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The Double Meaning behind the blog title 'Dream Follower:'
First, for 14 years I was a ballroom & social dance instructor, and have studied both leading and following. I feel that learning to follow is full of nuance and is often misunderstood. I made it one of my personal goals to become a really excellent follow on the dance floor, and will probably talk a lot about the art of following - both in and out of the context of dance.

Second, I am a huge fan of author Michael Ende, probably best known for The Neverending Story. The book is incredible, and the first film captured some of the essence. (Please don't watch the other two films...I urge you to read the book though!) Anyway, at least twice in my life I have been caught in a storm of my own indecision, and my inner Moon Princess yelled to my inner Bastian...'Why don't you do what you dream?' I tear up even now as I write this little blurb. The tension between being practical, keeping my feet on the ground and my head out of the clouds (at the risk of compromising my inner vibrancy, true self, and who knows what else)...and reaching for my true dreams (at the risk of losing everything) is still a very real struggle. In fact, one of those struggles lead to my 14 years of teaching dance, so we can see which voice won the battle that fateful day when I was staring at the want-ad...

And so I strive to be two kinds of Dream Followers in my life. One has to do with connecting with others, and the other has to do with connecting with my inner Moon Princess and the world of possibility that opens when I do...

Friday, May 30, 2014

Second Sight (another vision)

Samantha wiped a tear from the corner of her eye, and looked again at Raven. No. She saw through Raven, as if Raven were somehow transparent. There and not there. She shook her head and squeezed her eyes again thinking perhaps she was having a tear-blurred vision problem, but when she refocused again Raven looked shimmer-y and sheer.

"Are you ok, Raven?" Samantha took a step toward her and reached out just in time to catch the iced tea glass as it slipped out of her hand.

"Lucas!" She shouted for his help-a twist of fear making her own voice sound shrill and disembodied to her own ears.

"What happened?"

"I'm not sure, we were both laughing a minute ago and then she sort of ... faded?" Samantha was searching for the right words, as they stood up on either side of her and  started walking back inside.

"She has episodes like this sometimes, let's get her lying down on the couch and see if this one passes quickly."

He sounded matter-of-fact, and calm, which helped ease Samantha's jangled nerves a bit.

"Do the episodes usually pass quickly?" She felt a pang of guilt, because asking had more to do with a sudden fear that she might one day have such episodes herself. It was impossible to ask Raven anything just now, and she hoped Lucas might know or remember a little from his time living with her.

"It depends. I can't say I know on what, but some are over in a matter of minutes, while there was one that had me worried because she was unreachable for ten hours." He shrugged. "All I try to do is make sure she's comfortable." He covered Raven with a blanket from the back of the couch, and nestled her head gently on a pillow before returning his attention to Samantha. She looked a little pale, but otherwise strong. There was still something that had changed since they arrived, but he couldn't quite sniff it out. "What were you two talking about just before she faded?"

Samantha shook herself out of her unfocused gaze and tried to find a way to summarize. She didn't want to share everything with him, she would feel almost naked if she tried. But she also couldn't shut him out completely. "We were discussing masks people wear. Um, it's kind of personal actually. But it was so helpful and thought-provoking for me. I'm afraid I have more questions now than when I started, but she told me that might happen."

Lucas nodded, and said "You never have to share more than you feel comfortable. I understand. I often wonder where she is when she goes into her episode. Is she deep inside herself, does she send her spirit walking in our physical realm somewhere, or is it a different plane of existence altogether?" His questions were obviously rhetorical, but Samantha enjoyed hearing him articulate her own thoughts almost exactly.

They locked eyes for a moment, and a shiver ran down her spine. She felt his lips on hers in a future flash of impossible but so certain fore-knowledge, and her cheeks blushed a deep red. She broke away from their gaze first, and he was left wondering  what he had missed--again.

Following (on the dance floor)

When I was untrained as a dancer, I did more dancing on my own than with a partner, and I felt music move me. I enjoyed interpreting different instruments with body movement in general, and the freedom to explore without any boundaries or restrictions. The few times I tried partner dancing, I guess I thought I was instinctively a pretty good follower. I suppose looking back I was one of those ladies I now find somewhat obnoxious who thought they could dance 'as long as he's a strong lead' which is a commonly held misconception.

I may need several posts to truly do this topic justice, or one very long one...bear with me.

Buried in this misconception are probably a whole host of cultural and gender stereotypes, and I do not hope to unravel them all in one go. I may merely shed light on two or three in this post.

First there are the expectations leveled upon men. And second there is the unhelpful stigmas about men who dance. (At least in the majority of US culture, but not the world over.) And third the entitlement or superiority assumed by many (not all) women, which leads to an examination of the cultural expectations of women when it comes to dance.

And last, the golden thread which is my own evolution of perspectives on the lead/follow dynamic in partner dancing, both in my own dancing and as a teacher. I hope to share this portion of my journey with you most of all.

So let me begin with a short description about men, since the title is following after all. In our culture, men are expected to be assertive, to know the way, to be masculine and to generally be in charge. It is common for young boys to be pushed into sports or athletic arenas, but not so much with music or dancing (I know, such broad strokes, bear with me, I know there are many exceptions). Whereas, by and large young girls are pushed into ballet, tap, jazz or some other form of dance. This leads to an imbalance of exposure culturally, which leads to unhealthy expectations. So many women come in understanding how their body can respond to the outside stimulus of music, where men are often coordinated within themselves but not necessarily used to conforming to an external metronome (the beat)...layer on top of that the ladies are used to dancing directly with the music and now they have to wait for the man, and we have ourselves a hot mess.

So ladies have to realise at any given moment we could have up to three leaders to follow on a lesson or in a class, and on the dance floor two. Who are all these leaders you ask? a class or on a lesson there's your teacher, your partner and your music. If one of those is out of sync with the other two, she has to determine which leader is most important in that moment. I'll give you a hint ladies, the music is always last on the list, even if you hear it better than both your partner and your teacher. Which I do understand can cause cognitive dissonance, frustration or for the finely tuned it can just feel terrible. Dancing off time together is still your better option and this is why: what we are trying to achieve on the dance floor is a living breathing creature with four legs, four arms, two hearts, and one mind in charge at a time. It can, at a higher level, become a dialogue where both voices can be exchanging ideas back and forth, but if you argue in the beginning it just brings up the worst insecurities (in and out of your own relationship, on and off the dance floor) and this noise and chaos turns into a tug of war or battle of wills or turns your teacher into a referee to call who was 'right' which is all beside the point. As I said, it is my opinion that while timing is *important* it should never be placed above partnership.

This is not to say the lady's role is passive or subservient or subordinate. This was my second misconception, which I'm afraid I held for at least the first year and a half of teaching. In fact, I was so blown away (learning how to lead myself) by just how much he has on his plate. Patterns, timing, navigating, when to lead which variation so she is neither bored nor dizzy, how to jump in at the right time with the music, etc. I thought I was very compassionate, but it was my perception that he had the lion's share of responsibility. To be honest, that is probably more visibly the case until we get our social basics under our belt...after that it really equalises or tips the other way a bit, in terms of the pressure of continuity. Following can feel to a novice lady like a pass/fail test from step to step, pattern to pattern or depending on the speed of the music or any number of variables. That's the worst feeling, we hate failing on any part of any test, so when we say try it again, it's cause we want a redemption round, not because we are trying to verbally lead you. The continuity of any dance is probably fifty/fifty least that's what one of my teachers told me, when he felt me waiting passively to be placed. He asked me to dance him back, which sounded so strange, and at first I didn't understand what he meant. Dancing him back is a way of being active response back to him letting him know that I got the message, and am on balance ready to receive his next suggestion. If I merely follow, he can't tell without looking which foot I'm on or whether I executed an action...if I actively follow he is getting sensory reassurance that we're still connected, and I'm listening. In following it is possible to have too 'heavy' or 'light' of a connection (side note, never tell a partner they feel heavy, are dancing heavy, or anything...just avoid the term, it just causes issues, fights, tears, etc)

I am sure I have merely scratched the surface of my own thoughts on this topic, but that will do for a start.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


I think we call them smart "phones" just to keep it within a mental grasp. This gadget can do so many things, and it happens to also function as a phone. But if I think about it too long, my brain hurts. I'm afraid that we are living in the future already, and it is difficult to even imagine what else we could invent.It was so futuristic in TV shows and movies to have a face to face phone call, and now almost anyone can do that not only on their computer but also on their phones. I remember a trip to Tomorrowland in Disney about 12 years ago, where they had a coffee table that you could load with family photos or a book and touch on the edges and pull apart to expand or pinch to shrink and now that's something I have in the palm of my hand.

I go back and forth with feeling awed excited and impressed on one hand, and on the other hand I'm flipped out, worried, nervous. And then it's all too much to feel so I numb my mind with fun distractions like another youtube video, someone's blog, kindle,Netflix, or a TV app on my This Is So Much More Than A "Phone" device.

I have mixed emotions, but on some level I am horrified that there's a whole generation born in the 2000's who will never know a time when Text, Friend, Google, youtube, etc were not Verbs, and some of them were not even words before. There might be a few pockets of parents (if I were one, I'd be one) who limit computer time, social media, etc. Who want to teach their kids the importance of using their own imagination, and to not fear boredom. Boredom is the birthplace of unique ideas. Boredom is when your inner demons surface and you can invent ways to slay the dragon.

of course I also see the irony of using a social media platform to rant about this, because I am insta-hypocrite. Maybe if I point it out first no one will write a stinging remark about it.Though I also have very few hecklers lurking so that's a plus. :)

I'm sure I could say more on the subject, but for now I must go.

Ttfn, dear reader.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


I remember some of my exes with fondness, and some with varying degrees of regret. In all honesty, I feel lucky to have been in most of those relationships for at least the growth and self-discovery and so on.

But I will share this fun fact.

I still cyber-stalk two of my exes. (occasionally)

The two that cheated on me.

I'm sure it's unhealthy by someone's standards. My reasons for doing it have shifted, but I still peak at their facebooks now and then.

When I do, it doesn't feel twisted like it did in the beginning. When I did originally, it was myspace...yeah, remember that? And it used to torture my soul to see him change his background and profess his love so publicly for her, especially when he had never done those things for me. It was a delicious and indulgent sort of self-torture to compulsively check his page when we first ended. I got such a twisted sense of elation and schadenfreude when she broke his heart and he changed his background and his status...and even more evil joy when I heard he got evicted...and much of my need for revenge was assuaged by this internet surveillance.

It has calmed and slowed and I go many months on end without even thinking of him, or him...but it was so weird that when my other relationship ended also many years ago by now I took up the habit again, but this time checked on both of them. And now, every so often, I get bitten by a curious need to see...I don't know...maybe are they married, or did they move out of the state, or did they post something personal or who knows why...what I hope to see or find.

perhaps this compulsion will one day disappear altogether. and I use the term compulsion for the mere fact that once it occurs to me to look, I can find no compelling argument not to satisfy the urge, so I look. maybe I will try to control the urge next time it pops up just to see if it's difficult. as I said, it only happens maybe once a year anymore. I'm not worried about it. I'm not sure I care enough to make myself not do it.

I guess in a way I'm almost always curious about all my most cases I truly wish them well...

just a rambling overshare tonight, I'm afraid. No point to make, no confession or absolution...

Do you wonder about exes? Do you cyber-stalk any of them? Or am I the only honest weirdo...?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Tripping on May-be

Whatever the mind conjures up may be. At the same time maybe lives in the in between, in the purgatory of not yet, may not, may be. It is a luxury in a way, may be. It is indulging a fantasy, may be. It is also the very seed-like beginning of many a what was. For that reason one should do one's best never to poo-poo a maybe. Do not underestimate the beauty and majesty of may be. Many decades did mankind perhaps daydream about flight, and then may be has now become common place! People thought about space for centuries, and maybe became history and fueled many more flights of fancy.

May be is sometimes also a fence-sitter, and non-committal. Sometimes may be is a procrastinator and a scaredy-cat. May be is not content, but might cling to 'the devil you know' rather than taking a risk. May be is a dreamer, a purist, and of course the dream is pristine and pure and perfect while reality is messy and uncertain.

May be - I will indulge you a while longer, but soon we must explore some messy options, and allow new may bes to surface.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

another night out

Tonight we least I dance. Because I can't help it, and because I will whether or not others do if the music is good...and usually even if it isn't good. Dance is my way of hiding in plain sight. It is safer than talking, easier than flirting. I am much more comfortable moving than trying to connect any other way. It is a weird confident/insecure thing. I move because I am not confident, and when I move I am confident. I move for myself and for its own sake.

So in a way, I retreat into movement. I can't decide if that's a trait I just accept, or I if I should limit my dancing in an effort to force myself out of my comfort zone.

Imagination Runs Wild

The music is loud enough to make talking with words impossible, which suits her just fine for her purposes tonight. Talking is overrated, and words are often lies. But the body never lies. She feels the bass beat vibrating up through the floor, the air, her spine tingles and her feet itch to move in time to the insistent rhythms. Her friend passes the drink to her again, and she tastes the tang of alcohol mixed with something fruity and feels her inhibitions slip a little further away.  There might be a hundred guys or there might be only two, but tonight she is going to be a different self, a self that doesn't stop the presses, a self that throws caution to the wind, a self that enjoys the moment for its own sake. Her body has begun to wave in tiny undulating ripples that express the melody while also acknowledging the driving beat. She takes another long sip from the straw before handing it back to her friend, so she can dance with her arms too. She scans the crowd and feels several pairs of eyes appreciating her movement with unabashed lust. She feels their eyes undressing her, and all it does is encourage her movement.

The dj blends a new beat in so the song moves seamlessly and her dance is uninterrupted. Her eyes move lazily to him, and the dj smiles at her and she beams back at him. She knows her dance gives him validation and appreciation. His eyes shift to the rest of the crowd, and then she feels someone in her space just behind her. Slowly she turns and locks eyes with him, daring him to show her his moves. He is devouring her with his eyes, and she starts to sync with his movement.

It doesn't matter where he is from, where he is staying, whether she'll ever see him again. She doesn't care if he's married, has kids, or is a nice guy or a jerk.

She mingles with him, tastes his lips and the beer and cigarette he's enjoyed before joining her on the dance floor. Her tongue dances with his tongue, and their bodies press together in time with the music, and in her mind the dj is making love with them too in this moment. The sweat is dripping down her spine, his shirt is also wet and she grabs him by the front of his shirt and pulls back from their kiss for a moment, locks eyes with him again and drags him to a dark corner...

Saturday, May 24, 2014


Tonight we're planning to visit Fremont, and then maybe find music and dancing. I'm sure there will be some mild drinking on my part, but not the kind I used to do in college...

It's much more fun to invent a crazy LV story than to share what really happens, since I'm pretty boring.

We'll see. Perhaps tomorrow I will invent and write a wild adventure about what *could* have happened tonight for my own entertainment...and yours!

backyard fun



long talks with good friends

the smell of sunscreen

stringing together thoughts

taking calculated risks

making new memories

a break from thinking

the mind sparks, ideas fly, thoughts scatter, you taste or hear something and words cannot flow fast enough to capture - a mood, a feeling, an unspoken communication, a glance, the way the dog lies, the smell of heat...

fleeting moments of joy, calm, fleeting moments of boredom captured.

a hair tickles the nape of your neck, or is it a fly, no.matter.

minutes stretch into hours of not having a schedule to keep.

suspension, pension, retention...

pressures have not disappeared, but have been pulled away from the tension and the eyeball is relieved for a few days of the poking finger of indecision.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Weekend Getaway

It's a three day weekend since we're closed on Monday, and the boss allowed me to take Friday also, even though we're in a I am linking up with my bff from high school years and heading to Las Vegas for a little fun and relaxation.

Perhaps I'll write about some of our shenanigans, but I think it's pretty funny that I'm even awake at slightly before six AM on my long weekend first  day.

Maybe it's excitement. I used to feel that way about going to our Speech and Debate Tournaments in high school too. All week long I'd hit snooze six times, but come Saturday, I would gladly wake up at five to go to school and meet our bus. I've been a lifestyle night owl for long before my job but on top of that I have now added nearly fourteen years of working second shift. I love that I don't have to be at work until one in the afternoon. It suits me just fine to be mingling with students until ten pm. It just makes meeting "mister right" a bit of a challenge.

I've had beautiful mornings enjoying nature, or birds, or silence. I rowed crew one semester in college, which was fun and also at six am. At lifeguard camp I was in the polar bear club. Brrrrr. But percentage wise, I think I'm more often a night owl than an early bird.

So great. :)

But maybe I should try to close my eyes and see if I can nap again before our long drive...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Second Sight (Porch chat continued)

Raven sipped her tea quietly while Samantha pondered the masks. A Dark cloud passed over her forehead in thought, but Samantha was preoccupied with her own questions so she missed it.

Samantha had been chewing the inside of her cheek, wishing she wasn't filled with even more questions than before.

"I don't want to sound naive or dumb...but if I am not aware of a mask, how can I remove it?"

Raven smiled.

"There is no question that could make you seem dumb or naive, except perhaps the one you choose not to ask for fear of damaging your image. Do you see? Already your fear of judgment has nearly stopped you from asking the next thing. Do you know something else? All that judgment is In Your Own Head. That's right. Before I can begin to answer your question I must address the way you even posed the question. Perhaps by unraveling that, we will even get one step or all the way closer to answering your thought about masks."

Samantha's brow furrowed.

"I can't imagine ALL judgment is in my head. That can't be right. I know I judge others at times, even though I mean well and I assume others do the same as I do. I've certainly rolled my eyes internally and when I was younger externally when someone was asking a question that seemed obvious to me."

"You may, but Let me ask you something.  Have there been times when you asked a question and felt judged, and other times when you asked a question and saw judgment but didn't care?"

"Well of course, sometimes the person judging me is someone I don't necessarily respect or care about. In that case I could not care less what their opinion of me is."

"That's it. Right there. You allow someone else's opinion of you or your question to matter, have relevance, have meaning. You Allow or disallow. So any judgment you feel was begun in your own mind...whether the thought sprung from your mind itself or you chose to accept or invite someone else's thought in and give it significance, weight, and meaning."

Samantha took a sip of her iced tea, and nibbled on her straw.

"Okay, let's set aside the way I posed the question though. I am still confused about how to remove a mask I am blind to seeing. How can I be expected to get rid of something so unconscious?"

Raven grimaced.

"Child, you are still caught up in someone else's expectations. Who are you trying to please?"

Samantha was getting frustrated.

"Are you toying with me?"

"Not in the slightest. This is actually more relevant to your question than you realise, but you are too close to it yourself to see that. Have you ever known someone who dated the wrong person, but you couldn't tell them until after the relationship ended? What do they always say? 'Why didn't you tell me?' And what is your response, usually? 'You would not have listened.' And you would be right. Samantha, you came to me to learn. You are asking me about Removing a mask, but everything you are saying is through the filter of still wearing one. Presently, you frame each question innocently in your habit. Or maybe it isn't so innocent. Maybe it is possible for you to begin to change your language and your perception may also change with more awareness of word choice. Wake Up! Waking up is not comfortable. Do not apologise for your questions to me ever again. But more importantly, Do not worry about my approval! Do not change your approach to please me or any other audience. Your mask is people-pleasing. If I simply tell you how to change, you have trapped yourself into merely pleasing a new entity outside yourself. This is a path to misery. You can not be held responsible by anyone for someone else's emotional state."

Samantha sat blinking, feeling the words almost physically assault her.

"I want to take off the mask...I just don't know how."

"Bullshit. You are the only one who does know how, but you don't have the courage to do it." Raven's voice was quiet, but firm.

Samantha wasn't even sure anymore if she was angry, annoyed, frustrated, or feeling helpless to change

She stood up, adrenaline pumping. She stalked to the edge of the porch and set her glass down on the ledge. Her eyes weren't even focusing on the lawn or street, and there were little flashing spots at the edges of her peripheral vision. Who was this woman, and how dare she challenge her very way of being? People-pleasing? What does she know, anyway? At work Samantha had been so strong, she'd been asked to fire someone, which had been hard for her, but even as she tried to come up with that example she knew Raven would ferret out that she had done it to please her bosses and fulfill her duties. Her white hot rage began to mellow upon that realisation. Maybe she was prone to people-pleasing. Now what? She turned on her heel and stared at Raven.

"Now what? Any impulse I have, I have to pause and ask myself who I'm trying to please? Every move I make, I should live with second guessing my motivations like some kind of ball and chain?"

"If that's what taking off your mask involves, then I assume it will be temporary. I see you don't have the patience for that so it shouldn't take long for you to come up with an alternate approach." Raven's lips twitched at the edges of a smile, and her eyes twinkled mischievously.

Samantha caught sight of herself in this moment, and saw that right now she was being her own authentic self without caring about anyone else's opinion. It felt free, unfettered, nothing resembling a ball and chain, no second guessing, no apologizing for who she was or what she said or felt.

She grinned back at Raven, and then they both chuckled, and the laughter caught its own momentum, and their eyes lit and twinkled and they laughed until tears squeezed out of the corners of their eyes.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Second Sight (Raven)

"Come in, sit down, and let me get you something to eat!" Raven was petite, businesslike and assertive.  She moved and talked in ways that left little doubt as to who was in charge.  Her manner was friendly, but also no-nonsense.

Lucas glanced sideways at Samantha, a little worried she might not respond so well to Raven. Samantha's eyes glinted, and she smiled at Lucas as if to say "I see what you mean." It seemed some of his stories had prepared her a little for Raven.

Samantha tried to find a time to ask a question, but Raven kept up a light patter about what kind of lunch meat they wanted on which kind of bread, asking in successive either or questions whether they wanted wheat or rye, toasted or not, Swiss cheese or no cheese, etc and Samantha decided to allow Raven to steer the lunchtime conversation.  She hadn't been able to really eat a proper breakfast with her stomach in knots of anticipation and excitement, and enjoyed her sandwich immensely side by side with Lucas. Raven bustled about in the kitchen while they ate on the island and then brought a tray with three tall glasses of iced tea. 

"Now! Let me get a look at you two." She handed them each their iced teas, and took a long draw on her own straw as she gazed with unfocused eyes at alternately Samantha and then Lucas.

Samantha held her breath for a full thirty seconds, and then broke free and sipped her iced tea.  She looked shyly back at Raven, and though her mind was full of questions she could not figure where to begin, and her mind drew a blank.  Then she felt a tremor begin in her spine at about her mid-back and she didn't know what it was, and she closed her eyes and felt herself shaking uncontrollably.  She felt joy, but she also felt tears rolling down her cheeks. With her eyes closed, an image still arrived in her mind's eye. An image of a strong woman, tall, slender, powerful and self-assured and somehow this woman was herself in another realm. And there was also Raven, but in another shape, not a bird, but a shaman like an old Indian man with a bird mask on, with rough leathery skin and joyful twinkling eyes and a tough exterior. She felt these two powerful beings square off, meet as equals, and nod to one another.

When she opened her eyes, Samantha was surprised to still be sitting upright at the island, holding her iced tea Lucas beside her.  As though no time had passed, but eons stretched between the self that had sat down for lunch and the self that had lifted her glass to her lips, Samantha gazed fully upon Raven.

Raven looked her dead on, and then grunted.

"You need to stay with me tonight. Both of you can call in sick tomorrow, this is too important and it cannot wait."

Samantha had no intention to disagree. She needed answers more than her team needed her there tomorrow. She looked at Lucas, and his brow was wrinkled.

"Did I miss something?" He was looking from one to the other, and then settled on Samantha. Something had changed in her aspect. She had been so fragile, so vulnerable, so in need of rescuing ever since he'd met her. But now there was steel in her eyes, a strength he hadn't smelled in her before, and something...dangerous. He sniffed. "What just happened?"

Samantha was not sure she could put into words anyway, but she touched his arm in a reassuring gesture and said "I can't thank you enough for introducing us." Her eyes were shining, but clear.

"Lucas, be a dear and wash up while Samantha and I go chat for a few minutes." It wasn't a question, but he couldn't refuse her even if he wanted to.

"Alright Samantha, let's go sit on the front porch swing with our tea and get acquainted."

Samantha followed her, hope rising in her chest, and gratitude threatened to send fresh tears rolling down her cheeks. She dashed her fingers against the corners of her eyes and tried to pull herself together, tried to reconnect with that inner mystical woman she had just seen as some aspect of herself.

When they sat together for a few minutes neither one of them broke the silence. Samantha wasn't sure what she was waiting for, but it didn't feel right to speak yet.  They sat, they sipped, they breathed. And then an avalanche of words that had been trapped in her somehow spilled forth.

"What did you see? Did you see the same things I saw? Does it mean something, oh well of course it must mean something somehow, but how on earth does one sort through and know with certainty the meaning not only of what I saw about myself, at least I think it was my self or an extension of myself or an aspect of my self, but not to mention of you or for that matter of Lucas or any of the other strange visions and impulses I've had!?" She paused to take a breath and then muttered "I don't know where to start or how this works, and I've been so lost and alone..." and she trailed off.

Raven glanced at her sideways. 

"I remember what it was like at the beginning. I understand. Answers will come, but not fast enough. And some answers you won't like. And some you won't understand until many years later. But the fact is you are not alone. And you are stronger than you portray. Why do you act so weak? Is it so others around you are not threatened by your strength, or is it to allow them the role of hero? Either way that role no longer suits you. Can you let it go?"

Samantha was startled. She didn't think she acted weak. She was a leader at work. She was in charge of a department.  But then she paused and reflected. Perhaps she allowed others to feel important because it puffed them up. Maybe she down-played her own importance at work so that others could shine. Why did she act weaker, pause longer, step back?

"I will need to think about that. I was not conscious I was doing that."

"That is the most dangerous mask we ever wear, dear. The one we forget is a mask. The one we mistake for our true selves."

Samantha sat with that in discomfort and in silence for a long time.

Shifting Meanings

Many many years ago, being thin and tan were signs of poverty while being pale and fat were signs of opulence and wealth. Being tanned meant you had to work outdoors, and thin meant you had to struggle to put food on your table or sometimes go without any.

Now, a tan means you have leisure time to go on vacation, or lay out or pay someone for a spray tan. And being pale means you are stuck indoors behind a screen in a cubicle. And being fat more often than not means you are poor, because unhealthy choices are more affordable than healthy choices 9 out of 10 times, and besides food choices being screwed, the nation has turned fitness and weightloss into a billion dollar industry, so if you are thin and tanned you might also have a personal trainer. Or maybe I've lived too close to LA for too long, and am not seeing that the overweight ones are also wealthy, who knows.

In any case society is all screwed up because whatever the trend is today will be different tomorrow (if today and tomorrow are a few decades apart)...

So the moral of the story is just try to define happiness for yourself and forget fitting in.

Friday, May 16, 2014


Somewhere buried deep in my psyche was a misunderstanding so deeply held that I began to hide (even from myself) my true desires. I am at the beginning of a journey of (or have already begun?) Uncovering, revealing to myself and the world my inner light. the fading illusion of needing to protect myself or the world from...what?

I know this is sounding fragmented, but maybe refracted is a better word, and though it seems unclear, it is actually the opposite.

The light is emerging from within.

I am ready to receive with an open heart and mind the clearest possible vision of my hopes and dreams and future self. I dedicate myself to manifesting this vision in the most productive, supportive and supported way. I am grateful in receiving clarity of mind and purpose. I will Continue to do no harm, but no longer at the expense of inflicting harm upon myself. I will see (and seek) the solution that creates positive energy for as many people as possible, without sacrificing my own energies in the process.

I am being reborn, and will find and follow my true purpose on this earth.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Letting Go

Holding on, the muscles cramping, all the best stuff of the sandwich seems to be slipping out the sides the harder you squeeze, your mind darting this way and that like an acrobat attempting graceful rescues and like in tetris the pieces seem to fall faster and there comes a point past which the adrenaline can sustain this circus.

Open hands, release expectations, allow whatever will be to remain and feel afloat in the flow, merging the muscles in your thighs to the horse beneath you, becoming one with the air you breathe and be in this here and now.

Friday, May 9, 2014


I may write little or nothing or a lot This weekend

I have Important Company


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cocaine, No Need to Try It

My life is pretty colorful, but some of my experiences and memories surprise even me. There was this one crazy weekend in DC sometime in my college years. I have forgotten most of the names, so I'll be making those up if I use any at all. I hope I don't accidentally make up a name of a real person that was involved. In any case, the adventure started with someone asking to borrow eighty bucks. (I might be inventing the amount as well, and my brain also won't allow me to recall whether they ever paid me back or not. Somehow it is irrelevant, and I knew the risk was there when I offered.)

I understood that the money would be used to buy cocaine. I volunteered to 'loan' the money, though I told them I would not be partaking. We took a trip to the ATM. There were maybe four or five people involved. They scored and as we were walking to the party she started in on me.

"I've never done it before either! We could be first timers together! Come on, you have to do at least one line with us, we wouldn't even have it without your help."

I just held firm, shook my head. I obviously was not judging, not planning to turn anyone in or rat anyone out since I was enabling and complicit. Why she was so invested in me trying it, I'll never know. I'll also never know what it feels like, though they were doing lines right in front of me, like a movie come to life in 3D. One of the guys had rubbed a bit of it on his gums, and decided to kiss me. It was a short kiss, and it tasted bitter and had no appeal. His interest was never in me anyway only in himself. He was going to be a model or a rock star or a movie star or more likely a hot mess on self-destruct...anyone around him was charmed for a while. He was handsome, but chaotic.

She went ahead with the group and I am not sure if she enjoyed it. Maybe she was mad that I held strong in the face of peer pressure. Peer pressure has had influence on me at times, so I guess my resolve was strong in this wild weekend.

I think I should give a shout out to my tenth grade Health teacher, Mrs. Puncus-Merola (probably misspelled). She educated us about many things, but drugs was on the topic list and that class taught me that some people's hearts stop on their first try of cocaine. Not to mention it is highly addictive. Duh. I will write about addiction another time, but for now suffice it to say I knew my limitations in that department were real. Also I didn't want to risk immediate death.

My arguments were not powerful enough to convince her not to try it, though if I'm being honest I was never trying to talk her out of it. I was only justifying my own reasons for not indulging. And if I'm being honest, I didn't need to justify and I was never even considering it. My decision was instant and final, not up for discussion.

There are lessons in life that must be learned the hard way, through personal experience. And there are lessons that can be learned vicariously. Apparently this one was the latter for me.


Her eyes lit up, and his heart sank. Her mouth opened, and sounds came out, her face animated in the telling of her story and he did what he could. When she smiled, he smiled, when she got to a particularly funny part of her story and touched his arm he made eye contact with her and then threw his head back and joined her in a belly laugh. On the inside a part of him was tearing apart at the seams, but he didn't want to burden her with his sense of tragedy. He knew she didn't realise that she wasn't speaking English. She wasn't forming words. He couldn't lip read her incoherence.

The doctors had told him that her car accident had damaged the speech center of her brain. Inside, her mind was intact. But her verbal expression was permanently impaired. In moments like this, when she seemed so happy telling her memory, he felt the worst. The big question had haunted him now for two years. Should he tell her? Should he let her know every time she opened her mouth that no words flowed forth? Should he insist on her typing or writing her messages? Or should he allow her another day of ignorant bliss? Two years equalled well over seven hundred days of ignorant bliss, and though his heart still wrestled with the moral ambiguity, his mind knew that telling her was a selfish act. Telling her would be requesting sympathy for himself from her, and it would be a cruel act as well since there was no hope for rehabilitation.

He held her eyes with his own, a light shining in his as he forced his tears into submission in favor of shining love her way. His love for her had not diminished in these two years. If anything, he felt like they had settled into a natural rhythm even more easily than their first three years of marriage. Things were simpler now that she was so clearly dependent on him. But he felt his need for her as well. It was a symbiotic relationship, if a little one sided.

She wiped a laughter-induced tear from the corner of her eye as she came to the end of telling her story. He often found himself wondering which of her many adventures she was reliving. He wished he could connect more mentally to her. In those selfish moments, he had to steel his resolve.

(This was inspired by an old married couple I met when visiting my Grandmother about  five years ago. It was the most heart-wrenching thing, as she moved her lips and touched his arm a twinkle of intelligence clear in her eye. He leaned over to me and explained that aphasia only impacts the ability to speak, not the ability to think which struck me at the time as tragic. It was unclear whether she knew of her condition or limitation, which was the next layer of tragic to me. The question of whether to depress the lady with this news, because I for one would want to know. My research is minimal, and for the sake of my story I made the case hopeless for recovery though it seems like it varies in degrees of severity and so on.)


Monday, May 5, 2014

Good "Following" as Compared to Good "Leading"

This is not about dancing, believe it or not. Obviously I may draw on the analogy of dance for this topic, but I want to discuss a less obvious point of view.

How many books are out there on Leadership? Being Number One, How to be Successful, Business Management, Bosses.

Well I'm in what they call middle management at work. And I have an ax to grind, and this is my soap box, so I'm going to rant here. By the way this rant has been brewing for probably eight to ten years.

It is easy to sit back and criticize a leader. The leader is in the spotlight and also near or at the top of the pyramid. All the leaders can say they learned what to do and what not to do from bosses they had to work for or report to when they were not yet the boss. Kind of like parenting, for some. In any case I'd like to shine the spotlight the other direction for a few paragraphs. (This is not aimed specifically at anyone I currently supervise, btw)

What kind of follower are you? Are you easy to manage, or a challenge? Do you respond well to coaching? Are you prickly or insensitive or do you always play devil's advocate or do you misbehave or push buttons or rattle cages? Would *you* want to manage you?

It's so cozy to sit in the group section and bitch about the boss's short-comings, and let's be honest every boss has them (being human and all). But when was the last time you asked yourself how you would feel in their shoes? Or maybe you are quite capable of doing their job, or doing it better than they do...but does that mean you can't try to see why they might be acting the way they do? How many times in life do we think and judge and say to ourselves "I would never do x,y,z" only to find out more information later which allows us to better understand and justify doing the exact same thing? Too many times, certainly in my case. I used to be pretty judgey, but now I see whys and wherefores and I do my best to suspend judgement and try to avoid the moaning and complaining because it serves no purpose.

Also, when you think someone else needs to lighten up or loosen up, you might want to ask yourself whether your behavior engenders trust. What's the track record? Are you showing up late and leaving early? Are you nodding off in meetings, or forgetting tasks assigned to you? Because guess what? A supervisor/manager person can lighten up when deadlines are being met and your antics aren't getting him or her chewed out by their boss.

If you think someone could be more organised, maybe you can offer to help or ask intelligent (non-accusatory) questions that help steer things in the right direction without insulting the person.

Whatever you can critique is probably something that leader is already aware is an issue/struggle/challenge, so they may be sensitive about it. Are you a supportive person cheering them on to grow and meet their potential, or are you tripping them up on their path?

Be the kind of team member they need, be the kind of follower that observes without judgment, be the kind of person you would want to manage. Be part of the solution, not another fire to be put out or another 'problem' or issue to resolve.

They say praise is supposed to flow down, and complaints flow up, which is nice in theory. But guess what? Praise is appreciated by everyone, and complaints are not to be confused with training/coaching and coaching in my world can go both directions as well. I have learned a great deal from my boss, but even more from my co-workers and students.

screw the pyramid. just be nice to each other, and don't treat someone as if their title defines who they are as a person. and let's all try to make each other's jobs easier.


Am I awake because I'm trying to suck all the weekend minutes I can? Is it because I am not looking forward to starting another week? Is it because I am surrounded by great distractions? Is it because I can hear the TV blaring in the other room? Or because the cat which adopted me is purring and hunting a little bug and being adorable? Is it because I have to get to the DMV tomorrow morning to renew my expired license? Or because I wanted to go to the store in the morning to buy chips, salsa, tequila and margarita mix?

Not that we need reasons, mind you. Insomnia is just a thing I sometimes get. Here's hoping it doesn't set me on the wrong track for starting a new week...

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Second Sight (On the way to meet Raven)

Lucas swung his car around the little cul-de-sac and debated whether to honk his horn, or walk to the door. His moment of hesitation earned him a moment to breathe and collect his thoughts in preparation for a two hour drive with Samantha to a potentially disappointing meeting with Raven. His phone call with Raven had been short and to the point, and her response had been a simple invitation. Samantha had sounded nervous and giddy on the phone and he was worried she had too much riding on this first encounter. There would be plenty of time to try to manage her expectations on the long drive. The curtain by the door fell back into place, and Samantha came out of the house before he had made up his mind about honking on a Sunday morning.

He got out and walked around to open the car door for her, and then turned to greet her. There was still some awkward uncertainty so they shook hands and smiled through the tension and her nerves.

"Thank you again for offering to drive, please let me put gas in your car" she gushed.

Lucas sensed the urgency behind her request, a need to tip the balance back so she would not feel so indebted to him. He wanted to argue, but decided to let her have this one.

"You can do that."

He watched her visibly relax. She got in and he walked back to the driver's seat in measured slow steps, savoring a few more moments of solitude. She watched him make his way around so calmly, so gracefully and wondered whether he was ever caught off guard.

He punched an address into the navigation system, selected some classic rock radio station and then started the engine. She settled in, trying to slow her breathing and organize her thoughts.

"Will you tell me how you met Raven?"

Lucas smiled and said "I think you'll like that story, and it's as good a place as any to start. When I first arrived in West Harrington, I was a bit like a lost puppy and Raven scooped me up at a diner. She calls it like she sees it, no nonsense and she put me up on her couch for a few days until I could find a job and get my own place. I don't think anyone can usually refuse her, she just told me I was coming home with her and that was that. Thinking back, I liked her right away, but I'm not sure I could have told her no if I tried. Real business like in her tone, you know?" Lucas paused and flicked his eyes to Samantha's face to see her reaction. Samantha was drinking in every word. Lucas felt protective of her, she seemed so fragile. He wanted to prepare her for Raven's bluntness. "Raven saw something in me besides my need, and decided to rent me her spare room so I basically lived at her house for three months. I tried to help out around the house, and she put me to work fixing things, painting things and helping move furniture. People either love her and seek her out for readings or advice, or they shun her and avoid her. I wouldn't be surprised if some people think she's a witch or something, but there is no harm in her intention. Some folks just aren't too happy with things she sees either so they turn ugly on her sometimes, but she never lets that interfere with her delivery of information." Lucas paused again, and felt Samantha's gaze on the side of his face.

"What kinds of things does she see?"

"I think she'll be better at explaining or describing that than I I ask you what you have seen? Besides the wolf thing I mean." He was careful in his tone, but also curious.

Samantha swallowed and then cast her mind back. "I've seen images in people's eyes, like once I saw a butterfly and another time I saw a snake coiled around some one's leg. Once I felt a deep sadness that was not my own, and while I was not sad, tears rolled down my face and my sad friend who could not cry felt some relief." She shook herself and came back to the present, the car, the conversation with Lucas.

They both felt a silence deepen between them as the radio filled the cabin with a well-known song. It was a comfortable silence that was only broken occasionally by a guitar solo or a rock ballad. At one point they both hummed along with a favorite and their voices mingled in a quiet way with the rumble of the engine, the song, and each other. Her anticipation of meeting Raven was calmer now, less anxious, but just as vibrant.

Easy Choices, Tough Decisions

I love reading Malcolm Gladwell and other authors like him, but especially his collection of New Yorker articles in the book "What the Dog Saw." What's funny is those ideas all swim around in my head freely and  create new associations and sometimes when he references some one's research I look them up because I get curious. One example of this was the article about sales, and he starts out talking about the door to door people, and I think somewhere in there he talks about the taste-testers and the supermarket, and he referenced something called the Jam Study. I found a TED talk by the lady who ran the Jam Study, and then I found a youtube clip of a panel she was on, so you could say I was obsessed for a minute. I found this fascinating from both a professional (sales) point of view and of course also from a personal point of view. Let me quickly summarize the key points, some of which were counter intuitive.

Here in the US, we prize our freedoms, especially freedom of choice. We vote on elections, american idol, dancing with the stars, you name it. And we *think* more options make us happier because we *think* we want all that control. But there's a tipping point (ooh, maybe it was in that book instead) past which options are not freeing, in fact they are paralyzing. They've done studies with customers customizing their cars, it's fascinating but we can skip the long story and just go the toothpaste aisle at the grocery store. Now we have to choose not only brand, flavor, tartar control, whitening, but also size, pump versus tube, and those can all come in combinations or for sensitive teeth or sensitive gums...just walk away. Same with almost everything. Salsa, or tampons, or the gourmet jams in the jam study.

The bottom line is more choices stress us out, so that we defer making the decision altogether or we default to the familiar groove or rut. It's why we order the same food at restaurants, or the same drink at the coffee shop.

hot or cold?
espresso or drip?
soymilk or regular?
whole milk or two percent or nonfat or cream?
sugar or splenda or stevia or nutrisweet or equal or agave or honey or no sweetener OR flavor syrup and what flavor?

Each choice on its own is straightforward or easy. And we think it makes us happy to have them. But maybe it tires us out so that when we're faced withe real decisions we default or defer until later because it's just too hard. And it gives us the illusion of control.

So as a sales person, it has shifted my thinking tremendously from my naive beginnings when I would have resented the sheer number of assumptions going on in every either or proposition. Partly because that was the Sophists method of dialectic in many of Plato's records of Socratic dialogue, an the either or is so limiting by nature and manipulative...and I hate feeling like I'm being lead down a garden path or trapped into saying something when they arrive at a punchline and I feel stupid. So I try to avoid those 'closing' feelings when I'm in a sales situations on either end of a sale. But when I am selling someone now, I carefully limit the options in favor of what I think is probably best going to serve the client in front of me, without burdening them with options that are not relevant to them. And I no longer feel conflicted or guilty about doing that, now that I know how stressful it gets.

The big decisions sometimes need to be buried in smaller ones.

But sometimes default is addiction or habit, and sometimes it's a little bit toxic, but not enough to make you die just enough to make you sick, so something has to shift but not until you reach that tipping point.


Someday I will refer back to Today, but for now I will simply say that I managed to slip through the stress to the after work drinks, and from there to the comedy show

After the show I was invited to try some home cooked Filipino food, all of which was delicious and we watched their recorded Boxing matches which included the Mayweather/Maidano fight. Had a nice phone chat with each parent today as well, and then also caught up with a college friend from the east coast.

All in all, I will leave today behind with mixed emotions.

I am grateful for tomorrow's day of laundry, rest and perhaps I will go see The Odd Couple production (again) that my friends are putting on. Brilliant writing of course goes a long way, but the director has both lead actors taking turns playing Oscar and Felix. This just drives home the truth for me which is that we all of us contain the capacity to be both the slob and the neat-freak. They both represent extremes and both have pros and cons, and need each other for balance. 

Oh and I am exploring'll see when I get to an event, but I joined. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Update, one more very short Monday to go

Those of you following along know I've had a week...and it's Friday, and I'm home...!!!

Tomorrow is my last Monday for a minute, we have an event and I will need to get to work earlier than usual with more effort in the make up department than I mustered today or yesterday. I am sure I will enjoy the tea and the dancing and the teaching, and then there will be an afternoon Martini with my fellow co-worker...and then three or four hours to hang out in a beautiful beach city and relax until my comedy show


I was nearly defeated by the silliest things this week. Today's ridiculous moment had to do with a printing puzzle, which might sound silly because in any other week I could totally have figured it out and not wound up in tears but today I couldn't avoid the tears, but I am surrounded by lovely supportive and helpful people who are absolutely in my corner helping me get through this particular week. I have been blessed with their compassion and the total willingness of every team member to work together to row this ship in a bit of a shit-storm. I am seeing it all, in spite of my somewhat tenuous emotional state.

My goal for tomorrow's Monday is not even not to cry. I've been listening to a book on cd during my drive and out of nowhere I couldn't help it I cried because I got this book from Grandma sort was given to her as a gift because as she began to lose her eyesight some of her friends and family sent her books on cd. And this book was selected for her because it is set in Toulouse, France some of the time. She lived there with her young children for a time, in fact my mother was born in Nice, France and learned French before she learned English.

So at least some of my tears this week are not tears of frustration with deadlines and time management and other things beyond my control at work.

Oh and on *actual* Monday, we'll be serving margaritas because it's Cinco de Mayo. So maybe we'll have a Monday dressed in Friday clothes with happy hour all day to help make up for this past crazy stressful no bueno yadayada.

I'll probably check in tomorrow...and on Sunday (aka Star Wars Day because May the Fourth Be with YOU) I plan on finally writing my next installment of Second Sight. I feel Raven may make her appearance. I'm looking forward to meeting her. :)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

a pleasant surprise

Her day had been rough, rushing to school, hair wet and freezing and bagel in hand, fighting with her mother and stressing about the test she felt she hadn't studied for hard enough. Head down, rushing to get to her next class on time, she nearly collided with him as he rounded the corner. So gorgeous, so confident, backpack slung ever-so-coolly over one shoulder. The next moment she felt his lips on hers, a tender sweet kiss and then they parted, smiling and both continued on in their bustling effort to get to their next classroom.

*this is a fond memory from high school, and he was one of the boys I had a crush on, though at the time he had a girlfriend. It turned my mood around that day instantly, even though it was illicit. I don't like the idea of being the other woman, but in that moment that particular kiss that day was sweet. (It never happened again, if you're wondering.)

Organised Peer Interaction

Perhaps because I find myself tongue-tied and shy at times but bursting with exuberance at other times I appreciated the opportunities that attending a large high school afforded me socially. There were clubs, and after school rehearsals. Weekend trips with Speech and Debate, a ski trip, a trip to Boston, a few trips to NYC for a Broadway musical, a trip to DC, practice for Mock Trial and then the actual Mock Trial events...many of which involved bus rides and card games and a handful of hotel stays where kids gathered in each others rooms and talked or played spin the bottle or truth or dare. I never felt like I was in the center of the social thing, but I loved the laughter and being close to a large group like that. I think I had a crush on almost every guy at some point with varying degrees of intensity and a *very* rich fantasy life. My first real kiss was in tenth grade, and I was having fun. I like being able to join a club or go on a trip and know that it will force me to interact with people close to my age. I suppose that is what 'meet-up' and all kinds of other online groups or dating websites are attempting to organise. Perhaps I will look into that (meet-ups, not the dating websites) too, in my renewed efforts to be social. (nothing against dating websites, and maybe I'll change my mind...but I tried it a couple times and I would rather meet irl doing something I guess) In any case as awkward as it might have been, it was an external construct that helped me push out of myself...and since graduating I have struggled a bit finding peer groups, since I don't attend any religious services or other 'group'. Ironic, isn't it? My work is by definition social, but we have policies in place (for good reason) about not dating or even socialising with our clients. And I'm way too old to date anyone on fact almost double the age of our newest teacher...wait...not almost...exactly!

right. organised (forced) peer interaction is one of the primary things I miss about school.

School Lunch Times

Most people dreaded quizzes, teachers, exams and homework. I dreaded lunch time. Staring across the ugly orange tray at tables partially occupied, my stomach in knots, my breathing shallow, wondering if I should be brave today or be alone again. This question followed me to college, where I would see easy banter over the table and rather than interrupt by joining I would sit at an empty table, hoping someone would wave me over to join them or maybe at least someone quiet would sit down with me at this empty table soon. In third grade, I'm sure I sat alone. In high school I would often abandon the whole construct fleeing into the hallway with my lunch tray, leaning against the lockers and eating alone. I do remember finding some other refugees there and so we kept each other company, finding a quiet solidarity in our communal escape from the torture and isolation. So funny because I know for some people school was play time with friends interrupted by boring classes. For a lot of my school time, I enjoyed relating to the teachers and the material better than my flailing attempts to relate with my peers. I was an intense young person. I was too open and honest at first. I felt everything all the way. So lunch time was stressful and often lonely, emphasizing a dissociation/isolation that had been introduced at age 4...

I do not miss lunch times like that...