Space Mountain

For Damary

When I was eight years old, my dad and I stood in line for Space Mountain, at Disney World, for THREE HOURS. I remember the waiting area vividly. All the stars, all the people… We got up to the very point of getting on the ride and I said no. He tried to get me to go, but I was adamant and stood up to my father. I was petrified. So, we walked right out the door and outside.

Thirty years later, I was back at Disney World with the family. This was my “relaxing vacation”, a time to unwind after a bunch of wrenches thrown at me simultaneously. A new furnace, sewer backup and descaling of pipes, new car, new loans, new job, pivoting my business and loads of new responsibilities and to dos that won’t quit and keep getting larger and more frightening… I tried to see this trip as a blessing, to see the world like a kid again, like my nephews and my niece, the magic and all that. I am not a Disney World kind of vacationer, even though I’ve come to love roller coasters. Too people-y. I also do not deal well with other adults’ anxiety. Then I feel bad because I know I don’t deal well with their anxiety. Anxiety creates anxiety.

Families are funny. We may get annoyed with each other, snap sometimes, and then move on five minutes later and it’s all ok. Most of the time we can just accept the quirks that make up the people we love.

It’s so hard to see your parents getting older. Somehow they’re seventy, having trouble walking. Mom has those purple bruises on her hands like Grandma did. When did this happen? Sunrise, sunset.. (I don’t remember growing older-when did they?”) I see it in the kids too. Seems to have happened overnight.

I always remember when my irritations are high that we aren’t going to be together forever and someday I will desire to have them right here, doing whatever they’re doing that’s pissing me off (and I am well aware of my many quirks that bug the hell out of them too). This is my anxiety, my guilt. I am so scared of the thing that will eventually and undoubtedly happen. So, I pray. I pray so much for their health and protection, that we all get to stay together for as long as humanly possible. I’ve had morbid thoughts on this since I was a little kid. Thinking this may be the last time we kiss each other goodbye… It’s just my mind. Anjelah Johnson does a whole skit on this. I fully connect with it. At least someone else gets it. So, turning quirks and acceptance into gratitude is not new to me. Doing this in the middle of a herd in Disney World is another matter.

Then I looked at my phone. My friend called a few times and asked me to call. The next text shook me. A friend of ours had passed away. She didn’t want me to find out on Facebook. There I was, crying at Disney World. Just like the kid next to me crying for not getting what he wants. It’s different but the same, really.

My heart was so heavy, trapped in a swarm of sweaty irritated humans. I had to be present at the same time because my niece ran up to me at that moment all excited about her big debut on stage with Belle. In the midst of shock, heartache, and incomprehension, I knew I had to be present and just be grateful. That’s all we can do.

I knew, in a way, that was honoring her. For all the people who leave us, all we can do to truly honor them is to enjoy, be present, and be grateful.

I thought of my friend’s face. Here was a soul so beautiful, fun, lively- here yesterday and gone today. She was young. I wasn’t even that close to her, but we had JUST had an amazing time out to dinner recently, laughing and sharing stories. My heart went out to my friends, who were family with her, truthfully. Her son. I hated that I was so far away and couldn’t comfort them. I couldn’t wrap my head around this. All she had left to do, to give, to be…

Of course this made me look at my family and just want to hold them all so tightly and never let go.

A work colleague of mine recently lost her sister. She said how hard it was to not have that daily conversation, as she was used to talking with her on the phone everyday. She feels her presence still and sees the signs, the God winks. Those winks speak loudly. She said, “I just need to learn our new language.” I thought that was beautiful.

Where my head went next was all those silly fears I was worried about in my day to day tasks when I got home. All the things I had to do that I was resisting. Being more visible in the business sense. Writing. All of the things. And it all became so stupid and so small. The videos I have to do because my brand expert is making me… became really small when I pictured my friend’s face. Here one minute and gone the next.

I usually thank God for my problems. Because if I have problems, I’m still here and that’s an amazing thing. It puts it all into perspective. I’m no stranger to being slapped in the face with perspective. No one is. Life throws us unfathomable jolts, and we gain perspective. But how long do we hold onto that before we get sucked back into our own little bubble? Our own little world with the problems and narrowed vision?

These jolts tell us we are not invincible. We are not promised tomorrow. I know, I know— we all hear it, we get the quotes, people say it all the time. Yeah, it’s common knowledge. But it doesn’t hit you the same as something like this smacking you in the face.

I am well aware that I take time for granted, knowing this truth that we are not promised tomorrow, thinking somehow that we defy mortality. I think I have all the time in the world to write that book, to do this and that…
I vow to take better care of myself for her. She was so young. What am I doing? I can do better. Why am I the last priority on my list? I won’t take it for granted.

So, thirty years later, my seventy year old dad and I were trying so hard to make Space Mountain happen. It was closed for most of the day. I had no idea when I was young that it would be a once-in-a-lifetime decision. Nearing closing time, it opened up and we darted off to again stand in line and wait. Oh, that waiting room! Vivid detail locked in my memory. As we chatted, I looked at this man, knowing this was the last time he, or I, would be here. I thought of the rest of my family. I was leaving a day earlier than the rest of them, because I was shooting a wedding. The fear that everyone I loved was going to be on the same flight, apart from me, was looming in my mind. I thought of my friend, struggled with a dark scary spiral of thoughts, wanting to hold onto my family as tightly as I can, knowing it’s all out of my control. I remembered the movie Parenthood, when the grandma is talking about how some play it safe with a merry-go-round. Nothing. Boring. The ups and downs of the roller coaster is real life. That is truly living. I prayed a lot that day. I have never been one for God’s will over mine. I’m continuously learning that one and continuously struggling. Why some things work out for some people and don’t for others— I don’t think it’s our place to understand. Just trust. Faith. Let Go and Let God.

The fear and the darkness can really get to you. But, then… it was time. Just as we were stepping to that pivotal point, we had the biggest smiles on our faces, both of us little kids. This is what it’s all about. Getting on the ride and enjoying it while it lasts.

Be grateful. Let Go. Trust.

XO,

Lisa

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THE Happy Turtle

More lessons learned from the littles in my life. I get pointed messages from my nephews and niece all the time. My teachers have gotten smaller. When I lived in Maui, I had a kumu- teacher- named Uncle Sonny, who was about 70-ish and took me under his wing. So, that one's obvious, but teachers came in all sorts of ways. They were often strangers. People at the bar stool next to me while I was waiting for my friend to get off work. Some lady next to me waiting in line. Some random person I interviewed for the paper. A hoity toity at the gallery says something that she doesn't even know is profound. Sometimes, now, it is in the form of nature, a billboard, or the radio... It's so funny who your teachers are, if you only listen, remain open, and have the ability for introspection. 

We were at Joshie's skating/hockey practice a few weeks back. He just turned 6yrs old. He was in his poofy winter down jacket, with the sewing making horizontal lines across his body, and a bike helmet as the protective shell. He was smiling and just so happy out there on the ice. He reminded me of a cartoon character, or the main character of a children's book. "He looks like a happy turtle," I told my sister. "He does!" She confirmed. Later, when they were trying to skate backwards, all the older kids were flying past him, he was barely moving. He did not care one bit and kept on smiling, excited as all get out, concentrating and laughing in intervals.

                                  THE HAPPY TURTLE

                                  THE HAPPY TURTLE

Fast forward a few weeks. I'd been having a rough time. Projecting into the future for my business, how the field was changing, I was contemplating going in a different direction with it. I called an old mentor whom I admire and received an extremely negativite outlook instead of hope for this field that I have chosen. 

Not only that, but that deep dark spiral had already set in. When I go down this road of trying to get a clear path in my head, I tend to analyze every area of my life, and at that moment it was not shaping up as I imagined it would by this point. The day job, personal endeavors, artistic endeavors, goals, aspirations, wanderlust, even relationships (which I always forget about until my extended family asks me. "Oh yeah, I have to put that on the list too"... I am still fighting that battle of yearning for freedom, adventures, my own dreams and ambitions, and the other side- intimacy, comfort, and family. This struggle gets dusted off, then sits on the shelf again, then drops in my face again, in a viscious distorted cycle. Most people know for sure one way or the other. I just wish I had about twenty more years on this bastard of a clock). It was just one of those times. They happen. I can look back on how far I have come, what I have accomplished, the crazy, amazing adventures I've had, all the wonderful people in all the chapters of my life, even old passions that I've pursued in the past that I don't currently that made me ME... Even though I can see all of this and be truly grateful, and proud, still, those days, the dark spriral, they will still happen. I know this. Sneaky bastards.

After that phone call, I leaned my head back and just thought to myself, "Why did I pick this field"? Why am I doing all of this, spending so much energy, and putting so much into all of this? Even things like just writing this blog... Images of my high school counselors warning me to go for something else popped in my head. I opened my eyes and saw the shimmering leaves above my head in my backyard, with the prettiest golden sunset backlighting them. And I thought, "because I see the beauty in the world. I see things that others don't. And I want to share that. That is all." I smiled. 

The Happy Turtle came to mind just then. Why can't I be The Happy Turtle? Who cares how slowly I'm going? At least I'm doing it. All the things. I'm still doing them... I complained to my mother once that having too many passions is a curse and I have a hard time seeing it as a blessing. There's never enough time to actually DO all of the things. You can't really excel or find "success" at any one of them when you are so spread out. What if I never get anywhere "REAL" with any of these things? "When you’re doing them, do they make you happy?" "Yeah." Point taken. Why can't that be enough? It should be enough, right?

Once you hit a goal, there will always be more. Always more striving. Where I am now in my own business- I longed for this a few years back. Mark Manson says the striving is where happiness lies. I can see that. The process is the thing, not the result. The motivation, the inspiration, the expression, the action. I also love his words on "mediocrity". Creatives put so much damn pressure on ourselves. Meaning, purpose, worldy change!, leaving your mark, helping others, making a difference...  It's all so fucking heavy. Having this conversation with a friend who is left-brained, an engineer, I asked her if she does this to herself. "No. I work to pay bills. I do that to love up on my kids and enjoy the lake on the weekends." Period. Wow. I was so jealous for that simplicity. I am a different breed, and it's inevitable to feel low when you have more and more goals than you could possibly ever achieve. (And on another level, when you have kids, BAM! You automatically have purpose, meaning; you are making a difference. So, that definitely is part of the psychological onion for me.) But Manson made me think when he talked about the idea that most people in the world are "mediocre," by our crazy ass standards, when you think about it. He asks if that means that for MOST of the people who have ever lived-- that their lives didn't matter? Huh. Is Mark Manson giving me permission to calm the fuck down? I'll take that.   

So, this post is automatically scheduled to come out on my birthday. I never work on my birthday. I will be at the beach before any evening plans take way. On my birthday, every year, I immerse myself in nature. Water, green luscious scenery, and I get lost in just being a human, grateful for the beauty. "Just be". For a short amount of time, I am no one’s daughter, sister, aunt, friend, girlfriend, coworker, boss lady... I’m just me. Feeling the wind, smelling the smells, taking in the wonder and awe of it all. I don't give a shit about accomplishments or how productive I'm being. I try to turn the creative brain off. It's tough. (Even when I take vacations, I am now thinking about how I could turn it into a travel article, with photos.. So, how is that time off, really?)

I used to do this so easily in Maui. I mean, how could you not? The simplicity of happiness. I was so relieved to find folks who also did not agree with "You are what you do". No one buys that shit there. They don't even buy that you are a "mother", "wife", "girlfriend", whatever, as your identity. Such a different, wonderful, peaceful mindset over there. I told myself that I would keep this mindset when I moved back. "Across the Universe," by The Beatles, was playing as I made this vow. "Nothing's gonna change my world"... Being back in the midwest, I can't help but feel that while my heart fully resonates with "You are NOT what you do", my ambitions are contradictory and will take on society's logic- that I don't even agree with! But, then again, I actually WANT to do all of the things. I loaded my plate because I want them all. I am the crazy hoarder at the buffet, where my eyes are bigger than my stomach, because I am a mere human. I cannot have it all. I have to choose. The Choosing, I would say, is my nemesis.

So many articles tell us to schedule time to do nothing. We get a few hours a week (if you're lucky)? We wait for vacations and are happy with a couple weeks a year? Even two days, out of seven, a week (which we have personal chores and domestic duties)..? That's some bullshit. Who made these shitty ass rules? That is just not humane. That's not going to be good enough for me this year. I don't want to have to REMIND myself to JUST BE. I don't need permission. I will not feel guilty. I give myself full permission to JUST BE, for a fair amount, every day. I already go radio silent for days at a time. No social media. No more consuming. No more information. No more classes on this, that, and the other. No more podcasts or self-improvement. Take a mental break. I started meditating on my lunch break, which to me, at the beginning stage, means shutting everything down in my brain and listening to the birds, feeling the grass, the wind...

A while back, I heard an older man talking about his walks around his neighborhood in the fall, how beautiful it was and how much he loved it. He was pondering about how many more autumns he thinks he has left. He decided it had to be around seven. Holy shit, that gave me some perspective.

I will make more time to just enjoy. That's a damn good purpose too. Not everyone can do it, either. What if that is The Meaning? And by example, you show others how to do the same? That is the difference that you can make. 

This Happy Turtle is loving life.

Keep It Simple,

Lisa
 

Lisasophy

There’s a lot to say about silence.

INAPPROPRIATE and Ill-timed Prayer

I'm wondering if other people do this too... but before I get to it, some backstory--

So, I used to be that person that wouldn't bother God with my trivial stuff. I always felt like He had too much on his plate already. It was weird to me, in my true softball days, that some teams would pray beforehand. You know, He's got the homeless, dying kids, wars, etc., to deal with. I just didn't see it.

After hitting a pretty huge plot twist in my life a few years ago, I was reminded that God could take that load off my shoulders. "Oh yeah!" I almost FORGOT about talking to Him, aside from the usual "Please watch over my family, etc." that I do everyday. I immediately felt lighter. Holy... I don't have to do this myself. Sometimes we forget that.

Isn't it crazy? I grew up Catholic, went to Catholic private school for eight years, church... all the stuff. And I had to be reminded.  I had to be told that God wants in on EVERYTHING. Even the silly stuff. He wants to be my best friend and have that continuous conversation. And only then, when it becomes a part of you, when it's habitual, will you never "forget" again. And you will never be alone, either.

This is my issue---
I've grown accustomed to praying so much- especially in the beginning when that plot twist was too strong for me, it was like every five minutes when I felt I had no control over my thoughts. There was obsessive worry about a loved one, and I couldn't get a hold on mindfulness just yet.  Everything has calmed down since, with a lot of work, but I pray so much now- just shooting up a quick sentence here and there- that I have to remind myself not to pray when I'm on the toilet (especially #2, am I right?). It's always when I'm peeing. Potty Prayer. I don't know what it is. Is it because I have a few minutes of quiet? When I'm not multitasking a million things? My mind drifts, does it's wandering, and I catch myself shooting up a prayer over whatever it drifts to. I have to tell myself, "Do not pray when you're peeing." I apologize then. This can wait.

By the way, I still play softball. And I do pray. Not to win or anything ridiculous like that, but to not get hurt, basically. Every 300 pound man that gets up while I'm playing 3rd or 2nd-- you bet your ass I'm praying that a line drive doesn't hit a rock and hit my temple or something. (That movie Simon Birch comes to mind a lot). I'm not as fearless as I once was. I try to grow into the youth that I once was. It doesn't always work. Things are different when you get older. I have to work tomorrow. This is a beer league. So, yeah, I pray on the field now.

Better than on the toilet.

Have a Silly Monday,

Lisa