Sweat out the muck in a Mexican Sweat Lodge

Temazcal at el Chaeco

If I think about it too much, I can get totally freaked out about the amount of collateral damage I’ve done to my body over the years, even though I strive to do the right thing now — I have had many mortal failures. I was quite rowdy in my youth even though I always knew that was not my right nature, I did it anyways.  I have not always treated my body with the respect it has deserved and my struggles in the wee hours of the night are how I hopefully have not done irreversible damage. I always keep getting back on the well-being horse. The human body is a miraculous healing machine with magical powers and I will always look to improve and heal thyself — even though I still stumble.

Being here in San Miguel de Allende this time around, I am all about taking better care.  I am experiencing this town with different eyes and a whole new world is available to me here, when once I had very limited vision.  There are many places to heal thyself and I am on a mission to experience these people, places and things.  It has been challenging living in my old house that is full of my old behaviors, but I am making the best of it. I am grateful to my ex-husband and the opportunity we’ve had to mend our relationship. It’s been a glorious and exciting couple of months here in the city of St. Michael the Archangel.

Once a month, on the weekend closest to the full moon, there is the opportunity to sweat out all the muck in a three-plus hour sweat lodge ceremony, called a temazcal, using aromatic herbs and wood-burning steam in a hut made of clay, at San Miguel de Allende’s 170-acre botanical gardens, El Charco del Ingenio.  The gardens themselves are not quite lush or perhaps even all that interesting, but it becomes more endearing to me each time I visit. When I mentioned to a Mexican friend that I was going to spend the afternoon there, he looked at me wide-eyed and said, “What?? Are you going to bring your cane and wear a big floppy hat?” So maybe it doesn’t have a great reputation as a hot spot, but it IS a place away from the bus and car fumes of Centro, and I am all for escaping the city buzz and taking in the many species of cacti, birds and even the cafe has a great little (mostly) organic lunch.

One really cool tidbit, in 2004 El Charco del Ingenio was proclaimed a Peace Zone by the Dalai Lama during his visit to Mexico. Five Peace Zones were designated in the country, places free of violence and arms, dedicated to the conservation of nature and community development. In a country that is being somewhat ravaged by a fierce and on-going drug war, it’s nice to know there’s a few places free from the violence and mayhem.

I attended the temazcal ceremony in January, 2014, just two days before the actual full moon.  Upon arriving and registering for the event ($350 pesos), I set out across the preserves to the historical ruins of Hacienda Las Colonias on the north side of the park and meet the Shaman who leads the ceremony, as well as his helpers, who keep the fires aglow.  The ceremony is in Spanish, and I was the only American in the group of 11, which was fine as I understand Spanish, but am not so great when speaking it.

A temazcal is an ancient cleansing ritual of Mexico’s indigenous people, very much like a sweat lodge. If you think you are going to freak out about being in such a tiny enclosed hut for a long period of time with a bunch of almost-naked strangers in unbelievably hot conditions, you are not alone.  I almost backed out, but Humberto, our Shaman who led us through the day, assured me that I could leave if I wanted to, but it really is okay once you get settled.

He was right. It was unbelievably hot and I thought I was not going to make it, but I’m so glad I did because I felt AMAZING when I emerged 3.5 hours later. I felt as though I was being smothered and freed all at once, and my mind kept playing freaky movies that I knew were in my head, but I watched as if they were on a screen. A scorching-hot-flame-engulfed-screen. We sang songs, doused ourselves in herb-soaked water and could lay down if we needed to, because the air was cooler at the ground. Suddenly time had gone by and we were able to emerge from the hut. I crawled out on my hands and knees and kissed the ground and thanked my God, the Clouds and Guides Above.

As I walked through the land after the ceremony, I felt high as a kite and precise as a falcon. I ate a nopal omelette at the cafe and drank a liter of water. I slept like a rock that night and hope to experience this again, but not every month. Twice a year sounds about right to me.

I sweated out all the demons that afternoon and felt completely grateful and sparkly to be alive. I highly recommend this experience!

Death Does Not Become Her

Muertos

I am not going to review all the death and dying I was close to this past year; I’d rather focus on what it has inspired me to do.

I came to visit my ex-husband in Mexico rather unexpectedly, and I certainly did not plan to stay as long as I have, but my lessons are starting to appear in front of me and I do not want to miss this opportunity to grow.

Watching my mother’s death was a huge wake-up call for me. I changed everything about my life and felt like I had the opportunity to elevate myself to higher spiritual lessons.  I was completely inspired and ready for such a drastic change, so I suppose it’s no coincidence that I lost everything in my life at the same time.  Well everything except my good health.  I lost my job, my apartment and my reason to be in Woodstock, Illinois, but this situation afforded me the opportunity to extend my stay in San Miguel de Allende. I felt guilty about this at first, but not anymore.

When I first came to Mexico many years ago, I was a healthy and spiritually minded woman, eager to achieve many things in life. I am still this same woman, but I certainly did lose myself along the way for a number of years before waking up and seizing my potential once again. A few weeks ago, I said to Reed, “this is a country full of bad decisions.” He responded with, “perhaps you just made bad decisions while here”, and I agreed he has a point.  I can’t really blame Mexico for the decisions I made, I alone am responsible for my choices in life and want to make sure I make the best choices moving forward. I know I have not been alone in making bad choices while here; I have seen so many Gringos destroy themselves when they move here.  I have seen some ugly things and now is my opportunity to heal thyself and come full circle.

I made a joke in yoga class that I needed lots of yoga while here because I need strength to combat the devil. Everyone laughed because they know.  This country, this town makes it so easy to fall into trouble.  It’s a lovely pretty little colorful town, with lots of artists, writers and free thinkers and you can absolutely get caught up in the charm of it, but if you are not strong in your personal convictions, you can get swallowed up by the never-ending fiestas.  After Reed & I were married, I needed to leave this town because, well because I had had enough of the party and needed to get back to real work.  Looking back, I didn’t fare so well in Texas either; it was not the place for me, just as San Miguel is not the place for me.

Here I have been presented with an opportunity to come full circle.  A chance to fight back the devil and be the woman that I want to be.  It was easy to be super-healthy while I was living in Woodstock; I never saw the party and was very comfortable with that — but I was always alone, and I was not comfortable with that. Here in Mexico; the party is everywhere — and especially at Reed’s house.  I see him struggling with his health and with feeling good. I am being the good wife that I was not while we were married and attempting to make him comfortable without enabling his behavior.  I had my own little slip with smoking when I first arrived but have stopped that outrageous behavior because smoking sucks donkey dicks.

A long-time frind of mine who lived here in San Miguel for many years, but returned to her home town in Northern California, has recently been diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer.  She is essentially me and there, but for the Grace of God go I.  In my few weeks while here in San Miguel, I have been writing long, detailed emails to my friend, filling her in on my adventures and news of the town.  It has been a positive way for me to share what’s going on and to stay honest about my intentions.  We don’t really talk about cancer, we talk about adventures.  She has been gearing up to begin her aggressive chemotherapy treatment but was just haneded the news that her heart is not strong enough to endure the treatment and other options must be reviewed and decided upon now. NOW.

When I read her email yesterday, it launched me into a mood I was not quite prepared for; I sat in stone silence for quite some time before I found ways to distract myself.  I had horrible nightmares and woke up in tears.  I did not respond to my friend after she sent me that email to tell me her “heart-stopping news”, but when I awoke, I said to myself, “imagine how she feels” and reached out to her on the spot.

I want to have no regrets.

I want to make good decisions, no matter what country I am in.

I want to have more children in my life (not mine, silly)

I want to live a full life, full of loving relationships.

I want to be barefoot in the grass as much as possible before I die.

I am so very grateful for all the lessons of 2013 and whole-heartily look forward to the lessons of 2014.

hi, i'm meag
hi, i’m meag

Under the Spell of the Mexican Moon

Venus at el Charco del Ingenio

When I lived in San Miguel de Allende ten years ago, I started to write a book called, “Under the Spell of the Mexican Moon” and my personal downfall was that I showed it to too many people and the fear I experienced from hearing the feedback caused me to set it aside indefinitely. Until then, I kept all my writing under wraps — and since then I mostly have kept it private.  I’ve written AMAZING letters to friends over the years. And to my mom.

I had forgotten about the letters I used to write my mom, but while cleaning out her condo earlier this year, I found all the letters I sent to her.  I was hilarious — and still am.  I laughed and cried as I read my letters and postcards.  Here’s a postcard from I sent from Santa Fe, New Mexico after arriving via Amtrak from Chicago:

Hi Ya Ma! If it’s an Indian you want, get your buns out here! They are so beautiful! This town is beautiful! The weather is beautiful! What can I say, I am in love. I met a guy from Italy on the train, we will stay in touch! I’ve fallen in love 8 times in Santa Fe and I’ve only been here 2 days. I think I’m going to move here if I can get my migraine to stop. Love you like an adobe Ma xoxo

Over the past few months I have been told by friends and complete strangers I should write a book. It’s always been in me, I’ve thought about it over the years but again, the fears have stopped me.  “Who wants to read what I have to say?” Although many many times, when I share a story of my past, the response I hear often is “you should write a book about that.”

Since my mom’s death, this idea is coming more into focus.  My mom apologized to me and said she wished she had been nicer to me.  Said she was wrong about me.  These words have completely changed my world — even I am surprised at the impact of her parting words.  I mean I was knocked flat on my back after she spoke these words.  My mother’s apology has been life-altering for me and I no longer want to be that passive girl. I want to be the woman who moves through grief and loss without losing herself. even if that means I lose my way for a bit.

I had thought for a spell that I was choosing to “duck out on life” by returning here to San Miguel; returning to my ex-husband’s home and this town that I angrily departed from several years back.  But this is so not the case.  This was the perfect time for me to come back here and make peace with my past.  For years I had been feeling bad about who I was as a married woman — that I was the sole reason why our marriage did not survive, let alone succeed.  Good Lord this is not true.  I love Reed dearly and we are family; we are just not the “one” for each other, nor do we “get” each other.  I care for him deeply and I know he does for me as well.  We are family and sharing this holiday with each other has been healing beyond belief.  Well for me it has been, I don’t think Reed would ever admit to this, but when I ask him if he wants me to leave, he says no.  We have fun together! I also cook for him, I don’t ask a lot of questions (!!!) and I busy my time out of the house with things that are important to me — and he provides me the resources to pursue my interests because he likes to see me happy.

I have been using this time of unemployment to get right in my head.  The recent deaths in my family have broken my heart and then to have lost so many jobs at the same time….. I was operating from a place of desperate grief and needed to step out of my hamster-cage life. I cannot take another job with a fear-driven company — because honestly it offends me to the core and I then operate from a place of asking to be fired. “But you’re not independently wealthy, Meag, are you!?”  No, I am not, but the desire to not work with these four companies was so huge, my time with them was no more than six months, when in the past I would suffer for years with miserable jobs.  This last job was probably the quickest in terms of synchronicity; I had thought I found my tribe, it was a healthy foods company and seemed to be generally interested in living a healthy, complete life.  I quickly realized this was so not the case and my time with them was under two months.  This was my personal tipping point.

(note: no disrespect to the companies I worked for; there is nothing wrong with them; I was not the appropriate person for the job.)

So when I leave this pretty home, I spend my time doing the things that make me happy and peaceful.  Yoga, swimming, hiking, walking, looking at art, meeting up with old friends, etc.  But I recently took a huuuuuuuge back step.  I smoked some cigarettes — the thing I hate the most and have since been berating myself that I’ve destroyed all the good work I have done.

I am flawed. I have more work to do.

Everywhere in Reed’s house, there is an ashtray. And a pack of Marlboros. They have been taunting me. It’s no excuse. Well I made it an excuse. And I could TOTALLY sit here ALL DAY and beat myself up and tell myself what a damn loser I am and how I’m going to die a horrible death… whoops, I’ve already done this…. but this is a HUGE waste of time and I want to do things that will get me out of the hole, not keep me in it. I don’t normally use ALL CAPS, but I am totally fired up about this as I pound out the words.

Smoking makes me feel bad.
You know what I don’t want to do anymore?
Feel bad.

This quote found me this morning:
The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” ~~Ferdinand Foch

My soul is on fire so that must mean I am still alive and that I care deeply.
I’d rather my soul be on fire than my lungs.

All is not lost, I just lost my way temporarily, but I am determined.
I was under a spell.
I can no longer blame the Mexican Moon.

Full Moon in San MIguel de Allende

I now will be more focused about my writing and tell my story of being flawed yet never settling. Mending my broken heart. Always growing, always looking for a way to improve — at the same time while not damning myself to the depths of hell for being human. I need to stop over-thinking every little detail…. and this is the hardest thing in the world for me to do.  I have struggled with this my entire life.

FEAR FEAR FEAR fuck everything and run.

I really want the fears to stop stopping me from being awesome, know what I mean?

After I did my morning thing to get right (journaling), I like to listen this this because it lifts my spirits.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgWeNEHcsh8<

Two books by John Amodeo Ph.D. have been recommended to me by Sonia Choquette, to get me through these next hurdles: “The Authentic Heart: An Eightfold Path to Midlife Love” and “Dancing with Fire: A Mindful Way to Loving Relationships“.

Respiro profundo Meag… Exaaaaah

(deep breath, exhale…)

Deep in the Heart of Mexico

Oficina en Mexico

Buenas Dias from Mexico; I wish I had this office space in Chicago!  But no, this is the house I used to live in, when I was a married woman living in  San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, with my Texan then-husband, Reed Burns.  It is a glorious gift to be back here after all this time and I am grateful for each day here as I not only do my part to heal this once-rocky relationship, but also take time to explore the things I never made time for when I lived here all those years.

This town is a wild explosion of colors, culture and people and it really is a wonderful haven for artists and those you prefer to live outside the American box.  I first came here 1999 to explore the scene after a friend of mine that I had met during my two months at Escalen came down here to teach yoga.  I was working a big corporate gig for AT&T at the time in Chicago, so I could only visit for five days, but that was enough for me to decide I wanted to spend more time here.  When I returned to Chicago, I focused my time and efforts on taking a two month sabbatical in San Miguel de Allende to teach Gabrielle Roth’s Five Rhythms dance class; a style of dance I had been studying for a few years in Chicago and had taken a two-month workshop at The Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.  Little did I know this two-month sabbatical would become my life for the next several years.  Still to this day, my heart and thoughts are a part of this magical, colorful town.

I arrived in San Miguel for my sabbatical in June of 2001.  I rented a house with my friend who was teaching yoga and soon after, I began teaching the dance class at Bellas Artes and had such an incredible time; I was living the dream!  About one week later, I met the most crazy and hilarious Mexican named Juan Nieto and decided I didn’t want to go home.  9/11 hit and my fate was decided; I did not want to return to America.

I flew to Chicago in October, flew to New York to see my friend Andrew and to see how he was doing; I even walked as close as I could to Ground  Zero; a very solemn and moving experience. Even now it seems like it was just a dream, to be that close to such massive destruction and radical emptiness.  I’m not sure it was such a great idea to get that close, but what did I know? I still have the cross I bought at one of the only stores that seemed to be open so soon after the attacks.  I returned home to Chicago, put my stuff in a storage unit and off I drove to Mexico all by myself, with my zippy Honda Civic jammed to the gills with what I thought would be important to me in Mexico.

It took me 3.5 days to drive from Chicago to San Miguel.  It was….. in a word…. SCARY.  Crossing the border is scary. Driving through the mountains of Mexico is scary. Stopping at the very few gas stations is SCARY; I even once had to stop at a hand-drawn sign gas station because I was out of gas.  A gaggle of boys walked up to my car and started looking in it as some kids used a funnel to pour gas in my tank; I looked up and said, “please help me get out of here.”  I handed one of the kids some pesos, got in my car, sped off like a BAT OUT OF HELL.

It’s not scary like this anymore to drive though Mexico, but there are different scares; the drug wars and their escalating violence have dumped out into the highways and public venues.  I would not drive through Mexico today but back then I did it about three times by myself.  Never again.  The scariest incident was probably when crossing the border at Laredo, a bunch of guys ambushed my Nissan Pathfinder and dumped black oil on the windshield and then all jumped on my truck to rock it — and they ROCKED it.  I screamed as I peaked through a tiny portion of the windshield and hit the gas.  They eventually jumped off and I drove with the black oil on my windshield for about 20 miles; until I felt I would actually take my foot off the gas pedal and stop to wash the window.  Terrifying. What was I thinking?

The San Miguel de Allende I live in now and over the past few years was very different from my beginning years here.  The relationship with Juan lasted about two years and then I was a starving artist.  Mostly starving. I then met a big laughing Texan who I found sitting in the streets one day, and his name was Reed.  I had no idea who he was or what he was all about, but I immediately loved his kind eyes.

And now here I am visiting him as his ex-wife but one of his closest friends.  My life has changed drastically since we parted ways in Corpus Christi, Texas in 2008; I’ve often wondered who that girl was that was unable to accept happiness in any form. It is only now that it is starting to make sense to me and if possible, I want to make amends for that girl and her short-comings.  I was not a bad person; I was just messed up and unable to be at peace in the world — no matter what I had in front of me.  I believe I always preferred the struggle — but had I been told that, I would have flown off the handle in rebuttal.

This is the most non-crazy I have ever felt in my life — and I like it.  Being back here in San Miguel has given me a chance to make amends and how wonderful is that? I have been punishing myself for years for being a lousy wife and now I can do my part to be a better person to myself and those who love me.  I don’t know that there will be a next time for me to see Reed, so I am making the most of this time here with him, in his home, in San Miguel de Allende.

When I first arrived in November, I celebrated with him and our friends and made a glorious Thanksgiving feast, but soon after I realized this was not who I am anymore, and so I have resumed my search and exploration of the higher vibrational side of life.  Reed looks at me funny now, but I suppose he always has. I am peaceful and enjoy creating a peaceful environment — even in the middle of his outrageous chaos.

I am going to stay a while longer.  It’s 25 degrees in Chicago and 75 degress here in Central Mexico.  I’ve done the math and decided to stay, xoxo.

All Aboard the WOO-WOO Train!

meagburnt ham

Being your true self is the coolest decision you’ll ever make.  — my yoga teacher, Leslie.

That’s it! I have officially acknowledged myself as a WOO-WOO. I have the sweat and guts and tears to prove it and I couldn’t be more delighted about it!  This is my reality and I have decided to finally embrace it.

I uploaded my first vlog about my past few months and I look forward to adding this medium to the mix, because sometimes words should be spoken. I recently attended a night of storytelling by three seasoned storytellers and it really moved me.  Good ol’fashion spoken stories, like the days before we all stared at tiny electronic screens.  No really, something in my heart jumped, I loved it.  I’m knocking around the idea of trying this artform live on stage — a lost art that appears to be making a comeback and I welcome it.  From wiki:

Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, and images, often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and instilling moral values.  Crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plot, characters and narrative point of view.”

I also watched a beautifully made documentary, “Mythic Journeys” that looks at the role of mythology and mysticism in modern society and storytelling — very informative and pretty too!

mythic-journeysr

Twenty years ago I embarked on a spiritual quest that took me from Chicago to San Francisco to Europe and back; I learned so many incredible lessons about growing up, relationships, personal responsibility, shamanism, religion, spirituality, the 12 Steps, Gabrielle Roth’s 5 Rhythms, FeldenkraisLaw of Attraction, ETC., so now I am adding on this foundation I started a few decades ago.  I admitantly walked away from all of it for about a decade.  I was frustrated and felt like nothing was working.  This past decade had it’s own lessons and the journey carries on.  How lucky am I that I have this opportunity? Thankyou Universe! xo

I participated in a “Trust Your Vibes” workshop with Sonia Choquette this past weekend and also saw Sonia in London a few months ago.  She is brilliant and her courses require brutal honesty, something I have now become prepared to face.  This is not easy.  I saw Sonia 20 years ago before I moved to San Francisco and I recall only ONE THING she said to me, “I would suggest eating more spicy foods because you are smothering yourself with all your self-imposed rules and your soul wants to live.”  Lord that was true, I was the biggest food nazi around and I’m happy to say that even though the search for healthy foods is a wee challenging, I do allow myself some comfort foods because I no longer think it’s cool to punish myself.

There’s no lying about this; this is no weekend-warrior-self-help-workshop-stuff that allows me to compartmentalize my internal calling for knowledge and compassion, and then allow me to slip back into the comfortably numb mentality, come Monday morning. No Siree Bub, this is all or nothing and as much as it’s kicking my ass, I have officially surrendered to the process, have great trust in the plan and am super-excited about the adventure that lies ahead.

I’ve lost it all and I’m not dead or nor without hope.  I still have a sparkle in my eye ;D

I also respect all the folks who are doing the weekend workshops and whatnot to improve their personal well-being, because I believe my years of participating in those made me ready for the commitment to greater health possible today.  Baby steps.  I applaud them and take them.

In this weekend workshop, I broke through some huuuuge barriers and let my intuition (read: psychic) flag fly high — I loved it and have been told that now that I’m proudly waving it, there’s no going back.  It was brilliant and I saw and learned things I will never forget.  I will write about these experiences some day, as soon as I swallow them all.

The other day I received a “thanks-but-no” letter about a job I believed I was P-E-R-F-E-C-T for, and also heard absolute crickets on another job I was really hoping to hear a good word on.  After a good cry and stomp-about over a slap of rejection, I stood up and said, “FUCK IT, LET’S GO HAVE SOME FUN MEAG.”

I am off to San Miguel de Allende tomorrow to climb the Mexican mountainside, breathe the high altitude air, swim in the healing hot spring waters and cook a turkey dinner with my ex-husband, whom I still adore and am very excited to see.

View of lovely San Miguel de Allende, from the Rosewood Hotel
View of lovely San Miguel de Allende, from the Rosewood Hotel

ANDALE! Happy Thanksgiving, peace to all.  Don’t forget…… I see you!! xoxo

Gifts of mom’s death; gratitude

love

Since my mom’s death, I’ve come to know gratitude. And LOVE. On an entirely new level. By way of crawling through the murkiness of pain and sorrow.  But there has also been some true moments of happiness.

Am I happy my mom died? No of course not. I’m still completely surprised that I occasionally burst out in tears when a thought about my mom pops in my head. Or I see something. Or smell something.  No one is more surprised by this than me – I honestly thought I was prepared for my mom’s death because she seemed to be sitting around waiting for Mr. Reaper to knock on her door and take her away.  I don’t knock myself for having these outbursts; I’m studied enough to know that grief knows no bounds and we are all wrapped up in grief at some level and no need to resist it, otherwise it festers and rears it’s head in other ways. So I don’t mind the tears. They do surprise me, however.

I’m okay with surprises.

My mom’s death was such a wake-up call and continues to flood my thoughts and dreams with new ideas.  Eight months before my mom duked out her last duke, I was being pulled by forces to change my life, yet I completely resisted at the time.  I even felt damned by what I thought was “happening to me”.  A year later, it’s starting to make sense as I continue to make more changes, because now I’m on a mission and feel compelled to acknowledge that which royally pissed me off a year ago.

I honestly believe I was being yanked by a higher power – angels to be exact – to become a better person; a better version of Meagan, because on so many levels, I was drowning and had given up. I remember saying to myself, “I give up. No really, I’m done.”  That’s pretty clear, eh?

I had no passion and a seriously low low low energetic vibration; I cared very little about what was going on around me – AND I was harboring a truckload of shame for having been fired from some jobs. Holy-moley, who was I if I didn’t have a job I could brag about?  Even if I didn’t have a date, at least I had a job.  I was losing things to be excited about and could feel the sparkle oozing out of my being – and I have always been a sparkly person, so this was heart-breaking for me.  No job, no relationship since my divorce, no money, no home of my own…. Who am I and seriously, what happened?

The entire 2012 year feels like it was in a state of suspension, and looking back, I now understand bit more.  I was being prompted to empty out my life and look ahead.  Look above. Look behind.  Look up.

I fought this. I was angry. Not anymore. I like the view.

In January 2013, my mom needed me. She had not wanted me around for years. But now she had no choice – my twin uncles had recently died (ouch) and my two brothers were in Phoenix. She had no choice but me. I went immediately.

It’s been eight months since she died and I can honestly say this has been the most gut-wrenching time of my life, with mom’s death being the frosting on my cake of gloom, but it has also rocked my soul to the core and I am forever grateful for this HUUUGE wake up call.

I have mentioned it before (and will not in the future), but I had this habit of getting fired from jobs, in addition to quitting a few.  I went my whole life without getting fired (well there was that one office job that I was fired from after the Christmas party, but that’s a story for another day) and then in a matter of about two years, I was fired three times.  I also quit two other jobs.  That’s a boatload of jobs in a very short time, Ladies and Gentlemen!

It was a revolving door of drama and heartache, and I had no idea how to stop the rollercoaster because I was so desperate and ashamed about being fired.  I jumped into action immediately and was able to get a new job wham-bam, but I was not bothering to ask if I was right for the job or if I even wanted to work for this company or with it’s people. I had no time to think about these things, so the universe sorted this out for me. QUICKLY.

“Hello, you’re hired!”
“Hey, you’re fired, there’s the door!”

When I was fired seven weeks ago, I completely slammed on the brakes and decided to take a much needed time out.  I struggle with this because there’s a part of me that feels guilty for not working, but there is a much larger part of me that is completely committed to getting stronger, smarter, healthier and in touch with what I really should be doing.

I am completely grateful I have a spot of time to do my soul searching and a quiet, calm place out in the country.

So many bittersweet gifts since my mom’s death.

I have been marching around my entire life thinking I understood certain things about life and how things had to get done.  I had accepted this mostly, and was quietly and numbly going about life and losing a bit more steam each year.

And then….. and then my mom apologized for being mean to me before she died. Wished she had been nicer to me. Said she was wrong about me. Was so, so, so happy I made spaghetti at her place instead of eating out.

Funny what sticks out.

With this apology, I was knocked flat on my back for a good number of days and to this present day, I am still decoding this newfound vision and my strong, peppy heartbeat that beats vibrantly in my now strong rib cage.

My mom gave me the gift of love and I had no idea I had been living without it. I am enjoying having an invigorated pulse at this stage in life.  I understand now with much greater compassion that my mom lived a loveless life herself and it breaks my heart when I think of it, but she made amends where she could and I am forever grateful.

She was smart. Unburden yourself before you go.

Now I have an opportunity to live with vim, vigor, zest, laughter, curiosity, wonder and passion! All the things that felt natural to me as a kid (let’s be honest, this feels natural to every kid)  and I’m totally embracing it again, like it’s my birthday! (jaja)

birthday

This is the reason I have stepped off the fast-moving train of life to re-examine everything.  I have become softer, more thoughtful, slower and happier.  My laugh has improved. No really, make me laugh and you will see! I prefer being outside in nature and eating lots of healthy greens. I read and write poetry. I read a ton of books. I adore silence. I watch zero tv and avoid all gossip sites. I still read Twitter! Can’t live in outer space ALL THE TIME.  I am taking several classes right now that are helping me feel better. I am s-l-o-w-l-y finding new social circles. I quit drinking and smoking – something the angels were giving me SUCH a hard time about. I couldn’t do these things anymore without feeling like hell on earth, so I happily gave them up. I thought it would be hard. It wasn’t.

The next job I take will be a job that has meaning to me.  Or I will create something myself — this is in the works.  I still don’t have all the answers but these things are true:

I am happier now than I have ever been in my adult life.  I am at peace. I enjoy little things. I am not afraid of the holidays.  Nor the water, or being out in nature. I am not worried about being fired again. I will not go hungry.  I am awesome! I really want to help others.  I am super-super-super excited about the autumn and winter of my life because it has been and will continue to be magical.

Have I mentioned the faeries that have appeared in my life? Yes. The faeries. The angels too! They call me Snow White when I go out in the woods; the birds, the trees, the clouds – they are all talking to me and I love it!

xoxo.

Press Into Me

red

Press into me one more time

My firey leaves are quivering at the cusp

Soon my house will be gray and dull

And winds will remind how cracked I am

 

But not now.

Maybe not ever again.

Look around, who else is this red?

Press into me before I go …

 

I’m waiting.

 

 

 

Energy Balls UP O’Hare!

faeryhouse

So today is the day I head off to London for a week in pursuit of all things sparkly… because I decided months ago I want the autumn and winter of my life to be magical.  It’s only been a few months and it’s almost surreal, the magic I have witnessed.  It’s true, it can happen! A head’s up however; should you too decide you want the remainder of your life to be magical, be prepared for a backlash.  It’s 2013, and a lot of people have completely given up on magic, let alone wanting to begin to believe it may be true for anyone else – some people actually think I am nuts and I do not care.  If being nuts means having a child-like wonder and curiosity for life, then it’s true, I’M NUTS.

I recently discovered Signe Pike‘s awesome book that is loaded in my Kindle called, “Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World” and it has been such a perfect read for me.  This morning when I took Henry to his vacation ranch for the week, this marvelous faery house greeted me at the end of the walk way and I immediately looked around for faeries because it was that ‘tween hour. Nothing but dew drops and an unmade bed! (jaja)  More proof that I don’t have to chase the magic, it is right in front of me if I open my eyes.  My eyes are open and I am awake 8-D

The past few months have been filled with quite an education on both a personal and professional level.  I just ended my participation on a project that had an ongoing opportunity, but I knew it was not a good fit for me, so I gracefully backed out.  I’ve been fired three times in the past year.  I have lived, breathed, sweated and cried rejection.  It hasn’t killed me, made me to go hungry nor homeless, so now I follow my heart and learn about the things that make me happy.  Right now that’s a thing called MAGIC.

Andale let’s go; ENERGY BALLS UP O’HARE!

Energy Balls… got ’em?

Slacker Meag

The urge to label myself as lazy or unproductive may be at the tip of my tongue, but I am refusing to let those words or thoughts slip through, because I am not lazy nor unproductive, nor am I a slacker.  Although one may arrive at that impression if you were to look at the surface of my life — a regular Life of Riley as it were, but let’s be honest: no one is really sizing up my life with nearly the critical eye as my very own critical eye.

That stops now. I have made a promise to myself that I will not lambast myself anymore. I have been filling my head with some incredible books, words, lessons, music, activities, exercises, ETCETERA, all in a headstrong dedication to raise my vibration, because in order to live a magical yet smart, smart, smart life, I need to operate and thrive on a much higher level on consciousness.

Energy. Energy Balls.  Energy balls are atoms.  Everything in our world is made up of atoms.  Including every single person in the world. Everything is atoms, moving around at various frequencies, which creates their density.  The slower the frequency, the lower the vibration. The lower the vibration, the darker the energy.  The darker the energy, the more depressed it is OR SOMETHING LIKE THIS AND COULD I BUY SOME POT FROM YOU????

I am kidding because I hate pot — but it’s true I sometimes get so wrapped up in these conversations about energy balls, I feel like I’m tripping the light fantastic on some transcendental meditation exploration hippy trip — and I love it!  Years ago I threw myself into books, workshops and seminars on the Laws of Attraction and saw some pretty powerful fruitions come to be.  My San Francisco years were achieved by practicing these principles and I truly enjoyed those years and all that I learned. But I am absorbing this on an entirely new level now and strongly believe it is because of the extraordinary experience of witnessing my mom’s death, which snapped me out of my post-divorce, post-Mexico funk. I am ready to be in the world again. And this time it’s going to be magical.  It already is — I have seen magic!

To raise my energy, I do yogaqui gong, breathing exercises, reiki, walking in nature (LOVE) and meditation – which is still challenging, but I’m always learning and staying open to new lessons as I quiet the noise in my head.  I am in a seven-week online  TAPPING course right now, and this is pretty powerful stuff as well.  Tapping on meridian points, who knew? As far as books, there  are so many books on the subject it could make your head explode, but these days I rely on my intuition because it has proven to be trust worthy.  The first one I was drawn to was an ebook, written by Caroline Shearer of Absolute Love Publishing.

I found the first one, “Raise Your Vibration: Tips & Tools for a High-Frequency Life“, downloaded it and devoured it almost immediatley.  I like her writing style because she sounds like she would be a girlfriend of mine.  It’s real!  I then followed her/her publishing company on all the social media channels and soon learned that Absolute Love Publishing was offering to give away some of their books in exchange for a review. Voila! I was planning on reading them anyways, but now I had access to them on the spot!

I followed up my reading with the next book in the series, “Raise Your Verbal Vibration: Create the Life You Want with Law of Attraction Language“.  This book is spectacular for making you aware of what current language you are using and how it may be negatively affecting you and also provides a broad list of alternative words. I have printed this list of words out and pinned above my desk (Pinterest in real life!) so I can easily reference them — I also read them aloud to my dog every morning.  He enjoys this activity. 😉

Next up was, “Raise Your Financial Vibration: Tips and Tools to Embrace Your Infinite Spiritual Abundance“. When it comes to the topic of money, earning power and guilt, there’s no shortage of issues over here.  As women, we are not supposed to talk about money but our generation of mothers (generally speaking), did not offer a great education, nor dialogue on earning money and how to manage it.  Money is energy as well and yet another relationship in our lives.  And my relationship has not been so great. That changes now!

The past few years have been really challenging for me; I have not been stably employed or otherwise engaged in about two years, and so my finances have been running amuck.  I have made great effort in the past few months to tackle some old haunting issues and have succeeded!  And while I celebrated this victory, there is more work to do.  First steps are to get my money issues OUT OF THE CLOSET and face them head on.

When I read this quote in the book, I knew I was reading the right book, “We are in a time when the world is hanging precipitously. Not in a financial sense, but in an energetic sense, and this is because we are beginning to understand that where our energy goes, our reality will follow.”

These books are really a very basic and elementary lessons, delivered gently yet firmly and rooted in a nice balance of spirituality, which is important to me.  But these lessons, I believe, are so very easy to ignore.  No one really wants to belittle ourselves on a daily basis, but it’s amazing how quickly we do just this.  I am punishing myself for things that happened years and years ago that no one but ME even remembers.  I don’t want to do this anymore.

I met my spirit guides fairly recently, even some of my angels, and I have been advised to stop the practice of Meag-Bashing.  DONE.  Of course I can only do this with a little help from my friends…

friends

Squinty Eye

Squinty Eye

 I saw his eye, in the squinty squinty sun

I thought it might be dead

The cicadas and spiders are changing their guards

Even the mosquitos have become fat and slow

But not that eye, in the squnity squinty sun

I saw it grow.

Take me to your Leader, but make sure he’s not Nuts!

spiritual awakening, larkabouts, grief, creativity, wellness, meagburnt,

Here’s the thing: tell someone you believe in UFOs and that’s perfectly acceptable.  It’s out there, it’s controversial, it’s vague, it’s elusive, it’s relative, it has hard evidential proof, it has changed some people’s lives forever, it’s got a slew of groupies…. and it’s perfectly acceptable to most if this is what your floats your boat and what you want to devote your personal time to.

But mention you’re having a “spiritual awakening” and people may give you the side-eye and back away slowly.  Because that’s crazy — or I’m crazy because I am starting to see and feel some results (wow that’s a lousy word to use in the context of spiritual awakening!) of all the personal work I have been doing.  The meditation.  The yoga. The breathing. The walking. The reading. The energy experiments. The changing of my diet. The re-routing of my normal thinking patterns (Lordy this is HAAAAARD).  And the silence.  Ohhh the loads of silence I have come to adore and require now, just as I require air to breath.

Silence

Why is it that an actual spiritual awakening is somewhat mistrusted?  I’ve seen eyebrows go up and felt the proverbial, “ah boy, we lost her.” sentiment because I’ve mentioned, in my joyous exaltation, that my beginner’s mind is starting to see and feel some magical new ways of thinking — and I could NOT be more thrilled about this.  These ways of existing in the world have always been available to me, just as they are to you, but I am discovering for the first time because I am practicing new principles. And I became ready. But it’s not perfect nor pain-free! Ahh but it IS perfect for right now.

This reaction… well it’s ironic if you ask me, because many people strive for a more spiritual way of being; in their personal relationships, in their careers, in their every level of life — because it’s cool, and I completley agree.  Twitter is rampant with quotes and retweets of our spiritual leaders and beyond — because it IS COOL to talk about being spiritual.  It’s not cool to be religious; but spiritual is awesome — because religious is crazy, right?  And don’t even think about getting crazy about being spiritual, because that’s just nuts!!

Although when it arrives — if it arrives, it may perhaps change the way you tweet, change the way you participate in the world, rock the very core of your foundation, make you burst out in tears for no other reason except that the love thumping in your veins can’t be contained; it may force you to spontaneously hug people and trees, walk around on your hands at the beach and then blow your head up right off your shoulders.

Sunrise Yoga

This is what I have been experiencing lately.  And I like it. Except the bit about my head blowing up. That has not happened. Yet.

I spent my late twenties and early thirties searching for a spiritual awakening and never found it, much to my chagrin. I worked with shamans, I became a diligent student of religious science, I participated in drumming circles, had soul retrievals, spent countless hours on a therapist’s couch — because I was convinced that something was wrong with me and that a spiritual awakening would be my way out of it.

But it has occurred to me: I don’t want to read the biography of a person who has not lived a full life; where they’ve not crawled through their own personal never-ending hell and survived, not celebrated to excess and beyond when success was achieved — and survived; and everything in between. Perhaps no one is allowed to have a spiritual awakening until life has been lived in all corners of darkness and light.  I don’t think I’m anywhere near my end, nor sampled all corners, but I have done my fair sharing of crawling and celebrating. Perhaps not in that order.

I sat with my mom when she died and was with my two twin uncles when they died — separately — as well; all within the past recent years.  I saw things happen to them as they were “transitioning”.  I had emotional conversations with each of them that seared my core; my mom knocked me out of the park with her parting words for a couple of weeks.  I saw “someone” come get them, “be” with each of them and even shine a light on my mom’s face when there was no light. I absolutely HAD to change the way I participated in my world because of these experiences.  It was very different for each of them — I can only sum it up by saying their spirit was delivered by whom it should have been delivered. errrr something like that!

My Three Holy Ghosts:

My Three Holy Ghosts

I have also been fired from three jobs in the past year as well — I even quit one job, so these past few years have completely made my head spin round and round and round. And cry and cry. Although I shed no tears for this last job — I was on my way, so the feeling was mutual.

I’m currently living in Woodstock, Illinois (although I watch the sunset in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin when I can) and I have honestly made peace with this town that I once despised, and even thanked Mayor Brian Sager for a job well done last week.  I met him at Woodstock’s festival nod to Broadway; he and his administration have really opened up theater options in Woodstock, as well as welcoming more new businesses in town. The day was much like a day right out of the pages of “Waiting for Guffman.” and I was tickled! I no longer have angst for this little town and have honestly enjoyed my time here.  The aforementioned silence can be found in this town, as well as in the surrounding area towns I once hated while growing up, but ahhhh no longer 🙂

Mayor Woodstock

I was hoping to leave Woodstock now that I have made peace with it, but with the recent lose of yet another job, I find I must stay put a while longer.  Apparently I have not yet learned what I have come here to learn in my little hometown neck of the nape, and OY please don’t make it last forever!  Because I hear the call of the West.

I recently stumbled upon this video and it stopped me cold in my tracks because….. well because I have experienced ALL of these things in the past few weeks — and I’ll be honest, it’s a bit scary at times.  Somedays I have no idea who I am and where I’m headed, but I have faith. I have faith!

… so ask me if I have any idea who I am right now.

And I will say I AM MEAGAN BURNS!! My eyes are open and I love it! These experiences with death have showed me a beautiful side of life, even if I can’t stop getting fired! I have never felt more sane in my life…

meagburnt sept 13

I feel tremendous gratitude for all the people that have helped me through these past few months and I keep meeting more and more of these kindred souls; I am excited to learn more through them and with them.  Below is a list of a few of the books that have also helped me through some of these issues, but don’t forget about being silly and laughing!  Because really, why else keep plugging along if you can’t laugh about it? xoxo

Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet
Marianne Williamson: A Return to Love
Marianne Williamson: The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money and Miracles
Cheryle Strayed: WILD
Doreen Virtue’s Angel Therapy
Denise Linn: Soul Coaching
Gerry Gavin: Messages from Margaret
Sabrina Reber: How to Raise Your Vibration
Caroline Shearer: Raise Your Vibration: Tips and Tools for a High-Frequency Life
Dr. Christiane Northup: Lightening the Mother Load: Healing Strategies for Daughters
Dr. Steven D. Farmer: Animal Spirit Guides (I AM A TIGER RAWWWWWRRRRR)
Pam Grout: E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments 

In a blink of an eye

Hard to believe it’s been six months since my mom died; some days it feels like just minutes ago I was with her in her hospital room, trying to pry her hands off of her bed rail because they were turning purple.  Yet other days it feels like she’s been gone for ages.  I have learned so much in the past few months; the lessons have come in all sizes and shapes and I honestly hope this journey continues to reveal itself. I feel like I am finally growing up but not in a snore-bore sorta-way. In a way that has eluded me for years but somehow is tapping open my heart now.  I’ve paid off some old bills as well, so I suppose that’s rather snore-bore but it felt tremendous to take care of some old financial haunts. I’m almost there!

I am 47 and both my parents are dead.  Many of the things I used to care about; I don’t anymore.  Some things have fallen to the wayside; others have become more omni-important.  I am less afraid in the world.  To be less afraid has been a very powerful gift and I’m so very grateful for this gift of confidence.

I was terrified of the water. I was afraid to be out in the country all by myself.  I used to call the police when I was out in the country and they would say to me, “do you realize that’s the wind?”  I used to be afraid of silence because of all the voices I could hear.

One of my most favorite things now is to be out in the country, sitting in a lake all by myself, listening to the silence and wise voices that I hear.  It’s true!

In a lake

I took a new job two months ago because I believed so much in the product; the problem is, is that I did not believe in the company. And it turns out they did not believe in me, so we have recently parted ways.  As shocking as this may seem to some, it really felt like the absolute right thing to have happened. What now?

This will be very hard for me to do but I have been instructed not to do anything for a week.  This goes against everything in me — because I want to poke around and completely over-analyze the situation.  Instead I am going to focus on raising my vibration.

Raising my vibration.  It’s happening. I am clearing my chakras. Raising the roof.  Awakening the heart.  Mindful meditation — I am finally getting it where I don’t think of sex the entire time!  Breathing from my toes. Reaching for the stars. Feeling the gratitude.  Sharing kindness.  Sending love.  The Grinch when he discovered the true meaning of Christmas? Yeah, me.  I wasn’t a hater like him, but I swear somedays I think my heart is going to burst of my ribcage.

lark

I feel alive on a level I have never experienced before and I want to devour the world.  I have taken a break or pause from social media but I am ready to be visible again.  I am also taking a reiki class and studying angels since they have decided to visit me.  Yes, angels. I no longer care if that makes me sound crazy because it makes me happy.

It’s really my mom’s criticism I hear when I decide I want to pursue things that make me happy. My mom never understood my pursuits but in the end she apologized for being mean to me and wished she had been nicer.  Her gift to me was realizing she had been wrong about me.  This has changed something deep inside of me. I have walked around my entire life thinking my mom thought I was crazy – or didn’t like me.  This is not the case, she loved me and only wished she had the expression that I have always had.  This realization has changed everything about my life.  In turn, I am going to be nicer to me and not criticize my pursuits.

It is an amazing gift when a parent apologizes before they die. I understand that many people do not get this gift and I am completely grateful my mom had the heart to say something to me.

I am committed to making the autumn and winter of my life magical. An angel appeared on my arm by way of a rogue doodle and told me to believe. I believe…

angel arm

Meditation is Hard — But Getting Softer

happy happy

I have dabbled in meditation here and there over the years but it wasn’t until this past February that I found myself sitting in the local buddhist temple, which is a strikingly peaceful oasis to sit and soak in the silence.  And to begin my foray back into mediation.  These Buddhist Monks hail from Sri Lanka and I can’t pronounce any of their names except I have recently learned that the equivalent of “Father Sujatha” is “Bhante Sujatha” so I find it’s safest to call each of them “Bhante.”

Bhantes

A few months ago it was all I needed to sit in the beautiful temple to attempt to quiet my mind, which ping-ponged all over the place like a mad chicken on crack.  I was all over the place so the silence did my mind and body good, and I probably tweaked and twitched as I sat there in the silence.  It doesn’t matter, any and all are welcome at this temple and I totally appreciate the warm welcome they gave me.

As the weeks unraveled and I began to recover from everything that had happened over the past year, I was having more and more questions for the Monks and requiring more direction.  Three nights per week they host silent mediations, followed up by a talk from Bhante Sujatha, if he is in town or one of the others.  When Bhante speaks, he refers to the benefits of his mediation and how he is able to allow things to bounce off him and not bother him and is accepting of most situations in life; he is always harmonious with life.  These are my words and not his; he would never say something so arrogant as this.  I’m sure of it.

My questions during class hover around, “so in order to get to this place of acceptance, can you suggest maybe five or six ways to achieve this through mediation?”  No, just continue to practice and you will see.  “But my thoughts stampede out to the wildest situations, usually sexual in nature or something along those lines, but it is never still, always racing.”  Just keep coming here and you will see.

This worked for a few weeks but I knew that I was in need of some direction, because I really want to reign in my thoughts and quiet the mind. I’ve had glimpses of this in the recent past and know it’s possible, so my desire led me to search for more.  It led me to google things!

Another benefit of the exploration years in San Francisco is that I used to take T’ai Chi lessons in the park in the early mornings and I remembered how calming it was for me.  I googled t’ai chi and soon stumbled upon Qi Gong, another Asian healing art I studied briefly a long time ago and was drawn to it because it’s referred to as the Mother of T’ai Chi.

LeeHolden

It didn’t take long for me to have an A HA moment and realize this is where I wanted to spend my time.  I googled deeper into Qi Gong and discovered Lee Holden.  He has a few free youtubes and I was hooked with 7 Minutes of Magic that was filmed in Sand Harbor Beach in Lake Tahoe, as well as taking a class at the Temple.  I knew I was starting to wake up because for the first time in a very long time, I was ready to go some where.  I went to South Lake Tahoe.  I climbed a mountain. I did Qi Gong. T’ai Chi. Yoga. Mountain Biking. Hot springs. Ate organic salads. Had a blast!

 

Of course I made a Vine too (I am @meagburnt on Vine)
meagburnt Vine Lake Tahoe

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OvA9Hg9u8w&feature=em-upload_owner

Since returning home I signed up for Lee’s online classes because his world head quarters are in Santa Cruz, California. Or perhaps it’s his studio!  I am going to give myself 30-days to stick with it — and if I do, I will pursue taking more IRL classes.  So far, the lessons have been wonderful and my QI is starting to wake up!

No seriously, this is serious.  I am enjoying every minute of this.  After this morning’s meditation I felt the qi rising in my cheeks and shins like I had never felt them before in my life.  Who’s body is this?  It’s mine! xo

Here’s Henry the day I came home from Lake Tahoe, he was soooooooo excited to see me, he went airborne!  His qi is incredible too …

LT_larkabouts_13

Going Green, Take Two

I've been waving to the sunsets for decades now; here's me in Big Sur in 1998
I’ve been waving to the sunset for decades now; here’s me in Big Sur in 1998

When I think back to the last half of 2012, it occurs to me that I was in a rather suspended mode and did not make many waves as I waited for yet another holiday season to roll on by.  I knew something was up with my mom, but I was not allowed to get too close, so I numbed it out of my mind.  I remember walking out of my office and I could feel my feet walking down the sidewalk, but it felt like my head was staying in the same place.  I was trapped in a tunnel.  It’s all rather surreal when I think back, because it was literally right after the holidays ended that my mom went south, after her youngest brother went into the hospital and was told he had about a week to live.  Tom did not make it past three days and the night of his funeral was when I first had to bring my mom to the Emergency Room.  They told me they couldn’t keep Mom, they said excruciating pain was not enough of a reason to admit someone.  WHAT?

It was a snowy Friday January evening; I took the bus home across the Loop and arrived at my West Loop neighborhood in record time.  I didn’t want to go upstairs just yet; I don’t even know why because I never usually hesitated.  I walked through the alley behind Girl & The Goat because I didn’t feel like looking at all the beautiful people on Randolph going to dinner.  I smoked a cigarette in the alley and it tasted God awful, I couldn’t even finish it but I held it and looked at it in the falling snow.  I hated that thing.  I flicked it at the dumpster and made my way home.

Twenty minutes later the call came in that Mom was really sick and I needed to head out there.  Ninety minutes later I was there with mom.

I took a leave of absence from my job.  A job I knew I was not right for, but so many of us know that we are not right for a job and do it anyways because it’s 2013, and dammit we should be grateful that we have a job at all, so fake it ’til you make it.  All bets were off when my mom got sick, I knew the gig was up.  I will make amends for this when the time is right.

Now it’s the middle of May and I have radically changed almost everything about my life.  My current reading and doing list:

Crazy, Sexy Diet by Kris Carr
(Eat your veggies, ignite your spark and live like you mean it!)

The Rainforest by Victor W. Hwang and Greg Horowitt
(The secret to building the next Silicon Valley)

Soak Your Nuts
(Karyn’s Conscious Comfort Foods and Recipes for Everyday Life)

Astrology for Beginners (just because!)

The Holy Bible (I pick it up, give it a side-eye, then toss it aside)

Modern Qi Gong by Lee Holden
(a 27-part online series to learn & live the basics of Qi Gong — wonderful to learn how to breathe from my toes and awaken the Qi)

Mother Daughter Wisedom by Dr. Christine Northup
(
also attending the Doctor’s 4-part workshop on Lightening the Motherload, which has been super super helpful and freeing)

I’ve changed my eating, drinking, breathing, address, job and spare time since my mom passed away.  I go to yoga, I meditate with Buddhist Monks, I hike the hills (mounds?) of McHenry and Walworth Counties and every day I learn something new about where our food comes from and how screwed up the American food system is today and I am trying to discover a healthier ways through this.  I teach social media at a creativity incubator and also am doing in-store demonstrations for a smart phone company (I made this connection while at a funeral, so always remember to keep your options open).

I was Meagan the Vegan many years ago when I lived in San Francisco; however things were so very different back, but then again not really.  The cool thing to do was to jump on the “John Robbins, “Diet for a New America” bandwagon; I did it and I loved it, but I think I took everything too far as I was known to do. This was when I first learned how wrong the American diet was (is!), how proper food combining was necessary to thrive, all about food allergies and how poisonous Baskin & Robbins ice cream is to a body.  I soon became convinced I was addicted and allergic to everything under the sun.  I attended 12-step meetings, saw several therapists, tried different religions, worked with shamans in the forest, went to women’s drumming circles, had soul retrievals, studied expressive creative dance, did ecstasy naked on the beaches of Big Sur with hippies, rode my bike all over Northern California (mostly because I didn’t have a car for the first two years) — honestly it was an incredible time in my life and I will never forget the San Francisco years.  I worked in SOMA’s South Park neighborhood (the exact park where Twitter and Instagram were born!) as a 35mm slide designer and then I tripped the holistic light fantastic at night and on weekends.  I lived in Mill Valley with my pastry chef boyfriend and rode my bike to the Sausalito ferry to ride across the bay each day, right on past Alcatraz Island — could there be a more beautiful start the morning?  No! It was cold of course, but absolutely gorgeous.

So here I am going green again twenty years later and I am basically re-learning everything — which is the cool part because I always love a challenge, and naturally it’s all different.  My mother is dead now.

I don’t say that flippantly.  Losing my mother was such an incredible kick in the guts, I was so not prepared. Even though I thought I was and had been preparing myself for the past two years.   The lessons have been hige; my mom’s death is teaching me so much about myself and about life.  I am extremely grateful for this bittersweet message that has changed my life.

I am not saying that it isn’t difficult for sons, but the mother-daughter connection is such a powerful connection, even if the two were not friends. My mom and I were occasionally friends, but mostly not.   I’ve been amazed at some of the stories I’ve learned in the past few months; both heart -breaking and inspiring.  Never in a million years would I have thought it would be me to have a complete meltdown after my mom died, in fact I would have wagered big money that I would NOT be the one to lose it.  No Siree Bub, not me.

I did lose it.  But I quickly crawled up to gasp for air and asked for help in turning my life around.  I was in bad shape. Not on the outside necessarily, but my insides were all topsy-turvy.  I was empty and then shattered.  My mom apologized for being so mean to me for so many years.  She apologized.  I laughed at her when she said it, but it was a nervous laughter because I did not know how to respond.  Then I saw the look in her eye.  She looked away and stared out to nowhere with an empty sadness in her eye.  I knew she meant it.  I knew right then that she was going to die soon.

I was fired twice in 2012 from two shitty jobs, and these back-to-back firings were very challenging to recover from their blows. I didn’t get fired for lack of trying, that’s for sure.  I took this last job out of desperation — even my co-worker mentioned that I seemed “very hungry” when I first started working with the group.  It’s true, I was literally hungry and scared because I had to sell my truck, my jewelry and anything else of value to stay afloat.  It was very scary and I avoided calling my mom for several months because I did not want her to worry.

My Monk buddies tell me there is no such thing as being “balanced”, there is only “balancing” – I agree!  I will continue to attempt to balance things through thick and thin, but I realize there will be challenges and setbacks, along with the successes, and perhaps those setbacks may require a strawberry sundae.  It’s starting to sound less and less appealing but perhaps some rainy day may call for a cheeseburger to make things feel alright.

I couldn’t be more inspired than I am right now to live a right life.  I don’t expect perfection, in fact I don’t want perfection   — I want the real deal.  I intend to remain soft, spongey and teachable as I enter the autumn of my life.  I want this to be the best time of my life and live well for both myself and my Spirit Sister; my mom Juls.

Spring has grown legs, finally!

larkabouts magnnolia

May has finally warmed things up in the Midwest after a never-ending winter, and now the buds, blossoms and green fields are singing everywhere —  I have even spotted a real live elbow or two (a sure sign of spring) while out and about.  I am on Month Two Point Five of my “time out” from the city and I continue to make good on the promise to myself that I would not get bored. Outside of work and school, I intend to find new people, places and things and interesting things to do.  People live here for a reason, right?

I’ll be honest; Northern Illinois bores me to absolute tears.  I know I am not long for this area because I am here for a reason and I am dedicated to discovering things that I had not known while growing up, nor back for ocassional visits.   I’ve officially made peace with Woodstock, but c’mon you all drive me crazy Illinois.

When I go to grocery stores and ask if they have organic vegetables, they look at me as if I am the Creature from the Black Lagoon.  A produce guy said to me, “I’ve been eating these pesticides my whole life and nothing has happened to me!”  I laughed, said “me too!” and sashayed away. We’ve all been eating them but now it’s time to stop, Bubs!  I don’t expect it to be Organic Town USA here, but I do enjoy the conversations it can encourage.  Northern Illinois has a huge resistance to it.

I have never understood McHenry County and probably never will.  I went to the local community college because I heard they had a map of all the county trails but when I pulled into the main parking lot, I almost fell out of my car.  Literally.  They had created a mock-cemetery in the front yard of all the babies aborted.  There were vicious signs everywhere.  I was aghast.  At the community college.  eeee-gads.  I’ve often commented that it feels more like Texas here than Texas.

There is something about this county that just does not want to be budged.
So be it, I am only a visitor.

My temporary explorations must carry on!  The curious mind has pushed me across the border to Wisconsin, once again.  My ex-sister-in-law Wendy and her family live in Linn Township and we have long considered each other as family, even though technically we are no longer.  Wendy’s oldest son, Jackson, now five, has autism and recently they added Inka, the German autism service dog, to their rowsy family.  Inka was trained in Germany and continues her training locally yet has a fairly substantial bill to support her services.  Wendy and her neighbors are really good about creating events to support each other and a few weeks ago they hosted a partial-walk around Lake Geneva to raise funds to defer some of Inka’s training costs.  The walk ended at Foley’s Bar & Grill where they offered a special Reuben sandwich for the day and sponsored a meat raffle.  yes a meat raffle, say what?!  Tables & tables of meat were raffled off, I’ve never seen anything like it.  I won a huge a Wisconsin salami.

Walk for Autism Inka

So this was not only a great event to be involved in, it totally sparked my memory that there is a 20-something-mile path that goes all the way around the lake and it’s open to the public.  Over the past two weeks, I have hit this trail and it is SPECTACULAR.

As you make your way around the lake, homes that are not visible from anywhere but the lakefront are visible, as are their gorgeous landscapes and lake-faring accouterments.  No two homes are the same and the path is varied and semi-rugged, by going through golf courses, flat beaches, endless green lawns and beautiful lakefront patios and so on.  I recommend remaining very respectful because you are very close to people’s homes, but there certainly are areas you can sit back and take in the views.  I sat at William Wrigley’s boat slip to take in the sunset — very serene indeed.

More information in case you want to plan this thing out a bit more than me:
http://www.makeitbetter.net/entertainment/outings-a-travel/1506-hiking-through-historythe-geneva-lake-walking-path

Naturally I made a Vine:

Vine Lake Geneva
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAF66cbAU_c&feature=youtu.be

I look forward to learning more about Lake Geneva this summer, especially because this is FREE!  Things just taste better when they are free, yahvoh!

I am completely grateful my health has returned (WHEW!) and my legs are strong once again and ready to hike, hike hike.  Ever since I read Cheryl Strayed’s “WILD” when I was in Lake Tahoe a few weeks ago, I am feeling compelled to plan a super-big hike, but not entirely the same as Cheryl Strayed’s hike of the Pacific Crest Trail.

I back-packed through Northern Arizona several years ago and hiking with a monster-backpack is very hard work — I felt very tall and my legs were never stronger. It’s hot and dirty, dusty and smelly but I absolutely loved the experience — even though a mountain lion growled at me and I thought I was going to die right there.  I didn’t.

That was an experience a woman should experience in her twenties, and that’s about when I had mine.  Except I think I was 32.  I am looking to do something different now and will continue to research and plan.

My legs are ready to climb things again, this much I know.  A treadmill will not cut it.

larkabouts biking

Next up, mom’s ashes are going for a swim.
Thank you for reading my words, I do appreciate it. xo

The Bounce Back!

Lake Tahoe

I have never ever been afraid to be out in the world, that was until my mother passed away.  I felt trapped and scared and believe me, that was death to me.  I had a dream that powerful blue waters spoke to me and so I went to them.  I went to the blue green waters and purple green mountains of Lake Tahoe and became alive again!

I challenged my heart to give out on me. I begged it to stop dead in it’s tracks because it appeared to have been taunting me.  I climbed that mountain and my heart did not stop!

Thank you World.

 

Woodstock, I never knew you, but I like you

kid

I have been back in Woodstock, Illinois only a short time now, but I will say this; the town has made some welcomed advances that really seem to perk up the town and yank it out of the past.  It can only cling to the fact that the movie Groundhog Day was filmed here for so long, and I’m glad to see that new businesses have sprung up, with more good ones to come (and not one big-name-chain store, that I’m aware of, thankfully).

Starting first with the Woodstock Square; I now go here often, whereas in the past, I would only go for Starbucks — and that was a rarity because I have never been a fully-committed Mermaid drinker.  But now there’s the Woodstock Yoga Lounge and it’s lovely warm-tone-walled studio overlooking the square-shaped park and I adore the teachers; they do a nice job of keeping the classes fresh, because we all know that yoga can get boring quickly.

Yoga Lounge Woodstock

I am enjoying taking a combination of the beginning and Level III classes to mix it up; it’s a great way to start the day.  Looks like there will be some classes taking place outside at Emricson Park later this summer, which I look forward to as well.  Worth mentioning as well; a few of the women have been more than welcoming to me, because sometimes when I breathe and bend and stretch, I cry for no reason.  This does not make me a freak, or so I am told.

yoga meag

And for those moments when I feel hunger pangs, I have a few delicious options right on the Square as well; Expressly Leslie; a Middle Eastern vegan restaurant that first started in Caputo’s in Lake in the Hills and then reached out the Woodstock Farmer’s Market a few years ago. It was clear the demand was high for her delicious falafels and other Middle Eastern delights.  I asked my mom several times if she would like to try a falafel with the hot sauce…. “No.”  My mom bored me to tears with her habits.  I digress.

These days Leslie is is not only a very popular lunch and dinner destination in Woodstock, she also has live music on Friday nights AND it’s a BYO.  A WHAT? Woodstock has a WHAT?  Yes, it’s a BYO establishment in Woodstock, Illinois, and if and when the weather ever lightens up so that we may enjoy evenings on the sidewalk cafe,we can now bring a bottle of something special to enjoy that music on the sidewalk cafe.

Last week it was the Kishwaukee Ramblers (good music made by nice people) and I found myself tapping my toes to their folksie tunes. It seems fitting for the ambiance.  Yes that’s a harpsichord!

ramblers

My other go-to eating haunt on the Square is Taqueria La Placita.  Many of the scenes in Groundhog Day take place in the Tip Top Cafe, which is now this taco joynt, but over the years it seems whatever restaurant moved into that spot, it never survived more than a year or two.  It’s one of those locations that always has high turn over; we have all seen this; some locations just have bad chutzpah.

tiptop

However, La Placita is CRUSHING IT.  They are quickly becoming my all time local favorite, even though they are so many Mexican joynts in the area now — loco!  But it’s probably because the food is really awesome, I mean really riquisimos, they even have nopales, gorditas, huaraches, carnitas every day, breakfast all day and honestly the best aqua de jamiaca I have tasted, outside of my own (it’s not overloaded with sugar, you can literally taste the jamiaca!).  I ate a whole bowl of their salsa just this afternoon — it’s that good.  Oh yes there were a few chips involved as well.

tacos

So life in Woodstock is good, eh? When I lived here before, I honestly hated the place so when I knew I was headed back here, I made a vow to myself that I would find the good in Woodstock and make peace where I could.  This task has been made that much easier for me because of the new additions to the town — and I am committed to exploring new places out here as well.  Each weekend I have checked out a new park — I had no idea there was a glacier park in the county, as well as countless wetlands and waterlands to explore (today I was in Bates Fen Nature Preserve, as well as Highlands Park — both very beautiful — and waterlogged.).  It really is not the worst place in the world; my soul is being fed well here.  My commute to work is a killer, but my smartphone project ended this past Friday, so we’ll see what happens from here.

wetlands

I have also been meditating with the Buddhist Monks over at the Blue Lotus Buddhist Temple and it is slowly revealing layers of the onion to me.  The first time I went here was right after I signed my mom into hospice, which is just up the street and I needed some silence.  The temple obliged.  I have no idea how long I will stay with them, but so far they have been so lovely and helpful because they honestly don’t give a damn about dying. Which is not to say that’s all we discuss; it’s more about not getting too over whelmed by anything and living a good, proper and honest life.  And not forgetting to breathe ….

Blue Lotus Buddhist Temple

Bhante Sujatha even suggested I unfollow people on Facebook and Twitter and outlined his reasons why. All solid reason; I agreed and hit that almighty unfollow button. Remember, we don’t have as much time as we think.

I am making peace with Woodstock and it is taking good care of me.  For this, I am gleefully grateful 😀