[Traveling Tales] A Whimsically Introspective Walk Through Dr Seuss’ Sculpture Garden

“Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

By in large, I live life anticipating adventures around every corner while my eyes overflow with wanderlust….except for lately; I’m typically a happy go-lucky, bouncy lady – but over the past week, there’s been a somber strain in my step and heavy hesitation in my heart.  An emotional being by nature, I’ll more often let them take the reigns of my soul as I watch the ego dissolve. From the loud moments of synchronicity to softer, gentler nods to our impending mortality, life is full of consistent reminders to attack each day with passionate vigor.  The other week while I was away at a music festival my aunt passed away from cancer and it’s been a hard, jagged pill to swallow.  I’m sad…but, it’s more than that (not to mention – I’ve discovered that sadness is typically rather selfish); truth is, I’ve been marinating in introspective inquisition of my purpose and being. I feel resolved and analytical, pensively and perpetually lost within a moment and found within myself because regardless of the places we go in life – we all end up the same. ‘Be noble for you are made of stars; be humble for you are made of earth.’ Whether we climb mountains, swim oceans, extend the field of scientific discoveries, land on the moon or simply sit on our asses doing absolutely nothing – we end up back in the ground.  Whether we live passionately or deviously, timidly or boldly, courageously or lazily, we disintegrate back into the nothingness from which we came.

With the right sort of perspective, the bittersweet, impromptu trip to the East Coast for my aunt’s memorial turned into a lovely family reunion with a touch of local lore and history.  A lot of the local residences were built pre-1900, and many had signs with their build year – some of them dated back to 1860…we even saw a house used in the Underground Railroad.  On our last day, we took one little liberty to visit a park I’d always dreamed of visiting: the Dr Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden in historic Springfield; it’s only fitting that the man I attribute so many colorful, wonderful memories of my childhood to was helping me on my path through adulthood.

Life is jovial, enjoyable, lovable and ephemeral, while the beauty and anxiety we experience is nothing more than a mental construct, obscured by our personal vision.  The only static, the only constant, is that there is something greater than us, there has to be something greater than us, because we only exist for a figment of time – yet this world, it’s forever. Death can be called many things, but one thing it’s not is discriminatory.  The only guarantee for anything that is brought into existence, is that it will eventually disintegrate back into the same obscurity it came from.  I’m going to die, you’re going to die, and your great-grandchildren are going to die – so don’t prevent yourself from living while you still have time.

We all sacrifice bits and pieces of ourselves for something else’s good, we place parts of our personalities on the back burner because we’re afraid that some people can’t handle it, we remain silent when inside we’re passionately screaming because we’re nervous of the reaction we’ll get; we tiptoe around our personalities, deferring our wants and needs just to make other people comfortable. In a million ways, it feels like we die a thousand deaths before our actual death – so stop running fast just to stay in place.  Change the rules, change the game, change your perspective.  Our time here is limited, how will you spend yours?

Saying Goodbye to Sake

 Over the past few weeks, my heart has been slowly breaking. It’s been trying, difficult and frustrating to wrap my fingers around the idea that a piece of my life is missing; there’s a definitive void – not just within me, but surrounding me. Words have failed me, and at every turn I feel like I’m going to crumble to the ground, overcome by emotion and struck by reality.


Back in college, I was going through a transitionary period. Becoming a fifth year senior isn’t usually commendable but at an institution like UCSB – it also wasn’t uncommon. It was the Summer of 2007 and I had just moved out of Isla Vista to the Mesa – a wonderful area near downtown Santa Barbara, surrounded by a stunning almost 360 view of the Pacific Ocean. My best friend at the time, a wonderful, warmhearted gal with an affinity for furry friends, moved in with me and between the five housemates we had two cats – Ssleman, a beautiful grey and white cat with a warm heart and a little black kitty that hid every chance it could; and then there was Roxy, a Golden Retriever / Yellow Lab puppy with more energy than I’d ever seen. After living there for a few months and going through a few mental moments of manifest destiny, I decided it was time – time for me to get a cat. I needed something to love beyond myself, to remind me that I was worthy of love; I needed to care about something to remind myself of the circular motion of life.


Arriving at the shelter, I gallivanted into the cat room and immediately felt at home. Throughout middle school and high school, I’d volunteered at cat shelters and there’s nothing like some kitty cuddles to brighten your mood and cultivate altruism. I glanced at an 8 month old Siamese that I immediately wanted to bring home, and a litter of orange tabby kittens not more than 2 weeks old. After getting to know me a bit, the young man working this room had a visceral lightbulb moment…“There’s a cat over here that I think will be perfect for you; he’s a little trickster and a lover.”  As we walked over to the carrier, a beautiful blue-grey cat sat poised in the back of the cage. “No…” I mused “…what about the playful girl next to him?” The man smiled back “Why don’t you guys go into the play room, and if it’s not a good fit we can keep looking.”

As Maguro was plucked from his perching position and was handed to me, his front paws reached out around my neck and he looked at me like I was home.  From the moment we were in the play area, he flopped and stretched ten ways to Sunday, purring, prancing and pawing at me. Looking up with a glimmer of gratitude in my eyes, I laughed “Ok, you guys got me…I’ll take him!”

As it turned out, I couldn’t bring him home immediately – upper respiratory infections are incredibly common in shelter cats and he’d just come down with one. Instead of bringing him home, I played with his sister – Saba – and it felt like she knew I was taking her brother away. I whispered that I would take good care of him and she purred in response.

Eight years later, I can say that without a doubt – he’s actually taken care of me.  From Santa Barbara to now four different homes in Los Angeles, Sake has been my confidant, my best friend, my furry little man and the light of my life. He’s gotten me through heartbreak and deaths, losing friends and losing my mind. 

 

My little Sake bomb. Sir Saks a Lot. He was the most playful, loving creature I’ve ever known. He would wake me up by pouncing on my chest and announcing his hunger with a miniature roar, he would zoom around the apartment with gusto and cuddle-hug you like he was a person. Sake converted friends that had sworn they were solely dog people, and made cat lovers rejoice. He was the best thing that has happened to me in my 30 years of existence. And now, he’s gone.

We only noticed the symptoms a few weeks ago and it wrenches my soul to think if we could’ve saved him. The last two weekends were full of friends that I consider family, doting their love and happiness on him and he loved back in kind – curling up and lapping up attention like it was his job. But in the back of my mind, I was scared, sad and confused. It felt like just yesterday, he was running around in the Santa Barbara sunshine, lounging in the flowers and running to my car from down the street whenever I returned from campus. And now, I was feeding him by hand, cradling him like he was my child, wishing for a better tomorrow. But that better tomorrow never came.

Yesterday, Sake lost his battle against lymphoma. The last thing he ever did in his life was jump into my arms, almost in parallel to the way he came in. We held his paws, wiped his eyes and sang with him until his final curtain call. I’ve never been so conflicted and overrun with emotion; I don’t know if I’ve even ever been this uncontrollably sad. I miss my dapper little man but I know he’s in a better place, cathartically chasing mice and lapping up love in the great beyond.

Because of Sake, I know what it means to love, to care, to be a friend and just listen; I know the true meaning of life, to love and be loved. When you get home tonight, hug your pets…hug your loved ones, life is too short to be anything but blissful. RIP Sake, I only hope that I can have half the effect on the world that you did.

              

[Self Discovery] Nine Ways to Raise Your Personal Vibration

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Vibrations.  They’re more than the physical projection of minutiae, or the oscillation of air molecules.  For as much as they occur around us, they’re simultaneously emitted from us.  Each and every entity, not just on the face of this Earth, but the universe in it’s entirety is vibrating at a unique frequency. From a cosmic perspective, molecule by molecule we’ve all been vibrating equidistantly away from the heart of the Big Bang.  Could it be that our entire lives, as we ebb and flow through the world we’re most attracted to those molecules that were in fact within the closest proximity to us when the Big Bang happened? And then, take the idea of two tuning forks set to an equal resonant frequency; one static – the other made to vibrate.  If you bring the two tuning forks together, the tuning fork at rest raises to the vibrating frequency of audible fork. In the same way, maybe that’s an underlying science to instant friends – those people who find a strange affinity towards, but can’t place the time or place; soul recognizes soul when they’re vibrating on the same frequency plane.

Vibrations. We all have them, and we’re all tuned into them whether we recognize it or not. It’s the warmth of a hug from a friend and the ice cold, clandestine stare of a stranger, the enticing diatribe from a family member and the off-putting physical stance of a foe.  Whenever we feel, we emit a vibration – and whenever we act or speak, doubly so.  From the first breath, up through this very moment – you’ve been a human battery, charging and recharging on the vibrations raining down from the world; where external chaos breeds mentalMade with Repix (http://repix.it) calamity and physical tranquility evolves from calm surroundings. As we’re propelled into maturity by life experiences compounded by emotional epiphanies, the goals and passions we seek in life changes as do the types of personalities we desire in our lives; along the way, we pick up a few friends here, a few others there….and at other times we undoubtedly, unfortunately, outgrow friendships of our former selves and end up leaving a few wonderful people behind along the way.    That’s not to say their effect hasn’t been left, our shared past is my prologue – my future story wouldn’t be complete without their cameo in an earlier scene.

VibrationsWithin each and every action, interaction – reaction – the vibrations we’ve exchanged have shaped, manifested and evolved into my current world.  So it’s only right that in turn, we acknowledge our own ripple effect on the world. Smiles to frowns, bubbly laughter and emotional explosions, private conversations unintended for public ears, words spoken out of turn or context, unfriendly fire in the form of gossip and flippant phrases better left to your imagination; over the course of a day, a week – a year, how many ripples have you left, intentionally and unintentionally in the lives of others? Do you realize that over the course of your life, they’ve been compounding around you? Innocent conversation converts into malicious musings, and sonic snap judgments are all too easy to make – especially out of context. Quite simply: you effect the universe in more ways than you can ever understand.  Your physical presence can say as much, if not more, than the words coming from your mouth and your intonation and intent play as crucial a role as your elocution.  As an empath, I’m constantly bombarded by the everyday energies of those around me, but that’s not to say those who aren’t are immune – they’re simply not as aware of the effects.

Nostalgia, though a beautiful reminder of the way things were – is also by in large the reason we get nasty expectation hangovers.  The stark irony of being blessed with a beautiful series of friendships over the last year is that it’s caused pause and perusal of the ghosts of friendships past. The toxic friendships that manifested during times of strife and the beautiful friendships borne out of shared genius. I’ve always been incredibly receptive to the forces around me but it’s only been recently that I’ve felt understood their full weight.  The good news, is that what has been seen cannot be unseen – once you acknowledge the gravity of your weight on the world, there’s no going back.  As they say in the Matrix: there’s a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path and the only way I saw that I could be a better version of myself was to elevate my every day life.  Somehow, while in the throttles of passionate, intense and at times subversive life experiences, my soul grew into my twenty nine year old body.  I was vibrating on a higher frequency, attracting other passionate souls who were pushing their own personal boundaries while reveling in the wild ride of life.  So, how exactly does one raise their personal vibration? I have nine ways to do it.

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[Rule #1]  Treat others the way you want to be treated.

It’s the Golden Rule and Newton’s Third Law, not to mention – we’ve been learning it since Grade School, so it should be relatively easy to remember. The universe reacts to the energy you put out and the friends you keep are in effect a direct reflection of who you are at your core.  The second half of the rule, often not mentioned, is never – ever – let someone else’s behavior prevent you from being the person that you are.  The behavior of others is just that – their behavior, and it’s not directed at any one person more than the sun’s ray’s fall on any one part of the world.  Adjust and adapt, and if you’re not keen on a person – just know that there are millions upon millions of people in this world, just waiting to meet someone like you.

[Rule #2] A Friend of a Friend is a Friend of Mine

Though a lot easier said than done, this isn’t actually that hard.  That circle of friends you have, well – let’s just put it this way: you’re not their first friend, right?  They come with chums from Grade School and Band Camp, Summer Camps and Basketball Teams, College Fraternities and Study Abroad Programs; they’re located around the world and chances are, they’re just as wonderful as you.  When the opportunity arises to adopt them into your social circle, think of your mutual friends as your flotations devices; don’t dilly dally in the shallow end – jump on in and swim a little deeper, you might just make a new friend for life.

[Rule #3] Reach Out and Touch (or, just hug; whatever)

It’s 2015 and I’m so sick of meeting people with a handshake. Historically, we shook hands with our right hand – the dominant hand – to signal we weren’t wielding a weapon.  At work or while doing business I’ll let’em slide, but in personal, social situations, I want my soul to touch your soul – but I’ll settle for a hug.  Hugs have a calming nature and a healing effect; long hugs can produce the same bonding hormones as sex and hugs are scientifically proven to have healing powers. Have you hugged a human today?

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[Rule #4] Always true to being you, unless you can be a better version of you – then be that.

You want to know what the best version of you is? It’s youYou are the reason people are attracted to you, and you are beautiful – so never stop being yourself.  It’s easy to become the friend who always says ‘No’ and turns down invitations, and equally easy to become a ‘Yes’ man; instead, throw those words out the window, say what’s actually on your mind and set some boundaries.  And remember, just because you’ve set boundaries doesn’t mean they’re permanent fixtures – that’s the beauty of being you: you adapt, evolve, and become a better version of who you were because of it.

[Rule #5] Respect

Aretha sang it best: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. It starts with you, because to get respect – you need to respect yourself.  Respect your own intelligence, respect your body and the things you both put into it food wise and get out of it physically. Once that falls into place, then there’s respecting the world around you. Respecting the personal space of others, whether that’s physical, mental, emotional or temporal, is the first step to garnering it back towards you.

[Rule #6] Let It Go

As Shakespeare put it: Past is prologue.  The past is a beautiful introduction to your story – it’s a wonderful foundation for your current condition, but it’s not the story.  In much the same mannor, the events and circumstances of your friends lives before you are interesting building blocks in their personal puzzle, but the more you focus on them – the less you’re living in the moment of the friendship.  Don’t dwell on grievances or lavish on the lives and things that could have been, instead celebrate greatness and simply enjoy being

[Rule #7] Meditate On It

This too, shall pass.  It’s an old diatribe but it most definitely holds true, time heals all – but what time actually does is give us the personal separation of space from an event. The more space we have, the less personal it becomes and the more we can think of a macrocosmic answer to a problem we shouldn’t have taken so personally to begin with.  Just remember, the best way to get an answer, is to ask the right question.

[Rule #8] Honor The Capacity for Change

Hi, Pot! I’m Kettle.  We’re black! You aren’t the same person you were last year, and you definitely aren’t the same person you were ten years ago.  You could have some of the same passions and proclivities, but on the overall – experience has a habit of evolving us, with or without our consent.  If we can acknowledge our own maturation, then we surely can’t deny the growth of anyone else.

[Rule #9] Practice Random Acts of Kindness.

Pay it forward.  As a general rule, I only ask people to pay me back if either I know I’ll never see them again or I purposely intend on it.  If you’re my friend, we’ll hang out again.  You can get the next beer, coffee, dinner, ice cream, etc…whatever it is, there’ll be a next time – because I want there to be.


For more on the paintings and artwork used throughout this article, please head to the site of 21st Century visionary Alex Grey.

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