Creative Practice to Get Us Through

9 Aug

This week I shared my most recent painting with my art coach Connie Solera.

Goddess Mother Crone

Her response to me was, “I love what you got going on here too.  I’m so curious to who those figures are. What they mean to you. What story they press on your heart.”

Our Lady is pissed too!

Sometimes the women that show up in my paintings feel as if they are calling to me to bring them out of the ethers.

No idea about these two.

I can smear paint around and see them, hear them, sharing their pain, joy, and confusion, or is it mine? Such times we live in.

One of those paint smearing days.

I started out journaling my quarantine experience in a beautiful handmade journal that I bought on my most recent trip to Oaxaca. It called for paint more than words. Color and line seems to better express emotion than dialogue these days. There just are no words.

Sadness overwhelms.

I have filled the entire journal which makes me long to return to Oaxaca. Using up what we have is a wonderful lesson from staying home. I have dragged out my watercolor pencils, pastels, markers, oil crayons, acrylics, lord I have a lot of art supplies.

Makes me want to dye my hair lol.

I share most of my art on Instagram at dos_tortas if you want to take a look. Also photography is a new creative pursuit that I enjoy. There’s no telling how long before we can safely travel again. For now I will continue to smear paint and see who or what shows up. What is your creative activity? It’s what will get us through.

DOS TORTAS

The Fine Art of Not Complaining

2 Aug

I’ve been pondering the line between talking about a thing and complaining about a thing. How to tell the difference?

Blooming in our yard.

This week I’ve been writing a lot of blogs in my head, but none of them seemed to settle into my bones. It’s been one of those weeks, hot temperatures, body aches and not sleeping. It’s left me lethargic and cranky. Last night going to bed I was crying, sad after having read stories about people who died this week from Covid. Lisa asked me what was wrong. I couldn’t talk about it. An explanation would have required a thought process. I was immersed in my feelings and didn’t want to put them in words. She patted my shoulder and we went to sleep, at least she did.

Sunrise on Laguna Bacalar

The night was a swirl of thoughts. Sometimes I feel like my dogs doing zoomies around the couch. My brain jumps from subject to subject and sleep eludes me. I was then up way too early when the dogs wanted to go out. As Lisa appeared from the bedroom I announced that I was heading back to bed, something I don’t think I’ve ever done. She began to ask me what was wrong but caught herself. That woman is a quick study.

My mother in law’s cat. Gato

Back to the topic at hand, how to talk about my thoughts and feelings without complaining. For me, factors include:

Tone – if I find my voice getting whiney or high pitched, I am surely complaining. Even in my head.

Intention – If I’m wanting sympathy, I am complaining.

Responsibility – if I’m trying to avoid taking responsibility, I’m complaining.

I guess I have two choices, 1) come up with a solution or 2) live with the situation. Complaining has never made me happy. Sometimes other people have good ideas but I find that I have to be in the right place to hear them. I do have one thing that seems to help no matter what the problem, exercise!

Daily swimming in Laguna Bacalar.

If I feel cranky, am not sleeping, or have body aches, I know I must exercise more. Sometimes it feels counterintuitive. It would be so easy to tell myself that I need more rest, but that’s almost never the case.

How do you handle the swirling thoughts or lack of sleep? Until next week.

DOS TORTAS

Moms Are Pissed

26 Jul

This week has been a stellar week for women and moms in the US news. While I have held to the commitment that this is not a political blog, I simply cannot fill it with pictures of my dog (as cute as she is, and as happy as she makes me) which was where I was leaning this week.

My own artwork.

The news broke in Portland with the “Wall of Moms” being tear gassed. https://youtu.be/fNBiWnl1H8g Their motto brought tears to my eyes.

Then there was the fiery response by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the floor of our seat of government. https://youtu.be/LI4ueUtkRQ0

Our hope, our voice.

And lastly I read a blog by Jon Katz https://www.bedlamfarm.com/2020/07/24/one-mans-truth-aoc-moms-women-mayors-its-on/ which puts it into perspective beautifully.

Author, blogger and keen observer.

So this week I will rest. My eyes burn from crying. I just bought a book on Mary Magdalene. I will fill my time wrapped in her inspiration. She was another strong woman beyond my experience. I’d love to hear your thoughts on where you find peace and inspiration. Stay home, stay safe, until next week.

DOS TORTAS

A Birthday Letter To Our Granddaughters

19 Jul

Dear Sara and Analise,

This past week was your second birthday. Your Grandma Lisa and I felt sad because we couldn’t be there to celebrate with you. It is the year 2020 which will go down in modern history as one of the strangest times, certainly the strangest in my lifetime.

A Premie Ambulance

Grandma Lisa and I were at your house in California after you were born. We came to see you in the hospital when you were very tiny babies. You were born premature and mom had to stay with you in the hospital. We took care of Max until you were big enough to come home.

Sweet babies

It was so fun to take care of you when you came home from the hospital. Grandma Lisa and I took turns with your dad getting up in the middle of the night when you woke up. I remember getting up in the middle of the night with your mom when she was just born. She would look at me with eyes wide open. I thought she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and I still do. I was 24 years old.

Your mom as a newborn.

We will be around as much as we can while you are growing. I have a few thoughts to share. I don’t know how wise they are, but here goes.

Be kind, especially to people who are not kind to you.

Lots of people love you. And it is not your job to make them happy. It is their job to love you and teach you how to be responsible women.

Always pick your sister and brother. They will be with you a long time. Sharing memories together when you are older will be the best. Especially when you are as old as me.

We miss you all.

Mom said you will get these letters when you turn 18. What an exciting time for you. Be happy and know that I love you. Nana aka

DOS TORTAS

Unpacking My Racism

12 Jul

I have always said that racism is in the water. Whenever a white person declares indignantly, “I’m not a racist”, I have to laugh. Being raised white almost anywhere on the planet ingrains racism into our being. This week I saw how true that was for myself. I looked in the mirror and had to come down off my high horse. I am no exception.

A Visitor

I was kayaking one beautiful morning this week on Laguna Bacalar where I live and met a young couple sitting with their toddler on a dock near my house. We began talking in Spanish, because after all we’re in Mexico. When I realized that the man was translating our conversation for his wife, I asked them where they were from. The answer was, San Diego (California USA).

Sunrise on Laguna Bacalar

Our conversation continued with them asking me questions about Bacalar, and I then committed what is referred to as a micro aggression. I asked this brown skinned woman again where she was FROM.

Our Dock

I’ve been to San Diego. I was in awe of its perfect climate, big homes, flower filled streets and high cost of living. I guess my racist brain could not imagine this brown-skinned family being from such a white, wealthy place. I discovered that she was Philippina, which is besides the point. She was from San Diego.

We’re All In This Together

Seeing my unconscious assumptions is what unpacking racism looks like. Processing the immediate shame and embarrassment is important, only NOT with a person of color. My black and brown friends do not want to hear about my racism. They already know. My prayer is that seeing my stupidity will help me be less stupid next time. I will however make different mistakes, cuz that’s what it means to be human in this world.

DOS TORTAS

Amen

Living On Borrowed Time

5 Jul

My passport expires mid-December 2020. I was reminded by a friendly airline attendant the last time I traveled. (Seems like ages ago.) With added security measures, one cannot travel with less than six months left on a passport. You do the math, July! And somehow July is already here.

Leaving myself lots of time, I had an appointment for March 18 at the US Consulate in Playa del Carmen, about a two hour drive toward Cancun. New photos, check, directions to the Consulate, check, application filled out, check, prepaid return envelope from FedEx, check, renewal fee, check. I was all ready.

While giving up my passport always makes me nervous, my research told me that it was a relatively painless process and that I would have my new passport fairly quickly.

Then it happened, Covid and the quarantine. An email arrived the night before my appointment. The Consulate would be closed until further notice.

I have called several times for a status update. Still closed. They will issue emergency passports only. I once had my passport stolen, in Greece. I was issued a temporary passport to get me home to the US. That wouldn’t be bad if I absolutely needed to leave Mexico. The trouble is that the US is not renewing passports either. That means that I could be stranded in the States for who knows how long. Not what I want for sure.

Stela helps write my blog.

I will keep calling but with the cases of Covid going up in both Mexico and the US, things are not looking good. What would it mean if I were living in Mexico on an expired passport? I have no idea. As with so many other things in our lives, I’ll say a prayer and take it one day at a time.

DOS TORTAS

Adiós Carla

28 Jun

My friend Carla says adiós to Mexico and leaves for Europe with a one-way ticket tomorrow. She bought a little house on Laguna Bacalar, sight unseen eight years ago. For a long time she was the only person who spoke English in her pueblo.

While the view from her dock is beautiful, the little village she lives in on the east end of the Laguna is riddled with poverty, lack of education and little infrastructure. With Covid, there is more fear and crime.

Breakfast with Carla

We have been having breakfast together once a week for about a year. We talk politics, community drama, aging, and the tilting world we live in. I know she has been unhappy for quite awhile but hoped she could find peace.

Women’s March 2017

Friendship is not easy to come by among the expats in Bacalar. Actually anywhere. I will miss her.

DOS TORTAS

The Streets of Kansas City

21 Jun

In 1985 I left the desert for a job in Kansas City, Missouri, a city that had long been racially divided. I moved to have the chance to live closer …

The Streets of Kansas City

Rainbow Lives Matter

20 Jun

In 1993 I was fired from my job for being a lesbian. I hadn’t thought about the experience for many years. This week’s US Supreme Court judgement brought it all back. I was surprised by the emotional response the ruling triggered.

Celebrating equality.

One of the plaintiffs of the case before the Supreme Court was Gerald Bostock who was fired after joining a gay softball team. ‘We don’t want people like you working here’ what people, softball players?

Memories flooded back of my own personal experience of loosing my job in 1993 and the shock and helplessness I felt. I was hired as staff development coordinator for Austin Community College. I was so excited. The school was doing great things for the community and I got to schedule and influence the training of newly hired teachers.

My boss at the time had a habit that made me feel very uncomfortable. She was going through a messy divorce. Every morning, coffee in hand, she would park herself at my desk and relay all the gory details, whether I wanted to hear them or not.

My friend Charles who also worked at ACC wrote this article in the now defunct Texas Triangle. I have kept it all these years. Although I was within my six month probationary period, and this week’s ruling would not have helped, federal law will go a long way towards making employers think twice. And hopefully prevent others from going through what I did. Rainbow lives do matter.

DOS TORTAS

A Journey with Anxiety

14 Jun

It was New Year’s Eve 2006. I remember looking forward to heading to downtown Austin for the annual community bash. Gerald Ford had died unexpectedly and as a state employee we were given an extra day because of his funeral January 2, 2007. A four day weekend, woohoo! My condolences President Ford, but I was riding high, or so I thought.

Austin, TX New Year’s Eve Celebration
The only picture I have of my scooter. Taking my daughter for a ride.

My youngest son was in college, a half hour drive away and had moved into his first apartment. It was a beautiful day in Central Texas so I hopped on my scooter, a Yamaha 250cc and headed out for a visit. I traveled back country roads because a scooter ride on the Interstate was not my idea of fun nor is it safe.

Dylan with his grandfather.

While visiting my son, I began to feel off. I did what every mother does and took him to buy groceries. My vision seemed blurry and my head was pounding. I broke out in a sweat. Back in his apartment, I began to have chest pains severe enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room. I was shy of my 55 birthday.

My triathlon days.

The bottom line was the diagnosis of a panic attack. ME!? I had never had a panic attack and was not one of THOSE people. Whatever that meant. It’s funny how mental health prejudice can show up when you least expect it.

Lisa my support crew.

The doctor referred me to my family physician who was absolutely no help. I was offered medication or to figure it out on my own. I tried counseling. No help there either.

At work in the following weeks I would feel symptoms coming on, chest pressure, sweating, dizziness, which of course caused panic which only made it worse. A spiral of scary feelings. I was at a loss.

Danskin women’s triathalon.

I had practiced meditation twice daily for years and was in training for a marathon. How could I be having panic attacks? What ended up working for me was massage. I began getting weekly massages which seemed to reboot my system. I hadn’t really thought about the whole experience until now when I am again finding anxiety creeping back into my life.

Maharishi

I have been having stomach aches for awhile. The pains come and go, wrecking my sleep and, well, causing me anxiety. I finally broke down and went back to the doctor, thinking maybe a previous ulcer had returned. I love my doctor. He is incredibly caring, kind and smart. Not knowing any of my history with anxiety, he gently suggested that my pain may be just that, anxiety. I cried to be seen so completely by this man.

Smiling with his eyes

We will medicate my stomach pain again for a month and then revisit the results. I am starting here, sharing myself and my judgment about “those people,” of which I am one. Anxiety does not have to be a full blown panic attack. It apparently can appear as low level pain of any sort. Who knew? Isn’t 2020 a hoot?

DOS TORTAS

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