Category Archives: observation

Surrender & Self-Love in February

I wrote a post a couple weeks ago for my gym, Muv Training, for its February newsletter. When they published it, I reread it, and was satisfied with how it had come out.

But then a few days later, I was wandering around in one of my ‘Cup of Comfort’ trances, and the lessons I had pointed to in that Muv article came back to smack me in the face.

What’s a ‘Cup of Comfort’ trance? Oh, yes, I haven’t published that story yet.cup of self love sketch

Well, a year or more ago, I was wandering around half an hour before work. I wanted a tea, or a coffee, or a hot chocolate. But I wanted a comfy seat, too, and a quiet atmosphere, and not too expensive. I was on foot, and checking all the cafes within reach and open in the time allotted was a formidable task. But as I flipped through my mental Rolodex, I realized none of them would give me what I wanted.

Because what I wanted was a ‘cup of comfort,’ that feeling of being warm, and cozy, and comfortable. And cherished.

hygge sweater cup of coffee

Tea, or coffee, or even hot chocolate, would not be able to do that.
So I went to work early, in a bit of a huff, I’m sure, munching on that bit of mental floss and how I could learn from it.

What happened this last time was the same search, but in the car–more choices, dammit!–and without the time limit–I was on my way home, and only limiting myself on the amount of money to spend as I once again flipped through the mental Rolodex of cafes open.

But this time, I’d just read my own words on self-love and self-care, and I realized, as I parked and contemplated Noraneko, parked and walked around Hawthorne, peering through windows, that what I was really searching for, what that Cup of Comfort held, is Self-Love.

Oof, ya.

I’d been trying my best to not go out, not spend money, create brilliant works of culinary art at home on a shoestring budget, and have that suffice. But my self-love well was getting low, and somehow, I wasn’t recharging it.

I went home with this realization, feeling at least sufficient enough to turn down the warm interiors on Hawthorne. But once home, how to replenish?

well of love margaret agnes rope stained glass

Self-care? I got a massage (on an account I’d long since had to deactivate), but that did not work. I tried bonding with the cats. That did not work. (Their pee on my rug thrice this week made me irritable.)

I could have gone to the gym, but didn’t. I might’ve gone to the show I had tickets for, but didn’t–it was miserably wet and icy Friday night.

I watched Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone. I traced how Harry found his way to the friends he needed. By chance! And I was reminded of the hardest piece of belief and trust and faith.



Have you battled such demons? Made similar discoveries? Do share.


Images via VidyaSury, DailyMail, & Pinterest (by the way, Margaret Agnes Rope, incredible stained glass artist of the Arts & Crafts movement–who knew?!?) 

Ta for Taos

Mind opened by the very long drives between Tennessee and Oklahoma, and Oklahoma to New Mexico (that’s 6 states in 2 days!), I arrived in Taos.

A Black Bird With Snow Covered Red Hills, by Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe lived the latter half of her life in New Mexico and painted its skies, clouds, skulls, and landscapes.

What do YOU know about Taos? I had some vague impressions of artists and writers, combined with images of the Southwest landscape that were stark and foreign. Something told me that it would be a good place, though.

I stayed at another AirBnB listing, the host of which really made the experience less about Taos and more about human connection. I enjoyed exploring the town at my leisure (which meant in fits and starts, as it was pretty cold, feathery snow still dusting the ground).

I found the Taos Pueblo closed for repairs (apparently a common thing), but the Plaza and many shops and galleries were open and showed the local style of historical pueblo architecture anyway. Kit Carson‘s home is here, a ridonkulously huge bridge is 10 miles west of here, and many homes-turned-museums pay tribute to the area’s pioneer past.

I got in after dark, but the next morning, after a spectacular sunrise, I stepped out to explore some small offshoots from the main drag, Route 64. This included a stop at The World Cup Cafe, which had scrumptious organic scones and delicious Mexican hot chocolate.

It was fascinating to stay in the cafe for some time, as I observed many local neighbors meet, greet, and even hold court. It’s a sunny spot, with bar seats only, and everybody really knows everybody.

I came from what I would call a small town, but this experience had me reconsidering the definition. What constitutes small town, what suburban, what metropolitan? It’s not just population or size of sprawl, it’s more of a feeling of how frequently you’re going to run into people you know.

In Taos, the answer seems to be all the time.

In San Luis Obispo, it was more like once every 3 outings.

Sangre de Cristo Mountains Winter Sunset

I had thought that a small town meant ordinary, confining, repetitive. But here I was seeing eyes light up, jokes being howled over, life-passion projects being shared and discussed. It made me feel a little Grinchy.

Maybe the small town is worthy of reconsideration.

Especially in such a setting.


Images via Wikipedia and Wikipaintings

Not All Daisy Chains and Day Hikes

Lest you think that this road trip has been all fun and games, here’s “the other side of the story,” as Andy Rooney would say.

The Plan

Upon leaving Happy Valley, TN, I was scheduled to drive for a full day to reach Little Rock, AR.

Alas, a little rock prevented me from getting there.

Har har.

The Hitch

As I was exiting the fog-filled valley, one of the final twisty turns showed me a rock in my lane about the size of a shoe. I had about 1 full second to react, and decided to center the car over it instead of veering around it, since there was a hard left turn not 10 feet after the rock.

My car may have been able to clear said rock in normal times, but this ain’t no normal times. I am carrying at least an extra 500 pounds with all my stuff, which meant that the rock ricocheted around the car’s undercarriage, taking out some chunks from the Chevy’s cast aluminum oil pan.

Chevy Oil Pan Bites the Dust

J.R. displaying the damage

At the time though, I had no idea what had happened. I looked behind me as I heard the ruckus, but saw no debris. Did the rock get stuck up there somewhere? I wondered. I let the car coast downhill, as the oil light promptly came on seconds later. I tried to push the gas once, which produced a strange ticking noise, and that decided me: she were done.

The Aftermath

Then ensued a tightly choreographed ballet of expert strangers: the AAA operator, Greg with the tow truck, J.R. at the garage, all working to get me diagnosed, repaired, and back on the road as quickly as possible. It was a marvel of American enterprise and efficiency.

And then I got the bill. Sigh.

Expert Greg Driving while Talking on Two Phones

Greg was an awesome multi-tasker on the road

Oh well. At least I stopped before the bad news worked its way up to wreck the whole engine– now THAT would have been a show-stopper.

The Bonus Round

I was at the garage from 11:30 until 4:15, and then hit the road to get as far as I could before dark. This schedule ended up yielding a silver lining: in Jackson, TN I stayed at a beautiful B&B called Highland Place (people who have called me cuckoo over my Scottish fascination, you may now cackle).

As I was talking to the host Bill, he mentioned off-handedly that their large pottery collection was centered around pieces from “this one guy who used to be an English professor, then moved to the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania…

Would that by any chance be Tessem Stoneware? I asked.

Yes. Yes, it was.

The Lesson

Even with its bumps in the road (groan), this trip has been full of great connections and happy happenstances. Keeping your mind and heart open creates space for these to happen.