Andale Austin

austinstar

I have been in Texas for just over a year and in the past few weeks — no, days really, it has truly begun to feel like home. I am feeling so much support in this cradle in the middle of Texas, I find myself caught off guard and tingly-all-over by the kindness of strangers and not-so-strangers that have helped me get acclimated in my new hometown.

After several months of travelling and setting up shop on the ranch, I have turned my focus to getting into the groove in Austin. I’m back at Square One in that I need to get a job, an address, a routine… and it’s finally starting to happen. I know what I want and now it’s time for the legwork. I have found some work; it is not my dream work, but it is putting me out in front of people, which is a great start. I am highly animated these days and eager to work with others. One foot in front of the other.

Austin is a very fast moving city; hottest city in America, some would say. The recent cover of Austin Monthly magazine quoted 158 people are moving to Austin EVERY DAY. That’s a solid stream of buses dropping off musicians everyday at the Greyhound station.

New friends, YaY!

Austin’s NIA dance community has been a great source of support; it’s teeming with women who are excited about life, love to shake their moneymaker and aren’t afraid to let it all hang out. Their stories are extraordinary and many times moving, and I’m thrilled to have found this support as a new whitebelt teacher and as a new citizen of Austin. Many of these women are undergoing profound personal transformation and have been a great source of comfort as I go through my own. Plus we spontaneously break out in dance when out in public.

There’s something very delightful about not caring if you cause a stir –when stirred properly.

Meetup.com has been a great resource to meet new people and learn of new ideas; I attend about four meetup groups on a regular basis and the momentum is building. One is an art and technology meetup with it’s focus on creating a community in Austin for new digital artists; I volunteered to be the gatekeeper of information and gather everyone’s name and interests. I even presented my #PicTweetArt and #NewEnergyin15 at the last meetup! It was a bit of a departure from the amazing new media presentations that were being highlighted, but I think it was all very well-received. There were LOLs :D. I joined the group to discover new ideas in video and to meet some interesting people.

The artistic sparks are flying, she said with a cheese-eatin’ grin!

I am a member of a Women’s Shaman Circle; the wisdom that’s being shared within this sacred circle has altered my life forever. I am honored to be a part of such a experienced and educated circle of women.

Women helping women. SHAZAM.

I’m also a new member in a specialized qi gong training called Jingui Golden Shield. It is a rare Temple Style of qi gong designed to achieve super health by developing the human energy body very quickly. I discovered this through my Chinese doctor and acupuncturist, Dr. Zhang, who diagnosed me with a deficient spleen a few weeks ago. We are working on this, but basically it’s the early stages of a thyroid condition, and it is my goal to reverse this condition NOW before a Western doctor prescribes daily pharmaceuticals.

Nooooo pills for me.

A worrisome mind, my age and irregular eating patterns are probably to thank — oh and the stress of absolutely everything changing in my life.

thanksaustin

I am turning 50 this year and this health condition has added an extra 10 pounds around my belly. It freaked me out — well hell’s bells it still freaks me out, because it gets in my way and I want it gone. Given the amount of energy work I do in addition to biking, hiking, dancing, yoga-ing, qi gong-ing and walking, it drives me craaaaaaazy that I have this new blob that just won’t budge. Then I read a book called “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. I’m remarkably embarrassed I’ve had the audacity to cry about a little midlife weight gain.

mans_search_for_meaning

I have the privilege of being alive and living pretty well for half a century. I digress. This profoundly moving book about surviving a Nazi prison camp put gratitude in perspective for me in a manner I shan’t easily forget.

Profound gratitude.

My body can still move in amazing ways. I have great new friends I can lean on. I am networking. I’ve always hated networking! I love, love, love learning about energy and sharing it. I am branding and self-promoting, gaaaaa the dreaded self-marketing. I am in Austin, f*cking Texas, the hottest city in America and the good vibes are growing. I have a tremendous friend and confidant in Reed Burns. Sure it’s terrifying to be starting all over, but I am totally grateful for this life.

I am scrappy and I live in America — and if there’s one thing America loves besides Cheezwhiz, it’s scrappiness.

ANDALE TEXAS!

 

New Energy in 15, the Texas Polar Dip!

These past few weeks have been especially awesome because Deep Eddy pool has opened its gates at 6am because Barton Springs pool is closed, due to all the recent floods and storms. The water is spring fed and suuuuuuper-cold, which is a fantastic way to greet the day if your heart can take it! The pool goes back to regular hours (8am) on Monday, June 8th, so I am grateful to have enjoyed it these past few weeks in my favorite sunrise hour.

New Energy in 15, a bike ride in Austin

I love that Henry is still game to come along with me on adventures — he really is the most docile dog in the world, without being annoying.

In what was a rather stressful week, a bike ride along Lady Bird Lake was the perfect medicine for the day; I rented an Austin B Cycle and away we went. Henry gets all the smiles — he alone changes people’s energy. My energy was changed too, Bless His Heart as they say here in Texas.

Adios Dirty Bird!

IMG_3099
RAWHIDE

Once, many years ago, when I returned home from Mexico, my mom told me I looked dirty and weathered….. and I was deeply offended. Even shed some tears. Today, as I prepare to head to Texas after a winter in Mexico, I laugh because I AM dirty. And I love it!

I’ve got the dirt and dust under my fingernails and the sand from the ocean lines the bottom of my suitcases. I haven’t really done my hair since I was in America, and although I got dolled up a few times while I was here, for the most part, I rolled out of bed and galloped off to yoga or t’ai chi, and then began my chores upon returning home.

I like getting dirty, it feels good. Keeps me young 😀

It’s a dirty I am grateful for because it has taught me things and brought new experiences. Whether I was climbing the mountains to greet the full moon, stretching in the morning sun while standing in the ocean’s edge, eating street tacos with salsa running down my arm or riding in the back of a pickup to get out to the country, I have enjoyed my time in San Miguel de Allende, Taxco, Mexico DF, Puerto Vallarta and Bucerias tremendously!

Maybe I have always been too sensitive, this is probably true. I am dirty and weathered and it feels great. I would not be offended by my mom’s words today.

This Dirty Bird is ready to go home, and is profoundly grateful to Mexico for it’s lessons. ANDALE get me home to that bath tub so I can scrub my weathered, sun-kissed face!

And aw geez I gotta get to work! Adios Birdies! xx

bird
Adios Birdy! Weasel too!

 

Tree Panoramas

tree_blanco_square

I recently took an online photography class with Creative Live and learned some wonderful mobile tricks and tricks on my Sony-NEC5. I had not expected there being a mobile photography nod, well, well because “real” photographers do not like to bother with the mobile phones, but c’mon, we all know that our smartphones have the capacity to shoot some great images.

These are my tree panoramas shot with my iPhone 5; there are some truly amazing trees in Texas and now I want to get a reference books for them, in addition to the wildflower book. First up, Blanco Proper, then a lavender farm just outside of Blanco.

tree_blanco_rStand & pan up!

tree_farm_r

 

The Strawberry Full Moon

morning_moon

Last night there were all sorts of wicked, wild storms in the area; super-high winds, plenty of tornados and downed trees to usher in this month’s Strawberry Full Moon, that was in full glory this morning of Friday the 13th. I’m a few hours late for my Public Learning Challenge, but I think we’ll all survive — because we all survived!

Here’s more info on today’s full moon, which is a Strawberry Moon in Sagittarius.

One of my favorite Facebook pages is The Crafty Kitchen Witch, because it’s all about growing herbs, paying attention to Moon Cycles, invoking the power of stones and minerals, ETC., but what it is NOT ABOUT is love spells and scary-hocus-pocus trickery. I like the nature-wisdom aspect of it all.

Some photos from the day at the ranch:

 

Shari the Master Gardener

This past May, I stumbled into a super-funky, super-vintage and totally cool furniture haunt in Bee Cave called Revival and fell in love with the place as soon as I walked in.

The first reason is that they have a pot-bellied pig named Hamlet, who roams the property and always seems to be chuckling at you or with you, I haven’t decided and honestly don’t care. He’s cute and he knows it. He even has his own air stream trailer with his name on it when he’s had it with the paparazzi.

Hamlet

I liked this place as soon as I walked in; it’s got a easy-peasy down-to-earth vibe, the artwork is local and cool, and the furniture and decor pieces are really unique and one-of-a-kind. I’ve had a lovely conversation with every person that I’ve met here.

I attended their first Succulent Class with Shari, their Texas Master Gardener and had a fabulous time with her and appreciate all the things she shared with me. Plus, whoo-wew that’s a fancy title I do declare!

shari

You know how every once in a while, you meet someone you can honestly share a few of the private little corners of your life with, and that person shares a little bit of their private little corners with you and suddenly you become bonded to that person in a special way and it doesn’t even matter if you ever see that person ever again?

Yeah, that happened and it was cool. Shari has spectacular energy and I swear there’s a halo hovering over her too.

I bumped into Shari at Whole Foods a few weeks later and when she saw me, she jumped up and down and said, “Oh, Oh, Oh, I have something to show you!!!!” as she threw things out of her purse onto the counter at customer service. What could she possibly have to show me?

She whipped out her iPhone and showed me her lock screen… it was me and my succulent planter!  I LOL’d all over Whole Foods because it was a goofy photo, but how cool was it that she made it her lock screen?

lockscreen

I asked Shari how she became a Master Gardener and she told me all about the program through Texas A&M and Travis County and wouldn’t you know it that by the end of that day I was signed up for the program and awaiting further instructions.

Well today was my first interview for the Master Gardener Training class, and it was pretty darn cool! Admission to the program is only offered once a year and out of everyone that applies, only 30 are chosen.  I am currently filling out the application and will submit before the June 30th deadline.

Exciting!

I’m also working at Revival now! xoxo

Living with the Cows

Last November, I attended a brilliant Sonia Choquette workshop in Chicago, along with an amazing group of my now-new-peers, peers whom share a desire to live an extraordinarily rich and vibrant life. At the end of this three-day workshop, I declared that I want to be a Modern Farmer. These words felt as if they came rushing out of nowhere, and I’m still not clear I know exactly what being a modern farmer means for me; but my path has definately veered this direction since making the declaration.

Pay no mind to the fact that I was living in my deceased mother’s empty condo in Woodstock, Illinois and was once again “without employment”, which is jargon for “unemployed”.

All things told, I knew swift changes were headed my way.

A week later I was in San Miguel de Allende for Thanksgiving with Reed Burns, my crazy cowboy of an ex-husband. We found our way back to each other, something that surprised us both because we had both said in the past that we were DONE. We have become family again and more important, are friends this time too.

A few months later, here I am in Driftwood, Texas, living in Reed’s 1940s farmhouse on a few acres of land, across the road from Reed, as he lives on the main ranch. I’ve got my dog, a new job (more on than later, when I’m sure I still have a job HAHA), and up until this morning, I had 28 cows living in my front yard.

Cows that Stare

I wouldn’t quite describe this as being a “modern farmer”, but it certainly is a million miles closer to being one than I was last November.

These are Red Angus cows, and are most commonly raised for beef production in the US. Reed’s family ranch is named Charro Ranch, and the cows of Charro have almost 300 acres to graze upon before they go to market twice a year. These are, without a doubt, very HAPPY COWS. They roam, they graze, they reproduce, they raise their young, they yell at each other, they do it all over again.

The cows arriving.

We moved the cows to this property, across the street from Charro Ranch, in order for them to maintenance the land and keep it safe from grass fires. Exactly four weeks later, there is no more grass for them to eat and this morning they went home.

The cows going home.

I adored having the cows here; there were back at the house just about every other day because they work the land in a circular motion, and it took two days to move around the fourteen acres. When they were close by, there were two gals in particular that would hop the fence and dine in the front yard. At first I would escort Helen and Syliva back across the fence line, but then I began to enjoy having them in the yard. Soon their babies joined them and I loved having coffee with the girls and their kids, every other morning in the yard.

They have personalities; some bigger than others, and I enjoyed getting to know them. There is a solid calm about cows that I really admire, they emit a calming affect. Reed thinks I’m crazy for this, but I know what I feel. My dad used to reminisce about how heartbroken he was as a teenager after he sold his favorite cow, Daisy, so he could buy his first car. His eyes would well up with tears every time he told that story and we would laugh at him for getting all emotional over a cow. “Don’t have a cow over a cow Dad, ha-ha-HA!”

I always liked that story and now I get it.

Maybe a modern farmer has cows that cut her lawn and then they go home; I’m not sure.

I am still sorting this out and I love the daily exercise of this life because although I have very few certainties, I am certain that I have never been more awake than I am these days. It’s a whole-lotta-Texas to take in, and sometimes I need a breather from all this country thunder, but *yahoo* I’m living in the Wild, Wild West and am totally grateful for this opportunity.

Next up: chickens in the yard :))

Snakes on a Kayak!

This morning I had a early appointment in Austin so I decided to head out a tad early so I could attempt to kayak the Mighty Lady Bird Lake. I have been all around this lake, which is actually the Colorado River, but never on it, so I was excited for this outing– I haven’t been on a kayak since that chilly day in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin last Fall, when I closed out the season.

I prepared everything the night before and then just as I was ready to hunker down and sleep for the night, Reed said to me, “be careful of the snakes out there.”

WHAT? I forgot all about the snakes.  No, this is the middle of the city, there are no snakes. Are there?

Yes, as it turns out, quite a few of them. Mostly harmess water snakes, but ocassionally a water moccasin (which is also called a cottonmouth) will stalk you because of the heat you are emitting, with plans to consume you, but this rarely, rarely ever happens.

This warning did not stop me from waking at 3am to google Austin snake facts, because I wanted to make sure I was not going to die on this morning or at least miss my appointment. After reading a few forums and lists, I felt fairly confident that even if I did see a snake, I would survive.

And so it was. I was more moved by the amount of garbage in the river at the intersection of Lady Bird Lake and Barton Springs, but all-in-all, it was a lovely morning spent on the water, and I will look to do this again. My arms are sore — oh how I’ve missed this pain! I saw plenty of snapping turtles, pretty birds, fishes down below, but no snakes. The water was clear and beautiful once I made my way down towards Barton Springs. The only thing missing was Henry on the front of my kayak, and that will happen once I decide to buy my own vessel.

I rented a kayak from Texas Rowing Center without a hitch ($10 an hour or $25 for unlimited), but learned out on the water that I should check out the Rowing Dock (located just up west on the river) because they have a better selection of kayaks to choose from. Easier to manuever, sitting higher on the water.

Either way, I will continue to get on out there and do my thing… :)))

Howdy Texas Wildflowers!

How well do you know your Texas Wildflowers?

When I lived in the Hill Country in the mid-2000’s, I barely noticed the colorful array of wildflowers that blew up the Texas roadways come each Springtime, but that wasn’t the case this year. As soon as the State’s prized first bluebonnet showed up in late March, I was all over them with my new Sony-NEC camera, and I have since taken quite a fancy on all the wildflowers I am being assaulted by.

Reed came home one day with a book for me, to help me easily identify the flowers I was exploring with my camera, called very simply, “Wildflowers of TEXAS” by Geyata Ajilvsgi.  

Wildflowers of TEXASMs. Ajilvsgi (no clue!) is a native plant expert on all things Texas, and the book is broken down by colors, because that’s the first obvious way to describe a flower you’re trying to identify, as I’ve not heard anyone ask the question, “well it’s a low, upright, rough-hairy perennial, almost shrub-like, standing about 9 inches high…” 

Botanist humor, how’d I do?

I’ve learned quite a bit with this informative and easy-to-figure-out wildflower directory, but I’ve got nothing on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Aficionados of the Central Texas Area just yet. I do keep this book handy, however, because everytime the wind changes or there’s a spot more moisture in the air, a new flower seems to pop up, and then *poof*, gone in a blink.

I’ve totally been having fun running around shooting the Texas Wildflowers, that is until the fireants took me down a notch and all five bites on my feet got infected and I was out of the game for a few days. I’ve been told I need to carry an epi-pen now….. it’s that serious.

Now I get to wear my cowboy boots all hot sweaty summer because my bare feet should never come in contact with the Texas soil ever again in my life. Why is this State so dramatic?

Sure is purdy though; here’s a few of my shots that I was able to identify & tag on Instagram:

 

Motherless Day 2014

Charro Ranch swimming hole

Every evening at sunset, I have the extreme fortune to jump into a man-made swimming hole in the middle of a Texas Hill Country ranch and it is completely invigorating and effervescent.  The water is cold, the tadpoles are lively, and the scenery is a-buzz, even sometimes with horses or cows.

I am doing this plunge every day for the month of May to help me get settled in my new house and community. I am really enjoying the land and opportunities to rub elbows with nature.  Lawdy the bugs are big and will only get bigger as the summer heats up, so I hold a respectful appreciation of all the creatures whose path I cross. My recent interlude with a scorpion in the kitchen sink reminded me of where I am and who rules the roost in Texas. Not me.

This weekend is Mother’s Day. Wow that year flew by quickly, as they all tend to do as I get older. Even with all the year’s logistical changes, the lessons of my mom’s death are still at the forefront of my thoughts and play a part in almost every action I take, every decision I make.

One year ago, I was FREEZING as I stood on a super-windy pier, tossing my mom’s ashes into the icy waters of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The ashes flew all up and around me but eventually found their way back into the water and I watched with tears in my eyes as the smokey ashes swirled away into the water. It was the biting wind that caused my tears on this occasion and honestly, I gave no thought to Juls’ ashes once they were where she had requested; in Wisconsin.

There were conversations that she would have preferred Green Bay, because she was a diehard Packer Fan. I shot that down because I wanted to keep her close to me. I was adamant that I had to keep an eye on her and make sure she was okay; although I had declined to pick up her ashes from the funeral home until this Mother’s Day. I was certain I did not want her in the house with me — but that I needed to keep an eye on her. Strange, perhaps.

My mom and I always loved Lake Geneva, but never for any shared memories, we each had our own reasons. Now that Juls was in the lake, I started visiting on a regular basis to chat with her. I honestly felt better when I would first see the lake because it felt like she was happy, finally. My mom was not a happy woman, especially later in life, but now I believe she was free. It made me smile to think she was swimming around Wisconsin, in the beautiful clear lake, eating pretzels and drinking beer with all the other Packer fans.

When I was 13, I saw the movie JAWS and I wished I hadn’t, who’s with me on that? Once an avid swimmer, I suddenly was terrified of ALL water and honestly avoided every opportunity to swim in anything other than a chlorinated pool for the rest of my days. I don’t like fish and I don’t like seaweed. I don’t swim in Lake Geneva or any other lake, river or ocean for that matter.

Funny thing happened as I started to visit Juls’ in Lake Geneva, soon I found myself climbing into the water. And swimming. With fish. Naked (when I could get away with it!). And often. I would hike around the walking path on the days I could get up to Lake Geneva and jump in where I could. Preferably at sunset.

I took a paddle-board lesson… LOVED IT, then joined a paddle-board club (“tribe”), where we went on weekend outings. I started kayaking and enjoyed this too because I could bring Henry with me. I LOVED being in the water and still do today — even in Texas, where the bugs and fish are BIG and angry!

Me, the one who was horribly uncomfortable in the water now finds comfort in the water.

I recently read “Motherless Daughters” for the first time and although it tends to mostly speak to women who lost their mothers when they were younger, nonetheless I clearly understand it to say that when a woman loses her mother, no matter what age, her life is profoundly and forever changed.

For me, this has meant re-examining EVERYTHING. I did not set out to do this, but in the year and months since mom died, I have become extremely aware of my own mortality and interested in understanding where I came from and how I became the person I am today. There is also an unstoppable force to be a better person.

I like being nice, who knew?

Not only did my mom die in front of me as we held on tight to each other for the first time in our lives, but she apologized. I may have said this before and I will say it for the rest of my life; my mom’s deathbed apology has altered me forever and because of it, I have worked endlessly to change old, tired beliefs that have never served me — nor my treatment of you.

Juls said she was wrong about me. That she wished she had been nicer to me. Was sorry that she didn’t get to know me better.

When she was saying these things, I said, “CUT IT OUT MOM! It’s not like you are dying or something!” I didn’t know what-what. But that’s okay.

My mom’s apology melted a steel cage from around my heart and this has been an indescribable feeling, and one of the most freeing feelings in my life. See “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” for a better description.

I spent my adult life reading self help books, attending workshops, seeing shamans, psychologists, you name it… always digging to discover what was wrong with me and on and on and on…. and never discovering the answers; that anxiousness and restlessness stayed, churning away at me. I kept hearing it was Daddy Issues and sure there were some of those, but nothing will compare to the freedom pill my mom gave me when she acknowledged some of the choices she made in her life — and for this, she was regretful and was sorry.

My life: changed forever.

The year has not been without heartache nor challenges; I am still recovering from the sting of losing a number of jobs, all my stuff and I lost all my stuff, did I mention this?  But at this point, this has become my Badge of Honor. I am finding my way. I found my ex-husband in Mexico and have made amends for the mistakes I made when I was his wife. We are living together in Texas now, peacefully for the most part, and with a much better understanding and appreciation of each other. He has a very big life and it has been a wonderful opportunity to get to know Reed and his world once again; this time with eyes that love and not hate.

Today I jump in the water with the bugs, frogs and bats at every sunset. I walk the fields with my camera and take pictures of cows, flowers, naughty horses and sunsets. I cook healthy meals that sometime include bacon and BBQ and am enjoying learning about native plants and birds. Oh the birds! I never noticed the birds last time I lived in Texas — and now they sing to me everywhere.

This Mother’s Day I am grateful to have a mom who gave me the greatest gift of all; the gift of a new life, a new beginning, a chance to make things right. I am a happy kid again.

Happy :)

Thank you Mom. Go Packers! xoxoxo

mom and me, 3 years ago

 

 

Photo Essay; Texas Hill Country

I have a new Sony NEX-3n camera and I took it for a spin on our mini-road trip through the Texas Hill Country to see the wild flowers; which ironically were not out, but they are out in full force in our front yard. Still a fun two nights cruising the countryside. Texas LOVES Texas. xoxo

Start: Dripping Springs, TX
–  Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Fredericksburg, TX (the park has free wifi!)
–  Vaudeville Bistro, Frederickbrug, TX
–  Carol Hicks Bolton Antiqueties, Fredericksburg, TX
–   The Woerner Warehouse, Frederickburg, TX
–  Fredericksburg Jewelers, Fredericksburg, TX
–  (Reed gifted me a few Calvin Begay pieces! )
–  Fredericksburg Brewing Company, Fredericksburg, TX
–  Otto’s German Bistro, Fredericksburg, TX
–  Luckenbach, Texas!

The song here —–> Where Everybody Is Someone! 

–  Blanco State Park, TX

One Amazing Act of Kindness

Guardian Angel

I used to scoff at people who claimed they were blessed and/or were grateful. I had a hard time being grateful a few years back…. not so much anymore; I’ve had more than a few brushes with magic and now feel grateful everyday — even on bad days. It’s not perfect, but I stay committed to looking for it.

When I packed up my life a few weeks ago in Illinois to move to Texas, I had five days to do so because I was starting a new job in seven days and had no time to spare. Needless to say, I blasted through quite a bit while sorting things out and tried my best to keep on top of everything, but recently I discovered I overlooked something fairly huge.

More like gargantuan:

My checkbook, my mother’s checkbook, her savings account book, my bank statements with credit card info, a stack of new meagburnt biz cards and a *signed* blank check for made out for $900.00. Oh and a cow notepad.

Apparently I missed the opportunity to include my social security card to this stack of goods.

I received a call with a Michigan area code and of course did not answer it, because who answers an unrecognized number? I then listened to the message from a woman named Becky who recently purchased a red suitcase from the Sparrow’s Nest thrift shop in Woodstock and I almost ran off the Texas Highway, because she had all of the above items that I had left in a donated suitcase. ALL OF THEM.

She was a lovely, lovely woman and asked if she could mail these things to me; of course, of course you can mail these things to me, I would be forever grateful if you would mail these things to me.

I received a large envelope in my new Texas mailbox on Good Friday, along with an Easter card from my Aunt Nancy, who feels incomplete in life if she is unable to send me a card. Life is right again; I have a mailbox!

However, I still need to clean out the bird’s nest…

Mailbox Bird Nest

Inside the big envelope was all of my sacred financial information, as well as a handwritten note. Becky tells me she purchased the suitcase for her son & daughter-in-law, who had just moved to London. Becky and her husband were soon to depart for a visit and had filled the suitcase with 41-pounds of chocolate chips, organic peanut butter, cheez-its, walnuts, Mexican ingredients; all the things the kids were sure to miss from America — she literally told me my suitcase is now very happy in the UK, having delivered all the goodies to the kids! And thanked me for donating the little red suitcase! Becky thanked me in a wonderful twist of karmic goodness.

The Goods Returned!

I read the letter as I walked up my driveway and I was in udder shock by the time I got to my door.  Does this type of kindness even exist in our world today? Yes, apparently so! The proof was in my hands and in this wonderful envelope I received on Good Friday. I’ve thought momentarily of everything that could have gone terribly wrong, but instead I say THANK YOU.

I sent Becky a text when I composed myself and thanked her for the safe return of my things and for her generous spirit, wonderful integrity and cheery letter.  I promised to send her a hand-written note within the next few days — but first I needed to gather the supplies necessary to send an actual hand-written letter.

I wrote that letter-slash-card to Becky and again thanked her for her kindness. I even sent her some photos of my adventures in Texas — and of course London too! My suitcase is having a marvelous time in London! I had a marvelous time in London! I love London!

Lark in London

Now that I have started to gather the materials needed to send hand written notes, I think I will make a habit of this. It was an awesome gift to receive and felt really good — affirming and solid — to send a letter in return to a perfect stranger who saved me from possible financial ruin.

Thank you Universe! I did cartwheels in your honor this Easter Weekend!!

joy joy joy

 Do you want a Texas postcard? Send me your address to larkabouts@gmail.com

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.