Toast! to not knowing what to Toast so toasting…this moment…

Wow.  I’m sounding sorta vague. “sorta vague”  Redundant, I know.  That’s where I’ve been lately, I think.  In this hazy vagueness…Due to having alot on my plate, many balls in the air, juggling with both hands and feet, running in circles, breathing too fast and too shallow, feeling angst that’s keeping me stuck and wow…how many other ways can I describe what’s up with me? 

See- we have been blessed with good fortune. Good health. Many friends. Family support. Love. Laughter. Confidence in our work. Peace. 

And yet, my mind battles the fear that’s it’s all some cruelass joke, it will crumble and I’ll get hurt. YET….here it comes…YET there is nothing to indicate any of my fears are true. Or will BE true.  Reality is good.  My inability to accept that–is the mind game that is keeping me awake at night.  And it’s exhausting worrying all the time. 

I’m a dramatist. Notice I didn’t write ‘drama queen’??  A dramatist. I create story. A storyteller. And I LOVE A GOOD STORY! But for it to be good the stakes have to be high, like…make your heart hurt, skin ripped at the knuckles from crawling to save your soul kinda stakes. However they’re defined, they have to run deep. They have to be big. They’re the shit good movies are made of.  It’s my job to be able to create these stakes, so in my life, at times like this, my urge is to find these stakes. Not create them. I don’t crazymake any more. I can proudly say that destruction doesn’t happen in my life any more.  I tend to ‘search’ for the stakes now. When I sit, that’s what my  mind is doing. When I’m in spin class, that’s what my mind is doing. When my husband laughs and hugs me, that’s what my mind is doing. I’m searching for what’s going to go wrong if and when something does.  

And now I’m tired of it.

I have multiple story and film projects with a host of characters that are in various states of angst that I can give this energy to. I have the support to create the time to let the characters do this, for them to work out their own shit on their own journeys. I have amazing friends that let me ramble to work things out. I have the gym. If I wasn’t so scared of deep breathing, I’d have yoga (that’s coming…I know…) I have my husband. My family. My shrink. Brene Brown. Elephant Journal. Rebelle Society. Funny girlfriends. Loving girlfriends. Deep philosophical girlfriends. Music. Hummingbirds outside my freakin window! and…AND The Great Spirit.  

Any of these things I can focus on and say “here’s my Toast! to….”  But my feeling. Feelings… My emotions are sorta kinda spread out…not firing off in any one direction. I’ve got some hurt going on because ‘searching’ for stakes mean I peruse my memories for what’s hurt me in the past and COULD blow up now, but isn’t….like…friends who ditched me. Betrayed me. Old grief.  I have no desire to engage them, to pick at those wounds….because… in the midst of all this, I have learned to find my feet. To ground. To come back to here. To now. 

This moment. 

So…as I take up this blog again, pushing to expel what’s holding onto me, creating obstacles to my joy, to making me question my worth and what I deserve… I guess I start here. Now.  

This morning’s Toast! is to Toasting this moment. 

 

Peace. 

 

Toast! to Facebook friends when you’re called the N-word…

Yeah.  That’s what happened. And I posted the incident to FB as soon as I could. In the parking lot of the post office, ignoring the tingling of fear I felt, wondering about this young man who threw his hatred for me at me. 

I was in line (because there’s always a line at the post office) and was being assisted by this lovely older Black woman in line behind me. I was looking for labels for priority mail. She told me where to look, which stands to check out, so I left the line to go see, with her holding my space. When I came back there were four more people behind her but I stepped into my space, continuing my conversation with her about express mail labels and not finding priority mail labels.  A young man and his girlfriend walked up and stepped right in front of me.  He was white, I think.  I’m going to show my ignorance right now- he had dark skin and was darker completion, not as dark as me, but he may have been Armenian, part Latino, or had some ethnicity somewhere in his lineage, or was white guy with dark hair.  

The woman that was helping me told him that the line was behind the people behind her. He turned, glared and said “you were standing back there so I stepped in here” or something like that. So I said, “oh, no, the line is back there.” I think I started to explain where I was, or something…kindly. He couldn’t have been more than 20 so I’m sure my “mama-ness” kicked in. My girl is 21. But then to my surprise he snapped at me, “then you should stay in line.”  I didn’t respond because I surprised by  his tone. Really? I was being scolded?  

But before I could even fully process that question, he walked to the proper place in line saying “of course you get to go first because you niggers–”  Eruption from the woman and I think somebody else, there were multiple voices objecting to this. The woman said “hey, hey. we’re not going to go there!” And I said, looking at him, “Look, we all have to stand in line and nobody likes that–” but he cut me off by mumbling something about “Black–” And somebody said “hey!” I was shocked. I stared at this kid while he glared at me…with such hatred. Pure hatred.  All I could I say was “wow!” 

I turned away and that thing happened- uncomfortable strangers tried to connect. We got chatty. The woman and I talked loudly about the labels, she showed me her package being sent to her sisters. The man in front of me told me he runs a t-shirt business and mails priority boxes all the time. He lives close to post office. Then we lamented on the length of line- it just takes time, and even though there’s a post office near the woman’s daughter’s school, this one was still more convenient.   At one point I looked at the white guy in line behind the Black woman and he looked…embarrassed. Sad. He lowered his eyes.  But I was extra nice. Extra friendly. I was over the top kind because…I was nervous. And embarrassed and surprised. Shocked.  

It has been a long time since I was called that word. It had been a long time since some bigot showed their true colors to me. I was prepared. 

And yes, we get prepared. I have to. But this was in my neighborhood. Echo Park in Los Angeles. Predominantly brown folk. Latinos. Filipinos. Black -(not alot of Blacks), White…hipsters. Liberals. Funky artists. Nobody looks at me here. Nobody stares at me and my multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, shades of tan family.  Nobody. And yet this kid did this. 

He was in a different line at a different package pick-up window when I left. He glared at me as I walked by. His tiny beautiful girlfriend kept her head down. I didn’t call him an asshole until I got outside the building. 

So, attempting to process this I posted it on FB. Right away. And then as I drove away, I took a deep breath and got emotional. I cried. I called Peter and ranted, quickly processing what happened.  

It saddens me that this kid can wear his hatred so proudly, he could be so bold to hurl it at us like that.  Yes, I was angry. I still am. What the f?? Right??  But I’m more hurt not just because of being called a word that cuts so deeply, but because in this world,  in our world today, hatred flows freely and his privilege dictates his actions- it was okay to him to use that word and step in front of me. 

Now- I’m not taking this heart like this was my fault. I’m not being self-critical. I know I was kind and civil in my tone. That comes naturally. I didn’t have to think of how to address him when he budged. And after he called me the N-word, I was on auto-pilot  and… didn’t want things to escalate? I was so shocked I didn’t think my next step through…? I tried to commiserate with him, about the line, about how nobody likes to wait in line, but we’re in this together.  

But what was intentional, was me posting to FB this incident because my friends rushed to me, bringing me comfort and support. Their outrage, their empathy, their love for me and our community was what is healing from this experience.  I got cyber hugs and rants and wishes of peace. I got confirmation that I not only handled this situation well, but that in no way is this about me. It’s not. Racism, acts of racism, are about the person who fears my difference so deeply, they’ll lash out violently to protect what they think is theirs.  It’s twisted and hurtful. But it’s not my shit.  

Last night, the posts were still coming on my wall, so I drew great comfort reading them before I turned out my bedside light. But I wondered about this kid- did he find pride in his actions? Did he boast to anyone? Did he retell the story so he was the victor? Did he have to make me mean, or uppity to deserve to be called the nigger? Who has been pushing him around? Who taught him that this behavior was okay? And what’s going to happen to him when he exerts his privilege to the wrong person and shit goes down hard on him, because it will.  It will. But that’s not my burden to carry.  I can feel sorry for his pain. I will feel sorry for his pain, when I get there to that point in my processing. If I see him just a kid with his limited capabilities, then I can feel sympathy for his pain and send him peace.  Awww…this is a lesson I’m learning overall in life. As I deal with betrayals, with hurts from people I care about, I keep coming back to this notion about capabilities and how we all function from what we know. It’s simple. And people can’t do more than that so perhaps this is all this kid knows. 

I am going to stand in the space held by my friends and family that is filled with love and support, with the same daily wish for peace and harmony. 

So today, I Toast! my Facebook friends who came to my aid when I was called the N-word. I am grateful for you all!

Thank you. 

Peace

#healing #racism #community #Blackfolk #harmony #outrageatbigotry #loveheals #theawfulN-word 

Toast! to Calming Forces, like my Hus-b

Tuesday we made our way to Mexico.  Up at 3 am to get to the airport by 5:30, fly out at 7:30. We landed in Cancun and our adventure began. 

Our first destination is Chichen Itza- a place where I’m so open for transformation, I feel giddy and alive. I’m already shaking with vibrations!  I’ve been on this journey, this amazing, incredible hard-ass journey for awhile now. Years, really.  As an artist, I can feel how all that I’m healing and learning is shifting my writing. I’m thrilled. 

But to get here yesterday- we had to take a bus to downtown Cancun.  (guidebooks can be full o shit- there was no direct bus to here)  In downtown Cancun we bought a bag of gorditos, two Mexican Cokes and got a bus to Piste. FOUR AND A HALF HOURS.  yup.

But…as we stopped in every tiny little town, every roadside check point to pick up folks getting off work, people selling panuchos and candy, teenagers who made out in the backseat, old women with children, men who were finally relaxing, I saw a part of Mexico, this Yucatan area that I would not have seen if we hit that fast first class and just whizzed on over here.

The need for calming forces came just as we were heading into Piste, though.  We drove past the hotel which pricked at some panic. I was thinking the driver already knew we needed to stop there, but we had failed to tell him the hotel. We said Chichen Itza, so he drove 7 km farther to the town of Piste. And it was raining. Pouring. Sheets of rain.  Panic grew. I complained to Peter that would never get a cab. How the hell would we get back to our hotel. He’s gonna drop us off in the middle of that tinyass town and then what? I wasn’t walking 7 km in the freakin rain dragging my suitcase. Damn. Damn. Damn.

Peter calmly told me baby don’t worry. It will be alright.

We got dropped off. In the middle of a tinyass town. In the pouring rain.  As Peter got our luggage out from luggage compartment on the side of bus, the bus driver stood on the steps to avoid getting wet and waved to me…like, what are you standing there looking at me for? Go now. I tried to ask him for a taxi. Did I mention I don’t speak Spanish??  But my loving, now drenched husband does. I ran to the entry of a market with my suitcase. I dug out my raincoat,my umbrella, and continued cussing. The bus drove away. And across the street, next to a bus going in the opposite direction, was Peter, talking fast to the driver. He hollers to me Baby it’s okay!

He runs to me, grabs his suitcase and backpack. I grab my bag, camera case and suitcase and follow him across the street.

I didn’t stop to look for traffic. I realized that much later that I just ran out into the street and didn’t even look. Obviously I was okay. I was just wet. Big deal. I may think I’m sweet at times but I sure as hell don’t melt!  lol!

But once we got dropped off at our hotel, looking like a couple of drowned alley cats, we made our way to our bungalow.  

Then, though, we found out we missed the restaurant by about 5 minutes. Kitchen closed.  We had KIND bars from traveling. And water. And gum. And breath mints.  If that was my dinner I was going to cry.  But Peter, again, my calming hero, went to the kitchen and asked them for anything.  

Bliss came bout 10 minutes later when we sat on the beautiful patio, eating hot ham and cheese sandwiches on bread that tastes like my grandmas, and sipping ice cold Sol beer.  

So, the Toast for Tuesday goes to Calming Forces, like Peter, my hus-b. 

Happy Anniversary, Baby. 

 

Peace

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Toast! to BIG Knee-slapping Laughter

I have some girlfriends with the most amazing laughs. Loud, robust, their laughter rumbles up from deep within their beautiful souls and bursts from them, filling the air we share with love and light and…O I love laughing with my girlfriends. 

I have so many memories of laughing so hard with my daughter that I’ve practically peed my pants. Some of the most joyful memories I have of watching the relationship of Bird with Peter has been the way he makes her laugh.  We spit up food and hoot and holler. We laugh so hard, we cheer!  It’s so wonderful to feel so good! My father-in-law has this distinct laughter, a….squeak…or I can’t even describe it but let me tell ya, taking him to a funny movie is the best!  Jon thrills everyone with his full participation in the comedy. And often, at the dinner table, he and Peter will get on a roll and the house will shake like thunder from so much laughter.  Love.

The people who are not in my life now- the friends I’ve lost, the times I miss them the most is when I remember laughing with them, back when we were real and connected by love.  

And this laughter, I want to be clear, is not being mean about others. It’s not gossiping or laughing at some else’s expense. It’s truly silliness, just good old fashioned funny stuff.  

I think we don’t do that enough. I think that snark has become equated with wit. I think that a person’s feelings is easily tramped one for the possibility of a laugh. I think cruelity is too common, offensiveness is okay.  And that saddens me. Deeply. 

As an artist. I don’t write funny. I can be funny, sometimes. But it’s rare for me to “get the laugh” and when it does happen (here’s a confession) I walk away thinking of the encounter, dinner, party or whatever it was and I remember the line that got the laugh and I actually tell myself “good job”.  I know…dorky but I’m just happy I made someone happy for a second. Or two. 

The stories I write though, are dramatic. Tense. Deep. I can make you cry before I make you giggle. I’m often raw and I work hard to show the humanity in my characters, which means I dig up their vulnerability and put it out there for the world to see.  Eee….that’s not funny shit.  

So maybe that’s why I have such a huge appreciation for what makes me laugh. For the people who make me laugh. That must be the balance.  It’s a cleansing of my soul…a cleansing in tickling bubbly water.  Nice. 

So today’s Toast! is to BIG knee-slapping Laughter and the people who tickle you!  

PEACE

#Toast! #healing #peace #creativewriting #filmmaking

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Toast! to Wise Women and some Kale Salad

In the last few years of focusing on my health, losing weight, understanding what food really is, and not just what foods are good for me but my relationship to food, I’ve come to love to cook. Sometimes.  Sometimes, I love when my husband “goes out into the wilderness to hunt for our food” (hear him like he’s an Ancient One, a Indian warrior, bow and arrow strapped across his back, loincloth, the whole bit) and he comes home with Thai food from our favorite Thai joint up the street.  Sometimes, I love to turn on a sitcom rerun and lose myself in laughter while preparing a healthy meal.  

Recently, though, a new joy is cooking for others. I love making a dish to share with my writers’ group or with Lit Chicks book group, or yes… please…a potluck?!  I make some amazing salads thanks to Weight Watchers. In the past I only made frybread.  My grandma’s recipe.  It’s sweeter than most frybread you’d come across and it’s filled with memories of her.  I  invoke her spirit when I make frybread. My joy now with frybread is that my daughter and my niece make it, carrying on the tradition. I may still make it for the next time I’m to bring something for a dinner or party but it is white flour, sugar, yeast and Crisco… and for me to honor my wise women in my world, I go for healthy, gluten-free and pure yummy.  Hence….Kale Salad. 

Last night I was blessed to be in the company of some incredible women. Beautiful spiritual loving creatures.  I always show up at the moon meditation fully open to the experience for my own spiritual growth but also open to the love and support that generates in the room, that encircles us and holds us as we make a meditative journey into our bodies and hearts.  Last night, though, I brought kale salad to share for afterwards.  

Now- I know there’s a possible big imbalance between the gift the amazing astrologer and healer, Rachel Lang, gives us leading us on these meditation and the intuitive deep love from the other women compared to a kale salad..but… (picture me grinning now) I know that when I tore the kale leaves off the rib, when I mixed the coconut flakes with it, when I shook up the dressing, doing a little dance cuz I had some happy rockin’ 70′s music going on, I was infusing this salad with my kind of love. My house filled with the smell of roasted love…yeah, man.  

Yes, I was hoping they liked it, but I was really just happy to share. I felt good giving. I felt good. Wow- that makes this whole experience a selfish act but not selfish in a negative way, but selfish in the most beautiful way. Self-love.  And cuz it really is a gorgeous yummyass salad- I got to share the way I know how. 

So, today’s Toast! is to Wise Women and some Kale Salad! 

Cook with love today. 

Peace

Toast! to...Kicking Fear's Ass with Roses in A Walk Thru the N'hood

When I lived in Minneapolis some of my best mornings began with me rising early, riding my bike 15 minutes along the Mississippi River to the Minnehaha Falls. I’d pass people walking dogs, some on their front steps getting their paper, greeting the day. At the Falls, though, I’d park my bike and stare into the water crashing over the waterfall. I’d say good morning to nature, good morning to Great Spirit.

I felt connected. I feel tiny pebbles of peace that I’d gather and shove in my pockets to hold for later in the day.

When I moved here to Los Angeles, I first blown away by the nature, by plants and trees so exotic for this Minnesota chick to see…on my own street! Beautiful. Living here in Silver Lake I also the joy of the amazing hills. Winding roads lead to breathtaking views that I often feel are peeks into my future. Out there, over the landscape of Los Angeles, my films will come together, my stories will be made. Yes, I am one of the worker bees in this vast city but here I am, looking out over the edge, knowing that I will make it there.

Then there are days when I can’t see the horizon, when I wake with my fears so close I feel their darkness bearing down on my shoulders, whispering ‘nothings..you are nothing….’ with their rancid breath. Yes, I have a really vivid visualization of what my fears look like. I also know that they’re tricky, smart and conniving. They have many creative ways to layer their insults, to shut me down. And those are the mornings when I have to take my husband’s hand and go for A Walk Thru the N’hood…to stop and smell the roses. Literally.

This morning- I didn’t smell them, though. He did, but I realize now I was in full rant mode at that moment. I was purging some negativity and fighting the pain of being kicked aside by an old friend, the sadness of losing another friend and the anxiety around dealing with this grief. Frantically searching for the lesson I’m to learn. Even the time I spend with the most loving friends, I still ache to understand what went wrong with others.

This morning, I didn’t stop to smell the roses. So, I’ve found this photo taken awhile ago, invoking the memory of those roses with me now. They are: love. Love from my partner, my handsome hus-b, Peter. Our INCREDIBLE DAUGHTER, BIRD!, our family in Minnesota, DC, Alaska. “Friend-family” here in Los Angeles and back home. Good health. Our gift of time and support to write and create. And the gift of our ancestors, spirit storytellers who are here with me, always.

My roses are kicking fear’s ass this morning. And I’m taking deep breaths to let them do that.

So- here’s the Toast! to Kicking Fear’s Ass with Roses…in A Walk Thru the N’hood.

Peace

Toast! to Marriage...according to the photo booth

Yesterday Peter and I attended the wedding of two of the most beautiful people we know. It was gorgeous! Malibu mountains in the background, flowing wine and love and laughter. Beautiful.

This photo was taken mid-dancing that evening. A copy of this went in a book for the lovely newly wedded couple. We wrote next to it this: 1. What marriage really is. 2. What you think marriage really is. 3. What marriage REALLY is…

It was funny! The first one we were discussing what how we were gonna pose, what should we look like, what message we were going to leave and when do the pictures actually get taken. I was talking a lot and Peter was listening. lol!

The second photo we did what always comes naturally…when all else fails, kiss. I love that.

And then we posed for the third. For fun sake. We didn’t think about the caption until we saw the photos.

Thinking about them now, my first urge is to take our caption back; say this isn’t true and apologize for giving Mireya and Sean the wrong message. But I think we were right..for 1 and 3.. Number 2 has the incorrect caption. Eyes closed, all-heart, full-on love kisses are marriage, too. It’s a blessing, the deepest of blessings (second only to children).

So, this photo is going on our fridge alongside pictures of Bird, family photos. pictures of the babies and children that we’re blessed to have our lives. It will always be there to show us all what marriage is.

Today’s Toast! is the Marriage according to the photo booth!

Peace and love.