Home on the Range

sf-hilton-lobby

My niece Kathryn is a college recruiter for SCAD.  Because she is a floater, most of her time is spent on the road or on a plane meeting with students from coast to coast. When she told me where she was heading this week, it didn’t take long for me to rearrange my schedule so I could accompany her to the place I called home for 14 years.

Although it’s been almost 7 years since I’ve been back to Santa Fe, I go there in my mind every day in some small way. From the architecture to the music to the art to the landscape, Santa Fe has shaped me more than any other place.

Walking into the lobby of our hotel (pictured above) it all came rushing back to me. This is my happy place. Everything is artfully designed, from the way a fire extinguisher is disguised behind an exquisitely woven twig panel to the details on the doors, the paintings on the walls, and sculptures and sconces that guide us around the grounds.

The curator not only payed attention to the craftsmanship in these pieces of art, but he or she fully expects us to appreciate it as well.

And I most definitely do. The city provides a smorgasbord of visual delights tucked in the most unsuspecting places.

More than any other place, this place holds the magic for me. Things happen here and conversations take place that don’t anywhere else.

Yesterday’s foray into my favorite shoe store, On Your Feet, was a case in point. I told Kat this wasn’t your average shoe store. It was a Cinderella shop where slipping into the right pair of shoes could shift your whole story line.

At first we were just caught up in the array of beautiful and comfortable shoes. Then we were captivated by our salesperson Jennifer who is as fascinated with self-discovery as I am and had a daughter who graduated from SCAD. We had an instant connection, became fast friends, and exchanged email addresses along with a promise to return later in the week. (So many shoes. So little time.)

It reminded me of a similar experience six years ago with another salesperson at the same store who sold me a pair of hiking boots and become a confidante and friend in the process. I wrote her a thank you note and was rewarded with a sweet response saying she received my note on her wedding day and it added to her happiness.

As we walked the plaza, we connected with a Native American named Noel who shared the story behind his jewelry pieces, what they represented, and how to properly take care of them. Instead of merely an exchange of money, our interaction was an exchange of energy. I will carry that energy with me each time I wear his earrings.

I told another vendor I lived here for many years and he said the words that melted my heart. “Welcome home.

Yes. My heart is home here.

While Kat met with students, I went to the Southwest Reading Room at the library.  I used to love spending time there writing. Yesterday was no different. I wrote until my computer threatened to lose power.

Then we went to Harry’s Road House where the roadhouse tostada and coconut cream pie were waiting patiently for me to indulge in their timeless appeal. After finishing 21 days of cleansing on Sunday, this was a welcome treat. I even got a glimpse of Harry. It’s comforting that some things don’t change.

The sun was shining, the mountains were majestic, and the pace of a tourist town in off season perfectly matched my mood. It made me realize why taking the time and making the effort to return to the City Different is so essential to my soul.

Today adventure calls so we’re off to the trails to put our hiking boots to good use.

What about you? Where does your heart feel most at home? Where is adventure calling you? I’d love to hear your story in the comments below.

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No Matter What – Day 19

It’s Day 19 of the No Matter What Game.  You can play along by answering the prompt by Gillian and sharing your response in the comments below.  Or email Gillian at www.gillianpearce.com to have your own prompt sent to you.

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G:  If you had unlimited funds that had to be used to investigate a scientific or medical problem, which one would you investigate?

P:  The timing of this question is perfect.  I just paid a visit to my acupuncturist today which usually turns into an all consuming discussion about health and disease.

It also means I load up on supplements in addition to being stuck with over 70 needles from head to toe. Consequently, I coined a slightly nuanced phrase for this experience… being needled and dimed to death.

Naturally he’s an excellent doctor, cares deeply for his patients, is constantly furthering his education, and restores my chi to its righteous position, so I consent to all of this.

To answer Gillian’s question, because Bob says often I don’t really answer her questions and he could be right, I don’t have a specific medical problem or scientific conundrum that’s near and dear to my heart.  There are so many medical and scientific issues deserving more attention, research, and funding it’s difficult to pick one.

My passion has always been fitness, health, and wellness. I’ve been a certified ACE fitness instructor for almost 30 years and last year became a certified Eating Psychology Coach. My focus has been on prevention instead of disease management and what we can do to sustain and restore health rather than eradicate disease.

I’ve been blessed to come from a sturdy stock of Midwesterners who are relatively free of any major diseases.  But we live in toxic times and I know unless I detox on a regular basis, I’m as susceptible as the next person to experiencing a debilitating disease.

That’s why at the end of this week I’ll switch my focus for the next 21 days to Detoxing No Matter What.  I won’t be blogging about it every day like I have with this round of the No Matter What Game.  I’ve found that most people are not that interested in hearing about it unless they are doing it as well and I’m not interested in pushing it on anyone. People get interested in detoxing when they are ready, not when I want them to be.

I will, however, chime in with the highlights.  Or when I’m having a meltdown.  It’s all part of the process. No matter how many times I do it.

Anyway, I know there are fascinating scientific problems and medical breakthroughs on the verge of being solved and changing life as we know it. I also know I’m more of an artist than a scientist, so I can’t write intelligently about these issues without doing a little research.  But I do believe the best results come from tapping into the brilliance of both art and science.

So my best answer for today’s question is to pass it on to you. I’m guessing some of you may have some very definite answers, experiences, and stories on this topic.  And some of you may be scientists and medical professionals. So please, leave your response in the comments below. I’d love to hear your take on this.

Thanks for reading and playing at home. 🙂

No Matter What – Day 14

If you’re just joining us for the No Matter What Game, find out how you can play at the end of the post.

Red pencil among black and white

G:  If the world turned black and white tomorrow which colours would you miss most?

P:  I would miss every single one of them.  All for different reasons but mainly because they each evoke such unique emotions, memories, sights and sounds.

This question reminds me of my last trip to River Lights Bookstore in Dubuque. The books that captured my imagination were The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home. I was also undeniably drawn to You Are a Badass, but that’s material for another post.

The crayon books by Drew Daywalt (Author), Oliver Jeffers (Illustrator) explain far better than I can the secret lives of colors and what would make them want to quit their job but eventually come home. Consequently I will not do so.

I will, however, suggest an exercise I learned from Jennifer Grace in her online video course through mindbodygreen.com.  She recommends going on a color walk.  You simply pick a color and then go for a walk and see how many places you spot that color that you may never have noticed before.

It’s kind of like when you buy a copper colored car and then suddenly everywhere you look you see a copper colored car.

Okay, it’s late, the Cubs won, Bob’s happy, and I’ve had a very long but productive day.  Because I’m exhausted, things feel a bit black and white.  But in the morning, the whole spectrum of colors await!

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I’d love to hear your comments below.  If you’d like to play along just answer the prompt in your own words and leave them in the comments below or keep them to yourself in a journal.  If you’d like the world’s best coach Gillian to send you your own set of daily prompts, contact her at www.gillianpearce.com.

 

This Thing Called Love

Two hearts on the branch of a tree, retro look

Valentine’s Day defines February in much the same way Christmas defines December.  Whether you’ve jumped on the love bandwagon or not, you’re bombarded with images of a world ruled by romance and populated by passionate partners.

It’s not that I’m against love.  Oh no.  I’m all for it.  I believe love is a many splendored thing and, like Burt Bacharach, what the world needs now is love, sweet love.
It’s just that the idea of love that’s been sold to us needs a little revision.  From fairy tales to scary tales (“reality” tv like “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette”) to promises of soulmates and twin flames, how can the real possibly compete with the ideal?
For me it’s the imperfections that endear another to me.  I’ve had my share of “perfection.”  It’s intimidating, exhausting, and self-indulgent, not to mention impossible to maintain.
What I absolutely adore in others are the things that make them unique.  Things like sneaking private code words into a public presentation.  Or consoling an elder by singing show tunes, mesmerizing a history class by reciting the Gettysburg address in its entirety, knowing how to solve story problems or anything to do with algebra, naming the constellations with confidence, caring deeply for the environment, or always making time to give a dog a bone.
I also adore this uniqueness in inanimate objects.  Last night I fell in love with the sunset.  Not just because it lit up the sky with shades of red, orange, and magenta, but also because it created a kaleidoscope of colors reflecting off the clouds in the opposite direction.
Up until then I was feeling tired, cranky, and creatively challenged.  Once I stopped and marveled at the sunset, I felt energized, inspired, and deeply loved.
The thing about love is that we so often limit it.  There is no lack of love. There is only a lack of awareness of it in its many forms.
It is freely offered to us in a smile from the toll booth attendant, a bird landing on our windowsill, a door held open by a stranger, a warm breeze blowing at our back, a cat napping next to us, a toddler being tickled, or a song sung soulfully by a street musician.
Yet we don’t expect love from life in general.  We expect it from those we love.  And we usually expect it on our terms.
The heart is synonymous with love.  It’s no coincidence that both “hear” and “art” are contained within the word heart.  There is an art to love that requires us to hear, open, allow, touch, feel, see, taste, experience without fear.
We’ve all had our share of heartaches, heartbreaks, and heart “attacks.” No one willing signs up for these.  Yet in my experience, the greater heartbreak is not to love at all.
Though you may choose to celebrate Groundhog Day, Presidents’ Day, your birthday, anniversary, or the new moon with more exuberance than Valentine’s Day, if you allow love to sneak up on you in small, unsuspecting ways, you might just find it every day.
I would love for you to share your perspective on love in the comments below.

Ten Zen Seconds

It’s official.  I’m overwhelmed.
Basic math suggests adding things to my schedule without subtracting anything results in a crowded and cramped life.
But as the former Queen of Calm, I plan to dig deep into my toolkit and pull out a few tried and true tension tackling tips.
The best strategy for me is to slow down my racing, negative thoughts and breathe slowly and deeply.  Last night I assigned my mind to figure a few things out while I was sleeping.  Sure enough, when I awoke, Ten Zen Seconds was the first thing that came to mind.
The irony of meditating or contemplation is we like to think we don’t have time for it.  But taking a few moments to question the voice of panic and listen for the voice of clarity can save a lot of mindless activity.
It also helps to know we’re not alone.  Since I’m guessing I’m not the only one who might be feeling frazzled, I wrote this for all of us.
In this riot of activity
find an oasis of calm.
Breathe deeply,
slow down the thoughts,
ask for clarity,
and focus on the one thing
that flows from this moment.
Trust that finishing this sentence
is the best way to be here now.
Honoring the present moment
is the only guarantee
we’ll even be aware
of our future.
Ten Zen Seconds
is all it takes…
I am equal to this task,
to my life,
to all I have chosen to take on now…
despite the part of me who wants to dispute that
and do nothing more than watch tv and consume carbs.
But the wiser part of me knows better,
knows I can do this,
I can make informed nutritional choices,
manage my time,
and focus my energies.
Other people handle far more than I do every day.
Even though comparing myself to them
doesn’t diminish my load,
it does remind me that
I can figure this out and
I chose to take this on.
Breathe in compassion,
breathe out judgment and criticism.
Breathe in openness and spaciousness,
breathe out fear and constriction.
There is enough time, energy, money, love, forgiveness, understanding.
Breathe it all in.
Breathe it all out.
Then
just
breathe.
Peace out.