As an attorney who bills by the hour, timesheet are the bane of my existence (and I doubt my clients like them any more than I do). So here it is, Saturday morning, and I know I should be putting aside my reading, my writing, my research because I should be completing my timesheets. But first (the procrastinator in me readily pops out) I should do the filing of magazine clips and other miscellaneous papers that have gathered on my desk during the week. The first page I cut out to save? An excerpt from Elle Luna telling me to pay attention when I tell myself what I “should” be doing and, equally, what I feel I “must” do. According to Luna, at least as summarized by O Magazine, “Should is the expectations others layer upon us. When we pick Should, we’re choosing to live for someone or something outside ourselves.” True that. “Must, on the other hand, is who we are, what we believe, the things that call to us most deeply.” Hum, never that of it that way. Intriguing, though. “Pursuing our Musts as we move through the world is the journey of a lifetime, but even the first step on that road is a mini adventure all its own.”
I’m trying out the WordPress Blogging 101 University again. One of these days I will learn to blog better, at least I’ll keep trying!
Our assignment? To tell you, the Universe, why I’m blogging instead of keeping a personal journal. The answer? I do both, and neither as often as I’d like. I journal to let out my anger, record my thoughts so I can look back on them in later years and remember what this time was like, to explore private thoughts and learn about myself. I blog to share, and to seek feedback from you.
One day I was practicing Kundalini yoga using a DVD of Maya Fiennes and working on Chakra 5, my voice. I’ve always had trouble expressing my needs to others, or even admitting them to myself. In my memory I tried to express myself as a child but if my thoughts/feelings/opinions weren’t the ones my parents thought I “should” hold, then they were considered back-talking and more often than not I’d be in trouble for them. In fact for the most part the only trouble I ever got in was for back-talking. I didn’t drink, didn’t sneak off to the woods to smoke, didn’t steal, didn’t take drugs, didn’t fail to make good grades … but I did “talk back” i.e. say what I thought about a situation. Perhaps I could have tried a different approach, a different tone of voice, a different way of expressing myself but I just stubbornly insisted on speaking my mind. But over time I learned not to own my truth, not to speak my mind, just to think it but outwardly acquiesce.
I suffered from horrible sore throats — strep throat — as a child until finally the doctor said I was old enough to have my tonsils removed to cure the problem … and miraculously I never had strep throat again, at least for years. I always had such a high-pitched voice, even as a 40-year-old, that folks on the phone thought I was a kid. All these signs my body was sending me telling me to OWN MY VOICE.. to speak up, to open up. Determined in my late 40s to give it a try, I was dedicated to practicing the DVD that promises with 40 days of use to accomplish that goal of unblocking my Fifth Chakra when “an enriching life” popped into my head as a phrase that symbolized what I wanted. A rich life not with monetary wealth but with fullness, friendships, experiences, spirituality, and abundance of health, joy, and love.
so this blog is the result. As soon as my DVD ended I hoped up, signed up for the domain An Enriching Life and started to write about any subject I feel has enriched my life or might enrich yours. OK I haven’t done such a great job at it but it’s still a worthy goal and one I’m going to keep attempting to reach.
Blogging itself has enriched my life by giving me an outlet for my random thoughts and sometimes helping to put them in some sort of order. Here’s hoping I get better at it, for your sake as well as my own!
Blessings and Happy 5th of July!
They got me at hello, or the magazine equivalent of it. Just received my first issue of The Sun Magazine and turned to the first article and am hooked. The story of the Mystic and the Warrior former priest Matthew Fox speaks to my soul. It isn’t about original sin and questioning our existence on earth, but about God’s original blessing of life to each of us, at the divine within us, about love and the feminine as well as the masculine, about embracing science and God, about relationship, about a “regrinding of faith in a mystical, prophetic, cosmological worldview.” Beautiful stuff. In the article he quotes David Orr as saying “Hope is a verb with its shirt sleeves rolled up.” Let’s get to work, let’s love God, let’s love life … let’s just exude, bathe in, celebrate and spread love.
Jack & I spent the weekend in Baltimore for his niece’s wedding. The little non-wedding time we had we made the most of, exploring. We stayed in a very cute B&B, the INN at 2920, which comes complete with everything from breakfast to a beta fish. The hosts are thoughtful and there are many nice extra touches to make you feel at home. And it’s just a block from Canton’s Square with a variety of bars and restaurants close enough to easily walk to but far enough away not to create noise.
Below is a photo of the lobby, where there is a cooler filled with fruit and soft drinks. Up a short flight of stairs is the dining area where they serve you a delicious breakfast in the morning, and a small library with some books you can borrow during your trip. It was one more flight up to our room.
We had lunch at Plug Ugly in Canton Square, and I highly recommend it. I had some very hot and crispy fries that hit the spot, and I almost tried the house specialty cocktail because it sounded delicious but also highly dangerous (I counted at least five kinds of alcohol). Maybe next time!
As part of my wedding preparations I also had a manicure at a little salon just off Canton’s Square, which was lovely.
Friday morning we explored the harbor and the Aquarium which, even though I’m not a huge fan of aquariums general, was one of the nicest ones I’ve ever seen (similar to the great one in Monterey, California). There was one area with at least 20 exhibits of different types of jellyfish, from tiny to some with tentacles that could reach as far as 200 feet. And, whatever the size, gorgeous.
I’m not keen on seeing them when I’m in the water WITH them, but when they are safely behind glass I find jellies fascinating.
There were plenty of other fish to see at the Aquarium, of course, including this really cool shrimp …
and a dolphin exhibit that reminded me of SeaWorld.
After our time with the fish we spent some time in another of my favorite activities … shopping! There were plenty of shops from which to choose, and J Crew was having a sale, so I would say the day was a definite success.
The next morning we made it out to Fort McHenry, and we felt fortunate to be there the week after the 200th anniversary celebration. (Apparently there were huge crowds the week prior, for the actual anniversary celebration, which I wasn’t sad to have missed.)
Of course I’ve heard The Star Spangled Banner hundreds of times and have heard the story about the writing of the song as well, and in truth I put Fort McHenry on my “to do” list because I love history, but I wasn’t anticipating much. It exceeded my expectations — you enter into a small room where they show a video retelling the story of the battle Francis Scott Key witnessed and, at the end, the screen disappears and you have a perfectly framed view of the huge American flag just as he saw it “at the dawn’s early light.” It brought out the patriotic bones in my body and if you looked closely you might have seen a tear in my eyes.
To be there and see the relationship between the river and the Fort makes you appreciate the story much more. The tour of the Fort was worthwhile; I hadn’t had any idea that it once served as a prison for captured Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, as well as holding Southern sympathizers and political prisoners. In the rooms of the Fort they have exhibits from the various time periods, including the beds from when prisoners were held here, rooms set up as they were for the officers, etc. From 1917 until 1923 the U.S. Army hospital was housed here to serve WWI veterans, before it eventually became a National Park.
Jack was a little tired of all the touring, so he enjoyed the benches the Fort so thoughtfully scatters around its site.
After that it was all wedding, all the time. So while there are plenty of other sites of interest in Baltimore, we had to save them for a follow-up trip. And our little taste of Baltimore definitely left us interested in exploring more. Until next time!
I want the bad guys put away. I am nervous when a judge reverses a sentence because of some procedural error. After all, how many times do we later find out that someone who should have/would have been in jail had not the overcrowded conditions or “good behavior” or some such thing gotten him out early committed yet another crime, hurting someone else’s life. So I wasn’t entirely enthusiastic about signing up to help the California Innocence Project as my pro bono commitment for the year.
But I went because as the partner in charge of pro bono in my office, responsible for ensuring we have 100% participation in our office this year, I needed to make an appearance. And of course I’d heard the Innocence Project being touted for high-profile victories and was interested to hear their story.
I’m so glad I went. First, it had all the elements of a great lunch. It was over in just under an hour, the sandwiches were from the “good” deli and we had cookies and chips (not so good for my dieting attempt but were yummy), and, to the important stuff, their story was fascinating. It was a combination of CSI and one of the best days of class in Psychology 101 — they had a Powerpoint presentation that included images that caused our minds see things that were not there. Green dots jumped around a circle despite the absence of green dots actually appearing anywhere on the slide (they say), despite what our brains tell us we see. Images that appeared to move around, but in fact did not.
But the last three minutes of the presentation are the reason why I signed up to volunteer. The last three minutes had me blindly and, hopefully, discretely, searching in my purse for tissue.
Earlier in the meeting we had heard the facts about the subject of that last three minutes earlier in the presentation. A scary story about a 16-year-old girl at 11 in the morning in a not-bad part of town walking on a well-traveled street next to the Home Depot on her way to a friend’s home being hemmed in by a white truck with a battered camper shell. Then chased down, dragged into the bushes and almost raped before managing to fight off the thirty-something white male with a goatee attacker and get away. I am totally with that girl, on her side all the way. I, too, thought mornings were safe. I, too, was wearing earphones and walking in a very safe neighborhood at about 10 in the morning, minding my business and just trying to get a little exercise, when my gut told me something was wrong and I looked to my right to see a beat-up VW bug driven by what I can best describe as a huge, muscular, tattooed arm right out of Hell’s Angels attached to a bearded man staring at me as he crept along beside me. He didn’t catch me, but he came close enough that this girl’s story spoke to me. I learned a lesson indelibly printed in my soul by that incident. Mornings are not safe, even in nice neighborhoods. Bad things can happen at any time, and anywhere. All my sympathy is with that 16-year-old girl who was just trying to walk to visit a friend, and the hell some asshole created by attacking her, destroying her sense of safety, causing her nightmares she may never fully escape.
She thought the police found the guy; she was 60% sure in the photo line-up and then, in court, 100% sure that the defendant was the man who had attacked her that day. Except it turns out that it wasn’t. Too many years later DNA testing proved beyond a doubt that the bad guy was a different man who also had access to a white truck with a camper attached and who looked almost exactly like the man who had been wrongly convicted of the crime. This man who had the misfortune of looking like the bad guy had spent eight long years in jail for the crime.
That was all bad enough, but then the presenters showed a short video of the now-released, wrongly accused man who had spent almost all the years of his only son’s childhood wasting away in prison standing at the San Diego Airport awaiting a visit from the son he hasn’t been able to hug all that time. From the time his son was two. And now that boy he barely knows is 11 years old. The video started, and we watched as the man in turn watches the passengers exiting the gate from the flight his son was supposed to take to come for his first visit in many years. As he searches intently for the son he hopes he can recognize, the tension in my stomach starts to grow. I see a boy walk pass, and then another one, but neither one is him. The number of passengers exiting the gate start to dwindle and now my whole body is tense, not knowing how I will be able to stand it if he’s left there at the airport, empty-handed, alone. What if his son doesn’t get off that plane because he decided not to get on it, not to waste his time on this man he doesn’t know?
Finally, I can breathe. The freed man spots his son, and they run to one another, and the boy who is no longer so little is still young enough to be fully enveloped by the longed-for hug from his Dad, who wraps his arms around his son and holds him as if he never, ever wants to let him go. And I don’t know about the rest of the people in the room, since I was trying not to look, but I know that I could not help but cry.
I signed up to help get people who shouldn’t be in prison out. Because the bad guys should absolutely be put away. But not everyone in prison should be there, and the ones who have been wrongly accused, who are the victims of error or revenge or laziness or some injustice in our judicial system — those people need to be home with their sons and their daughters and their wives and their mothers and fathers and everyone that loves them and that they love. I am eternally grateful that I haven’t suffered from that injustice, and that there are people like the people at the Innocence Project who work to help correct those wrongs.
I hope one day only those who deserve to be in prison will be there, and I will do my little part to help make that happen, one person at a time.
Rollerblading along the Pacific Beach/Mission Beach boardwalk was my favorite thing when I found myself at 37 divorced, supporting an ex-husband and two small children by putting in long hours at an international law firm, in search of love … the sense of freedom it gave me was the best thing in my life besides my amazing, beautiful children, and every weekend they spent with their Dad I spent rollerblading along the Bay.
But I haven’t put on my rollerblades for way too many years. And as much as I value the spiritual over the material, the way I spend the time God gave me in this life suggests the opposite. I say I value relationship and service and Things That Really Matter but I spend most of the hours of my day on the things that decidedly do not.
Then a Facebook friend posted this video from the New York Times about Slomo.
Honestly, it’s been so long since I’ve been to the Boardwalk that I don’t recall ever having seen him there, and boy have I missed out. Slomo has it right. The freedom and joy of his spirit shines through, as does his bravery, his not caring that instead of the respect the world showed him as a successful doctor he now has people talking about him, wondering if he is a crazy homeless man or just crazy. He doesn’t care, because he is simply enjoying filling each day he has left with wonder and joy, spending it doing what he loves.
Here I sit, 10 minutes from the Boardwalk with my rollerblades packed up who-knows-where with no excuse for not putting them on other than knowing that (i) my feet will ache at first, (ii) I’m very out-of-shape, and (iii) I don’t see where I’ll find the time. What I’d forgotten was not just how much fun it was to rollerblade at the Beach, but also how much rollerblading along the Bay enriched my life.
Thank you, Slomo, for the reminder. I know what I’ll be doing this weekend.
I think we all know that one way to enrich our lives is by eating healthier foods … CounterCrop’s aim is to do just that, by transforming the way the world feeds itself one salad at a time. That’s the mission of CounterCrop, and we’re trying to launch it on Kickstarter. We’re almost 50% of the way to our goal in the first 24 hours — please take a look! http://t.co/EQg2NT6hW4
So many fought so hard so that you and I could vote. Don’t waste it. It’s easy now to forget the value a vote gives you, because it seems as if one vote doesn’t really matter. That it’s only the unions or the Big Business or the lobbyists that count and no one in government listens to you, anyway. But your vote and your voice do count, and so many people in this world still don’t have the right to cast a vote, or to know that a vote cast will be properly counted, that the ballot box won’t be stuffed, that the election isn’t rigged. It took years — decades even — of protests and rallies and hard work by many women to earn women the right to cast a vote, and in their honor I cast my vote. Now if I complain about how government is working (or not) I feel I’ve earned the right to lodge that complaint, because I did my part to participate in the process. Go Vote!
October 25, 1959. That’s the day I arrived, all five pounds of me. Mother only gained five pounds with her pregnancy, she says on Doctor’s orders but I think perhaps also because she liked her figure and feared getting fat. (I gained 45 pounds with my first and 50 with my second. Clearly I didn’t fear looking like I’d swallowed the largest pumpkin grown in any patch.)
October 25, 2014 is only a few days away and if I’m lucky enough to live through them then I’ll celebrate 55 years of being on this earth. I have a feeling this is the year I’m going to start looking old. I’ve been blessed genetically with few wrinkles and cursed with a high, girlish voice and in some ways I’m still surprisingly naive so for that or other reasons most people guess I’m years younger than I am. But in the past few weeks I’ve seen the grey start creeping into my hair and for no reason in the world two weeks ago my lower back started aching so that one afternoon I could barely even make it up the stairs and for some reason my eyes have been feeling tired and irritated lately. So basically I’m apparently falling apart. And I pretty much have to consider myself middle-aged now, unless I’m planning to live a lot longer than 110 years.
But I still have a long way I want to go along the path of my life, into the beautiful unknown, taking the wisdom gathered over all these years, the relationships built, the sorrows and the joys and setting out on this next phase of my life taking more risks, laughing louder, singing, dancing, crying, loving, more, more & more. All in glorious abundance.
So yes, I’m feeling kind of old, but I’m ready for the way ahead whether I get there running or walking or crawling or being carried I look forward to all that lies ahead.