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Hola chicas y chicos! Buenos días de Mexico. Un Meditative Monday por ti!
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What would you do if you had more time? While I try not to glorify busy I do find I need more time in the day. I never seem to have enough of it. There are always more photos to be edited, more blog posts to be written, more belly rubs to give Cash, more yoga to be practiced, but where do I find an extra few minutes? I’ve cut out a lot of extraneous stuff already. I don’t own a T.V. and I watch maaaaybe five hours of Netflix each month. I deleted my Facebook app eight months ago. I almost never go shopping unless it’s for groceries and I work from home so there’s no commute to deal with.
‘What the hell am I wasting time doing?’ I thought as I scrolled through Instagram. Oh. Instagram. I checked my battery usage under the settings tab and found that I spend over SEVEN hours a week on Instagram. WTF. I spend another eight or so messaging friends and a measly one on Snapchat.
So what did I do? I deleted Snapchat for four days. Hahaha, I decided to quit my least used of my most used apps in an attempt to make myself feel better about my phone usage. Delusional? A little bit.
Once I came back from my epic Schu Tours trek in Nepal, I realized one thing. It was a big thing. Everything is too much. That’s right, it’s all too much. I long for simplicity. I want one goal for each day. I want fulfillment to come from focus, not from overachievement. I want nothing, but I want to do something, I just don’t want to do everything. Huh? I dunno. I’m still figuring it out, but I knew that carrying around a tiny computer and using it during 15% of my waking life each day was not what I wanted. It wasn’t adding value and so I wanted less. Less communication, connection, and consumption of virtual reality. I had just experienced weeks of authentic, unplugged connection and I wanted more of that and less of everything else.
I don’t plan on going back to a flip phone. Although it’s kind of ironic that this post is coming exactly two years after ditching mine – read more about that here. It’s even funnier that last year around this time I posted about being addicted to my iPhone. I guess it’s taken another year for me to realize this lifestyle of constant checking and updating is not one that I want for myself. That yes, my phone helps my business and that yes, I use that as an excuse to scroll through Instagram for what amounts to roughly SEVENTEEN DAYS in a year. Holy Sh!t.
Below are some tools I’ve employed to use my phone a lot less.
Ron lived with ALS for several years before his death this past December.
When I found out Ron was sick I couldn’t not say something. There are so many times I bite my tongue, become shy, and ultimately harden where my being wishes to be soft. I decide that being truthful and in turn vulnerable, is somehow not worth it.
But it is.
It took me a few months to reach out and ask for Ron’s address and somehow another half a year passed and I still had no idea what to say. I found myself ruminating on Ron, his life, and the unfairness of his immobility and failing health while I myself was walking eighty miles through a remote mountain range in Nepal. I couldn’t stop marveling at the simultaneous beauty and treachery that is life. That we can work so hard to enjoy it and one day it has to be taken away from us. That our end is already written just as was the beginning.
Over the course of the two-week trek, Ron kept popping up. The guilt of not sharing my truth was starting to eat away at me, but I was still nervous. How do I tell Ron what he means to me? Ron who most likely thinks he was simply some boss or a random person passing through my life, how do I tell him that I deeply care and appreciate him. If it weren’t for Facebook, I doubt Ron would recognize my name as he’s managed thousands of people during his career.
So how do I tell this man I think of him often. That he was different from the other captains and shift leaders? That he made a positive impact on my entire being. That part of who I was and therefore who I am now was shaped by him. That I felt like a worthwhile human when he spoke to me even if it was to basically tell me to stop stuffing my face with desserts by saying, ‘Hey Schusie, hurry it up so we can get outta here.’
It’s difficult to write all that down, pen on paper. It feels weird and maybe even creepy to really tell the truth about your feelings when no one is asking it of you. Especially when that no one is your former boss that you worked under for only three years, among hundreds of other coworkers all wearing the same exact uniform, over half a decade ago.
Standing at a viewpoint and being moved to silent tears as I watched hundreds of prayer flags blowing in the breeze, I had this epiphany. I carry so much love within me, but I often stay rigid and hold onto it. It’s rare that I reach out and allow my love to extend and flow to the ones I care for around me, but at that moment on top of a mountain, looking into the valley below, I felt this expansive power of love and the realization that it is okay to give it away, that it is more than okay, that by holding onto it I was actually robbing the world of love instead of sharing it and generating even more compassion. If love is not shared, where does it live?
And after dozens of hesitations, I simply started: Dear Ron,
And before I knew it, I filled a couple pages and then shame washed over me again.
‘This is weird,’ I said.
‘It’s pretty weird,’ replied my boyfriend.
And so I finished off the letter, read it over once, cried and laughed, and felt the bliss that washes over you after a weight has been lifted, after something has been purged, after having a moment of raw truthfulness and purity in a world where we are constantly censoring ourselves for others’ and our own consumption. And then another moment of hesitation where I thought I should rewrite it and polish it up. Maybe lose a page and fix the misspellings and definitely leave out the smoking weed after work part, but I thought if I didn’t send it now I wouldn’t rewrite it, I would instead regret it and never send it.
I folded the letter up among some Tibetan prayer flags and a signing bowl and wrote a few words about the gifts as if they were the reason for sending the box. A few days later Ron replied via Facebook. Overjoyed and honest about it. Sincere. Something that had taken almost a year of courage for me to achieve.
It took me four days to open that message because I was protecting myself from it. From fear of rejection and judgment and the self-inflicted shame of vulnerability, but there was none of that. There was only Ron.
In part of his message he confirmed my revelation by saying, “Your words uplifted me…and what makes everything in life worthwhile is to touch, help, or inspire a good soul. I haven’t received much feedback like that so, let me just say thank you again…”
I didn’t realize until I read his reply that I sent the letter for me, not for Ron. Ron the beautiful person that deserved to be showered with admiration and care for his years of service to this earth and humanity. Ron who thinks helping good souls is what makes life worthwhile. I knew for certain that he inspired and assisted dozens of us during my time in Philadelphia. That we all had feedback for him that we were too timid to share.
I loved Ron because I never saw him be anything other than a truly good person. He continuously showed up in his life and in turn mine as a kind, funny, stable and fair human being. His presence and the example he set by simply existing and interacting with the world around him was worth thanking him for. Was worth loving him for.
In Ron’s message, he also mentioned that he was inspired by the Dali Lama and that he thought Tibet was a holy place. Two years passed and I was back in Nepal, trekking the same route only this time with cell service. I logged into Facebook and saw that Ron was in the process of completing his life. Once again I was standing in ancient Tibet with thoughts of Ron, carrying him along with me on the trek in an environment where you can feel the majesty of the mountains pulsating around you like a low electrical buzz or maybe a vibration of love and appreciation for the opportunity to be a witness to them.
I read about his admittance to the hospital on the same day of the trek that I had had the epiphany at the viewpoint two years earlier. Somehow he had reached me once again with a reminder: spread the love, think of me, cultivate compassion, carry on. Each time I spun the prayer wheels along the trail I felt the love and I spun it right back out, love, love, love. I felt it reverberate around me over the days to come when I’d worry and fight the urge to check facebook because this one instance of death in Ron’s life doesn’t detract from the immense amount of love it was filled with.
We love you, Ron, but you already knew that. You weren’t one to stand still and keep all your love and joy inside. You let it wave out of you as you waltzed around the various ballroom floors kindly telling us to get our shit together with only a little nod, wink, or grin in the direction of the mild crisis. So thankful for you. This note came a little late, but again, I think it was more for me than you.
This isn’t a competition or anything, but who is winning? Me or you? One of those books was poetry, so even I, the self-proclaimed reading champ, knows it shouldn’t count as full pages. Let’s not get hung up on the details. I just finished a book this morning at 5:30 AM, yes, I’ve been staying up that
late early and it was so weird and wonderful and confusing that I really need to talk it out with someone. Thankfully, a friend loaned me the book so I can call him, but what about the next book? Who will be there to discuss? I’m trying to head this proposed catastrophe off by asking you to read with me.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, What’s up everyone?! Nothing too groundbreaking today, but as it’s the day after Christmas, I thought it would be nice to do a little recap on the holidays. We still have New Year’s Eve, but really, for the most part, the craziness of the holiday season is winding down.
If you will, pour yourself a mug of coffee or tea or maybe a glass of wine depending on when you’re reading this post, and let’s think through some things together. You don’t need to write these answers down, but it wouldn’t hurt. Sometimes putting pen to paper allows for a subtle release and acts as a tool for emotional exploration.
Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg… While we could ramble off a dozen holiday films, we’re sticking to the shortlist. None of these are really appropriate for kids unless they’re on holiday break from college. These are movies our family watches year after year, knows pretty much every word to, and yet still laughs at the same corny jokes. We force our husbands and boyfriends to watch and we don’t tolerate any criticism, especially when it comes to our absolute favorite, so let’s start there :
Mixed Nuts – A Christmas comedy that focuses on a small office of crisis hotline workers in LA. It’s one of those films where the entire thing takes place over the course of a single day. Starring Steve Martin, Rita Wilson, Madeline Kahn, Juliette Lewis, and Anthony LaPaglia with funny and skillful appearances by Liev Schreiber, Adam Sandler, and Rob Reiner this movie has a ton of talent. It’s super quirky and offbeat, but that’s what we love about it. You can watch it on Amazon.
The Family Stone – Is a *must* for our family because it mixes equal parts comedy with drama is a melancholy, we’re all gonna survive, but feel something sometimes sort of way. There are a ton of heavy hitters in this movie, so each character really holds their own, just a few are : Rachel McAdams, Claire Danes, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Diane Keaton and those are just the lead females. IMDB describes the plot as such : an uptight, conservative businesswoman accompanies her boyfriend to his eccentric and outgoing family’s annual Christmas celebration and finds that she’s a fish out of water in their free-spirited way of life. Totally true, but it’s more than that singular storyline. The Family Stone magnifies the intricacies of family life, especially when there are a bunch of siblings involved. I love this film and I think it does a fantastic job of giving a realistic view of life in a large family, especially when trying to introduce a new boy or girlfriend into the mix. You can watch it on Amazon.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Another Christmas comedy with a few huge stars : Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, and wouldn’t you know it, Juliette Lewis as a younger, sassier character this time. I think the relatability of this movie is why everyone loves it, whether you can sympathize with the stress of hosting extended family for the holidays or decorating your roof with thousands of lights or potentially not receiving that holiday bonus you’ve already spent in your mind, you’ll be snorting while you sip your eggnog from your moose glass all evening. You can watch it on Amazon, but c’mon, you already have the DVD.
Bad Santa – Fuck, we love this movie. I googled it and apparently the word Fuck is said 159 times and Shit 73 times, but that’s not the only reason we’re a fan. Billy Bob Thorton’s acting is impeccable. I just learned that he was pretty trashed for filming to better play the part. We commend you Billy. I don’t think I need to say anymore, just fucking watch it, shit. Hooraaay! Bad Santa is on Netflix, but you can also watch it on Amazon. I heard the Director’s Cut is better, but I haven’t seen it yet.
It’s scary movie time! Even if you’re a horror hater, you must watch at least one creepy flick this month. I recently watched The Houses October Built with a few of my friends and I was so surprised at how well done it was, more on that below. I decided to compile a list of my favorite Netflix shows and movies that veer towards the dark side. There are a few I haven’t watched, but are on the list, I’ll denote them with an asterisk* Happy haunting!
The Fall – This is a Netflix original T.V. show and like the rest, it’s amazing. The Fall is about a detective trying to track down a serial killer. This show is disturbing on a few levels. The serial killer is an attractive, unassuming family man, and the violence portrayed against women is pretty graphic. Maybe don’t watch this one if you’re a single lady living alone.
The Killing – Another Netflix original T.V. show, The Killing is based on the investigation that takes place after the murder of teen Rosie Larsen. I watched the first two seasons and then I faded out, but initially, it is a nail-biter.
*Mindhunter – I haven’t watched this one yet, but it sounds super interesting. Yet again, another Netflix original (they obviously know what viewers want) it’s about two FBI agents in the seventies who look at the psychology of murderers.
Hostel – I saw this movie in 2005 before I had ever traveled anywhere. I didn’t even realize what a hostel was or that this concept for shared bunk rooms was prevalent in most countries besides America, where there are surprisingly few. Eeeek, travel and horror, this one hits close to home.
Saw – All the Saws are on Netflix right now, but if you haven’t seen the first one, it’s by far my favorite. Saw is the type of movie that horrifies me because I didn’t even know such dark thoughts were possible. You’re a real freak, James Wan. Thanks for having a healthy outlet for your dark thoughts.
*Gerald’s Game – I haven’t seen this, but it has a rating of 9.1 on IMDB, which is unheard of for a horror film. Here’s the synopsis: while trying to spice up their marriage in their remote lake house, Jessie must fight to survive when her husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her handcuffed to their bed frame. I think the movie delves into the darker side of one’s psyche.
Gremlins – A classic and actually a lot freakier than I remember it being. Basically, a new pet turns into a thousand new mischevious little monsters that wreak havoc all over town.
The Babadook – A dark movie with an interesting theme. I really enjoyed how vague The Babadook was at times, but how evident it was during the final few scenes. A satisfying watch.
The Houses October Built – I thought the premise of this scary movie was sooo spookey. It’s about five friends on a road trip looking for the ultimate haunted house. They travel around looking for bigger and better scares until it seems like it’s being taken too far or is it all part of the haunt? Who knows?!
Hopefully you have a friend or at least a pet to watch these flicks with, if not, you may want to stick to the Gremlins. Good luck!