Notes on the Journey

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Here and Now

I'm in Uzes.  Finally.  To stay.  I'm still processing that.  My being is still grounding into my body in this place, still catching up.  Some of me had gone ahead, some of me has stayed behind and is lingering with the old place.  It is a process for all of me to make it here and coalesce into who I am in this new place and create what my life will be here.

I am still me, of course.  But, that we are different in different places is real.  The place and the people affect us, and we change and grow because of them.  This place will require new things of me.  I will have to find parts of myself that were lost or that I didn't know existed.  I have to get to know myself in a new way...allow myself to rise in a new way.

One of the things my mind wants to do is to compare how things are here with how things were in the old place.  No.  That is of no value.  It doesn't matter how things were, it only matters how things  Things won't be the same here.  Everything will be different.  Some things better, some things worse, but only if I get caught in the comparison of old and new.  The comparison takes me out of being with what is.  The comparison is a method of staying with the old.  And, now, it's not about staying with the old, it's about opening to the new.

I am starting slowly, oozing into the energy of today.  My mind runs through lists of what there is to do here and wants to move into the day.  But, my body is tired from the travel of getting here and wants to sit and take it all in.  So, I sit.  I let my mind run in circles because there's no corralling it, but my body is quiet.  It's an overcast, gray sky that greets me and covers my world.  Birds fly across the frame of my window.  A cat creeps across the roof across the street.  I feel my butt on the seat cushion of my chair and my feet as they rest on the floor as my fingertips move across the familiar keys of my computer.  It's quiet and I'm comfortable and I have all that I need in this moment.

My cat, Sophie, continues to wander the new space, discovering everything there is to know about the feels and smells and shapes of things.  She's been more affectionate with me during this journey and we've grown closer.  Our love and interdependence with each other has grown deeper.  I am her only anchor in a changing world.  Having her with me is a great gift.  She is my heart, my companion, my friend, my child, my supporter.  She uplifts me and grounds me into the present at the same time.  I am grateful for her presence in ways that defy words and fill me to overflowing.

My heart is full in this moment and I'm grateful to everyone and everything that has conspired to get me and Sophie here.  It took an enormous amount of Life force to magnetize everything into the reality of this moment.  And, it is that enormity of Life force that renews me and keeps me moving.  We don't accomplish things all at once, we accomplish them step by step, bit by bit...digestible my friend calls them.  You don't eat the whole piece, you eat it in bits, digestible bit by digestible bit.

And so, I walk into my new life moment by moment, savoring each one, letting the moments wash over me as they string themselves together and open the path before me.  Step by step, one foot in front of the other.  Keep walking.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A New Way of Seeing

Sophie and I just went through a bit of a breakdown, or breakthrough, as I like to see it.  We've both been dealing with a lot getting ready to move to France, and we've been adjusting and integrating pretty well up until this week.  But, as happens with breakthroughs, we're both feeling better now that we're through it.

Sophie had to go in for her last veterinarian visit on Monday in order to get all her travel papers signed by the USDA-certified vet.  She's basically fine, but I'd been noticing behavior that told me her anal glands needed to be expressed, and she's "barbered" her lower stomach...shaved herself, so-to-speak.  The expressing happened--which can not be a pleasant experience--and the vet wanted to put her on antibiotics, both for that and because she thought there might be a bladder infection.  After three doses of the antibiotics, Sophie was throwing up and had diarrhea, so I stopped the medication and we went back to the vet today.  Only today, Sophie got to see her regular vet, Dr. Mariann Rozsa, of the Bayside Vet Hospital in Point Loma, for all you San Diego folks.  Dr. Rozsa is a miracle of a vet and a feline specialist.  She loves cats and Sophie loves Dr. Rozsa as she loves very few people.  Sophie was calm throughout the visit and didn't fight when she got a B12 shot or had a pill put down her throat or got put back into her carrier.  You would have thought she was a different animal.  She didn't cry on the way home, ate two plates of food and immediately went to sleep.  She's fine.  No more antibiotics, just probiotics to sprinkle on her food and three more pills for nausea and done.  Dr. Rozsa treated Sophie with such love that Sophie perked up, received energy from the visit, and calmed down...all at the same time.

Why Sophie's anal glands and why now?  A cat's anal glands secrete when the cat's bowels move.  It carries hormonal information and, through scent, any animal that smells the information contained in the secretions knows everything they need to know about the cat who secreted it.  It's identifying information.  It's who the cat is.  In my view, Sophie has lost a clarity about who she is.  She's gone through a lot in the last few years...a number of moves, losing a "brother" cat with whom she had a very conflicted relationship, losing her older "sister" cat who she loved and with whom she's lived her whole life, being left alone with a caretaker while I walked The Camino, and then being left alone again almost immediately when I went back to France to find a place to live.  It would be a lot to adjust to and process under any circumstances, but to then add this huge move across the world to all of what she's already been through, put her into an identity crisis.  Sophie has to see herself differently, in the same way that I do.  She is no longer who she was, and is in the process of rebirthing herself into who she will be in our new home and new life...creating a new identity.

Yesterday, I drove up to the USDA office in El Segundo, which is just south of the Los Angeles airport.  I had to take Sophie's travel papers there to get everything officially stamped, signed, and numbered.  Thanks to Jennifer, in the Bayside Vet Hospital office, all the paperwork was in order and complete.  So, $38 and an hour and a half later, I was on my way.

I had been fine on the way up to LA but, on the way back, my left eye started to tear and felt scratchy and got swollen and started creating mucus.  By the time I got back to San Diego, my left eye was practically swollen shut.  I've never had conjunctivitis, but I figured that's what I had.  Why I had it was a mystery, but have it I did.  I went to bed early and hoped that it would be better when I got up, but no.  Both eyes were affected, but my left eye was extreme.  I had to find a doctor.

I went to a family clinic near my sister's house, ended up being referred to another clinic in a different part of town, went there, waited about three hours, and saw a lovely doctor who told me not to worry and that I'd be fine in a few days.  He prescribed antibiotic drops for my eyes and some allergy pills to reduce the swelling and sent me on my way.  Done.  My eyes are already feeling better.

Why my eyes, specifically why my left eye, and why now?  Well, the physical trigger was that I'd been helping my sister clean out her garage and back porch for the last week, which meant considerable amounts of dust for my system to deal with.  But, I've been in dusty situations before and not developed conjunctivitis or had an extreme allergic reaction, so why now?  The answer I got was because I need to see in a new way.  And, specifically, I need to see in a more feminine way--left eye.  Yes...  I'm leaving my country and everything I know to move to a new country and live a different life.  My life will look/be different in all aspects.  I will be seeing new things and seeing new ways of doing things.  I will need to see things differently in order to adapt to my new culture and adopt new customs and ways of being.  My eyes needed to be cleaned out and reset.  I needed to come into a visceral awareness of the need to see in a new way.

I'm moving from a very masculine, aggressive culture in the US to a very feminine, receptive culture in France.  It's so important that I see this and see the difference between the two.  I will have an enormous amount to do when I get to Uzes.  I have to set up my apartment, starting from scratch.  My normal way of getting this done would be to launch an all out assault, attack the situation and wrestle it to completion.  One way to do it.  But, I need to pull myself back from my old normal.  The old way will not be the most effective way in my new home.

Fortunately, without realizing it, I arranged to arrive in Uzes on a Saturday afternoon.  Fortunate because that means my first full day there will be a Sunday.  On Sundays in France, everything is closed and life is slow and people enjoy the day.  This means, I can't even try to hit the road running.  I will take Sunday to get to know my new apartment.  I'll spend time in it and measure it and let it talk to me.  Every space wants different things and different colors.  Every space has a certain feel and flow to it that tells you where to place the furniture.  And, having a whole day to get to know my new space before putting one thing into it is a real blessing.

Sophie and I leave San Diego next Tuesday, fly away on Wednesday, and arrive in Uzes on Saturday.  Our day of departure from all that's comfortable and familiar is drawing near.  I've been so focused on getting everything done in order to be ready to leave--masculine aspect--that I've given very little attention to the emotional impact of leaving--feminine aspect.  But, because of what's happened for both myself and Sophie over the last few days, I've given the emotional aspect a chance to talk to me and catch up.  So, I'm seeing more clearly, all is indeed well, and I am yet again on my knees in gratitude, which is never a bad place to be.


Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie

David Bowie's death is all over the media today, as it should be.  A giant has passed from us and gone on to the next phase of his journey.  We are sad at our loss of him, grateful for being alive on the planet with him and being given the chance to experience the brilliance of his work while we were here, and inspired by his ability to continue expressing his brilliance right up to his passing.

He was a master, in ways that many of us are not.  He was not a big person physically, but he was indeed a big person in terms of his expression and his impact on all of us who knew of him or knew him, or received the grace of his work.  I particularly revere the creatively unique and expressive people we've been gifted with because I've always struggled so with my own creativity, uniqueness and expression.  David Bowie's ability to know who he was, embrace and accept himself, and then express himself out for us to learn from and enjoy was a rare gift of humanity for all of us to witness.  We have so few souls among us who are able to do that at the level he did.

David Bowie's death also reminds me that no matter how we manage to live, none of us are exempt from the seeming vagaries of human life.  Because of my own creative struggles, I can trick myself into a destination frame of mind about my own journey...if I could just express my creativity my life would be better, I would be better, I would be healthier, I would be more loved, I would be more accepted, I would be...fill in the blank.  Many of us hinge things on the result of something else.  And, it's such a misconception in terms of the way things work.  I know this but it doesn't stop me from going there, all to often.

David Bowie was beautiful, successful, wealthy, creative, expressive, loved, talented...on and on and on.  Those things gave him a rich and wonderful life, but not a life devoid of pain, heartbreak, loss, disappointment, sickness and all the other things we might consider negative that make up a human life.  None of us are immune to the full spectrum of being human, no matter how masterful we are in any area of who we are or how we live.  And, that's really the point.  I sometimes have difficulty remembering that we all came here to experience life in a body in all of its aspects.  And, some of those aspects rip us apart and bring us to our knees in despair and sorrow.  But, those aspects of life that temporarily destroy us, and from which we need to rebirth ourselves and rise again, are the ones that build our character and through which we learn who we are and by which we are deepened and grow in compassion and understanding.  They are the aspects that grow us and make us strong.

Nothing we do gets us out of anything.  We can't avoid life.  David Bowie didn't try to avoid life, he embraced it up until the moment he died.  He lived fully and he died fully, surrounded by those who loved him.  He showed us what a full life looks like and how to pass gracefully from this world.  He left us with a great legacy from which we will all be able to expand ourselves and learn from for a long time to come.  We will be uplifted by his work for generations.  We will look upon images of his beauty in awe.  He indelibly imprinted his vibration upon this planet and upon all of us who were lucky enough to be here with him.

We honor you as you pass from us, David.  We will not forget you.  On wings of angels!  Fly free!