I'm doing the want and gratitude two-step. Do you know it? It's the one where you sashay to the right with yearning desires, then shake your head and sashay two steps left with deep gratitude. Want and praise, yearn and thank. Sometimes it's a push/pull - Push: "Oh I want things to be different!", Pull: "Hold on there little lady, you've got things pretty darn good." Other times the two dance moves work together, not cancelling each other out, simply grooving in tandem: I want and I like. I like this and I want that.
We're back in Missoula. I feel like we went to the moon and back. Like we left the atmosphere and then, holy shit, we've landed with a thump on Cape Canaveral again - our space shuttle a very dirty minivan and an overpacked Subaru. We're left shaking our heads in wonder and bewilderment. Want and gratitude. Oh, it feels good to be here, and oh, I want to be back there.
SANTA CRUZ: It really was a dream. Easily some of the best months of my entire life. I wish I could send the scent through this computer screen - Bay leaves and salt breeze. Water molecules. Shaklee products. Rosemary and Cecil Bruner roses. Mix in childhood memories and you've got a seriously potent perfume.
I had no idea the need that time would feel for me. I had no idea I had a need. To be around extended family. To be supported in ALL the ways a family supports - with produce, with time, with interest, with shelter, with companionship, with understanding. Oh my god. Seriously, I didn't know what I was missing. And now I do.
There is a major Santa Cruz want/gratitude two-step at hand. I'm so thankful I had that time. I'm so thankful my family got to know me better. I'm so thankful Nathan and my Dad pruned roses for eight hours at a stretch. I'm so thankful that walking with my mom along ocean-splashed cliffs was normal. I'm so thankful for being able to cook for my gramma. I'm so thankful for Echo's private life, a life she spent with grandparents doing things we only heard about later, like making a comprehensive pressed flower report with Gramma Bonnie, or driving the truck (!?) with my dad, or painting an interior in the style of Matisse with my mom. I'm so thankful. I'm so thankful. I'm so thankful.
And I want more of it.
GOLDEN FRIENDS: You know that basket's worth of friends that shine like gold? The ones that matter no matter how much time has passed? Well this has been the year of the golden friends. When we left Missoula we stopped in Bellingham to give a workshop and stayed with Annie and family. Golden!
Then we trundled south and spent a couple days with my sister Emily. Yes, she's my sister but she's also the shiniest of golden friends a person could ever dream of. Golden!
We also got to make dinners with Seth and Kenya - friends that are family, friends that were Missoulians even before I was. We ate huge feasts of every vegetable imaginable, but the best part was smooshing on Kenya's belly, fireside, dreaming of baby names. Golden!
Then in Santa Cruz, Romy and her family, Romy who lives less than a block away from us in Missoula, came to Santa Cruz and stayed for two weeks. We lived life together, including late nights eating chocolate and watching bad movies in our pajamas. Golden!
Towards the end of our stay Laura, Kate, and Urmila came for the weekend. I lived with these ladies during my college year abroad in Granada, Spain. Talk about a fucking gauntlet! That year! We suffered daily through the trials of being a foreigner. Days and days of suffering intense humiliation as we navigated an unfamiliar world with an unfamiliar language. When the "Spain ladies" came for the weekend we talked for thirty-six hours, hurrying to get it all in. And laughed so hard that we were a little insane from it. Golden!
Leaving Santa Cruz sucked. But our next stop was Rachel Turiel's house in Durango, Colorado. I've only been with Rachel in actual physical proximity twice in my life, though we've been friends for maybe four years, yet it really doesn't feel that way. I sat on her brown couch in her osprey nest of a house and felt AAAAH. Golden!
Next stop was my Grandma's part-time home in Villanueva, New Mexico. A gem of a house at the end of a dirt road. It looks over a giant farm field and the Pecos River. It feels like a movie set in the middle of nowhere. We unpacked and waited for Andy, Andy my friend and housemate from my grad school years. He and I lived together during that early twenties, cooperative living, exploratory stage. He's the best. And there he came, trundling down that dirt road to spend four days with us in the middle of nowhere, hiking the mesa, and eating peppermint patties by the fire. Golden!
Heading north from there we slept over at Shanti's house my other grad school friend. I lived with her too and she taught me how to cook and clean and be an adult. She's golden. We slipped in in the late afternoon to a big pot of soup, a set table and the cutest little red-headed baby crawling his way toward us with a big friendly grin. As we had to hit the road early the next morning it was in no way enough time, but I got to hug them and giggle and sigh with pleasure watching Shanti hoist that baby around the kitchen. Golden!
It truly is an epic year thus far in terms of golden friends. I am so thankful. So filled up with their goodness and heart-pleasing presence. Perhaps you can hear that two-step rhythm...
Yes, I want more. I can't help but envision the town that holds them all, with my house right in the center.
OUR HOUSE: We returned to our baby! We are once again settled in, surrounded by yellow walls, eating snacks from our cream cabinets, and raking hay up from the earnest early spring grass. The two-step hit hard immediately upon entering though. We love this house, are so happy to be back to it, yet our renters simply didn't treat it as we would. Discovering damage to our gentle friend has been heartbreaking. We find the two-step yanking us back and forth. We're so happy nothing worse happened and so bummed that anything happened. We're so thankful for this beautiful abode, yet so wishing that things had gone better. And as the settling in continues my two-step also includes desires for the unpacking to be over already. Although, for the gratitude portion, we find ourselves noticing that we survived just fine for over three months with nothing but the personal items that fit in one plastic tub, a thought that has inspired intense purging! The minivan is now loaded to the gills with clothes and household items we don't love. I find intense pleasure in this. Smile.
FEELEEZ: What a sweet and earnest company this is. Feeleez grew bigger and stronger during the past few months. Nathan and I got certified in Positive Discipline while in Santa Cruz. I have a vision where every Positive Discipline facilitator the world over )it's an international organization!) has Feeleez at hand to help parents and children access and process emotions. I even was invited to a Positive Discipline lunch and met the founder Jane Nelson! She poured over Feeleez and went home with a game and poster, happy as a clam. That was cool.
Building Emotionally Safe Space workshops...
We brought our workshop to Bellingham, Oakland, Santa Cruz, and Durango. In fact we hustled over the last few miles of highway to make it to a workshop here in Missoula, capping off an epic run. My heart fills every time I look out at the audience of our workshops. Earnest loving folks taking time out of their busy lives to learn something new, to further their relationships, and to help the children in their lives. I leave our workshops feeling like there is great hope for our world, great hope for our children and our children's children. Many folks have written to us saying that although they couldn't come to a workshop in person they still want the information. For these folks we are offering our workshop via phone or skype. We charge $150 and you can have as many people on your end as you like to share the cost. If interested, email me: email@example.com.
We drove a lot to get home in our circuitous, friend-laden way. I had a lot of time to think, to dance the two-step, to praise praise praise the blessings of the last four months and to want, to desire, to yearn. Right now I feel like I am holding the pieces in my arms, the wants mingling with the gratitudes, and little by little I am setting some down, clicking some together into a possible life design, setting some just a little to the side to ponder some more. Others I've got clutched to my chest. I'm breathing those in, pressing them into my heart, hoping they slip in between the beats.