Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Shoe Devastation!

Let me preface this post with a little back story. I’ve not been shopping on Black Friday since…well…i don’t actually remember. This year Black Friday fell on my birthday, and as luck would have it, i had a gift certificate to one of the stores in the mall so i thought i would give it a go. Now, i’m not into sales and drama and all the frenzy. My shopping is rather leisurely. I stroll – coffee in hand – from one shop to another. If something catches my eye, great. If not, no big deal.

I had spent the morning with some great friends then headed to the mall that afternoon. I figured the worst of the rush and chaos would be over and i could shop without hassle. But i wasn’t prepared for this. A war had broken out and hadn’t hit the 6 o’clock news yet. Or maybe an earthquake had struck. A tornado. The photo i snapped with my phone does absolutely no justice to the devastation i was witnessing. A disaster! Then i realized that this had happened EVERYWHERE in America. A National Disaster! Would Obama send us relief money for the clean-up?

I was standing there, mouth open, with a look on my face that said – i’m having difficulties registering what i’m seeing – when a clerk walked up. Amazingly enough, he wore a huge smile. I thought, either he’s insane or i am. So as the words, “can i help you find anything,” tumbled out of his mouth, we made eye contact – and laughed at the absurdness of the idea. Still chuckling, i shook my head, “no, i think you’re the one who needs help finding things.”

Other women were sifting through the debris like i was – both appalled and amazed at the mess. It was funny in a “we’re-sharing-the-same-thoughts” kind of way and several of us laughed at the craziness. But it occurred to me – how could people be so, so – rude? To leave such a mess behind. I mean, that’s what it boils down to. Being rude, thoughtless, disrespectful to your fellow humans. Just how bloody difficult is it to PUT THE SHOES BACK IN THE BOX when you’re finished? So what the clerk is too busy to get to them right now. It’s not their fault that 200 million people were out shopping today. Why are we so disrespectful to others? Why do we feel we have the right to treat others so poorly? The smiles, well-wishes, and warm hugs for the Holidays are the people we WANT to be. Which begs the question, who are we really? What justifications are we creating to excuse ourselves from becoming a better person? The answer is, there is no justification. There is no excuse. Let kindness be your legacy. All the time. Not just for the holidays. But every day. Let kindness and compassion be your inspiration. Let it be the reason, let it be the guide, to all your actions. Kindness and compassion are your greatest gift. It never loses its value. It never goes out of style. It is the best bargain you will ever find. Ever.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Giving Of Thanks

I give thanks for peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches. I give thanks for seeing my breath on a cold, frosty morning. I give thanks for being able to cry when a sad song comes on the radio. I give thanks to hear the songs of the geese. I give thanks to the power of the Moon. And the warmth of the Sun.

I give thanks for all the emotional hurts and pains that forced me to grow. And friends who make me laugh uncontrollably. I give thanks for strong winds that blow the leaves off the trees and send a chill down my back. I give thanks to all the unknown people who harvest the crops, who deliver my mail, who keep the water and gas and electric coming, and the hundred other jobs that seem thankless and forgotten.

I give thanks to whiz down the aisle while hanging on the grocery cart. I give thanks for getting so into a song on the car radio that people in the next car honk, whistle, and clap for me. I give thanks for beauty for beauty’s sake. I give thanks for the place of my birth whose salty waves are the heartbeat of my soul. And my parents who love me unconditionally. I give thanks for Mom letting me lick cake batter off the spatula – raw eggs and all. I give thanks for the tall ships whose billowing sails fill my dreams. I give thanks for my foe, who makes me realize myself. I give thanks for the smell of popcorn and fresh-baked cinnamon rolls.

I give thanks to run after a fall leaf the perfect color of red. I give thanks for my Dad and his unshakeable strength. I give thanks to our Mother Earth and to our Creator without whom we could not be so blessed. And i give thanks for Love. Unconditional and Everlasting.

What do you give thanks for?

November Rain

Sliding Across My Field Of Vision

April showers bring May flowers.  And November showers bring…December snows.  Uh…  Doesn’t rhyme.  But the late autumn rain creates its own beauty.  I love a dark and stormy night.  They are haunting and mysterious.  And dangerous.  Why some people – like myself – are attracted to that is its own mystery.  I was driving home late one night in this steady storm of fender benders and the squawking of windshield wipers.  I popped Snakefarm into the CD player, kicked back, and took these shots.  Delicious!  

Tears On A Windshield

Two Martians Come To Visit


Monday, November 15, 2010

Dancing A Prayer Of Thanks

There’s something very cool about going to a Native American Big Time & Pow Wow. Maybe not cool in the modern, mall-shopping, Xbox-playing, beer-drinking and watching football sense, but cool in that – they don’t care what anyone else is doing or thinking. They’re there to do their own thing – really to dance to the beat of their own drum.

Unless you grew up with it, the first time you hear Native singing and drumming, it will stop you in your tracks and raise the hair on your head. There’s nothing shy or apologetic about it. I believe it strips the masks and armor we wear – leaves us naked in the essence of what it is to be human. For many, this is frightening. We’re so comfortable behind our self-built walls. To have them destroyed so quickly and powerfully sends some people running in the other direction, screaming for cover.

I recently went to a Big Time and Pow Wow. It’s a great celebration. Celebrating the harvest. Acorn season. Celebrating the family. The Tribe. Celebrating Life and the freedom to dance. (And though white flour was a European introduction, eating a whopping big piece of Indian Fry Bread is my celebration.) At a Pow Wow there are all sorts of dances – Traditional, Jingle, the Fancy (or Northern) Shawl Dance, and all of them are beautiful. But i love to watch the Grand Entry, the Eagle Staff, the Flags, and the following Intertribal dance where everyone – including non-Native guests – can dance the Circle. This is something else the Native Americans are unapologetic about – everyone dances. Young. Old. And everyone in between. No one is left out. Elders are honored – not stuck in a corner and ignored. A father dances with his infant in his arms. Sisters dance side by side. Everyone dances. Everyone is honored.

There was one Elder that really caught my eye. He wore a sincere expression that i connected to – an intensity and honesty that showed in his dance. Very dignified. Very humble. Listening to the song, the drums, and watching the movements of this Elder – in my mind – they were creating a prayer. Now – i’m not Native. I don’t know anything. I didn’t speak to them and i’ve never had any of this explained to me. I’ve just observed and listened with my heart. But my heart, my spirit, said this was a prayer of thanks. “I’ve been here so many seasons. I’ve heard the geese singing their coming and going song. I’ve seen the children’s children grow. I’ve shared laughter and i’ve shared sorrows. And i’m still here. Dancing. Thank you.”

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. May we give thanks to the Great Creator for all that we’ve had. For all that we have now. For all that we will have. Find your own way to dance a prayer. To dance your thanks to the Heavens.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Andy Irons - We Will Miss You

AP Photo

July 24, 1978 – November 2, 2010

There are so many sports in the world, one for every talent and aptitude. We love sports. We are drawn to competition and the need to push the limits. Some of us are drawn to the winners and others to the underdog. But no matter the sport or favorite hero, all of us are mesmerized and nod our heads in respect to those who – despite the hype, paparazzi, the emotional highs and lows, and pressure – never under any circumstance surrender their will to mediocrity. Time and time again they rise – worn and hurt, frustrated and angry – and out-perform, out-maneuver, every competitor. And not just the one that stands toe-to-toe with them, but the competitor inside. The one that paces relentlessly when the performance is less than the best. It is a love affair. It is an addiction. A spirit like that needs the internal competitor – that restless beast.

Andy Irons was a true competitor. He was the best of the best. Amongst surfers, he was a warrior. A gladiator riding the wave. For non-surfers this may seem a bit absurd and some may wonder if surfing is even a sport. Dudes hanging out, looking buff and tan, drinking beer, watching the bikini clad girls vie for attention. Hardly seems like something to honor. Those who don’t surf cannot imagine the strength and endurance it takes to fight the Ocean for hours on end, day after day.

Pretend you’re standing on a narrow, slippery board that violently – and often unexpectedly – shifts in all directions, roll, pitch, and yaw. Drink a few gallons of salt water. Have a couple of your best friends grab you by your shoulders and shove you underwater till you’re gasping for air. Get them to do that for a few hours at random intervals. Grab a few jellyfish and rub them in places you wouldn’t want a jellyfish. While you’re at it, grab a handful of sand and put it in your shorts. When you’re standing in the shallows, dive into the bottom face first – no hands allowed. Let the Sun bake you to a nice apple red. Push, pull, and contort your muscles and body in every position possible. Now do that while barreling down a 12’ wave on a surfboard. And just when you thought you’ve wrestled body and board into some semblance of control, your fellow surfer is there to cut you off and steal your wave. This will give you just a taste of the difficulties of surfing. When the heat’s are on, it is in every sense of the word, a sport.

But more than that, surfing is a calling. A religion. Andy Irons was a priest. A man of the Wave. His congregation – the fans, the media, and his fellow surfers. The bond Andy created between man and wave was beautiful to see. No one watching him could deny his talent. Thank you Andy, for sharing this grand gift. For giving us a vision. You will be sorely missed. Aloha.

ABC Photo Files