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Crazy Train

I’ve been meditating, contemplating, praying, journaling, painting… and asking the Universe to help me loosen up, see what is around me, and get some fulfilling, lucrative work going. A few weeks ago I just put it out there – I want to teach. I taught my last class at the university I adjunct at last fall, and it’s been crickets since then. With only a Master’s degree, I fall somewhere in between someone with a PhD and a janitor in qualifications. Enrollment has been down, so adjuncts at my school have been hurting. But on some level I tend to get caught up in the “good things happen because I’m doing it right” and “good things don’t happen because I’m doing it wrong” trap. A mental distortion I’m quick to point out in others but slow to recognize in myself.

Anyway, last Thursday the Universe ponied up and I got the call to teach a class for the fall. In a week and a half. That I had never taught before. Yikes. I’ve done this twice before, but usually with at least a month of lead time. Luckily, the topic is Marketing Communications, a field I spent a long time in and feel relatively comfortable with. That said, there are more complications. The first night of class is on the second day of my family vacation. So I need to figure out how to do an online class. Lots of boring but time-consuming logistical complexity entailed with that. Plus, the day after I get back from my vacation, I am supposed to do a training session at a non-profit in town on a completely unrelated topic and I’ve been kind of blocked up about how to approach it. So, now I have a week to figure all of this shit out. While maintaining my normal over-committed schedule and praying (please please Universe) that nobody in the family gets sick, including catching that 24 hour stomach bug from hell that is going around.

So, I’m writing in my blog. Procrastination is part of my process. No, really. I am also epically sleep deprived since my kid has decided 5:30am is a fine time to wake up, and I’m trying to wean off the sleeping pills I’ve been taking since she was born.

Do I sound stressed out? I’m a little stressed out. But I have to say, being stressed out about teaching a class is my favorite kind of stressed. My husband will attest that I’m a happier person when I’m teaching.

Meditation – I’ve been doing it consistently. I was really attached to the Shamatha form for a long time, but during a fit of crazy, I signed up for a 20 day yoga challenge, a 21 day meditation challenge, and a 28 day meditation challenge. The upshot of which meant exposing myself to a lot of styles I wasn’t so familiar with. Both meditation challenges were Vedanta based, so that was interesting. I’ve really just done Buddhist meditation, and they similar on the surface but different underneath. In a nutshell, it seems like Vedanta (and Kundalini Yoga) meditation are more about tuning into a universal frequency that is blissful and supportive. In the process, it is easier to accept what is going on in my body and mind with more compassion. Buddhist meditation is more about just sitting with and accepting the present moment, whether it’s blissful or painful or tired or happy. I think both are really valid, good practices. I tend to alternate between them, depending on what I need. If I’m keyed up and jittery, Shamatha is more helpful since I’m not going to be letting much in when I’m all armored up. But when I feel vulnerable or depressed (sometimes I call it porous), the practice of connecting to something greater can be (and has been) really powerful and healing.

Anyway, I could go on for a while but I think I had better crack open that syllabus and start figuring out what the hell I am doing. Have a blessed day!

Belated Update

A few weeks ago David and I took a short vacation in the hill country. We stayed at a farm near Blanco, called Juniper Hills Farm. It was just what we needed – remote, peaceful, quiet, packed with plants and wildlife (there was a bird convention out our window) and included tasty baked goods. The little cabins have microwaves and fridges, so if you’re resourceful, you can pack enough food in to avoid having to go out for all your meals. They also provide you with milk, juice, granola, snack mix, and hot baked goods in the morning.

I brought enough food to feed us for a week (we only stayed two nights), and discovered that all the non-chocolate products were in low demand. I did manage to kludge together dinner the first night thusly:


Kohlrabi Goat-Cheese Prosciutto Pasta

8 oz farfalle
1 lb kohlrabi (roots only)
1/2 c goat cheese
garlic
olive oil
salt
pepper

Pre-cook the pasta, drain, rinse with cool water, and lightly toss with olive oil to keep from sticking. Peel and cube the kohlrabi, and toss with minced garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast on a parchment-covered cookie sheet for about 40 min (give or take) until soft and lightly golden.

To construct pasta: reheat both the pasta and the kohlrabi in the microwave. Layer thusly: pasta, crumbled goat cheese, kohlrabi, and finely sliced proscuitto or serrano ham, two slices per plate.

Nom!

We also went to Pedernales Falls, wandered around Wimberly, and had lunch at the the Silver K Cafe in Johnson City. It was a cool place, and the food was very tasty. And now, the photos.

at Juniper Hills
View from the window of our cabin.

at Juniper Hills
Juniper

at Juniper Hills
There were lavender patches covered with butterflies.

At Juniper Hills Farm
Also, donkeys!

at Juniper Hills
Lavender

at Juniper Hills
Husband relaxing.

At Juniper Hills Farm

Pedernales Falls
Pedernales Falls

Aloha, peoples.

We are in Hawaii. It is freaking gorgeous here. Everything is beautiful. Rocks, trees, plants, water. Really amazing. People are also really nice, and it’s an easy trip for me to the driver on because everyone here drives like me – a very cautious Grandma. I’ve gotten confused and turned around a bunch of times, but I have yet to hear anyone honk.

The weather is pretty beautiful, though it’s been a bit stormy. Humid, upper 70s low 80s. Ideal for a nice winter getaway.

We’re staying at the Sheraton, which is pretty, but fairly lame. I always thought I’d love staying at a luxury hotel, but in fact, deep down, I am a cheap ass. It’s not luxury enough to be actually luxurious, and they charge you for EVERYTHING. The very pricey restaurant totally sucks, too. Lame.

Still, the bed is comfy, the views are great, and the staff is helpful. So can’t really complain. Except I just did.

We drove down the coast today to an historical sight where most of these pictures were taken. Some spectacular views, foliage, and wildlife.

David’s dad George* kindly lent us his amazing camera, which makes even a spaz like me look like a good photographer.

Jet lag is kicking our asses. We managed to sleep until 4 this morning, and then got hit with the tired baseball bat around 6pm, when coherent sentences stopped happening.

Check my flickr page for updates, I’ll be posting more tomorrow, most likely.

*George, consider yourself blogged.

Belize Wrap-up

So we’re back from Belize, after the harrowing couple of days described in the last post. Much relaxation was had, I even had my first hot rock massage. When I told David this, he envisioned people hitting me with hot, jagged rocks. Actually, I didn’t know what to expect, but it turns out they use the (very smooth) warm rocks as massage tools during your massage. It’s very, very nice.

This guy is future Ceviche, he just doesn’t know it yet. Ceviche is the national dish of Belize, I think. Every restaurant had it, and it was usually the cheapest thing on the menu. Every place’s ceviche was different, but they were all really good. I’m pretty much spoiled on fresh fish now.

This is the front of our modest hotel, Corona Del Mar. It was adequate, though in the tropics you rarely get the amenities of a Motel 6 at the more pricey places. I was in shock in our $50 Amerisuites room in Dallas. Shampoo! Kleenex! Wireless Router! Couch! These would have been luxuries indeed in our small room. We were hoping to do yoga while we were there, but there was too little floor space for one, let alone both of us. Still, the staff was very nice, and there were no hidden charges, so they get a thumbs up. Word to the wise however, don’t get the dive package from them, they book with the worst dive operation on the island. Use Ecological Diving. We found out too late.

Here’s the view from the Hotel’s private wharf. I spent a lot of time on it in a hammock. One of the nice things about San Pedro, most of the tours/dive boats/water taxis will pick you up from the dock of your hotel (eventually). The view was very lovely, and there was usually a nice breeze.

Here is me in not anything resembling my natural habitat. Notice the look of panic and the awkwardly splayed fins. We took an all day sailing and snorkeling trip on Thursday. I am fairly useless in the water, but David was kind enough to tow me along when I couldn’t keep up, or swim in the right direction, or see because my mask kept filling up. Still, I saw a lot of really cool fish and a couple of rays, and that was pretty fun. We swam (and I use the term loosely – I floundered, David towed) through an alley between two coral reefs, and it was teeming with life, and I don’t just mean the 200 snorkelers.All in all, I’m glad I semi-conquered my fear enough to do some snorkeling, it was very cool.

I’m running out of witty commentary, so it’s mostly going to be pictures from here on out. Here’s a ray David photographed.

David got to spend some time in an octopus’ garden on his night dive.

Huge school of fish, photographed by David. David took all the underwater pictures, as I was too busy clinging to my floaty thing for dear life and swallowing sea water.

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for my next piece, an expose on a growing international problem, bad punctuation and how you can help stop it before it’s too late.

Travel Hell

I’m back from Belize, but before I continue with travel accounts and photos, let me say a not so brief word about the Ass that is American Airlines.

David and I ended up being two of those poor bastards stranded by the closure of DFW due to a rainstorm. Our itinerary was as follows:

12/29
12pm Leave hotel via taxi and go to tiny airport in San Pedro to take tiny plane.
1pm Tiny plane ride to Belize City
1-5 pm Wait for plane (scheduled 4:15) to Dallas Fort Worth
5-9 pm Fly to Dallas, circle Dallas for 1.5 hours, miss flight to Austin which was cancelled anyway
9-10:30pm Immigration, Customs, and a huge ass line to be told that we couldn’t be rescheduled until 9:45 the next morning, and that they wouldn’t pay for a hotel, but they could book one.
11:30pm Arrive at hotel (David went to sleep, I did a load of laundry and then dreamt that I couldn’t sleep all night, woke up at 5:30am on…

12/30
6:30am Taxi back to DFW
6:45-10:15 Waited in a huge fucking line to check our bags back in, because the morons who booked us on the flight the night before didn’t un-check our bags. Don’t ask.
10:15-12:30 Waited for our flight to Austin (scheduled for 9:45) to leave – it was grounded because the flight crew was delayed
1:15pm-2:30 Waited at the luggage carousel in Austin for our bags to arrive. They sent about 5 down at at time.
3:00 Got home, collapsed.

I figured we spent about 8 hours standing in lines over the last day and a half. American Airlines sucks beyond the telling of it. They were understaffed, under prepared, and largely unhelpful. I overheard a few employees talking, and they were pretty much as disgruntled as the passengers. I tell you, they are not at the top of my list of companies to work for, own stock in, or ever frequent again, if at all possible. I could add my complaint to the hundreds or thousands lodged in the last month, but the ineptitude and lack of accountability seems to be epidemic throughout the company, and as my studies in leadership over the past year have shown, probably starts at the top.

The frustration level of the crowds waiting in endless lines was palpable, even when I wasn’t consumed by my own. AA didn’t make announcements or give much personal attention to the people waiting, but security guards walked up and down, presumably for crowd control.

Honestly, it’s hard to write anything witty or even biting about this experience, it was so exhausting and irritating. I’m just thankful that David and I are home safe, and so is our luggage.

Next time, I’m renting a car in Dallas and driving the fuck home.