Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My beloved and I are birds of a feather

I've been called a lot of things in my life, but a bird isn't one of them. That's a lie. I have indeed been called flighty, but that's a different story for a different time.

Today I am speaking of a young master's degree student from Korea. I met her briefly at a university event in which my beloved and I attended. This student and I only spoke for a few minutes, but her observations astounded me.

"You and he are just the same," she said to me in a voice just above a whisper. I laughed and agreed that my beloved and I both wear glasses these days and after almost 20 years of marriage I could see why she'd think we were beginning to look alike, too.

"No, no, no, " she insisted and pointed to the pair of us. "You are like the birds in my country. They fly together always and are one. Like you."

My eyes filled with tears and I wasn't quite sure how to respond. Her simple observation reached deep into my soul and reminded me how blessed I am to have found such a man to call my beloved.

I have spent the last couple of days wondering what sort of bird she might have been thinking of. I have an affinity toward pictures of peacocks and cranes and I love to watch the bright red cardinals dance around my bird feeder. I obsessively count the flocks of pelicans at the beach, making sure there is an even number since all those birds mate for life. Yes, I can be a silly goose.

And guess what? After some initial research I think the young student was actually talking about wild geese. The wild goose is highly thought of in Korea and is always part of the traditional wedding ceremonies. Apparently a wild goose is given as a gift, even though the bird may only have been hired for the nuptials.

Legend has it that long ago the Korean people noticed that a goose - whose mate was killed - returned to the same spot year after year to mourn her loss. The Wild Goose symbolizes that undying love. During the traditional Korean marriage ceremony there's also a pledge that is given. It says: "Black is the hair that now crowns our heads, yet when it has become as white as the fibres of the onion root, we shall still be found faithful to each other."

That's pretty deep stuff, but I figure it's something I needed to be reminded of the other day. My beloved and I have flown together as a couple for more than two decades and there have been times the journey has made our wings tired. We never give up on each other and I think the reasoning is simple:

There's no other bird I'd rather fly with. Frankly, I think we're both silly geese.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Number One Uncle Teaches Lessons on Love

I have an uncle I deemed as my favorite during childhood. He is the husband of my mother's only sister and he is and always has been the one to go to for fun (or, as he, the Cajun boy would say, 'to pass a good time').

He's the one who taught me to play poker at the ripe old age of 10. He's the one who let my sister, cousin and me ride in the flat bed of his pick up when our mothers said 'NO WAY.' And he's the one who gave us a humongous jar of loose change he'd collected over the years and said we could keep it all if we rolled it.(We spent hours doing just that and ended up with enough cash to buy three tickets to a theme park). He's also the upstanding uncle who stood in line for several gruelling hours along with my sister, cousin and myself as we anxiously awaited the arrival of The Empire Strikes Back at our local movie theatre.

I spent much of my childhood discussing the finer aspects of the Muppet Show with this dear uncle and what new jokes he'd learned. He's also the uncle who introduced my own child to the likes of Sponge Bob Square Pants and the importance of rooting on his favorite football team, the New Orleans Saints. He is, in a word, irreplaceable.

All of these memories have flooded my heart over the last week as I stood at my favorite uncle's hospital bedside and watched helplessly as his life force seemed to slowly slip away from his body. Blood clots had invaded his system and his breath was jagged. He coughed when he laughed and his infectious smile had dimmed. He is the only father I have left and I am not ready nor willing to let him go.

Doctors said they couldn't believe he was still alive. They don't know my uncle. He's the one who survived tours of duty in Vietnam, slayed personal demons as well as the fantastical ones that my sister, cousin and I created.

He is an amazing soul and it's not time for him to go. He has more Sponge Bob to share and more Saints games to cheer on. I will never be able to repay him for the memories he's given me, nor the love. All I can say is I adore this precious man and I promise to remind him for the rest of his days he is an incredibly special Who Dat!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

New Light is Burning Bright

I've been waiting for Divine intervention. That's not my usual M.O. Most of the time I wait for nothing. I leap head first into the abyss and then when I realize that it's a scary and dark place, I freak out and much of the time swim away screaming, wondering why I would ever jump without thinking.

Such has been the case along my perilous path of teaching Yoga. I participated in a beginning teacher training program nearly five years ago. At the time I was determined I would change the world of stressed out people one Yoga class at a time. What I didn't realize is that standing in front of a class of eager students scared the hell out of me. So much so that I would become physically ill before each and every class I taught. Needless to say, my world changing days petered out quickly. I figured I didn't have what it took in yogic knowledge or demeanor to share and/or make a difference.

It was a kind and generous teacher who reminded me time and time again that I did have something to give. He said we all can have a positive effect on life. It is about living the teachings of Yoga. It's about finding the light that is flowing within me and passing it along, paying forward if you will.

Two weeks ago today I graduated from a 200-hour yoga Chakra teacher training with Ayurveda Health Retreat's Inspiration Yoga Institute. Lead by the Masla family, it was one of the hardest, yet most incredibly rewarding experiences of my yogic life. I made connections which will last lifetimes (see above picture of my beautiful yogi brothers and sisters) and a realization that I AM a teacher - even if it scares me every single day.

The light inside of me is burning like a warm campfire flame and I can't wait to share that warmth with others.

Maybe I'm not really waiting for Divine intervention after all. It's been within all the time, I just had to recognize it.
Om Shanti.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Embracing technology tough for this dinosaur

I have an aversion to technology. Not the thought of technology, the actual implementation there of. Even the thought of the constant upgrading now required to live a normal and somewhat satisfying life is enough to give me hives.

Gone are the days of handwritten notes (one of my faves), pocket calendars you actually WRITE in and phones that ring with a ding-aling, rather than a pop song. Now I am sounding ancient. I guess it all boils down to the old adage 'We fear what we do not understand.' And there are many times I truly don't get it.

For example, when the iPhone came out, my engineer/techie minded spouse was one of the first in line to be part of the 'now.' Now he has all these 'Aps' that save him time and money and it's so very hip and cool. He hands it to me in the car so I can be a part of this wonderful future and locate a restaurant on mapquest and I can't even scroll down the darned thing without getting mad and tossing it back in his face.

Then there's Facebook. Yeah, I get it. Got it, actually. I enjoyed finding and re-connecting with old friends and sharing pictures of my last meal. Then a virus found my page and spread sickness to all my cyber friends. Embarrassed and red faced I made a quick exit and retreated to my life as a techno-dinosaur where I now reside in self exile.

As a writer I am told this self exile is somewhat suicidal. How can anyone find me if I am nowhere to be found (except punching away on my laptop's keyboard on this blog or published on an online magazine)? I agree. It's just so hard.

Last night I decided, this is it. The best way to conquer fear is to embrace it all. I am setting up a Web page, a twitter account and getting back on the Facebook horse. I figure with all this technology, something's gotta stick, right?

Did I tell you I just finished reading my first book on my Nook? Only took me two months to figure out. (My sister is so proud and my husband's rolling his eyes).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Giving up Hope Works Wonders

I gave up hope for Lent.

Not really. I am an eternal optimist. I usually think things are going to turn out well in the end. I have hope for a better tomorrow. But when it comes to my fiction writing and publishing what I have written, hope has waned of late.

Actually, as the Lenten season began I had truly given up all hope that my work would be read by anyone except my closest loved ones. And you know what happened? Three of my stories were accepted for publication and one of those actually won first runner up in a contest.

(Check on page 56 of the spring issue and find my name and click at The third story runs on in June.)

It's a bizarre turn of events, being that I have struggled with publishing since leaving my day job as a newspaper journalist quite a few years back. I thought I'd come to terms with it, but as I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking about my yogic path I realized I had not accepted anything at all. I was always hoping for more or at least a different outcome.

It was this self study, known as Svadhyaya, the fourth Niyama (personal observances) of the eight-limbed path of Yoga, which made me realize I needed to accept and even welcome my limitations. Quite hard for a perfectionist like myself, let me tell you.

Well, all this self study has put me in a different mind set. Instead of feeling desperate to be noticed with my writing I actually came to terms with the fact that if I'm not "discovered" it's ok. More than ok. It's what's meant to be.

Of course, in giving up hope, I didn't give up trying. I still sent out my work and did so with love and care. Only, this time I told myself "I'm good enough no matter what happens."

That's when the news started coming in that some flash fiction stories were being published and a young adult novel I've written was requested by a publisher. It made me nervous at first, thinking this is it. This is my only time. I need to enjoy the moment.

Hogwash. Giving up hope for certain outcomes has worked wonders. From now on I am going to wish for the best, wherever that wish is meant to take me.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Stumbling Along the Eight Limbed Path

I'm a sprinter, not a distance runner. I learned that during high school when I decided the Cross Country team would be a neat idea. It wasn't the usual geeky club thing I gravitated toward - like Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society or helping run the school newspaper. It was a sport, a real sport in which you tested your physical endurance and ability to go the distance each and every day.

Going the distance has always been difficult for me. I am constantly distracted by shiny things along the path and veer away from the task at hand when it becomes a little uncomfortable or downright scary. I can be pit bull-like when I want to be, but mostly I flit along in my own little world until I realize I've gotten way off track.

Needless to say, when I first heard Yoga described as the Eight Limbed Path to enlightenment, I got a little nervous. Eight limbs would give me quite a bit of wiggle room to get side tracked and I needed no help in that department.

Fast forward almost six years and one could argue I've gotten so off course no map could possibly locate me. But, I think that happens to us all. We get lost in the every day and that's ok as long as we're living in the moment and not drowning in it.

In an effort to understand my own choices and my path I decided to re-read Yogi Rolf Gates' inspiring book (from 2002), Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga.

When I first read it I was a bit lost and wanted to take a day by day look at this path I'd chosen to follow - not as a writer, a daughter, a sister, a mother or a wife, but as a woman searching for her true self.

It's amazing what a few years will do. I am now getting an entirely different message from the essays Gates weaved together which number 365. I read one per day (I'm on day 59) and notice how insightful this man truly is. He understands that yoga is not about what poses you can pretzel yourself into, it's about showing up on the mat every single day. Showing up for life and being present.

I should've done this re-reading sooner, but I realize that was part of my path - to pick this book up a few years later and try it on for size again. It's a way for me to see how far I've come and the distance I still have to go.

Oh, and about that Cross Country team...I caught Mono and never did finish a season. But, my sister did. She stuck to it four years, improved each year and even lettered.

She's always been an inspiration to me, just as Gates' book is. I keep stumbling on this yogic path, but I am committed to follow the path wherever it finishes. Maybe I will share my insights as I make my way through.

Friday, February 11, 2011

To Submit or Not to Submit? That is the question.

I am a writer because I write. It's a simple statement that took me years to work up the courage to say out loud concerning my fiction writing.

During my 15-year-career in newspapers/magazines I always referred to myself as a "journalist," or a "reporter," or an "editor" depending on my job or the person asking me the question. Never once did I respond that I was a writer. In my mind, that job description was reserved for those who got paid to write fiction, or at least had their fiction published.

After my first short story was published I felt I had earned the right to call myself a writer - a real writer. But, the fiction publishing world is a fickle friend at times and, well, she hasn't been too sweet on me for quite a while. Yes, I have written three romantic suspenses, a middle grade novel, a YA and more flash fiction than I care to admit. Very little has reached the hands of readers, other than my sister and some very close friends.

So, when I was asked (several times in one week) how I could be writing for so long and have so little published I got that nervous non-publishing twitch I get.

The question was: "Are you submitting regularly?"

It's a fair question, yet I didn't know how to respond. I am a writer - I WRITE. Do you count the dozens of queries to agents and small publishing houses over the years whose rejections could wallpaper my bathroom? But, I thought about it a little more. My submissions are spotty. I submit here and there after loads of research. I don't saturate any markets. And a few dozen down I toss the manuscript or story in a drawer and move on.

Mostly it's ok with me. I write because I have to. I have no other choice. It's who I am. But if I truly want to be a regularly PUBLISHED writer I need to regularly submit. Here's my promise. I will spend one day a week submitting my work to no less than five appropriate outlets.

I need to be committed to more than writing as a writer. I need to find some readers!