.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Done for now but not done!

So I've completed my 30 rituals for my b-day but this isn't the end of my journey, rather the begining. I still have a lot to share and experience. I will definitely be writing more about what is going on with my life. This has been an amazing time in my life, I have never felt so alive! I feel really honored by all the people that supported me and participated in all my adventures.

I still have some stragling rituals that didn't fit into the 30.

Things to complete
Life Story - Still writing
Sunset Hike, Paseo Mirmar
Maeve is creating a wonderful ritual for me as part of a workshop that she is developing all about finding your voice which is somethign I need to explore.
My adventures of getting my tatto will be forthcoming as well

Heidi just also gave me a ritual to do, Don't know if anyone said this one yet.. But, how about you take a class in artwork one day.. Like pottery or glass cutting.. Make something that is meaningful and artistic.. Then give it to someone to cheer them up.. Hopefully that is a good one for u.. :) Love u and hugs


I will stay tuned to my life.........

Ritual #27 Contact Someone from Past


5/21/09

My mother in law, Denise for my ritual wanted me to contact someone from my past, thank them, and let them know what impact they have had on my life. I thought about it for a bit and feel that if it wasn't for my amazing supervisor Elaine I don't know if I would be where I am today. I was just out of school and was working as a nurse at the VA when finally my graduation/degree went through. I interviewed for a social work associate position at the VA after encouragement from the unit social worker who gave me a good referral. I interviewed with Deborah, Elaine, and Bob who was the head of the social work deparment at the time. Deb and Elaine were really supportive while Bob was a little more intimidating. I felt immediately at ease when either Elaine or Deb directed a question at me. I left them with my portfolio not knowing how the actual interview went. When I came back to pick up my portfolio, Bob actually told me that it was enthralling. Hoping that was a good sign I left for home. After I got home my mother in law called me to tell me I got the job! She worked in HR so was one of the first to know. No one knew that I was dating Brian at the time. She told them that I was her future daughter in law, and they were surprised. So I feel good that I got it on my own.

Elaine was always so reassuring and supportive. I would bring my worries and questions to her and she would always make time to be receptive. My anxiety evaporated when I was around her and I increasingly started to grow some confidence in my skills and decision making. She was always there though if I was full of self doubt on a case or even if I had a personal concern. She had a way about her where she could see right through to the problem at hand, address it, while making everyone feel good about the decision. She encouraged me in my development and motivated me to work on any weaknesses without any severe criticism. She saw my strenths too when I didn't always see them and always would tell me that I was a good social worker. It was a very caring and wonderful environment to explore and grow in myself. Debbie my other supervisor, was also great as she was sharp witted, funny, and more into the clinical side of things. We could discuss cases and she was a good one to let out steam with. With both of them I felt that I had the complete package.

When I moved out to California it was quite a shock to be in the "real world." I was expected to do a lot of things on my own in my new job as a social worker. I had to run unit life instead of going to monitor which what I had been doing before. The support I received from Elaine gave me the confidence that I could do it. I called her the first few months I was out and got great support and advice from her.

Even though I decided to not pursue a higher degree in social work, Elaine has been supportive the whole way through. She was one of my main referalls to get into grad school and I couldn't wait to tell her I was accepted, and then when I graduated.
She still sends Christmas cards and we still correspond through email now and then.

I am still so grateful to have met her and know that looking back I will always see her as one of the most influential people I met while building my career.

This is what I recently emailed her but think I might send her a more thorough email detailing everything I wrote above.

Elaine,

Wanted to let you know that I finished my Masters in Clinical Psychology. I am officially a Marriange and Family Therapist Intern and registered with the board! Now just about to take the next step. Updating my resume and will try to get a job in the mental health field.

Thanks so much for all of your support. Don't know if I would be here right now without you and your encouragement.

Thanks and hope you and your family are well!

Theresa Journeau-Collins M.A., MFTI

Theresa

That is wonderful news! I know you will make a great marriage and family therapist. I knew you were a very special person the as soon as you started working in social work service. Years ago I was fortunate to work with a wonderful family psychologist at Bedford. She and Don Nadeau were involved in starting the psychoeducational program for families of loved ones with a major psychiatric illness. Your personality reminds me of her! I know you will find a job that you love. How is Brian? When Mark and I watch NCIS, I remember you telling me that Brian was an extra on that show. I stlll love working here at Boston VA in the dialysis unit

I love the emphasis on the clinical. Please keep in touch….. Take care, Elaine

Just from that email you can see how special she is. We meet angels in our lives that guide us where we are supposed to go. Look out for the angels in your lives and let them know how special they have been to you.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ritual #30 My 30th B-day & Spa Day (Part 2)


5/24/09

So aside from the day of renewal and relaxation. Brian and I planned to have a romantic evening at home for him to give me my present and also something to help me cement everything that I have learned from my past rituals in order to take it forward into my life.

I first drove Janis to the airport. It was hard to see her go. She's been here for over a week and it almost felt like she lived out here now. She said she felt the same and that it would be strange to be apart after having so many fun recent adventures together.

Brian and I decided to have dinner at home and we ordered take out. When I got home it was there and Brian was arranging the table. We put on some soft music and I opened my presents. First I opened a card from the kitties which is tradition. I opened a funny one from Brian that had a little bunny on the front which said "I'm sorry I didn't bake you a cake, I have other ideas for the frosting" The bunny is winking suggestively. Brian wrote under it, "I eat is it!" Which made me giggle. I opened my present to find a Supernatural book based on the TV show which is one of my favorite ones. I opened my sweet/romantic card from Brian which read "A birthday promise, a lifetime of love, for the love of my life." Signed "Love you baby" BC
Next I opened and found the movie Twilight that I hadn't bought yet and really wanted. I opened and found the first season for True Blood which I am soo excited for. Brian bought me the most recent book in the Sookie Stackhouse series which True Blood is based but I read it already so we are going to go back to the store and he'll let me pick something out I want to read.

Then came the ritual. Brian had typed something out on a piece of paper. This is what I read:

I've been doing HMAD for over 2 years now without missing a day, and I STILL get people saying "You really watch a movie every day?". But they also often comment about how there's "no way" they could ever find the time to do that. I then explain that my entire day is pretty routine, so all it took was fitting it into the "schedule", and thus now it's just part of my day, same as showering, eating my cereal, or going to work a half hour late.


And that is the complete opposite of you, who practically loathes routine. You live for adventure and new experiences, to the extent where getting you to relax for the better part of a Sunday is considered a triumph for me. That said, I wasn’t too surprised when you said that you were going to do 30 “rituals” leading up to your birthday.


Some were fairly simple, such as riding on the swings at the park or dancing for fun. Others took the better part of a day or even a weekend. Some were solo, others required assistance from others (or involved doing something for another person). As I read your blog, I see that each had their own lesson to take away, and they were all unique from one another.


Suffice to say, as the previous sole daily blogger of the house, I am very proud of you for writing about each one and (I think) not missing any days, something I couldn't even manage in my first month (I missed a movie 9 days after starting HMAD). I am also impressed with the range of activities, some I didn't even know about until I read the blog.


But the funny thing is, you could have written a blog about what you did without any sort of plan or guide over any random month of the year and it wouldn't look much different. Birthday or not, you’re always doing art projects, going to yoga/dance classes, going on hikes, trying new foods/recipes, etc. So while you only planned for 30 days, and there were a couple days where you were worried about "having time" for the day’s ritual, from my point of view, you’re more or less been doing the same thing (sans the blogging) that you’ve been doing since I have known you and probably a long time before that.


In short, I hope you realize that you don’t need a birthday to be a catalyst for continuing to be yourself, and I hope you continue to update your blog with all the new and/or focused experiences you enjoy from day to day.


Happy Birthday Cuddle! Love!

Suffice to say there were tears in my eyes after I finished reading it. It meant a lot to me that he said he was proud for what I did and saw the value that I took away from the experience. This whole experience has helped me to see that you can make every day magical. It is all about intention and what you want for yourself each day.

The next part of the ritual included feeding each other. We dug into our Chinese food which was really good. We fed each other a piece being symbolic of how we will continue to try to feed each other's dreams. This felt so significant to symbolize how important it is to receive support from one another to go after our dreams.

After dinner I lit some candles in the bedroom and we lay there talking and cuddling. We shared what our dreams are for the future. It was good to share it and realize that we do want the same things such as home, children, a fulfilling career. Sometimes you might just assume what each other wants. It felt so good laying in his arms knowing that we are looking forward to a wonderful future together. We both see each other and love one another for who they are.

This was the perfect ending of a wonderful day and my rituals.

Ritual #30 My 30th B-day & Spa Day! (Part 1)






5/24/09

So when I was debating on what I wanted to do for my birthday about 2 months ago I realized I didn't want the same old. I wanted to mark it with something special. Something that would reflect the significance that this milestone signifies for me. I looked at all sorts of spiritual retreats but came to the conclusion that not only did I want an experience where I could relax and reflect I also wanted a little pampering too. My friend Portia recommended that we go to Glen Ivy Hot Springs in Corona, CA which is this amazing out door day spa which sports many different types of pools, treatments, and services. I decided that I wanted just a close group of girlfriends to share this day with me. Portia picked me up and Janis who has been visiting from Mass drove with us. We met with my friend Deborah at the resort.

So sleepy eyed at 7:30am, we crawled into Portia's car. I was handed an iced coffee very generously given by Portia. We had a nice drive and could tell that we were nearing when the area became a little less populated and there was beautiful mountains and vegetation around. We pulled into Glen Ivy as we hooted with excitement. We were one of the first groups in line and got in pretty quickly. It was my b-day so I got in free and was able to use my gf's to get in Janis for her b-day. We just stared with wonder when we walked in. "Is this paradise?" I think I remember asking. Everywhere I looked there were beautiful vegetation, palm trees, little waterfalls.

We went to the lockers and changed. Even in the locker area there is an assortment of things for our use. They have showers, a steam room, and a hot tub. The hot tub was quite large and reminded me of the bath houses described in times of the Greek where women would go and bathe. There were actually even Grecian carvings over the it.

It was still a little cool around 9:30am in the morning but not too cool. The sky was blue and the sun was starting to come out more. We found a pool with rafts that we could use. I got in the water and it was comfortable, like bath water. I drifted around the pool, my stomach on the raft. Lazily propelling myself around with my hands, looking around at the beauty, and talking to my friends. It felt so relaxing and surreal after all the craziness of the day before. Portia and I made our way to get our treatments, Portia got a facial while I went to get the Spring Detox.

The Spring Detox included exfoliation with a lavender/eucalyptus scrub, followed by an oil swedish massage, and wrap. Also included admission to the Grotto. I had a very sweet lady who ushered me in from outside where I was sipping tea and listening to water falling under some lush foliage. I was told to undress and go under a sheet. We talked pleasantly while she scrub my skin vigorously with the scrub. I went on my stomach and she administered the scrub head to toes. Then I took the sheet around me and went to the shower to scrub it off. I could smell the eucalyptus and lavender scent. The smell was so calming and I took a blissful short shower knowing that she was waiting for me. When I stepped out my skin was already soft and smelled sweet. When I went back in she had me lay on my stomach and put my face in the ring. She used warmed oil and took her time rubbing it in. She spent a lot of time on my back and it was luscious. I went on my back and she completed the massage. Then the best part in my opinion. She used warmed towels and pulled the sheets in such a way that I was completely cocooned. It is hard to describe how it feels. You feel like you are being warmly embraced by someone you love. It felt so comforting.

She mentioned that she joked with a girl who was 18 years old who never had gotten it done before that she would have to get out on her own. I asked if she ever heard what happens to butterflies if someone breaks the cocoon. She said she hadn't. I told her that butterflies won't be able to fly. That it takes the struggle to get out of the cocoon for their wings to be strong enough to fly. I compared it to how in life, people have to face their own challenges in order to be strong enough to do things on her own. She told me she felt this was really inspiring to her and that she was going to tell her daughter about that.

I got a nice massage on my face too with some acupressure before she removed me from the the wrap. She and I joked about me not wanting to leave my cocoon but having to.

As I thanked and left her I felt so relaxed. I couldn't help smile at everyone that I walked by and when spoken to I replied softly and slowly. My dopiness lasted until half way through lunch at least. I ate with Portia and Janis as Deb was still getting her package done. They have amazing fresh food. I had an amazing turkey sandwich with sprouts and avocado. It came with fruit and I bought some chips along with some iced tea. I felt really good eating slowly, purposefully, relaxed from my massage, and with close friends. Afterward we went to the steam room and the sauna before we parted with Portia and made our way to the Grotto to meet up with Deb. The Grotto is similar to the concept of the one at the Bunny Mansion. They take you down on an elevator to this cavern. They lather you up with this greenish mixture. You feel like you are being painted like a house. The next room you sit for awhile, rub it in to your skin before you go to the next room. We met Deb in this room and sat covered in our green beauty. It was fun to just rub it in while chatting. We went and rinsed it off which took some time. Then the best part is the last where you go in a cool misty cavern where there is cool water, tea, and green apples. The green apple was perfect after the dryness of the other room. The whole experience of the Grotto was really cool. You felt at times like you were really in a cave somewhere.

We met up with Portia and I bought a bottle of champagne to toast with bought again with all the gc's. We toasted friendship, our futures, and my b-day. It was a really perfect moment to be with some of my closest friends, celebrating all together. I mentally took a picture of the moment. Deb had to leave and Janis wanted to go read and relax more by the pool. So Portia and I went to Club Mud.

Now this was soooo fun! We went into the muddy water and in the middle was this mound of mud. You just scoop it up with your hands and just slather yourself with it. Portia and I slathered it on our backs. I got carried away and put layers of it on. We went into the Wafa room where you go to let the mud bake. We sat in and Portia and I had a nice conversation on our future wishes for our careers and possibilities of continued school. We got out, flaked off the mud, and washed it off. My skin was soooo smooth after it.

We went back into the steam room which was great. In the steam room there is a mental play that you have to do with yourselves. Part of you wants to jump out because the warm air is going into your lungs and feels intense. We just sat lotus style and used Pranayama breathing to decrease some of the intensity. We spent more time the first time but the second after the mud was really good too. It helped to get rid of the rest of the toxins and the mud. I felt really good once I left the steam room. We then took really nice long showers. They have shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel in all of the showers which made it really nice. I changed, dried my hair and was surprised to see that it was 4:45pm. We got Janis, she changed and we were off by 5pm. We got some of the supplies. I got the lavender/eucalyptus scrub and Portia got this skin product line.

What an absolutely amazing day! It was so good to be taken care of and to take care of myself. I felt like it was day long ritual of self love. It was made even more special by those that I got to share it with. Also thought of everyone that made it possible for me to go. I felt like they were with me too. Next entry I'll share my evening with my hubbie. Feels like it needs its own.

Ritual #29 Friendship and Celebration!











5/23/09

So today was my BBQ/B-DAY Party for my 30th! When I was thinking about my rituals I was thinking about how I could fit a ritual into a day full of festivity but then I realized the celebration itself is a ritual. We don't always take the time to celebrate the important milestones in our lives. My friend Deborah told me that she has never met anyone that has acknowledged their birthday as much as me. I am trying to do a better at acknowledging important things in my life. I started this by actually keeping a journal that I would only write positive things into, including compliments I might get, things I've earned/accomplished/or overcome. It is difficult to change our instinct towards negative thinking. We have created pathways in our brains from persistent worry/anxiety, so it is difficult to maintain a focus on what is good in our lives.

My b-day celebration was more than about my b-day. It was an example of how I hope I can treat myself, be truly alive, and acknowledge the important things I have accomplished.

I am also aware now about letting my friends know how much they all mean to me. It was so amazing to have everyone there sharing in the day. I have amazing supportive friends and each of them are a truly gift to my life.

A lesson I did learn this b-day too is to let go more and let others do for me. Sometimes I feel I've got to do it all. My friends completely came through and brought great food and everything. I bought a cake for the party not knowing that Brian was going to get one for me. He picked out the perfect thing. It was a plate f cupcakes but the top was made up with leaves, flowers, fairies, butterflies, and other things. It was like a whimsical forest of confectionery sugar. It was perfect and Ginger told me that Brian had said, "Doesn't this just scream Theresa?" I have learned more and more that I can count on people to come through.

It was as amazing celebration of where I am now, in this moment now and all the things I will do. My friends being there, bringing presents/food is like a blessing or wish for my continued happiness. I bring the gifts of good friends/family into the future with me. And the future looks bright.

Ritual # 25 Griffith Observatory












5/19/09

Many of these recent rituals seem to be related. Going to the redwoods, hiking in nature, looking and speculating about the stars and space, and tomorrow watching the sun set over the ocean. When we are caught up with our every day we might not feel the oneness that we are a part of. Our troubles and individual worries take precedence. When I am in nature or considering where I really am in the great scheme of things I feel actually more at ease. I feel a sense of calm that I am not alone. I know that I will return to this "oneness" when I die.

I was considering the other day about the soul. A lot of debate has gone on about this concept generally between the scientific world and the religious world. When I think about it though, why would we want an undying soul? The greatest sense of peace that I experience is when I feel connected and a part of everything around me. I look around and see that all my atoms, flesh are connected to earth and space. Reconnecting to it feels like the ultimate goal. I feel like this would be the ultimate love versus still being a separate sentient being.

As I explored the Observatory with my friend Janis, I learned such facts as after the big bang it took billions of years before there was any sign of life. This puts our lives in such perspective. The world was waiting around for life to begin, longer than life has actually been alive. We met this really informative staff member that showed us the globe of the moon and how lakes/oceans are named and plotted even though they are not conventional water bodies. We got to hold a meteor rock, and I was told that it will be the oldest thing I will ever touch. I wonder what mysteries and other strange worlds the rock could share if it could communicate with us. We went up to the observation deck which overlooked all of LA and we of course could see the Hollywood Sign further off.

We were trying to take pictures but they were coming out fuzzy. A boy named Peter from Denmark let us use his tripod and we got some amazing pics. We talked with him and his friends for awhile after. They actually were traveling through America but mostly the western part. They started in Canada, went down to CA, and was going to be on their way to Vegas. I guess things are as bad or worse in Europe. They were young in their 20's and couldn't find work there. In some ways it was good to know that America is not alone in this struggle. Perhaps there is hope that the world will come together to pull ourselves out of this economic downfall.

Overall this experience helped me to see although I might have a small place in the world, I claim a part of it and can have an impact. As it takes such small things in space/time to create something entirely new.

Ritual # 28 Making Mischief



5/22/09

So in college my friend Lisa P. and I would get in these silly moods where we would play pranks on friends. Such as try to deliver things to our friends' houses undetected or sneaking in to their place to shock them, etc. Lisa and I also had our own radio station that we called Our Diabolic Plan. On our show we gave updates on our little missions and pranks.

I also would pull other pranks/missions like the time when I sneaked my friend Amber into a closed building in school so she could have the first look at who made the cast of a play that she had auditioned for. We used our cellphones as walk-e-talkies. It was pretty hilarious...

For Lisa P.'s ritual for me she asked that I plan and act out my own mission. Think this is important to continue to have a sense of humor and a playful nature. I racked my brain though to think of what I could plan. I had been borrowing my neighbor Ginger's vacuum for a few days to clean and get my place ready for my b-day party. I was thinking I had to return it to her but was also thinking about wanting to pull a prank/carry out a mission with someone. Presto! I got it.

I dressed Ginger's vacuum up with this ugly long red wig. Over it I put this silly striped winter hat and then donned a long striped scarf. I also wrote a note saying, "Your vacuum missed you." I sneaked downstairs to see if she was home. She was! I had a key to her place and had thought about just leaving it for her but now that won't work. So very very carefully I picked up the huge heavy vacuum. I carried it down a flight of stairs going very slowly to not make a noise. I placed it delicately down on Ginger's door mat, knocked really loud and then jumped around the corner. I heard the door open, Ginger laughing, and then calling out "Ok, where are you?" I jumped back into sight and we brought the vacuum in together to her place, still laughing.

Ginger said she got a good kick out of it and made her laugh. It was fun to be silly and not take things too seriously.

Ginger will be sending me a picture of Bissel, the vacuum as we like to call her so I'll post a pic of it soon!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ritual #26 Sunset Beach Ritual



5/20/09
My friend Deborah lives in Venice and often times will ride her bike down to the beach with a camera to feel connected to the earth and unwind. She shared her ritual with me:

"Here is a ritual I have that I will share with you as it is has brought me much peace and perspective over time. I walk or ride to the beach (you can drive) with my camera and/or my journal to watch the sun go down. As I watch I look intently at everything I see, I breathe in the salty air and smile to myself. I see the massive power and mystery of the ocean and realize how big and expansive the world is. I see the beauty of the sand, the sky, the birds, the dolphins, the happy people also appreciating the paradise we live in."

I started the day off with a dim thought to go to the beach for the ritual but then it was decided when I got a call from my friend Janis that she had rented a brand new gold mustang convertible to drive down to San Diego in. She said she would wait around so we could take a joy ride. So we met up took pics of ourselves with the car a bit and then headed off to Pacific Coast Highway towards Malibu to watch the sunset. With the top down and the radio blasting we felt like a hot stuff. When we were about to turn on Pacific Coast Highway, there was a huge group of 10 year old boys that were crossing the street. They all shouted nice car when we went by. That was fun. The sun was just setting as we pulled up to the Malibu Pier.

I got out and went to stand on the rocks overlooking the small drop to the ocean below. I took in the sound of the waves crashing to shore, the seagulls flying and squawking overhead, the smell of salt, the silver rippling of the water changing color from the setting sun. I was very peaceful and felt free of worries. I felt a sense of oneness with the ocean and sky. It was beautiful and such a great way to wind down the week.

Janis and I had a delicious meal at the restaurant right on the pier call The Beachcomber. I had grilled salmon, with veggies, and coconut rice. It was so good.
It felt surreal to have a nice California Pinot in my hand while watching the waves crash to shore. I have been so lucky in the last week and a half to see so much beauty.

I felt truly honored that Deb shared with me a ritual that is close and dear to her and her own personal development.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ritual #24 The Mystic Redwoods






5/17/09

Janis and I have been friends and traveling buddies for over 15 years! Janis has always talked about the Redwoods in Northern California where she has been 4 times before. I would hear stories and look at the pictures and just instantly feel this longing or connection to see them. It was always in the back of my mind and then Brian told me about his interest of moving to California to pursue his dreams in film. I was scared but excited. One of my thoughts actually was, "I'll finally be able to go see the Redwoods!" Well about 3 years later I've done it. I was lucky that things just came together so perfectly. Janis wanted to come back out and visit and she was trying to think of which ritual to do. It just popped up in both of our minds instantly. The Redwoods!

It is difficult to describe what the draw is exactly for those that might think well its just trees. Its like a holy pilgrimage in a way for those that really love and revere nature. These trees have been preserved and are ancient. Imagine all of what they have seen. Its like exploring a museum of fine and ancient art. I always feel peaceful and soothed when I sit under a tree. There used to be this tree at college that I would take my breaks under and I always felt renewed when I did.

We are of course connected to the earth but dirt and rock don't usually hold much for us although I love rocks and have been collecting them for many years. The waving plains of grass, the streaming rivers, and the trees rocking with the gentle breeze, these feel more alive to us and sometimes if you let go of all your responsibilities/conecpts of your identity/etc you can feel a part of that dance that nature does.

Although we spent Sunday and Monday exploring the Redwoods, the majority of the time in the redwoods was on Sunday. We got up, showered, and sat in the little cafe at the motel, eating oatmeal w/ bananas/drinking coffee, and talking to others that were visiting the area. We actually met a couple, Alexis and Pier who are from LA who drove up and were continuing to Oregon before they flew back to LA. They were hilarious and a lot of fun. I might try to hit them up when they come back in LA.

We plotted out what we wanted to do that day. Our first stop was to the Trees of Mystery. Janis had worried it would be hokey but it advertised a lift that brings you through the tree tops. We both felt it would be worth it just to see that view!
We stood at the statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe that dwarfed us. In the pictures that I will post soon, he actually looks Paul Bunyan was going to squish us with his shoe, we were so small next to him. Janis went to the cafe nearby to eat a little more and I explored the gift shop. I found my magnet! Its a thing I have to collect them where ever I go. Then we started off on the hiking path. We right away saw this amazing tree called the Elephant tree. Its called that because its roots look like the trunk of an elephant. It was really amazing. It took us a long time to go through that forest as we stopped every few feet to be amazed by another one of nature's scultpures. We saw a tree that looked like a lighting bolt, another that they called the Catherdral trees which were actually a few trees linked that created a kind of cathedral. People actually sometimes get married under them. Janis was planning her ideal wedding to be held there, she joked she just neeeded a groom first. I really liked this place. It was a really good introduction but as I compare it to the other forests/groves I feel you were seperated somewhat from the trees. We couldn't peer as close as we wanted or touch them as much. Therefore we didn't get the same intimate/intense connection we did with some of the other forests where we just felt engulfed in.
The Sky tran here at Trees of Mystery was definitely worth going. It was just breathtaking to soar over the tree tops. This way you can feel what it must be like to be a bird, free to soar. You get off and you can actually climb more stairs to even get another beautiful visage. On one side we saw mountains/flowers/forests and on the other was more forests and the ocean. They left binoculars that you could use to peer closer. We spent a lot of time just drinking it in. Due to being in the city and only getting out now and then to nature, I was parched from lack of connection to nature/beauty. I felt at first I just greedily guzzled the beauty into my soul. Then I formed a more balanced connection to the scenery around me.
After the tran we went through this area of the walk where you see carvings and the story of Paul Bunyan. Now this was actually a bit cheesy and strange that they were promoting mythology about logging in the very area where we were revering the trees. The carvings were actually really amazing though.
We went to Praire Creek area next and that's where we fell in love with that area. It was funny that we had just stopped at this trail head without a real understanding of which one it was. We started walking in and Janis exclaimed that this was the trail she loved and was looking for. I guess it was just calling to us. At the begining there are very large beautiful trees that take some time to go around then the forest becomes more lush and you go over the bridge and stream. The deeper we got into the forest the more quiet and still it seemed. We seemed to be the only around in that immediate area which was so nice. We were really able to just connect to the amazing energy in the forest. The trees seemed the most ancient in that area. There was a wisdom and understanding that came of strongly from them. After we went to Big Tree which was a little more populated but still amazing. Then off to Gold Bluff's Beach! We drove down this dirt/gravel road for quite awhile until we could feel the ocean breeze. We got out and walked. We happened upon the most gorgeous beach I've seen. The thistle, coastal flowers, and bleached wood on the beach contrasted with the overcast sky, and dark sand. There were also misty green hills all around is. I was cold but content, shivering while watching Janis scamble out of her shoes and socks, running into the surf. I took a mental picture along with some fuzzy ones on my camera phone. Its an image that I would like to paint in watercolor some day.
We luckily were off Davidson road by the time it got dark as that road is bumpy, windy, and narrow. We saw some kids speeding through that looked like they were going to party on the beach. On our way back we drove along some of the coast. It was really beautiful and there placks that excplained the mythology and stores surrounding the area from the National Park Service.
That was one busy Sunday!


We decided to get the most time in the Redwoods on Monday as possible before we had to leave to drive to the airport. We drove up to the tourist spot in Klamath where supposedly you can drive through the tree. It cost us $4 and we couldn't really drive through it as it was a little narrow. We did walk through it though. It sounded like a fun idea but when we got there we decided it was kind of sad. This gorgeous tree was just gutted out so people could get there kicks. It seemed like defacing it somehow but I understand the concept of trying to make money any way you can. We were told it was a poor area so we can't fault them too much.
Next we went back down to the trails and picked another part of Praire Creek which is extremely long. This part of Praire Creek was so different. While still ancient this part of the forest was more green/lush/and sort of magical. We completely expected a gnome to just walk through the foliage. There were these two trees that faced each other and created a small path to enter that area of the woods. We stopped and half seriously asked them if we could pass. They felt like the grandmother/grandfather protectors of the forest. I put my hand on one trunk while Janis put hers on the other, we linked hands and could feel an energy pulsing back and forth between us and the trees. It was so incredible. I think this was my favorite forest. We felt so energized by it and awestruck. The forest reuses everything. Even if a tree fell it slowly grew moss, greass, and flowers on it until it started to resemble the forest floor.
This is how I feel after life is like. We are brought back into the fold and beauty/wonder grows out of our good work/energy. We become part of the great collective or spirit again.
We walked past a cool stream with a beautiful lily leaning towards the water. It was such a beautiful scene. We cooled our foreheads with the water and then continued on. We entered into a clearing full of ferns and flowers. It was bathed in so much sunlight. We became warmed by it and giddy. We took pictures, skipped around, and I lost my footing and plopped down. I laughed to myself, but it was all part of the energy that suddenly changed in that sunny place. We turned around then and made our way back to the car. It was very difficult to leave that area of the forest. We felt intantly at home there and didn't want to leave the forests' amazing beauty and energy. We did end up being able to peel ourselves away. We then were off to Lady Bird Johnson grove before we made our way back to SF.

It was around 11:45am or so when we got to Lady Bird Johnson. Janis said we needed to leave by 12pm so we only had a very short period of time. Unfortunately/Fortunately, however you look at it, we spent like 45 minutes there. It was before noon and there was this gentle mist everywhere which just bathed the trees in this glow that we loved. These were th mystical trees I came to see. Then the forest unfolded its greatest miracle. We were walking and suddenly saw shafts of light just coming out of the trees. It created a circle of light all around us, and there was a rainbow spiral of light where the sun was trying to push through the space between the trees. It was probably one of the most beautiful spectacles of my life. We literally collapsed on the grown and sat, staring up at this beauty for awhile. We flagged down those nearby and just pointed. It brought more people there and we all just gawked at this gift that nature chose to give us that day.

Then we were off to SF! We had quite a trip ahead of us, like 7 hours. Our plane left at 8:35pm. We actually almost missed it and would have if anything else had taken a minute more of time. Janis just drove like hell was following her and we got there with 15 minutes to spare.

This was one of the most amazing experiences in my life, what more can I say? :)

PICS WILL BE POSTED SOON! We have over 200 of them!