Thursday, April 30, 2009

Schedule of rituals

Friday 4/24/09 - Fire Ritual (Amy)
Saturday 4/25/09 - Mosaic (Holly)
Sunday 4/26/09 - Reflection (Shannon)
Monday 4/27/09 - Spreading Love (Kolleen)
Tuesday 4/28/09 - Do something special (Mom)
Wednesday 4/29/09 - New Dance Class (Helena)
Thursday 4/30/09 - Inspire Someone (Susanne)
Friday 5/1/09 - Solo Dance Party (Jessica)
Saturday 5/2/09 - Lake Shrine (Ginger)
Sunday 5/3/09 - Ride rollercoaster (Monica)
Monday 5/4/09 - Forgiveness (Lee)
Tuesday 5/5/09 - Love my Body (Amber)
Wednesday 5/6/09 - Last Day on Earth (Lisa F)
Thursday 5/7/09 - Create Beauty (Katie)
Friday 5/8/09 - Glam Day! (Amber)
Saturday 5/9/09 - Sunrise Ritual w/ Brian (Jamie)
Sunday 5/10/09 - Renewal Yoga Class (Portia)
Monday 5/11/09 - Help a stranger (Jenna)
Tuesday 5/12/09 - Act like a kid/Keep beginner's mind (Kristine)
Wednesday 5/13/09 - Love letter to myself (Indushrie)
Thursday 5/14/09 - 4 Part art project/Life Symbolization (Nicole)
Friday 5/15 - Letters for the future (Jessica)
Saturday 5/16 - Travel to somewhere new in California (Michelle)
Sunday 5/17 - The Mystical Red Woods (Janis)
Monday 5/18 - My life story* (Andrea)
Tuesday 5/19 - Observatory (Tina)
Wednesday 5/20 - Sunset Beach Ritual (Deborah)
Thursday 5/21 - Contact Someone from my Past* (Denise)
Friday 5/22 - Mission Impossible/Prank (Lisa)
Saturday 5/23 - B-day celebration/Friendship
Sunday 5/24 - B-DAY!/Spa Day (Tanya)

Ritual #7 Inspire Someone


**Dedicated to Ursula**

My friend Susanne wanted me to try to inspire an elderly person or child with a statement. This is what came out of it, enjoy!

I have had the wonderful opportunity to start to get to know this German elderly woman named Ursula at the nursing home that I work at. She is not on the unit where I work but because of this new lunch program where we are socializing more with the residents I find that I stop and visit her every day. She always eats alone in her room. I feel that although I try to inspire and give her suggestions/advice she in turn gives me the same. Is there any type of relationship that is ever one sided?

I always get pulled into Ursula's world. Even though she repeats her stories you can't help be drawn in each time. She was a housekeeper/maid/entrepreneur that came from Germany in her young twenties only knowing two English words, "Alright," and "Ok." Her mother wanted her to go undt (German word for and I think) make dollars in America but only gave her $10 to start out. She first worked for nuns. She likes to share that everything was alright. The food was alright, the work was alright, the people were alright, but one thing was not right! The money. She only got $100/mo. She decided she should change this. She saw a job in the Jewish newspaper looking for help. She met them and said I'm a Catholic but I have nothing against Jewish people. She said they got along fine and that they were wonderful people. She worked for them for 3 years and 50 years later they still call her to follow up on how she is. Ursula talks a lot about common sense and how that is how she got by and took care of herself and her daughter. She survived an abusive marriage with a man that had schizophrenia and used to beat her badly. She didn't know much English but knew she had to change this. She ended up getting a divorce in the same court house where she got married.

One amazing tid bit was she actually worked for Elvis as a housekeeper/cook. She remembers Priscilla and said that her own daughter was very close in age with Priscilla. She said she didn't understand the big deal. He had a nice two story house and everyone had a Mercedes. She said it makes her sick that everyone thinks its such a big deal.

She is very health conscious. I am proud of her that she still eats and does what she wants at her age, which is prob at least in her 70's. She alternates her days at lunch from having bread and butter. She eats the best bread and takes her time. Then after she will have a glass of red wine. I often help her uncork the bottle and pour a small glass. Then other alternating days she might have bananas and milk. I hope I can stay strong with my traditions and what I want when I get older. It seems so easy to just get pushed into a routine with what is expected of you in institutions like a nursing home.

Ursula cleans up as much as she can in her wheelchair. She will billow a huge sigh if there is a spot on her table she just can't reach or clean off. If she could stand out of her wheelchair, I am sure that she would be scrubbing everything down.

While she inspires me with what she has accomplished, her determination against great odds, and her perseverance, I feel like I in return give her something back. When I walk in with a cheerful hello every day, her face brightens, she gives me a little smile, and her eyes twinkle. She loves to share with me a new photo or tell me the latest gossip about what nurse is doing what on the unit. I don't know if anything I say specifically has a great impact but I think my presence and my whole hearted desire to be there and hear her does.

In my small way I might say something to get her to soften up her strong views. She has a very hard view on people, especially when they don't measure up in her eyes. What I remember I said today was "Sometimes people will disappoint you but then other times they will surprise you." Don't think that was an earth shattering statement but she seemed to stop for a moment and think. I have no false illusions however that it will change how she thinks for a moment. I can expect that tomorrow she will be carrying on the same and I love that about her.

Hope you enjoyed meeting my friend Ursula. Look out for people in your world that you never thought would inspire you or likewise. They are out there waiting to meet you.

Ritual #6 Dance to a New Beat


I was full of excitement when I read my friend Helena's ritual for me. She asked me to go and participate in a dance class that I have never done before. I have always wanted to get into Arican Dance. It is one of the most joyful, beautiful, carefree, active dances I have ever seen. I explored online and was struggling to find a class that I would feel comfortable in coming in as a beginner as I was. Then my exploration brought me to Heartbeat House, and I fell in love with this place before I even went! Its hard especially in LA with all the professional dancers to find a dance center that offers classes that do not have a competitive feel and are geared for adults. Heartbeat House is it! Its in Atwater Village right off Los Feliz. The studio is pretty small, just two rooms. One as the waiting room and one dance room with a full length mirror on one side and a hard wood floor. I watched the previous class finish, which was Burlesque Ballet. Ballet with a sexy twist. They did a beautiful routine that was really sassy and I ached to join in, maybe next week. When I signed in they told me that for all new students there is a special where you can do $5/class for your first week! This is amazing..I can actually take 5 classes for the price of 1.

Our teacher was Doris and damn did she give us all a workout. I was sweating bullets and my heart was pounding out of my chest. We did a wonderful workout and then we started to build a routine. I soo miss having a routine to dance to. I have been doing some Contact improv dance which has also been amazing but I miss some structure. We broke into groups and performed taking turns. I felt exhilarated and couldn't help by having this big stupid grin plastered on my face. You can't help express yourself when you are dancing African.

I have felt this void inside my chest that only dance can fill. Its one of my major modes of expression and didn't realize that I had missed it so much. Thank you Helena for giving me this opportunity to rediscover dance and reintegrate it into my life.

I am soo sore today. I love that feeling. How could I want to sit in a gym, sitting stationary lifting weights that are clunky and painful versus engaging in full body bliss dancing my heart out? I feel sore from top to bottom. I don't think I have ever danced before where my actual shoulders, back, arms, stomach, and legs are all sore and feel so good.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ritual #5 Doing something special


**Jenna got the card! Here is her reply**
Hey Tree,

I got your birthday card and the phone call. You are too sweet! I love your card. That was awesome. Where did you even find that picture? Wow! That was old.
So this ritual has a kind of funny start. My mom suggested for a ritual to make an effort for someone's birthday, put effort into making a card so they knew I was thinking of them. She felt that it was more personalized. Funny thing is I had just sent a card out by email to my step dad so I thought she was on one hand commenting on sending him a generic email. Hey, most people will throw away a card unless it has a special message in it or something. I thought it was more eco to send email cards but turns out my mom and step dad hadn't checked their email so they didn't know I had sent an email card.

Anyway for this ritual I decided to make a card for my friend Jenna. Her birthday is coming up in about a week. As I took the time to plan out what I would make I suddenly had a flood of all these great memories with Jenna. We have been friends since we were Freshman in college which is actually about 10 years ago, how crazy! She was friends with my roomie, Katie but we ended up becoming better friends and hanging out more than she did with her. Jenna has this great personality. She is sarcastic and hilarious but also sweet, loving, and extremely generous. We spent many nights at college talking until 4am with a Yankee Fresh Cut Grass candle burning. Other times we would pile in her car she named George and try to get lost. Think she was the first one to take me to Cogswell Park in Fitchburg which is this beautiful pond. You can walk around the lake and feed the ducks. I've met her family and especially love her brother Josh and his fiance Julie. I definitely benefited from her culinary skills as she used to bake all the time.

A chocolate chip cookie stood out in my mind. Friendship is like a fresh warm cookie from the oven. Its warm, comforting, and sweet. So I ended up cutting out paper from a paper bag to make the cookie, construction paper for the chocolate chips, and I scanned a pic of us to put inside the card. On the outside it says, The sweetest thing...and in the inside it says, to have a friend like you.

I really enjoyed making this. I think my mom had a point. When you really time and thought into something for someone close in your life you really ponder what they would like and your connection with them. It was really nice to take time to reflect and I enjoyed making it by my hands.

Hope that she smiles when she opens it up :)

Ritual #4 Spreading the Love

So my friend Kolleen for this ritual had me take a stack of stickie notes and put "you are beautiful" on each one and place theme all over the place. So I wrote them all out the night before. I had to rush to move my car so I wouldn't get a ticket on street washing day so I wasn't able to place the notes too many places in the morning. I placed them on some doors and cars around my neighborhood. When I got to work, I ran around and placed them on some car doors, in the medication room at work, bathroom mirrors, and on computer screens. It was fun to watch people wonder who had done it and I heard that some people thought it was really nice and made them feel good about themselves. One woman said she had never gotten a note like that before. On my way home I had to stop at CVS. I was going to go to the bookstore after to place them in books or something but then I had a thought. I went to the magazine aisle and picked up fashion magazines. I thought, what would be better than picking up a fashion mag, wishing you could look like the air brushed models and turn a page and see "you are beautiful." I took a pic with my phone so I wouldn't be too obvious.

I hope that it did make people stop and smile. Perhaps it will cause a ripple affect around as each person passes on that feeling of love and self acceptance.

Thanks Kolleen!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ritual 3 - Reflection

Wow did Shannon put me to work on this one. The ritual consists of lots of writing/reflection exercises. I ended up writing by the pool where I live which is a very peaceful place where I spend a lot of my free time.

From my journal:
Today I am sitting in my courtyard near the pool. I like it out here. I can hear the sounds of the neighborhood but also the sound of the birds in the trees and fleeting around the flowers. I spend a lot of time out here in the warmer weather. In the heat of the summer I spend hours in the pool, reading with my towel out so I can stand in the pool leaning over the side.

30 things I am grateful for:
1) Health - For myself and others
2) Love
3) Friendship
4) A passion/purpose in my life
5) Time off
6) The honor of being part/impacting other people's lives in some small way
7) A beautiful clear morning, a fresh start
8) The air in my lungs
9) I live in a country where I can express my beliefs openly and without any fear
10) I'm free to express myself the way I feel comfortable with
11) How I feel after a good yoga class/workout.
12) My marriage with my hubbie
13) A good nights sleep - don't knock it :)
14) A beautiful view after putting all the effort in to reaching the summit
15) Financial stability
16) Good nutritious food that energizes my body.
17) My connection to every other living being. I'll never be truly alone in the world.
18) Being home to visit, see my friends and family for the holidays.
19) Seeing miracles unfold around me. Having the wherewithal to pay attention and be aware of all the special moments.
20) For people that see that life is bigger then just them and give back.
21) Being part of a greater whole.purspose
22) Jamming to a really good song and just being in the groove.
23) Being able to dance deliriously until I am the music.
24) Finding a spiritual community
25) Building/Having a home where I can be restored (Kitties and Brian)
26) Opportunity to travel out of my own small world and go on adventures.
27) Change - Even though extremely uncomfortable at times, change make me challenge myself even beyond where I think my limits are.
28) Having a quiet place inside me that I find in meditation etc where I am connected to my true self.
29) Having ways to communicate and stay in contact with friends and family even though so far away.
30) Memories - It means so much to me to reflect back on my life and remembering all the sig. moments in my life.

30 things that I have accomplished
1) My education - I feel pretty good about my education. I graduated with honors from high school, cum laude and so close to getting magna from college, and graduated grad school before turning 30.
2) Got through my traineeship at Tarzana Treatment Center! I can survive anything!
3) Got awarded a stipend through LA County DMH, now just have to get a job. :)
4) Moved successfully across the country and still doing great 3 years later. Brian and I both have good jobs and a good network of friends.
5) Completed a 2 week survival course in Maine when I was 17 years old.
6) Have had poetry published
7) Got a soccer scholarship
8) Have a really wonderful understanding husband and wonderful marriage
9) Worked with/mentored teens affected with adoption with art/theatre therapy. Put on a play. It feels like an accomplishment because it was a parrallel process and encouraged me to work through some of my own stuff as I am adopted.
10) I was a camp counselor at this Girl Scout camp in MA. I got awarded a recognition for creativity and they were impressed with my work with the theatre group that they offered me a position as a theatre director for the next year.
11) I've been inducted in 3 honor's societies. The Psych Honor's Society, Freshman's Honor's Society, and the National Honor's Society. Also got on Who's Who Among Students recognition.
12) In highschool I got the gold award for art. I didn't neccessarily draw better than others but got it because of my dedication. I would spend lunch periods hanging out in the art room finishing projects.
13) I am a good friend
14) I am a good sister
15) I am a good daughter
16) I am a good wife
17) Had like $8,000 saved before I went to college from all the work I did. I 've worked and saved since I was 12 years old.
18) I went to sailing school. I acutally got to sail the boat Kevin Kostern did in the movie No Way Out. I have survived sailing through more than one terrible storm.
19) I've danced since I was 4 and think I am a good dancer
20) I got up the guts to go paraisailing in Martha's Vineyard with my friend Andrea
21) Danced a whole recital with a sprained ankle. Some of the dances were on pointe. Don't know if this was amazing or just stupid.
22) Canoyed on Class IV rapids
23) Have my Reiki II in the Usui Method
24) I have gained a greater confidence/belief in myself. When I am being hard on myself I look back at a time when I was so shy that I was afriad to order a pizza on the phone. Everything that I have achieved since then seems such a significant shift that I can give myself more patience and understanding.
25) I feel that I have had some positive impact on the people around me and the world through my actions as an activist, volunteer, therapist, social worker.
26) I try to be earth conscious even though it is inconvenient at times. I use energy efficient bulbs, reusable bags, reusable water bottle, recycle everythign I can, conserve my water, buy in season and organic.
27) I think I was a brave little girl who although had a lot of bad things happen early in my life still maintained an open heart and was willing to give and receive love.
28) I stay true to who I am. ALthough this has not been always met with postiive reactions. I don't play into games, I am just real. I remember a friend of a friend came up to me once in high school and told me that he really respected me because I didn't give in to the pressure to be in one group or another. He said that he didn't know what category to put me in. That was one of the best compliments I have ever been given.
29) I paid off my car which is only 5 years old!
30) Think I am pretty well read. I love reading and think I have a good bank of knowledge along with my very inquisitive mind.

30 Things I want to accomplish
1) Become more confidant and knowledgable in my abilities as a therapist.
2) Integrate more holistic principles/somatic forms into my practice.
3) Become a Jungian analyst.
4) Become a mother - Not right now but I feel like that is the one experience being a mother will be truly amazing and transformative. I look forward to it but perhaps a few years from now.
5) Have a home - either a condo/house hopefully in the next few years.
6) Get a job with the stipend!
7) Get certified in somatic therapy.
8) Become a yoga instructor
9) Perhaps study Thai Massage/Phoenix Rising/Alexander Technique
10) Integrate more dance in my life. Has become harder but dance is life for me.
11) Maintain friendships and relationships in my life.
12) Open a wellness center
13) Maintain a good, open, mutually understanding marriage.
14) Stay active/good shape/good health
15) Keep working and living my passion and purpose
16) Buy a hybrid or electric car.
17)Want to be respected and known in my chosen field but not famous.
18) Feel very comfortable with who I am, more at ease.
19) Become more organized in my life, less chaos.
20) Go traveling!! Feel like I haven't really gotten to see the world. Places that I would like to see would be:
Costa Rica
Tour Europe - England, France, Spain, Germany, Ireland, Scotland
21) Write a book one day r/t my experience as a clinician. Insights or possible a new approach that I might develop.
22) Be able to teach
23) Run workshops
24) Have a dog - share this one with Brian :)
25) Be financially stable/comfortable
26) Get a tattoo - my lotus flower
27) Continue to be there for my friends and family through the good times and bad.
28) Become a better artist
29) Become more involved with activism worldwide
30) Finally beat a video game on my own. I finished one called Sanatarium but Brian helped some.

Shannon has me writing about 30 people that have impacted my life and how I have impacted their lives. After a few hours writing and only getting to number 6 I started on some of the other exercises. I will take some additional time to write up these so I can put enough thought and feeling that they need.
I will post the rest later............I'm tired :)

Ritual 2 - Mosaic Class

I got up bright and early on Saturday to meet my friend Holly in Topanga so we could travel to our mosaic class. Coffee in hand I journeyed to Holly's home in the hills. We had a very nice drive in, talking and catching up. When we entered the class everyone was so welcoming and friendly. I felt like I had died and gone to art heaven. I am a junkie when it comes to art and I was in a room that was quite large and full to the brim with different types of tile, glass, and boards. I was invited to go through all of it and pick out what I wanted. Was I excited. First was the task however was thinking up what I wanted to do. When Holly mentioned that the mosaic could be something to symbolize our friendship I instantly thought of a sun. Holly and also a lot of the amazing friends I have our like sunshine in my life. I grow and flourish when I have the warmth of friendship and love in my life. So what I decided to make was a flower arching up to a bigger than life sun. I found a picture of an orchid that I sketched from (Don't worry I will post pics soon problem is just finding the cord to upload them. I keep on misplacing it!) Then I started to pick up tiles in oranges, reds, yellows - sun/different shades of greens, yellows- grass, little tiles of blues/grays/tans/ - for the sky. They are teeny tiny and think will look good and be easier to put in. I stared at my picture and then the tiles. How was I going to get them to fit? Glass cutters in hand I started to break them apart. My pieces were jagged at first but became straighter. Still I was clueless of how I was going to get it to fit into the small places on the board like the stem of the flower. I spoke to the teacher, Tara who is so completely hilarious and awesome. She told me to scrap the tiles and go for the stained glass which was easier to cut and more forgiving. So she showed me how to hold them and shape the glass into arches and taper it so the next piece would connect. It was such a slow process but I got into an almost meditative state where I was just so absorbed into it. Once in awhile I would come out of it and talk to Holly or the teacher but mostly I just got in the zone. Holly and I took a break and went to this cute diner next door that served food. I had a turkey burger while she had a omelet. The food was excellent as was the company :) Blood sugar back in its proper place, we were able to get back on task. We were there a total of 6hrs and I don't have a lot of work to show for it. The flower petals are a quarter of being done, the leaves are half done but there is so much more to go. I think it might have been a big undertaking for the first time but I am excited to go back and finish. Holly has this beautiful abstract mosaic she started with pinks and oranges. It looks mountainous to me a bit. She had a finished one which she grouted. It looked amazing when she finished. I am excited to get to that step.

Holly had this to say about mosaics which I thought was very insightful and important for this overall project. She said that mosaics are like life in that we are only given the pieces, we are never given the whole picture, but when we put it all together it creates something unexpected and beautiful. I think I am taking some liberties with what she said but think that was the overall meaning.

On our way back I got to see her place where she is living with two other roommates. Its a large home of these sisters whose parents I believe have moved away. It seems like a very peaceful refuge.

It was an incredible time and I will be searching everywhere for my cord so I can upload the pics!

Friday, April 24, 2009

#1 Ritual - Letting go

4/24/09 Fire Ritual
I did a fire ritual donated by my friend Amy. It seemed fitting for the first ritual as fire can be cleansing, a new beginning, and leaves fertile ground for things to grow. The ritual consisted of burning artifacts or representations (writing on strips of paper) things I want to let go or bring into my life. I wasn't sure first where to have it. I was getting desperate and thinking I would have to burn each one by using a candle, a little anti climatic. It dawned on me that it would be perfect to have it at my friend Tanya's. Tanya is such a spiritual adviser/mentor that it was perfect. Additionally she has a great big backyard and a fire pit. I was so glad that Amy got to participate too. I picked up Amy around 7:30pm after I had went out and bought the wood. We went and picked up a bottle of wine and some cheese. When we got to Tanya's she was still out purchasing some things. When she got back she showed up with a good spread. We had chips, dips, olives, cheese, crackers, and wine when we were done. It was really nice. We sat and chilled for a bit catching up before we built a fire up. Tanya and I were wrapped in blankets around the fire due to a bit of a night chill. We found it hilarious that Amy was still in a short sleeved shirt and high heels. She recently moved from New England so 40/50 degrees felt pretty warm to her still. We wrote on slips of paper and took turns sharing how what we wanted to let go of and then we placed it in the fire. We waited until the whole slip of paper burnt completely and was extinguished before we went on. The burning of the paper seemed as meaningful and symbolic as the actual sharing was. The slips would burn in many different ways. Sometimes until only one word would show, or sometimes very slowly. We seemed to find it symbolic/fitting of what we were actually sharing. In the circle was Tanya to my right, her daughter sitting next to her, and Amy on my left. I was honored, touched, and inspired by everyone's sharing. My own sharing was very cathartic. It made the experience so much more to have people to witness what I wanted to let go of. That they were people that I cared a lot for was a bonus.

Some of the items I shared and burnt to let go of included:
Doubt - self doubt seems to be preventing me from reaching my full potential. I like what my friend Tanya says, "you have to get out of your own way.

Perfectionism- Things will not fall apart because I don't do things perfect. I will not be any less of a worthy person. Letting go of the fear that I will be judged poorly if I don't always appear perfect, letting some of my defenses down.

Letting go of fear/anxiety - I don't need them except in a flight or fight situation :) (psychology joke....lame) There isn't really any reason why I need to carry around worry, fear, and anxiety about my life. I need to try the best I can in any given situation and not worry past that. I have done what I can.

Sensitivity - I shared how my sensitivity is both a strength and weakness. I talked about how I want to maintain my sensitivity but to harness it more positively so it doesn't take me over and I take things so personally.

Bringing in:
An open heart - not afraid of being hurt

Being more authentic

I also let go that I finally graduated - It doesn't really feel real but I need to put it out there and realize that it is finished, I can celebrate, and move on from here

We all shared how light we felt after completing all of the sharing and burning. It was quite a wonderful experience and a great start! Thanks again to Amy, Tanya, and Tanya's daughter for being witnesses, participating, and being so supportive.

Right action

It makes me sick sometimes to see how others respond to responsibilities and how much ego they have. When I am on break at work if I get a call, if someone needs something, or I have someone come by my office. I might have an inner sigh but I will respond and put my needs on temporary hold.

At work just now we were all eating lunch. The wife of the new pt. called just to check on how he was doing. One nurse spoke to me rudely and said
"Don't bother us, we are eating!" I ignored her and let them know that the family was waiting on the other line. 5-7 minutes the phone was beeping because no one had picked it up yet. I peeked out and no one had even budged their fat arses. Thought it was tremendously rude, selfish, and uncaring. "Helping professionals" that are what nurses are often referred to but let me give you the inside track. Nurses are one of the laziness bunch of people that I have ever met. They know how to spring to action when need be but otherwise do as little as possible.

Not all of course but enough that it is really disheartening. It is hard to stay on track with what you need to do and not to be swayed to respond to that kind of behavior or make you wonder why you put in so much effort to offset theirs. I face that kind of attitude in many settings. "Why should I?" "What difference will it make" are some examples of some of this behavior.

I knew this one girl who would throw her soda cans away while there was a can for recyclables a few feet away. I would actually take them out and put them in the recyclabes. She used to say that her and her future children thank me for doing it because she can't remember or have time. It is always that someone else will do it. How emersed into yourself do you have to not realize that every action you make has a reaction. It is your responsibility to deal with the consequences of your actions, period!
But it isn't about them. I can only control my actions and try to inspire others by staying true to what I belive in.

(First day) On my path

Today marks the first of the 30 day rituals that I am doing for my 30th birthday. I feel that this is a venture that I will remember for the rest of the day. It might just be another birthday but inside me I feel this shift that is happening. One of my friends who is in her 50's said that she has witnessed these moments in her life where she can feel a real change occuring within her and her life. I feel like this is one of those moments in my life.

I am on my Path
I have been rummaging in the forest with branches tugging at my hair and clothes not knowing which way to go
My eyes unseeing
I have tumbled and scraped my knees and palms until they bled
My throat and skin have burned from thirst and from the sun
I have walked down roads that have led to cliffs and horrors
Weeping and calling for a home I couldn't find
Til I stopped and listened to the voice inside my heart and soul
The forests's song offering a sweet invitation
My bare feet whispered upon the cool untrodden grass
The lids of my eyes softly kissing my eyes until all I see is a soft glow beckoning me closer
I step into a wide open field the sweet breeze drying my tears and sweat and I feel a sense of welcome
I cradle my arms to my heart and raise my head in joy and say thank you thank you
While the first rain drop falls on my forehead and I am bathed in the baptism of renewal
I am ready now I hear in a voice deep inside me that feels more real then my own
I tentatively step forward and the sun breaks through the clouds welcoming me again to myself and my future.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Reactions from Earth Day Event and ideas on "convenience"

So I participated in an Earth Day event at Griffith Park on Saturday, April 18th. All the information I had was it went to 8:30am-2pm and we would be restoring the park r/t some of the fire damage that had occured. The day was blistering hot and when I arrived I signed in and waited to start. I talked pleasantly with some of the volunteers waiting for another 30 minutes before the event started. We gathered around and did some group activities and exercises to get warmed up. We gathered tools, gloves, and bags which we brought with us to the river at the park. It was a dried up river bed full of leaves, logs, and brush. We spent the day raking, bagging, moving brush/logs, and removing trash that ended up in the dried river bed. We went from the begining to the end of the river. With all the many volunteers which averaged over 60 less than 100, we finished the whole thing in 3 hours straight. Many of us were coughing and sneezing at the end of it, sweaty, and dehydrated. But was it great! It was so amazing to work hand and hand with so many people for one vision. I met some amazing, exuberant, caring individuals. I got a really nice gift bag and I prob slept that night the best in a long long time. I went home, took a shower, and slept for about 1 1/2 hours. I then went to a fiesta themed b-day party for my friend's husband complete with catered food: carne asada/pollo asada, rice, frijoles, cheese enchiladas. There was a margarita dispensor, professional videographer, professional dj, bar tender, and a mariachi band. It was a great time but went home very early for me at a party. Got there around 6:30 and left around 9:30. I was asleep a little after 10pm, slept amazingly. Woke up completely awake by 7am and was super productive.

There is something about working with your body that seems so natural. My body took over on instinct to a natural rythm that felt really good. My body wasn't used to it but not that long ago we had to work hard at every task. Doing laundry was an all day thing, using a washing board, wringer, hanging up to dry. Now we push a button. Along with doing good for the earth, wouldn't it be interesting to look at what is truly good for us. Everybody thinks the best thing for us is convenience. Convenience doesn't seem good for either us or the earth. Frozen food creates lots of waste with factories, packing materials, etc. but food that has been preserved, frozen, etc packs less nutrients, more sodium, fat, etc then fresh food. Making everything convenient gives an impression that we need to rush through all of our tasks. What are we rushing away from and rushing towards? Should we rush through all of our daily tasks, etc not truly being alive just to have enough time to watch 3hrs of tv at night? I think past doing good for the earth I will look at what I do to be "convenient." Is it truly good for me or good for the earth?

Exposing myself to summer

I know that this doesn't really fit into my blog description including activism, change, etc. but in some ways it is transformative. What is more vulnerable then shedding clothes and exposing people to my white skin. Bathing suits can also be empowering if you feel good and sexy into them. I have never felt truly comfortable in a bathing suit. I have been okay with the top but I will always wear big skirts, etc and shade them just when Im about to jump in the pool. No matter how many crunches I will never have that beautiful flat stomach that I see on bathing suit models. Then I saw the bathing suit style Monokins and fell in love. They are like one pieces that want to be a bikini. Lots of sexy cut outs of material. A lot often cover some of the lower stomach but expose enough other skin to make it still a very sexy look. Here are some examples of suits that I like. I threw in a few one pieces too...

I'd love some advice for those that know me and my style, what would work best. I would be so excited to rock a suit and feel like a beautiful/sexy beach babe.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I'm Ready!

So I received notice this month that I have been selected as one of the recipients of a stipend provided by LA County Department of Menatl Health (DMH) in the sum of $18,500 to be given in one lump some in exchange for committing for one year to a DMH or DMH contracted facility in an identified high need geographic or service area. I went to an informational session today at Phillip Graduate's Institute and signed a contract agreeing to all the stipulations, etc. What they are providing is pretty amazing. I am in job search mode anyway since I've graduated and not only am I getting paid to look for a job but we are given lots of resources, support, and priority to land a DMH job. The only thing that is a little nerve racking is that I have only 3 months to get a job. If I haven't shown due diligence in trying to get a job in that time span then I have to fork back the money. If I should that I have made all efforts to get a DMH job than I could be awarded an extension. Well my plan is just to go for it and not spend a dime of the money until I get the job. The only other thing that is also a bit scary is if I get fired for perceived poor performance I have to give the money back also. If I'm laid off for budget reasons that is another situation and I would be able to keep the funds. This is an amazing opportunity and I think its the universe kind of telling me not to get too complacent in my routine/job and to start going out and kicking some butt to get a job in the field that I have been studying in for the last 2 years. I feel very blessed and am so amazed that this opportunity has come in exchange for very little effort initially on my part. I filled out an application and wrote some responses to some essay questions about why I would want to be in public mental health. That's it! So I got a lot of return on my buck. I will be recording my experiences in this and am going to really try everything in my power to utilize/maximize this opportunity as much as I can. The universe is calling and I am answering with a " YES I AM READY!"

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tentative Schedule for Rituals

April 24th will be my day to kick off for the rituals. I have started to create a schedule at least for the first week.

April 24th
Fire Ritual (Amy)
This ritual will consist of burning artifacts or slips of paper symbolizing things I want to let go of or bring into my life. I think that this would be a great way to start this thing off especially since fire is so symbolic for new beginings. It destroys but also creates a fertile group for new things to sprout up. I spoke to my friend Tanya who has a fire pit in her backyard and can be a witness for the ritual. I will be starting to collect and meditate on what I want to let go of and what I want to set intention to bring into my life.

April 25th
Mosaic (Holly)
My friend Holly is taking me to a Mosaic class which is one of her favorite mediums for expression. I need to think on what I want to create and I'm sure I will gain lots of inspiration from Holly who has done this for awhile. I am so excited that this will be a piece that I will be able to take with me.

April 26th
Reflection (Shannon)
I will seek out a quiet and peaceful place where I can do some reflection at. I have a list of activities to assist me in this reflection that Shannon has given me. I will share the results with all of you.

April 27th
Spread the Love (Kolleen)
This should be fun! I will have a pack of stickies and write "You are beautiful" and stick them all over. Ideas will be car windows, bathroom stalls, mirrors, etc. This will be interesting. I hope this will have a positive domino effect.

April 28th
Act like a kid (Kristine)
Pending good weather, I'll go to the park and run around playing, acting like a kid. Never want to get to serious about life.

April 29th
Dance class (Helena)
Helena wanted me to try a dance class that I've never done before. I've always wanted to do African ever since I saw a class and fell in love with how passionate it is. You have to throw your whole body into it. I scouted and think I have found the place where I will go for it. The dance place is called The Heart and Beat House This studio might become my new home. They have such an abundance of fun and interesting classes, all in one place. There is an African dance class on April 29th that I think I will try first. Then I will be back to try more classes, perhaps Burlesque Ballet, 80's dance, Bellydancing, etc.

April 30th
Not sure yet, but thoughts are
Hiking to a new spot (Meg) or sunset hike (Kristen)
Travel somewhere new (Michelle)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Body cleanse

I really have always enjoyed reading and learning the rituals and traditions of other cultures. Native American rituals, pagan rituals, buddhist, hindu, etc... Prob why I am an Unitarian, I am a collector/"gleamer" looking for truth whereever it is.
In a lot of rituals or rites of passage, the individual goes through trials of purifying and pain. One tribe who worshipped the sun would have peole strung up from their pectoral muscles with arms outstreched out to the sun. Sweat lodges, vision quests, fasting. These are all ancient wisdoms that we have taken and modernized in a lot of ways.

The modern world aims at packaging spirituality, promising a profound transformation with a pill. I am not trying to throw up my nose at these practices. I leave myself open minded, but I wonder if following a spiritual fad such as fasting will turn out the way I want. I guess it is about altering my expectations. I don't feel like I can expect after a fast to be transported to the devine.

I used to work at Barnes and Noble and lost count of how many people would come in looking for the pamphlet on the master cleanse. I also live in Southern California so it shouldn't come to much of a surprise. Many nutritionalists believe that such fasts are dangerous as they don't give the body the needed nutrients. On a blog I was reading about the cleanse it actually had people going 2 weeks or more at a time on a diet of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup. However some of this time was the easing in and out which allowed for some veggies, juice, broth at the begining and at the end. I am debating on doing this but perhaps for a shorter time then is suggested. The suggested is about 10 days for the beginner. I really can't see myself being able to hold out that long.

Here is the information:

I was thinking of buying a juicer that just does citrus fruit. I used to have a juicer that I got from my sister in law Kristine but I gave it away I believe because it was tough to use and hard to clean. Now I am kicking myself because they are soo expensive. $300 is not a bad price for a good juicer (Definitely can't do that) The citrus juicer is much better, around $15-20 instead. I am worried about the lack of energy that I heard you have, especially since I am usually very active during the week. The experiences range from other people's experiences so it is hard to gauge. I do have friends that have gone through fasts and feel like I need support and guidance through my first one. I am thinking of starting on Monday the
20th. Will start only eating vegetarian closer to the 20th and then will start with broth and juices. Then I will do the lemonade concotion for the rest of the week doing the salt flush prob on Sunday when I can be at home. I still need to find more information about it before I do this. I am hoping to find a sweat lodge or maybe I will look into places where they rent time in a sauna.

Clearing my mind of negativity.

So as part of the preperation for my 30th birthday I have set an intention to do a very very thorough spring cleaning. Not just of my home but of my body, soul, and mental state. It has been difficult to maintain motivation to do this. I have had the same box in a corner in my living room for weeks know which will go to good will once I have filled it to the brim. I am a grasper. I hold on to people, things, experiences, etc even when they no longer provide anything for me. It has been very freeing this year to start letting go of more and more in my life. It is very contradictory that although it is difficult for me to let go of things in my life, I also start to get a little stressed when I feel like I have too many things in my life. That can include material goods, responsibilities, etc. Even though my mind is pretty fantastic with multi tasking, I prefer not having to as it actually causes me to act like I a manic. Once I have let go of things it is incredible although somewhat anxiety provoking throughout the process. It is interesting for me to hear my thoughts surrounding my fear of letting go.

Letting go of people - Causes me to worry that I will be alone and unloved.

Letting go of responsibilities - People will think I am incompetent and that I have no value.

Letting go of material goods - I might need it and will be without.

Letting go of activities - They are what define me, I will be boring w/o them and unlovable.

It is so interesting to see these things written and understand that I truly believe these things to my bone. My negative "tape", or the messages that play in my mind when my insecurities rise up have significantly diminished.

Doubt can be like poison to my dreams. I am the one administrating my own poison when I direct negative thoughts and doubt towards myself. I think only by throwing myself into new situations with the chance to fail will I finally fully challenge these beliefs. Ultimately perhaps the best thing is for me to fail and realize that it isn't the end of my life as I suppose it will be. Part of me wants to stay back in the small safe world that I am in now. Even thought it is not giving me what I need or want, I feel I get some validation that I am good, that I can do something. I hope that one day I will look back at these writings and wonder wow, how could I have ever doubted myself so much? I am great at this thing! Part of my 30 rituals will be to write letters to myself at different ages. I do hope that I open the letter on my 40th b-day and laugh at all this, while secure in myself and what I have to offer.

Friday, April 10, 2009

My One Earth

So Earth day is coming up on April 22nd. Earth day has always meant a lot to me. When I was younger, it was planting trees and cleaning up my neighborhood. I have always felt this strong motivation to take care of the environment. I could barely say the word environmentalist but when I was younger I thought that was the job for me. My parents were supportive but also sometimes were upset about my actions. I would yell when I was little at people when they were littering, calling them pigs. A recent occurance happened when I was at a stop light and saw a guy opening his car door to throw out all of his trash. I look at him appalled and he proceeded to throw some of the trash as my car. I am trying to learn to be more reserved with my opinions. I can change my actions but not the actions of those around me. I will promote my beliefs through right action. One example of this is bringing re-usable grocery bags to the store. I have been doing pretty well with this for two years straight now! My hubbie kind of would scoff at this but now he will grab bags when he goes to the store. He actually bought one while he was at Hot Topic and throws it in his car to use it.
I bring a reusable coffee mug to work. No one else does but they stop to look at me and think about the possibily of doing this themselves. So at least it gets them thinking. Hahah we learn this as teenagers..if we are told we should or have to do something we won't.
I have an interesting opportunity at the Unitarian Universalist Church I go to where I am on the Social Action Committee. We are notifying members of the opportunities for Earth Day Events in the community that they can participate in. I maned the table last weekend to tell people about it and about Heal The Bay who we will be donating our collection to this coming weekend. If I talk to someone straight on about volunteering they run away pretty fast. It is such a delicate thing. How do you provide the information without making people feel like you will guilt them into it. This Sunday I will try again and this time I just want them to feel that I am available but am not trying to push them into anything. Perhaps I will move away enough so they know I am not going to pounce on them. I always hate when you are at a store and someone is right there watching you look at everything. It is so akward and I usually leave earlier than I've wanted to. I want to keep that image in my head when I'm at the volunteer table.

Talking about Earth Day I have decided on an event that I will participating in this year. It won't be on actually Earth Day. Couldn't find many opportunities for that but did find many opportunities the weekend before. has many opportunities listed. What is great is that by volunteering you will also be able to get free admission to the music festival that they are putting on.

The event I will be attending is:

Griffith Park Tree Planting, Landscaping and Cleanup
Saturday, April 18, 2009

8:30am to 2pm

Come celebrate Earth Day and join with Green Apple Festival volunteers as we plant trees, landscape, and clean up a section of the park!

Griffith park was affected by the fire so we will be cleaning up that area and replanting. I actually haven't been to Griffith park yet, which is a fact that many people in CA are shocked at.

I am excited to get to be part of something bigger then myself. I always feel the best when I can let go of my individual life and clue in to the bigger needs of our world.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Thoughts on politics, #1

I was watching the Daily Show last night and John Stewart was responding to allegations and responses from conservatives that Obama is a tyrant and will take all of the rights away from the people. This comes after listening on the NPR that gun and ammo purchases are up since Obama was elected due to the fear that Obama will put stronger restrictions on gun purchases (good!! btw!)

John Stewarts response was hilarious. He named many of the atrocities that Bush initiated. As if Bush wasn't abusing the rights of the people by listening in on phone calls, pushing to even restrict womans' right to have birth control, restricting the opportunities to breakthrough medical treatment, invading countries without the backing from the people. John Stewart made the comment that what the conservatives were experiencing wasn't tyranny but defeat. The conservative party has been so long in power that they don't remember the feeling of not getting what they want. "Its supposed to taste like a shit taco," - John Stewart. What would it be like I wonder to drop some of these people in China or Iran and see how they define tyrany then.

How have things become so extremist between parties? I have been there I suppose, bitter, and angry about Bush's very long 8 years in office. I felt very distanced from my country in a lot of ways. I can understand that there will be extreme hesitation to accept the many changes that are and will be taking place. We can fight against it, pushing against a rock that won't budge or we can find our place in it. Where we are all needed the most to put effort forth to make the immense shift that we absolutely need! The fear that Bush planted into the earth of America will not wash away fast but we need to transform that fear and dare to have a little trust and faith.

For once I feel a budding of trust and faith about my government growing inside for the first time in a long time.