Category: Uncategorized

live & unplugged

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
– Anne Lamott

We all have different ways of unplugging: meditating, taking a walk, eating a meal slowly, dancing, napping.

Sometimes doing the dishes by hand is a way to unplug. (To each her own.)

My favorite snippet in this quote from Anne Lamott is “for a few minutes”. Our society and work culture expect us to feel burned out most of the time, to save up all our unplugging for the tail end of a day, for the Saturday afternoon, for the one (too) short vacation a year. But, really, sprinkling in those few minutes throughout each day is just as nourishing and, perhaps, more sustaining.

You have ten minutes. How will you unplug?

just missed a big bird

Some people might see a couple of arrows pointing to an area that needs attention from a work crew.

Me? I wonder when the big bird passed through and marvel at the long middle toe.

Have you ever changed the mundane into something a bit magical?

a room for surprise

“Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise.”
– Julia Cameron

I went to hear Paul Simon sing at the Hollywood Bowl recently. He told a story about the oddest title he ever gave a song: “Rene and Georgette Magritte with their Dog after the War.”

One day, maybe 40 years ago, he was visiting Joan Baez. She had to take a phone call and left him alone in her living room. He flipped through a book and saw this caption under a photo: “Rene and Georgette Magritte with their dog after the war.” Something struck him about that sentence, and so he wrote the song. And then I was lucky enough to hear him sing it under a big sky decades later.

So often, when a surprise inspiration strikes (even the littlest of inspirations), we dismiss it. We move on to the next thing in our busy, busy lives. But maybe, if we leave more room for mystery and surprise, we can follow those inspirations and create something wonderful. Because sometimes the littlest inspiration can become a masterpiece; sometimes a mysterious idea can become an invention; sometimes a caption can become a song.

Has any inspiration surprised you lately?

for the sake of the climb

“The ones who climb the mountain don’t wait for permission. They just start walking.”
– Trinity Bourne

As a New Yorker, I excelled at urban hiking. There is plenty of flat terrain there, but there is also flight after flight of staircases to climb, both over and under the ground. Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve been hiking mountains and canyons. My hikes in New York were part of my transportation system. (I used to say “My legs are my car”.) But the LA hikes are different. They are simply for the hike itself, for the climb.

My neighbor, the tortoise, set out on his own climb recently. I marveled at his persistence and grace as he lugged himself to the top. Once he was up there, he didn’t stay long. With a sudden motion, he stepped off the top rock and awkwardly slid and bumped all the way back down.

Trinity Bourne says we climbers don’t wait for permission to climb. I say we climbers don’t wait for a reason either. To climb is reason enough.

What have you climbed recently?

strength

For much of my life, I have been very, very active. Starting as a dancer and a (pretty bad) gymnast at age 5, and then moving into martial arts (primarily capoeira and later tae kwon do). I used these skills in life and in my jobs as a stunt performer. I was strong and fit and pretty damn tough.

After some health issues, I spent several years away from any consistent physical activity. I’d have short spells of taking classes here or there, but nothing as dedicated as I had previously been.

As I write this, I am 3 months in to an attempt at renewing my focus on physical health. My goals are increased strength and endurance. I want a useful body.

Even though I far prefer learning an art form over training at the gym, I also recognize that the gym might be what I need as I nomad around the world. And, to be fair, I do rather like some of the weightlifting. Especially deadlift. Makes me feel strong.

But there is danger here. As I feel my strength growing, as I lift heavier & heavier weights, I start to compete with who I used to be. This 41-year-old body is not the same as my 30-year-old body or my 20-year-old body. I start to think in terms of limitations, and it frustrates me.

There is a great deal of strength in gentleness. And there can be a power in respecting boundaries. I have great admiration for the physical strength I once had. I’m learning slowly to have respect for the different strengths I have now.

Here’s to competing with our past selves and hopefully walking to the finish line arm in arm.

sensing a surrender

“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.”
– Julia Cameron

An artist friend was recently touring through LA, and so we spent an afternoon together. She kept remarking in her charming Polish accent, “California smells so good!” She couldn’t get enough of these bushes in particular, surrendering her entire body to their intoxicating fragrance.

It was then that I learned that smelling was a creative act. Who knew?

not what you look like

The huntsman is a shy spider. Not aggressive at all. But it’s also a very, very big spider. So some people, especially those who don’t know of its shy nature, might not react well to its presence.

I was speaking to someone not long ago and discussing how I’m an extreme introvert. He was surprised. “You’re a very confident introvert.” I explained to him that introversion is not the same as shyness, nor does it mean someone has a lack of confidence.

I had surprised him because his perception of me led to some untrue assumptions.

This (not so) little guy (or gal) didn’t stay in the bowl, by the way. He (or she) had decided to meander into the bedroom, and so I just relocated him (or her) outside.

Big but shy. Confident but introverted.

Have you had a huntsman moment lately?

tasting fortune

When I was young, a friend told me that, if I wanted the message from a fortune cookie to come true, I had to eat it. She said I had to eat both the cookie and the fortune. She instructed me to chew and swallow the little slip of paper, and so I did. It felt like I was participating in the magic.

Recently, a new friend plucked a flower from a tree and presented it to me with the instruction, “Try this.” He didn’t speak of any fortune, only of the delicious taste. But, as I lifted the beautiful flower to my mouth, I made a secret wish. (How could I not?) Once again, I participated in the magic with simple chews and a swallow.

Have you gotten any tastes of magic lately?

charmed by a bee

A friend and I were relaxing on the beach when she suddenly gasped. I looked down to see that a bee had landed on my finger. Bees have always fascinated me, and I don’t recall ever being stung by one (wasps are a different story). So I remained calm and just observed the tiny creature. He ended up hanging out on my finger for ten whole minutes! Perhaps he mistook me for a flower or a sandwich. In any case, I rather enjoyed his company.

Have you befriended any insects lately?

hawaii in ice

I know the shapes aren’t quite right, but these patches of ice on the train window from Sweden to Denmark made me think about my former home in Hawaii. How’s that for worlds apart?

Where do you find reminders in potentially strange places?