Monday, August 28, 2017

Meditation Practice

The idea of meditation certainly isn't new to me.  I've tried it before.  I took an 8 week course on different types of meditation years ago.  I read the book, Wherever You Go, There You Are- and yes, it sat unread on my bookshelf for years before I finally read it.  But I did get around to reading it eventually and it really spoke to me. I've read all sorts of articles and heard many mentions on all the benefits of meditation. 

But yet...

It's not anything I've ever been able to stick with for a long and consistent period of time.  I'm still very interested in it though, and I refuse to give up on it.

So, I decided to revisit the idea of making meditation a daily practice.  I mean, seriously, even 5 minutes a day can supposedly benefit our minds, and who doesn't have 5 minutes.  I DO! 

Since I last attempted to work meditation into my life, so many meditation apps for smart phones have become available.  There are many free, sort of introductory guided meditations available.  Once you're ready to commit to one specific app, you can pay a monthly fee that opens up all sorts of mediation archives to you.  I LOVE that.  For me, at least at this point, guided meditation is very helpful. 

I've practicing- nearly every day now- for the last several weeks.  I've used lots of those meditation apps, like Headspace, 10% Happier, Heart of the Matter, and Simple Habit- just to name a few.  I've also downloaded plenty of podcasts that focus on daily meditations like "Meditation Minis".  I find that I like those meditations to be pretty short- 15 minutes or less is about all I can currently handle currently.  Also, the guide's voice is important to me.  I tend to like a subtle Australian accent best, although that's certainly not mandatory.  I almost always sit in this one chair, in our formal dining room- which we otherwise use for nothing except the occasional piano playing- And I always, ALWAYS, hold this pillow in my lap.
My Meditation Pillow
I'm trying not to focus on any expectation with this go around of mediation practice. And I'm bothered if some days, I'm super fidgety and the 10-15 minutes feels more like an hour.  Some days it's really hard, and sometimes it's a bit easier.  But ultimately, I'm just sitting there.  Maybe there's magic going on inside my head, maybe not.  But as the pillow tells me, Yay! for me.  Yay! for doing it.  Yay! for showing up.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Asheville Finale

Fermin, Ricky and Lucy and I were in Asheville the whole month of June.
The Great Craggy Mountains in North Carolina
It was dreamy.  We thought we would soon be moving there.  I've been too sad and disappointed to finish up my series of blog posts about it lately because, well... Fermin got laid off from his job. So we're starting over at square one as far as moving there.  It can still happen, but as of now, we have no idea what's next.

And that sucks.

But I wanted to wrap this up and document these fond memories.  So here goes.

During two of the weekends we were there we had friends come to visit us.  Pretty amazing, really.  Our friends Kelly and Craig, and their daughter Abby came to visit one weekend, in the middle of the month.  They had airline issues and got in about a day late, and without luggage, but nothing could stop us from having a great time together!
Surrounded by our favorite people ❤️

In that short time together, we still had enough to eat some great meals, visit the Biltmore, dance and sing, laugh a ton, and even cry a little.
The majestic Biltmore Estate in Ashevile, NC
Kelly is one of my favorite people of all time, and she's always enthusiastically cheering us on about anything and everything.  She knew how exciting this possibility of moving to Asheville was, and she (along with Abby and Craig) came into town so we could all enjoy a great beginning together.
I LOVE this picture.  It captures the mood of the weekend perfectly.
Craig and I discovered our mutual love for Belinda Carlisle and did some impromptu karaoke in her honor.

Peace, Love, and Happiness
What a birthday!
Towards the very end of our time in Asheville, my friend Valerie drove down from the DC area with her sister, Debbie.  Valerie is another one of my all time favorite people.  Although we live far apart, I'm in better touch with her than most people in my life.  We text most days.  So we know the daily goings-on in each other's lives.  I was so excited when we started talking about me and Fermin going to Asheville.  Valerie said she and her sister had been wanting to make a road trip down to Asheville.  We decided this was the perfect time!  And it just worked out that they were coming right around my birthday.  The best gift I could have imagined!!

except THIS hat! THIS is the best bday gift I could imagine. and valerie MADE IT!!!

Valerie has a friend who lives in Asheville and we had already connected through her.  By the time Valerie came to town, Rebecca and I had already become fast friends.  So we all went out to dinner the night Valerie and Debbie got into town.  Valerie had made the reservations and told them we were celebrating a birthday.  It was so awesome to be surrounded by friends on my birthday.  I'll never forget that they were there for me, and that Valerie introduced me to all of them.  What a fun night! 
my happy birthday menu- from Posana in Asheville

Valerie, Me, Debbie, Rebecca, Bruce...and the squatter, Fermin

Valerie and Me ❤️
The next day Valerie, Debbie, Fermin and I went on a funny bus tour of the city.  We learned a little (like James Taylor was in a mental hospital there for a period, Zelda Fitzgerald died in a mental hospital there, and F. Scott lived there for a while... among  other interesting facts), and laughed a little. 
La Zoom bus tours are a great way to see the city of Asheville

We met up for drinks at the beautiful Grove Park Inn later that night with Bruce and Rebecca. What a beautiful spot- Maybe the most beautiful view of Asheville!
Debbie, Valerie, Me and Rebecca

We had it all in Asheville during our month there- daily hikes with our dogs, cool temperatures, beauty all around us, family and friends- old and new!  We've now hit a little bump in the road to getting there permanently, but although it may have slowed us down just a little, we'll get there eventually.  Seeing these pictures and remembering all that fun is great motivation to make it happen.

Thanks, Friends.  You certainly made it special for us. ❤️

Monday, August 7, 2017

Bitches. Also Known as Progressive Lenses.

A couple of years ago, I got my first prescription lenses in a pair of sunglasses.  Actually, I first got prescriptions in a pair I used just for driving at night. I have a slight astigmatism, and I guess because of that, I'm a little nearsighted.  I loved the way my prescription lenses cleared up all things blurry, and decided I wanted them in my sunglasses too.

I loved them right from the start.  But the sunglasses have gotten very scratched up over the years and I've become more and more careless with them. I knew I needed a fresh pair.

So, a few weeks ago, I went to the eye doctor to get an updated prescription.  Things hadn't changed much, but I decided this time, to get progressive lenses.  That way, I could wear my sunglasses and read a book when I'm sitting outside.  And, I thought, I wouldn't have to be putting them up on my head when I needed to look at my phone.  It seemed like a great idea.  Oh, and although I barely need reading glasses (I seriously do not need them!) they put a little bit of a correction in for reading too.  It seemed like I was going to love having knew glasses and having perfect vision!

I picked up my sunglasses yesterday, and so far:

the cause of my headache both yesterday and today
The sales lady at LensCrafters warned me that they might take some getting used to.  She told me she actually cried when she first got her progressives and was experiencing headaches and a lot of frustration trying to get used to them.  I thought, "Wow, this girl is awfully dramatic."  I figured for me, since neither my distance or my reading prescription is strong, it would be easy.

But I feel like I'm under water, or drunk, or hungover whenever I wear them.  My peripheral vision is all tainted, and honestly, nothings looks right. It's not like last time when I first got my prescription and I felt like I was seeing everything in high definition.  No!!!  These are nothing like that.

At least I'm not crying yet.  But I might get to that.  I'm giving these a chance though.  I've read that your brain and your eyes figure it out after a while.  I'm not totally sure I believe that, but I'll give it time.  Just time stamping it here that on day 2 with these progressive lenses, I think they are awful.

My Name Is Lucy Barton, and I Joined a BookClub

Several months ago, I saw a post on my Neighbor Next Door thing- actually I think I got an email- about a new book club forming by a lady in a neighboring neighborhood.  I said "YES!" I wanted to join, but was traveling and unable to attend the first several meetings.

But fortunately, I stayed on the email list.

This month, the book they read was My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Stout. I got it from the library a few weeks ago thinking that yes, I would probably read it and if I did, then I would probably go to the book club.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Stout
Just a couple of days ago, I got an email reminder about the book club.  So I read ...Lucy... over the last day and a half.  I just finished it up this afternoon.  And although it was okay, and I wasn't dying to talk about it, I was planning to go ahead to the book club.

Until about an hour beforehand.  I got a little nervous and nearly talked myself out of going.  I didn't know any of the women in this group.  And although I had read the book, maybe I didn't read it deeply enough to contribute to a discussion.

But I took a breath.  And I thought:  This is a book club.  I'm a book reader.  And I always wish I had people to talk books with. So I decided that I was going.

And I am SO glad I went. The book club consisted of about ten women.  I think I was the youngest one there.  (At least, I like to think I was.  I often think I'm the youngest tho, even when I'm not.  But one lady actually told me she was 70, so I know I was at least quite a bit younger than her!)  A couple of the ladies there were English/Reading teachers, so they were great about keeping the conversation about the book.  Although few of us gave the book a thumbs up, we all had things to say about it and it made for a great discussion.  It actually made me like the book even better because we discussed it.  Honestly, I hadn't even quite processed the question of "Did I like that book?" since I had only just finished reading it today.

my Lucy- who better to pose with My Name Is Lucy Barton
The basic premise of the story is that while Lucy Barton is in the hospital for some illness (we never know quite what it is), her estranged mother visits her.  It's narrated by Lucy, in a very stream-of-concious form.  She had a sad upbringing- from a poor family with parents that didn't express much love, and even bordered on abusive.  It's one of those stories that isn't told sequentially.  In fact, it's not even so much a story-  But I did like the way it was written, and it was thought provoking. It was short, and I read it in three sittings.  I think that is the best way to read this one- fast.  There are quite a few unanswered questions in the book, but I sorta liked that style.  Like I said- thought provoking.

And also, as I previously said, I liked it even better because I discussed it with these ladies in the book club.  Usually, I would read a book like this and just move on to the next. And I would probably soon forgot all about it. But this discussion forced me to think a little more critically about what I had just read.  Discussing the the book, and us having different opinions about the story and the characters, made me think about things I might have glossed over otherwise.  I think I understand what I read better, because for about 45 minutes, we talked all about it.


I feel so lucky that I stumbled upon this book club.  As I told Fermin as I walked in the door after coming home from the meeting, "That was a goldmine."  I can just tell, I'm going to love going to these meetings.

I am mediating, or whatever you call it, the next book club meeting.  I didn't volunteer for the job, but they asked me to do it.  I didn't really want to, because I don't feel confident I'll do a great job with it.  I warned them of my ADD ways and told them I was a little apprehensive, but the ladies who had wanted that role had already done it at previous meetings and they just wanted someone else to do it.  So, I got the job.  But I'm excited to step up to the challenge and keep the discussion going next month.

The book that was selected for August is Rising Strong by Brene Brown.  Coincidentally, I had downloaded that on Audible months ago based on a friend's recommendation, but have never gotten around to listening to it.  I also went ahead and placed a hold for a hard copy at the library as well, just in case I have trouble listening to the audio version- sometimes, I have trouble focusing when it's just audio.  So I'm all set.

I'm finally in a book club! Yay.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The End of an Era

The very first gig I ever played was at a restaurant called El Arroyo.  It was a little Mexican food joint, with a side patio.  They were infamous for their margaritas and for the raccoons that would come up from the creek, onto the patio, and act cute for chips and salsa.

It was located across the street from a hospital, and they had a happy hour that started around 3pm.  Somehow I had it on my radar that that might be a great place to approach to play music on a Friday evenings.  I made them a cheesy little cassette tape of me singing a few songs, and shockingly, I was offered the job.

It was so exciting, that first gig.  And so scary.  I almost drove away before I ever got in the door with my little amp and guitar that first night.  I wasn't all that well prepared, but with happy hour starting at 3pm, by the time I showed up around 6:00, everyone was ready for music and everyone was so nice.

The place was on it's last leg when I got that gig, and I think it went out of business after just a few months of me starting the "Live Music" on Friday nights.  But gosh, was it fun while it lasted.  And it was definitely a great place to work out the kinks of being new to performing in front of an audience.

It then went on to be an Italian restaurant- actually maybe even two different ones.

Today, I happened to have a doctor's appointment just across the street from that old place.  I noticed it was closed, along with all the other adjoining shops.  It looks as though the entire building will soon be plowed down, and replaced with something brand new.
This old building has seen it's day...
Clearly, it's time!

I got out to look at that patio one last time, before it's gone.  It's where it all started for me.  And I'm so grateful to that place.  The friendly people, the raccoons, and the margarita's... it was a very welcoming place for a nervous little musician just getting her feet wet.
the patio of my first gig, way back when
So many changes are happening in my life right now- the end of some things, and hopefully soon- the beginning of others.  It seems so poetic to have driven by this spot today.