Day 2–Positivity Challenge

Day 2 of my 5-day Positivity Challenge! Doing my bit to radiate positive energy in these Trump Days. I’m listing three things about my life that are positive (or for which I’m grateful), which I will then post on Facebook and tag three FB friends. They’ll do the same. If you find it hard to participate in the daily task, that’s okay. Just keep trying. Forget about coming up with anything profound, just focus on finding one thing, no matter how small. DO NOT have to blog, just post on Facebook. 

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Here goes:

  1. Steve Martin. Last night, I saw his new “adult” comedy, “Meteor Showers” at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. It wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. Way too “clever” to be cohesive. The acting was superb though, and the venue delightfully intimate. A magical evening.
  2. Yet another dragonfly visit. Big and brown, the creature showed up in my writing studio, yesterday. The last dragonfly who paid me a visit was a wild and fiery red, perched on a bullrush reed in my pond. According to animal totemism dragonflies are connected to the symbolism of change and light. When the dragonfly shows up in your life to remind you to bring a bit more lightness and joy into your life. Yes indeed!
  3. Laguna Beach. I may complain about the traffic and this and that, but I am so ever fortunate and grateful to be living in an art town.

Speaking My Truth

I do my best thinking hiking up and down the hills of Laguna Beach, my adopted city. This afternoon, I’m heading up that one hill that parallels Laguna Canyon Road near my home with my Staffies, Fergie and Jake. Got a lot on my mind. The hill is steep with fabulous views of Catalina and sunsets. It was up one of the higher hills I figured out the meaning of life. Okay, maybe not the entire meaning of life, but certainly some key elements, along with insights regarding my marriage and plot points for my two African-based novels,

The hill is steep with fabulous views of Catalina and sunsets. It was up one of the higher hills I figured out the meaning of life. Okay, maybe not the entire meaning of life, but certainly some key elements, along with insights regarding my marriage and plot points for my two African-based novels, Monkey’s Wedding and Mine Dances. Today, the publication of my memoir, Loveyoubye, Holding Fast, Letting Go, and Then There’s the Dog, is on my mind. It’s coming out April 8, 2014 from She Writes Press and I’m freaking out. Me in the public eye, giving readings. In front of people.

I stop on this one flat area with the remains of a house, and watch the dogs chase a rabbit. It was my Jazzercise buddy’s comment the day before that I could be on Oprah that set me off. Totally unlikely of course, but it sent me running to my dark place, the one where I’ve already spent some time anguishing over the actuality of putting my life out there. I got over it, well, more or less, when I sent the manuscript for Loveyoubye to the publisher. But now the real deal of going public is looming.

It’s Sister Damian Marie’s fault. She’s the one who gave me this phobia about being in front of a group, adding to my good South African children-seen-and-not heard issue. That time she sentenced me to an entire week of standing in front of her class at St. John’s Convent School in Nkana, Zambia. There I was on display below the banner she had strung above the blackboard–“To Thine Own Self Be True”–all because of that excuse letter I wrote for myself. I can still feel my smirking classmates’ eyes bore into me.

“I guess I never got over it,” I tell the dogs, and we continue up the hill. Of course, if it weren’t for the American Sisters of Saint John the Bapist nuns who came to Nkana to school us heathens, I wouldn’t be here in Laguna Beach. Them with their rich slangy accents, their inviting American scenes plastered all over our bulletin boards, their art projects, and their sometimes unconventional ways. That’s what had inspired me. Despite whacking us over the knuckles with rulers, their rigid religious beliefs and disdain for us, they fed my curious nature. At twenty-three, I left Africa and years later I made it to Laguna Beach, capital of the unconventional. This is where I finally became an artist and a writer.

This is where I wrote my memoir, a process that took me back to Africa and reconciliation with my African self, bringing me full circle. I glance around still able to marvel that I’m here where I want to be. Sister Damian Marie pops into my mind and I grin. Her with that damn banner strung above the blackboard, her always pointing at it like it had to mean something to us. Hell, all we wanted to do was survive her class. Now it has meaning for me. In the coming months I’ll think of Sister Damian Marie’s banner and I will survive being in front of the class again, but this time understanding what it means to be true to myself. I will complete the journey I began when I started my memoir. Reading out loud, speaking my truth, I’ll take one more step to the authentic self I aspire to be.

There’s Goats in Them Hills

Every year around this time, The Goats come to my area of Laguna Beach. Of course they might actually live in Laguna Beach and never leave. But this is The Season when they bring their delightful little vegetation munching selves to the hills around my house. They’re here to help prevent another fire like the one in ’93 that decimated Canyon Acres, not to mention a great portion of Laguna Beach, a conflagration that barely missed my house.Misc 020It was our house back then, when the ex was captured on Channel 7 trying to save our street, which is right off Canyon Acres. I was at work in Newport Beach watching him on TV, freaking out about my cat, Para. Had he found her? He had. She was safe in his van along with our dogs, Suki and Salem, and a few hastily grabbed items. After parking the van in the lot off Third Avenue, he and a neighbor sneaked back through the police barrier to see what they could do. I never want to go through that again.

So back to the goats. Right now they’re up above the Lesser Hill, so named by me; it’s the one that parallels Laguna Canyon Road, a wonky paved lane that takes me around 30 minutes to hike, (not The Big Hill, which takes over an hour). There’s the three-foot high plastic orange fencing you could blow over with a breath strung between flimsy metal posts and behind it the goats masticating like mad. And making human sounds. There are a couple of YouTube videos devoted to this phenomena.

All in all the goats are a trip. I watched this one goat–not the one whose picture I’ve posted–lift himself onto his hind legs to get to some tasty leaves on the lower limbs of a tree and stand there chewing until he was done. No wobbling around, no struggling to balance like I do in Warrior Three. He just stood there perfectly poised. Munching until he was done.

Fergie and Jake were absolutely fascinated by the goats. I took them all the way up to the barrier and they just stood there staring.  Dogs Who Stare At Goats.