Saturday, December 1, 2018

It's Holiday Season!

Dear Friends,

Tis the season to count our blessings. It’s easy to forget in the aftermath of fires/floods/tornadoes/shootings/and loss of loved ones. We’ve all counted our losses. Some more than others. These days I’m ready to start over.

One great blessing of 2018 was moving to my downtown Santa Barbara digs and finding a groovy job. But since I’ve had my place and my job for eight whole months, I’m ready for something new.

Generally, this means shopping. But my Christmas dollars were spent on ONE GIANT MUSIC GIFT, so it’s off to the 99 cent store. I can use the walk and it’s fun shopping for one my favorite things: Kleenex. I love the 3-pack version with different sayings. “Summon Your Strength.” “Find Your Fearless.” “Believe In Yourself.” I have packets scattered throughout my home, office, purses, and car. Once at Unity Santa Barbara, a woman was sneezing so much that I gave a pack from my purse. A handy way to be there for a friend, or stranger.

But before my walk I’m sitting on the front porch in my pj’s and robe to call a friend. Or maybe write to a friend, or maybe read a book. Or maybe just sit and stare while sipping a second cup of tea.

Holiday season has begun, so I’m taking care of myself.  Whatever is happening I know one thing. If everyday’s a gift, then it’s Christmas Tonight.
May you and yours have a blessed, magical holiday.
  
 Love Dorothy 


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love and Purses

This year is the 3-year anniversary of my Mother’s passing. She’s on my mind because traditionally, she would send a funny Valentine with $10 and a note to treat myself to lunch. This Valentine’s I am celebrating Mom’s and my shopping trips by hunting down the perfect $10 purse! In addition to cruising stores like TJ Maxx and local consignment shops, thrift store shopping is something I still do with my family. (I know there’s an uncruised thrift store calling to me.)

Holidays can be hard to handle if your loved ones have died. Here’s a partial from today’s passage of Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working through Grief by Martha Whitmore Hickman.

"If there is one thing grievers know, it is how changeable our moods can be. One moment we are relatively calm, in control, keeping our grief at bay. The next moment we are overwhelmed, our equilibrium shattered. Anything can send us off-a fragrance, the words of a song, an article in the newspaper that reminds us of our loss, the first sign of spring-and our loved one not here to share it. Even minor holidays-like Valentine's Day-can send us reeling...Our lives have been shattered by loss. Of course it will take time for the pieces to come together in any coherent pattern.

I will be patient with myself, honoring the seasons of my grieving, trusting I am on my way to being healed."

Here’s to love and purses.

For those who can't go shopping with me, visit my Pinterest page Decadence to virtually shop through my favorite bags.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

HELP!!!


It’s a week after the Montecito mudslide. The town is uninhabitable and the residents and neighbors are grieving over the deaths and the loss. The 101 freeway is still closed. There are dozens and dozens of agencies and fundraisers assisting those affected by the disaster. I want to help too, but feel confused by the choices.

Confusion over choices means STOP. This allows me to separate anxiety about my own life’s challenges from my neighbors needs. For instance, during the Thomas Fire I left the area to take care of myself, but set up my room rental in the event that my housemate knew someone who needed to evacuate for a few days.

Help Welfare Hope Donations Volunteer ConceptBeing an expressive arts facilitator, my initial response to assist was to grab a group and teach them how to relieve stress using crayons, collage, movement and journaling. But I need this for myself first. Discussing ways to assist with friends and letting the ideas marinate has created space around my reaction to just do something already.

This process of intention, inquiry, reflection, research/discussion of ideas, then back to reflection is an excruciating process for a do-do-doer such as myself. It also makes me feel like a grownup. The only action required is to pray for help on helping.

Finally, a breakthrough in the most serendipitous way.

Yesterday a friend called while on my way to walk on the beach. I pulled over and chatted while strolling through a tree-lined suburban neighborhood. On the way back to my car was a familiar landmark: a church listed on the Red Cross website for an upcoming blood drive.

Initially I had rejected this idea because my ego wanted to help out in a bigger, bolder, creative way. But this is not where I am at. I’ve done large creative projects as a donation in the past but today is not my past. And I've just had a magnificent dance with procrastination regarding my own projects, which yielded these insights.

  • Showing up for myself is the only way to help.
  • Donating blood is enough.
  • When procrastination invites me to tango, I’ll watch Tim Urban’s comedic Ted Talk on the topic. Or not.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Leaving Santa Barbara


Armageddon begins with free parking for eternity. When I returned to Santa Barbara on the 11th day of the Thomas fire I stopped at my PO Box. I drove into the Victoria Street Station lot expecting to pull a ticket. But happily and hopefully with pay, the attendants have been set free to breathe. The parking arms were up and several cars were circling the lot hoping that someone who didn’t have to leave, would. I double-parked and scurried the few yards into the post office and back.

Once home, I snapped a photo of the Adirondack chair covered in ash, ate a bowl of cereal and contemplated staying while reading through the mail. Staying meant emptying my packed car of precious items because I park on the street.

I pulled a prayer card from my Doreen Virtue Mother Mary card deck. The answer was to pray and wait for an answer. I thought about how nice it felt to be home, to be in my sweet little furnished room rental. Though visiting friends is great, I miss my space when I’m gone. In spite of the fire being 10 miles away and the mandatory evacuation zone only several blocks away, I felt safe. Then helicopter number one flew overhead. Upon hearing the second chopper I got up for a look-see. It was orange and flying out towards the neighboring hillside: firefighting.

Between being stuck inside due to ash and smoke, as well as the sounds of the firefight, it was too stressful to focus on my work. So I packed a few more things, called my brother in Anaheim and left. I cried on the drive through the surreal scene of smoke covered hills, more plumes of smoke indicating the back burn fires set by the crews, and in Ventura, the fire engines parked along the Seward overpass with firemen standing on top. They were honoring fireman Cory Iverson as his body was transported to the medical examiner’s. In a fast food parking lot off the 126, I watched a small fire come over the top of the hill across the highway and quickly spread. Maybe it was preventative. Maybe not.

As I stood in line to order, a young man asked if I was a teacher. He explained that he was a film student, but was contemplating teaching as a backup plan. Yes I have taught. But as a writer I told him of my regret not jumping in wholeheartedly, no backup plan strategy. He was looking for approval more than advice. Being in a hurry, I quickly agreed to his idea.

I did not catch his name, or know anything else about him. But if you happen to meet him, please tell him this: if you keep your heart open to your life’s calling, the grace of life itself is your backup plan. To paraphrase Annie Dillard, “if you really want something, make yourself an arrow and aim yourself there.”

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Happy New Year?

It's the third month of the year...do you know where your vision is?
Lots of us start out with big plans, yet we run out of steam before January 31.

I've learned to set my sights on enjoying NOW while I set intentions for tiny events to look forward to.

For instance, I walk into work at 8am and I'm looking foward to my cup of tea and my 10am walk.
At 10:15 after my walk, I intend to have a fun, nuturing, inspiring or restful lunch...and even decide whether I'd like to spontaneously run into a friend or not.

By Tuesday, I start making fun plans for the weekend, something wonderful to look foward to.

While I do have my larger plans for myself, this year, I made a fun collage and took a photo to keep on my phone.

It's a fun way to stay inspired, and enjoy my Now.

What keeps you in the Now???

Friday, December 23, 2016

Happy Holy Days

I'm setting up my Christmas tree and thinking about Christmas past.
I have my tea, tunes and a couple of gifts to wrap. I feel pretty happy.

Being happy and solo at Christmas can be challenging: especially when I pay more attention to outside expectations than to my inside feelings. ❤

I've been doing the holidays solo for a lot of years.  I've learned that honoring the wide range of feelings that occur around this emotionally charged season is my gift to myself. 

This means...

  • navigating lonely when holiday cards with family photos show up in my mailbox.
  • making fun plans with friends.
  • setting up the Pic n Save tree from my 1st apartment
  • putting a Santa hat on the doll Mom made when I was 5. 

Christmas 2015
The holidays mean my tradition of laughing/crying/laughing over the photos of Christmas past. This photo collage is from last year's trip to Carpinteria with my brother Joe (red jacket), my solo trip to the Santa Barbara museum and a January party for my pal Brian's 50th. 

 Reminiscing is grounding. It helps me realize that everything changes. I don't know where I'm going to be next Christmas, but I do know this

 I'm going to spend my time following my joy, wherever it leads.
 
In the spirit of all that is holy and lovely, Happy Holidays from my family to yours.





  


Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Body of Life: Using Photo Collage to Celebrate Loved Ones

It's been 22 years since my brother and father both passed away.

Steev's birthday is 10/27 and Dad died on 10/30 so I dread the last week of October.
But it doesn't have to be this way.

Even if my body feels sad, even if my heart is crying, I can celebrate their life with a Day of the Dead style altar. 

Traditionally, the Dia de los Muertos celebration is from Nov 2 to Nov 3, but you can create an altar anytime. 

I have a year-round altar that I update weekly, so I opted for this photo collage.

Because Mom, and her granddog, (Steev's dog) Kimber have also passed, I added their photos as well.


This process made me happy because it reminded me of how silly Mom was--here she is showing off her new microwave and that Steev loved to travel.

Though I'll take the collage down after 24 hours, it was a fun way to remember---and celebrate everyone in my family. I'll be celebrating the holiday season the same way by creating another photo collage of past holiday celebrations.