Tag Archives: California
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4th grade writer

24 Feb

My teacher in the 4th grade was Mrs. Wheeler. A small petite woman with white hair and a raspy voice. She wore skirts that came to her knees and I always remember her fondness for plaid. One afternoon she came up and whispered in my ear that she wanted to talk with me privately. She had assembled a list of students whom she had created a special program for, it was a creative writing program. I was so honored. I couldn’t believe it. Every day at lunch while all the other children ate their Bologne sandwiches, we went to the library and wrote stories. I still loved reading and writing then, it still brought me joy.

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When I entered middle school my love of learning started to fade. I replaced it with boys, cigarettes and pot. Once I found a new love my books and poems just got old and collected dust. My grades began to fall, and school was just a meeting place, it wasn’t a place of adventure anymore. I felt tinges of sadness when my poor english class grades came in, I felt ashamed because I loved to read and write, but it was quickly replaced with my latest crush, or the next party.

I dropped out of high school in the middle of my junior year. This is a very touchy subject in my family. I don’t have any regrets but there is always a wonder. I was to enroll in community college and get my GED, nothing ever works out as planned. Instead I went to work got a job managing a big health food store, I got life lessons. I always convinced myself they were more valuable than any book could give me. Truth be told, I wanted those books, I wanted the words swirling around in my head, I wanted to have a vernacular that would make people’s heads spin.

So my story got stuck there in the middle of my junior year. My “I AM NOT SMART ENOUGH. I AM NOT SMART ENOUGH TO BE A WRITER.” I got stuck there. I was like Robin Wright Penn in “The Princess Bride,” I was in the quicksand, but I didn’t have a prince to pull me out. So there my story stayed, for years it pulled me down.

I finally got my GED went to college, of course left a year shy of getting my BA. New story takes in. I CAN NEVER FINISH ANYTHING, AND I AM NOT SMART ENOUGH. They are perfect for each other, they go well together. Like a good wine pairing.

Over the years I dabbled in finding my love of books again, finding my love of words and writing. Nothing ever truly stuck with me. 35 years old now and I have that flutter in my soul again. I am giddy with excitement again over a good book. I am stealing away moments to fill myself with words on pages that I run my fingers through, scenes where I pretend I am there, lines I wish I had written. My sister reminded me lately, “If you want to write you have to read, and read all the time.” I listened intently to those words, I took them to heart, I sewed them inside my chest where I think my heart would be. So I read, and I read. I read essay’s, books, magazines, just anything I can.

I am time traveling. I am traveling back to the early 80’s in California. I am just 5 or 6 years old. I am a great reader, I am one of the best in my 1st grade class. I love reading and I see a bright future for myself. I think privately, “I am smart. I AM SMART.”

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After reading my sister’s latest essay about the turns we take in life, the left turns and right turns, I thought about my life. Who would I be if I had taken a different turn? Would I have been a scholar? A history teacher (my major in college), An author? The owner of a multi million dollar company? Maybe, Maybe not. Maybe all the turns I took are exactly the right turns. Maybe instead of right turns I took left turns, that sounds like me, I never listen to what people tell me anyway. Maybe those left turns are the ones that will make my new-found love of writing more interesting. I most definitely lived some wild and crazy moments, maybe those are the left turns I needed to have. It never really is possible to know what, if any, of the choices we make are right or wrong, they just are.

I see the bookcase in my room in 1985 California. It is pine, completely filled to the rim with every category of book, mostly books on marine biology, another early love of mine. I sit and remember what those books smelled like and how they made my insides swirl with excitement. Here I stand now that same girl, filled with the same desire and joy to fill my soul with words and knowledge.

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Here I am ready to change the story, to make a right turn.

“I AM SMART. I DO FINISH THINGS. I AM A LOVER OF ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL.”

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To Be Special

10 Feb

“My daddy has a tractor, my daddy has a key for that tractor.”

This is what my little guy squeals out as we walked through the Tractor Supply store yesterday. I would like to state for the record that I never thought I would be shopping at a tractor supply store. Yet here I am writing about it as if I were discussing shopping at CVS.

“My daddy wears boots. My daddy hunts pigs and deer.”

It reminded me of a memory I had of myself when I was in the 5th grade. After living five amazing years in California it was time to move back to New Jersey. It was an incredibly tough time for me. I loved California. I loved my life there. I loathed Cherry Hill, New Jersey. We lived with some close family friends while my mom searched for a house to buy and call home. Our family friends were actually my godparents and I called them aunt and uncle. They had two sons I had always revered as my cousins. Both were boys and were athletic, popular and well liked in our town.

We finally found a house and began the move in process. Two houses down there was a boy who was 2 grades ahead of me. He was in the same grade as one of my “cousins.” I had an overwhelming feeling of wanting to belong. It was such a strong need and I didn’t feel I possessed anything special inside me. I remember meeting the boy who lived two doors down and the first thing I said to him was, “My cousin is _____ .” I said that to quite a few people. I thought well that would get me in. That would give me that sense of belonging, that sense of worth.

Years later the boy next door and I were best friends, as close as friends could be. One night while we sat on the  swing on my front porch, as we always did, he reminded me of the first thing I ever said to him. He laughed when he recalled the story for me as we swung and smoked cigarettes. I felt so silly, so many years had passed and as an older woman of now 14 years old, I laughed at my 10-year-old silly self.

I WANT TO BELONG. I WANT TO BE PART OF SOMETHING. I WANT TO BE SPECIAL.

I see this now in my little angel. I see that same expression in my little ones eyes. He so desperately wants to be special, to be wanted, to be needed, to be loved.

If you follow my writing than you know my youngest has some emotional issues. I worry about him and what his future looks like if his struggles continue to escalate. Recently a new issue has come up for him. If I look at him a certain way or confront him on misbehaving than his response to me is, “You hate me, you don’t love me anymore.”  My heart breaks into a million little pieces when he says that.

I felt that same tinge as I listen to him tell people about his special daddy. I am happy that he loves and admires his father, it is the intense desire and need to be special that makes my heart ache. It is that desperate need to feel like he is part of something, special and that he is wanted. I want him to feel that way all on his own. I want him to know he is special without validation from an outside source.

We all have a need to feel special and be wanted and loved. Some of us search for it harder than others, some of us are more content to find that specialness within. I was much more quiet this past weekend at the yoga retreat at Kripalu than I usually am. I still walked away with 30 plus new friends, and 30 plus people who thought I was great. I started to think long and hard about how can you share your specialness without throwing it out there in someone’s face. What are the ways that I can share my light with others without stealing the spotlight?

I want to share this idea with my children. We spoke a ton about this at Kripalu. We talked about letting out light shine for others. I want to teach my children to share their specialness with the world by shining their lights for others.

I don’t think we are ever to young to take a look inside.

I am curious to see the different aspects of myself that shall arise as I focus on being a light sender in my life?

If you shifted from wanting to be in the spotlight to being the light sender, what would shift in your life?

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Believing in Divinity

1 Nov

How do you just convince yourself that everything will be ok? How do you do this when that overwhelming sense of panic sets in?

My heart starts to beat rapidly and the sound is reverberating in my head. My jaws are clenched tightly, so tightly that I can feel my teeth becoming dull. My feet and fingers are cold. I am feeling really nervous and the butterflies are swirling in my stomach. How can I stop all this? This is truly what I consider to be the mind body connection. There is a real fear here, a fear that started emotionally and has turned into a physiological reaction.I can sit an tell myself that everything will be okay, and remind myself not to get caught up in worry. Trust in the Universe that all we be right.

How can there be suffering in the world if you could just wish it away?  If I can just wish away my stress, then why can’t others have the same luxury?

Are we built to worry? Is it in my genetic makeup to be the type of individual who resides in a home of fear? I wonder this all the time. Was I born this way or have I created this monster myself? If I created this fear monster I better kill it quick. I would die to see this transferred onto my children.

I am coming clean. I have a fear of not having enough.

 I have a fear of running out of money, clothes, food, and everything in between why does this live in me?  There are individuals who have much less than I do, and still live in a world of pure abundance. These folks live in a world free of fear of lacking. What do these people possess that I don’t? Intellectually I know that things will always find a way to appear in my life. I am well aware that they may look different than I expected, but they will be there.  My work right now is on letting go. I am letting go of the constraints of a living a life of lacking and worrying.

A beautiful woman in California told me the following, “ You need to trust in the Universe and believe in your divine self.” I know what truly scares me is the possibility that deep down I don’t believe in my own divinity. I know that all of the fear comes down to “not knowing.” I live in a world of uncertainty even in myself. I can’t live in that place anymore.

 I don’t want to have cold feet, worn down teeth, and a heart that grew tired of beating too fast. 

 

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The Animal Planet

24 Oct

Have you lost your wonder?

I sit and watch my 3-year-old watch his favorite television show. It is a show all about nature on the Animal Planet network. He is in such wonder at all the information he sees. He listens with such intent at every morsel of science and nature coming his way. Tomorrow as we go about our day he will recall all the material he learned a day earlier. He is a little sponge.

I watch my son and think to myself, “Have I lost my wonder?” If so, when did I lose it? I would like to think that I am still in wonder of the many amazing things that surround me, there is always room to have more.

Be Awe. Be Wonder  – Jennifer Pastiloff

This past weekend I spent 48 hours in Ojai Valley, California. I was there assisting my sister on her Manifestation Yoga retreat. It was amazing! I was definitely in wonder of my surroundings, the people, and the energy.

(the view of the pool and valley at Casa Barranca in Ojai Valley, California)

Then real life happens.

Upon returning home yesterday I found that I had lost my steam. I felt deflated. I was missing my wonder. As I put my head down for sleep last night I asked myself a question. “How can I be in wonder in real life? How can I be in wonder when I am doing laundry or washing the dishes? Wonder is one of the beautiful things that look different for all of us. It is not quantifiable or measurable, it just is.

I feel wonder when I stop focusing on myself.

 I spent the morning today surrounded by 3 year olds at my youngest son’s preschool. We sang, danced, painted, and played. It is hard not to feel wonder in the presence of smiling and laughing children. I truly had so much fun. They are so full of pride and joy. They experience wonder at least a dozen times an hour.

I am in wonder of the body that moves me.

I am in wonder of my children.

I am in wonder of the amazing weather today.

I am in wonder of the delicious food on my table.

I am in wonder of the curiosity of my dogs.

I am in wonder of the love of new friends.

What is your wonder today?

 

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Wear Batman Pajamas!

18 Oct

It is a typical Santa Monica morning. Overcast and breezy and if I listen closely I can hear the rumbling of the nearby waves.

There is nothing that can take the place of being home.

For me, home is a confusing term.

I am not quite sure if home is Philadelphia, the place I was born, if home is New Jersey, where I also lived, and, the place my father is laid to rest. Maybe home is California, the place where I lived most of my life, and the place where my mother, stepdad, and my sister still live?

Mostly it doesn’t matter.

When I am in California, Philadelphia, or New Jersey I still have that same feeling. Like a gigantic sigh that comes from deep down inside of me. It is my soul is coming back home. My true Self is back in its favorite sweatshirt, the one with all the holes that you have had since the beginning of time but can’t bare to part with.

I love the sound of the ocean, the quiet deafening after the waves crash on the beach. I love that sound. I love the memories that come crashing into my mind every time I hear another break hit the sand. I can close my eyes and remember that house on Lincoln Blvd. I can remember that monstrous rod iron bed that I had as a little pipsqueak of 8 or 9 years old. A bed that required a step stool to get into. I remember leaving the window open in my bedroom to hear the ocean, the same way my sister does in her living room, right where I slept last night. It is as if I have time traveled. As a little girl I used to sit as I am now, listening to that quiet, an irony that is not lost on me.

I find it very difficult to be in silence.

Here I am, on this couch transported back in time, a time when I had my beloved Monet, our West highland Terrier. A time when my sister and I had hamsters, skateboards, and bicycles with banana seats. (You remember those awful seats, don’t you?)

Yesterday I took my youngest on a school field trip to a local farm. They have what they call a jumping pillow. Maddock was all over that, as you can imagine.  I watched as 20 of these jubilant 3 years old ran for that nylon filled air sack and jumped their little hearts out. They were so happy to bounce up and feel that squish under their feet as they came down. I watched those children jumping intently.

I thought to myself: What can I learn from this? What can I learn from being airborne?

Here is what I came up with. As kids, all you know is fun. Kids don’t know financial stress, they aren’t worried how the mortgage will get paid. They just want to know that Mommy and Daddy want to play with them and tuck them in at night. Kids don’t know love lost, they love everybody. Kids don’t know self-consciousness, they don’t care what others think of them. If they love those batman pajamas then they will wear them to school no matter what anybody thinks.

Kids can sit and listen to the ocean and imagine faraway lands, as I did when I was a child, or jump on a trampoline and imagine flying, as my son does. They aren’t worried about the stress of the day. There is no room for that when you are living that moment to the fullest.

There is a feeling you get when you are jumping. A sensation that takes over when you are airborne. You are weightless, fearless, and full of joy. You aren’t worried about hitting the bottom. You only live for the air beneath you now.

This is where I chose to live my life from today and all the days to follow.

I am airborne. I am going home.

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