Me, MySelf and I Conquer New York City

It’s been over a week since my return from a trip to New York City for the first time. I’m still processing what was a wonderful trip with my 12 year old daughter, hosted by a dear friend who loves New York City and his East Village address only slightly less than living in Hawaii. We were in capable hands and saw a good many sights and neighborhoods. Once upon a time I didn’t have the desire to visit so large a city for my thought was I would be afraid for my safety in so crowded and urban an environment. I understand now why I would have been in a state of fear had I ever been expected to visit New York City before now. My Sense of Self was not developed enough so I couldn’t feel safe to express myself or explore new territory.

We all have some sense of who we are but the question is where does it come from? What is it based on? Who are we trying to please?

For decades, I have heard that New York was an exciting place to visit, a city that never sleeps, that offers everything for the resident and visitor, and a place that is rich with art, culture, food, music, theater, and more. I wanted none of it, till this year. Previously, about twenty years ago, I visited a friend and her family in upstate New York and loved it for its rolling naturalness. The small town of Rome was walkable and lovely and quaint and safe. The rural New York I imagined living in, tucked away “safely” in a town where I would attend school to get a masters degree in Creative Writing, set up myself to be an editor and write for myself as well. Nice pipe dream, yes it was.

But today in reflecting how I felt about finally going to New York City itself and tackling the subway system, braving the crowded streets, and coping with the summer swelter, I am compassionately laughing at my ridiculous former self; the immature, uncertain and frightened of crowds me that occupied the me I am for 46 years. Somewhere long ago I developed the idea and belief that I wasn’t enough to make it in a big city. I dreaded how it would swallow me up, take advantage of me, leave me fearing for my safety as the sky grew dark.

I didn’t take that kind of attitude to New York with me. I took a strong and curious and enthusiastic person (two of us actually) to New York City and I enjoyed every part of the ride. I enjoyed the occasional racing for the subway, the endless walking, the dodging of oncoming human traffic on sidewalks as well as cabs charging through crosswalks. I enjoyed crowded museums and even a busy urban promenade known as the Highline that were each in their ways an Oasis and Respite from the humming and thrumming city. I appreciated the mixed atmosphere at the 911 Memorial Site honoring the 2900 plus who perished in 2001 and had a chat with the Survivor Tree, “the Callery Pear” that for the last two years has been on site again and had small pears growing in her shimmering branches. I was convinced I could feel heat coming off her as she held the memories of all the lost ones from 2011.

I got a clear message at that site visit that “Life is Precious” and we each deserve to be a full expression of our Selves. Without a Healthy Sense of Self, we don’t live a fully expressed life. We live a life that is for someone else. As the Creator of this theory says without a Sense of Self our own life skips us by. And so I realize being in New York for the first time that I lived for decades without a full natural sense of self. I saw that my daughter of twelve is in touch with her Natural Sense of Self  though that I have encouraged as her mother all her days, AND it really showed up while we were in New York. She was downright fearless most of the time.

She took on understanding the subway system and understood what to watch for within a day. She walked ten feet in front of Nate and I when we were touring neighborhoods and only hung back as the crowds of Time Square got overwhelming for she didn’t want to get separated and lost in the crowd. She enjoyed the buzz and vitality and the never ending activity.

We saw a bus drive by advertising a New York College for Film and TV Acting and she said, “I want to go there!”

I did a double take. “You want to go to school in New York City?”

“Sure, why not?” she said without a moment of hesitation.

“Well then let’s see what that would take,” I replied neutrally.

And on she walked as though she was unstoppable. I felt like crying but I smiled instead. Here was evidence that she was getting to be her own Self and that I was not expecting her to live for me. Or so I chose to interpret this moment.

What being in a big city offered me was a chance to see how much I have restored or discovered my Sense of Self. I am comfortable in my own skin, FINALLY, and so I can be comfortable wherever I am. I need not limit my experiences and I can enjoy myself for the pure sake of it. My young Self was not able to imagine surviving in such a bustling place with so much of everything. My evolved Self saw it as adventure and enjoyable despite the crowds, the heat and the way that natives can disregard you on the sidewalk (smile). In truth, there were plenty of helpful and friendly people and I took it to be a reflection of how I was feeling inside. They were friendly because I was. They were comfortable with me because I was comfortable with me.

*****

I didn’t go to New York with a great list of expectations but I did go with a bucket list of sights to see and experience. The surprise I found waiting for me was how much freedom to be I felt while there: Enjoying all of it with a confidence and Sense of Self that looks forward to returning.

 

Haiku

As I drove home from being blessed by a visit to a dear friend who has stage 4 cancer, I felt it would be appropriate to compose a haiku poem for him (he is Japanese).  Here is/are my result(s).

Composing haiku

causes me to miss my turn;

lost in metaphor.

 

 

Quiet joyful strength;

even now half in heaven,

George leads us to God.

 

Once again I see

Word Press messes my poem’s “look.”

I want single space!

To Be a Healer

To be a Healer

What? Me? A healer?

To heal: to make whole in body, mind, and spirit.

Body, mind, and spirit are not separate. If I have a healing effect on just one of these, all are made more whole.

I have not healed by “laying on of hands,” or at least I am not aware of having done this, just as I am not aware of having healed by prayer. But I am aware of the times I have felt more whole as a result of the actions of others. The woman in the airport customer service line who saw my bleeding arm and handed me a tissue healed more than my arm. She gave me a feeling of being cared for. For just a moment I felt my mother’s presence. It was as if Mama had kissed my boo-boo and made it better.

This business of “kissing the boo-boo” is a perfect metaphor for how we can heal each other every day. “Kissing the boo-boo” does not make the wound go away, but it does ease the pain almost miraculously, and it gives comfort, which actually causes the wound to heal faster; so does laughter. When we can find humor in a situation, the darkness becomes lighter.

If I go through life giving comfort and care to the people around me, I am a healer. But first I must notice the need for healing, as the woman in line with me noticed my arm. Too often we tend to move around in public places in a capsule of our own thoughts; or we focus on tasks instead of the people around us. In that airport line, I was not even aware of my own bleeding arm. All I could think about was how my day had turned into a nightmare since I had missed my connection; that is until I was on the receiving end of an act of kindness.

I cannot remember giving comfort and care to anyone that day, but I remember receiving it from several people. I wonder if they know that they are healers. Some days we give healing, and some days we receive healing. Both are important, for when we receive healing, we give someone else the opportunity to be a healer.

A Review of The Art of Extreme Self Care in relation to Healthy Sense of Self

A couple of years ago I sustained a severe climbing injury. One of my favorite books at this time was The Art of Extreme Self care by Cheryl Richardson. The subtitle for this book is, transform your life one month at a time, which was perfect for me as I had lots of time to use these self-care practices. I needed this very much at the time and continue to use what I learned in my daily practice as well as with my clients.

There was not a chapter in this book that I could not relate to or benefit from. Some of my favorites were,’ Let Me Disappoint You’, ‘The Absolute No List’, and ‘Tune-up time’. Another one that I felt really useful was, ‘Does That Anger Taste Good?’ and this is what I will present today.

I feel that dealing with rather than eating your anger or letting it eat away at you, helps to create a healthy sense of self. Most everyone understands the destructive effects of anger. It can destroy health, relationships, ruin careers, break family’s apart, and end lives. Anger can impact your life negatively. What most of us are looking for is the best way to get through anger and back to inner peace. Cheryl Richardson offers a few great ideas that I will share.

When someone treats you inappropriately it is important to speak up for yourself and say that what they did is not okay for me. When faced with inappropriate behavior women in particular get really angry for not standing up for themselves. I was really blessed that I learned early to stand up for myself. As I wrote in one of my previous blogs, one of my guiding principles was that, ‘If you are not the cause, you will be the effect’. Communication was really important in my family. Cheryl says that most women freeze when dished a big bowl of anger. It is our natural default. It is okay to not deal with it immediately, yet it is important to always address it later.

Cheryl states the importance of being conscious of what happens when your body is angry. This is the first step. The body is a great barometer to inform us that something is not right. You may feel tightness in your muscles, a bad feeling in your gut, shallow breathing, maybe an increased heart rate. This awareness of the emotion can provide us with information for what we want our next steps to be and give us a chance to rethink the situation and what we can do about it. Creating awareness can make it easier to create shifts even if it is to breathe normally again, and relax our muscles so that we can choose how and when to deal with the situation. When someone has instigated your anger is good to step back so that you can be in response mode as opposed to reacting with more anger.

It is also important to vent the anger before finding the appropriate time to confront the person who angered you unless you are able to say what is on your mind with love and grace. Cheryl talks about many ways to vent anger that will not harm another person, like throwing eggs against a wall or choosing a friend who you can vent the anger with. I am certain that all of you reading this have your own particular ways. For me exercising hard is a helpful way to get the anger up and out of my body. This centers me so that I can be mature and clear about what I want to communicate and address with the person who angered me when the time is right. As she states, it is so important not to ‘swallow your anger’. She says that when you are addressing what needs to be addressed you must be clear and, ‘charged neutral’.

One of the things I really appreciate in this chapter is using the word I to say what you need to say. An example is, “I can’t believe you just spoke to me like that and I need you to know it’s not okay with me.” When we use the word I you are taking ownership and responsibility for how something made you feel. Everyone gets there buttons pushed, what is essential is how and when you choose to respond. It is also important to let them know what you would like them to do instead or how you want to be treated. An example would be asking them to not speak to you with bad language or a particular tone of voice. Learning how to speak up and give voice to how someone made us feel is so essential to a healthy relationship with yourself and with others. You will strengthen your courageous muscle if you put some of these practices into play.

These are three important practices I got from this chapter:

1. Pay attention to your body and listen to the signals.
2. Vent your anger in healthy ways before speaking to people.
3. Speak up in a ‘charged neutral’ manner (with love and grace) letting people know what’s     not okay and what you’d like them to do instead.

As Cheryl says it is much better to get your anger up and out instead of doing things like running to the refrigerator and responding to anger with food or building resentment over time and letting it take a take a toll on your health. So find a healthy way to stand up for yourself so that the “Anger doesn’t taste that good!” anymore.

Andrea Scott, Health Empowerment Coach

www.infinitepossibilitiescoaching.net

Bainbridge Island Ferry: 6/30/2012

Today was highlighted by a ferry trip to Bainbridge Island. Our friends Su and Stu’s garden was slated for the Bainbridge Island Garden Tour. Su is a master gardener and they have been working years to get their garden just right.

On the ferry we reminisced about when Louise’s god-parents had a house on the bluff overlooking the bay; we could watch the ferries come and go. Not only did we love visiting Carolyn and Alan but one summer we house sat. We had the view and the silence all to ourselves; we are saddened that those are yesterday’s memories. Continue reading “Bainbridge Island Ferry: 6/30/2012” »

New York Diaries: Friday’s Memorable Moment

I step out for….

…a quick trip to the Rivington Guitars just down the street from where Nate resides and I find a mecca of vintage guitars that owner Howie Rivington scouts the states (or is the world for?). The shop is literally smaller than Northwest Guitars,my own home music store BUT there are more guitars in this small shoebox of space than Kevin and Vinnie stock. Tom, looking like a cross between a strawberry blonde Woody Allen in need of a haircut and a beard trim and an update on his lasses is a perfectly placed throwback to the 60s himself. He is  packing a left-handed strat in a hardcase for shipment. And the acoustics and the electrics and the pair of mandolins are all saying in various tones in my head, “Play me. Play me.”

Each guitar is tagged with a stock #, a price and the year it was made. I strum several Yamahas with 1970 and 1980s birth years before taking the the 1965 Guild off its stand for a play. The Dark Brown Guild has a light and bright sound that appeals to me and a magical angelic price of $999 (which includes a gig bag.)

What brought my attention to this store the night before? There was something specific. It was a white Rivington branded guitar pick that caught my eye on the night sidewalk as we were walking home post MOMA and wine store down 4th Avenue a mere two blocks from Nate’s place. And now there is a lovely little Ukelele with a rice of $59 haunting me…

The Bean: A One of a Kind Place: Coffee, Tea, Wine, Beer and a Mosaic Atmosphere

The Many Faces of Tea under glass are my study for the moment. Nate is checking email at a grounded computer that he must pay for time for.

(Nothing feels free in NYC but that isn’t actually true. There is as much free as there is things to pay for BUT wifi and restrooms are at a premium and can be had for the price of a purchased something. What a culture we live in.)

I AM enthralled for the moment by the loose tea before me…Yes, it doesn’t take much to amuse me, does it?

The Lullaby Tea Blend before me at the Bean is a composite of rooibos, coconut, pineapple, vanilla

The Love Machine is a blend of green tea, black tea, jasmine flowers, vanilla flavor

The Grouch…rose petals, blueberriescherries, rose hips, blue mallow blossoms, strawberry leaves, raspberry leaves

Cup a Beauty…rooibos, marigold, rose petals, blue mallow flowers, orange and lemon

Across the table are four more tea blends under glass displayed like art that I can’t collect ingredients on yet for the seats are occupied.

I see cardamom seeds though and suspect a chai type tea. Another tea blend clearly has more something to cause Buzz Buzz Buzz as it is so named and that I can read upside down from where I am sitting. As to what tea is held captive in the square beneath the guy with a Mac, I can’t say. I can return another day. It is around the corner on E. 3rd St and 1st Ave.

The thing about NY that continues to be a bit off putting to me is how dense the population is and how individually buffered most people in public are.

Tea I.V. is composed of rooibos, lemon peel, raspberry leaves, raspberry

The Superhero…black chai spices, coconut

Buzz, buzz, Buzz…black tea, ginger root, cinnamon, lemongrass

The Doctor is in…rooibos, ginger, saffron, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, peppermint, safflowers, fennel, licorice

Hmmm. Must sent to Astara to send to Nelson!

Mosaics and brightly colored art on display would bring me here again and again.

 

New York Diaries: June 28th

Thursday June 28th — A Central Park Day

It was not an early start day. And that was fine. My eggs and toast and grapefruit and coffee were perfect. We still can’t seem to get out of the house before 1pm. Fine. We are on vacation. Let’s behave like we are.

I can honestly say I have had a hot dog in Central Park after an absorbing walk through the Museum of Natural History.

The Hall of Bio-diversity installation is as memorable as it gets. A wall of a graphical and 3-d timeline of then to now. A ribbon of butterflies of the world coloring my dreams. A great whale suspended from the ceiling.in a room that must be larger than it in life to hold it. The Grouchy Lady and all the times I read the story playback in my head as I read how the Ladybug first confronted the whale’s tail at 6pm only to be sent like a bullet in the wind back to the beginning of the story WITH an attitude adjustment.

A Kindergarten teacher old enough to be my grandmother, overheard me recall this moment to Bronte and said sweetly, “I think of that too when I see the whale.”

We got lost trying to get out…Not kidding.

Yes, Dinosaurs are impressive too.

The Passionate Observer in Me Goes to New York (Part 1 of 5))

It’s an inaugural visit to the Big Apple for Bronte and I. Alas, it doesn’t smell like an apple nor from the look of the map is it shaped like one.

Stepping onto the street above the subway station we have just exited, I am accosted.

Patchouli. And then like a flurry of freshly blown soap bubbles popping: sour beer, cigarette, cigar, flowers, stale wine, the scent of curry and fresh baked pizza pie. Yes, my first impression of New York at street level EVEN before the sounds of street life is distinctly memorable: The scents that are floating about my head as I walk down a mildly crowded and cracked sidewalk.

Then it is as if my hearing is turned back on. I hear the Patchouli smelling girl, talking to the guy smoking who I can’t see clearly as he is backlit by streetlights in the dark. The F Train that brought us to our final first desitnation in the East Village was a newer subway train according to our host for the week, and therefore both looked and smelled cleaner than the A train we took at the end of the Air Train we caught at the Airport.

I have never felt called to come toNew York Citybefore now. I am genuinely feeling excited about the day before us with Nate and son Alejandro and Bronte.Central Parkis our first group destination that Alejandro can play catch with dad with his new glove and ball. I have been assured by at least six different people, I will LOVENew York.

Nate tells me that it is hard to get lost inNew York, at least inManhattan. The Grid of streets I presume will always lead one back to having a sense of where one is. Provided you have a map and understand the orientation of Streets versus Avenues and which runs East to West and which run North to South? I’ll think about that later and rely on the map for today.

Waking this morning, I recall my last memories of falling asleep; staring out the window into the center of the tenement apartment building he

Nate tells the story of getting the piano into his small two bedroom apartment he bought in May 2010. He tells a story that goes down in the memory books.

The first four steps of the 38 to his third level walk up were easy. Navigating the tight turns four times with an upright piano in straps being bumped up the stairs one by one takes an uncomfortable 2 hours and not the supposed ½ an hour. The movers to help with the lifting job arrived late. Neighbors who wanted to take their baby out for a walk on an upper level were turned back with a sorry. A younger and spry young woman headed to the theater shimmied herself over the piano and over the banister to freedom.

Nice first impressions to give as the new neighbor in the building that was once upon a turn of the century tenement building; no elevator and larger spaces that have been cut up into smaller apartments with occasionally odd angled walls. Nate’s apartment has five windows (a plus) that all face the airshaft.

Talk from the apartments around and below rises up–as does the incessant cooing and wooing and flutter of pigeons and the occasional blare of a passing siren. These sounds seep in from the one point of exit to the street that I can see through the open window with the fire escape attached to the exterior wall about it. The iron of the fire escape looks like it has been painted over at least six times and I question how safe is that fire escape. Nate assures me it can take the pressure of a human on it.

Last night we arrived via JetBlue at 9pm and managed within an hour to take the trains from JFK to Lower Manhattan (East Village) where Nate has lived since May of 2001. He knows this neighborhood like the back of his own hand and foodie that he is I am surprised he hasn’t tried every hole in the wall food joint in his immediate vicinity, but that would be a big task given the density of bars, cafes, and shoebox size “restaurants.”

We have determined we will step out for a slice of pizza for Bronte is hungry and we are now in a city that never sleeps and some places seem to be open all night. How is that place we passed on the way from the subway I ask Nate. He hasn’t tried that place but Alejandro likes Nino’s which is an easy couple of blocks away. Having deposited suitcases and gotten a tall glass of iced water (which for tap water tastes fine to me!) we head out for a late night snack.

How many times have I been talking to Nate at 1am my time as he was headed out for a late night snack? He is still a nightowl. And for us it is still really only 7pm PST.

On route to our intended destination I am again assaulted with a riot of smells and the density of people in the streets on a sultry summer evening is being felt by my body and its empathic ways. I realize I must consciously buffer myself for the week, knowing we will be always surrounded by thousands of people be they seen or not.

Red.Blue.Green.Gold.White.Pink.

There is a trio of Indian restaurant two blocks from Nate’s place that are competitively lit up with Christmas lights in the front windows; it is like Christmas year round says Nate. Three men on the stoop are monitoring passers by and wooing respective customers in. Last night in my half-dazed state, I thought it was all the same restaurant.

Hukka Bars and More

There is more than one hukka bar with dim lighting casting an eerie warm glow on the hukka’s glass bellies filled with water to cool the flavored smoke being inhaled by silhouetted figures lounging on low dark velvety looking couches. My eyes are drinking in as quickly as they can EVERYTHING as we walk down the moderately uneven sidewalks with age old cracks. I recall how thankful I felt for the age of roll aboard suitcases with lighter framework as we maneuvered our way through crowds the minute we got off the Subway F at 2nd street not fifteen minutes ago. People though don’t move out of your way so swiftly. They seemed to be either not inclined or less aware as we were barreling toward them with suitcases behind us. It was up to us to slip in between their smoking and joking as they bled out of the café or bar they were patronizing.

Two Boots Pizza and Brooklyn Lager

How many bars have we passed I wonder? We’ve gone left and right and left and right as we weave our way to Nate’s suggested Pizza by the slice joint. Nino’s is on a corner and even before we approach the wide open doors I can feel the heat escaping from the inside and pouring into the street. Pizzas with thin crust and strombolis and calzones are behind glass on a double-decker glass shelf. White pizza with fresh mozzarella, margarita, Hawaiian, pepperoni, and to me they all look “dry.” I tell Bronte that she must be selective about food when we are eating out this week, for I don’t want to be  spending $5 on a slice she said looked good but didn’t taste right  on a first bite. Or she will be eating protein bars in these instances. I brought a half dozen as backups.

Of course my hope is we try new foods and Nate knows the culinary landscape well, foodie that he is.

11:11am: Angels thank you for the easy first 12 hours.

Last night the final memory I had staring out into the airshaft and onto a weathered fire escape was the sound of sirens and the buzz of someone talking somewhere, unintelligible to me but not important either. The City that never sleeps. But I did and under the cover of a chocolate brown sheet with a wide open window and a final brief thought of, “What if anything will crawl or fly in while I am unconscious?” I determine I won’t worry about the momentary thought of rats, roaches and pigeons. InBellevuewe have an abundance of birds and squirrels and insects of course. I have spider webs constantly in my corners. I have yet to see evidence of a spider web in Nate’s place.

“Listening” through the window at 3am, having captured a few notes of today’s travels for myself, I hear the following, “Where are the mosquitos?”

And I hope that this isn’t like my first night in Kuaui was so many years ago when I was 12 and a mosquito kept buzzing in my ear in between biting me and leaving welts that itched for days in the heat.

Imagine there is only heaven on earth...

Till next  time. Aloha from the Big Apple which is as hot as hot can be.

Traffic Jammed, or Not?

Traffic Jammed, or Not?

Driving into Seattle for a networking meeting there was a big jam traffic jam. It was interesting to notice the frustration and feel the anxiety around me. I work at home so I do experience slow traffic often and I chose to remain happy in this situation. It is interesting that people feel victimized by traffic yet my belief is Continue reading “Traffic Jammed, or Not?” »