Archive for October, 2013

Eat, drink and be scary

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Tomorrow is All Hallow’s Eve, which I heard today has become the second biggest holiday in this country. Considering the amount of decorations that are in front of my house right now, I’d say I’m down.

This holiday resonates with me on a much deeper level – other than in my dreaming life, it is the only day that I might come close to those who have passed as the veil between us thins. I will spend my day tomorrow focusing on this wondrous interstitial place as I think of my parents and grandparents, uncles and cousins who have transitioned out of this life. I long for nothing more than to touch them through a gauzy curtain of love.

We have lots of trashy candy here filling up the African wedding blood bowl for the trick or treaters, and will go to Fortier Park where we join the revelry there of kids in costumes and parents smiling behind them. Meanwhile, I’ll be looking in the alleys and up in the trees for my loved ones as they smile behind me.

Oh ancestors, hear my words: I miss you so.

Photo by Anastasia Traina ~2013~

Yakety Yak – Don’t Talk Back

Monday, October 28th, 2013

I woke this morning at a little after five and was able to do all of the things that I wanted to do because I knew this day was about hitting the ground running. I meditated for 15 minutes and then went into the living room, which has become my solace to sit on the sofa and read a book with my one cup of decaf coffee. It’s a magical time that I cherish. I’m reading Twelve Years a Slave, which is a page turner. I wanted to read it before I saw Steve McQueen’s film, which hasn’t come to New Orleans yet.

Then it was swirl around and get Tin up and ready for school, make his lunch, coax him into breakfast and out the door. Drive all the way across town, drive all the way back across town, and then take Heidi out for a nice long walk. The moment I started walking my body relaxed and my mind went into overdrive. I’ve been walking with a book on tape or a podcast, but today I just needed silence.

Unfortunately, silence was nowhere to be found – inside my head lurked all sorts of mess. At one point, between thinking of what I needed to do, in jumped old slights, then an odd embarrassment, and when I thought it was safe, I found myself getting mad, then sad, then just standing there in the hot mess that is my mind and I finally said, “WHAT?” Rather I screamed, “WHAT?” – to myself that is. What is all this negative stuff?

I then took a deep breath and another step and said to myself, goget out of my head – today I’m not dragging all you skeletons along with me.

Wow, it’s utterly amazing how the negative script can get stuck like ruts in your brain. You can go in and let each one surface and then burn it out by hashing and rehashing, or you can just do a general house cleaning. Whoosh. With all the meditation and motivation that I give myself, it’s bizarre how cluttered my mind still is and how it can surface when I least expect it – like on a nice walk on a beautiful day. Sheesh.

So it’s not about diving in and finding out what is causing that hurt, sadness, anger – it’s about sweeping all the dirt out of your head that accumulates over a period of time. Brain cleaning. And don’t dwell on any of it – none of it is serving you any purpose whatsoever but to keep you stuck. So close your eyes and sweep, or burn it down, or whatever imagery you need to employ to rid yourself of negative thinking that will keep you from being the flame of love that you truly are.

Because the day could come when all of us have let go of all the hurt, anger and sadness and have embraced the love and light and then we will be speaking each other’s language and the poetry of the universe.


Hashimoto’s Disease

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Since I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease, I have met more than two dozen people ranging in age who also have it. Hashimoto’s Disease is an autoimmune deficiency that causes your body to attack your thyroid trying to eventually kill it off. Taking Synthroid counter balances this attack and stabilizes your thyroid.

For some people, they can stabilize their thyroid in a matter of weeks, for me it took one year, and for others it has taken two years.

Hair loss and thinning are part of Hashimoto’s Disease. I have alopecia universalis – which means every hair on my body fell out. It is unknown whether my hair will ever grow back and it could grow back and fall out all over again.

Hashimoto’s Disease makes it extremely difficult to control your weight – couple Hashimoto’s with menopause and you are in trouble. Some women take HRT risking cancer to control/maintain their weight. In the words of Bartleby the Scriviner, I would prefer not to.

The other fact is that even once your thyroid is stabilized through Synthroid, you will still suffer fatigue. You will have less energy than you did before you had this disease. And when you get sick with a cold or the flu, your thyroid will go into apoplexy and you will take much longer to recover.

Another side effect of Hashimoto’s is dry eyes, which is also a side effect of menopause.

As far as nutritional advice for Hashimoto’s – I’ve read to stay away from soy because it mimics estrogen in your body, which attacks the thyroid. So I’ve given up all soy products. One thing that is unproven is gluten intolerance. An allergist in California said the whole gluten-free debate these days seems a little like voodoo – almost like hypoglycemia (which I also have) – where there is no proven medical condition. However, most agree that gluten intolerance is similar to wheat allergy and certainly those with celiac cannot eat gluten. But I have proven that gluten-free has helped me feel better – much better – and I do think that Hashimoto’s and Gluten-Free go hand in hand.

There is not a lot of Western medicine and nutrition experts looking at thyroid conditions in the U.S., especially among women, but many women suffer from thyroid issues. Until the medical research world takes thyroid conditions seriously and begins looking at cause and effect, you are basically on your own – and it’s best to come up with your own plan of what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve read some stuff online like to give up cruciferous vegetables, but that is just ridiculous. I also read that Flax Seed Oil is not good, and I gave it up for a while, but I think I will go back to it if anything for the Omega 3 that will help with my eyes.

Good luck.

On your mark, get set, go

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Tomorrow morning I begin a new project/new client with multiple deadlines over the course of the next few weeks.

November also begins a seriously busy social calendar that includes, but is not limited to, two 40th birthday extravaganzas, one Prince Dance Party, one Robert Glasper concert, and a trip to San Francisco for a good friend’s son’s bar mitzvah.

I know right now on this evening of October 27th that life is about to go into overdrive starting tomorrow so let me hold onto this one moment to say I have learned how to take a deep breath and also let it out. I’ve learned to be grateful for what I have and not always crave more. I’ve discovered there is mystery around every corner and I don’t know as much as I think I do. I’ve discovered that wanting to parent a child is not for everyone, but it sweeps your life into the extraordinary.

I’ve become ever so grateful for when things go wrong because it helps me let go of one more certainty, which is incredibly freeing.

So as the minutes, hours, days, weeks arrive, I will allow each their own magical unfolding and greet what awaits with a sense of awe.


Getting older isn’t what I thought it would be

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

Tin and I drove to Franklinton today to change the flowers on my mother’s grave and go to my cousin once removed’s wedding reception. Along the way, we stopped in to see my uncle who just got finished rebuilding my grandmother’s original house off the Old Choctaw Trail. As we walked through the newly built house, I tried to remember the footprint of the old house. The floors were gorgeous – all refurbished planks from the original and worn like an old copper penny. The views out each room are trees and bushes and somewhere surely my grandmother’s spirit and laughter hover over the entire place even though she spent her last years in a trailer across the holler because the house had come into such disrepair.


Then we headed to my cousin’s son’s wedding reception – he’s so handsome and he managed to find someone equally as cute as he is and they seem adorably happy and young. Oh my god, are they young? As I tried to count up just how old they might be – 21? or slightly older, I sat with my uncle who said to me, “Getting older isn’t what I thought it would be.” He’s had an emotional setback that has sent him wandering the country – rudderless, rootless – he said here doesn’t feel like home.

Yes, indeed. Getting older isn’t what I thought it would be. I thought at this point in my life, I would have grown children and be looking towards retiring in the next decade. Instead, my income is starting at zero, my child is not even five years old, and I am one tired gal. Sleep is my greatest reward and what I covet oh so much these days.

While Tin and I were sitting on the side of my mom’s grave, Tin asked me to play Usher’s Yeah for Mimi, but instead I put on Deacon John singing Many Rivers To Cross, which is what he sang at the graveside when we had my mom’s memorial in 2010. I sat there on the warm granite, Tin in my lap, feeling the sunshine warm the slight chill that was in the air and I thought back to that year, the year after my mother had died and my son had come into my life, the year I was baptized by fire – my livelihood was slipping away, my health deteriorating, my grip on what I thought my life would be was firmly unraveling.

Joseph Campbell said we have to be prepared to give up the life we had planned for the one that awaits us. And no my dear, this is not at all what I thought old age would be – it’s different, nutty, volatile yet tranquil and if I had to say definitively, rather than moaning about what it is not, I’d say it’s better than I could have imagined.

Clarity takes a bow

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

A friend left her partner and said, “Adios” and she thanked me for introducing her to clarity.

Clarity wasn’t my unique idea, folks – just sayin’.

If you Google clarity you will find that there are organizations, movements, conferences, books and lectures all elucidating clarity.

The fact that it is a simple concept – seeing things as they are – instead of how you would like them to be – is the big joke. At some point in all of our lives we get involved with the following:

1) doing things we think we are supposed to do
2) becoming people we think others will like/admire
3) staying in situations long past their shelf life

We get programmed – well, I’ve been doing this for so long and this is what people think I will do and golly, what would happen if I did this, would they, could they, and we start to believe this rap. But it’s a bum rap.

Clarity is waking up and saying wow, today is a new day, and I’m going to treat it special and I’m not going to behave in a manner that others find acceptable, I’m going to be true to my own self.

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

Thank you.

Curves – I got ’em

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013


Others are a holy mystery

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

I went to a dream work class last night and felt as if I had been dropped in another world – a world of youth where the closest and most intimate relationships are still those with parents. I felt so removed from the consciousness of the crowd that I came home quietly and after putting Tin to bed, I soon crawled into my own with my quiet thoughts, just hoping to get lost in my dreams.

On my bed is a notebook and a pen. I’ve been recording my dreams lately while reading Rodger Kamenetz’s The History of Last Night’s Dream. In the notebook is a dream about my mother, who showed up to reprimand me for letting go of family members. She said you have one time in your life where you can recall what you’ve done. I woke from the dream feeling guilty and anxious and wrote it down. There are also dreams of Steve where I’m driving the car, but he has his foot on the pedal; there are my usual suspects who want to kill me, the murderers who turn out to slay me in all sorts of sordid ways, and then there are dreams of me with children and babies. I went to last night’s class hoping for a revelation about my dreams, instead I felt a long way from me.

As I listened to others reveal their vulnerabilities – the zaftig girl who worried she took up too much room by speaking so she apologized before and after everything she said; the gal with the runny nose who apologized in advance for bringing her infection into a crowd, but insisted she had to be there … who then revealed her anxiety revolves around her father who is an alien, which means she is part alien — and then there were the others who swung from self-deprecating talk to navel gazing.

I was tossed into a sea of group narrative all the while smelling the fumes from the threadbare carpet.

I did hear one thing the moderator said and that was – the basis of many judgments, anger, and desire are based on a lie. A lie we tell ourselves. I was speaking to a dear friend about this today – my lie with my family was always to be as accommodating as possible and never needy. There was too much chaos and as my father raged and my mother drank, and my brothers and sister rebelled there was little for the youngest child to do but make herself accommodating. I learned to cook, to clean, to smile an awful lot.

All of this didn’t matter last night when I was preparing for sleep – I had interviewed someone earlier in the week who changed from friendly to rogue in a matter of days. My days had been crowded out before they even began so that it felt like I was on a treadmill going nowhere. And that dream about my mother – who I always welcome into my dreams – was disturbing in its realness.

My friend said she was in the throes of the same dynamics – trying to categorize those she alienates from those who alienate her and that she took solace in a note on the bulletin board where she meditates that reads: “Others are a holy mystery.”

I’d like to leave it all there – whatever my mother is saying from the grave, whatever residue is left from my marriage to Steve, whatever this person I interviewed had trouble reading that she herself said, whatever the dream youth have to work through, I leave it to them – others are a holy mystery.

My journey is to do me. I’ve come to believe that my life of selflessly caring for others at the expense of myself was indeed a rather controlling and selfish act – and that I had a motive, a lie I told myself, if I don’t need anybody then they can’t let me down.

What I didn’t realize is that all these people I invited in and loved and made sure I didn’t expressly need anything from, certainly could not prop me up when the going got rough, and everybody needs somebody sometimes, especially me.

I go back to the message a friend sent me that is always boomeranging back into my conversation – Do you, Rachel. Mind your business, Rachel, and don’t mind others. Show up for yourself and against the odds, the great odds, you will have lived your own, unique life.


Time to Write

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

I sat down with a friend of mine who has run her own company for years and last year decided to quit and be a mom. Wow, I say with envy. There is just not enough world and time for what I want to do in a day and being a mom is nearly 24/7. And so everything is suffering. The dog, Heidi, who is staying with us for a bit, is not getting her walks. The blogs are not getting written. I’ve taken on additional work to pay the bills and although it has barely started, I’m already behind.

My friend had me write up a list and pointed out the things that matter in the long-term and how to invest my quality time on them, while giving short shrift to the things that have to be done. We made columns, we drew dollars signs with arrows, we gave descriptors like stress, passion, and we figured out a pie chart of my to do list.

The crazy thing is that my working pie is four hours long. That’s right, from dropping Tin off at school and getting back home and then going to pick him up – there is four solid hours where I can work on my work – not eat, not rest, not be – but work. It’s nutty.

So I say this only to give a little perspective to what we fill our days with – I have moved all priorities down to say that I am first, a mother, I’m next a writer, and I have to earn money. My friend was careful to point out that one thing that I’ve spent so much time on, does not require my time, I have perfected it – it won’t get any more perfect – so move on. Whew. That’s a relief.

In the physical realm – I’ve also lost about twelve pounds since going to the doctor’s office and being shocked into reality. That’s a truly great accomplishment considering the whirlwind that is my life over the past few months. A friend sent me a photo of my butt that he had snapped at the Blues Festival – he told me I have a nice one – who knew?


Today another friend posted on his website a note about aging, and coincidentally, the aging butt. Another affirmation that aging takes on its own form of beauty and acceptance is the first opening towards that beauty.

Not having time to write means that I’ve also been spending a lot of time reading. It’s been a long time since I’ve devoured books at the clip I’m at right now, but that’s where my head is – I’m like a sponge at the moment. I’ve also spent a lot of time being me and making peace with who I am and what I want to do in life. A friend who called me this week said that I have such radical ideas – really? – me? – no, I just want my version of the world to live in, not other’s.

So here’s a few excerpts from my latest reads that have helped me smile and say, this path that I’m on feels right on:

Bhagavad Gita:
It is better to do your own duty
badly, than to perfectly do
another’s; you are safe from harm
when you do what you should be doing.

The Power of Now:
All inner resistance is experienced as negativity in one form or another.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

Inward Revolution
We cannot possibly go on as we are psychologically. There must be vast, profound changes, not only in the outward structure of society but also in ourselves because the society in which we live, the culture in which we have been brought up, is part of us. The social structure, the culture, is what we have created. So we are the culture and the culture is us. We are the world and the world is us. If you are born in a particular culture, you represent that culture. You are a part of it, and to change the structure of that culture you have to change yourself.

No surveys to measure our pain

Friday, October 18th, 2013

I lived on this block on the bayou and was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and Alopecia Universalis. Months later my neighbor developed stage four ovarian cancer. Then someone else a year later was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then today I just found out my other neighbor has developed Parkinson’s.

My friend and neighbor with ovarian cancer says it’s odd that all of us on this same block have been stricken with a serious illness. She wonders why no one is doing any survey work to figure out if this is because of the 2005 Federal Flood, our drinking water, living close to the bayou or what.

It’s like we are not part of anyone’s statistics – only our own.