Hey Chicago Whaddya Say

How do I not sound cliche when talking about how tremendously remarkable it is to be a Chicagoan this week? How do I contain myself when thoughts of the World Series makes me cry, even now, half-a week later? How do I bottle these warm fuzzies emanating from my heart, so that they stay with me forever, especially as we’re staring down the loaded barrel of the most terrifying presidential election the world has ever seen? How do I thank the Cubs for what they’ve done? How do I thank my tremendous friends, who are my family?

I feel a sense of urgency to write about my recent visit to Chicago, as I suspect the outcome of next week’s brutal presidential gun fight will not end peacefully on Tuesday, nor anytime soon thereafter. The rally cry of either losing team is going to be horrendous, horrific and no doubt appalling, continuing America’s downward orange spiral into becoming an actual reality tv show, which I will also refuse to watch, just like reality tv.

BUT OH MY STARS. Did you see that World Series??? Ten Epic Innings, One Tremendous Outcome!

I purchased tickets to Chicago several months ago, before having a whisper of a clue they were headed for greatness. By early October, I was sitting on an undecided fence, leaning towards canceling, as a run to the Midwest did not seem appropriate, nor affordable.

See, I don’t have family in Chicago anymore; everyone has either died, moved away or is angry. I must always think twice about Chicago, the place I grew up, the city where I was educated, worked and played, fell down then stood up to only fall down again, the place where my family and its familiarity once was — all things I once knew are no longer there. I am uncertain if I belong in Chicago, if anywhere at all.

Cubs in the playoffs, how cool is that, poor Bartman.

Wait, wait, WAIT A MINUTE, win this game, go to the WORLD SERIES?? As in the REAL World Series??

I jumped on Twitter — I can’t see baseball in Mexico, so Twitter’s the next best thing. Hey look! All my real Twitter pals are actually on Twitter and they’re tweeting each other! I throw out a tweet, my friends tweet back! No one tweets anymore, haven’t you heard? But right now we’re here and in an electrified state of disbelief, omg CUBS WIN HEY HEY, everyone tweets they got to get to Chicago!!

The Cubs won the playoffs and they’re going to the World Series WHAT!?

I must go to Chicago. I began to cry as memories of my youth came flooding back. My parents, uncles, cousins, grandparents — the Cubs peppered my youth; but we became numb to the salt in our wounds, didn’t we? We’re talking about the Cubs after all. The loveable losers, just WAIT til next year, we’ll really show youz guyz something! No, THIS is the year, it’s really happening.

My time living on Waveland, just past Murphy’s, please tell me they’re losing so it’s easier to get tickets for the bleachers. Right field sucks, by the way, and for the love of God, throw it back you moron. I can hear Harry singing in my kitchen, lemme hear ya now! I rarely slept while living on Waveland; I was voted most popular cousin and someone was always clawing at my door. It was. Hilarious, to say the least.

My dad took us to Wrigley more than a few times. Always two sections up from third base, my brothers and dad remained focused on game details as we chomped on hotdogs and peanuts, yet always promptly departing after the 7th inning stretch to finish the game on the car radio. God forbid we get stuck in Cubs traffic. Looking back, I think my dad was afraid of Chicago, but he loved the Cubs and rooted for them until the end of his days. He retired in Phoenix and my brothers and I went to see the Cubs play the Sox in Mesa; the Sox won and the hotdogs were lousy. Arizona hotdogs hmmmmppfffh.

My uncles preferred the White Sox, a team for the working man, the salt of the earth, with Comisky a stone’s throw away from Maywood race track. “A man can afford to take his kids and have a beer with the Sox,” I recall uncle Buzz telling me once. He took my brothers and I to a few Sox games, but most memorable for me was the Maywood race track afterwards. Kids are King!

My grandmother was a Lone Fox in her family, in more ways than one, and she too adored the Cubs in a sea of black and white hats. She would watch The Young and the Restless then tidy up before the Cubs game, which she always watched with the shades drawn, and sunglasses on. She spoke of Ryne Sandburg often, as if they were acquainted; she adored him. On a balmy September day in 1994, my grandmother Rose fell over from a brain aneurysm while watching her team; she was dead before she hit the floor. My mom was asked, “did she die doing what she loved?” Nope, she didn’t. But just wait til her next reincarnation!!

All my people are gone, but not forgotten, and I quickly realized my entire hometown was not only balling because the Cubs were gonna win today, but because of what the Cubs meant to their families and to their youth. It was a huge homecoming, and I was a part of the mad dash to O’Hare. Everyone smiled and hugged and held doors for strangers, I was never so delightfully thrilled to be home, and for a brief moment it was easy to forget about the hateful political season and enjoy the game of baseball in November in Chicago.

HOORAY!

My week in Chicago was spent with some of the most awesome and amazing friends I tried for years to forget, because I assumed they forgot me. The girls I grew up with, the girl I got sober with, the girl I Instagram with, the girl in Texas who treats me like family, the girl from San Miguel and my little screaming Italian Aunt, who remains my hometown cheerleader, proudly displaying my Modern Farmer magazine article on her highly Lemon-Pledged coffee table, for all to see.

These women rallied around and with me, made me feel comfortable in their homes and trusted me with their pets. They included me in their family meals and made space for me to watch the game on the couch. We cried when the Cubs lost, and cheered and sang like fools when the Cubs won. Fly that W and Go Cubs Go!

I had an amazing time in Chicago and I’m so grateful to my friends and family who graciously welcomed me home, when I was certain I had nowhere to go. Thank you Pate, Noelle, Kristin, Rose, Judy, Joan and Aunt Nancy; in the words of Eddie Hinsberger, I love you all.


eddie loves you
Thank you Chicago Cubs for making it the best week in the world to be home, and congratulations on being the 2016 World Series Champions. Please pardon me for assuming you’d never get there, but thank you for proving me wrong from the bottom of my warm, fuzzy and reinvigorated heart.


Hey Chicago ya know what I say? The Cubs made me believe again. Orange is the new hate — but it will never prevail; the river is blue, faith’s been restored, the Cubs won the pennant, and I have a place in Chicago. THANK YOU.

Go Cubs Go! xx

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New Energy in 15, at da Bean in Chicago

On a bright & brisk March day, I did some qi gong moves that focus on releasing grief from the lungs, by literally letting the lungs breathe (stretch), while pointing index & thumb like a gun (Chicago-Bang_Bang). The Bean is a HUGE Figure 8 ta boot, such a magical place!

I was in Chicago to say goodbye to my Uncle Buzz, a bittersweet trip for sure as his dance card was up. I tipped Buzz’s Chicago Whitesox hat my uncle, to the Loop; and to the Irish of Chicago. I bid you a fond farewell into the Mystic xx

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.

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 

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.

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.

 

Mmmmmm Muddy Water

juicingNot to be confused with Muddy Waters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ztavykflak

I have started juicing in the morning and it has now offically replaced my morning coffee.  I didn’t intend to quit drinking coffee but I honestly feel so much better starting my day off with fresh juice, I didn’t want to wreck that high with coffee.

I started juicing at the suggestion of my doctor; when I went to see her in late February, it as as if I was trapped in one very large panic attack and I was quite scared.  I had tunnel vision, I couldn’t breathe right and I was feeling very terrified. Like terribly terribly terrified.  I have never once in my life felt afraid to be out in the world…. until February 2013.

Turns out my adrenals were off the charts and I had to slam the breaks on how I was living.  Fortunately I was able to take a leave of absense from life and I literally shut down for about 2 weeks.  I slept. And I slept. And then slept some more.  My doctor prescribed xanex for me and I have not even taken one. I no longer felt it was okay to be fuzzy.

One month later I am feeling a million times better. I feel strong again and every day feels sharper than the day prior.  Even my hearing feels elevated.  I take deep breathes and thank the stars above for giving me another chance to heal myself.  I smile when I see myself in the mirror. This is the autumn of my life and I’m going to make the best of it.

I made these  types of lifestyle changes once before in my life, during my late 20s, early 30s and you know what? I preached loud and proud about how I was living and I drove people away from me.  I believe I was “all in yo face” about things, UGH.  I remember my mom telling me I was weird.  I was weird!  I don’t want to do that again and I keep the focus on me and my health, helping those around me or at least not harming them.  Doing work that feels right for me. That it reflects who I am.

I also will not take this all too far nor take myself too seriously.  I remember sitting in Old Jerusalem in Old Town about a thousand years ago and I was deep into a wheat grass and carrot juice bender.  I was sipping on carrot juice and eating hummus with friends and a guy yelled across the restaurant to me to lighten up on the carrot juice!  It had happened. My face, palms and feet had turned dirty orange because I was drinking WAY TOO MUCH carrot juice!  A few weeks later I got super-sick from drinking too much wheat grass and have not been able to drink it ever since.

While living in San Francisco years ago I attempted to be vegetarian, vegan and I even gave up flour AND dairy, but I did not have much luck at it.  I was an annoying Food Nazi, the worst kind of Nazi! (well, not really) I’m sure I probably didn’t go about it the right way but I did try.  I would have dreams about milkshakes and pancakes and I would literally cry when I saw bread because I missed it.  I was chubby and not feeling well and my doctor looked at me, grabbed my shoulders and said, “Please have a steak, you need protein.”   So I started eating meat again and lost a bunch of weight.  I just cut portions down tremendously and have continued that manner of eating.  Like the French, but sans the smokes. For real.

Moderation Meag, All Things In Moderation. Even Muddy Water.

Some veggies put up a fight before they get pulverized:

pulverized

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KG471g76zm0&feature=youtu.be

The Abbey Resort on Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Brunch View
Brunch view from the Fontana Grill at
The Abbey Resort

I grew up in Crystal Lake, Illinois, which meant that Lake Geneva, Wisconsin was just a hop, skip and a jump to get across the Wisconsin border, where things were a bit more readily available in my younger years.  It also felt like a world away from the cornfields and cows of Crystal Lake because the town has always felt like vacation, with the availability of taffy, fudge and paddle boats in the quaint and cute little downtown.

My Junior Prom was held at The Abbey and I have attended many of public and private events there over the decades, all with very fond Wisconsin memories, but none recently until I was invited by Duong Sheahan, of Live Healthier & Happier, to spend a complimentary weekend this past June to get to know the new & improved Abbey Resort and Avani Spa in downtown Fontana, Wisconsin on Lake Geneva.

Arriving at the Abbey Resort

The Abbey looks just as I remembered it from years gone by when driving up to it, and especially the atrium dining room that gives it an old world feel. But that’s about where my recollections stopped because it has been spruced up and remodeled to accomodate all your comfort and technological needs to enjoy a peaceful stay.  There is wifi coverage in the rooms but not so much in the lobby, which is fine, unless you’re there for a heavy online stay.  But this is Wisconsin so why not relax a bit and enjoy the sights and sounds.

Just as you may find it difficult to find margarine in butter-rich Wisconsin, you won’t have a hard time finding a New Glarus Spotted Cow beer, as it is only sold in Wisconsin, and many of us Flatlanders are quick to stash some in our suitcases when headed home because it is that delicious (also the allure of having something that’s hard to get is brilliant on New Glarus’ part).

The entire New Glarus family served bucket-style at the Waterfront Grill

So after the drive up from Chicago, a delicious and huge brunch spread at the Fontana Grill, I was ready to relax and see what the Avani Spa had to offer.  I opted for the Aromatherapy Retreat Wrap and yowzah it was delightful. I could barely walk afterwards, I had apparently released that many toxins, which is the point of it.  After being scrubbed with salts and then massaged with oils, you are then wrapped in hot linens and a foil blanket and then left alone to bake.  Because it can be a little claustrophobic, the masseuse does not leave you for too long to make sure you don’t go berserk. I did not, thankfully.  I then slithered to the indoor pool and enjoyed some cucumber water until I was stable enough to carry on with my day.  It was a much needed and delightful treatment, I would like it have it every week if possible.

la-la-la-dee-la I just had a spa treatment =)

There were four of us in the group and after our spa treatments, we all went our separate ways to explore or relax or whatever we wanted.  I chose to grab a bike from the recreation center and rode around the lake until I was informed that no bikes were allowed on the path; it was a walking path, so I jumped off immediately and rode the back streets of Fontana.  Again it was lovely and I’ll always be grateful that this little peach of a town is in Chicago’s backyard, yet far enough away to feel like you are in Germany or something. ha.

Forbidden bike riding on Lake Geneva

After a rest-up and refreshing, we all met for dinner at the Fontana Grill and it was a delicious meal that stretched over about three hours.  It’s moments like this you realize you are not in a big city; the courses are parsed out and you’re forced to talk to your friends or family; whomever you are dining with.  All of our instincts were to say, “c’mon let’s move this thing along!” But instead we rolled with the punches and enjoyed a fabulous seafood dinner and delicious wine suggested by our server.  And for some reason we acted like silly gooses before we went in for dinner, I suppose because WE CAN!!

Roll out the barrel, we’ll have a barrel of fun….

The remodeled rooms are beautiful at The Abbey and of course the free wifi kept me there probably a bit longer than if there was not, and after a good night’s rest — something powerful about that Wisconsin air that knocks you out — we met for a yoga class with Julie, the Director of Events at The Abbey.  I t was lovely to start the day this way, and we were all super hungry by the time we got to The Waterfront Grill for lunch and a trip wrap-up.

Sunday morning yoga

It was fantastic to spend this weekend at The Abbey and to see all the efforts they have made to enhance and beautify your stay with them.  They have also made some great strids in jumping into the world of social media; they hold photo contests on their Facebook page, where you must guess where a photo was taken to have the chance to win a gift certificate for the spa, and they have joined Instagram, where they post gorgeous photos of the property and events.  This past week on Twitter they held a “Your Experience Photo Contest” where you had to capture the best of your Lake Geneva experience for the chance to win a night’s stay at the resort.  They boast a lively Pinterest board and also have a Youtube channel, highlighting events and reminders that even in winter you can have a blast in Fontana.

I heart Wisconsin; always have always will.  It’s a great get-away from Chicago and there’s something for everyone to do.  My sister-in-law has recently purchased a house just off Linn Pier in Lake Geneva, so I look forward to spending more time up there in the coming months.  I want to see it in the winter as well!

For me personally, a country drive is sometimes the best meditation of all….

The Abbey Resort & Avani Spa
269 Fontana Boulevard
Fontana, WI  53125
800-709-1323
www.theabbeyresort.com

How safe is Central Mexico these days?

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

In 2001, before 9/11, I set off on a 2-month sabbatical to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, to teach a dance class and take a well deserved break after completing a project on a global business theater in New Jersey.  I chose San Miguel because I had taken a Gabrielle Roth workshop at Escalon in Big Sur the year prior and wanted to further my studies.  One of my friends from Escalon had already moved to SMA and was teaching yoga.  She called me one day and said, “Hey Meags!  The dance teacher here is about to leave because she’s having a baby, why don’t you get your butt down here and teach for a while?”

After planning and whatnot, I arrived in San Miguel on June 29, 2001, ready to begin my two-month sabbatical and to get to know Mexico, a place I had not yet seen before.  It’s a beautiful mountainous town, not desert-ee or covered with cacti and lazy donkeys, but rather it’s considered to be the San Francisco of Mexico; it never gets too hot or too cold (well, not for too long because I certainly was hot and cold), has a bustling international artist community and has a big gay community.  Oh and Texans, plenty of Texans. Gay and straight.

I was not afraid of anything about this Mexican town yet had I listened to my mother, I would have never gone, which is why I have never listened to my mother.  Oh wait, there was one thing I was terrified of and that was scorpions.  My roommate didn’t even think of them; I looked for them all the time and guess what?  I found them all the time!  And usually in my bedroom! On the wall above me!  In the middle of the night!  I can still literally hear them stitching across the walls… even today the thought of it gives me shivers. Blaaaaah scorpions.  And fuzzy spiders. Ok I’ll stop!  But other that insect fears, I was totally at peace with this little town and all the new sights and sounds it offered.  I adored it.

Today there is a much bigger community of younger people as well, involved in all sorts of digital and technological art projects, but this community has dwindled compared to about 5 years ago.  When I arrived for the first time in my mid-thirties, I was considered one of the younger ones, but that would not have been the case had I arrived 10 years later at that age.  I was there this past March and saw how the town has exploded with people and construction, yet had also crumbled.  When the US has an economic sniffle, Mexico has full-blown pneumonia.  And the US had much worse a sniffle.  So many businesses have shuttered their doors, much like here, and people have packed up and returned to their homelands, including the people of Mexico.  When jobs are scarce here, the Mexican men cannot send money home so it’s a quadruple whammy of hardships in Mexico.

I’m not going to pretend to be educated on the exact reasons why the business of drug cartelling has exploded in Mexico, nor am I going to get into the stats of it, but it’s fairly obvious that this is where the money is in Mexico, if you can stay alive.  To read any mainstream news you would think that they are all killing each other throughout the entire country and hanging the bodies over highways so the public can see them die as they shoot them from hidden hillsides.  The stories of heads rolling into a night club or even night clubs being set on fire — now these stories make it to our media and it sends a chilling message that all of Mexico is completely corrupt and extremely dangerous.

Ever watch the 10pm Sunday night news in Chicago?  It’s a death toll of how many were shot or wounded in the city in the past few days; how many children were injured, buried, mourned.  It is perhaps the saddest time slot on TV, which is one of the reasons I don’t watch TV anymore.  The killings in Chicago are completely out of control; in a city that claims guns are illegal.  Does this news stop people from visiting Navy Pier? Water Tower Place? Wrigley Field?  No. No it does not.  It may stop some people from getting on a train to come to the City, but for the most part tourism is loud & lively in Chicago.  So while there are certainly precautions that need to be taken when heading off to Central Mexico, by no means is it a 24/7 blood bath.  Like it is on the South Side of Chicago.

The places that I would avoid in Mexico right now are the border towns and the main highways to move north/south through the country.  Although the violence is rather widespread yet focused on the northern part of the country, because this is the main and final push to get the drugs into our country and some would say it’s an all out war zone at the borders.  So avoid the border towns.  I wouldn’t even do a day trip there as many people used to so, it’s just not worth it.

I would no longer take a bus to Central Mexico as I have many times in the past, because of  the growing presence of the Mexican Army and Mexico Federal Police on the highways.  And the growing number of rogue police, army or cartels who impersonate these groups so you can never be sure who or what you are looking at — or dealing with.

Once on a bus to Phoenix in 2003, I was awakened in the middle of the night somewhere in the State of Chihuahua, by a machine gun nudging my shoulder, asking for my passport.  I did not flinch, I simply reached for my passport and handed it to the soldier.  After checking everyone’s passport, the soldiers hauled four Guatamalian immigrants off the bus and then we were on our way.  Looking back, I wonder why I wasn’t more freaked out.  I had never seen a machine gun before let alone be awakened by one.  But when I traveled the buses throughout Mexico, I always went into some sort of altered state, knowing that you have to roll with the punches becasue weird things happen out there in the middle of nowhere.  I have also driven through the country a number of times by myself and suffice to say nothing majorly scary or even close to heart breaking happened.  Today I would never drive through the country I once called home.

The buses and trucks that travel through Mexico are always being stopped and searched for drugs and immigrants, but these days you can’t be sure if the Mexican solider who is pointing a gun at you and asking to see your passport is an actual Govenrment official, a cartel dressed as a Government official or a Government official who has been paid off to act on behalf of the cartel.  Which is why it’s best to avoid busing around Mexico, a once very popular and economical way to travel the country, ever since the train lines were discontinued.  These days I would fly directly to the city I am headed for, and for San Miguel de Allende’s it’s Leon/Guanajuato Del Bajio or BJX.  Then take a taxi directly to your destination, because no one picks you up from an airport in Mexico, even if they are crazy head over heels love with you!

This past week, I learned of an incident of a Canadian couple that was severely beaten and robbed in their homes in San Miguel.  These incidents happen here and there and are never a story we want to hear but it’s especially sensitive when it happens to ex-Pats living in a foreign city.  One thing Mexico has always known is that you DO NOT MESS with the foreigners that are visiting or who have chosen to live in Mexico.  They are putting money into the country and economy and again you DO NOT MESS WITH THE TURISTAS.  But it happens, unfortunately. There is speculation — and only speculation at this time —  that it is a small group of disenchanted policemen that committed the crime.  So another couple has now returned to their homeland and the stories will be shared, as they should.

Would I go to Mexico today? Yes.  If I had the sufficient funds to get me from Point A to Point B directly, and had a secure and safe place to stay.  Do I want to go to Mexico right now?  No.  I think I’ll wait until things start to turn around.

I love Mexico and think it takes a LOT of hits for being a reckless, careless and violent country, but it is a big country, full of many people, places and things and you simply cannot place a generic label on a country of its size. It’s complicated.  It’s gorgeous.  It’s ugly,  It’s rich and it’s poor.  And unfortunately there are places in the country where violence is out of control, so just like the South Side of Chicago, I will avoid it for now.  But not forever!

As Harry Burns once said….

“I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”  Amen Burnsie!

Lark in Paris for almost a year!

But this is not that type of love story rather a story of me getting back to what it is I am supposed to be doing with my life. Writing and travelling. But wait, what’s that you say, “you haven’t traveled much at ALL in the past few years, let alone write!”  True.  I stopped travelling in 2010 after returning home from living in Mexico and Texas and the only writing I’ve done has been in my Diary.  I mean journal!  But I used to travel A LOT and I’ve lived in seven America cities and three international cities and I look forward to getting back to travelling, because it does make my heart go-a-flutter and this time I’ll blog about it. Yes #BLOGaboudit.

Things are very different now as we are all very well aware.  Economic hardships have forever changed our landscapes and I realize I may have to work harder to get where I want to go, and the many rapid-fire fears are screaming at me; but I have been wanting to do this ever since I grew feet.  So if I don’t do it now, when do I do it?

Here I place the metaphorical cart before the literary horse. I am also spending my days consulting for small business who need help with their marketing efforts so at first this may be a slow moving horse, but this pony is definitely saddled up and is hankering to get out there and see the world.  ANDALE