July 29, 2008

Chicks, flicks, and life.

I like to think that things happen at the right time, for a special reason, in my path of becoming myself. I know that sounds a bit "out there" but I really like the idea that there is some grand plan, that there is some deity, some god, something greater than myself, that loves me and puts events or people or situations in my life so that I can continue to grow and feel and learn and become more alive. Again, a bit lofty, but I am comforted by the thought that there is a divine plan to help each of us to live more fully, feel more deeply, love more intensely.

I saw the movie Bonneville tonight. That was the movie that I planned a girls night out so that we could see it together, a modern Thelma and Louise chick flick, but it didn't come out when it was supposed to and ended up being at the indie theater for a very short time and I missed it. So I watched it at home on the TV tonight and realized that I was supposed to see it right now, just after my week in June lake and after reading SARK's book Wild Succulent Women. Because it's the story of three women who shared join together in helping one deal with the loss of a beloved husband and then shared adventures that changed them and helped them become more in touch with life.

I like the idea of stretching boundaries. I've spent my life trying to conform and trying to limit my eccentricities, my quirkiness, my being different than the usual. Now that I'm entering into a new decade of my life, now that my grandchildren are starting school, now that I'm thinking of changing jobs and careers, I'm finally realizing that who is am, quirky or weird or different, is just fine. And, more so, I'd like to allow that caged bird of my spirit to fly and soar and learn new colors and new songs and feel things more deeply and strongly.

I'd like to see more sunsets, wear more bright colors, fall in love again, cry more and laugh more, be silly more, dance with scarves to loud music, and talk more loudly. I'd like to allow myself to make more mistakes, take more chances, and make more people laugh. I'd like to wear big skirts and be naked more, I'd like to visit more countries and see more states, and I'd like to meet strangers who become friends. I'd like to finally know who I really am and love who I meet. It's time.

July 27, 2008

Bears, birds, and beauty.

I'm just back from a wonderful trip to June Lake, a little town north of Mammoth in the Sierras in California. Lucky me to have such a friend as Kathy Keane (www.magicinnature.com)who is a wildlife biologist and photographer and shares such adventures with me. (That's her below with her 11-year-old lab Onyx.) She is a good and kind and fun person and I appreciate her friendship very much.

When I'm on a vacation like this, it's feels like the dozens of balls I'm constantly keeping in the air, like my job and family and friends and chores and finances and women's group and singles parties, just disappear and I'm carefree. It's like the only thing to worry about is when to have my next meal and should I hike or should I read or should I just stare out the window at the beautiful scenery. And yes, that's a bear that was eating the birds' sunflower seeds, just outside the window of the front room of the home we stayed in. It's so refreshing to have my usual worries and angst and concerns and all the things that I write on post-its so I will remember to do them are just not there, at least for the time I'm away on the trip.

While I was watching the birds and the big bear, I read a book of Kathy's called "Succulent Wild Women" by SARK. Her definition of succulent is "ripe, juicy, whole, round, exuberant, wild, rich, wide, deep, firm, rare, female." The message is to learn to "be ourselves" in all our uniqueness. To wear bright colors and hats, to dance outrageously, to sing loudly - to not be afraid to express ourselves in any way we choose. It made me think of the ways I squelch my own unique self and then I thought about how I try to fit in to the mainstream. I realized that, as a small child, my parents discouraged me when I was "different" and pushed me to "fit in." And since then, I do it to myself by all the "shoulds" I have in my life - I should be thinner, I should let my hair grow, I should be more like so-and-so, all of which diminishes who I really am in favor of being like someone else, like the norm.

So what have I learned on my summer vacation? That I value my women friends, especially Kathy. That I am just who I am, in all my strangeness and quirkiness, and that all that I am is just fine. And that I will look for ways in which I squelch myself and learn to let go, a little bit here and there, so I can more fully express my uniqueness. I like what my yoga teacher tells us, that we are "beautiful and perfect, just as we are in this minute." I vote that we all allow our special beauty and perfectness to shine and grow. Right now. Today. Every day.

July 17, 2008

A road trip to a lake.

I'm going on a road trip. I love the adventure of new places and new people. I'm going to June Lake with my friend Kathy and we have no plans really, just to get their and hang with a friend of hers. I like to pretend that I don't work when I'm on vacation because I don't want to spend my time thinking of the problems there when I'm somewhere else. Just want to pretend that I have nothing to do and can do anything I want whenever I want to or do nothing.

While I was planning the trip, another friend sent me an email about how single people often live their lives as if being single is temporary, a place to be when waiting for couplehood. It said that we should live our single lives as if this is all there is, be happy with our present condition, and not just wait around to see if something better is offered. Live fully in the moment, enjoy totally what we can create right now, and not think about or wish or pine for something different. I think it would be nice to have a great guy in my life and do the things that couples do, but this is what I've got and I'm pretty happy with it and very grateful for my blessings. In this very moment.

I think we miss a lot of life when we're planning our future or being sad or angry about our past. Didn't someone say that life is what's happening while we're making plans? So, if you're looking for me or I don't return calls or answer emails, I'm either driving in my little Suburu or walking through a forest or sitting still and listening to nature in the lovely little town of June Lake. Here's a little something about where I'll be:

June Lake is a subalpine lake in Mono County, California, located at 37°47′19″N, 119°04′29″W at an elevation of 7,612 ft (2,320 m), 20 miles North from Mammoth Lakes and 15 miles South from Lee Vining. It is one of the four lakes (June Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake & Grant Lake) inside the June Lake Loop. The lake is popular for fishing. It is located about 5 miles south of the southern end of Mono Lake following U.S. Route 395 and then 2 miles west on State Route 158.

The town of June Lake, California is on the southern end of the lake. The population of the town is approximately 600 (according to the posted signs) full time residents. In the Summer that can blossom to 5400 fisherman, campers, tourists, backpackers and outdoors enthusiasts.

July 13, 2008

Disney, laps, and love.

I think I'm writing this post so that I can show off that picture of my grandchildren. They stayed with me this weekend so that my beautiful curly-haired daughter and her husband could get some work done around the house. They rented a dumpster so they could throw away some stuff they've accumulated and make room for a new car in their carport. So the kids stayed with me.

I always have fun with the little ones. Just hearing their throaty-giggly-can't-stop-'cause-it's-so-funny laughter just melts away any of my worries. So we went to see Wall-E, that new Disney-Pixar movie about the end of the world, how we self-destructed and ruined the planet with our junk. Amazing and clever movie, lots of fun to watch. I just picture those really seriously geeky computer guys, sitting around a big computer screen coming up with tons of creative ideas, like these guys get paid for doing what they'd do 24-7 anyway. Not so sure the children really liked the movie, but it was a fun outing. We came home, spent 1 1/2 hours in my pool, mostly doing laps and jumping in and, of course, giggling, and ended the day reading a new story book.

We woke up cheery, but then the little ones started that "he took my....." and "she bumped me....." and so we just headed out to take the poodle for a long walk before it got hot out. And then we went to the Will Geer Theater Botanicum for a children's concert by a musician who sang and told stories, incorporating the audience, both old and young, in his antics. It was fun to sing and clap and jump and make silly noises and I felt, again, like I had no care in the world. Plus, the kids loved it and I loved watching them have fun.

I think about the things in life I'm not doing, like taking classes or learning to sing or doing TaiChi or joining a writer's group, and I think I really don't have the time for all that. We have to pick and choose in life, we really can't do it all, and there are things we have to miss along the way. I admit I do know a few people who are so busy that I have to reserve an evening with them weeks in advance, but that's not how I want to live. So I can't do it all and being with the grandbabies means there are even more things I won't have time to do, but really, a minute or an hour or a day with my granchildren trumps everything else. Being with these sweet little people is like a gift to me, a way to feel alive and real and loved. And I wouldn't trade that for anything.

July 10, 2008

It's a delicate subject

This is embarrassing to talk about, I admit this, but I have to do it. It saved my life and it might save yours. What is it? Yes, a colonoscopy.

I woke up one day, four years ago, and decided to have a colonoscopy. I had no symptoms or health issues, and I know that's not something one thinks about regularly, but that day I did. So I set it up, did the prep, and had the procedure. Surprisingly, I had two polyps that the doctor removed. And surprisingly, they were pre-cancerous polyps that would have become cancer if left there.

Two years later, I went back and had another colonoscopy and the doctor removed two more pre-cancerous polyps. And two weeks ago, I had it done again and today I saw the doctor for follow-up and he told me that he removed another pre-cancerous polyp. The doctor says that it's genetic, even though no one in my family has a history of polyps whatsoever, and the only way to not grow them it to "change my genetics." Good thing the doctor has a sense of humor, since we've been so intimate. I like my men funny.

I mention this personal subject to urge all of you, those over fifty or those with a family history, to get a coloscopy as soon as possible. Can you imagine what would have happened if I didn't decide to have this procedure four years ago? I know that I'm not immortal, but having colon cancer is not the way I'd choose to go. By the way, the test itself is not painful at all. They use those lovely drugs where one second you're watching the nurse put something into your IV and the next minute the doctor is saying that it's all over and you did fine. The prep, however, is rather unpleasant, but there are ways to make it better, so just let me know when yours is scheduled and I'll tell you the secrets.

I admit that this isn't the most lovely subject to write about, but if this saves one life or prevents any of you from having to be treated for such an awful cancer, then it's worth my embarrassment. Schedule it now. If you need a ride or someone to hold your hand or just someone to share your concerns, just let me know. I'll be right there to help make it easier, I promise.