Saturday, November 30, 2019

Before and After

     My ruthless clearing project (see previous post) is complete, as shown by the "before" photos on the left and the "after" photos on the right. My car is full of stuff to bless others, either via Goodwill or Little Free Libraries. I'll feed a shredder somewhere, as well as, alas, adding two big bags of trash to the landfill. While it's not completely doggie-proof, there's a lot less for Barney to munch on.






     It's clean! There is empty space! I have a surface upon which to be creative. My spiritual distress over way too much clutter is released. Note that this applies to this room only. It was time well spent, and I feel good once again about my woman cave. 
     Whew!
                 Leta


Friday, November 29, 2019

Ruthless Clearing

     Facing five fairly open days in a row, I decided to do a ruthless clearing of the woman cave. I have several reasons for this undertaking. First is my sanity. Clutter makes me nuts. Second, we are about to get a dog, so I want there to be less around to become a "chew toy." Third, I am hoping to set an example for others that "less is way more." Fourth, I am a firm believer in the spiritual principle that clearing makes room for more good to flow into my life, and by "good," I do not mean things. Fifth, the woman cave will be much easier to clean with so much less stuff hanging around.
     This is, in part, Swedish Death Cleaning. I'm not doing it because I believe my end is imminent, but just because I'd hate for my kids to wonder, "Why would Mom keep THIS?" Our house, shed and garage are packed with stuff that would leave the kids wondering. Alas, I'd say only about one-quarter of the stuff is mine to potentially release, hence the hope that I am setting a good example with this exercise.
     I fully realize that letting go of some things can be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible. This is definitely an emotional process. I have extra copies of the two books I have published. Seeing those reminds me that both left me "in the red" financially, which can be so disappointing. However, I remind myself that I have completed and brought into physical form two books, something few humans accomplish. I did enjoy the writing at the time, as it is a deeply spiritual experience for me.
     There are many memories passing through me, such as spiritual development classes I attended and taught, travel adventures, and huge accomplishments including sky-diving and completing a grueling month-long yoga teacher training. I see how many folks have powerfully impacted my life, and the many folks whose lives I have touched.
     I have a large box of books ready to go out the door. It's too heavy for me to lift. I have a medium-sized box of papers for shredding. There's lots to recycle, and trash, plenty of it. I also have an excess of blank canvasses and some other miscellany that I can pass on to a teacher friend. This clean-up may enable me to start painting again when I have cleared off my creativity table, currently piled high.
     Coincidentally (not), today is Black Friday, when so many people add so much stuff to their collections. The more I release, the less I want in terms of things. Less IS way more!
     I took "before" photos, and I'll take "after" photos of the completed project. Those will be in a future post.
     I think I'm finally ready to release that sweater my late mother knitted for me over 40 years ago.
          Lighter and loving it,
                  Leta

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Prosperity Pup

     I went through a rather dark period earlier this year, where I let negativity get too much of me. I was especially down relative to my own personal abundance. I knew better, but alas, there I was. What has pulled me out is getting back to daily writing (by hand, on paper) in the "Prosperous Life Journal" by Chris Michaels and Edward Viljoen.
     The floodgates of abundance have re-opened, I'm excited to say. I feel so much better on every level. Note that when I reference "abundance," I'm talking about much more than money. I'll give one example of a joy coming through those floodgates.
     For most of 2018, we dog-sat our grand-dog, Dusty, a Golden Retriever. This is the first time we have had a pet in our home of 34 years. We returned Dusty to our son last Christmas, which was all well and good. However, when we returned home and he wasn't there, the gaping hole in our home and hearts was dreadful. I cried for three days, I missed him so much. I still look for him on occasion when I come in the door.
     I have a friend who is a volunteer with a local mostly-dog adoption agency. She knows that we have been interested (and patient) in finding a Golden Retriever. We saw each other recently, discussed dogs, and I said, "No one ever gives up a Golden." (How's that for negativity?!?!) The very next day she sent me a picture of a mostly-Golden who was surrendered with parvo-virus and being treated. Interested? Oh, yes!!!



     Long story short:  Love at first sight. We have adopted him, named him Barney Clark, and my friend is fostering him during the post-parvo quarantine. We are visiting him often for him to get comfortable with us, and we will be able to bring him home in early December. I'm reading up on dog behavior and training, and I love learning how to be the best pack leader I can be.
     I often see the paw-print bumper sticker stating: "Who rescued who?" It's so true in this case. I can hardly wait to have this sweetness in our home with those floodgates of love wide open.
     Life is good!
           Leta

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Perspective

     I have been on retreat at Timber Creek Retreat House in Drexel, Missouri (timbercreekretreat.org). I first came here with a group in October 2014, and I have led an annual retreat here ever since. For several weeks prior to this year's retreat, I was experiencing a nebulous anxiety, which I could point in a variety of directions, but I didn't feel capable of shaking it. I felt a lot of uncertainty, worry and negativity. Given that the vast majority of my clothing says "Life is good" on it somewhere, this was not a comfortable place for me to be.
     Just driving up to this magnificent place causes a sense of relief to flood through me. I know that whatever may have been troubling me will gently slip away as I enjoy the setting, the people and the activities of the weekend. Both the folks who run the House and the folks on the retreat with me are people I dearly love. We appreciate and support each other.
     I lead daily Melt Method and yoga classes at various times. I usually bring some sort of supplies to enable folks to dabble in creative activity. This year's stock was for painting and collage making, and I was able to get two paintings and a collage started. I rarely make the effort on these things at home, so having time to play with all this stuff was very fun and head-clearing. Cool fall weather set in with our arrival and we enjoyed the first fires of the season in the fireplace in the hearth room, a comfy gathering place near the coffee machine where we relax together and tell stories. There is no better place than Timber Creek to recognize the therapeutic value of laughter.
     Before each totally fabulous meal, there is a time of meditation led by Tom Jacobs, philosopher, poet and musician extraordinaire. The view from the mediation room includes a pond, forest, benches, bird feeder, and often wildlife such as deer, turkeys, and of course, squirrel!
     The best part of Timber Creek is that everything is optional. It is a place where you can truly "take what you like and leave the rest." This can be a challenge sometimes, to decide what one wants to do and just do it. For instance, there are lovely walking trails surrounding the House. Most folks enjoyed lovely walks "over the river (creek) and through the woods." My inner nagger kept saying, "you should walk" and because the "should" word was involved, I did not. I stayed inside the entire weekend, enjoying the people, creative options, and nap time, glorious nap time.
     A writing on Timber Creek would be grossly incomplete if there was no mention of the food. We are served three fabulous meals each day, and we are not allowed to even bus our plates. Imagine! No clean-up, no dishes, just eat, enjoy and walk (waddle) away. Time spent in conversation around the meal table is one of my favorite things about the retreat experience.
     My group usually does not completely fill the House, so there are other guests who synchronously show up and blend in with our group. I do believe this has happened every year, and it's something we look forward to, as we have met many lovely folks this way, and it is a bonus for all involved.
     I also lead a session or two that I refer to as "release" opportunities. We gather in the Heart Room to talk, vent, listen, be heard, support and love on each other. I love the healing power of being able to safely express what is on our hearts and minds, know we are being heard and supported, and "let that shit go!" Often there is soul-rinsing (crying) involved. Energy is released and healing occurs.
     The days finish off with game-playing. For the past couple retreats it has been laughter-filled rounds of Rummikub. Quite the competitive bunch we are! I love to play games and this is one of the few times I get to do so.
     This year, for the first time, we stayed for three nights instead of two, giving us a whole extra day here. I expect this longer stay will be the norm of the future, now that we have experienced an extra day of love and spoiling and peace and joy and freedom and contentment.
     Anxiety? What anxiety? It's all in one's perspective, and right now, at now-o'clock, all is well.
               Leta

Entrance    Hearth Room

Friday, August 16, 2019

Game Day #6, Oakland Coliseum

(Note: FYI, the baseball vacation postings start with the Friday, Aug. 9 post.)
     Our last day started out with a tour of Oracle Park, home of the Giants. We had an outstanding tour guide who was thrilled to have a whole group of devoted baseball fans, as opposed to disinterested tourists. We went on the warning track, offering a great view from field level. DON'T get on the grass!


     The traditional batter's eye in center field is actually a working vegetable and herb garden, the produce of which is used in the stadium's food service. Willie Mays is the all-time hero of the place, and his retired number was 24, and they use 24 everywhere. There are even 24 palm trees surrounding his statue in the Willie Mays Plaza. 

     The highlight of the tour for me was the visitors' clubhouse. We were treated to stories by the clubhouse manager, including the celebration after the Cubs beat the Giants in the 2016 NLDS. As a Cubs fan, and certainly not a Giants fan, I was in hog heaven. 
     Upon returning to our hotel, I went out on a quest for ice cream. I went to a Ghiradelli shop and enjoyed two scoops while sitting in the nearby park and basking in the beauty of the bay and brilliant sunshine. There were folks swimming in the bay, and I expect that water was quite cold. 
     Evening time found us, after a long, slow bus ride, at Oakland Coliseum for the Athletics-Astros game. 

Tour host Bobby and me

Stomper, the mascot
     The main adjective I'd use for the stadium is "old." It's not the worst I've seen (Yankee Stadium is), but it is not memorable in any way. The video boards are way up high above the highest seats. The neighborhood is trashy at best. The concourses were fairly roomy, but I think that's because the crowd was so small. Many vendors weren't open because of that. Unlike the ridiculously high beer prices at Oracle Park, food and drink prices in Oakland are way more reasonable, so I sprung for a $12 beer. (That beats $19.25 at Oracle.) 
     It was a beautiful evening and we had great seats on the first base side. There were ten (yes, 10) home runs hit during the game, which the As won 7-6. Given that many of us had to catch very early flights, we were really glad it did not go into extra innings. 
View from our seats
     Back at the hotel, we said our goodbyes to the group, bus driver and hosts, completing another excellent tour by Triple Crown Baseball Tours. 
     Ready to go home,
             Leta





Thursday, August 15, 2019

Game Day #5, Oracle Park

(Note: FYI, the baseball vacation postings start with the Friday, Aug. 9 post.)
     We completed the bus trip up the coast, going directly to Oracle Stadium for the Giants-Athletics cross-town rivalry game. (Think Yankees-Mets or Cubs-White Sox.) I did my traditional trek all the way around the stadium to check it out, and also to locate a delicacy that had been recommended to me by a Giants fan/friend. In my roaming, I discovered a new high price for beer at a stadium:


Don't strain your eyes, I'll tell you... $19.25 for "craft beer." Given that I can get a dozen really fine beers at home for that price, it was easy to pass on the "craft beer" there. It was hot for these folks, in the mid-80s, and the video board kept posting warnings about staying hydrated, especially "older people." Luckily us older people had seats in the shade just past third base. It is a lovely stadium, but the concourses are narrow and therefore uncomfortably crowded. I went out during the game for both food and toilet breaks, and it felt like half the crowd was on the concourses. I learned the technique of getting behind some big, fast-moving guys who served as blockers for me.
     It is the setting of Oracle Park that makes it special, sitting on McCovey Cove. There were several boats awaiting home run balls, but none of those went out of the park. There is a counter on the wall in right field for "Splash Hits," currently resting on 80.






     It was another game with a lot of action, and the Athletics won 9-5. The aforementioned food delicacy was the Cha Cha Chicken Bowl consisting of Jerk chicken, rice, black beans and pineapple salsa. Not your average ballpark food, it was quite tasty, and even reasonable at $11.25. But then the accompanying bottle of water was $5.75. Can you tell I miss my hometown cost-of-living?!?!
     Even though our hotel was only four miles from Oracle Park, in rush hour, it took us almost an hour to get to the Marriott. The introvert in me was ecstatic to have an evening locked away in a room all to myself with a happy-hour beer, snacks and the Cubs game. Alas, the Phillies slaughtered the Cubs, but it's now a new day for more baseball.
           Onward to Oakland,
                 Leta


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

No Game Day #4, Up the Coast

(Note: FYI, the baseball vacation postings start with the Friday, Aug. 9 post.)
     Tuesday was spent mostly in the bus, driving up the coast, heading toward San Francisco. We stopped for lunch in Solvang, an adorable Danish-themed town, i.e. tourist trap. If you are a shopper, it's heaven. I am not a shopper. I did, however, enjoy beers and a light lunch with fellow travelers. We appreciated being able to sit outside and relax in the shade while conversing and imbibing.
     The real highlight of the day was a mini-tour of the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. It's on top of a mountain on the coast with a magnificent view of the ocean and mountains. The houses (yes, there are several) are spectacular, with antiques and art brought from Europe nearly 100 years ago. There are indoor and outdoor swimming pools that I would be overjoyed to lap-swim in. The history of the place is fascinating. The Hearst extended family still uses the place, even though it's a state park. Our excellent guide told us about a family wedding there recently. The views, gardens and statuary are magnificent. You may even have a personal connection to the estate. Grass-fed cattle are raised over the approximately 250,000 acres and are eventually sold to Whole Foods.








     On to San Francisco, Oracle Park and the Giants game...
              Leta