If An ipad Could Do My Laundry…

By the time superstorm Sandy had flooded a portion of my favorite city Manhattan, my nerves were shot from watching the weather channel. It’s uncomfortable to be concerned for 98% of everyone you know, by a storm you can’t control.

Following hours watching the weather glued on my friends couch, it reiterated humans are not in charge, until perhaps an ipad can do my laundry. The complete process, from hamper to machine, detergent to dryer. On that day, I may consider we have some say and will buy whatever gadget it is. Until then I am convinced recent wacky weather patterns could be a higher power sending humanity a wake up memo, reminding us we are not in charge.

After reciting the serenity prayer, and knowing I had a few of my Gram’s prayers held in reserve, I had faith everyone I knew and didn’t know personally would be okay, or so I hoped. I found myself concerned people would lose their possessions, followed by thoughts of their safety. This reminded me of the clarity I feel throwing out crap that doesn’t define me, while attempting to treat myself and others better. More than answers, I have a billion questions, but the more complicated life feels, the more I strive for inner peace. I gravitate toward peaceful moments where my cell doesn’t chime reminding me of reality.

During Hurricane Sandy, I almost couldn’t stomach watching the tide roll in, along with the storm surge. Two days later my body exhausted from worry, remains on edge despite reminders I couldn’t change the outcome. The more the world feels less stable, the more I want to run, hide in a cave and eat coconuts. It would have to be a snow cave though, it would break my heart to give up skiing.

I feel so alive traveling, skiing and writing, I’m a sucker for modern luxuries they didn’t have back in the day. How simple it would feel if we could cut out the excess, go natural, and learn how to survive effecting the earth less.

I hope in time I can internalize the serenity prayer and improve my interactions with others and the earth. If my heart could make money, I could raise enough to help many. I can feel my heart literally ache or beat asking for attention when I stop and really take time to feel for others. Those doctors aren’t fibbing as to the location of the heart. I can feel my heart on the left side doing jumping jacks somedays, begging for awareness.

Financial hurdles seem to get in the way of feeling like I can really help others. Perhaps kinder words and attempts at becoming a better person can help more than the occasional volunteer evening at a local shelter.

My entire body is being pulled toward a more meaningful path. I’m not sure what that means, I just wish there weren’t so many mental fences to jump over to help others. Perhaps it’s in little ways I can begin in daily life, but in this massive world do little things really make a difference?

These thoughts were inspired as I think of my friends this evening that sit in dark chilly homes, whom I can’t be with to give blankets and hugs to…

24 Hours In Paris

Faster than you can spell au revoir, I hurried down the jet-bridge with my seat assignment to Paris. This was my first 24 hour solo transatlantic adventure, traveling standby as an airline professional. What a perk, what an opportunity.

The morning sun flickered through the windows as the Airbus touched down on foreign soil. Belly full from a pasta coma, muscles stiff from being cramped in flight in a shape only a sleepy traveler, or twizzlers could achieve.

I pondered in the customs line: “Is this the city with the pointy tower, or the leaning one?” A stamp made a new home in my passport. I boarded a local train with with my rookie traveling suitcase, and laptop.

Cutting through the blue sky and puffy Parisian clouds, there she stood; Miss Eiffel herself. It was majestic, halting me in my tracks, over the River Seine. The freedom to explore and the brisk European air ignited me with energy. Sitting on the grass, I gazing up in awe as I savored my first authentic French crepe.

I explored beautiful streets, and magical corners. Local fit Frenchmen with high fashion walked past. I breathed in their movie star cologne, as it trailed after them. Cats crossed cobblestone streets daintily, all was peaceful except me, the awkward newbie tourist bouncing my luggage over bumpy terrain.

Cars sped along the Champs De Élysées. Parisian fare drew me into a window seat restaurant, along the promenade. My eyes fixed on the bustling movement of this famous city. I ordered myself an entire Margherita pizza. Fresh, cloud-like mozzarella chunks with local tomatoes. My sad attempt at French added to the strange looks I received as I quickly learned in Europe, don’t ask for a to-go box. The evening sky was darkening but I wanted to explore so I didn’t bother booking a room. I secured my leftovers under the flap of my laptop bag and moved on.

Later my thought was to catch a safe nap in a warm theater, with a late night show. It was a tiny theatre, bathroom to the right of the screen, striking more of my curiosity than the actual film. Neighbors filled in seats surrounding me, none of us impressed with my baggage which increased my embarrassment as the tight area forced me to straddle my bags. I was horrified as the smell of pizza seeped into the theatre. I visualized it dripping out of the box, onto my laptop and down my neighbors leg. To top that classic awkwardness, the movie was a love story in English with French subtitles, what?! My intention was to nap and hit the streets renewed. Instead I found myself solo, cold, in Paris in a late night showing of heartache where tears, not dreams fought for my attention.

Late into the Parisian night, I found a park bench, legs exhausted, right arm extended permanently backwards from lugging my bags in tow for hours on end. Following studying French maps, and transportation schedules I asked a local if this was the correct bus to take. He asked me in perfectly good English: “Do you know French?” I said: “No” he snickered and kept walking. It felt like someone had stabbed my little naive travel heart. It was the wake up call I needed to make an effort prior to visiting other countries, to learn basic phrases like toilet, thank you and cheers. It’s only right and smart to do so.

A bit later in my sleepy stupor two men surrounded me on the park bench. Nothing like an adrenaline alarm clock. They invited me to a party near the airport, this party I had no desire being a guest at. They caught on I wasn’t interested but showed me where the train station was and said I didn’t need a ticket at that hour. When I exited at the airport stop, instantly I knew I had been scammed. You needed your ticket to exit the turnstiles, or you would forever live underground with rats as roomies. The barricades, coldness and guards made me a tad uneasy. I didn’t know how I would get beyond it without a ticket, in order to fly home. Perhaps locals were thinking: “another trapped tourist, pacing like a rooster.” I’ll leave the details to your imagination, but never was I so happy to enter a terminal.

Hours later, I returned to work thinking about the lessons learned, outfitted in clothes that had explored Paris. I slid into my office chair, dirty, smiling, and sparked about what I had just pulled off, on my day off!

In The Presence Of The Dalai Lama

My eye caught a glimpse of his robe, his slightly hunched shoulders, then his magnificent smile as he entered stage right.  The 14th Dalai Lama emerged into view, his sweet and humble personality shined through as he waved signaling the crowd to stop paying him attention, during the introduction.  The vision of him brought an unexpected stream of tears to my cold cheeks, falling sporadically onto my scarf.  What a presence His Holiness had.

He held our Senators hand tightly with both of his; demonstrating he holds no boundaries against religions, culture, politics, age, sex, ethnicity, anything.  His Holiness, as they call him truly lives his words and life’s work.  His first statement was to the effect that we are all “one,” as his cute little Yoda like finger pointed toward the brisk October sky, saying everyone has triumphs and struggles but we, all people are “one.”

Universal flags of more countries than I could count proudly displayed their colors on both sides of the dome, surrounding a crowd of very lucky locals blessed with a ticket.  I have never sat so upright or attentive for an hour and a half in my entire life,  barely noticing the discomfort of the cold wooden chair.  I couldn’t take it in fast enough, listening to his every word, with bated breath.  It was magical, peace washed over me, I was safe in that dome away from life, reality, pressures, responsibilities and cell phones.  I felt a calm feeling I have longed to feel for some time now.  It was no rock concert where you gaze in awe of your favorite artist and can’t scream loud enough, it was more than that, so much more.  My mind joked this is the new 30’s plus rock concert of internal screams.  How refreshing it was to admire someone for their heart, not their talent, their fashion, or outer beauty.  What if we could really internalize and model after his qualities?  Could we obtain it individually in this hectic reality, where we can’t commit hours a day toward growth?

My belly, mind and heart have been in some turmoil medically and emotionally for the past eight months, but in that cold dome with bright florescent lighting that didn’t match the peaceful vibe, and a podium mic with too much high end, both attempting to tear my attention away from the message, I successfully practiced mindfulness and remained in that present moment.

I believe it was my “gram angel,” a term my friend shared with me that sent the following awareness to me.  I was listening to him intently, when during his question and answer session as he sat on a couch, his fingers rested onto his lap into a heart shape, right side up pointing directly at my heart.  Another flood of emotions came to me, tears streamed down my cheeks again, a stunned feeling inside my heart.  I know it wasn’t planned that his thumbs and first fingers created this shape, but it hit me like a brick, somehow telling me the past eight months of belly and emotional struggles, acceptances, changes, self help books, doctor appointments and my overall growth process is somehow going to be okay.  It felt like someone had shot an arrow directly from stage, right into my core.

I can’t claim to know everything about his life’s journey, but I can tell you I felt everything I needed to feel at this stage in my life, right there in the presence of His Holiness; the 14th Dalai Lama.

I Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up! (part 1)

It was a blue sky day. Flights were running on time, sweet aroma from the coffee shop filled my senses. I was taking in this peaceful moment in the terminal, when a man walked up to our ticket counter and said: ” you lost my leg.” I’ve heard comments similar to: “these baggage fees are going to cost me my shirt,” but all the training in the world couldn’t have prepared me for this. I empathized as he told me he had packed his prosthetic leg in his checked bag and it was no where to be found. He proceeded to lift his pant leg and show me his substitute limb. He was as kind as they come, patient and forgiving as I informed him how we would proceed. Passengers I’ve encountered with disabilities posses an inner calm I have always longed for. These exceptional people have accepted their disadvantages, and choose to bring kindness into the world. They do not harbor bitterness, but most often treat others in a nicer manner than people who have what appears on the outside; everything going for them.

Minutes prior to departure I was paging a missing passenger at the gate, when my eye spied a woman running frantically toward me; like Spain’s running of the bulls. She was carrying 7 items which included: 4 bags, one cooler, a pink fuzzy blanket, and a partially inflated mattress pad. When I told her she could only carry on two items, she got upset and asked what she should do. I told her she would have to consolidate or she couldn’t board the aircraft. Her emotions elevated and she proceeded on a crazy frenzy, dropping articles on the floor left and right, leaving a trail of items following her, like bird crumbs in an animated movie. Just when you think you’ve seen it all…After picking up the abandoned items on my return to the podium, a passenger approached me and told me I handled the situation very well. I thanked him and said: “they don’t teach you that in training”.

One morning a mother and family approached me, manilla folder in hand and a paper towel resting on top. The mother said to me: “my baby just threw up on these boarding passes, do you want them?” What do you say to that?! I reprinted them as quickly as possible, what a fun whiff at that early morning hour.

Working for an airline holds potential for anything to happen, check back soon for part 2!

Compassion

Can we change the world by the power of our minds? I have come to realize so much of my reality is a result of my minds “script” playing on repeat, moving at a faster pace, somedays similar to a spiraling roller coaster. There are days I go through the pattern of life’s to-do list in a foggy haze of boredom. Possibly days without friends, play or adventure, similar to those tampons and toilet paper buying days…is there anything more silly than buying those items?! Seriously throwing your cash down the ….and surely not sharing any love with the environment. It’s those inside your belly rainy days that I have to remember to enter them with compassion, towards myself and others.

I frequent the same gas station not because the fuel is cheapest, or the store is shiny. I return because every single employee has taken extra time to talk to me, or commiserate we are working a graveyard shift, while others are out dancing. It’s those genuine type of people, not the executive who treats others as inferior, or the slimy salesperson doing what it takes to get their cut, that make me thankful and remind me I want to be that type of person. I surely don’t live in the Princess Brides “pit of despair,” but after working directly with people for over 5 years, and the amount of interactions where the general public don’t always utilize manners, occasionally takes a little hope away regarding humanity.

On the days I enter the workplace and consciously think to treat others with compassion in my heart vs: frustration, I find myself surprised at how good of a day I had. Despite the initial intention and conscious reminder to treat others with compassion, it was myself who gained. I have to believe compassion travels further than anger.

I have the honor of hearing the Dalai Lama speak next Saturday, following I will share his words with others. However, for this rainy night I am not dancing, I want to remind myself and others to think before reacting, and quite possibly tomorrow will be a day of increased hope, in all our hearts!

Elsa Anna

Her presence surrounds me, her memories warm me, she will forever remain in my heart. Elsa Anna was my Gram, a year ago today I honored her the best I could at her funeral. Family gathered, sorted through photographs and details, while sharing hugs and love. I dreaded that day. My Gram made everything better like a down blanket on a cold night, and loved me unconditionally. We were worlds apart in our lifestyles, but she accepted me for all that I was. She was 100% by my side, supporting and reminding me to “take advantage of every opportunity.” She lived 90 years full of grace and love. She would light up when I visited, as if I were the only thing that mattered. Her soft winks, and stories gave me strength throughout challenging times. She would sing camp songs from ages ago, while staying abreast of current events. She assisted my legally blind grandfather in his chiropractic practice. She utilized webtv, and sent adorable emails I shared out loud to college friends. She treated everyone as kindly as you dream people should treat one another. In one saved letter, that remains on my refrigerator, she wrote: “I thank God daily you are my granddaughter.”

Elsa was a woman of grace and peace, my grandfather saw her in confirmation class, when she was 12 and said “I’m going to marry that woman.” Either she couldn’t run very fast, or she fell in love with that crazy guy, a true love that lasted over 65 years.

My grandparents moved in with us when I was in ninth grade. I would run across the breezeway that connected our log cabins to find myself in paradise with electric heat, TV, games and love. The three of us played cards for hours, Grandpa changing the rules, leaving out others. I cherished time spent with them.

Gram was brilliant in the morning, I would lay next to her and cherish her wonderfulness. We would giggle if I went over prior to her inserting her false teeth. She was a most loving wife. Following my grandfather’s lack of motor skills and residing in a nursing home, she still wanted to visit him daily, hold his hand and keep him posted on the family.

One night in the later years, I returned to her home after saying good night and found her putting a glass of Bailey’s into the plastic cup holder in her walker, we just laughed and laughed. I miss every part of her, she had enough compassion to fill an ocean, and an overflowing love of all things good. She was amazing to her friends and they were good to her. I never heard my Gram complain about anything, anyone or any pain she endured. She was honorable, and found strength in her faith.

Her last days I stayed by her side, hugging her, talking to her and helping my Mom care for her. When her words stopped, I thanked her for her love and the role she played in my life. I witnessed another form of unconditional love, as my Mom took care of my Grams most personal needs, while making her comfortable until her final breaths were inhaled at home, in the comfort of her own bed. She will always remain my gem, my friend, my Gram. Elsa qualities were stellar, I love her, she will forever claim the best portion of my heart and souls very fabric…

Work Perks

It was a cold conveyor line removing bad apples, bagging the good.  The ground was hard, the Macintosh scented air in that damp warehouse sunk into my bones, but there is someone I will never forget; the woman with the duct taped sneakers.  My heart felt so sad that she didn’t have the money to buy new ones.  That moment my goal in life was to never have to tape up my sneaks.  Numerous jobs, a BA and years later I find myself one paycheck away from taped up shoes, however I appreciate the job perks I’ve received along the way, that have built more character than any large sum in my savings.

It started with a vile of semen, yup that is no typo, friends.  Holstein semen was given to me on a teenage birthday.  Before the country rumors start flying, let me clarify this was to be used in my cow.  I worked hard on my neighbors farm shoveling, you know what, feeding calves, and walking up a hill to round up the gentle ladies for milking time.  There I spent time with one of my human heroes.  He was a classic farmer, local accent, grass in mouth smile that warmed many a soul.  His twinkle in his eye, long pauses during stories, and his hard work were very much treasured.  My vulnerability may have started then.  One afternoon he told me: “bring this rat home, your mother wants it.” so I did.  I walked down the country road, stiff tail in bare hand, right into the garden and handed my Mom the dangling dead carcass.

I was a lifeguard, with the honor of saving three lives.  I worked the dish line in college, and received occasional ketchup smiley faces on plates, from friends.  I traveled through 43 states for 13 months as a volunteer audio engineer, entertaining veterans and thanking them personally for their service.  Very rarely have I felt such gratification from any paying job.  I worked for a production company, got my permit to drive semi trucks.  I could drive those tanks forward like a champ, but never quite conquered the alley dock, silly cones.  I was a substitute monitor engineer for a week, in a tour bus for a Grammy winner.  My belly could never hang with the big dogs, that beautiful Prevost gave me bottom bunk motion sickness.  I drove a 15 foot box truck through Manhattan to deliver gear, following 911 when dogs and cops stopped my heart as they searched the interior.  I was a monitor engineer for six amazing Irish lads, who encouraged I sample Yuenglings at work.  I was a travel agent and could study the World.  I was a supervisor at an Aquarium where I used the boat shop facilities to build my own single rowing shell!  I learned how to serve at high end parties with white gloves, while dancing in the back with fellow servers.  I worked at a hotel that offered hotel discounts, and pool entrance.

Today I’m an airline ticketing/gate agent, and a ski instructor.  My current situation allows me the opportunity to pursue two top passions in life; traveling and skiing.  I can fly for free, free unlimited on our domestic flights, and just an International tax applied on other routes.  This opportunity increases my world view, along with priceless travel experiences.  On the hill I receive a free seasons pass, to play all winter with available clinics to improve my skills.  Although years later I may be one paycheck away from taped ski boots, I find value in pursuing my heart guided life…

Edinburgh’s Magic

It’s exhilarating to touch down in a new land among various accents of the world, and immediately immerse into the fabric of a new culture; chatting with locals, exploring crevices that suit my curiosity, until my legs ache and my belly is full of local fare and drink. My belly full of haggis and scotch. Edinburgh and her people stole my heart the second I surfaced from the rail station, the air was magical. My eyes peered upon a skyline of castle-like roof tops. The September air was fresh, bagpipes bellowed in the breeze. I felt complete, just myself, my backpack, some new currency, and a camera. I was sparked. The Scots are adorable; everything about them warmed my heart, their kilts, and especially their dialect. A coffee shop note read: “only 106 sleeps till Christmas,” local store owners inquired about where I was from, men unloading a truck wanted me to take their picture. The ghost tour guide was incredible, equipped with a perfectly spooky voice. The saleswoman at a kilt and tartan shop shared with me Scottish history. The woman in a handmade soap shop demonstrated how bath soaps react in your tub. The hairdresser that cut my wild crazy travel hair, took genuine care to wash and cut it with the up most attention, and was truly grateful for my tip. The man at the bus stop let me use his personal cell. The open mic night at a local spot was incredible, jaw dropping actually, a small crowd filled into a basement, while a local shared her knowledge of scotch.

In my magical Scottish elation, I got caught in a rainstorm in a graveyard walking toward the Edinburgh castle. The grass was stunningly bright, the castle sat majestically on the cliff. I found myself at a coffee and baguette shop near a garden. My last meal was penne and peanuts on the plane, now I craved a coffee and ice cream. I sat for a few minutes taking it all in, while my coffee cooled and my ice cream softened. Then I began to walk toward the castle, most likely due to gasping in awe from total bliss from the view, is when I inhaled the cone too quickly and choked; it was an all out choking fest, gasping for dear life. Traveling alone usually brings its benefits for the ease of mingling with locals and taking in the flavor of the country, without standing on the sidewalk convincing your friend you can go to a Hard Rock in Manhattan, without a need to cross the sea. Anyway at this moment, for the first time I really wished I had a friend to assist with the Heimlich. It hurt so much, I was gasping for breath under the skyline of the castle. It was then I imagined the words that would be spoken at my funeral: “Yes, she was double fisting coffee and ice cream, walking to the castle, in search of her Scottish Prince.” I literally heard those words in my head, however seconds later my air passage cleared, and by the time I reached the castle, I felt alive in so many ways, as I overlooked magical Edinburgh…

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