Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Return to Joy

(See previous post, "Grieving")
      Slowly, the grief I have been feeling is mellowing. In a session with my spiritual coach, it became evident to me that I have been focusing on frightening things that could happen, but most likely won't. So many fears were overwhelming. My coach's gentle guidance brought me back to paying attention to the present moment, wherein, for the most part, things are fairly great.
     I generally make the conscious effort to live from a place of joy, and I am working my way back there with increasingly more energy each day. This morning, three fun moments reminded me to be present. The first was in a daily reading, the phrase that this is "another day in paradise." I agree! I have no cynicism relative to that phrase. Just being alive is paradise. On top of that, I swam over 3/4 mile, and taught a yoga class, all before noon. I'm grateful for all I can do.
     The second moment was seeing a Garmin (location technology) truck with the catchphrase, "Taking you to your next adventure." If I look at each next thing I get to do as an adventure, rather than a "have to," life is much more enjoyable.
     And in a third moment of playfulness, I noticed this on my drive to yoga this morning: on the power lines high above the highway, there were hundreds of birds in one section between poles. The three-wire set was almost full of birds. The next section was empty, then the next section had one single bird. "Ah, that's the introvert bird," I thought. Being an introvert myself, I appreciate that one bird's stand to be alone on that wire. It gave me a present-moment smile.
     Given the fear-based mentality so prevalent in our society right now, it is no small challenge to stay focused on the present joy-full moment. I believe a really famous person said, multiple times, "Fear not." I'm working on it.
     Breathe,
         Leta


Sunday, August 5, 2018

Grieving

     Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted.  (from the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:4)
     Over the past few weeks, a number of losses have impressed upon my psyche, including one very large one and a bunch of lesser ones, a pile that has finally built to overwhelming. Note that overwhelming for me means that I am crying a lot. For privacy's sake, I'm not going into details. No one close to me has died, though it feels that way at the moment.
     I have been through deep grief before, as both of my parents have transitioned. However, that was quite a while ago, so I forgot what deep grief feels like. Besides the crying, I don't feel like doing anything, combined with extreme boredom. I have to force myself to do even small tasks. I want to escape, literally by traveling, or by eating, or by shopping, anything to make this hurt pass. Some of it most likely will pass, but some of it will remain as an undercurrent in life, such as grief over aging, my own and others.
     I try to talk myself out of it. "Things could be worse." "Get over it." "Don't be so lazy." "Other folks have it much worse than I do." That's not working. I know I simply have to feel the feelings and keep on trudging along. Remind myself that all these tears are soul-cleansing. And this, too, shall pass.
      Looking forward to the comfort,
                Leta

Image result for grief

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Baseball Tour Day 10, and alas, Day 11

Monday, July 30 & Tuesday, July 31. I started Monday well with another Hyatt swim. This time the roof was open-I love swimming under the open sky! I called the Museum of Fine Arts and learned that I could check my luggage there, greatly simplifying my travel. So I checked out of the Hyatt and took an Uber to the Museum. It was outstanding! Just the structure alone is huge and amazing to see. You definitely need the map and plenty of hours to see everything. In my three hours there, I'd say I saw maybe half of it. My favorite thing was the whole room devoted to Monet paintings, including two of my favorites, Water Lilies and The Water Lily Pond. The variety of art is amazing. I saw Egyptian mummies and a huge hanging sculpture made from, I kid you not, "styrofoam cups and hot glue." Gaugin, Renoir, Van Gogh, Homer, along with sculptures, stained glass, and painted porcelain. It was well worth the steep price of admission, $25, which is so typical for everything in Boston. 

Mid-afternoon I called an Uber to go to the airport and was blessed with a driver wearing a Cubs World Series ball cap who was born in the Dominican Republic, source of many current and past great players in the Majors. Needless to say, a lively baseball discussion ensued. All went well at the airport and on my flight to Houston until we landed 45 minutes late. With a terminal change required and well over a mile of scampering, I missed my flight to Wichita, the last of the day. GRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!! Of course, United would accept no responsibility, so I got an extra night of vacation at the airport Marriott for the United discount price of only $140!!!! GRRRRRRR!!!!!! I was so mad, I was in tears (as well as exhausted and sore from a 4-hour flight in the middle seat between two large men). I did get a few hours of sleep.

Tuesday... My 9:25 flight was late (why couldn't that have happened last night????), but finally, I'm home!!!!!! Plans are to avoid United in the future as much as possible. Overall, an outstanding vacation. GO, CUBBIES!!!!!!!!
Thanks for reading about my adventures!!!!
     Leta, the baseball nut

The Styrofoam Cup Sculpture


Monday, July 30, 2018

Baseball Tour Day 9--Quack Quack

Sunday, July 29. I slept in past 8:00, magnificent. Even more magnificent for my travel-weary body was a swim in the Hyatt's lap pool. After showering, dressing, and blogging, I called an Uber for a ride to the Boston Museum of Science. There I caught my ride on the Boston Duck Tour. The duck I was on was an original land-and-sea vessel from WW2, modified for tourists, of course. Touring the famous streets of Boston, our guide was equal parts full-of-shit, historian, and good teller of bad jokes, wearing farmer's overalls even. When it came time for the duck to go in the water, the driver simply drove down a concrete ramp into the Charles River, the propeller started up, and off we went for great views of the Boston and Cambridge skylines. We got out of the river via the same ramp. I'm not sure the tour was worth the money, but it was a novelty I had not experienced before.
After the Duck Tour, I took off walking toward Little Italy and the Freedom Trail (a walking tour of Boston's historical sights). I saw TD Garden where the Boston Celtics and Bruins play. I had a great time roaming around the many stalls of the Boston Public Market, purchasing a couple of snacks for later. Humidity and hunger won out over history (no surprise, I've never liked history much), so I walked to Little Italy and settled on Pagliuca's Restaurant. There I enjoyed great Italian bread and excellent eggplant Parmesan with a side of spaghetti with red sauce. That fortified me enough to walk by Paul Revere's house, but there was a big line, and the entrance was blocked so I couldn't even see the house. Geez. So I called an uber and returned to the Hyatt, to rest up for the Cubs-Cardinals evening game. Cubs won, after midnight, due to a rain delay.
Tomorrow... the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and (yippee!!!) back home.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Baseball Tour Day 8 Fenway

Saturday, July 28. From Albany, we headed out about 9am for Boston, arriving just after noon. I enjoyed a quick lunch with tour buds at the Boston Beer Works adjacent to Fenway. As soon as I saw it on the menu, I knew I had to have the New England classic--clam chowder. That and a local IPA made a great lunch. 
We then met our Fenway tour guide at the HUGE Red Sox team store. He was a super guide, full of history and funny stories. Today happens to be a game day honoring military, so every seat has an " I salute ____________" sign for folks to fill out and display in unison at a designated point during the game. Cool!!! We saw Fenway Farms, a giant rooftop garden supplying the ballpark. We got to sit on top of the Green Monsta (Boston pronunciation). It was erected to block free game watchers across the street, and also to stop home runs from breaking windows in the new car lots over there. We went by the giant press box (second in size only to Yankee Stadium) and the single red seat in center field where Ted Willams landed a 510' homer, the longest ever measured inside Fenway. We didn't get to go to field level or the dugout because of it being a game day. Great tour, nonetheless. 
We checked into our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Cambidge (passing the lovely MIT campus) with some time to settle in and relax before heading back to Fenway at 5:30 for the Sox-Twins game. 
The bus dropped us off outside Fenway and a bunch of our group decided to walk around the outside before going in. The atmosphere around Fenway is very much like Wrigley on game day--loads of people eating, drinking, shopping for souvenirs, bands playing, great merriment. The Fenway delicacy I chose was an Italian sausage with sautéed onions and peppers, quite yummy. We got to our seats in time for an honoring on-field of 500+ family members of deceased military. We were in the outfield on the right field side. We saw two homers, one of which went over the Green Monsta. There was plenty of action in the Red Sox 10-4 win over the Twins. The goofiest thing was the fan-ritual singing in the 8th inning of "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond. I hate that song, but the fans surely were entertaining and enthusiastic. 
Alas, this was the last night of the tour, so when we returned to the hotel, we said our goodbyes to a great bunch of baseball fans and new friends we hope to see on future baseball tours. This tour was some of the best money I ever spent, and I would go on another Triple Crown Baseball Tour again in a heartbeat. Still to come... two more days of Boston fun... 




Saturday, July 28, 2018

Baseball Tour Day 7--Hall of Fame

Friday, July 27. We left NYC (great joy on my part) and headed to Cooperstown. The countryside of NY is so much like Pennsylvania where I grew up that it was like a "little bit of home." Beautiful rolling hills, farms, trees, flowers, quaint little towns. Along the way we watched on the bus the heart-warming baseball movie, The Rookie. 
We arrived in Cooperstown just after noon. It is a gorgeous small town with a lively Main Street that was all set for Hall of Fame Induction weekend. Yep, we hit Cooperstown at the perfect time. The HOF is way more awesome than I could have ever imagined. Three floors of exhibits about how baseball started, well over 100 years of history, every record imaginable, displays for each team, baseball artworks, and then a great hall and rotunda with all the individual Hall of Fame plaques. I spent over four hours roaming and could have easily spent a couple more. The "icing on the cake" was a movie about baseball with many of the greats of my lifetime. It epitomizes why I love baseball so much, and I walked out of it in tears, as did many others. I'm thinking that the HOF was the pinnacle of the tour. 
I wandered around town and had a pizza lunch, shopped, and later sat and enjoyed an ice cream and talked with one of the street vendors. There are loads of vendors on the streets for Induction weekend. To my great delight, I found a Life-Is-Good store and could not pass up a Cooperstown-baseball Life is Good shirt--it's totally me. There was a huge lazing Golden Retriever in the store, making me homesick for Dusty, but alas, the dog was not for sale. Several of my fellow tour buds saw former players around town--Darryl Strawberry, Pete Rose, Dale Murphy--but I missed them. 
We left Cooperstown around 6pm, and drove to our overnight stop in Albany. About a third of our group of 52 went out to a sports bar for supper. It has really been a fun group and we had a lot of laughs, especially with Bobby, our host from Australia. Yep, he's that big of a fan, to travel halfway around the world to do these tours. 
Another day in paradise!!!









Friday, July 27, 2018

Baseball Tour Day 6--NYC Goals Accomplished

Thursday, July 26.  After a long, glorious night of sleep, I showered, dressed in Royals garb, and went out to the Starbucks in the next block that I had scoped out from the bus. It's amazing when I say that I'm going to Starbucks for a "cheap" breakfast, but that's NYC. 

I met up with two tour buds and we headed for the subway to take us to the 9/11 Memorial. After successfully navigating the subway ticket purchase, we boarded, rode south to our stop, then used our phones to navigate to the Memorial. Along the way, I got to touch the big Wall Street bull. They went off to use their pre-purchased museum tickets, and I stayed outside to tour the Memorial. It's pretty amazing, two huge square pools with perfect waterfalls on all sides, and ledges on all sides with the names of the folks who died in association with the attack. 

    

Next, I made my way toward the subway, and with the help of a NY subway official and my phone, took a train that got me near McSorley's Old Ale House, the pub that has NY's longest-continuous-open claim to fame. My Wichita friend, Deb Goin, has been there MANY times, and raves about it, so how could I pass up the chance to go there for a beer?!?! I arrived right at 11am when they open (beer for breakfast, why not?!?!), and had fun talking with the bartenders who in fact know Deb quite well. Beer choices are dark or light ale. I chose dark, a fine brew. I also had the lentil soup--very good, and at $4 a bowl, a steal in NYC. A local couple sitting next to me kindly guided me to the subway station I needed to get back to the hotel. I made a stop for a to-go salad, and went back to the Hyatt to relax and watch the Cubs, prior to the evening's Royals-Yankees game. 

Thank God for bus drivers who can handle big city traffic. The drive to Yankee Stadium was both crazy and interesting. We drove most of the way up Madison Avenue, going from the la-dee-dah of ultra-expensive designer stores to the grodiness of Harlem. We passed the magnificent St. Patrick's Cathedral. At times I think we were going at least 40 mph on the city street. The bus squeezed thru the stadium traffic with inches to spare. I roamed around two full levels of Yankee Stadium. I watched the Royals lose in an embarrassing way. For a relatively new stadium, there is nothing impressive about it. It's like they took the worst features of old stadiums and put them in the new one. I'll grant you, I'm not a Yankee fan, to put it mildly, so maybe I'm prejudiced. Actually, the best part of the evening was a conversation with a fellow solo traveler about how much we dislike NYC. It was a lovely serendipity that sat us together, because our conversation relieved a lot of city-based stress for both of us. Meanwhile, the Cubs came from behind (again!!!) and won with a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 9th.