an aside – Sorry it has been a bit since my last post, I have been out having adventures to tell you about!!! Thanks to all of you who have flattered me with your persistence in getting me to write some more in this little corner of the world… much love to you!
How does one put into words that which leaves most speechless? I ask this rhetorical question for multiple reasons but the first is the initial reason for this post, the Grand Canyon. For the last couple of months I have seen this beast of nature more than a few times and it still takes my breath away. I have heard stories of “conquering” it, living “within” it, and looking at it only to pull the Clark Griswold “yip big hole” and walk away. It is such a metaphor for life.
First, I have been blessed to have been invited behind the scenes of this national park and let me tell you it does not run itself! It is not just a giant hole that just happens to beckon millions of visitors every year from every continent! There is an insane amount of work and thousands of intelligent people pulling all of the strings to give you the best show possible! None of these people are there just for a paycheck, they are there because they LOVE what they do and it shows in every aspect! Talk about a wake up call for this girl! An entire team of people doing what they want and love!!! WTF is that??? This is refreshing!
Being on the edge of this natural wonder really brings things into perspective. We are such a small part of the grand scheme of life yet with our minuteness we can change the world. The Colorado river has been carving out rock, making its presence known for millions of years, a hair thickness at a time. Yet here it is today, so grand you can’t even imagine… makes me think, “what small thing can I do right now that will change the course and make an impression that will last?”
I see my family and friends facing challenges; cancer, divorce, abuse, etc and while I know many will “conquer”, some will live “within”, and others will just “yip big hole” and walk away… standing at the edge, feeling small and useless, I am reminded I may not see the difference I make today but someday what I say will change the world for at least someone… at that is enough.
The water and the rock have lived together to create this great place. It calls to the adventurers, educators, freedom seekers, pleasure tourists and everyone in between reminding us that everyone’s pain is equal, everyone can make a huge difference with very little… we are small but we are mighty. Being here reminds me to never become so self-absorbed that I forget to look around! If I don’t I will be swallowed up and forgotten. I don’t want that for me or anyone, we all want to be part of something grand and we all have something to share!
Thanks to all of the incredible members of the GCA and my friend who allowed me to reach new heights and hopefully soon new depths!
Sedona, AZ, it’s been called one of the spiritual Mecca’s of the world, just under Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat. Residing here for the last several weeks has really brought that idea into focus. As with any place, pictures are not an applicable representation because it’s not just the physical beauty of the surroundings, which are breathtaking, it’s the feeling of the surroundings. Many people I have spoken with cannot describe how this place speaks to them. Visitors walk around starry eyed and the locals call it Red Rock Fever, I don’t think it’s that simple. Even the ones that are not into the “woo woo” talk that is as much a part of this city as the rocks themselves, find their own beliefs being challenged. They are careful of the thoughts they harbor, those thoughts may just find their way into reality here.
I have walked many trails, climbed through tight spots I didn’t think Linus or I would ever be able to conquer, felt the pounding in my chest that lets me know how alive I really am, and fell crumpled after a day of pure emotional bliss that I have never felt anywhere else. I have watched my dog, a dog that had very little confidence and oft bounded behind me during perceived scary situations, find his feet. Much like a child realizing for the first time that they are able to ride a bike on two wheels, Linus has tapped into his instinct! He is fearless on trails that are straight up on one side, straight down on the other, with barely enough space to walk single file. This must be what dad talked about when he had to let us discover our own boundaries. It is very hard for me not to want to hang onto him and protect him from doing something stupid, like a running face plant that nearly sent him over an edge with a 20-foot drop off! Yet the fulfillment I get when I see him “smiling” up at me takes my fear away.
The queries I come across are this: Does magic exist? This place sure makes me believe it so, not that it is a far stretch for me. Why is it here that seems to facilitate that said magic into reality? The Native Americans say it is where the earth is the purest, it is clean untouched and full of natural resources. What if all of earth was once like this only we have not appreciated it? What if the magic is really within us all, we can all create our own miracles into reality but here, with so many others believing in the same magic all in one place, it’s brings it into reality that much faster? Or maybe this place exists as a constant reminder of miracles at our fingertips? Have we forgotten how powerful we are as human beings?
This list of questions could go on forever in my mind. I am a believer, maybe not in a specific religion or sect, but I am a believer. I believe in myself, humankind, hope, and not letting fear rule my soul. I would not be on this journey if I thought any other way. I appreciate all people that come into my focus. I work hard not to let my perceptions make a situation bad or good. I am open to the law of allowing, allowing it to teach and guide me as I walk this path.
Sedona is quite the teacher for me. It’s taught me not to cling to an edge out of fear when I can find a better way if I just scramble a little further. It’s taught me that people entering my life are catalyst to another path, even if I am scared to trust. It’s taught me to be mindful of my thoughts and dreams I want to create for myself, they may just happen! It has also slowed me down so I can just smile as I walk on red rocks that look blue in the bright full moonlight.
Laying back on a large flat rock, several feet up, watching the sun plop behind the cockscomb while the stars begin to make their appearance, dog at my side, I know all is well in the world or this place of magical intent couldn’t exist.
Per my previous rant on manners, our own egos get in the way of what we know is right and wrong. The following is a true story, a story glazed over by my father many times as if anyone would have done it. He never took any credit; it wasn’t done to make a statement to the world, not meant to change anything on a grand scale, he never thought of it as anything other than the right thing to do. I knew this taught me a lesson but it never sank in until his funeral… I will try to make it as short as possible but I don’t want to distort the meaning by cutting to the quick, I am a storyteller after all…
My father started working at Jim Beam Distillery in 1957. Soon after he was promoted to foreman which made him a “company” man and many times opposed the union. He was a fair-minded boss; he saw what made his people work harder and what made the company money…the big picture in just about every situation.
Let me set up the time and place for those of you too young to remember and for those who may not understand where and why things were (and still are in some cases) the way they were…
It’s the early 60’s, height of the civil rights movement. It’s small town Kentucky, I don’t want to make you believe banjos were playing but they might have been and the KKK was definitely a presence in this area. MLK, Robert Kennedy, Mississippi Burning, bus tours, etc were sweeping across the south and it was in the news everywhere… well everywhere except small town KY where things were moving along at the daily pace.
My father had two black women who worked for him. He said they worked harder than just about anyone and often did things for which they weren’t responsible just to get it done. He jokingly told me stories of other foreman that would tell them to get to work and they would retort, “no one tells me to get my black ass to work but John Moore.” This my father said with pride, as I often cringed! At some point early on he realized that they were making far less money, doing the same exact job as the men next to them (and doing it better!). Let me reiterate… BLACK WOMEN!!! Not even black men… women were still at the bottom of the food chain as well! As he put it ever so nonchalantly, he went to the company and the union and made it a contract job. This meant that whomever did this work would get paid the same amount. The position was now contract.
I remember hearing this story several times throughout my childhood because every Christmas he would receive cards from these women. Every year he would smile and tell the story. One time when I was in high school I asked him if he realized what he did. He said, “Of course, I did the right thing. I couldn’t understand why they weren’t making the same amount of money.” When I tried to point out that he helped in civil rights. He said, “No, I helped in human rights. I didn’t do it to promote anything. I fixed something unjust.”
Fast forward to the funeral home in 2001. Once again, small town, packed with people coming to pay their respects to my father. There were people from all walks of life in attendance. It reminded me of the funeral scene in Big Fish. It was beset with the entire Korean family from the Chinese restaurant, a huge presence of little people, kids, gays, adults, farmers, business owners, masons/shriners, and yes a slew of black people… I remember thinking who are all of these people? I was approached by 2 African American women who asked if I was his daughter, I nodded and smiled. (As I write this I am taken right back to this moment and I still feel like time stood still for me). They told me their mothers worked for dad at Beam and because he paid their moms a fair wage it allowed them to go to college. This let them send their children to university and now they have a son who is an attorney, a daughter with a master’s degree and so on. They told me how thankful they were for his influence in their life, that their mothers never let them forget what my father did during a time of unrest. I stood there, speechless, they hugged me and told me in some way he touched all of these people.
Never once did my father say anything about this to me. I figure he knew because I am sure these ladies who sent him well wishes told him about their kids. He said that its not always about changing the world on a big scale, sometimes its just about fixing what you know is wrong at that moment. The butterfly effect personified. He instilled in me that we all know when something is right and wrong, the real test is finding the best way to make the wrongs…right. If it feels good, do it more, it means you are on the right track! If it gnaws at your insides then do something, anything because that just may be enough to make a difference.
All large battles are won by lots of little battles taking place within that big picture. There are many things my dad did that got my liberal dander up, it was just part of how he was raised, but he always believed it he law of allowing. He didn’t call it “allowing”, more times than not he didn’t understand why people were the way they were… if they weren’t hurting another person then let them be, we all may learn something. I heard him use slander, I heard him say things under his breath but never did I see him look away when unjust things happened.
Change all starts with one person, YOU. We all know what the right thing is, we all know how we want to be treated… the trouble comes when our egos get in the way and the fear of that ego having to eat a little crow or having to stand alone makes us falter and do nothing. The above story hopefully will inspire you as it has me for most of my life to do even the smallest thing without fear… it just may be enough to change the world.
“A child without good manners, no matter how smart, will never be able to succeed in life” – my father said this, in so many words, many times.
What has happened to us as a society, a people? When did it become acceptable for parents to not teach their children courtesy? When did it become acceptable for adults to not hold themselves accountable for their own misbehaviors? I know for many it seems old fashioned: waiting a few extra seconds to hold the door for a stranger, mere nanoseconds to say please and thank you, no time at all to just smile at someone with whom you made eye contact. Where has our human-ness gone?
I remember being in first grade and my teacher, Ms Quiggins, teaching us proper manners. Whom to introduce first (age before beauty… this is where that saying came from, you always introduce someone who is an elder before a female unless you are all about the same age), how to speak in turn (wait for the prior speakers thought is finished, esp if they are older than you), say please ALWAYS, thank you (even when you didn’t ask for something, the giver has done something, be thankful), and so many others that were ingrained in my subconscious. We used them at home, daily. When did this “ancient” etiquette stop being utilized?
One who says thank you and means it will be thankful for much more than just what happened in that moment. I know I read so many articles about being grateful, how it changes your path in life. I agree with this logic wholeheartedly! It all starts with the small things and manners are a good place for it to begin. How do you feel when someone offers an umbrella to you on a rainy day? Has that ever happened to you? If not go out and try it for yourself, ask someone if they would like to borrow yours or if you can walk them to their door/car/wherever…. Good manners releases oxytocin which causes good feelings and the recipient wants to pay it forward! How do you feel when a child says, “may I please…” instead of “give me”?
Rudeness has become the norm and it’s intolerable. To me it means that there is no respect for anything other than self. I realize there are times when manners are forgotten but that shouldn’t be the 80% it should be the 20%. Are we so afraid of connecting, being kind, reaching out that we just decide “screw ‘em” and give them the big F-U and move on with our lives? I love it when I say “after you” to a complete stranger who has a handful of items and they seem shocked, then I find myself explaining that waiting for them to get thru the door is not going to matter in the grand scheme of life. (what mattered in that moment is that I aided another person in some way, what a great feeling!)
This does not mean I am a pushover, I am stronger than any person I know and most of you would agree. It does mean that I don’t let my own ego get in the way of what is right and wrong. (which will lead into my next rant that will hopefully inspire you). I know when to put my foot down, toe the line, have a spine of steel… I can do that and still have good manners. No worries, many times I have lost my shit and felt shamefully embarrassed at my behavior, which always brings me back to my father’s idea about good manners!
Dad was right (about everything it turns out!)… adults without good manners have a hard time being successful adults. Think about the socially awkward who can’t seem to relate on a social level and when you extend a smile to them how they seem to crack open just a tad. Think about the socially rude that would rather spit on you than step aside to let you pass and when you kill them with kindness as you pass by saying excuse me and thank you, the look on their face is way more priceless than the moments in which I have berated their actions and belittled their intelligence. The grown-ups with good manners become life changers, the movers and shakers that we cannot ignore, the well adjusted souls that we look up to long after they are gone. Just like my dad, always saying please even as he was gritting his teeth with pure rage to get his point across.
Be nice folks, teach your children respect, use common courtesy… walk softly and carry a big stick… most days you wont need the force, most days you will be spreading a natural drug that is more powerful than any other on the planet… Oxytocin… kindness/warmth/love… embodied within our own endocrine system.
HMM! Well I was debating on publishing this to the blog, thinking it’s an old story and where does it fit into this thing I have begun? Then one of my friends whom I don’t talk to much brought up this experience and said how jealous he was that day and how one day it will happen to him. This is to you M.V.O, put it out there… you may even get a better return on your investment than I did! 😉
What if we just trusted in the moment of what is happening right now without the pressure of thinking of tomorrow or yesterday? What if we followed our gut and said yes to the things that ignite us instead of second guessing it? Where would we be lead? How would we live this life? So many times I see friends holding themselves back from what could be great life experience because they talk themselves out of the opportunities handed to them. (AHHHHH FEAR DAMN YOU!)
For example, this is one of the greatest stories I have and every time I tell it people are genuinely interested in hearing it. I hope it’s more because I lived in the moment and less about what came from it… but either way I am happy!
My sister and I “do Derby” every year; it’s our girl thing. We get hats, excited about taking part in a tradition that should be on everyone’s bucket list. In 2008 we went to the Oaks (the Lilies for the Fillies, Friday before Derby). It poured rain, which is fine, we were under cover and the energy is so high you don’t care if there is a tsunami as long as the ponies are running. We had to wait for a cab, under no cover, for over 2 hours, and our dresses became transparent. Needless to say we didn’t make it to any parties, went home tired, disgruntled and decided we would skip the Derby this time.
Saturday morning the sun was shining begging me to get out of bed, get dressed and make a day of Derby. I woke up my sister, who GOD LOVE HER, is easy going and willing to follow me into just about any situation! We got all dolled up; I was in a hat that made the flying nun’s look like a porkpie! As we were leaving the house I said to her, “we say NO to NOTHING, if we get an offer to do something, as long as we are together, we do it” DEAL! We love the paddock area, general admission; you get to see the horses and all walks of life. I fought the wind and this giant hat all day and would GLADLY do it again considering the outcome.
As the Derby was about to run, two very stereotypical characters started chatting with us. Picture Tony Soprano only in KY for the day… gold chains, chest hair, thick sausage fingers and yes the accents. Intimidating for most but not these girls, we were together after all and they had owner’s passes around their necks… omen number one! :-). They bought us mint juleps and we watched Big Brown cross the finish line. They asked if we wanted to head to the backside (to those unfamiliar its where the horses are kept, stalls, trainers, etc). We said yes, of course. Next thing we knew we were crossing the track and heading into the center ring where they bring in the winner, the owners, the jockey and the Garland of Roses. WE WERE IN THE WINNER CIRCLE WITH THE 2008 KY DERBY WINNER!!!! WTF how did we get here??? We said yes! YES! Not only were we there, we were standing next to Bob Costas, the true owners and as we were coming back across the track into the paddock we were being interviewed and congratulated! I kept saying, “play along, we may never experience this again”.
We ended up cashing tickets with one of the owners and in the Ky Derby Museum at the winners’ party. We met jockeys, writers, owners, and media who thought we were one of them. We were there all evening like Cinderella at the ball. Seeing my sisters face light up because she was doing something that every horsey girl dreams of filled me with delight. All because we said yes, we lived in the moment and never thought about what was going to happen next. We trusted that the future would take care of itself but in that moment we were right where we were meant to be, in the winner circle in more ways than one.
So what if you took every moment as it came, lived fearlessly in that moment, where would you end up? Where would you WANT to end up?
I love the unexplainable. The things that defy our left hemispheres and cause us to just throw up our hands. The things that make skeptics furrow their brows, scientists to re-examine their data, the religious to praise their holy being, and someone like me to smile. I smile because I am not one who needs a reason. I trust that no explanation is all I need to know. I rest peacefully knowing that the unknown is out there ready to be talked about, explored, debated even… and in the ability to see all sides of these discussions I can walk away with the peace we all strive to achieve.
In Santa Fe, NM there is a chapel. Chapel of Loretto was built in the 1800’s. You may have seen the story about it on Unsolved Mysteries (I LOVE ROBERT STACK!). Basically the chapel was built but it was small and the stairs to get to the choir loft were an apparent after thought. They had builders and architects come in for advice and all of them said nothing could be done because it would take up too much space, the bracing on a spiral stair would obstruct the pews, blab la bla… so the sisters’ prayed. They prayed to St Joseph to find someone to build a way to the loft. I am not Catholic, nor do I take part in any organized religion, however I do believe in the power of prayer. (or energy, or thoughts, or whatever designation you choose).
Eventually a young man arrived with some rudimentary tools and said he could build what they needed and it wouldn’t take up much room. They hired him. He worked for several months and built a spiral staircase that only attached at the top and the floor with no bracing, no attachments… out of a wood that no one has ever seen…using pegs and dovetailing like no one today can explain. It consisted of 33 steps, 33 is a prominent number is Christianity. Then he left, disappeared, took no pay, nor recognition. They put out ads for him but there was no reply. They still can’t explain how this is built and most have stopped trying. Which makes me smile.
I sit in awe on a daily basis of stories like these. I see mountains that define the word beautiful and wonder why we explain something away that’s so magical. I look up at a night sky, so clear and defined and think how miraculous! I see people reach out to others no questions of why, just because and that too is unexplainable… yet they happen. We put reasons on so many things, we are curious creatures that want concrete evidence. Every now and then… isn’t it nice to just release the fear of the unknown and just relish in something that is there for the right reasons… just because it is… and smile boldly finding peace in that which we don’t need to understand?
When the subject keeps coming up all around me, I have to put it out there for others to think about…
Once again fear has been raising its ugly head, only not just fear as being the basis of most things we don’t do, but genuine fear that causes one not to move forward, causes us to stall in our tracks and freeze hoping it will bypass us. In the last 2 days I have had conversations with four different people about fear, none of which I instigated, these people just started talking about it and two of them were folks I don’t even know! They just needed someone to talk to sitting at the bar having a beer.
For those of you who know me well, I think you may describe me as living fearlessly. That feels pretty good but I prefer to think I live based on love. I color outside my lines because that’s the only way I feel I can see how far the rough edges stretch. I know my boundaries but none of them are hard set and each deserve to be tested as often as possible. Stepping across a threshold that makes my heart beat faster makes me smile because I feel an intense love for the learning I am about to receive.
I was on the phone with my best friend last night and she was really struggling with the guy she is dating. I love this guy; he is all that and a bag of Doritos wrapped into one fine package that makes me say AHHHH! (My feelings on this subject don’t matter though, this is her story.) The short of it is this, she doesn’t know if it’s going to be long term. She doesn’t want to become vested, knowing in the end she will be hurt, crushed, that excruciating pain that chops you off at your knees and renders you helpless to pints of Ben and Jerry’s double fudge brownie while watching PS I Love You.
WAIT! HOLD ON A SECOND!!!! STOP! Why are you seeing the end of this story before it has even really begun? I asked her how she knew this was going to be the ending to this story? I am not saying she will end up living happily ever after with this man but she may, at the very least, learn what she really desires out of a life partner. I asked her if she was having fun now, YES. I asked if the thought of him not being around tomorrow upset her, YES. Then live in the moment and stop being scared!
“but I may hurt him and he is so wonderful, he may hurt me, what if we are just too different” etc etc etc…
To all of which I said being hurt and feeling that type of pain is not a bad thing. How are you ever going to grow if you don’t do the things that make you uncomfortable? What a shitty, boring existence we lead when we don’t allow ourselves to experience pain from time to time.
I am not saying jump in front of a bus, skydive with no parachute, or run with a sharp pencil… that’s not fearless that’s stupidity, akin to the rednecks last words “hey watch this”…
Dad, yes my dad again (get used to me mentioning him, he was wise and way ahead of his time)… said the hardest thing he did as a parent was sitting back and watching us make mistakes and get hurt, whether physical or emotional. Every time he wanted to reach out and tell us no don’t do something because he could see the outcome, unless it was really physically gonna harm us of course, he would stop himself. He said he knew it was a lesson we had to learn for ourselves and if we didn’t learn it the first time the next time would be worse until the light bulb came on and we stopped doing it. He told me his heart would lurch in his chest and it nearly killed him when we fell off the pony, touched a hot stove, or had our hearts broken but he knew his role as a parent was to be there, steadfast, waiting to fix whatever was broken. Then tell us to “get back on that old pony and ride until you figure out how to stay on”, part of which was not “letting your asshole get tight”, or rather not being afraid and holding tension where they could feel it :-).
So folks, broken bones do heal, heartaches eventually prove to leave a smile, and living in the moment takes changing the way we feel about being afraid. So the next time you find yourself looking too far ahead and deciding to bypass something due to the pain that may (or may not) come… replace the word hurt with love, love of this moment and breath into the peace that you just learned something that you will never, EVER have to learn again! Can I get an AMEN!