Not bad.

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Daddy uses the walker, though only at night. He suggests that a topless wobbly hula doll that dances on solar power attached to the center bar might alter his daytime disinclination.

 

Skipping the demeanment of traditional cultures, objectification of women of color, misogyny, and potential for generally broadcasting sexual harassment triggers in a weary pain-ridden old surfer dude… I totally love my daddy and his negative coping strategies.

 

Plus my mom is bucket-listing in China, and when she leaves he usually dresses up one of the silly dolls on her shelf to commemorate the trip. I spent yesterday making a teeny Chinese-inspired outfit for a teddy bear.

Morro Bay, California

Wabbly

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Weird sadness in the air yesterday. I suspect a town elder passed away. It feels like dozens of people are grieving nearby. That felt distracting all day.

I also fidgeted with myself about being unproductive even though I puttered at some housework, gathered photos to post my travels on October, read the end of Wyndham’s “The Kraken Wakes” and all of “The Chrysalids”, started H. R. Haggard’s “Treasure of the Lake”, ate healthy food in reasonable proportions, had a pretty fire in the fireplace, worked on training to dogs to accept the new cat, did a smidgen of calligraphy, topped off the tub, food/water/pooped/medicated the dogs and cats, and reorganized the cat/dog boundaries and furniture to help the new girl (Hex) be more comfortable. I chose active mental pastimes, left the TV off, and minimized the silly brain-sucking portions of social media. Contacting friends is good; reading the Top Ten Reasons Why: Your Dog Has Five Toes in Front and Four in Back, Your Clothes Wear Out, Your Shelves Get Dusty, You Feel Sick When You Only Eat Candy, Blah Blah Blah for 87 hours is bad.

Feeling new chapters of “Ouroboros” forming. May go get a hand truck and dog food, load the trailer with crap for the community clean up (old water heater, three toilets I don’t need, rotten lumber I’ve pulled off the house), and write. I always feel happy and productive when I’m writing. This is only a drag when I consider my bank account.

Thinking through a safe ride to California and a happy time helping my dad for two weeks. He won’t use a walker, can’t stand up without falling over, and is twice as big as anybody else in the family. Mom needs a break, I am not reporting to a job, and I totally love hanging out with Daddy even when circumstances are uncomfortable. It’s going to be fun.

 

Truth?

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The truth is I’ve been dogged with self-destruction most of my life. I learned it very early, though my folks did much better for me than their folks did for them, I still managed to leave home with poor self-esteem, a desire to stuff my head with a variety of analgesics, a tolerance for terrible treatment from people I love, and an expectation that I would have no reward at all for my efforts.

 

Fast forward to 49, now.

 

I was getting very, very sick. I was losing use of my hands and feet. My migraines were insane. I was taking tons of medicine, supplements, booze, and medical mj. When I wasn’t at work, I was sitting on the couch smashing out my brains. I let myself and the house go to hell.

 

Yet my whole life I have also been a writer, an artist, a rainbow warrior energetically working for peace and justice, and a woman with beauty, brains, and talent. I realized, finally, that the go-to-work-ignore-the-suffering path I’d been on since 1991 was killing me and killing my fate.

 

I quit my job and turned my focus to art, aikido, and personal growth.

 

I’ve dragged out of depression, I’m not smashing my brains, I’m not stuffed with pills, I’m not parked on the couch for weeks. I’m not subordinating my time and goals to the whims of seeking romance. I’m not so overwhelmed by the tasks ahead that I quit before I start. I’m not living in complete isolation.

 

I can stand to hear myself think. I’m writing. I’m fixing things. I can sleep at night. I’m going dancing for the fun of it. I’m bathing and getting dressed and eating relatively healthy food.  I’m visiting friends. I’m writing letters. I’m making professional contacts.

 

Am I all better?

 

Hell, no. It took almost a year to get this far, and a lot of it looked pretty bad from the outside, I suspect. I still have those self-destructive habits. I still hear myself excuse slovenly choices because it’s “just me”. Serving others is easy. Taking of myself seemed pointless.

 

But I’ve developed a set of techniques to notice when I’m fading and make a better choice. I have enough forgiveness for myself that when I falter, I can get up instead of crushing myself down with criticism.

 

So if you admire the books, photography, aikido, spirit work, talent, brains, and beauty – see that it hasn’t been easy and we share some fundamental human struggles.

 

Hopefully sharing that struggle here will 1) keep me honest so I don’t pretend I’m ok when I am not, and 2) validate and encourage others who are also struggling.

 

Love,

Laurel

A little sleep does wonders.

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Tuesday night AZ time I slept.

Wednesday night AZ time I dozed an hour or so before I got up and began the voyage.

The voyage began 4 AM Thursday AZ time and continued until 8 PM Friday Japan time. Night didn’t fall on me during those 22 hours, and I didn’t sleep.

Then I got lost finding the hotel. Location accuracy on my devices was low and Japanese addresses are a little vague if one doesn’t know the neighborhood. That was an hour or two of walking.

After I found it, I dropped my stuff and took off for my dinner date with an old friend. I managed the subway trains easily (no mean feat), but my phone died while I was on the train and I lost the directions and photos regarding the meeting place. I knew I was on the right street and remembered bits of the images and directions. So I wandered around climbing stairs and searching for clues. That was at least another hour of walking, thankfully without hauling luggage.

(I am VERY glad I decided to pack super light. I’m switching locations every other day and I have to carry everything around almost all the time.)

Shiina-san waited and waited and waited for me, the dear woman. I finally found her, had an incredibly well-crafted cheeseburger, and made my way back to the hotel eventually.

Re-organize all my bags, take a shower, have a soak, nostalgically enjoy a little earthquake, and pass out.

This morning I had to ask people for help along the way, but I also managed to get to the station directly the first time, find the correct platform, and be ahead of time. Sleep does wonders.

A little group of us are riding the train to Hiroshima for a few days of seminars with Yokoyama-san.

I have a friend in Arizona who feels certain she lived her previous life in Japan and passed away in the bombing of Hiroshima. I brought a little offering from her that I will leave there and I’ll find a pretty little rock to bring back for her.

Coming here always feels like coming home to me too. Three places on the planet that feel like home is a true blessing.mistymountainsJapanlulu

Writing

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OMG so the time always flies when I’m writing.

 

But I didn’t expect to be able to get anything done on the plane, yet I worked probably four hours and hacked out another chapter.  My wifi device is working, so I should have connectivity on the long train ride. Hopefully I’ll be able to reorganize this page a little and start posting Glitchy chapters in the next couple days.

 

So – is tons of aikido and writing all it’s cracked up to be?

 

So far, hell yes.

In the air between San Francisco and Narita

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In the air between San Francisco and Narita
2017 10 05 or 06, depending on where the date line is. The map says it’s 12:30 PM below us in Honolulu. We are still in the 5th.

Trying a short bit of writing to see if I can concentrate and stay away from “travel sickness” while looking at text. So far do good.

There’s a cute couple next to me. About my age, obviously been together a long time. They did crosswords together for an hour or so. He read the clues, asked her what she thought, answered his own questions, and wrote it down. She seemed perfectly happy and added ideas when she had them. Somewhere in there, he got uncomfortable and she rubbed his back. They did an eyebrow waggle that meant it was time to dislodge from the seats and try for a bathroom break. I saw it and went too. I have a window seat.

They have totally inappropriate senses of humor and their irreverent banter felt a lot like family. It was she, and not I, who first dropped the f-bomb in casual conversation. This was also a jolly switch.

I can’t say jealous. I don’t want to disrupt what they have or take anything. But the ease and comfort of a persistent companion is appealing. Of course anybody who can’t be bothered with dogs, a cyclical artistic personality, watching a partner disappear to write a book – or paint – or go to Japan – or stomp through the woods – or have a burst of cleaning of cleaning and reorganizing – or sleep late… …probably can’t be bothered with me.

Point is, I’m alone because I want to be alone. I have interesting stuff to do, and as much as I would like to share my life and feel good about human company, I really don’t want to give up my autonomy, my free time, my undivided attention on art, my crazy ideas, or my unmitigated decision making power over my own life.

I’ve made a ton of progress working independently that I never made while mitigating my plans for a partner’s advice or assistance.

But this sweet happy pair next to me flying off to Japan together feels like a bus I watched pass my stop a bit sadly, even though I know my route is a different number.

Flying between Tucson and San Francisco

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2017 10 05

In the air between Tucson and San Francisco

 

This part of travel has become routine: lines, shoes, extra inspection (many small chocolate bars for omiage must look like C4 in my bag), wait, charge up the devices, check for wi-fi availability on the flight (not on this leg), prep my documents for offline use, board, roll around the tarmac, make lift+thrust greater than load+drag, snack (stale stroopwaffle and canned orange juice), watch most people playing on their personal screens, and my usual so-glad-I-remembered-my-tummy-meds digestion.

 

Slightly different on this trip: overhead bins are dinky and way too small for many bags that fit in the sizing frame in the lobby. Luckily, people are managing. The lady next to me is being very gentle about one of my bags encroaching on her footspace a little.

 

We’re both ignoring the toilet right behind us. The traffic is constant, and the noises, hopefully, are mostly the result of altitude and waterpressure. The flight attendant is miraculously fast and accurate with an orange-based odor neutralizer, which she manages to squirt surreptitiously every few visitors.

 

I’m on the aisle and have to peek through the windows across the way. Since everybody wants high relative brightness on their screens, most are closed. This is much different than only a few years ago.

 

Heck, I remember flights when I was a kid where everyone was allowed to smoke and the only in-flight entertainment was a window.

 

Japan is likely to be rainy this trip. Hopefully extra toe socks will do the trick. If not, I may add to my collection of slightly used Japanese rain boots.

 

I decided not to bring weapons. Baggage claim is always difficult, Japanese customs sometimes is suspicious of letting my super cool staff back out of the country, the risk of breakage is high, and the risk of damage to my worn out old weapons case is about 100%.

 

Once I was already packing that light, I decided to try and pack only carry on baggage for the whole two weeks. I mashed what I know I need, minus the forgotten rain boots. Two ghis, plenty of clean underthings for after training, hakama, and clothes that will stretch the whole trip if I do a little rinsing at the sink and rotating things to hang up and dry for a day. Laundry in the middle of the trip would be ideal, but I don’t know if I’ll have the leisure. Several generous people want to take good care of me, and my schedule is both full and substantially out of my hands. I’ll feel like a seasoned world traveller if I get through 10 days comfortably with what I brought. I will probably also formulate lasting, strong opinions about never checking baggage again.

 

Funny. The nice lady next to me just asked if the window was ok open in a little bit unsure Spanglish. I got to feel smart chatting in Spanish, agreeing that windows are better open, and observing that I had just been writing about those days when people looked out windows instead.

 

So now I can peek out my own window, familiar landscape rolls out below us as we approach San Francisco, and I’m back musing on personal growth.

 

…for instance, the enormous rainbow tree-of-life almost spherical spiritual body that popped up yesterday. I’ve been seeing my psychic anntenna as a huge ultraviolet oak tree that furls and unfurls on the top of my head for about a year now. Yesterday, as I was struggling with wanting to crawl back into my coccoon and safely hide from my challenges while smashing my brain, I asked my teachers to help me pull off the coccoon. About six of them flew in, plucked off hunks of sticky carapace that represented my self-defeating habits that used to help me cope and now just help me avoid my noisy brain, and split. Then I stretched and discovered the rainbow tree-of-life around me. My body is just a bit of the trunk. So this trip, when I’m fussy or scared or overwhelmed or feeling unprepared I’m going to consider my tree, my roots, my interconnectedness in all things on both sides of the veil.

 

Hopefully that’ll feel better than insecurity, fear, and incremental self-destruction.

 

I’m here to grow for real, not just perform and gain approval.

 

Started driving at 4 AM. 9AM now. Nearing San Francisco, where I will change a bucket of cash to yen. Last trip, I only had my atm card, it didn’t talk to most card readers politely, and it was too late at night for the cash machines to be open. Couldn’t pay two different cab drivers or the hotel. My friends had to call in the middle of the night and talk the hotel manager into trusting me until morning. This trip, I’ll have enough handy to get through the first few days and figure out which machines take my card.

 

Whew. There’s a line at the head, right by my seat. The poor lady is literally doing the potty dance, though she’s making it look a little like leg exercises to avoid deep vein thrombosis in flight; it’s time for that surreptitious squirt of orange again.

 

Love,

Laurel

 

PS “Landed” in Spanish is “aterrizado”. New word for me, but a- = recipient of action, terra = earth, and -*zado = verbed. To earth verbed. Grounded. Landed. I may remember.

 

Bags are packed

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I’m off to Japan tomorrow with a plan to train like mad, have a ball, stay in one functional physical piece, practice my spiritual stuff when I get fussy, blog, work on my novel “Glitchy”, and post the rough draft chapters as I go. Oh, yeah. Prepare for my 4th degree black belt test later this month in Houston. Travel and train with the new sensei, translate for him when we’re in the states again later in October, and try not to giggle too much – we were friends decades before anyone took either of us seriously at all.

Keep the demons at bay – those negative coping strategies I needed for all those years I had the psychic, the writer, and the martial artist bound and gagged in the back of my mind while I took care of other business. Grew out of needing crappy relationships and quit my 26 year teaching career to live like this instead. I don’t need the negative coping strategies any more, but I have the habits. Ex-classroom teacher and empty-nester… I don’t think I’ve ever had so much time to think for myself in my life before. It’s lovely, but I find getting up to help myself tougher than getting up to help others. This is also clearly part of my test.

And because I’m a shameless show pony with novels to sell and a strange lifetime of stories to tell in the middle of a major life change with personal demons on top, I’ve decided to crack it open and spill it here.

Character Arc

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Kato-Sensei told me to train, teach, travel, make friends, and create world peace.

 

That’s my life’s work, now that my daughter is grown.

 

I want to do art; volunteer at school; and earn non-seat-time $ with paintings, novels, singing, photographs, aikido workshops, and psychic services. I want enough time and money to manage my small property and basic needs, create a nice dojo here in Mammoth, host international guests in Wild West Weapons Weekends, travel to train internationally and visit kin 4-8 weeks per year.

 

Re-design of website and pages on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook will follow.