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
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.
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.
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!
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, Feldenkrais, Law 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.
ANDALE! Happy Thanksgiving, peace to all. Don’t forget…… I see you!! xoxo
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Next up, mom’s ashes are going for a swim. Thank you for reading my words, I do appreciate it. xo
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!
The days and weeks since my mom’s death have been quick to pass and full of lessons, if I am in the mood to listen and thankfully I usually am. I have made some huge changes in my life since her passing and I have been on this continual hunt for information and guidance on what to do next in life. I have discovered so many things in the past few weeks and one message that came through loud and clear is that life is truly short and should not be wasted or fretted away on meaningless drivel. Which is all relative to each and every one of us.
My mom knew she was dying. She never came out and said this to me but two weeks before I brought her to the hospital, we spent most of the night sitting up at her house while she told me her directives. She had it all written down, but wanted to tell me everything. It was a meaningful occasion for me because never before have I had to opportunity to sit with my mom and talk with her — especially without beer. I sat at the dining room table and she sat on the couch. She looked straight ahead and I watched her profile. She was pretty. I had never seen my mom as pretty. I saw where I got my looks! I never ever saw my mom in this light before and that night alone healed a thousands hurts that she and I had between us.
It’s not as if I am sitting around mourning the loss of my mom, no this is not the case at all. I had essentially been prepared for my mom’s death for about two years; I’m not sure if she had had a stroke or what, but she basically checked out a while back and I was waiting until she called me in for help. That day finally came and honestly there was no preparing for any of it — it was all very surreal and continues to reveal itself in my dreams and thoughts throughout the days and nights. I find myself crying over the silliest things and cannot stop myself. Honestly, I don’t mind getting lost in the tears. But I am always surprised by it.
The first week in the hospital my mom and I got along very well, laughing together when we could, although at this point the pain was starting to engulf her, so I just wanted to be there for her. Her screams will haunt me forever because she screamed for her mother almost continually. It was like a horror movie. Chilling. As the news of her condition worsened, she began to communicate to me with her eyebrows and then soon she became angry at the fact that she was dying.
She did not want to die. Not here. Not now. She was not ready. She got mad at me. I struggle with the guilt. It was happening. Her death. I just happened to be the only one there with her.
I’ve seen two people go off to hospice and both times these people were already in some type of coma to kill the pain or whatever they were experiencing. Not my mom. I had to tell her we were going to hospice and she almost stabbed me with her eyes.
The doctors told me we had one hour to say goodbye to her and I was the only family member with her. I had to ask her if there was anyone she wanted to talk to (I couldn’t yet say the word “goodbye”). “No! I don’t know! Noooooo!”
I sent out a group text that we have one hour to say good bye to Mom. In hindsight, this is beyond surreal — a damn text message. “Boys, you’ve got one hour to say goodbye to her, but the doctors say it’s too stressful for her to be on the phone, so send me a text and I will read it to her. Or call me and I will tell her your words. Say goodbye in your heart, because you won’t get a chance to see her again.”
I spent the next 45 minutes reading everyone’s text messages to mom. Everyone’s thank you’s and good bye’s. This completely shook me to my core. I have never sobbed like this in my life. When I walked out of her room because the guys from the ambulance had shown up to wheel her out, I realized I had not said good bye. There was still a little time, but I had no idea.
When she was in the ambulance, I ran up to the back of it and jumped up and down to look in the window. “I’m here with you Mom!! I will follow you!! I will not leave you! I’ll be right behind you!! I will see you in a little bit!!” On one of my jumps up I could see that she was smiling. At me. For jumping up and down. Like a clown.
All the people I saw in the hospital who were looking at death’s door were not ready for it and were surprised that it came up so soon. When my mom was in surgery or resting, I walked around and observed; spoke to some who were open to it. You know what they wanted to talk about? When they were in love. When their children were small. The first kiss. The first and last dance. You see old and sick people in hospitals but with some of them, their minds are still young and they don’t forget love and kisses and dances and children.
So on this Monday, April 1, 2013, I found myself strangely agitated and almost angry about my lot in life. Thanks to the books I have been reading and the overall general messages I have been receiving (or misinterpreting), I was quite annoyed about what life was not giving me. I was thinking about my own death — an unfortunate side affect of watching my mother’s death — and all the things I want to do and experience before I die. I grew extremely agitated throughout the day because of all the things I have given up in life over the past few weeks, I was getting *nothing* in return.
I want to experience an exquisite love before I die.
I want to hunker down and do satisfying work before I die.
I want to give back to causes I believe in before I die.
But love has done me wrong, the chip on my shoulder from getting fired twice in 2012 is weighing me down and the slow climb of financial reckoning is taking its own sweet time. I am fucking pissed off!
I went for a sunset run to blow off some steam and afterwards I set off to find something to eat and drove past the Blue Lotus Temple. I knew there was a meditation class this evening and instead of eating, I knabbed the available open parking spot in front and found a seat in the beautiful cobalt blue temple.
The subject of tonight’s class: preparing for your death. I heard things that made me double over. I heard nuggets of wisdom that made my heart flutter. I had tears streaming down my face when the Head Monk asked if there were any questions. I raised my hand.
“I have forgotten how to be mindful and I don’t remember what good deeds are; in fact I have spent my day being angry about what life has not given me yet and I don’t think is the way I am supposed to be. I don’t want to die with these thoughts in my head. I saw my mom being angry about dying and she thought she was prepared. Please tell me what to do, I feel like I’m failing at everything in life.”
“You are doing absolutely everything right; even the place you are at with your thoughts. It was a powerful gift to be with your mom through her death and now that you have helped her, it is time to help yourself. I will help to remind you what being mindful is and suggest good deeds but you will discover them on your own, just as you discovered this. Don’t be a Buddhist; be a Buddha and you will always stay hungry. It is not too late and I am glad you are here.”
So I spoke with the Monk after class. I felt so much better after we chatted that I wanted a Culver’s cheeseburger right then and there. So off to Culver’s I went, where I not only enjoyed a cheeseburger, but a strawberry milkshake too, as I read up on my decision to become Meagan the Vegan. Moooooooooooooo!!
I am so ready for this year to be over and to begin anew again. 2012 was a very difficult year for me on many levels and I don’t know that I’ve fully recovered, but I am ready to be done with the heart ache the year presented me with. As of a few weeks ago, I am another year older so it’s always the bizarre quiet time between Christmas and New Years that gets me thinking about the year ahead. And the changes I want to make.
I was fired twice in 2012 — and each time was an utter shock to my system as I had never been fired before. The first time in March, I suspected it was coming because I was working with a group of men who didn’t understand me let alone like me, and I was completely frustrated by their small thinking… but I still was upset when I got fired because they didn’t even try. I tried every day and they didn’t even bother talking to me. One day shortly before the firing came down, I walked into the company kitchen and everyone was in there. I looked at everyone, no one looked back at me, so I turned around and walked out. I knew it was over. I am glad to be done with that company but still somewhat bothered that they think it was all my fault that I didn’t do the job successfully. Their wipespread lack of communication skills were huge in the non-success of the position. I have still not been replaced because “they hate marketing”.
The second firing came much quicker and swifter and the sting was felt much deeper. Another group of small-minded men who had no idea I was going to be as opinionated as I am. I was shown the door about 3 months into the gig and honestly did not see it coming until about one hour before it happened (I was locked out of all social media accounts!). I am too smart and too old to accept being treated poorly by men bosses just because they are bosses. I spent much of my younger years working for awful men and I just cannot do it anymore. So while I wish I was able to walk out on these situations, I’m glad I was fired because it made me move even quicker towards a job that feels less like a job and more like something I want to be spending my time doing.
I am now working as a small business coach, helping business define their voices online through various different channels. I like doing this and I enjoy the interesting people I am working with. I’m still very new in the business but I am confident that I will grow into this and develop my skills. I am looking to perhaps be a VA, a virtual assistant, so that I may do the work from anywhere in the world and not be tied to Chicago. I don’t think I will move out of Chicago, but I would like to leave it a LOT more in 2013 because I have been trapped here for sometime, given all the financial hardships that come with losing two jobs in less than a year. (actually less than six months!) I have been operating in automatic drive this year because I had no time to fall a part when I desperately needed to find a job.
I stuffed so many feelings down, turned down opportunities to be with friends and as of late, have stopped working out — all things that I will defintely be resurrecting in my daily 2013 life. I stopped looking at men in 2012; well, I turned a blind eye to men because the year was such an emotional roller coaster. I had a few dates over the past few months, but I honestly cannot look to getting involved with someone if I have finacial stress, let alone I need a job stress as well. But I look to change that this year. I’m ready to get back into the game. I won a 10-day trip to Turkey from writing a short essay on how I would spend a 3-day New Year celebration, and I am super excited about this trip! But also to get back to one of my most favorite things in the world; traveling. I am aligning myself to do just that and to live it through blogging and instagram (will I even stay with instagram? Who knows, maybe not!) and other social media channels. While I wish to do less social media and have more real life experiences, I don’t think I will ever shake the social media habits completely, but I do want to use it smarter. With intention and not just to be ridiculous.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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….