Tag Archives: Buddhism

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.

Gracie

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If you ain’t scared, maybe you ain’t livin’

Well, at least this is something I tell myself as I delve into my new life here in the Bay Area, after a relatively mellow run (work wise) in the Pacific Northwest. I am incredibly nervous about my first day in the office tomorrow, knowing there is a great deal of political and other pressure on me to make the project I am to lead, succeed.

The move has not been without its drama. My subleasors have decided, after 3 days in my old place, that it needs major work which my landlord isn’t willing to do (like servicing the furnace after a 13 year hiatus and cleaning out the nasty duct work and moldy windows…As a result, I may lose out on the return of my sizable deposit should they leave, and I feel badly that my new tenants are so unhappy and will likely move out, due to unresolved problems. I’m also mad at myself for living in those conditions for a year and a half, and not insisting the work be done when the landlord ignored my requests or asked me to deal with it myself.

All this said, I’m loving California – the sun was shining today and there was a warm breeze outside the open window. I slept in a bit, worked all morning, then took a break to go buy a printer and have lunch at the Emeryville Market, and to purchase an audio book to accompany on my new commute to San Jose, starting tomorrow. My temporary roommate is warm, welcoming and accommodating. I feel fortunate to have found such a great temporary housing situation, however, I miss my kiddo and girlfriend terribly…who am I if not a partner and mom? Oh, yeah, career girl! I asked for it, after all. Yes indeed.

Oakland sky today, December 6, 2010


I have to be patient and loving with myself and just trust that I’ll get through this state of ambiguity…being away from my friends and loved ones, living with a near-stranger, living in a city that I must reacquaint myself with, and the uncertainty of a new job and all its expectations. (What if I fall on my face???)

Yet this is exactly what I’ve been dreaming about – a challenging new direction, living in a sunnier, more urban climate, and I just have to go through (and embrace?) the transition period. A year from now, I will feel settled once again…reacquainted with old friends and family, established in my job, newly acquainted with co-workers and associates, and Jack will be with me, hopefully enjoying own Bay Area adventure. And with any luck, Noel will be here, too. So much trust, so much patience, required for this larger-than-life move.

I realized today that not since 1986, have I made a move of this magnitude, alone. I’ve always had a lover helping me with all the little details, comforting me in bed at night, pitching in with all the little details like setting up the cable. It’s hard to do all of this alone and I do find myself waking up at 2am, heart pounding, and palms sweating. But then I talk myself down, remind myself this scary feeling is part of any big, positive change, and keep moving forward. I remind myself of all the times I made big changes in the past, and how afraid I was – to attend graduate school, to have a baby, to move to Seattle 5 years ago…all huge and wonderful changes, that I don’t regret, but which terrified me at the time, as does this change.

Breathe, Alisa. Just breathe, and take it one day at a time.

I’ve been reading through numerous documents related to my new job. Feeling there’s an awful lot of bureaucracy and verbosity involved, and that it could all be much more simple than it’s become. Maybe that will be my contribution to the project….applying my motto of, “KISS”. Hopefully, I won’t just be dealing with a bunch of egos, but with people who sincerely care about the educational and psycho-social needs of young children and infants. I’d love to be a part of something meaningful, with a lasting legacy, that I can truly believe in and promote. I hold a high vision for myself, hoping to make a positive and constructive contribution to what is about to become my 24/7 life, at least for a while.

Here’s hoping for a good nights sleep, sweet dreams, and keeping the faith, when I find myself asking myself, What the hell was I thinking?”

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Urban living with a minimalist twist. OR – Decisions, Decisions

If I’d taken my father’s advice whenever I had an opportunity (or created one for myself!), I’d be a childless, single, secretary, never fully living this great adventure, I call my life…perfect or not.

During a conversation yesterday he discouraged me from seizing an opportunity to take a lucrative job that I would absolutely love, because it requires a move back to San Francisco (and off my quaint little island where I admittedly have built a sweet life and cultivated a few very meaningful friendships).

He suggested I examine my life-long patterns of switching-up my life every 4 or 5 years, and asked if I was just “pulling a geographic out of boredom”. I told him I have done a little soul searching (thank you very much), and I’ve decided to embrace the fact that I’m all about adventure, learning, growing, self-discovery, building community – a free spirit, who thrives from taking risks. I have unique skills (I love setting up new programs and businesses, and I’m willing to take risks), skills that it turns out, people will pay for! I’ve also maintained very close ties to my friends in the Bay Area over the last 5 years, which honestly surprised me…so on my last visit there, it felt like home.

It then occurred to me that my father has discouraged me from taking any opportunity I’ve encountered, including having a child (too expensive and burdensome), getting my master’s degree (you have a perfectly good job as a secretary, with great benefits, and a child to support). Or leaving a really unhealthy relationship (what about your financial security?) All of this is somewhat ironic giving his love of living on sailboats, and his dislike of traditional American culture. But I’m his daughter, and he worries.

I realize that dad is motivated by fear, and the need for security, while I’m motivated by the need for adventure and freedom. No judgment. It just is.

What’s your primary motivator? Love, safety, family, adventure, continuity, peace, new challenges?

Let’s discuss.

All this said, this tempting opportunity begs the question….could I continue to embrace this minimalist life I have now cultivated, while living in San Francisco? Or would I be lured back into eating out every night, shopping for recreation, buying another home, and consuming my way through the city like a PacMan on speed (given a better salary than I earn with my non-profit here in the Pacific Northwest). I’d like to think so.

I ask myself many questions. Would my spirit die from the city noise, heavy traffic, street litter, and the dense population? Will I regret a move such as this, when I’m stuck in my first traffic jam while attending meetings in San Jose? On the other hand, I look forward to seeking out my SGI brothers and sisters, living in a thriving lesbian community again, the accessibility and variety of independent local theater and music, a thriving nightlife, and exploring my beloved Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park. And not least of all, reconnecting with long-time friends who have remained my confidants all these years.

Having watched the incredible movie, Return to the Garden, last night with my son and kindred spirit, Deborah Milton, at the historic Lynwood theater, I have cause to pause. The lives these rugged hippie individualists choose to lead are appealing, admirable, and enviable. I’m reminded that I live a sweet life on Bainbridge Island, and it’s true – it is lovely. And like the protagonists in our story, I don’t quite earn enough to support my son, and while I like my job, I admit, I’m ready for new challenges, and the stress of insurmountable old debt (from my previous consumer-driven lifestyle) is overwhelming at times.

Back to the Garden Film

Meanwhile, Noel is much more likely to find a tax attorney job in SF, and my son is chomping at the bit for the move (an Aries, like me, he’s always up for something new). Having already decided to leave high school a year early to get his GED, he wants to work at Rainbow Grocery Cooperative in SF, which used to be our extended family, when his other mom and auntie worked there – until they went on to “professional” careers as a nurse and social worker. It’s a great idea – connecting him with folks who have our shared values, and many of whom remember and love him, still. Could we live in the Mission district and raise chickens and drive an electric car, like my friend Julie? Or live like Rita, who lives in a fantastic flat in Northbeach, and walks to her corporate job in the financial district each day, writing and painting by night? Could we live communally with others, enjoying shared resources while saving the extra money, paying down debt and continuing to adhere to these new values (which took me several years to achieve, after leaving the bay area)?

Here are some ideals I have, for simple living in a big city:

Ride a bike and take public transportation – ditch the car
Join a food coop, or better yet, put in a few shifts a month
Rent a place with a patch of dirt for some veggie gardening
Raise chickens
Build or join a community garden
Join organizations to meet people and cultivate personal interests
Use the higher salary to pay down debt, increase monthly cash-flow, and put money aside for the future (rather than buying the next pretty thing)
Buy experiences, not things
Seek out and build community with like-minded individuals
Spend a lot of time in parks and nature
Join on-line communities such as Urban Homesteader to learn more. Or to have a laugh, AND learn more, check out My Intentional Life

What do you city dwelling readers to do simplify life in the city? I’d love to hear from you!

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At last!

At last, my honey has finished her bar exam and is here with me for the weekend!  We watched the mindless and delightful movie “Whip It” last night…anything with Ellen Page is great by me.  It was so good to relax, laugh, and enjoy one another without that exam hanging over our heads…now, it’s a new chapter!

We’re feeling inspired by our friends’ blog, Married with Luggage.  Warren and Betsy are ditching jobs and house, to set out for a three year global traveling adventure.  They write a lot about their goals and dreams, and share their accomplishments (Betsy just ran a half marathon, and Warren just rode butt-naked in the Fremont Solstice Bike Parade!  (Well, he actually painted “the world” on his body, but still…)

Anyway, Noel and I are in a completely different place of actually looking forward to putting down some roots and creating a life together in the coming year.  It’s an adventure!  Where will we live?  Where will we work?  What new friends will we make (together and individually)?  The slate is blank and we are consciously creating a life together, building a strong foundation, talking through our dreams and goals, and are simply enjoying the unfolding.

As for me, I continue to eat largely raw foods, although I think I’ll settle somewhere around vegan with lots of raw and the occasional sushi!  I really miss cooked foods, although I continue to enjoy the juicing, abundant fresh fruits, nuts, and seeds.  We share the goal of becoming more fit, and finding fulfilling, challenging, lucrative work this year.  I’m about to start advertising for my intuitive reading service which I may do via email and/or telephone (how I work best, believe it or not).  A friend has a gorgeous office in downtown Seattle where I could conduct my hypnotherapy practice, and so I ought to take her up on the offer to share her space, already!   (Click on link above to see where I trained and how I practice).

Alisa’s goals for the remaining year:  Expand or find new work which will be stimulating and lucrative, love myself, appreciate myself, support Jack in having a great semester at school – but also step away a bit so he can spread his wings and become more self-sufficient, start my intuitive counseling/hypnotherapy business, live as consciously as possible, moment by moment, improve my fitness, lose 20 lbs., expand my social network, make some new friends with shared ideals, put more energy into my Buddhist practice and community and continue be a loving and supportive partner.

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