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Likes & Loves: Bare Feet and Poodle Fur, etc.

This is the first (small and spontaneous) in an ongoing series.  It feels So Good to be grateful for the many gifts each day (each moment) offers us.  The more we choose to focus our thoughts/feelings/energies towards gratitude and appreciation the better we feel and the more open we are to receive those gifts.  Give it a try!
  • my loving/supportive/wise/creative/fun life partner
  • life (energy) being regenerated in the compost pile
  • bare feet touching the floor and, even better, the earth
  • more hours of sun/light
  • the flight/beauty/grace/language/songs/feathers/nests of birds
  • older ladies and men still active and full of life
  • the innocence, imagination, and free-ness of children
  • poodle/wire fox terrier fur (hair)
  • organically grown fruits and veggies (especially locally farmed)
  • the smell of: lavender, oranges, granola out of the oven
  • the sound/vibration of purring
  • people sharing their positive energy and attention freely (volunteering/giving/being-of-service)
  • Abraham-Hicks’ wisdom and guidance
  • the releasing/healing/balancing/energizing of acupuncture (and acupressure)
  • warm smiles
  • feeling/knowing the love, support, respect, and honor of dear friends and family
  • the music of Cat Stevens
‘If You Want to Sing Out Sing Out’ by Cat Stevens
Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
‘Cause there’s a million things to be
You know that there are 

And if you want to live high, live high
And if you want to live low, live low
‘Cause there’s a million ways to go
You know that there are

[Chorus]
You can do what you want
The opportunity’s on
And if you can find a new way
You can do it today
You can make it all true
And you can make it undo
you see ah ah ah
its easy ah ah ah
You only need to know

Well if you want to say yes, say yes
And if you want to say no, say no
‘Cause there’s a million ways to go
You know that there are

And if you want to be me, be me
And if you want to be you, be you
‘Cause there’s a million things to do
You know that there are

[Chorus]
Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
‘Cause there’s a million things to be
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are

Imperfection a’ la Anne Lamott

The first time I heard of Anne Lamott was eight or so years ago, back in Michigan, when I read the “secret of life” which she had found on a xeroxed photo of Koko the gorilla. It was my email signature for a long time and I still find it one of the best pieces of advice out there: “The law of the American jungle: Remain calm and share your bananas.” Though she did not conceive of that Universal guidance, it resonated with her and she dropped that same smooth pebble into the collective consciousness to ripple outward and help many more of us smile and “get it” a little bit more. And that, I’ve learned in the years past, is a true gift of Anne’s.

She was at Book Passage the other night, the last night of her book tour for ‘Imperfect Birds’. This is the third in the series which started with ‘Rosie’, which I stumbled upon at the library last fall and adored. It reminded me of how a good novel can be like a supportive companion on the winding path of life. The depth and soul of characters like Rosie, her Mom, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth’s best friend, Ray, help me feel less alone in my complexity and nuance. In my hunger for wisdom and guidance, I’d left fiction behind, with rare exceptions, more than a few years ago. I am so thankful for the renewed love of fictional worlds. They kept me warm and rooted during the cold stormy days of this winter just past (hooray Spring!)

Anne is about as down-to-earth as it gets. The kind of woman you immediately feel like you’ve known for years. Yes, partly from reading her words, knowing pieces of her story, but also because her energy is just so damn Real. I know she’s beloved throughout Marin, her lifelong home, and now I understand more vividly why. At Spirit Rock just before Thanksgiving, Jack Kornfield quoted “his dear friend Anne Lamott” on the challenge of going Deep Within. It was something like this,

“My mind is a scary place to be. I try not to go there alone too often…”

Of course, she does go there (and through to the Spirit) alone on a regular basis. That’s the source of her beautiful characters and her kind and generous spirit.

Like any smart writer, I own ‘Bird by Bird’ now, which I fittingly picked up here in Marin. I’m savoring it, bit by bit, picking it up when I need a new dose of Anne’s medicine for the trials of life, which she reminds us, with wit and mirth, are a necessary part of the journey. My favorite dose so far is for coping with those in our life who do not see/feel how their abundance and success can sometimes, when we are going through one of those trials, make us feel a little less worthy. I haven’t had use for the phrase yet, but have almost pulled it out a few times and smile whenever I think of it.

“I had been around someone from the South that summer who was always exclaiming “Isn’t that great?” – only she made it almost rhyme with “bright.” So when my friend would call with her latest good news, always presented humbly like some born-again-Christian Miss America contestant, I’d say, “Isn’t that gright, huh? Isn’t that gright?”

Thank-you, Anne, for sharing your truths so freely. I have benefited from them and they are tucked away in my mind/heart/spirit so it’s not such a scary place to be; companions on

that…”lifelong search for shards of light.”

And thank-you to Book Passage, for hosting so many insightful and inspiring creators.

A Place to Land

When Jeph and I decided we wanted to return to the Bay Area, again, and chose Marin County instead of SF or the East Bay, it was both exciting (because we love the area and it’s familiar to us) and intimidating (because we didn’t know Marin well at all.) Fortunately, my friend, Nicole, moved up to Fairfax a couple of years ago so we had one person to talk about it with.

Nicole and I met when we were both catering in San Francisco. Out of the group of regulars she was the one I really liked and clicked with. Probably her arty nature (she’s a painter – a really good one), and she’s also a Taurus – earthy and grounded, and a solid friend. She took a job teaching art to grade schoolers in Fairfax, fell in love with the community, and moved her family there.

So I asked Nicole for some insight into the area and she gave it a big thumbs up – mountains, ocean, cute little towns, plenty to do, abundant nature, friendly/unique people, good weather, and still close to SF. That was pretty much everything on our “ideal home base” list. We really have such a list and that’s really what it’s called, and we generated it through a lot of soul searching, vision questing, journeying, exploring, experimenting, learning, growing, and brainstorming (thanks to my dear friend, Karin, for helping us with that last part, which really brought it all into focus.)

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.
-Andre’ Gide

I asked Nicole if we could possibly stay with her and her son for a few days when we arrived (being optimistic about how long it would take to find a place to rent) and she said “of course.” So we arrived on a Saturday night a couple of weeks later, in a big moving truck, with Sid and Bazel, our road warrior feline buds, in the front with us, and the colorful visions of a cross country trip fresh in our mind. We drove through San Rafael (where we ended up making our home) and it was the annual street painting festival. Tons of people were out in the streets, there was music, and I could tell that most of the shops and restaurants were independent, not chains, which always makes me happy. I punched Jeph in the arm and asked why he never told me how cute it was up there when we lived in SF! We passed through San Anselmo, stopping at the grocery store for chardonnay and goat cheese (both made in the neighboring county of Sonoma – hooray for CA and locally produced foods!), and entered Fairfax at dusk. As we drove down the tiny side streets lined with big redwoods, the crickets were beginning to chirp and I noticed that each house was unique and many had gardens, some with chickens and roosters! I think I was in love with Marin already.

The Universe smiled on us and gave us a parking spot, big enough for a 26’ truck, plus car trailer, right around the corner from Nicole. It was so peaceful and quiet there, we knew the boys would be safe and comfortable in the truck, and, after 5 days and more than 2000 miles, we were ready for some wine, cheese and crackers, and visiting with an old friend.

Nicole made us feel very comfortable and her place was perfect for us to do our apartment searching from.  I had a huge list of places for us to see, scattered among about 7 different towns. There are so many little towns in this area – we had no idea where to look. Nicole gave us some good perspective on the qualities of each.  We saw two Sunday and three Monday and the fourth one was The One. We signed the lease and moved in the next day. That’s definitely a record for us!

It’s been three months and I am SO happy to report that we love our home, neighborhood, town, and the surrounding towns and counties. And Jeph and I both feel that being so warmly welcomed by Nicole really had a lot to do with everything positive that has followed.

Thank-you Nicole. I am grateful for your friendship.

  • Let’s Connect

    I am grateful for the time you spend here and hope you will share your thoughts, feelings, ideas, and questions.

    Thank-you for being part of the journey!

    All visual art by moi and all photos by me and Jeph.

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