Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day 90: How micro-changes can change your life

My friend Patricia recently told me of micro-changes. These are teeny tiny changes you make in your life to shake it up, be more present, open up a little. So today was my day of micro-changes:
  1. I walked to the coffee shop instead of getting ready for work then driving to the coffee shop on my way to work. The coffee shop was quieter and I sat alone with a friend and had a great one-on-one chat, rather than the usual boisterous gang chitchat, which is also fun but this quiet talk was nice, too.
  2. I did my stretches in the morning rather than at night when I'm usually too tired to bother. They felt almost spiritual, like I was really thanking the sun in my sun salutations.
  3. I wrote my morning pages with a green ink pen rather than the usual black ink pen.
  4. I took the video I needed to take for work rather than lamenting or worrying. I just friggin' did it. Surprisingly, it was quite fun.
  5. At the gym I chose the bike rather than the treadmill, though this was also because my neck is still tender from the whiplash episode of last week. I watched the biography of Oprah whilst on the bike. Loved it.
    With four of the five micro-changes, I experienced something delightful. A nice talk with a friend, serene stretches, a fun video and a captivating TV show. The green ink pen though? That's a no-go. I really REALLY love my black ink pen. I need the workhorse of black ink to lay down track in my morning pages.  

    I think I'll keep up with these micro-changes, and I invite you, dear Reader, to partake in a few micro-changes in your day. You may be surprised and delighted by the results. If so, share them below in the super wonderful comment section.

    I took this photo on my walk to the coffee shop in the wee hours of the morning. Looks like a gruesome murder took place here:
    Not to worry though. I survived and went on to the coffee shop where a fresh newspaper was waiting for my arrival:
    Cheers to your micro-changes!

    Tuesday, March 30, 2010

    Day 89: I have nothing to write... but wait

    Sometimes I don't know what to write on this blog. Today I had nothing. I thought I'd slap up a Hipstamatic photo I took with the new app on my iPhone and leave it at that. But that doesn't seem like much of a blog entry to me. That's not why you showed up here, dear Reader, to have me post a photo so you could look at it, shrug and get on with your day.

    Actually, I don't mind so much. It's the long-winded posts that are tough, not the visual whimsy of the photos. 

    Well said.


    I imagine you, dear Reader, getting into the office, turning on your computer, sipping your coffee, glancing through your emails, then heading off to your usual daily sites. Maybe you have them organized on your iGoogle page. You see the latest blog entry from yours truly and smile, knowing that you can rely on me to bring you fresh posts daily.

    Wow, you had me pegged. 

    It's a gift.

    When days like today come along, when I don't know what to write, a voice in my  head says, Figure it out when you get there.

    So I do. I open a new page to begin a post and something magical happens. I figure out what to write. I can spend hours avoiding it, wracking my brain trying to figure out what I want to say, or I can show up at the page and figure it out from there.

    The same is true with any art form, whether it's a script to write, a canvas to paint or even a text to send. (I know some people who have a gift for texting. It's their best medium.) The lesson here kids is this:

    Show up and figure it out from there.

    Will inspiration hit every time you show up at the page, canvas or phone? Maybe not. But I believe we increase our chances if we show up to see. For instance, right here and now, I had no clue what to write before I showed up here and now we have a little lesson on creativity.

    I'm still kinda craving a photo. 

    Oh alright.

    This is my friend Jim from my local coffee shop. He's just about the coolest dude on the planet. You can also check him out at my new blog Daily Hipstamatic. I don't know how I'll manage to find a photo to post everyday but... I'll show up and figure it out when I get there.

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    Day 88: The Great Fishbowl Giveaway for March. Act now!

    It's the end of a journal and the end of the month. Both are very satisfying. The former means I'll be spending some time reviewing the pages of the last month, the latter means I'M DOING MY FISHBOWL DRAW. If you haven't emailed me your name and MAILING address yet, do it now. I'll put your name in my fishbowl along with the other names. I'll pick out random winners and send those winners random awesomeness.

    The prizes thus far:

    January's prize: A chapbook I wrote.

    February's prize: A journal I made.
    I made a bunch of journals and had lots of winners. Good times.

    March's prize: I've got a few ideas but I'm not telling. All I'll say is that it must be something that I would be delighted to receive in the mail, so it better be good.

    Again email me your name MAILING address. I don't want to go emailing you to ask for it. That's just annoying and reflective of an inability to follow directions.

    Geesh, her backache is making her cranky!

    Ya, the drugs are wearing off.

    By the way, if you have already given me your mailing address over the past few months, you're still in the drawing even if you've already won. I just throw all those winners back in the fishbowl. Why? Because it's my game and I said so. Plus, it's more fun this way. Don't you agree?

    You've got a point. It is more fun. Maybe you're not so cranky.

    Don't kid yourself. I'm still cranky.

    Sunday, March 28, 2010

    Day 87: Writing is a verb

    I feel fat.

    I'm not fat.

    I feel fat because I haven't exercised this week. I haven't exercised because I can't move my body very well thanks to the muscle spasm in my neck and back due to injury. I know that if I were to have exercised, I wouldn't be feeling fat.

    The same is true for art. As artists, if we don't keep up our art, we get into trouble. Demons rise. The best, quickest way to keep them at bay is to do our art. Painters must get out the paints and get them on the canvas even if the image hasn't yet come to mind. It will as the painting commences. Writers must write, even if it's three (sporadic) morning pages a day. Eventually, and often quite suddenly, an idea will flow onto the page and the writer will think That's a good idea. I could write more about that. The musician must dust off the guitar and pluck away, even if it's just a cover song at first. Eventually a riff will arrive, then a few lyrics, then a song.

    The art is in the doing.

    People often tell me about books they'd like to write but instead of discussing the writing itself, they ask about publishing or they launch into their fears of someone stealing their ideas. I ask them if they've written any of the book. Often, they tell me that they don't want to waste their time writing the book if they don't have a publishing contract. That's fine, I guess, but they haven't anything to show a publisher even if the publisher showed up at their house and asked for a cup of tea and their ideas. Of course, the writer would have a lawyer present and contracts would be signed so the publisher wouldn't steal their ideas.*

    This is a ridiculous scenario because the publisher doesn't know if you can write in the first place. For example, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love had the book deal in her pocket before she hopped on the plane to Italy. She only had this because the publisher knew her book proposal was good, but more importantly, her publisher knew she was a good writer. Why? Because of her previous works. And she likely, at some point, had to show writing samples to prove she could write. By the way, check out her thoughts on writing and TED talk about creative genius. So good.

    Many writers expect a publisher to hand them a contract and a hefty advance before one word hits the page. That's just bad business. If you feel this way, stop deluding yourself and start writing.

    Writing is a verb. 

    If I were a publisher and you were my close friend, I wouldn't give you shit until you showed me writing samples and a well-thought-out book proposal. Then I'd have to evaluate if it's a good business decision to take you on. In other words, can you book sell?

    And another thing, do you have enough material to fill a book? I come up with great book ideas all the time and I constantly start writing books. Much of the time, I run out of material or desire within a week or two. Did I waste that time writing something that will never make it to the New York Times Best Seller List or even to a bookshelf? No. Because I wrote most of the material in my morning pages and I had to write three pages a day anyway. The book idea served it's purpose. Onward.

    Last year, my coauthor Marni Kamins and I wrote a book for 9 months and decided to chuck it because, though the idea was great, the book itself, in our estimation, wasn't good enough. C'est la vie. Was our 9 months a waste? No. We needed it to get us to the book we're writing now, which is a much juicier read. It doesn't have a contract behind it yet. In fact, we haven't even shown it to our publisher yet. We'll get to it. First, we need to lay track on the book, to see if it's a viable idea, to see if we want to be defined in the world by it's subject matter. You do, after all, have to live with your hits.

    We did not expect to hear thousands of stories about breakups after our first book, The Breakup Repair Kit, was published. Nor did we expect to hear dating woes galore when our second book, The Dating Repair Kit, was published. Are we prepared to hear the new stories that arise out of our new book? We think so. But, we have to keep writing to be certain.

    So dear artist, quitchurbitchin' about wasted time and idea stealing and start your art. What's the worst that can happen? That you waste a little time (you won't) or someone will steal your idea (see below).

    *After The Breakup Repair Kit came out, another cheap gift book came out from another publisher with a similar title. It was a short, crappy version of our book. Did they steal our idea? Likely. The healing steps were similar. Did they probably make a few books off it? Likely. Did it bother us? A little. Ultimately, if it's a good idea someone will rip it off. Take it as a compliment, act on it if it's important to you, and stay one step ahead by focusing on your own art.

    Saturday, March 27, 2010

    Day 86: The healing effects of list making

    Greetings from my horizontal position.

    My back and neck pain has kept me from venturing too far from the couch. Laying around is not my nature. See, I inherited this from my God Mother, my Aunt Mary, who is known for "running the roads." All my life, I've watched her come and go, zip here and there with the delighted grace of a gazelle. I have adopted this attribute, minus the grace.

    The way I am "running the roads" is by creating a list of things to do that is an arms length, just long enough to keep its completion out of reach. I spend all my time running through my list marking off the items I complete and looking with disdain at those I don't.

    With this back pain, I can't do shit and it's kinda driving me mental. I've been ordered by my doctor to chillax. Making a list a mile long does not qualify as chillaxin.'

    I love it when you swear. 

    In my morning pages today, I reached a panic moment. I couldn't write a list of things to do because I knew I couldn't accomplish anything on that list. It was then that I realized that the act of writing the list itself is what is comforting. It's a way to set down thoughts in my head so I don't have to carry them around.

    Just like my morning pages.

    I see where you're going here.


    All my lists have actually been a short form of morning pages. This revelation makes me sigh with relief because I no longer feel beholden to crossing everything off the list. The list itself is accomplishing something.

    Plus, to live the artist's life is to slow down and pay attention. How can I do by frantically trying to cross the items off my mile-long list?

    In conclusion, the long list is fine and even comforting. Working my way through it like a maniac is not fine and not comforting.

    I am going to practice being okay with my true list of things I can actually accomplish today:

    1) Write morning pages—DONE
    2) Write blog—NEARLY DONE
    3) Work on my tan to keep my Maui glow

    Where is my SPF 8.

    SPF 8??? Is that all?

    Bring it.

    Day 85: The verdict is whiplash

    Yep. The doctor said I had whiplash from extended computer use, which I find odd. I imagine car accidents and athletic endeavors as culprits for whiplash. Not office work. Perhaps I read a really shocking email and got whiplash from my reaction. I dunno.

    "This before and after x-ray shows the side view of a patient's neck. The blue line shows correct alignment and the red line shows the patients alignment. It is easy to see that the alignment on the left is severely abnormal and the alignment on the right is almost perfect."
    --from the Landgrebe Chiropractic Clinic site
    This isn't my neck but it looks like my x-ray. I wish I would have taken a photo for this here blog but at the time when I was in the doctor's office I was cranky and in pain. So my neck is currently like the x-ray on the left. Straight. The neck is naturally like the x-ray on the right. Curved.

    Hopefully my pain killers and especially my muscle relaxers will kick in and I'll be "right" again.

    In the meantime, I'm couch bound.

    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    Day 84: I got a needle in my bum!

    It's true. I got a needle in my bum today. I went to Urgent Care because the pain in my back isn't going away and it feels like it's getting worse. For all my readers who are not American, Urgent Care is where American's go when they require urgent care, because to get into a doctor's office on the same day?!?! Fugedabout it.

    To my American readers, the rest of the world doesn't have Urgent Care. They go to the doctor's office. Same day. No big deal.

    (Hey rest of the world, American's have a copay. They actually have to pay a fee at the doctor's office. It's the strangest thing.)

    Anyway, I went to Urgent Care because I had a pain in my back and what did I get? A needle in my bum. Pain relief my ass. Then there were x-rays, which I must admit, were pretty cool. It was nice to see the familiar fillings that I visit at the dentist office every year.

    After that it was a prescription and a long wait at the pharmacy. Lucky for me, they had plenty of candy eye-candy to keep me occupied:

    All these were taken with the Hipstamatic App on my iPhone that I love love love.

    So, Jesus died for sins and rose again so that the Easter bunny could come and bring us candy? That's as confusing as going to the doctor's office to cure my back pain but getting a pain in my bum instead.

    Wednesday, March 24, 2010

    Day 83: Your body is not Halle Berry's body

    Stop comparing your body to other people's bodies. Your body is not Halle Berry's body. Her body belongs to her. Your body belongs to you.

    Both bodies perform different functions in this life in order to assist you both in fulfilling your individual life's purposes. Her body gives her the necessary experiences that she needs so that she can learn the lessons she needs to learn in this life. Your body is here to assist you, too, in its unique way. Stop comparing it to Halle Berry. Or anyone.

    Ignore that inner voice and those glaring eyes in the mirror that judge your body. They are whiny energy storms in your system. That is all.

    Exercise and eat healthy most of the time. And leave it at that.

    This is Halle Berry and her body doing what they like to do:

    This is me and my body doing what we like to do:

    Writing from my hotel room in Maui.

    And this:

    Can't we all just get along?

    (I have been having a domestic argument with my body today. I'm short fused like a crazy person. In my morning pages, I was going off on everything that is wrong with my body. Not because of the size or strength of my body parts, but because I can't move them without pain. Is this ibuprofen even working? In the course of my three pages, I went from beating myself up to yelling back at myself and it ended with the Halle Berry rant written above.)

    You so crazy.

    Don't I know it. 

    Day 82: I have a confession

    Confession: I am a chronic over-doer.

    Since my back went out, I have had to kibosh many plans. That said, I still had a full schedule. I think this is why my back went out. My body had to stop me because I couldn't stop myself.

    My friend Patricia recited this quote, which is pertinent to my current Frankenstein posture:
    "The head is full of illusion, the heart is full of deceit and the body doesn't lie."
    My body is telling me to slow the hell down, even though my heart and mind are saying, "Go do this, go to that. It will be fun."

    I'm not sure what all this over-doing is all about. It could be as simple as having a creative mind. If you have a creative mind, you'll understand that the mind can be quite Tasmanian devil at times. Whirling around in it's own storm but not getting very far.

    Even this blog is a reflection of my over-doing tendencies. I said I would write my pages everyday. I never committed to posting to my blog everyday. Yet here I am. Day 82: Perfect score. 

    So I leave you today with this short post. Because I don't want to overdo it.

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    Day 81: A vacation from my to-do list

    Woke up unable to move. The muscles in my back "pretzelized" in the night. The only position that was comfortable was lying down face up. So that's what I did all day. My mind first started making a to-do list.
    • Return the videos to the library
    • Read this book
    • Read that one
    • Write my pages
    • Go through magazines and catalogs
    • Call this person
    • Email that person
    But I couldn't move. So none of it happened. I laid there and conceded that laying there was all I was going to be doing. Then I laid completely still and completely awake for hours. A new list emerged.
    • The beep of a truck in reverse
    • My neighbor's footsteps and keys jingling
    • Her dog barking happily
    • The roar of motorcycles and sports cars
    • The hum of a hybrid
    • A little girl telling her mom a story
    • Skateboarder
    • Hellish leaf blower
    • Repeat
    Near the end of the day I was able to prop myself up enough to take care of the morning pages, but only because I said I would. Not because I wanted to. But, I must admit, today's morning pages were more fruitful than most. Perhaps it's because I decided to forgo my list of things to do. This was a good lesson. To let go of the to-do list. Try it. It feels good.

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Day 80: Ever feel like you're not good enough?

    ... like everyone lands the gig/mate/apartment/job before you do? Even though you didn't really want what they got but still it bugs you that they got it?

    I was in that kind of foul mood today. For no reason. Seriously, I was looking for all kinds of reasons for my upset. I was infinite in my creativity in placing blame for my foul mood.

    I used my morning pages to figure out why I was feeling bad for no good reason. I started with surface grievances, including not wanting to do these pages or call so-and-so back and wanting to cancel all my plans, plus wondering why I owe taxes this year, not to mention that tomorrow is Monday...

    ... but at some point, I got to the grievance of feeling like everyone had everything before I did and I was in last place.

    Then I cried a little.

    Then I went back to when I first felt this way. 

    At the core, there was a little girl inside that felt she wasn't good enough. That all the other kids were better at sports and math and drawing and everything. She just assumed she would never win. She had hoped only to be in the middle of the pack in order to avoid the ridicule from other children for being last. Again.

    Part of this was because I was the youngest in the class. Simply the youngest. No one explained that to me when I was inconsolable about getting a bad score in Running Long Jump during Track & Field, despite the fact that they were all taller than me because they had six months on me.

    Would an explanation have helped?

    Who knows.

    When I unearthed this childhood trauma of not being good enough, I came back to the present day and thought about all those who have landed the gig/mate/apartment/job before I did.

    Maybe they've just got six months on me. Maybe I'm right on schedule. Perhaps there is a simple explanation for all this and I just don't know what it is yet. This helped bring me out of my foul mood and to a place where I felt I could...

    So dear Reader, when your shit is up, this is a good way to deal:
    1. Write about it in your morning pages.
    2. When you get to the tears or feeling triggered... Jackpot!
    3. Go back in your memory to the time when you first felt this way.
    4. Soothe that little one inside and send good vibes her way.
    5. Explain from your adult self what is really going on.
    6. Forgive yourself for judging yourself as not good enough.
    7. Come back to present day and... shazaam! The feeling will lift...
    At least I hope it will lift. It did for me and I hope it does for you.


    Day 79: Hipstamatic photos are back!

    I blew my proverbial wad on yesterday's mother of all blog posts. Today, you get to view rather than read. Check out the pictures i took from my new Hipstamatic iPhone App. The site says:
    The Hipstamatic for iPhone is an application that brings back the look, feel, unpredictable beauty, and fun of plastic toy cameras from the past.
    The lovely Marni.

    The lovely moi.
    View #1 from my front door.
    View #2 from my front door, taken seconds later with another crazy Hipstamatic filter.
    View #3 taken moments later.

    This simple app was good times. It was $1.99. Money well spent for good clean fun around the house.

    Friday, March 19, 2010

    Day 78: Plastiki sets sail tomorrow

    Plastiki sets sail tomorrow, Saturday March 20th @ 9:30 AM PST through San Francisco’s Golden Gate. Go see 'em off if you're in San Francisco. 

    Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming... 

    Remember the Atkins diet? How can you not? We were inundated with the diet's principles of low-carb high-protein eating to lose weight. Even when we weren't on the diet, we were eating more chicken. Factory farms flourished and now they are the leading cause of mucking up the environment, and that's surpassing the damage from cars. By the way, here's a nice little quote I read today from a blogger I totally dig: 
    "In case you didn't know, McDonald's has a system in the U.S. for killing chickens that skins and boils them alive."
    Charming, non?  

    Remember the bottled water fad? How can you not? When bottled waters became widely available everyone was sucking back the pure H2O for their health. Except that big 'uns like Dasani (Coke) and Aquafina (Pepsi) are so filtered of their healthy alkaline attributes that they remain acidic and not the aimed-for neutral level that water should be at. So we're filling our bodies with acidic water. What thrives in acidic bodies? Disease. Again, charming, non?

    We're also filling up our landfills and clogging up our oceans with these water bottles. And that brings me back to Plastiki.

    Plastiki is a boat made entirely out of recycled plastic. It's sailing from San Francisco to Sydney and stopping by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a clockwise swirl of currents that’s home to little except trash. Lots of trash. A trash pile bigger than Texas. (And you know Texas isn't going to like that. Texas likes to always be the biggest.)

    Creating the Plastiki out of recycled plastic and sailing it across the Pacific is meant to raise awareness about the tragedies of plastic waste and to open up the discussion of potential solutions. It's the brainchild of banking heir David de Rothschild, host of Eco Trip on the Sundance Channel, who is a pretty righteous dude from what I can tell from his facebook status.

    The cabin architect of Plastiki, Nathaniel Corum, I know a bit better than what I glean from status updates. I've been observing him futz and fool with the design and construction of the cabin for awhile now and the results are beautiful, functional and made from recycled (and continually recyclable) material. How sweet is that? Almost as sweet as the straw bale homes he created for the Hopi Nation. Plus, he's pretty good with a six string.

    What is the point in this long-winded blog? 

    I know. My blog is getting as long as Pete McCormack's.

    Right. The fad of eating all that meat and drinking all that bottled water has effed up the planet royally. Where is all that meat coming from and where are all those bottles going? If we just stopped to think before we bought into the hype of these fads, wouldn't the planet be better off?

    Food for thought. Speaking of food, tomorrow is the 25th annual Great American Meatout. It’s a day completely devoted to the plant-based diet. 

    So let me recap for tomorrow. Go see off Plastiki in the morning if you're in San Francisco, eat a plant-based diet all day and don't wash it down with liquid from plastic bottles.

    Aw shucks. You make me so proud. Now I'm changing my motto to:
    Love more.
    Be creative.
    Serve where you can.
    Stop with the bottled water.
    Start with plant-based foods.
    Follow Plastiki and discuss it with friends.
    Give a hoot, don't pollute.
    Perform random acts of kindness.
    Bit of a long motto. But it's nothing compared to the length of this blog. Have you made it all the way here? Dear Reader, you are rocking my world. If you are reading this, email me your mailing address with Bonus Gift in the subject line. I'm sending you a gift. Random act of kindness? Check.

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Day 77: The sea captain

    Clearly, my reentry to the mainland from Maui is not going well.

    When I look at the choices I've made to bring me to this life I have now, I know that I have actually done a lot of things right. I'm living in sunny California, I have had two books published, I get to be a copywriter in a super great advertising agency, I've had spiritual experiences that a monk would envy, I didn't marry that guy or that one or that one (thank God), and I've have had plenty of totally decent experiences zipping around in my daily life. Yet when I saw how one sea captain was living his life, a voice from deep inside me rose and said clearly, What the fuck have I been doing?

    I could have been living a quality of life like this guy. Sunshine, happy people, whales and sea turtles.

    Up until now, the go-getter in me has been running the show. She's got an "in it to win it" attitude, she's been all about striving and saving, measuring up, and making calculations in the margins of her notes. If I save this much by April... by September... pay this off... sell that... I could live for two months... seven months... a year... or so... if I really scrimped and saved.

    Then there is the sea captain who is having fun sailing with a sweet crew and happy tourists. Is he making calculations in his margins? Doubtful.

    The margins of my life have become juicier than the page. That is not cool. 

    What the fuck have I been doing?

    I have been doing a lot of sighing since I've been back. I read once that sighing is part of the grieving process. The sighs happen because the person is so focused on the grief that the body forgets to breath.

    I don't mean to whine or be ungrateful. I've got it good and a lot of people have it bad. But...
    "The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
    -- Anais Nin
    Stay tuned. 

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    Day 76: Forgiveness Prayer

    The last post was quite spiritual in nature. A few posts ago, when I was talking to the Banyan Tree, I think I may have opened up my spiritual vein for all to see. Yep folks. Vegan and spiritual. Good gawd.

    She'll probably stop brushing her hair, start wearing patcholi oil, stop shaving her pits and be the annoying girl you don't want to get cornered by at parties.

    I love my razor and loathe patcholi, I'll have you know. But I sheepishly admit that I scolded two coworkers today for not bringing their canvas bags to Whole Foods. Yikes, as I wrote that I even frightened myself.

    In today's post, I'm still in the spiritual vein. People have asked me for the forgiveness prayer below in the recent past. And today, I had very good reason to use it in my own life as my feelings were bruised by something somebody said that was untrue and unkind.

    The forgiveness prayer is good. It's short. And it helps release resentment. The prayer is from the book Spiritual Liberation by Michael Bernard Beckwith, founder of Agape and an all around righteous dude. Get the book. It's great. He was also the visionary in the film The Secret. Nice job title, don't you think?

    These two forgiveness prayers are for you to do alone in the silence of your own mind or to write in your journal. The person need not be present. In fact, it's better if she or he is not. This is your own work, even if they are the subject of the forgiveness.

    So, here we go. In the silence of your own heart, think of the person you want to forgive and recite this prayer:
    "I forgive you and set you free. Your actions no longer have power over me. I acknowledge that you are doing the best that you can, and honor you in your process of unfoldment. You are free and I am free. All is well between us. Peace is the order of the day"
    If you seek forgiveness from someone, use this prayer:
    "I know that within you there is an energy of forgiveness that forgives me and sets me free. My words and actions have no power over you. You are free and I am free. All is well between our spirits. Peace is the order of the day."
    Simple. Sweet. Effective. 

    Now go forth and forgive those who have pissed you off.

    Day 75: Giving Catholics a good name

    It was suggested to me that I partake in some Hawaiian-esque activities in order to get through my post Maui blues. So last night I walked to the water to watch the sunset. On my walk back, I saw that there was something going on at Saint Monica's Catholic church. A lecture of sorts. I walked in and sat at the back. A priest was speaking about being Christian in the modern age. He was funny and wise. He made five great points about being a good Christian:
    1. Open up the discussion of spirituality. Talk to the children in your family about their spiritual path. It doesn't have to necessarily be a Christian path. They may not have felt comfortable talking openly about their path because it's not something people talk openly about anymore. Help them feel comfortable. At the very least, it will let them know they can talk about it with you if and when they are ready.
    2. Be a good ambassador of the world. Be the Good Samaritan wherever you go. Open your eyes and seek ways to help rather than keeping your head down and focusing solely on your own path. When you see someone looking confused and holding a map on a street corner, stop and help. You may not only be leading them in the right direction geographically, but spiritually as well. People may base part their spiritual journey on how they are treated by you.
    3. Be inclusive, not exclusive. The priest said that to be Christian means to include everyone, regardless of religion or opinion. He said he'll baptize and marry anything that moves, and bury anything that doesn't because Jesus was not exclusive in his generosity. He was inclusive. 
    4. Look for ways to praise people. It spreads joy. He told a story about when he was in Ireland with his cousin and they went to the wake of a neighbor. His cousin walked into the wake, looked at the woman laying there and exclaimed, "Why Mary. You are the best looking corpse I ever did see... and let's face it, you weren't much to look at when you was alive. But now, you radiate!" Now, Mary may or may not have heard this but it definitely cheered up the people grieving the loss.
    5. Our job is to spread Amazing Grace. Be a grace-filled presence in the world. Even sing the song if you have to. It makes people happy.
    Then he sang Amazing Grace and we all joined it. And he was right. It made us happy.

    Post Maui blues dissolved. MAGIC!

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    Day 74: Post Maui Blues

    I missed Maui from the moment I sat down in the shuttle on the way back to the airport. I was glad to have sat the back seat. I was also glad the sun had set because I sat in the dark back corner of the shuttle quietly crying, wishing I didn't have to go back to my regularly scheduled life.

    Now back on the mainland, I'm not crying on the outside but I'm screaming on the inside. This is what I look like when I'm screaming on the inside:

    The hotel provided fresh flowers for my hair each and every day.

    Plenty of warnings about going in the water, but they just make you take a breath and say "Bring it on."

    Another crap sunset from my hotel.

    I've got to be honest. I'm not understanding the hype about shave ice. I also don't understand why they don't call it shaveD ice.
    The beer, I get.
    This is me listening to him:
    Piper and I went whale watching. That black speck in the water is a whale.
    Then we went snorkeling:
    Yes, that is an unflattering snorkel line on my forehead but it was so worth it. And now I'm back to commuting, work flow, Whole Foods take away and routine. Oh my God how am I going to do this?

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Day 73: 3 steps to getting your art out to the world

    Maui has a way of sucking out your brain and throwing it into the ocean leaving you to do nothing but stare out to sea without a thought in your head. The locals call it "Polynesian paralysis," and because of it, I had no idea what to write in my blog until I met Jason at the airport bar.

    Jason is a musician. He is "this close" to finishing his first hip hop album. After our shared beers lifted our spirits prior to our separate lift offs, we started talking about being an artist in the world. A topic, dear Reader, you know is very near and dear to my heart. Here is what we came up with...

    The 3 step process to getting your art out to the world.
    1. Rejection letters. Learn to love them. When I got rejection letters for my books, I celebrated. I felt like a real writer. A true artist. I was putting my art out there to publishers and the rejection letters were a reflection of this. I did not see them as a reflection of my ability or talent as an artist. I saw them as both an answer to my query (which was a relief) and a symbol that I had finished a project that I was ready to share with the world (which was also a relief).
    2. Stalk the places where you want your art to be. I wanted my books to get into Barnes & Noble in the USA and Indigo in Canada. If a publisher couldn't get a book into these two national stores, I didn't want that publisher. I was in it to win it. Go to the bookstores, music stores, art galleries, etc. where you want your art to be. Then find out who puts the art you like there and contact them. 
    3. Love the word "yet." Jason had said to me, "I make money so I can make art. I don't make art so I can make money." I ended his sentence with "yet." You don't make art so you can make money yet. Yet is the second most important word in the English language, second only to Yes. There is a reason they are so closely worded. "Yes I am a writer. I haven't been published yet." Yes is the intention. Yet is the hope and fire that keeps the intention alive. "I haven't had a record company pick up my record" is not nearly as powerful as "I haven't had a record company pick up my record yet." Yet cancels out the inner critic who wants to give up and watch reruns of The Simpsons instead of getting back to turning the Yet into a Yes. "Yes, I have a record company who picked up my record." I find it curious that the Yes goes at the beginning of the sentence while the Yet goes at the end. As if the Yet has to crawl its way up to the top of the sentence through work and perseverance before it can be transformed into a Yes. 
    After establishing that we were both the most brilliant artists alive for coming up with this 3-step process, Jason and I finished our beers and head off to our separate flights. He to his hip hop album. Me to my books.

    I send you, dear Reader, and Jason from the airport bar, big blessings and scoops full of Grace to help you turn your Yet into a Yes.

    P.S. Holiday report: After being in Maui, I still don't know why anyone lives anywhere else in the world. My Polynesian paralysis is over but my Polynesian hangover has just begun. 

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Day 72: Doing exactly what we want can be tough

    "I wish I would have had Yogurtland instead of a mai tai and french fries."
    "Tomorrow, don't let me eat anymore fried food."
    Why is it that we don't do exactly what we want to do? We eat the fries and drink the mai tais just because they are brought to us, even when we know it doesn't serve us.

    I'm still hanging out in Maui at a resort where I can do exactly what I want to do. Today that included staring out at the ocean under my beach umbrella. I actually sat under the umbrella all day long, interspersed with a few dips in the ocean. It took me a very long time to do my morning pages. I couldn't keep a thought in my head. At the top of my second page of morning pages, I looked around at all the people out enjoying themselves. They didn't have a journal with them and for a split second, I wished my life could be simple like theirs.

    Middle America goes to Maui.

    But, my life is not their life. My life is filled with other things that do not include making sure all the kids have towels and are amply sunscreened. All I had to do was write my morning pages. That was the only task of the day. While they were corralling the children and making sure the surf didn't carry them away, I flipped over and went to sleep.

    In that moment, doing my morning pages were exactly what I wanted to do.

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    Day 71: My conversation with the banyan tree

    I'm about to get a little woo-hoo. Consider yourself warned.

    This morning I went for a walk along the beach here in beautiful Maui where I am spending my time for a few days. As I was walking, I was timing myself. The plan was to walk half an hour, then walk back. Gotta get in a full hour doncha know. Can't just see where the day takes ya.

    See, I go to the gym at lunch some of the time so there is a time constraint on my workout. Today, on vacation, the only place I had to be was my beach chair, and we all know from yesterday's post that once I get in the chair I can't get out of the chair.

    So rather than turn around at the half hour mark, I kept going. I walked and walked and walked until I came upon the most breathtaking banyan tree.
    (Found this on google images. My photo didn't turn out. Whatayagonnado?)

    Banyan trees are almost a creature. They have roots going here and there and whenever a branch gets too heavy, it grows a support branch to hold it up. If only we could all just grow the supports we need.

    I sat beneath this tree and immediately went into a deep meditation where I had a conversation with the tree.

    (This is where I might lose a few readers. It's cool. It's all good. Talking to trees. Weird. I get it.)

    The tree exuded gleefulness. It said it was happy I'd come and said it was happy everyone comes. Typical Hawaiian greeting. Everyone seems so happy I'm here. The tree said that its root system is tied to root systems of other trees which were tied to other root systems so that the whole island is connected by one root system. That's how they communicate. Through their roots. The same is true with people. We have our roots, too. Even our ancestors are still tied to us through energetic roots.

    I started to ask the tree questions about love. The tree said it's seen a lot of honeymooners come and go, probably as many as the Eiffel Tower. The tree always sends a blessing to these honeymooners. They often come back years later with wrinkles and rolls. A little more tired, but many of them a lot more in love. I asked the tree about my own love life. It said I shouldn't worry so much about my love life. It said that everyone gets love. Everyone. No one is forgotten. No one is exempt. Love will come for me just as it's come for the honeymooners.

    Anyway, I'm making a short story long.

    Two last things. The tree went on to talk about how the energy of children co-mingles well with the energy of the tree. The tree and the children feed off each others glee. And if you've ever seen a child running around a banyan tree, you'll understand what the tree meant. The tree also told me that this touristy area has come and one day it will go. All the while the tree will be in the same place. Everything and everyone comes and goes. Don't worry about the little things like your silly love life. Everything comes and goes. This reminds me of lyrics of Don't hang your heart by Chris & Thomas:
    Don't hang your heart
    On things, on love
    A name, a face, a place
    On dreams of yesterdays
    Cause things will fade
    And things will start
    Don't hang your heart on anything
    So, Reader, take from this conversation with the banyan tree what you will. I feel a little more calm about life today after my visit with the banyan tree.

    Aloha and mahalo for reading all the way to here. This was a long and rambling post. According to Wikipedia, mahalo is a Hawaiian word meaning thanks, gratitude, admiration, praise, esteem, regards, respects.

    That's about right. Mahalo, dear Reader. Mahalo.

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    Day 70: I'm stuck in my beach chair and I can't get out

    After one day in Maui, I don't know how anyone lives anywhere else.

    This place makes you want to change your return flight and stay a few extra days. It makes you want to look into local real estate. I'd even look into a timeshare if I could peel myself off my beach chair. Can't someone else go see the timeshare? Just tell me what I owe.

    I'd take on some island adventures, too, if I could get off my beach chair.

    This morning, prior to sitting in this beach chair that I can't get out of, I went to the local grocery store to fetch bottled water that isn't outrageously priced like it is at my resort.
    It's the new age drinks that are particularly effective. That and the rum.

    Good thing I came to Maui when I did since a big ol' celebrity is coming:
    So it's a good thing I left my Ganesh necklace at home. I opted for my Saint Christopher's medallion instead as he's the patron saint of traveling. Yep, I revert back to being Catholic when I travel. Even now, when I'm traveling with three Jewish ladies. (There is a lot of luggage and culinary requirements even beyond my veganism.)

    Another thing I did before I landed in my beach chair never to rise again was snorkel. Once one puts those goggles on to see what is really swimming below is the moment one realizes that if one continues swimming with the goggles, the chances of seeing something that will freak one's shit out will increase significantly. It didn't take me long to stop swimming with goggles. Ignorance is bliss.

    Now my pina colada-marinated brain has landed in this beach chair at this poolside bar all Magnum P.I.-style and I don't know how I'll ever go back to my regularly scheduled life. Maybe I won't. Maybe I'll be like Rip Van Winkle who fell asleep under a tree for a twenty years, but instead of falling asleep under a tree, I'll be sucking back booze in my beach chair.


    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Day 69: The magic of morning pages

    The last two times I did The Artist's Way my life got a little... magical.

    Now, I have done the course since January 1, 2010. And, well, um, I'M IN HAWAII!!!!
    I am in Hawaii because a friend of mine won a trip to Hawaii and took me!

    Magical? You betcha.

    And we got an empty seat between us on the plane. Hello Magic. Nice to meet you.

    Plus, we got a FREE upgrade to an OCEAN VIEW ROOM!

    Hey Magic, now you're just showing off.

    Check out these flamingos that are real flamingos at my hotel. Not the plastic kind that fade in the sun.
    Here, have a flower:
    The wind here is blowing like crazy. Thousands of birds are in the less wind-blown trees. They are chirping and hanging on for dear life. I can just imagine them yapping to each other "when is this freak show of a wind storm going to die down," and "hold on folks, another gust's a comin'."

    The chirping all sounds greek to me.

    My iPhone weather app assures me that tomorrow is going to be sunny and less mistral. Though the wind has it's own charm. A sort of magic of it's own.


    P.S. Hey Magic, thanks for the free upgrade on the car rental, too. Impressive.

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    Day 68: It happened again... didn't do my morning pages

    I woke up this morning at 5 a.m. with the realization that I did not write my morning pages yesterday.


    That's the second time this year that I just plain for-effing-got to do my pages.

    The day got away from me.

    Cop out.

    Ya, I know. I truly felt bad about not writing the pages. I felt bad enough to consider not mentioning it in this here wee blog. But, that's not exactly the point. I want you to be involved in this year-long experiment of me writing my morning pages each and every day. I want us to find out together how my life changes or if it doesn't change at all. Or if they become easy to write or too hard to write. Or whatever happens, I want us to all know about it.

    Sigh. Now you know I'm not perfect.


    Yesterday I rushed out the door to get to coffee to see my friends, rushed to work, rushed home, rushed to eat before friends came over and after they left I went to bed forgetting all about my little year long project that takes up at least an hour of every single day.

    I'm in the third month, too. Just about the same time that I have lost momentum with The Artist's Way in the past. But, dear Reader, I will prevail! I will boldly go where I have not gone before! I WILL WRITE MY MORNING PAGES ONCE MORE!

    Starting today, when I am doing two sets. One in the morning and one later.

    I'm going to need a cape.

    Day 67: Artist date of walking around Abbot Kinney and the Venice canals

    A bonus artist date: City Walk of Abbot Kinney and the Venice Canals.

    My friend Marni and I whipped out my card deck of City Walks: Los Angeles to find a super fun walk.

    We settled on this walk of Abbot Kinney and the Venice Canals in Venice Beach, California:

    Abbot Kinney has a slew of crazy characters. Though we didn't see the owner of this tricked out bike, we're pretty sure he or she qualifies as a crazy character:
    That's Marni. She is not a crazy character. Well... not often.

    Food trucks are a favorite along Abbot Kinney. Here's one such truck, the Baby Badass Burgers truck.

    I appreciate the hot pink.

    I do not appreciate being teased by a burger about my vegan ways.

    Still, we got fries from this mocking truck. They were delicious!

    Then it was off to my favorite stationery shop, Urbanic, where I came upon these pretty books:
    I took a looksy inside said books:
    And was very pleased to discover...
    They were blank journals!
    These lovely recycled book cover journals were created by Tyler Bender Book Co. and you can see more at his Etsy shop.

    Farewell, Abbot Kinney.

    We knew we were getting close to the Venice canals when we saw this amazing little corner grocery store:

    We turned a corner and BOOM! Canals!
    As fate would have it, our friend Abby lives in the canals, and though we didn't know exactly where she lived, she happened to walk out of her house at the exact time we were walking by. And if that wasn't amazing enough, she was having an Oscar party and invited us in!

    Magic galore on our little artist date around town.

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