“God bless us everyone”

Happy Holidays.

Here’s hoping all of you readers made the best of small business Saturday and Indie Friday,  and got fabulous gifts for those on your list while keeping your money working hard in the community.  If not, it is not too late. Phoenix area residents can find something for everybody they love at the little strip mall at the corner of Guadalupe and McLintock. Changing Hands has books, amazing scent and skin care products, beautiful textiles and the best trinkets for tickling the funny bone as well as superb customer service. Then two doors down, Hoodlums has Vinyl, CD’s and music memorabilia to finish the list with equally awesome customer service (and I recommend always buying at least one CD for yourself, to listen to on the way home of course). Also in that same parking lot is a Trader Joe’s to pick up some tasty holiday treats.

Now, all this talk of shopping fun has me feeling my empty wallet again.

I know it is a tough season for many, myself included. Scarcity looks so different to so many people, and its face changes from person to person and even in the same life from day to day.  Scarcity for some of my friends is not being able to buy the latest tech toy on release day, or having to take coach on a plane, or booking an inside berth on their cruise. Scarcity for others  that I only know from news stories or volunteer work, is holding their hungry child in their arms not knowing when they will eat again or where they will sleep tonight.  For me, and most of us in America, it is somewhere in the middle of those extremes.

Three weeks ago scarcity  for me was realizing that I had to pare down my gift list to just family (chosen and blood), forgoe any medical care or massages and just pick one charity and then absolutely stick to my budget so I could pay the most important bills and still do Christmas too.

Then over Thanksgiving the check engine light came on in my car and a wee bit of metal began to show in the tread. Suddenly scarcity was all about keeping my car on the road and paying the rent. Presents not yet bought would be made, and I scrambled to pull up some extra work to meet mandatory expenses. But scarcity was still what answers for abundance most places in the world.

Then last week my baby sister died. She lived in Tennessee. We had been estranged for awhile due to lifestyle choices.

Today scarcity is somewhat about not being able to afford to help enough with the funeral or travel east to say good-bye; but mostly today, scarcity is about a world without her jokes and piano playing or any chance that she will ever find her way back from the dark places her choices had taken her. Money only crosses my mind these days if I am actually trying to pay a bill or put gas in my car. Scarcity today is the universal experience of one more permanent absence of someone loved.

We weren’t close these past few years, addiction of any kind and hers was flowering, creates a scarcity in our lives of love and integrity that makes maintaining relationships impossible. I am a little bit angry with my sad, angry she chose the pain and violence and high over hope and struggle and dailiness.

Our lives are the culmination of consequences of good and bad choices, so my choice today is to forgo the anger and instead to remember when we were little.

I remember when I was nine and she was in preschool and very afraid of the dark. At night I would tuck her giraffe into bed with her top bunk and climb into my roll-away and compose just for her stories about princesses and time travel and sea beasts; frequently featuring prominent pieces of whatever book I had just finished reading but always, always, always a story where goodness and love won.

I would tell stories until she was alseep. It kept her from crying and kept the real time monsters that inhabited our childhood from hearing her and hurting her; sometimes I sang and the words or music created a bubble of light and safety and happy.

I remember us as a young teenager and tween making music and spinning fantabulous stories, she had talent. I had enthusiasm. Music and jokes were her weapons and during the black periods of my early adolescent angst, she could always make me laugh. Music and words were again our bubble of safety and light.

I choose to remember us as adults finding a swing set in the park and singing our childhood ditties at top volume while playing “swing high as you can and jump,”  and making up stories about  exaggerated adventures of family members and old friends trying to out funny each other. We sang and spun our tales and jumped from the swings for hours in the dark (without breaking anything, all part of why I believe in magic) until neither of us could breathe we were laughing so hard, safe as always in our bubble of music and words.

She is not the first death of someone I love this year. Not even the second.

So scarcity this Christmas is not about what I am getting or what I can afford to give, it is mostly about those to whom I won’t be sending a Christmas card or buying a present because no postal service delivers beyond the grave..

But the dead aren’t gone completely. It wasn’t just my own early travels into the world of words my sister and I shared, it was stories others had written. So this Christmas I am re-reading again Charles Dickens, and Madeleine L’Engle, and Jules Verne and remembering telling her the stories, and helping her get through the first time she read them to herself, and hundreds of walking trips together to the library.

I am listening to Christmas Carols and remembering her learning to play them on the piano while I fiddled with our Dad’s ukelele; singing beside her in the church choir, even the year I wrote the script and she was Mary with the swaddled stained plastic baby doll from the Sunday School nursery (the real baby cast was extremely cranky that day and we had to substitute at the last minute). In music and books she will always be alive to me safe and happy.

And finally I will remember my baby sister every time I here Linus’ song and see the Snoopy dance.

Perhaps that is why my go to gift for those I love is books and music, because once they are shared they become a time capsule in which those sharing the experience can return to when they need a time of joy.

My family tree is large and a bit more Kudzu than tree and cancer or cumulative bad choices have ended many mortal sojourns; those who remain are often far in travel distance, but memories of shared times are as close as my Ipod, bookshelf or DVD player, and the fact is I have all three of those and the working brain power and senses to appreciate them.

This Christmas my tires are changed and my check engine light back on, my bills a bit late, and gifts not bought before the vet bills, doctor bills and car repairs wiped out my cushion will either be made by my hands or bought with the proceeds of whatever writing jobs I may still scrounge up but I no longer feel the scarcity of things so much as the presence of so many people and pets I have had the opportunity to love.

And yes, I am sad too. A positive approach to life begins with admitting the existence of suffering and its acceptance. Loss and death and grief are our mid-winters and cycle around for every warm summer season of love.  Which also means that every dark time is not only temporary but able to be lit just a bit by the candles of music and words and the tinkling multi-colored lights of loves traditions.

And that is why I do not feel so much scarcity as gratitude this morning, and finish again with Tiny Tim, “God Bless Us Everyone.”

Monday, monday….

I am chagrined to realize I do not have that song on my Ipod. In fact, I cannot even find my Mommas and the Poppas Greatest Hits in my CD’s. It has apparently joined various books, socks, articles of jewelry and clothing, CD’s and DVD’s in the Borderland or maybe the NeverNever. I am convinced that my own love of Wild Magic affects my belongings and that they animate at night and relocate themselves. Hence the inability to find my keys or a certain pair of socks, or in this case a much loved OooooLD CD.

Maybe there will be a wonderfully and reasonably priced used copy at Hoodlums this morning……

Ok, back in reality and the burning question *read in serious radio announcer voice, circa 1930 “Will this Slow Old Fat ‘Try’athlete actually achieve her preliminary goal of completing a Sprint Tri in October”

That is the burning question but on this front what’s burning this morning is my calves and feet. Yes I did swim last night. I swam two sets of 200 (4 laps), and did 150 on the board. No break between the first two laps, short break, lap, short break, length, break, length was the rhythm of it and I really worked my legs on the second and third board laps.  Didn’t get to the pool until 8ish, then not home till 10pm and tried to stay up to see the news. Fell asleep on the couch for about an hour. Into bed in the firmer guest room bed because I need to reconfigure the mattress situation in my room during my days off work this week. Slept until 6 AM, with only one bathroom trip so I give my sleep last night a five.

I give the pain I am in this morning a 9/10. Awoke to the long missing and not at all missed neuropathy in my feet.  The neuropathy is officially listed as a side effect of a long series of medications that allowed me to live long enough to complain about the side effects so I had pretty much determined it was just something with which I would have to live. This year I started going to Backfit Chiropractic for my “nurses back” and amazing bonus in the treatment box, my neuropathy disappeared.

I have done a lot of things over the years to minimize my chronic pain. It was a decision to shift paradigms and truly focus instead on maximizing my amazing and miraculous health that got me moving forward on this Triath journey and got my butt through into Backfits door.  Like a chemical catalyst, the massages and adjustments took to my organic, vegan food choices and increased exercise (which I had tried before by themselves in fits and starts always dragged back to the couch by fatigue, SOB and pain) and exploded them into a well being I couldn’t remember feeling in years.

Then I had a minor health glitch to the tune of ~1400$ (FTR, I am pretty much uninsurable at this time unless I become disabled so everything is out of pocket and triple cost) and my dog got sick and I am still glad I spent the money even though the answers were not the ones I wanted to hear (for another ~1300$ ) all out of pocket and I blessed the universe for the writing jobs that I thought would carry me through the chiro treatments for almost covering the two unexpected expenses. Bills got late and short story long, due to money constraints, I gradually decreased my trips to Backfit and now I have gone over two weeks without a massage or adjustment. What a difference it makes. All the little quirks and idiosyncrasies of surviving are back again, not as bad as before I started any treatments, but like my own little “check engine” light definitely here with a fitness moral.

The moral of the story for me is, even with continued exercise and stretching and good diet I need at minimum one massage and adjustment per week. Other moral is that I need to increase my willpower (more won’t power) for my Kryptonite – sugar, if I want to truly optimize the life I have been gifted. The neuron damage from the treatments are like frayed wires, so when they are all crossed and jumbled the shorts occur; adjustments and massage straighten and arrange my frayed wires so they don’t cross and cause little fires. Animal products, sugar and white flour are little drops of water I sprinkle over the whole thing and fan the flame.

It’s not just the neuropathy and back ache that Backfit treatments improved, other things these adjustments have done for me besides just being the pain reducer/energy booster I have just discussed is decrease my dependence on poise pads, and decreased my embarrassing gas and “digestive disorders’.

I cannot recommend enough for someone reading this Blog and then thinking that if it wasn’t for their pain or their weight or their incontinence or *fill in blank* they would love to start an exercise program, maybe just walk, or swim or run, to start it by going to a local reputable Chiropractic office that offers massage,physical therapy and adjustments (bonus if they have a homeopathic doctor also) and start there. If you live in the Mesa/Gilbert/Chandler area I TOTALLY recommend Backfit at ValVista and Warner. http://www.facebook.com/BackfitGilbert

And no, I don’t work for them; they worked for me!

Anyway back to today’s training diary I am having a bowl of oatmeal with mixed berries for breakfast and coffee with organic honey and soy milk, 6 oz cranberry juice and multi-vitamin.

I will walk the dogs. Shower and stretch.

Write two or three stories for Thursday deadline. Have a salad lunch.

Go to the bank. Reward myself for doing my plan with a trip to Hoodlum’s and Changing Hands and Trader Joe’s.

Backfit apt.

Home to write some more for my Thursday deadline.

Run 2 miles.

Watch Ashton Kutcher in Two and a Half Men and knit and go to bed. Yes, Virginia, my life has gotten small. All I talk about these days are training and television. I am reading and meditating still but no one wants to talk about that and otherwise, my life has become very, very small…..hmmm, I think I prefer the word “focused”.

Why I have been silent…..though maybe Just being wise…

 There was an old owl lived in an oak
The more he heard, the less he spoke;
The less he spoke, the more he heard
O, if  we were all like that wise old bird!

What time for writing I have had has been spent on my dystopian fantasy/sci-fi mash-up novel for this years nanowrimo. 

This message is In case anyone is missing my rambling blogs and thinks maybe it is my usual unhappy silence. Its not. I am happy.

Really.

Happiness was visiting my favorite local places yesterday. Yup. I swung into Hoodlums to pick up some mood changing music and Changing Hands where I scored a classic for under 5$  yesterday. Even the air there is somehow sweet with independence….

OK back to writing.

And in case you don’t know who Hoodlum’s Music is yet…go read my October 31 entry. Or better yet, head to the SW corner of Guadalupe and Mclintock in Tempe.  Do yourself a favor and start at Changing Hands. I like to browse the classics and the sci-fi sections but this week I recommend you visit Fiction and pick up a copy of the latest novel by Jasper Fforde.  After purchasing it,  read the first couple chapters over a bowl of tasty autumn soup at Wildflower Bread Company. Now with body warmed and mind stimulated mosey south past the Pub to Hoodlum’s for a little euphonius sustenence for the soul. If you don’t leave there with at least two new CD’s, then you are either deaf or broke.

Now really back to my nanovel….

I’m gonna miss you Jack;

 My subject line is a line from the Yo Gabba Gabba  good-bye song one of my patients loves so very much that I have it memorized. I bought it from Kristian and Steve. I keep calling Steve the Boss. They actually are partners, not in the "when will everyone keep their nose out of other peoples bedrooms" kind of partner, but in the "complete respect, friendship and shared profits" kind of partner way. Together, they own and run the best music store I have been in since the one where a young (and cute)hippie musician played me A certain Crimson King and enchanted me away from a strictly blues, folk (and closet opera) fanatic into a prog rock appreciator.  That music store became my only music source for two decades. The courtship of that mind-expanding, freedom filled summer  became the relationship bar that no other music store could ever reach again, until this year. 

The store in California (whose name I never did and still don’t remember but I can still drive there/hitch there with my eyes closed) was my last music store relationship. We broke up as my family and career expanded, it had always been a long distance liason, and now time constraints and the ready availability of free and cheap vinyl music just begging me to use it, made me forget my first love.

I revisited my first love on a pilgrimage with friends up the Pacific Coast Highway in 2005.The shop is old, vintage, and the owner, still cute and shorter than I remember is not so young either. But it was still there, on the corner of anyones’s way into San Francisco the last time I drove Route 1; and I still left with two new CD’s of music I didn’t know existed till I entered and couldn’t live without once I had. I also left with his business card and that achy bitter sweet taste of memories and a promise of lunch we never did.. I have spent the last couple decades of my life looking for that same kind of experience again, that first love rush of buying music from people who know music and talk music and embrace me with music like a family reunion hug..

Hoodlums came into my life like must true loves, kind of by accident. I may love music but I also love books. And my sons. Not necessarily in that order, although they may tell you it is. My youngest son lives in Tempe, AZ. And there was an apartment available in the same complex as he and his lady. I took it because the price was excellent and I liked being near my son. I also knew nearby was an Independent Bookstore I had frequented named "Changing Hands". They often hosted authors I appreciated like "James Owen" or "Christopher Moore", and even facilitated my addictive print habit by buying back books that I had completed for credit towards new books. There was a Trader Joe’s in the strip mall too. That actually is how I found Hoodlums

 I was walking with my new book purchase clutched close to my chest, off to buy some veggie sushi and a dark beer to go home and recover from the move I had just completed. Wherever I walk, I look in windows. And there it was, after the pub, a record store.

I certainly did not know how much this store would come to mean to me, at first glance it was attractively indie and the guy behind the counter was playing some kick-ass blues, but there was nothing to tell me that this would not be just one more browse and buy encounter. I went inside and threw my challenge glove upon the counter. I had a friend who used to play hair rock now plays classical guitar and could this guy recommend a good birthday present for him..three CD’s (which I gave and own now) and some conversation later I exited that store knowing that love really can happen twice in a lifetime.

 I am a little sad today because I am moving away, now. Not too far away to still go there a couple times a month but it is no longer walking distance from my home. I visited Hoodlums as a break from cleaning that apartment today (another son has a house I am renting in San Tan Valley but that is a different non-blog worthy story) and left again with two CD’s I didn’t know existed and now cannot live without and will be critical parts of my Nanowriting soundtrack. Music and words are integrally connected for me.

Today my taste in music is as eclectic as everything else I do or own, but now as then, I only have one record store.