Monthly Archives: January 2011

My Duality Exposed

My facebook profile states, “I’m an introverted extrovert, a fat artist, a conservative dyke, a Christian Buddhist, a lesbian mother, bohemian suburbanite, a whiny optimist, a hard-partying meditator – as comfortable in a biker bar as I am in an ashram.” I love contrasts and contradictions. I enjoy a bawdy time out on the town as much as I enjoy a day in the garden. I loved my quiet, rural life on Bainbridge Island, and I’m excited about my new life in the heart of urban San Francisco.

One day, I can be as loving as Amma, or as compassionate as the Dalai Lama, and on another day (or even later that day), I’m engrossed in some superficial television show, or dressed in the most revealing outfit I can find, to go out dancing and drinking on the town. If people were more honest with themselves, I wonder if they’d embrace their deliciously multidimensional self, rather than fearing it. I wonder if this question underlies the success of the book, “Eat, Pray, Love”, a story about a woman who gave up the security of a predictable and stagnant marriage (and accompanying societal expectations of motherhood and housewifery), to explore aspects of her own hedonism and gluttony, her quest for non-traditional spirituality, and her desire to encounter romantic love, all on her own terms. How many of us can overcome the fear of the unknown, to acknowledge and embrace those aspects of ourselves that lie outside of societal or cultural norms?

My mentor, Amma

How willing are you to embrace all of the disjointed, and seemingly-opposed aspects of yourself? What if you are ok, just as you are, even with your vices, your secret desires, the “shadow-self” you keep under wraps? What if we weren’t afraid to be exactly who we are, instead of trying to project an image of how we want people to see us? What if each of us approached the world with an attitude of curiosity, rather than fear or judgment? What would life be like if we lived as our full, authentic selves? Is it even possible? (This is coming up for me lately as I make new friends, and encounter judgments, lifestyles, and/or values that are both similar and vastly different than mine).

Phillip McCluskey is a raw foods “guru” and all-around-spiritual-seeker, who I discovered on-line last summer. I can very much relate to his poem, here.

My Duality Exposed, by Philip McCluskey

What dualities do you embody?

What the hell am I, anyway?

What I’m trying to say is beautifully captured in a quote by the insightful writer, Erin Pillman (

“There is a doorway to a wonderful place. A place of deep peace, deep contentment, and deep inner knowing.

And it is such an incredible journey which leads to this place. It is a journey of intense emotions, constant change, moment after moment filled with infinity, the sacred & the profane, expansion & contraction, duality & paradox, ecstasy & hell, comedy & tragedy, gratitude & regret, fear & trust, frustration & release, exertion & relaxation, forgiveness & resentment, excitement & disillusionment, agony & bliss, awe & contempt, wonder & despair, passion & apathy, confusion & clarity.

And when a person can sit in one of these incredible, dynamic spaces, filled with the ever-changing energies, tumultuous and flowing, and just BE – surrender, let go, and relax into the Infinite – this is when one connects with the Self, is filled with the light of his or her True Nature, and steps effortlessly through the doorway and into the garden of infinite potential.

Comments, please!



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I’ll be darned and happy new year

Dear readers,

According to our year-end stats, people are actually reading my blog, and that has inspired me to get a little more active here in my virtual journal-land. Thanks for your continued interest and encouragement during my big transition to living in California!

San Francisco, my new home

My head has been spinning since first arrived in California on December 5th, returned to Seattle, attended meetings in Spokane (to wrap up work), and returned to California once again, all within a two-week period. In the last month, I signed a lease on an apartment, broke said lease, ignored Christmas and celebrated New Years Eve at a fun dance in the Castro, followed by midnight hitch-hiking and hysterical laughter with Kytha, have attended numerous yoga classes and dharma talks, seen every movie of interest, started the new job, was laid off the new job, signed a contract to work for the Santa Clara Mental Health Department instead, made a few new friends, and am preparing to move to a flat in San Francisco, right in the heart of the city’s Mission district, across the street from the women’s building. Whew! 18th Street is a thoroughfare for the annual dyke march and Critical Mass bike ride, among other political and social activities. Talk about culture shock (honey, we’re not in Kansas anymore…or Bainbridge Island, for that matter).

Critical Mass, monthly in San Francisco

I’m finding it easy to connect with the lesbian community, thanks to the internet, friends, and “Meet Up” groups. My roommate teaches yoga, and through her, I’ve made some nice connections which led to activities such as eating dim-sum on Christmas day and attending a cheese-tasting party at a local goat farm. I enjoyed Christmas dinner with Terri and her co-housing neighbors and family. Cousin Joe and his handsome gay friends took me out for a night of dinner and live music at the Rrazz Room, a small dinner club located at the ritzy Hotel Nikko in SF. I spent a glorious, sunny day at Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park with a new friend. It appears that I’m going at a rather frantic social pace, however, and I’m admittedly packing a lot in before work starts again, and I’m back to parenting when Jack joins me. My spirit is thriving here, despite the unexpected upsets along the way – the abrupt ending to work after only 7 days on the job, thinking I moved here and would now be unemployed, losing my deposit on the new apartment, losing my wallet, having my bank-account frozen for a week, and missing my son and Island friends, among other things!

Kim Nalley, singer extraordinaire, Rrazz Room

All of these trials and mis-steps have pushed me to the outer edges of my emotional limits. One day, when I thought I was unemployed, my bank account was frozen, and my wallet, missing, I had a major meltdown. Sitting in the parking lot at DMV, wondering how many hours of torture I would have to endure to obtain a California driver’s license, the phone rang. Even before I could answer, I burst into tears, seeing that Jillian was on the other line, and would know just what to say to help me put things in perspective. Five blubbering minutes later, I was giggling at the absurdity of my situation, and had braved the long line, waiting to have my picture taken with bright red eyes and a swollen face. The photo was horrible, but I was miraculously out of there in 35 minutes, even with having to take the written exam! Things improved from there – I found my wallet, I got a new contract, and my assets were freed up by Wells Fargo (whereupon I immediately closed my new account).

Friends and loved ones have spent hours on the phone and emailing me (you know who you are). Attending dharma talks and practicing Buddhism have also helped me keep perspective, and to stay focused on gratitude and what is working (I’m making great new friends, getting a break from work and parenting for the first time in years, I have a terrific place to live, I’m getting the luxury of socializing to my heart’s content, and getting to focus solely on taking care of myself, among other things).

The Women's Building - across the street from my new apartment

Ultimately, this experience has illustrated that even when we are stripped of our work, our money, our belongings, all that’s familiar – even our identification, what hopefully remains are the loving relationships that sustain us, along with our faith. Of all the things I could lose, the most painful would be the love of my friends and family. How lucky am I, that in the midst of all the drama and uncertainty of the last month, I knew my friends were there for me in any way I needed, day or night. And really, what was the worst that could happen?

I’m also reflecting on my own progress and personal growth. A year and a half ago, during another very challenging time (my mother dying, among a list of other things), I reacted in a self-destructive way that only inflicted more pain and misery upon myself. This time, I’m staying connected with others, taking care of myself, and reaching out, rather than giving in to momentary fear and overwhelm. Everything passes, even misery. We must remember that, and never give in to the momentary pain that life will inevitably cast upon us.

Happy New Year, everyone. Aren’t you glad we made it through 2010? Here’s to a little more lightheartedness and joy this coming year. What are you most grateful for?

Dedicated to Gracie, I still miss you, my little friend.



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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,800 times in 2010. That’s about 9 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 43 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 240 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 181mb. That’s about 5 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was September 27th with 1,070 views. The most popular post that day was Minimalism.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and Google Reader.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for lake merritt, freeze fire place, lake merritt sail boat house oakland ca, girls burning wood, and augustlake blog.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Minimalism September 2010


About September 2010


Alisa’s Custom Art September 2010


Links September 2010


Monthly Challenge September 2010

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