My daughter painted me this painting. Back in March for my birthday. It is in the spirit of a Balance Tree - the concept being that the branches of a tree can only be as wide and strong as the roots. Such is the balance of life. And in the spiritual - that the soul can only flourish as high and as powerful as the body is grounded in the human experience. The branches and the roots.
A friend of mine introduced me to this concept - and showed me an image of a Balance Tree that she loved - and I loved it, too. And so, for my birthday, my daughter played off the Balance Tree image that I then showed her and created this one. She based the dancer image off a photograph that was taken of me a few years ago.
I am the trunk of this tree.
I love trees. And plants and flowers. Wood and leaves. I have a lot of them on my body. Tattoos of flowers with strong and true meanings. Branches that hold the petals and greens of the people that I love. Images that connote protection and grace, bravery and wisdom. And so the Balance Tree resonates with me deeply.
And then I learned about The Purpose Tree.
The concept is a bit different. The roots, in the Purpose Tree are the me. What I want and need. What is important to me. The things that make me strong and vibrant. Full of life and love. The trunk is the we. Family and friends. The people in my life that I care for, nurture and lover. And the branches of the tree are the all. The brother and sisterhood of others. The vastness of humanity and the wonder of the infinite. And the idea of this tree is that I first must nurture the roots - the me - before I can give to the trunk and then eventually to the branches.
Often times we don't do this in that order.
We forget the me in favor of our family and friends, or that vast world out there. We are mother, wife, lover, sister, brother, maker of foundations or save the whales methodologies. We take care of our bosses and our workers, our children and our parents and we forget to nurture the roots that are ourselves.
This mixed up order of all things nurtured resonates particularly deeply for me today. The day of memorial. We forget that I think. The today is not just the day of picnics and popsicles, barbecues and big, storewide sales. It is a day of remembrance.
And when I think about many of those, really boys and girls, that go off to protect the all, I am deeply aware that they did this before their roots were strong and grounded in the earth that was to be their own life experience. We asked of all these brave - while so scared, mostly young - people to tend the branches without a root system in place. The epitome of selflessness.
And so, in honor of this day of memorial - as I begin to grow my own Purpose Tree, little by little watering the ground where my roots will soon sit strong - I wish two things. That those that made it home - the lucky ones that we honor on Veteran's Day - can now take the time to tend their roots. Forget about their families and friends for a while. And understand that the world will wait for them, owes them this time actually. So that their foundation can be strong and, when asked again to show up for all of us, they can from a place of even greater strength.
And I wish to extend this gift to you, too. To tend your own roots. Care for yourself. And see that it is not a selfish thing to do. That actually it is the most necessary and selfless thing of all. For only when we are strong in our skin and soul, true to our heart and kind to our bones, can we then send our power and our grace out to others.
What age am I today? It seems a fitting question to ask considering that my youngest daughter is celebrating her twenty-first birthday today. Interestingly, I did not plan to write about age because she is a new age today. It just turned out that my thoughts came out this way. Though there really are no coincidences and so the balance of this is as it should be. Anyway, let's get started..
I cut my hair a few weeks ago. After a really long time of having it really long. And loving it that way. Long and wavy. And so friggin annoying after a while. But of course, when I decided to finally cut it off -which I had been thinking about for months - those last few days of long hair were perfect hair days. But I went ahead and did it. Chopped if off. Into a cute bob...named after my father of course :-). And I liked it.My new haircut. A lot. Loved it in fact.
I woke up yesterday and looked in the mirror and decided that I look much better with long hair. And so now I get to spend the next few years growing it out again. Luckily for me my hair grows really fast. Like really super fast. Like I can have bangs and then a few weeks later I don't have bangs anymore. And so this cute bob that made so much sense to get will soon be a shoulder length cut. But only for a short time before it gets long. Which is good because shoulder length hair is actually a hairstyle that I absolutely hate. It feels old. The proverbial middle age haircut that I see on so many women my age.
Which brings me to the point of this post today. Because I am still in this really weird place of not quite knowing what my age is. Not the number part, the other part. As in, what my age means. There are all these parts of me that are not adding up and so I am feeling a bit disjointed. And certainly not grounded and settled into where I am.
Basically I don't know where I am.
I do know that I am not where I was before and certainly don't want to be back there. As in, I don't need to recreate my youth, recapture a young body, reclaim a past version of myself. That is not this at all. It is more like I have not quite figured out what this new place that I am in is. On so many levels.
The physical one is a big one. My body. It's different. Softer. And less flexible -which for me is still very flexible in that dancer, loose jointed, hyper-extended kind of way. My skin is dryer and less elastic. My aches and pulls recover slower. And my attempts to exercise are more challenging.
And so for a while - actually almost an entire year to be exact - I just did not. Exercise. At all. Well, I hiked. And walked my perfect Doberman puppy constantly. And attempted to run a few times, and work out with weights on this really cool thing called a Smart Gym. But really it was all a temporary, just a few days kind of thing and then I settled back into being way too sedate.
And so now, in this place where I am today - a place that I am not sure about - I have committed to taking better care of myself. In a healthy way. Not a eating-disorder-let's-get-skinny-because-skinny-is-happy-and-it's-really-about-how-you-look-kind-of-way. And so I signed up for a twelve week program at this awesome place in Santa Barbara called Temple.
I am excited about this. It is not just a workout but more a whole body and mind and spirit journey that I believe will help me ground into myself. The new myself that I am trying to figure out. I will not rush this along. In that wise way that I have come to understand - at least this is something that has come from being older that I have gotten my hands around fully - I am really clear that this process, of putting the pieces of this puzzle that is me together again, will unfold over time. And I am good about that actually. Knowing that the process is the important part.
And what I am hoping for, and believe will be true, is that this process, of integrating the physical challenges with learning what to fuel this different body will, in turn, trigger that deeper exploration into the spiritual and emotional - and as yet - unchartered pieces of the me that I seem to be now.
While my parents were visiting last week, we went to Los Olives. I love this town. When my husband and I were thinking about which part of California we were going to move to when we finally decided to leave Massachusetts, Los Olivos was one of the choices. It is beautiful. Not far from Santa Barbara, it is wine country. I love the landscape and the quiet. But alas, it was a bit far from Los Angeles and the convenience that LA brought as we knew we would be on planes quite a lot - or our kids would be on planes to us.
But we visit here, this lovely town. Not quite as often as I would like but in the past few months I've been three times. On my trip alone a few months ago. (I wrote about my sole trip here. Though I didn't mention exactly where I was.) And then when my sister and niece came to visit I brought them up to the town and got the chance to share this place with them, too. And most recently, just this past week, when my parents came to stay. Following a busy day, that included donuts, we took a trip up to this lovely town for a yummy lunch and lots of wine tasting.
Three times in just as many months.
And each time I am here, in this lovely town, I visit this fantastic store - J.Woeste - which you just have to go to if you are in Los Olivos. It is filled with stuff. So much stuff. Fantastic stuff. Garden things and statutes and fountains. And little ceramic flowers and animals that you can stick in the ground. And fairies for the garden, too. And great metal wall pieces that have sayings like "I love dogs and wine" or something like that. And wind chimes. And all this is just outside.
Inside the store, the rooms blend one into the other so you can get lost in them even though the place is not very big. And they have blankets and books and boxes to keep stuff in. And so much other stuff to put in those boxes I just mentioned. And cards. And jewelry. And sweet smelling soaps.
And this awesome pillow that I'm holding in the picture above.
Need I say more?
My parents are visiting this week. I love this. Having them here. I miss them. A lot. I live on the west coast and they are far away in the east. Or they will say that I am far away since I was the one who moved out to sunny California. Which is not so sunny these days. A bit of sun and then clouds again. A strange May. An El Nino May with the clouds but without the rain. We need rain.
So my parents are here. Specifically because my middle daughter - rather my oldest daughter who is my middle child - is in a show in LA and they have come out to see her. It's called Dry Land and is fantastic. Deep. Moving. Emotional. Funny. The LA Times Critics Choice and - with a plethora of additionally amazing reviews - a play not to miss. Here is the website. Come see this show!
But I digress.
My parents are here. They got in late last night and today was supposed to be a hangout, let's do nothing and just be together kind of day. A trip to the dog park to play with my brilliant not-so-much-a-puppy-in- size-but-still-a-puppy Doberman. Maybe a nice lunch out. A nap was definitely part of the plan. But alas, this was not to be.
We spent the morning at CVS. Two CVS's to be exact. Because the first one did not have the stuff that my father needed - a prescription that he forgot to bring with him and so needed to get refilled. Something for his eyes. Not a big deal but still important enough that we had to go get it.
And so off we went. After a much quicker dog park play date this morning, me, my mom and my dad toodled our way to the one CVS that I knew about only to find that though they had one of the things that my dad needed they did not have both. But the other CVS did. And they would get it all arranged - they meaning the pharmacy at the first CVS - and all we needed to do was wait, and wait and wait and wait and wait, until they contacted us that it was done: that the doctor back east would be called, that the insurance would be notified and that the items would be processed and ready for pickup.
And so to pass the time while all this was being done we ate donuts.
Really bad donuts that were so good. Probably made with 100% artificial ingredients and then an extra bit of lard and sugar to ensure that heart attacks were in our future. These were serious donuts. I had a maple one. I love maple. It's sweeter than chocolate and coats my insides and I can bring up the memory of the taste for days afterwards. There was once this incredible maple oat scone at Starbucks. Years ago. When I worked there - did I ever talk about that...that I was a barista at Starbucks..I will one of these days. This maple oat scone was so delicious. I would order two some days even though it had like 45,000 calories and sat in my stomach for three days. And when I worked there, and we got to take home stuff at the end of the night, all those yummy leftovers that were no longer salable, well those maple oat scones were MINE. They stopped making them when they went all healthy - they being Starbucks, healthy being a relative term - and the saturated fat content came out as being bad. Very bad.
So. Maple. I had a maple donut thing. More like a cruller. I think. It was round but it had ridges and crannies and nooks. Like an english muffin but better. So the maple could settle into the ridges. And to be completely honest here, I had two. TWO!. And an awful cup of coffee with extra cream. I love cheap, shitty coffee. Which makes sense in some odd way what with my Starbucks days and all.
So we ate donuts. My maple ones, my dad's chocolate thing that I could not name and then a donut that surprised us both when he took a bite and we discovered the inside was pink. Strawberry! So perhaps a bit healthier because it had fruit. And my mom had a pastry thing with raisins and bites of our cardiac arrest treats. And then back to the CVS we went before heading home. For lunch.
Of course it would be salad.
I went to an incredible wedding this weekend. A best friend of my son - a man I've known since he was a boy. And I have known his now wife, too. For those many years also and so the be included in such a lovely event was really touching for me. To share in the sweetness of this day, to see them together like this, to align with his mom and reminisce about this shared experience we had raising our sons and each other's sons, too. And to see all their friends who were my kids friends also and who I watched grow to become these beautiful people. My heart was full.
And I got to hang out with my son and daughter-in-law who are really the most fantastic people. We laughed nonstop. And danced all night.
And drank. A lot.
And so now it is two days later, and I am with my youngest daughter who is heading back to California with me on a JetBlue flight this afternoon. And I don't have much time to write as much as I would like. And so I thought, in keeping with the theme of this weekend - specifically the drinking of alcohol - that I would reshare a post from about a year ago, entitled: Is It Ok To Say How Much I Love To Drink Here it is:
Is It Ok To Say How Much I Love To Drink
The inspiration for this post is that yesterday we went to the Ojai wine festival. And drank a lot. Many different and wonderfully delicious tastes of wine that add up quickly to become a few glasses of wine. And then one or two cups of beer and soon some mixed drinks with names like Lavender … something or other.
And we met some really great people. And ate some really yummy food. And heard some really great music. Outside in the sunshine in a beautiful place. Together.
And part of why it was so fun for me is that I just love to drink. I really do. I love the taste, whether a red wine - Malbec is my wine of choice these days, or a dark and rich and cold beer, or a yummy margarita or a shot of tequila. I love the taste and I love the way it makes me feel. The rhythm and sway of it. The blurred edges and easy humor.
Now, this is not to say that I cannot have fun without it. I can. I am not an everyday drinking kind of girl. Or an every week one either. But when I do partake I embrace it fully. And enjoy it immensely.
But I hesitated when I began this post, to say this. Because it opens me up to judgment. In a way that does not feel good. But whether drinking or drugs or sex or how we raise our kids or nurture our marriages or live our lives, there is always someone out there who is quick to share their opinions in a way that leaves no doubt that they don't agree with ours.
And so we brace ourselves for this. And we clothe our statements with justifiers. I did it here. In the same paragraph where I say how much I love to drink I also say that I don't do it a lot. In anticipation of what others might think. And say. We all do this. Preface our thoughts and feelings with words of apology or explanation.
And we do this because we are afraid.
We are fed fear in everything we see and hear. The news shares stories that manipulate us, the advertisers share products that will fix us. And so we worry and question and doubt ourselves and each other. And then we are quick to judge. Perhaps because we see ourselves in each other. Perhaps because we worry that if we align ourselves, we will also be seen in a way that will illicit judgement from others.
It's complicated. And really sad. And I don't really have an answer for it in a global sense. So I strive, every day, not to lay my own opinions on someone else in a way that could possibly make them feel badly. And I strive, every day, to speak my truth and not to be ashamed if its not a popular one.
Which brings me back to drinking.
A few weeks ago my husband and son and I made margaritas. Yes, my son is over 21 - don't judge. So we made these amazing margaritas. Using cheap ass frozen limeaid and some ice and a heavy hand of tequila and triple-sec and Grand Marnier. Now, to give credit where credit is due, this is my dad's recipe. Which he lovingly pass down to me, his daughter. Though I do believe he used a measuring cup. And we added blood red oranges from our tree.
And we had the best time.
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Dog and Cat lover.