A Hummingbird Stole My Heart

A hummingbird lives outside my bedroom window. Right outside–in a tiny, beautiful, mossy (so much so that it looks fluffy!) nest. He (she?) is in it right now – being a hummingbird, full of energy. She doesn’t sit still in her nest. Her head moves side to side. Is she dreaming? Then she quickly points her long beak downward and does something to her nest, and wiggles further down into her tiny home. The branch she’s on (I’ve decided she’s a she – I want to see baby hummingbirds!) is little – maybe a half inch in diameter. It bends a little when she’s in her nest. She just spun 180 degrees so that she’d face the other way. Did she feel me staring at her? Is she sitting on tiny eggs even just now? It does seem odd to me that she’s in her nest in the middle of the day, but who am I to judge? I’m still in my pajamas.

She is so delicate and perfect. I have begun to learn some about the Mexihca tradition, and they believe hummingbirds can be symbols for various ideas.  It can be a way of orienting to this time and place, and seeking the nectar of happiness.  Because it’s the hummingbird, it’s also a symbol for business.  Perhaps she’s here to remind me that it’s OK for me to be busy, or maybe she’s here to point out my hurried ways and help me to slow down.  When we see hummingbirds in the dream state, they can symbolize various ideas, including developing discipline and healing relationships.  I believe this hummingbird nested outside my window to help me with all of these items.

I long to be like her – to be, as the cliche states, ‘free as a bird.’ She is to-do list-less.She doesn’t worry about the state of politics. She is full of love (I hope – please don’t waste your time being a rageful being, Ms. Hummingbird). She is a traveler and she has built a nest to come home to each day and night.  It’s there when she needs it.

I cannot imagine anyone trying to take away her rights, telling her to fly differently, or caging her. You never see hummingbirds at zoos, right? (I don’t visit zoos, so truthfully I don’t know, maybe you do!) She’s just so majestic, and she’s living. She’s out there, doing her thing. I’m her biggest fan.

 

 

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Mother Teresa Said It Best

“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” –Mother Teresa

The women’s march on January 21, 2017 was a beautiful sight. It was a place of solidarity, passionate standing up for the rights of women, and as it turned out (not surprisingly)…an anti-Trump world rally. Which meant a LOT of denigrating signs about him. I can fully understand and respect people’s right to be ANGRY. I am among the fully pissed-off (and getting more-so anytime I look at the news. Or Facebook. Or talk to another human being and politics comes up.) I just don’t see our anger and Trump-bashing as the way towards change. During the election season, I posted to my Facebook wall a reference to a Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror episode. The one where Homer steals a huge plastic donut from a huge statue (I just googled it…it’s name is Lard Lad), and Lard Lad (gawd, I love the Simpsons) comes to life and so do all these other advertisement statues and they become monsters that wreak havoc on the town until Lisa Simpson comes up with a jingle that goes “just don’t look.” Once everyone ignores the statues, they lose their powers and return to lifelessness. I referenced that story because I was imagining that Trump was like the statues, and if we ignored him, he would go away. Now, I know that that’s not how things work, especially now. But I do believe that he gets energy from getting attention, from getting people riled up, and from getting media coverage, good or bad. So, what do we do, given that this is our reality?

I have learned through this election that what is needed is for us all to be active citizens, in order to change the political landscape. We can’t just rally against what’s happening—we have to have a place to look and walk towards.

Complacency is the enemy, but so is becoming filled with hatred and anger so that no love is left. Complacency is a big enemy to fight—it’s so easy to get apathetic and turn off the news or, even if I watch it, to feel disempowered. And then, if I’m lucky enough to not be complacent, to engage and to fight the feelings of powerlessness—to remain hopeful, to fill my heart with love—it’s a big task. It’s a task I am struggling with, daily. And it’s partly a struggle because almost every piece of news is infuriating and the protests and actions on offer from the new resistance movement are predominantly (nearly 100%) anti, not pro, in stance.

Empowerment to me looks like taking action to create the world I want to live in. Mother Teresa did just that, creating soup kitchens and orphanages and helping people who were sick and poor. She saw a need and a lack and instead of rallying against it, she worked tirelessly to make institutions that helped and that created more love in the world.

Sometimes, you have to let the ‘lazy susans’ of the world—people who just like to spin in madness—spin. It’s hard, sometimes it feels impossible, to let something incomprehensible just be, but I could rally forever against the atrocities of the world, and there will be just as many atrocities, and one more person rallying against them.

I want my voice to be a voice that speaks for love. I want to sow seeds of love in my life and in the world. I’m looking at the woman in the mirror and I’m asking her to change her ways. I want to make the world a better place.

January 20, 2017: Day 1 of the Resistance

You know when you’re watching football and there’s a flag on a play and then the ref comes out and he calls a penalty for something that totally didn’t happen and you’re like, what’s the deal? And then it happens 4 more times and you realize it’s a biased ref, and he’s getting away with it, and it’s breaking the game because if things were just, the losers would be winning?

That’s what happened in America. Bernie should have won, but then the DNC’s superpacs threw down the flag and called it for Hillary. And I know that’s old news and it’s controversial, but that’s my two cents about the primaries. And then, because it really is a rigged game in politics today, the electoral college fucked things up again and now the person who got the most votes didn’t win, just like with Al Gore. And in 2000 I was shocked and I just watched it happen and didn’t do anything, but this past year? I got downright pissed off. And I’m still pissed off.

I’d really like to hide in my room and watch Gilmore Girls, Star Trek Next Gen, or anything halfway decent for the next four years. I’d also like to take advantage of the fact that pot is legal in California now and smoke myself into a stupor, every day. Trouble with that plan is, it won’t solve anything. I’d also like to run—leave the country, find a nice quiet socialist country and just, enjoy my life. But I’m not going to do that—in my post in November I said I would. But I changed my mind. And to slightly modify something I said in November: I will live in an America that supports people of color, women, LGBT people, poor people, veterans, mentally and physically handicapped people, survivors of sexual violence, and the environment. I will be an activist and by being one, help make America a place where I can wake up proud to be a citizen.

I am going to stand and fight.

I will use my voice and my power. This is still a democracy, and it’s my duty as a citizen of this country to stand and fight, point out the injustices and demand that the biased ref who’s been messing up this game be fired.

Who’s with me?!? I’ll see you in the streets.

Missing People That Aren’t Here

Recently, I have been feeling like the polarity of the world is off-kilter. It’s a familiar feeling for me—when my father passed away, from one day to the next everything was wholly different. I feel like screaming out “This cannot be the reality we’re living in!” in the middle of my local coffee shop, as the other customers go about their business, the employees smile and make drinks, and I stare at the donuts and imagine eating them all to quell my constant and growing anxiety.

And now, the holidays are upon me. For years they have been a time of joy and sadness for me. I am blessed to get to spend time enjoying the family I have, and I remember those who are no longer alive.

I miss my father. I miss his laugh and how he would speak his mind, no matter who he was talking to on which subject. I miss my Grandma Fowler and the way she always looked at me with love overflowing from her eyes. I miss her apricot fried pies and her raspy, beautiful voice. I miss my Grandpa Larsen and his quiet strength.

There are a lot of people I miss and who I wish could be with me tomorrow.

“Pass the peas.” “Gimme some of those homemade rolls, wouldya?” “More pie, please.”

I can see them all at the table, in my imagination. They’re all with me—I don’t have to break bread with them to feel their love. And luckily, we are still connected and I can recall my memories of them anytime.

I need to remember that they’re with me and that they are supporting me. I am embarking on a bold, life-changing adventure, everyday—just by living. And they know it, because they embarked on it, too. Crazy little thing called life.

Trump is Not My President

I am sitting in a beautiful garden, on a wooden bench that smells faintly of wood that’s been outside for years. There are large slabs of granite at my feet. In a nearby tree, a bird sings and jumps among the sun-lit, bright green leaves. That bird doesn’t know about the presidential election results. He or she has no idea what just went down in the country it’s in, and I envy him or her for that.

I am trying to embody the lightheartedness of that bird, but it isn’t working yet. So far, I feel varying degrees of shock, outrage, despair, nausea (physically—a manifestation of my inner turmoil), and numbness. I’ve seen this before—in George W. Bush’s elections, but this feels far worse. A bigoted, racist, xenophobic, misogynistic perpetrator has been elected by the American people to hold the highest office in the land.

My girlfriend and I are seriously discussing moving moving away for the time that he’s in office. I am trying to decide which country that has legalized gay marriage I would most like to move to, knowing that just as some of my ancestors did, I may never move back once I gain citizenship and build my life elsewhere. This prospect has brought up in me a wave of grief—stronger than expected, but this is all unexpected right now. I am grieving the future that I am saying goodbye to by leaving the US—one in which I live only hours from most of my family members. I am grieving because as crazy as this land is, it has been my home since birth. I know the trails of Yosemite and the still waters of Lake Tahoe, and the gorgeous ocean coastline of California because I was born and raised here. There is so much I am giving up by leaving, and yet, how much of what I love will be destroyed during the Trump presidency with a Republican House and Senate?

I grieve, too, that I have been an apathetic citizen—not an empowered activist. I did nothing to stop George W. Bush being elected in 2004, when I was already an adult and could have made an impact. I see so much of the same reactions on Facebook today as I heard then—California should split off and be its own country, and that we must rise up and create change now to change the 2018 and 2020 elections. How much of this is just talk, intended to lead to action but when the current charged emotions settle, so too will the efforts towards action, and folks will go back to their lives and put up with whatever chaos is unleashed by a Trump presidency?

I did nothing to change the outcome of this election. My hope was dashed when the DNC and the rules supporting their control of the nomination of a Democratic candidate took away my Presidential candidate, the first candidate in my lifetime that I saw had a track record of decency and integrity. And with Bernie Sanders no longer holding the torch for the future, I signed onto the HRC bandwagon, but begrudgingly.

I never really thought Trump had a chance—I didn’t think I needed to do anything. I walked right past one of Hillary’s campaign headquarters, weeks before the election, and laughed at the “Nasty Woman” signs that her campaign had created. I didn’t go in—I didn’t volunteer a minute of my time, because I didn’t see a need. But now, contemplating the future of the country where nearly everyone I know and love lives, I wish I could at least stomach this reality a little easier with the knowledge that I had tried to stop it. I wonder how many people feel as I do today, determined not to live in an America run by Donald Trump, wishing this could have been prevented, and knowing that leaving means losing as well as gaining.

I pray that changes happens in the US—perhaps this election is what was needed for people to wake up to the injustices and illness inborn in our culture and find a way to root them out–but did it really have to come to this? Ideologies and hatred is coming to the surface now, and change needs to happen in order to find a way to make the US a hospitable home for so many different people who are currently feeling scared and vulnerable.

I will live in a country that supports people of color, women, LGBT people, poor people, veterans, mentally and physically handicapped people, survivors of sexual violence, and the environment. I will build a life in a place where I can wake up proud to be a citizen. I will find this place and nurture a newly sprouting seed in my soul—activism—in a space where my voice and my needs and my rights will be valued.

How to Attempt to Fix a Flat Tire

You know how a to-do item in our modern world can actually take four separate steps, so by the time you cross that one action item off, it’s been 3 weeks?

That’s how fixing my bike tire is going.

I THOUGHT it was going to be simple.

Last week, my tire went flat between the time I got to work and when I went to retrieve it that afternoon.  I figured I’d run over something.  The next day, I searched my house but couldn’t find any bike tire patch kits – I thought I had one but, alas, it has found a way to hide itself somewhere.  Maybe it’s having a drawer-party with all the pens and hair ties I can never find.

This past weekend, I got to a store and bought a bike tire patch kit, and a weird product that guaranteed to patch my tire with bright green sludge.  I was sold on it – squeeze some into my tire, it said, and it would magically fix the tire.

So, there I am, last night after work, patches in hand, sitting on the concrete after having flipped over my bike.  It’s dusk – there’s still daylight left, but not much.  So I’d better hurry, I figure.

I get out the little plastic tools that came with my patch kit, and begin to free one side of the wheel from the rim.  It’s hard work but I persist, and eventually work the tools, and then my fingers, around the wheel.  Then I pull out the flat tire from between the wheel and the rim.  I run inside to get my bike pump – I’ve forgotten in my haste that pivotal component.  Just a few pumps of air, and there’s a hiss!  It’s a pretty obvious hole, and I am pleased.  I grab the patches and the scuffing tool.  The tool looks like a tiny cheese grater – I am suddenly a master chef making a delicious meal with Parmesan shavings on top, not a woman holding a rubber bike tire, sitting on the ground.  Scuffing the tire around the hole is supposed to help the patch stick.  I am pleased at each step that I’m remembering just how to do everything, from watching my uncle patch tires when I was a kid, and seeing it done at a Mike’s Bikes tutorial.

There’s a little sticker of a patch – I peel it off it’s backing and slap it onto the tire.  Blammo.  I just know it’s going to work.  I tuck the tire back into its home, remembering to be careful, as I don’t want the wheel to pinch the rubber tire when I put it back onto the rim.  I tuck the wheel back on with brute force.  The sun is setting – I know I have time to put the goop into the tire, and I want the back-up solution so that it’ll be a guaranteed hole-in-one.  I follow the instructions, and within minutes I am squeezing neon-green goo into my flat tire.  I put the bike pump on, start pumping, and in a minute, I hear the distinct whooshing sound of air as my tire deflates.

No worries, the goop bottle says – the goo holds micro-particles that will be forced right to the hole and will block it, “instantly” fixing my tire.

I roll the tire around, as the instructions say.  It deflates.  I inflate it again, to listen to the whirring sound as the air passes right back out to be free in the world.

My hands got dirty, I made my best effort, but my tire is still flat.

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After all my efforts. My hands collected all the dirt that was on my tire–it’s clean now! Just not (correctly) patched.

That damned bike tire glop didn’t work for shit.

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Slime Tube Sealant is a shitty product.

Luckily, my name stands for victory – it just doesn’t specify how long that’ll take.  I will be back to biking, on a tire that I fixed the flat on myself – eventually!

 

 

 

Waking and Sleeping Dreams

I recently fell back in love with David Bowie’s song “Sound and Vision,” and the words seem to linger in my mind and in the air, even days after having last heard it:

“I will sit right down, waiting for the gift of sound and vision.”

It’s such a simple song, really, except once Bowie’s intricate rhythms and sounds are layered in. But the message is pure: ‘bring me a vision, spirit guides, owners of music, muses and guardians of creativity. I am your pawn and I will sit and wait patiently and trust that you will bring me a gift. Bring me a gift of sound and vision, because you enrich my life when you do.’

It’s a prayer, really.

And it’s my prayer, too.

I have recently been working on cultivating my dreams—both during sleep and in the waking hours. My sleeping dreams are full of action and adventure, and full of effort. Usually I am triumphant, but sometimes they are full of anxiety, stresses, and an inability to win the desired outcome. They tend to feel layered and complex, both during the dream and upon waking and trying to understand them. My waking dreams feel as elusive and difficult to decipher the path to success as my sleeping dreams. They are, in a nutshell, to become a published author, to forge a lasting connection to music and keep cultivating it, and to build my own home (and live in it with my wonderful partner, Mari). As complex as they feel, I trust in the universe to bring these realities to me as I am ready for them.

Dreams feel almost like my understanding of money. Both dreams and money seem to work from a logic that I don’t quite understand—and I can be rich in both, but so far, not by doing the things that seem to make sense to me on the surface. For example, with my sleeping dreams, it feels unnatural to write down my dreams upon waking, but this helps me remember my dreams (and I seem to have more when I write them down).

The lotto, or playing the stock market, are both forms of gambling, and I know some people have gotten rich these ways, but it feels untenable to me, this method. Maybe it is how I could bring more money to my life, but so far I haven’t had success with either the lotto or the stocks.

If I count up all my pennies and scrimp and save, will that work? It feels like a long-haul effort. Maybe there are ways I’ve never even thought of—but those methods for getting rich seem to be locked away from public consumption. It makes me imagine the stereotypical greedy rich person, sitting on their loads of money—like Scrooge McDuck swimming in his vault of coins, and not wanting to share any of it.

I need both money and dreams in order to live. One of my favorite quotes is from Bruce Lee: “There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” There’s no limit to how much we as humans can achieve and accomplish in our lives, we just have to be willing to put in the effort to achieve it, and keep setting new goals once we reach each set of them.

If I keep looking at life like I have been taught—to scrimp and save, to reject my gut intuitions and follow popular methods, to hide my gifts, I will walk right past opportunities. If I had the inspiration to write a song like Bowie’s “Sound and Vision,” I deeply fear that I would dismiss it as too shallow or undeserving of my time and attention—but sometimes the clearest, easiest path is the best one to walk. We can lead others into the light by showing where we’ve been in darkness and where we’ve prayed. Bowie’s song does that for me, and I am grateful for his sharing his prayer.

Or maybe I will see every great chance in time to whisk it up into my life. Today I walked a different way than usual during my daily activities, and I stumbled upon a free piece of furniture for my room. Instead of not seeing it and simply passing by, I snatched it up! Maybe my eyes have changed already, and I don’t need to worry about missing chances. And hopefully the universe will bring chances around again if I miss them once, because it wants me to be successful.

I am learning to believe that I can simply and clearly ask for the answers I seek to be shown in my dreams. Maybe I can also ask for my waking life dreams to come true, and they will. And in the meantime, while I wait for the answers I seek, I will continue to write and to sing, and to believe.

“And I will sing, waiting for the gift of sound and vision.”