On Nasty Women, Leaking Vaginas, and Child Rapists Getting 43 Days in Jail

21 Oct

My absentee voter ballot sits on my kitchen table. I need to read up on some of the propositions. I’ve known my presidential choice all along.


Unlike my Twitter feed, I have not posted much about the election on my FB page. The hostility I see embedded in various threads on FB makes my stomach churn. I have preferred to keep my thoughts to myself because I don’t have the energy to sift through venom. Life is hard enough.

I remember early tirades against Clinton supporters. “It’s stupid to vote for someone just because she’s a woman.”

I would never vote for someone JUST because she’s a woman. I certainly didn’t vote for Sarah Palin when she ran for Vice President.

I will, however, vote for a female candidate that I believe is well qualified.

The fact that she is a woman IS a big deal.

When I wake up in the morning and read yet another article about yet another male judge giving a joke of a sentence to a rapist, I think having a female voice in politics is a good thing. (According to NPR, “a state district judge in Montana is facing a call for his impeachment after sentencing a man who admitted to raping his 12-year-old daughter to 60 days in jail, of which he will serve 43.”). When I hear about a 19 year old male claiming on the Internet that women should control their menstrual blood flow and stop whining about the necessity of tampons, I think having a female voice in politics is a good thing. And when women are continually called “nasty” or “difficult” or “unapproachable” or “unlikeable” or “unkind” or “hysterical” or “emotional” because they express their opinions, I think having a female voice in politics is a good thing.

LA Times contributing writer, Melissa Batchelor Warnke eloquently describes why many women currently resonate with Clinton. About the debates she writes: In three acts, Clinton demonstrated the unlearning process that guides many American women’s experiences: performing for men, leading for others, living true-to-self. We’ve never witnessed such a compressed, gendered metamorphosis in American political life. For many women, Clinton’s movement toward her own power is a historical moment. We’ll remember where we were when fire took our shape.”

When we’ve been the “second sex”for most of our life experience, it’s a historic day to see a woman having a seat at the table.

You can be a feminist and dearly love men. In fact, you can be a man and a feminist! Being a feminist means you believe in both genders having a voice.

Using my voice doesn’t make me nasty, and no, I can’t stop my own menstrual blood flow through sheer will power. That would be a great super power though.


The Spirit of a Place

14 Oct

Certain places imprint. When I was sixteen I swam under an inky sky off the coast of Sicily at midnight. The water was warm, the moon was full, and as I floated on my back looking up at the stars, I was filled with a sense of endless possibility that comes with youth and the wonders of travel. In that moment I was free.

I rarely think of that experience now and yet when I feel traces of it, I’m suddenly suspended in time. That moment created a sense of expansion. The universe offered me a gift and I embraced it greedily, appreciatively, and without shame.

The longer we’re on the planet, the more we can lose touch with moments like this that allow us to transcend the ordinary realm of experience. While it’s true we can find the extraordinary in the ordinary, we sometimes need to step out of the ordinary to find the extraordinary.


I have no idea what creates this sense of adventure. I only know what happens when I’m suddenly in the drama of it, playing the leading heroine. I get a chance to reclaim myself and life.

Often, these experiences come randomly and with luck. Other times, we consciously create them.

I recently taught a class in Hawaii. It was the second time I’ve been here for work and work is work. It wasn’t all play and fun. But Hawaii is international enough that it can leave you suspended in another world. Being welcomed with a wreath of orchids never fails to make me tear up. The spirit of ohana is alive and well. We are all interconnected. There is no denying it.


The world can be ugly, harsh, and dull. Suffering and hardships are more than real. Life can bring us to our knees in anguish and cripple us with worry. Yet the spirit of a place can make us see, even if temporarily, that there is so much more happening beneath the surface of the physical realm.

All we have are moments in time but it is the moments that most matter. They are only moments, yet they can alter our perspectives forever, leaving us changed and more receptive to the life around us.

As I floated in the ocean, I thought of that night in Sicily when the sky held wonder to my younger self. I had forgotten that experience. The warm water also brought to mind greeting the day in the Sea of Galilee while watching the sky turn pink and feeling deeply connected to God. I had forgotten that experience too. Yet when we catalogue the most important moments of our lives, what will they be? Who or what changes us? What takes us from the ordinary to the extraordinary and how does the extraordinary serve as a spiritual reserve to keep us going through the dull and mundane?

On our death beds, we will not be thinking of the mortgage or the losses. We’ll be thinking of the miraculous. Canals in Venice, a child’s hug, a lover’s embrace in the cold Alaskan night and a fantastic wave. We’ll think of profound conversations, beautiful music, a grandmother’s hug, delicious food, beloved pets and rainbows. We’ll reflect on the many wonders of life and the spirit of a place.









Return to the Sea

9 Sep

Something happens to me when I’m in the sea. I am both the child I was splashing and laughing in the waves while my mom sunbathed on shore and the adult that I am now, yet free from everything. There is only the sun on my face and the undulations of each wave. The sea integrates my introspective nature with my wild one. It calms me and unleashes me simultaneously. For me, when the conditions are gentle and mild, it’s bliss; when they’re harsh and choppy, it’s utterly humbling and makes me bow down at the Maker.


When I have had some time in the water, for the next 24 hours I feel a rocking motion within me that is the up and down of the wave now imprinted in my system. I feel my energy body entirely different as if I’ve just taken some type of drug or had a five hour yoga class.

Isak Dinensen wrote, “The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea.”

This is true.

I surf but not for the thrills or danger. At my age, I don’t need to shred anything. I’m a long boarder and prefer mild, gentle waves like the Dumbo ride at Disneyland. I just want the calm ride in and to be free of injuries. Yet more than anything, I love to surf because it gets me in the water. You put on the little black seal suit that will keep you warm in the frigid Pacific and paddle out on your mini boat. Then as Jackson Browne sang, “Rock me on the water,” something does just that.


Nothing will commune you more with life pulse energy than the wave. When you catch one, you are being pushed by a force that runs the universe. In a weird way, you become one with the Universe. You are moving and being moved by Nature. It’s thrilling, intimate and completely unpredictable. It is solitude and communion.


I get in the water to make certain I’m more focused on living than dying.

Sobriety of Mind

6 Sep

It’s astonishing how obsessed we can become with our own thoughts. It’s an addiction not really discussed but we’re all susceptible to it. Our thoughts can take us down quite literally. I have seen in it myself and I have seen it in others. Sobriety of mind is a noble undertaking.


Ultimately, recovery is a process. We can never completely free ourselves of our thoughts. It’s the nature of the mind to look for trouble. To cling and grasp, catastrophize, and create drama.

We can gain some degree of sobriety though. We can learn to tame our minds. We can alter the way our perceptions tyrannize. And we can practice serenity.

I weary though of talking heads who say we create our reality and that everything external is a reflection of our internal perceptions. To a degree that is true but tell that to the woman diagnosed with cancer. You’re basically telling her that her diagnosis is all her fault. Tell that to the little boy sitting stunned in blood caught in the crossfire of war whose photo went viral. It’s a cop out to say something like that as it reduces life’s crap and evil to simplicity and allows us to abdicate any responsibility for helping others in situations far less fortunate than our own.

If I get hit by a bus, the reality is that it is going to hurt. I am going to have to deal with the aftermath of the accident. While I have some measure of control regarding how I deal with that reality, it’s still going to have to be dealt with. If my legs get broken, they’ll have to be fixed. Pain is a part of life. Our minds will react to circumstances and stimuli.

So where is the line between addiction and sobriety? When do our thoughts make us spin out of control into complete excess? And what do we do about it?

It’s not as simple as mind over matter or willing ourselves out of our feelings. Emotions are crucial because they give us information that something is wrong. As the brilliant Sufi poet, Hafiz wrote, “The Heart is right to cry even when the smallest drop of light, of love, is taken away.” Quite frankly, it’s not the tears that are an issue. That is just energy releasing that ultimately frees us. When we move the energy out we break long held karmic patterns of hurt the yogis refer to as samskaras. Instead it’s our thoughts that can keep us stuck, prisoners in our heads.

When we cling to what happened or what could happen and then dissect every angle of something completely beyond our control, we are simply grasping for control. And that is absurd.

We want perfection out of life. We want everyone to like us, for there never to be a mishap, and to micromanage ourselves and others. This will never be attainable yet the mind will keep questing for it. Why we build an alter to worship at it, I will never understand.

There is no constancy, as much as we long for it. There is our breath and this moment. That is it. The more we can move from one moment to the next without clinging or rejecting, then we achieve a degree of sobriety.

It’s okay to have pleasure. It’s okay to say, “F— it to worry and pain.” The pain and the worry will always be there because we are masters at it. We can ruin even the happiest of moments with obsessions but we don’t have to live with drama 24/7. For a bit, we can let go. We can enjoy ourselves.

Lady, You’re Gonna Get Wet!

1 Sep

Sometimes, all you can do is laugh. This morning a woman in a water aerobics class started screeching at me for “splashing too much”as I did laps in the lane next to the class.

I didn’t understand what the problem was until the life guard approached me, embarrassed, and told me the woman was upset by my swimming. “I don’t understand,” I said. “If she wants me to switch lanes, I have no problem but how am I to swim without splashing?”

Lady, if you’re going to get into a swimming pool, chances are you’re going to get wet!

I switched lanes. The lady continued to scowl. The man in my new lane smiled. I smiled back. Because you’ve got to keep a sense of humor.

When people are that angry you almost have to feel sorry for them.

The woman didn’t understand that I’d just received a string of bad news and that I’d come to the pool to try and feel better. It didn’t matter. As I get older I just can’t be bothered anymore with bs – my own or other people’s. When I’m embroiled in my own, I have to shake myself and say, “Stop it! You’re driving even me out of my mind.” Because none of us knows how much time we have on this planet and I want to enjoy as much of it as I can.

Here is the thing. We are going to get splashed. We are going to get our hair messed up.

Why be alive, why sit by the pool, if you’re not going to get in it?


The Breath of Connection

24 Aug

If you hold your breath, a horse will not come toward you. He or she will sense danger or trouble of some sort. If you allow yourself to breathe and be present, this is an invitation to encounter. Anything can happen. It’s the ultimate acting exercise. It can be pure intimacy if in allow.


If you approach a horse, the horse sets the boundary. If a horse approaches you, you set the boundary. Would we learn how to play this game with humans.

I think horses are conduits to another plane of energy.

In a world where we’re all glued to our gadgets, it’s nice to hang out with completely sensory, intuitive beings.



The Beauty of Boredom

16 Aug

Boredom isn’t really in my repertoire. Raised an only child, I learned to entertain myself at an early age and never really felt bored. I came to appreciate that there is plenty to do in life.

Yet every now and then, particularly when I’m super pooped like I am right now, I have to spend a day doing almost nothing. I always find this somewhat frustrating. I mean what could be more boring than just sitting on the couch or lying in bed when it’s sweltering hot both inside and outside? Just being is not terribly exciting, thought provoking, stimulating, or pleasurable. Nonetheless, I sometimes work myself into such a frenzy of career demands that the exhaustion comes with the territory.

I dislike these days yet I know there is beauty in boredom. Watching the hours tick away, not even reading or watching t.v., I find myself in a weird free fall. Just sitting here on the couch in the last hour I have noticed the sky change from pink to violet and now I see the moon almost full. I have painted two pictures and emptied my mind of weeks of teaching and travel. I have felt spaced out and my head has buzzed with a weird tingling vibration.

And I know this is absolutely vital to my physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

The other day I was so happy to be home I bought three bouquets of flowers for different rooms in my house. Today, I noticed each arrangement yield more to its blossoms. When we’re bored, we start to pay attention.


Tomorrow is another day. The to-do list never ending. The I-want-to-do-list even longer.

Yet today I had moments of boredom and in those pockets of empty space, I heard the still small voice that beckons me. As always, I doubt where it will lead me, yet know I must find the courage to follow it. Without the down time, I wouldn’t have paid attention to its presence.

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