Posts Tagged ‘writing’

I Finally Did It!

They say my Santa Ana Canyon, early Californio ancestors were “Born to the Saddle.” Before I left Orange County, I was determined to touch the horizon that dominants the skyline: Saddleback Mountain. My ancestors and this land have lived in me as a River Beneath the River, always guiding and affecting my life. It is my destiny to record their story in the grandest novel I could conceive.

I planned the hike for Spring Equinox, the day my youngest son turned 18. It was a day to claim freedom and stability. When I heard the NFS was dynamiting historic dams and prohibiting access via Holy Jim Falls, I found another way. We hiked out of Blue Jay Campground – a 28 mile roundtrip with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet, vs 16 miles from Holy Jim and a 4,000 ft vertical climb. I made myself forget how far that distance actually was.

Two miles of climbing later, I pulled out my phone, looked at the map and had a truly spectacular hissy fit. It was too far. What were we thinking? Why didn’t we go the other way? Joey tried to help which made things worse. Slowly I pulled myself together and we started to walk again.

We passed through a pine forest and the scent lifted my spirits, along with the vibrant yellow primrose flowers and the shiny brick-colored manzanita bark with white flowers that look like tiny beads when they fall on the decomposed granite path. The blooming white sage and  century plants infused me with endurance. And then around a bend, I saw Santiago Peak. Tears came to my eyes. I was filled with such a fervent desire to stand on that mountain. The wind blew in the bucolic ranchero era that lives in me so deeply, so passionately. The ancestors and this land gave me the strength to push onward. I couldn’t think. I was like an animal, simply aware of being aware, walking mile after mile: 11 miles the first day, 17 miles the following day.

I told Joey the story of the young boy who cut a hole in a cocoon to help a butterfly that was struggling to free itself. The child did not know the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly had a swollen body with shriveled wings and would never, ever fly.

I have long struggled living on a land that does not coincide with the freedom and natural beauty that I see when I close my eyes and look inward through the memories of my ancestors. Though I love this land so very deeply the struggle is over and I see things as they are. In three months, I am moving where wildflowers grow, rivers run and stars speak and I will write a tale of family and land inextricably woven together.


IMG_7133“She’s an Artist. She don’t look back. She can take the dark out of the nighttime and paint the daytime black. She’s an artist. She don’t look back.” – Bob Dylan

Artist is a coveted word among creative people. Those driven to make things – whether books, music, pottery, painting or clothes – reach out with irrefutable courage and a sense of wonder to answer the call to play. For it is Divine inspiration speaking through and to us that allows us to create. Our lives and unique perspective carve the holes and chamber of the flute, the Divine is the wind. Our creationjamie5s are the byproducts of making love to our Muse.

It’s a vulnerable journey – to be an artist. We dive in, turn ourselves inside out and present our expression of the emotions and visions we feel and share this with the world. In my resolution to fully claim myself as an Artist, I turn to my dear friend Reem Khalil for inspiration and audacity.

Reem designs eco-friendly clothes, including the dying, cutting, sewing and merchandising of her line Refined Bohemian which she shows at festivals. She’s always growing, adding new designs and this year she expanded to include 2-D mixed medium art. Her booth at the Sawdust Art Festival is a cross between a museum and a fashion able boutique. This is how she makes a creative, juicy living.

Reem has her struggles like all of us, but she never seems to doubt herself as an artist. Some people hold a limited view of being an artist – you are only an artist if you have no mundane jobs and every single one of your bills is paid through vastly creative products – you are only an artist if someone important recognizes you as an artist – you are only an artist if you have maintained artistic status for a decade or more, etc. Reem busts through those incomplete and inadequate judgments and emanates the pure joy that comes from playing with the Muse. Period.IMG_0492

Her childlike enthusiasm and open demeanor draws a tribe around her that supports and encourages her work. I can only assume that most of us draw inspiration from her in the process of selling one of her exquisite bamboo vegetable dyed skirts. Her thirst for an ever-expanding creative lifestyle is unquenchable in equal measure to her ability to share and elevate her beloved to artist status whatever their chosen endeavor.

A Long Walk Home

20150723_100417I’m climbing to the top of that mountain,” my daughter Ali said, her bright blue eyes staring fixedly at the peak. Inwardly I groaned, knowing that I would be hiking alongside her if that hike is what she wanted.

This specific peak would give us a breathtaking view of the Sierra Crest and a panorama of total wilderness without human habitation anywhere in sight.


But I had been part way up that mountain and I knew it was daunting. Plus, I am in the process of deciding whether or not I like climbing mountains. I tend to find the thrill of talking about it afterwards with a beer at camp, more exciting than ascending or appreciating the view. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but in my defense…. we did have a bitchen camp spot.

Since we had driven fourteen miles into the back country and not backpacked, we had luxuries such as a hammock, an EZ Up, coolers with ice, a solar powered shower.. it felt like frills of a high end hotel that we had all to ourselves surrounded by trees and wild open spaces.Ali and I flowers

But as I don’t see my girl often enough and must cram all my loving into a very short time, I led the way to Funnel Lake along a flat dirt road, easy and peaceful. 20150722_181129Beginning at 10,300 feet elevation, the uphill trek starts with a steep incline just passed the lake through a forest of piñon pines. So although your lungs begin to burn within five minutes, at least there is shade. Then comes the fully exposed slog through the talus field, where rocks that you thought were stable give way and you slip, like a cartoon character running in place and have to catch yourself, sometimes grabbing a black sagebrush or tiny juniper for stability.

“We can do this!” Ali said with the determination of a marathoner. About this time I started calculating how much older I was than her and making excuses for lagging behind.

I was carrying the backpack when Ali’s water bottle dropped. I watched it tumble down the 20 feet I had just climbed, “No!” I cried pitifully. I scooted down the rocks to retrieve the bottle and ripped open the pocket of my pants. As we scaled the bigger rocks, I gained on Ali and the poor girl had a view of my tush for the remainder of the climb. Not the day to gIMG_0038o commando.IMG_0034

Finally, after a 1,400 ft climb in about three-quarters of mile, we bagged Crystal Peak. We then admitted how often we had thought about giving up but didn’t want to let the other one down and laughed. Both of us were determined the sign the little piece of paper Skyler had signed last month. With big smiles we headed downhill for our beers.Ali

Twenty-four years ago, I opted to move to Chicago with Ali’s dad after college graduation rather than travel solo to Europe. Ali had been born three days prior to our first date. I always attributed this decision to a strong desire to heal the karma circle of an absentee father – I wanted to make sure her daddy stuck around, unlike my own. But since my assessment was off, I always felt deep regret for not crossing the Atlantic in the summer of 1991.

As Ali and I toasted each other back at camp, I realized with the awareness of a thunderclap that I skipped out on Europe for a totally different reason. I was meant to have this daughter, this beautiful young woman in my life forever. We were fated for each other. It was her all along. Now we’re planning a trip to Spain.. not sure how many peaks we’ll bag, but we will find the perfect tapas bar. Maybe we’ll even get some writing in.

Ali & I MaskedAli and I sitting


I’ve been on the job hunt for six months, applied to more than 60, maybe 70 jobs. I lost count two months ago at 47 positions when I added the applications in response to my boys’ claim that I was purposely out of work and leeching off their poor, hardworking father. Obviously I vehemently and loudly called BS. And then I took a hard look at how I relate to the word “leech,” my abhorrence to receive help, the pride and shame which prevented me from filing the unemployment paperwork and the unhealthy/yo-yo way in which I attach my sense of self and worth to the work that I do.

As I shedmoon these thoughts, a star has risen with the idea of returning to school, to gain a Masters in Depth Psychology and engage deeply in storytelling via teaching mythology, writing and leading rituals. Here is where my tribe is awaiting me (two psychics, three friends and a partridge in a pear tree told me so).

I try to relax into the idea that I just must get a job toNCWHS pay the bills. I pep talk myself into the idea that I don’t have to be completely synonymous with my 9 to 5 work life while aiming for a larger goal of getting that degree. Maybe the degree will make me even better at what I’m doing. Maybe I will leave this world of public relations and marketing indefinitely. Maybe I will be a sought-after storyteller in all fields, from education to community to nature to business.

storytellerAs for today, I can’t see the path ahead of me and that scares me and makes me really nervous about what new challenges will arise. I’m not sure whether to trust as I fall into debt, preserve energy for an even greater fall or just throw in the towel… but that’ s impossible. I’m a mom who wants more than anything to be here and now with my boys… just not sure how to do that with $76 in the bank to last for the next two weeks. I suppose people have far less and I am resourceful.

Drew CinderSo I have decided to look at the 60 plus jobs as simply not the right fit for me. It’s not that I’ve done anything wrong, am undesirable or unqualified. I am not alone seeking the perfect fit; the perfect fit is also seeking me. I am Cinderella.

glass slippersAnd the glass slipper is scouring the land in search of me and my unique foot. Ansonora feetd what an uncommon, tremendously special foot it is – sweet, cute, strong, tender, powerful, little rough around the edges, grippy, a funky toenail, a tiny bunion, a bright green vine tattoo, an adorable mole on the big toe.. takes an extremely special shoe to bring out the best of my podiatry masterpiece.. to make walking feeling like flying. Sigh.

Honestly, though I struggle with this idea of accepting any old shoe (aka job) as simply as a means to an end. Yet, I can tell you, after half a year of seeking the perfect fit, mediocrity has its merits. And still, even a poor shod eludes me. I am confused and exhausted.

So I rest my thoughts and heart on the idea of being Cinderella, knowing there is a shoe (aka job) seeking me, even as I’m looking for it.. perhaps, this job knows better than I, it is a good fit for “right now.” In fact, it is the perfect fit for my next steps. Our destiny together may be long or a short lived journey, a walk across the bridge from where I am now, safely over the abyss to the next adventure, which in itself is the perfection.


Time for Truth

20150409_184553The progression of morning light illuminating my bedroom is my first indication of time. I wait for inspiration from either the grey, pink or golden light and rise accordingly. The ticks between seconds, minutes and hours have become irrelevant since I was laid off.

When at peace with this rhythmic movement of time, I admire the flowers on my patio, the lush green of the nature preserve below, the swish of the palm tree or the flight of hawks and hummingbirds. Then without warning I am overcome with constriction in my throat and chest and the pressure to take some action that will earn money. I jump up to check emails, texts, Facebook, LinkedIn. Sometimes, true inspiration strikes and I send off my resume or portfolio, connect with someone who may make a difference, or research book and magazine promotions. But, more often than not there is little that needs my attention. A little skittish, I start to think of all the food I can eat in my fridge or start playing solitaire on the computer. But this week, inspired by my boys’ carefree, lightheartedness during Spring Break, I am trying something new. I breathe through the anxiety caused by nothingneReading to boysss.

After several deep breaths, the pressure lessens and a little voice inside my head whispers that it’s okay to be still and enjoy the exuberance and unfettered vibe of spring fever. Breathe. I drop into the “now moment.” Breathe. Gradually the fears of the future drop away.  There is a time and a season for everything. Now is the time to awaken my True Self, honor my True Feelings and be freed from that what keeps me off from my True Purpose. Priceless. Timeless.

Boys on stoopSo instead of cleaning the counter for the third time this morning, I join in with Skyler, belting out a Led Zeppelin tune, dancing like mad around the kitchen. Then listened intently, undistracted as he relayed how he was going “gypsy” today with friends and leaving their cars behind, taking the bus to LaJeff Hawaii & 8th grade promotion 082guna Beach to explore some caves in El Moro Canyon. I reminded him to take some chocolate chip cookies that Kobe and I made earlier in the week. An hour later, Kobe demonstrates a   science experience of water, vapor and atmospheric pressure imploding a can. He shares some of the funnier moments of his week-long overnight excursions with friends. Then he takes off in my car for another adventure.20150405_155624

And I’m left to the quiet nothingness. I check the emails and there are no messages. Breathe, breathe, just breathe, I tell myself. Maybe I could write. And so I do. Because although the sun is high in the sky now, this too shall pass and before I know it, I’ll be watching the twilight recede in the nature preserve below.