Friday, November 19, 2010

Salt in the City back in the game!

I haven't posted in well over a month. I have a million excuses why I haven't posted. But the truth is I have been hitting the creative snooze button for way to long. Being able to be creative in any aspect does more than nourish my soul. It calms my mind. It lightens my spirit. And it is the best way for me to connect with those that I love.

So why haven't I posted, painted, written, or even sketched a doodle if I know this is what keeps me going? Depression?. Maybe. Lack of drive? Yeah, probably. No time. Most definitely. And a horrible excuse. Why wouldn't anyone make their passion a priority? Especially if they know that it fuels their fire.

Several weeks ago I was discussing with friends my lack of urgency in the creative realm and in the same breath I was complaining about feeling down and having no energy. DUH!!!! I wasn't feeding myself. I wasn't allowing myself to gorge on paint brushes and sketch pads.  

So for the next few posts I am changing "Salt in the City" to "Sketch in the City". Time to dust of the creative brain and showcase a few projects. These first few sketches are from the past summer and from two nights ago. Thanks for letting me share, like you had a choice!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sloshing with the Cluff's

I hate to say it folks, but Summer is officially coming to an end. This last weekend was Labor Day. Which meant it was the last "Pool Day" of the year. Maybe its the cost of keeping a pool open, or the possibility of a sudden freak snow storm that has caused what I call a premature-pool-closing. There are bound to be several more days of 80 plus degree weather, cloudless skies, and lazy afternoons with nothing to do. But there will be no more Pool Days to be had until next year.

In an effort to prove our sincere dedication and love to the summer, Jason and I hung out with his family at his mothers pool. The sun was bright, not a cloud in the sky. Only a very faint hint of fall in the air. And although the crisp air was lofting around us, no one let it stop our day of frolicking by the pool.

Hanging with Jason's family, the Cluff's, can sometimes be such a breath of fresh air in it's self. The family as a whole is very young. And they are all still very much about having fun and laughing with each other. Never a dull moment with the Cluff's. So there's this thing we do when we all get together in a pool. Everyone jumps as hard and fast as possible causing huge waves in the pool. No one stops until the water is sploshing out of the pool. Yes, it's dumb fun! But hey! That's what the Cluff's are about right!?!

So this last weekend, while "Sloshing with the Cluff's". I got to thinking about my own life and how I have been striving for more peace and stillness. The pool had become a lot like my life. I spend all day moving and doing and sloshing the water. I think I cause more waves in my pool than anyone. Yet, at the end of the day I wonder why I can't find stillness. I want so much to float on the glass surface, yet the waves are still pounding and swirling around me. My pool is still sloshing at the end of the day. And it doesn't stop just because I want it too. It takes patience. And I think that it means that during my day to day interactions and working that I try not sloshing as much as possible.

Sloshing. This can mean causing drama. Talking behind someones back. Not getting everything done that you need too. Procrastinating! Negative thinking. Eating unhealthy. Not working out. There are a lot of ways one can slosh in one's own pool. And I think we should try not sloshing someone else pool either.

I've recently started a Tai Chi class Monday nights at the red Lotus Center in Salt Lake. I first saw the website for the class about a month ago. More than anything, the one word I kept seeing repeated on the website that seemed so attractive to me was the word Stillness. This is exactly what my pool needs. I've had only 2 classes and already I can feel a calming within. Very subtle, but I know it's there. The breathing techniques and the movements seem to calm my mind and excite it at the same time. Tai Chi to my mind is like telling a dog, "Do you want a treat?" The dog knows its going to be nourished and it gets so excited it can hardly contain itself. My mind knows the serenity and peace in store and it is jumping at the bit to experience it.

Side note. If you haven't seen the movie, "Eat Pray Love", then you need to see it. Yes it's a chick flick. And yes, the book is better than the movie. But there are a lot of great things to be learned from the movie. In one scene, Liz, the main character is in Italy with new found friends. They are discussing using only one word to describe different places in the world. For example, London's word would be Stuffy. Rome's word was Sex. Then the friends ask Liz what her personal word is. Basically, that's what the movie becomes about is Liz finding her own personal word. And for right now in my life, my word is Stillness.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Been to long!

Its been way to long since the last post. Since the last post I've traveled to New Orleans for work. Had the Flu of the century and dropped 8 lbs. And I've been squeezing the last out of the last days of summer.

This coming weekend is Labor Day Weekend, three days off, not much planned. So I immediately begin making my own personal honey-do lists. Right now the list consist of chores, duties and organizing. But here's the really pathetic part. I find myself also planning times to enjoy time. Like reminding yourself to breathe.

8:30 am, Wake up, straighten house
9:30 am, Finish laundry
10:00 am, Sit on porch and relax
10:01 am, Finish painting living room

Do you find yourself doing that too? Or are you the kind of person I want so much to be like? Just dealing with what comes your way. Enjoying life all the time, not when scheduled.Able to relax when not in motion. I can't seem to not be in motion. There is always something that needs to be done. And yet, I know in the back of my mind that fi something doesn't get done. It will be there for me tomorrow. I guess I fear that tomorrow my honey-do list gets longer and longer. And reality is that my lists do get longer and longer. Where is the stillness? 

Tonight I start a new class, T'ai Chi. In addition to being healthy for mind and body, I am taking T'ai Chi to learn the Art of Stillness. I can hardly wait. I plan sharing the experience in the next entry.

Last night, after work, I attempted stillness. I pulled out the hammock and grabbed the dog. Ellie, my little Lahso Apso quietly laid upon my chest as I drifted in and out of sleep, while we swayed in the hammock. After a quick nap, I found myself very content watching and studying Ellie. She was so still, head up and alert, but had remained still on my chest for over an hour. Her ears would perk up with the sounds from the neighborhood, but she remained perched and watching. Content and quiet. No to-do lists. No agendas. Just the moment. There is something to be learned from the contentment of a dog.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How To Be Alone

Sorry for no post for the last week. I hope you aren't feeling ignored or forgotten! Yes, my 16 followers, I do think of you often. I came across this very well made video. It has inspired me! So, watch, love and be inspired. I hope to post something soon!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

To Zen or Not to Zen!?!

Are you beaming with light in this very moment? Are you so full of joy you wish you could just shit a rainbow? If so, please stop reading and feel free to leave a comment below. Thank you for stopping by. 
If you aren't dancing the dance of 10,000 happy Buddhas then please stay awhile and share in the experience of trying to reach NIRVANA! 
And also know that you are apart of a vast majority of the population living one day at a time and seldom finding a single second in the day to quiet your mind or to remember that you simply need to breath!

My day starts with the alarm clock. A single beep. Each beep ever increasing and sounding more rapidly until it reaches a constant hum/pinging sound. Snooze button, Morning. The first thought. Time for work. The second. Take the dog out. Hmm, nice day. I'm standing on the porch in my underwear. Hmm, nice day. Flowers look good. I'm scratching my ass in my underwear on the porch. Hmm, nice day. Good thing no neighbors are out. Shit, the neighbors just sitting in her car. Did she see me? Oh well, hmm, nice day! What should I wear? Need to shave. Need shaving cream from the store. When can I go to store? I have to work late. Big event tonight. Did I staff enough servers? Hmm, nice day. The thoughts drift from one to the next without taking a breath. Oh yeah, the next thought. Breath. Take a nice deep breath and don't get overwhelmed. The day will come and go and I will do what I can. Something may not get done but tomorrow is another day. Another day that starts with the alarm. And the mind continues.
In the rare event that you can actually devote time to quieting your mind. And you can do it successfully. My question is this... how do you get there? How and what is peace to you?
Last night J-bird and I were discussing how someones idea of finding peace can be so different for someone else. And no offense honey, but your version of peace is messed up perfect for you! My boyfriend who is only 22 wise beyond his years, would rather be shopping in New York, cocktail in hand, while listening to the latest from Lady Gaga or Jay-Z. While I am a waterfalls, Enya, incense, and meditating kind of guy.
Now, I have to give "J" some credit here. Last night, I tricked convinced him to come to a mediation group with me. I purposefully forgot to mention that we would be sitting in one spot, motionless for a half hour. I have never, in my entire relationship with "J", witnessed him in stillness for more than 5 seconds. Not even in his sleep. He sleeps with one leg bent straight up which continues to fall every so often knocking and falling on me through the night. Lovely, just lovely!

Anyhow, we made it to the Zen Center. Or as I like to call it "the ZENTER". I explained to "J" that there may be some chanting and some bowing. There would be incense and shrines and statues. Chiming and dining of bells and gongs. Really I was trying to get him psyched up for this new experience. But even after all the psyching I knew that honestly there was going to be a whole lot of nothing. Just quiet. And I wasn't sure if "J" was going to survive.I also told him that he could be as quiet or participatory in as much or as little as he wanted. Still giving him the sense that there would be options in this little exercise. Pssht, options! Schmoptions! We were going to sit and do nothing. And I knew that "J" was going to have to just sit through it all. Motionless. And quiet! BWAH HA HA HA!

We entered the building and immediately I could sense the stillness and peace that my soul had so longed for. It had been well over a year since my last meditation in this Zen Center. Through the silence we heard the creaking of floorboards over head. And slowly we saw the light feet of a Buddhist monk gracefully transcend the old wood staircase to the lobby where we were waiting. With arms in prayer fashion he approached us with a smile. I told him we were here to Meditate. He asked if it was our first time. "Oh not me! I'm pretty much a guru master. But this is his first time, he's never done anything like this before." I nudged "J" forward towards the little monk. Like the way a mother has to push her 2-year-old up to sit on Santa's lap. Only "J" wasn't kicking and screaming...... not yet at least! BWAH HA HA HA HA!

The cute little monk explained the procession and sitting technique and told "j" and I to head up the stairs when we were ready. He then floated back up the stairs in silence. So "J" and I practiced the sitting technique and shared a few giggles before we ascended the stairs towards enlightenment! We founds two mats and two cushions, also known as Zafu cushions. See how Buddha-ism-ist-ish-er I am! A freakin' guru Buddha master!

There were only 2 other monks in the room. So quiet. So peaceful. Ahhhhhh! This is exactly what I needed! The meditation began and I was surprised that I found focus and stillness so quickly. Blackness and breath. The only two things on my mind. Only a few times my mind began to drift and think about work or friends. But it was the focus on my breath that brought me back. Time seem to pass quickly and easily. My posture held. And I drifted into a state of bliss. My body was completely happy and content. And then…… the pain set in. After sitting in one position for 20 minutes, my left leg was starting to loose sensation. I hate to use the expression that my leg was “falling asleep”. Because this was no slumber. It was more like a nightmare. The pain was intense and it brought me from Nirvana to hell in a matter of seconds.
I opened my eyes, the room was still in silence. How could this be when my leg was about ready to fall off! How could everyone just sit there. I glanced over to see how "J" was managing. To my surprise, he was actually doing very well. He was adjusting and fidgeting a bit. But his face wasn't red or wincing in pain. I convinced myself to remain still. I am a pro-meditation-er for hell's sake! I can do this! I remained still and tried re-centering myself. I pushed through the last 10 minutes. The last 5 minutes of which weren't bad at all considering I had completely lost all sensation in my left leg altogether.
The mini-monk banged his bowl three times and everyone started coming back to their senses. I immediately grabbed my dead leg and lifted it to straighten it out. No movement in the toes. No feeling from the ankle to the knee. But at least I could move the rest of my body now and try circulating the blood.

The meditation group had all stood up. With hands and arms in prayer position. Mini monk had picked up two more sticks and began clanking them together. WE WEREN'T DONE!!!! The group was looking at me and "J", waiting for us to stand in prayer with them. There was no way I could stand. So I remained seated and smiled. "J" following my lead was also still seated. The banging of sticks stopped and Mini-Monk walked directly over to me and "J". Very pleasantly he motioned for us to stand up. It was the moment of truth. Will my cold blue piece of flesh and bone, formally known as my leg, be ready and able to support me. I rolled to one butt cheek and placed both hands on the floor and lifted. Very carefully I balanced on my right leg, not allowing the left leg, so full of pins and needles, not to touch anything. Mini-monk smiled in approval at my inability ability to stand. I mean come on folks. He knew exactly what I was going through. In the 500 years of his practicing seated mediation he has never had or witnessed a dead leg? It was then, when Mini-monk uttered the next few words that I knew he was pure evil! He ever so peacefully looked into my eyes, with the sweetest of smiles and said, "Now we do walking mediation." Any ounce of peace and serenity had been drained, just like the blood out of my leg. "Walking meditation?" I muttered. "Walking? Like do-do-do", as I motioned with my fingers. "Yes. Please follow..." I looked at "J", he seemed pleased as punch and up for anything. I on the other hand was in excruciating agony. "oh,, no. I think we will just go now if that is okay?" Mini monk, so at peace with everything, he didn't care if we stayed or went. "Thank you, and he motioned us to walk down the stairs. "Just f@*#ing cut my leg off here why don't you!" I shouted. Well, in my mind I shouted it. Instead, I was quiet and smiled back. I looked at "J" and gestured for him to take the lead and head over to the stairs. Look at "J" go, walking so effortlessly. Pffffth! I took a single step. A quick step. The needles quickly turned to swords and shot up through my leg. Deep breaths! Another quick step...and another... like walking slowly across hot coals. I soon reached the stairs. By that time Mini Monk had started clanking his sticks again. The walking mediation had begun. And it was as quietly performed as the sitting mediation. All that was heard was the hobbling and then thudding of my dead leg as it hit each stair. "J" was already outside the Zenter waiting before I was even half way down the stairs. I reached the bottom and scooted across the floor to my shoes. Oh god! Putting on shoes! I bared down one last time and slipped the shoe over my foot. OH DEAR GOD AND THE LOVE OF BUDDHA! I exited the building, beads of sweat running down my face. Completely out of breath I asked "J", "So..... (pant, pant, pant)... how was it?" "J's" reply....."ehh, it was alright, kinda boring, but I'd do it again. I guess it's better than sitting around and doing nothing!".

Friday, August 6, 2010

"J" is for J-Bird

Quick note: The thing I love most about blogging is that once I start a new post I have no idea how it is going to end or what it is even going to entail. It feels so good to let my head race and try to keep up with the thoughts long enough to write them down. However, for this post I have a few ideas in mind already. And I also have a few surprises in mind too. So without further ado, "J" is for J-Bird...

I've had it in my head that "J" would be for J-Bird for sometime now. And why wouldn't I want "J" to be for J-Bird, he is after all my love, my friend, my future! Now, before I go any further I want to make something clear. This is NOT going to be a sappy love blog dedicated to the one I love most. Why? Because he already knows how much I care for him.

The Beginning
It was quiet in my house. There was no sound except for the clicking and racing of my fingers across the keyboard below. I was alone. And I was lonely. I don't recall what time it was, other than I know it was late. My eyes, half glazed from exhaustion and the other half from staring at the computer screen for the past several hours. It had been a few months since the break-up of my last relationship. The winter had brought an icy loneliness and it felt like it was going to be a long cold season. I found myself online in a chat room. Probably desperate for someone to chat with. It was enough to interact with a complete stranger to allow myself to feel entertained and preoccupied. And although it isn't clear who initially began the chat... a chat began! And it has lasted for almost 3 years now.

Jason, my J-Bird, and I met in a chat room. Simple conversations in the beginning. And although he is 11 years younger. We just seemed to click. It's funny the saying we use when we find that we have multiple things in common with someone. "Clicking". But it was literally like the two ends of a seat belt clicking together. Jason instantly filled a void in me that had been empty for a very long time.I felt interesting again. And interested. He was thoughtful, funny, exciting, and most of all, "HOT"! However, after chatting a few times with Jason. I didn't see how a relationship could go anywhere. At the time, I felt as though our age difference was enough to stop this new found relationship dead in its tracks. So I let it. I stopped chatting, emailing, texting and calling. A week, maybe two, had passed. And I had tried to put Jason out of my mind, but it was impossible. Jason didn't quit. He was very persistent. And good thing he was. I eventually agreed to go on a date with him. I told Jason that I thought his persistence was a little overwhelming. He quickly explained that he found something he liked and nothing was going to stop him. Now I said this wasn't going to get to cheesy. But I really have to hand it Jason and give him credit where credit is due. He has lived up to his overwhelming persistence, for this is where his dedication to our relationship, endurance to see through the hard times, and his commitment to me began. Not only am I thankful to Jason for his dedication. But he is also an example to me of how a loving relationship can exist.

Recently, I have been forced to evaluate all of my relationships in my life. A dear friend of mine has left the country and has caused other relationships to strengthen and become even more meaningful. And I have come to the conclusion the most important and meaningful relationships that I have now began with a mere chance of luck or unexpected decision.

It was by chance that Jason and I ended up in a chat room and decided to even give each other the time of day. A simple hello has resulted in years of happy memories, multiple new friendships, and the possibility of being with a special someone for the rest of my life.

But enough about how I feel about Jason...I've invited some guest bloggers to also spill the beans about J-Bird.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce Tiffer's Burns Rushforth...

I first met Jason at an event for the Sundance Film Festival, we did not get a chance to talk much, but I instantly knew he was just a doll! He is so Charismatic! And I love his innocence and kindness!My best memory of Jason was when we were walking the 5K at City Creek and we had time to just get to know each other better and talk. One day I think it would be a blast to tube down the river at Lava Hot Springs!I think Jason is one of the sweetest people I have ever met. I wont ever forget that last year around Christmas you and Andrew came over with a gift, an amazing dragonfly stepping stone. When Andrew told me it was you who found it and bought it, that totally warmed my heart. I could not believe that you would think of me and be so thoughtful and kind. I am so very grateful to know you!

And Mr. Petar "the Croat" Begich

I first met Jason at some party with some crazy wig lady, (Nancy)!There are a few things I admire about Jason too. He is blunt, drinks like a fish, spontaneous and so so young! He is adorable and nice person, definitely not deserved by Andrew ;o)
One of my favorite memories of Jason was his 21st bday and shopping at Fred Myers in the middle of the night with the Limo ride. We made him shop for Ladies underwear, a banana and condoms. The best advise I would give Jason would be to stay cool and wise.

Next... Ms. Miss. a.k.a. Becky "Rebecc-Ass" Wasden

I don't recall the very first time I met Jason, but we have become good friends through Andrew Benson. I love Jason's mischievous side the most. He often has a look on his face or smirk in his laugh that let's you know he is thinking or doing something that's going to cause trouble! I love it!
I really look forward to making countless memories with J but the first few that come to mind that we already share are: swimming parties, Mardi GRAS, campfires and smores, fireworks, Rhiannon and JayZ. I think the most powerful memory I shared with Jason was talking to Trevin, the blood artist.

And ladies and gentlemen, all the way from Barcelona, Spain..... Char!!!!!!

Hi Jason, I already miss you tons! I miss cooking with you the most... You are just so willing to learn and such a smart ass about it too. But once you learn, you just takes charge. Can't wait for Taco Tuesday when I get home. I also love the "Jasonism's" for sure. "he just disappeared out of the woodwork"..."You must have carpet guard on your shirt"..."I was sweating beams"...and my new favorite..."Aye aye, Hilter"... Still so funny me.Love and miss you Jason. I wish I could be there on your special day later this month... I will be there for your big 4-0 fo sho!

Thank you to my guests writers and for your contributions!... and now let me leave you with....


If Jason were a song, which one would he be?
Peter: 4 Minutes – Madonna & Justin T.
Becky: Lifes A Game But It's Not Fair...! I break the rules so I don't care... (run this town tonight)
Tiffany: Don't Worry, Be Happy!
Char: Miley Cyrus - Party in the USA - ha ha LOL! love you J!
Andrew: I'll Stand by you!

If Jason were a place, which place would he be?
Peter: Miami
Becky: Jason would be a swanky cocktail lounge with amazing lighting, great furniture, and killer drinks...!
Tiffany: Disneyland
Char: Nordstrom
Andrew: High-end Hair Salaon, serving cocktails, with hot men in tight pants!

If Jason were an Animal, which Animal would he be?
Peter: A Parrot
Becky: hmm. An ostrich? ;)
Tiffany: Leopard
Char: Guppy (technically not an animal, but it just seams right)
Andrew: It would have to be something a French Poodle.

If Jason were a kind of Food, what kind of Food would he be?
Peter: A taco...on Tuesday
Tiffany: Chicken Parmesan, your favorite!
Becky: something HOT and SPICY
Char: Enchilada, the cheesy kind, your other favorite!
Andrew: nothing chocolate...nothing to spicy...something sweet and sugary...A DUMB DUMB SUCKER!!! And I mean that in the nice way!

If Jason were a Drink, what Drink would he be?
Peter: vodka with crystal light
Becky: dirty vodka martini, dry, bruised, and up (to no good!)
Tiffany: Cosmopolitan
Char: vodka with vodka!
Andrew: I will go out on a line and say.....VODKA! However, my favorite drink is a Jason Stiffy!

And if Jason were a TV Show or Movie, which would he be?
Peter: 2011 Odyssey
Becky: Jason should have his own show like Entourage meets Kathy Griffin meets Wipeout!
Tiffany: Friends
Char: WIPEOUT!!!!!
Andrew: Dexter...meets Sex and the City! Dex in the City! The story of a gay serial killer wearing high heels and writes a column about his killings!

Jason, you are my love! And I happy to dedicate the letter "J" to you!

Monday, August 2, 2010

I interrupt this Alpha-blog-rophy

For the past few months I have dreaded this day. Sorry, I don't think this will be a very happy blog.

One of my best and dearest friends has left for the next four months. After the four months he is scheduled to return. But not sure for how long or if he will even stay at all. OH, it is just like him to be so non-committal!

I will say this for one last time, this friend that has left used to be my ex. Just recently he asked me to stop referring to him as my ex. And just starting calling him friend. So for the last time, my "ex" Charles, has left for a World Adventure.I hope my friend returns home safety and soon!

Yes, I am happy for the S.O.B. But I am also sad for selfish reasons. He is one of my biggest supporters. Truly a friend that I can share my depest secrets with, without to much judgment.

The good bye at the airport was a tough one. There were tears and hugs and hard goodbyes... The goodbye went a little like this...

Good luck and safe travels Char! We will all miss you and can't wait to see you soon!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"i" is for Inspiration

We all want to be something great! There is something that we all want to do. A dream we all have that needs to be realized. But where does the dream begin? How do we get it started. It has to come from inspiration.

Let me start with a quick life update. Jason has graduated from Paul Mitchell and we have had our evenings together for about a month now. Our relationship has grown stronger by 10-fold. Becky moved back from New Orleans in May. She has acquired the perfect new job teaching special Ed. at East Hollywood High. Tiffany, the girl that can and will do everything in life has now started a boxing class in addition to Pilates, writing groups, creative groups, photography and being an awesome wife, when will she stop? NEVER!!! Charles leaves in 2 weeks for South Africa for 3-4 months if not longer... and I, well, I am living one day at a time, looking for peace and understanding in life. So far, my friends have been a huge inspiration for my Alpha-biography blog. Seems like it has been more of a biography about their lives. But their lives are mine. I learn so much from them and I care so much for them. Without them I wouldn't be half the person I am today. They are my inspiration. But this blog is not dedicated to them. Jason, Becky, Tiffany, and Charles were all inspired by someone else. This blog is dedicated to the ones that inspired the ones that have inspired me....

Let's begin with Jason. Jason has become a very talented Hair stylist, recently graduating from Paul Mitchell The School. Already Jason has a huge fan base and a following of supporters of his trade. The program took him nearly 3 years to earn his certification. But he was determined to finish despite many obstacles, like nearly loosing his life for one. Jason's inspiration came from his sister-in-law, Talisia. Jason has always looked up to Talisia for her outgoing personality, fantastic sense of style and her sheer talent and success as a hair stylist. Talisia wasn't only a successful stylist but an incredible wife, loving daughter-in-law, and inspiring sister-in-law. Up until Talasia had joined the "Cluff Clan", Jason and his family had experienced so much loss of love in their family due to Jason's fathers passing and divorce. Talisia was a true inspiration for the whole family. She had also experience the loss of a loved one after her own brothers passing. Talisia was a binding force that strengthened relationships throughout Jason's family. It was no wonder that a very young and impressionable boy like Jason would look up to her. Besides she was freakin' gorgeous and attractive, little gay Jason could only hope to be half as FABULOUS! Which he is! Jason's family has grown to now include another fabulous addition Lindsey! I am so impressed with the closeness and love in the Cluff-clan. I am honored to be considered family.
Recently, a very good friend of Charles moved to South Africa due to her husbands' new position working with the African Consulate. Linda, a very grounded, wise and funny woman got rid of at least half of her belongings, packed up what was left, and moved her family across the world to South Africa. How many women in their Fifties would dare to move across the planet to an entirely different culture to begin a new life? Not many. Most of us become very set in our ways. Charles for one was a person who was extremely set in his own ways. He has changed so much it's almost difficult for me to recall the person he once was. Depending on the day of the week you could almost guess what he would want for dinner. He was the type that if he was going to be away from home for more than a day would check the toilet if it was running, then the fridge for leaks, then check all the locks.... then the toilet, the fridge, the locks, toilet, fridge, locks, toilet....fridge....locks, then leave the house. Then go back in to check the toilet, the fridge and the locks. Linda's inspiration has facilitated a change within Charles. He is now open and eager to explore the world. His world is no longer just Cafe Rio, Red Box and work. The world has truly become his oyster. He is both excited and exciting. Linda has inspired Charles to be emotional, open, and daring. I am so proud of Charles for excepting Linda's invitation for a new adventure in South Africa. It's something that I would never have believed even a year ago. I will follow in Charles footsteps one day and step out side of my own comfort zone. Thanks for paving a way Linda and Charles.
Miss Swendy! Local icon and living saint! Swendy has owned and operated a daycare for more than 30 years. She has loved and cared for many children, and the children of those children, and their children too. Chances are if you are from Utah and have children in daycare, or know someone with children in daycare, you've probably heard of Miss. Swendy. Swendy is not the kind of person you meet and forget about. She is memorable to say the very very least. She is larger than life! I have always known Swendy to be as gentle as a lamb, tough as a doornail, and as loving as Mother Teresa herself. Following in her footsteps, one of my most favorite people in the world, her daughter Becky. Becky has worked on and off in her Mothers daycare for most of her life. Becky herself has become an inspiration to many children. For the last few years Becky has been an Art and Music teacher for a private school for special needs children in New Orleans. In addition to teaching music and art, Becky has away with teaching everyone around her about life, living and being human. She is as real as they come. True to her heart. True to her friends. And true to her commitment to help children realize their full potential. With a Mother as dynamic and inspiring as Miss. Swendy, it's no wonder Becky is following in her footsteps and becoming a teacher and facilitator of inspiring young minds. Good luck Becky with your new position at East Hollywood High!
The following was written by Tiffany this last February on Tiffany's Blog:
I have been postponing this for so long now~ But I am really looking forward to starting this blog and sharing things here~ I just could not find the right words or place to start~
This past summer we found out that my beautiful mom had 2 glioblastoma brain tumors ~ Malignant, cancerous, extremely aggressive tumors. That was July 2nd, she was checked into the hospital that day and never came home ~ Our life was turned upside down. She was my rock~ My favorite thing about life. It is devastating to know I have to live without her for the rest of my own life. She died on August 19th 2009, she was only 68 years old.
That is all I want to post about that part of her life because this is a place that I want to be positive, write about the amazing things about her and share things about her and myself and be creative ~ I just thought it was important to share that information so you would know why this is such a special place for me.This is a place to share, hold myself accountable and remember to live~
My name is Tiffany ~
I am Rena's daughter...

It is important for me to share what Tiffany wrote so that you understand the kind of impact Tiff's Mom has had in her life. In my life. And the lives many others.
Tiffany, just today we were joking that we love each other so much, and pretending that we didnt already know that about each other, and jokingly just decided to be friends as of today. You already know how much I love you! You already know how much you inspire me. And you already know how I feel about your beautiful mother. But maybe you don't know how much you honestly inspire me to be a better person. I admire the challenge you have given yourself to follow in your mothers footsteps. To appreciate life everyday. You show so much love and respect for your mother, I know she is extremely proud of you. If she were able to tell you I am sure she would tell you to continue to spread your wings and fly. Although, I think she still does tell you that in her own special way!I want to dream as big as the people that inspire me dream. I want so much more out of life! I want to see, do and live as much as possible. I want to show love and support to those that are most important to me, like Talisia. I want to dare to be different and change, to be confident and true to myself, like Linda. I want to teach and encourage others, helping others reach their full potential, like Miss Swendy. And I want to leave an impression on the world that will continue to inspire others like Rena.

This blog is dedicated to Rena Traub! Happy Birthday Sweetheart! You've left the world with so much love and inspiration, her name is Tiffany!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

H is for Heart. "The Heart wants what the Heart wants"

The human heart beats 100,000 times a day. It pumps 2,000 gallons of blood. And pushes the blood 60,000 miles throughout the body through vessels to 78 organs. Along with the brain and lungs, it is one of the hardest working and most vital of the human organs. However, it seems to me that the heart does much more than beat, pump and circulate blood throughout the body. The heart also burns, breaks and aches. It attacks, throbs, and flitters. It can be warm or cold, light or dark. It can be open and soft. It can be given away and cherished.

Approximately 1,180 years ago, in a time when poets and philosophers seemed to rule the world with imagination and theory, lived Claudius Galenus. His theories and studies would dominate and influence medical science for well over a millennium and later disproven and nearly forgotten. A pioneer in his belief that there was no line of distinction between Spirit and Science. He believed that the different organs within the body served other purposes beyond their obvious physical functions. He determined that ”Passion” came from the liver, “Reason” from the brain, and considered the heart to be the harbor of "Emotions". Hundreds of years later, after his theories had been proven wrong, the heart continues to be used as a symbol of human emotions and LOVE.

A good friend of mine once told me that the reason why love and “heart-ache” can be so confusing, frustrating and painful is because, as he put it, “The Heart wants what the heart wants”. Much like a foul-tempered angry Monarch Queen. The heart wants to rule the body and mind. “The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. 'Off with his head!' she said, without even looking round.” Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll.

Recently I have become witness to the tyranny of the heart. I have seen through my friends how lovers can pull their heart-strings across the world. I have seen how suddenly the love lines that connect can be severed without regret. I have seen how hearts drift apart and become unrecognizable to one another. I have observed the way hearts can attack each other. Sometimes in silence. And sometimes with full force and brutality. The war of our hearts. Ever competing and ever battling. But for what? We fight for the same reasons. We fight to be on the same side. It’s the salvation of LOVE that keeps our hearts alive.

We have all asked ourselves a million times. “Is love worth it?” We ask like we think we have a choice. As if the next time that LOVE comes knocking we will be able to resist the urge to open the door. It’s true. The heart wants what the heart wants. And eventually, the hearts gets what it wants. And no price to pay could ever sway the hearts decision. So we love again. We hurt. We heal. We are human and we get to do all of these things regardless of conscious thought. To deny ourselves of LOVE is to deny ourselves of being human. It exists with us. It’s just there.

Today, I was discussing with a friend the difference between LOVE and FEAR. We both have learned and have discussed many times that all things in life are based on own two principles. LOVE or FEAR. Everything in creation, every word ever spoken, and every thought ever had or to be had is based on these two principles. Nothing can exist without Loving or fearing. And the two wouldn’t exist without each other. To be able to understand the differences between LOVE and FEAR could mean the possible immunity of pain from LOVES next battle.

Harsh words spoken in the heat of the moment are based on FEAR. But they originate from love. LOVE is ultimately what feeds our FEARS. The FEAR of loss and rejections causes us to lash out in defense. It’s a survival instinct of sorts. And I believe to recognize the origin of FEAR is the best weapon in the war of LOVE. Seeing the truth behind someone’s FEAR has usually brought me a lot closer to understanding and forgiving. I think that’s when I realize that the FEAR that is been presented is a FEAR that I have or have had at some point in my life too. And who am I to hold anything against someone else for feeling what I have also felt.

To all my friends whose hearts are in question, or breaking, or lonely. I want you to know that your hearts make mine stronger. Your pain is my pain and I share it with you. I recognize your FEAR’s and LOVE you for what you are. And also know this; every heart-ache and heart-break has brought you to THIS moment. And in this moment you are are simply who you are. And who you are is every reason why I LOVE YOU!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

G is for Gay!

Salt in the City. What it's like to be a Gay-Thirty-Something in Salt Lake City. Seems only natural that "G" should be for Gay after an opening like that!
As humans, we label. We label everything! It's what we do. And we do it very well. Nothing sneaks by us before we can slap a tag on it, price it, and exploit it. It's one way to ensure that we are the ones in control. It becomes "ours" after we name it. It becomes limited and controlled. Nothing left to question. Defined and permanent. But what happens once everything in creation has been labeled? Well, thank the universe that there is one thing that man kind will never be able to achieve. Mankind will never be able to label it all. In this ever-changing and diverse world, there will always be something new and undefined. We create and change. Ensuring that nothing is ever constant. As hard as we as humans try to perfect our world, the world changes in the blink if an eye. Leaving only one thing that we can and always be able to do. Question!

When my nephew first learned of his "Gay" uncle he asked his parents if it was a good or bad thing. He believed that if something/someone was labeled as "Gay" that it meant it or they was stupid, dumb or simply not "cool". If there was a kid at school not good at sports, he was "Gay". If there was a T.V. show that was boring, it was "Gay". If there were a musician that girls loved and boys hated, he was "Gay". Like.... the Jonas Brothers! So GAY!!!! Anyhow, the fact that my nephew thought his Uncle was gay meant that I was something "not good". I believe my brother and his wife told him that being "Gay" meant that I was different. Not good or bad. Just different. But what would the alternative to "Different" be? Normal? Does this still put a negative connotation on being "Gay"?

In our ever-changing and label loving society I am learning that even my definition of "Gay" has changed. Previously, I thought being "Gay" meant that I simply preferred sex with the same gender. My nephews definition of "Gay" is proof that the term has evolved. It now explains that I have adopted the mannerisms and lifestyle commonly associated with people attracted to the same gender. In other words, being "Gay" now gives me a personality distinction. It's no longer about sexual preference.

I also find it fascinating that while being a part of a minority that is ever fighting the negative connotations of our labels. "Gays", are also very eager to label ourselves in other ways. Being Gay or Lesbian is not all that we are or want to be. We also want to be labeled as "Equal", "American", "Family" and "Married". Finding a label that fits maybe the only way that each and everyone of us, gay or straight, can except the fact the labels will exist whether we like it or not.

Just the other night while dining with friends we were discussing the different ways to label ourselves as gays. *Note to all of the "Straights" reading this post, yes, we are not just "Gay". We are Lipsticks, Bears, Bull Dykes, Bull Daggers, Twinks, Trannies, Cubs, Divas, Diesels, Otters, Queens, Princesses, Wolves, etc. My friend Becky was telling us that she has never labeled herself as Gay, Bi, Straight, or Lesbian. There wasn't a label that she felt defined her. She believed that labels are limiting. That was until she heard for the first time a label that fit! CHAPSTICK LESBIAN! It hit home for Becky! It was like looking in the mirror for the first time and seeing her true self.

Chapstick Lesbian: lez-bee-uhn)A chapstick lesbian is also known as a soft butch or androgynous. She usually dresses quite casually and does not wear make-up. See also Ellen.

Now I would be the first to tell Becky that being a "Chapstick Lesbian" is a very small part of who she really is. But this got me thinking... What kind of a "Gay" am I? How would I define myself? Better yet, how would I define the "Gays"? I do believe in labeling. I believe in judging too! I am after all human. And if it's what humans do, than I want to be the best! Now I would never want to offend anyone to their face. I prefer to do that privately with other judger's and gossipers! I'd like to spend the rest of our blog time educating and teaching my own "Types of Gays". Let's label away!

First we explore the 3 types of Closet Cases.
The Latter-Gay-Saint:
Here in Utah we have several Latter Gay Saints. The L.G.S.'s are members of the Mormon Church that have not "Come Out" due to fear of religious persecution. L.G.S.'s have it easy though. What other religion gives you a "Companion" for a minimum of two years! L.G.S.'s although not "out" are great homemakers and cooks. If you ever want to date an L.G.S., be ready to be referred to as the "Best Friend" or "Roommate" for the duration of the relationship. If he can play the Piano, cook potatoes more than 10 ways, and knows the name of every contestant on American Idol before they get to the Top 20, he's probably a Latter Gay Saint. I pray that these L.G.S.'s one day see the light!

The Jock Strap:
The Jock Strap is a closeted Gay that loves playing sports. The best part of the game for a "Jock Strap" isn't the 4th quarter or the last inning. "Jock Straps" live for the end of the game when they can slap the butt of their teammates and say, "Err uh, good game.....bro!" Like an old worn-out stinky jock strap, "Jock Straps" prefer to stay in the closet with the other sporting equipment. Jock Straps may appear masculine and tough, but probably take as much time in the bathroom as most women. And as talented and athletic as they appear, they can equally and as talentedly strut the runway in a pair of pumps.

The G.I. Gay:
Gay and in the military. Don't ask, don't tell. These gays are the gays that gays are made of. These gays fight for a country that probably wouldn't fight for them. G.I. Gays are closeted for the right reasons but hopefully not for much longer. I have respect for the G.I. Gay. For all the G.I. Gays I say, "Let them come home and let them come out!"
On to the Gays!

The Lisssthper!
Sssut up! Are you Thhserious? The Lisssthper, the easssiest to pick out for obviousss reasonsss. Just assth the Lisssthper how many "S's" are in the word Fabulousss and they'll tell you "Ssssssseven!"

The Soul Seller:
Oh you know who you are! You are the "Gay's" that sold your souls to the devil for great hair, chiseled faces and bodies of god's. You are the "Gay's" that turn the heads of even straight men lesbian women. You are vain, stuck up, cliquey, muscley, beautiful and perfect! If you see the devil again, tell him I am ready to strike a deal!!!

The guy from I-da-ho:
Who da ho? I-da ho! Idaho's are the sluts of the bunch. Like an Idaho potato, they'd like to be mashed, stuffed, peeled, diced, and Julianne'd! Also known as "Midnight Texters" or "24-7's". It's also a fine line between an "Idaho" and a "Tranny Mess".

Tranny Mess:Tranny Messes', are typically drunk and go to the bars and clubs 6-7 nights a week. "Trannies" and "Idaho's" if not one in the same, usually flock together. Either can text 1,000,000 words a minute. And can tell you what club or bar is best to go to each night of the week. "Idaho's" also have their value too. They can tell you where the closest bathrooms are no matter where you are at. Never turn your back on the "Tranny Mess", she is clever and sneaky. Nothing will come between the "Tranny Mess" and her "Good time". Same can be said for the "Idaho".

The Bobcat: (Yes, this is me)...The Bobcat is an attractive man in his 30's or 40's who is on the hunt once again. He may be found in the usual hunting grounds: nightclubs, bars, beaches, etc. until he has secured a mate for life. He will not play the usual B.S. games that men in their early twenties participate in. However, in the end, he will be going for the kill. The Bobcat is the gay version of a "Cougar". "Cougars" and "Bobcats" are compatible. They can be seen shopping or at brunch together and often become facebook friends. However, the Bobcat and Cougar are territorial. Beware the "Metro-sexual". "Metro's" can easily come between the Cougar and her best Gay Bobcat friend. After all, nothing comes between a Bitch and her prey. And I'm not just talking about the Cougar.

My lists go on and on... but i think i have already proved a point. We are all human and imperfect. In the great pull-down-box of life, eventually we all fall into a category. As long as we are alive and thinking, we will label. We will label till we die. And then.... we will be labeled by the great labeler himself/herself/gayself...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

F is for the Future, Foretelling, and my Fellow 11:11'ers

So I have a secret obsession with "the End of Days", "End of the World", 2012, "The New Era", etc.. Call it what you want, but I find future predictions and New Age philosophies fascinating! And the research I have done specifically for this blog entry has peaked my curiosity even more!

Before we dive into what the future holds. I'd like to begin with the past. A past culture to be more specific. The Maya! Mayans were a bunch of Math Nerds and Star Gazers that eventually met their demise because of overpopulation, the Spanish invaders, environmental disaster, epidemic disease, and climate change. (Sound like anything we are experiencing now?) Anyhow, the Maya developed a very advanced astrological Calendar using 3 different dating systems. One of the systems, known as The Long Count, tracks long periods of time. Researchers have figured out the the Long Count Calendar started on August 11, 3114 BC. And is believed to end on December 21st, 2012 at 11:11:11 a.m.. Which means the end could come to us all 911 days from today!
First, let's talk about the coincidences, or as I like to believe, the synchronicity of the 11's. August 11 , 3114, 11:11:11 a.m., AND 911 days from today. That's a lot of 11's! And if you add 12+21+2012= 2045, 20+45=65, 6+5=11!!! AND, the Mayan Calendar beginning date, 8+11+3114=3133, 31+33=11! AND, if you spell "End of the World" backward you get "Dlrow eht fo dne"! And I honestly don't know what that could even mean! WOW!

*side note on 11:11
The number 11 is a “master number” in numerology because of its doubling of the same digit. This doubling intensifies the power of the vibrational frequency of the prime number. The attributes of the number one, the number of new beginnings, are therefore doubled.Moreover, the number 11 also carries the frequency of balance, specifically between the male and female. Eleven are messages of balance, a “metaphorical gateway” towards the “integration of the duality or opposition inherent in human nature.” If man’s ultimate purpose on earth is to discover the invisible realm of which he is a part, seeing 11:11 and its variants serves as a reminder that he is not flesh alone, and that his purpose here on earth is to access the technologies of psychic integration.
Synchronicity, Time Prompt and Symbolic Duality by Mary Desaulniers

In a nut shell, if you are an "11:11 person", someone that sees 11:11 every time you look at the clock. Or you see 11's often in phone numbers, price tags, page numbers, etc.. Than you may feel like you have something more in life to figure out. Almost like having a special purpose. Well, that's because you do! Being an "11:11 person" means you need to have a wake up call. See the light! Our world is in chaos right now. "11:11'ers" are the ones meant to fix it! Make things right, one person at a time, beginning with yourself. 11:11 is also a sign that you have angels on your side and that you are in the right place at the right moment do exactly what you need to be doing! There is an entire science and philosophy that surrounds the 11:11 phenomenon.

Now, I don't want anyone to think that I am some 2010-End-of-the-World fanatic. (Really I am!) But, just for the sake of argument. What if you, we, only had 911 days left? Is that enough for you to accomplish everything you want in life? What are the things you wanted to achieve, but haven't even begun? How can you impact the world in just 911 days?

I read somewhere that when you die you'll be asked 2 questions before you are accepted into the after life/reincarnation/heaven or hell:

1. Have you found joy in life?

2. Has your life brought joy to others?

I believe I can answer yes to both. But I am not done either! Many believe that December 21st, 2012 is not the end of days per say. But a time when things will change. The world will find it's self in a more peaceful state. So, by the act of believing that we only have 911 days of life left, perhaps if we all begin to make changes to become better, the world really will find itself healed and renewed.

As an 11:11'er, I challenge anyone reading this blog to create a list of things to do within 911 days that will not only make you a better person but also affect the world in a positive light! I guess you could call it a Bucket List, or as the Mayan would call it a "K'push List"...

Andrew's K'Push List: (still in progress)

1. Learn to play a musical instrument. At this point, I am leaning towards the Harmonica. Also known as the Mouth Organ. No further comment...
2. Teach Art to Children.
3. Run a 5k (completed), Run a 10K, Run a 15K, Run a half marathon, Run a marathon.
4. Commit my love 100%.
5. Sell my art at an Arts Festival.
6. Touch ground on all 7 continents, (2 down 5 to go).
7. Hold a monkey.
8. Loose 15 lbs, and see my ab's for the first time!
9. Sing in front of a large group of people.
10. Learn to make wine. And actually make it.
11. Save a life! (I haven't forgotten that this has already happened, you know who you are.) I'd like a second chance at this one...
12. Swim in a lake of Jelly fish!

There you have it, the K'Push list! And just in case you got freaked out by the End-of-the-World chatter, most scientist believe that the end of the Mayan Calendar is much the same as a VCR counter. It will simply reset it self when it gets to 99999 and start over. Other New Age philosophies believe that it won't be the destruction and death of the planet, but a rebirth to a new age and new consciousness. The age we are living in now has been focused on Time and Money. Ego and Materialism. Perhaps the next 25,627 years will be focused on life and spirit!

The last thing I want to share is that last week I found some old rings and necklaces in my old keep-sake chest. I have been wearing one of the rings for the last few days. I just noticed today that the decoration on the ring isn't just a decoration. It's the freakin' Mayan calendar! Now that is a coincidence.

Friday, June 18, 2010

E is for Elfi

Elfi, my grandmother! "THE" light of my life! I miss her! I still think of her daily although she has been gone for 12 years. There has been no one that I have learned more from than anyone else in my life. Even today I learn something more from her.Elfi passed away just as I was coming into adulthood. She developed a cancer in her stomach. I was just out of my teen years when it happened. I feel cheated that I didn't have an opportunity to know my grandmother as an adult. I could have benefited so much more from her wisdom. The lessons I learned from her were all learned as a young adult and child. Regardless, I am thankful that she was my grandmother, and that I chance to know and love her the way I did. And that she has left such a lasting impression on me.
When she became ill I instinctively began to distance myself from her. When I should have been spending every minute with her. It was out of fear. I was so terrified of what it would be like without her. I guess backing away was my natural instinct to deal with her death. I honestly thought that if she were to die I may as well die with her because I wouldn't know how to live without her.
Life surprises you. Her death was actually a very beautiful death. Just like her life, perfect and sweet. She must have known that her time was limited. She called all of the family into her room, one by one, she had something special to say to everyone.
There were several things that my grandma and I spoke about that day in her room. Most of which have nearly been forgotten except for one thing. Over the past 12 years since her death, one message has stood out more than the rest. And I have felt a tremendous amount of pressure to fulfill this specific duty given to me from my grandmother. Maybe I misinterpreted her request. But I have felt such an obligation. Something for me to take care of in her absence. Something that no one else in the family was given or asked to do. The task was to take care of my mother and to watch over her because my grandmother hated my mother being alone. And honestly, for the past 12 years I have done a damn good job. But as perfect as I thought my grandmother to be, this task wasn't for me to take on. The task should have been given directly to my mother.
I love both my grandmother and my mother very deeply. But I have learned that no one is perfect. And no one should have to parent or take responsibility for someone else faults or shortcomings. Everyone has the opportunity to make decisions for themselves. I shouldn't be the one responsible for anyone else' happiness. My life is my own, and I sure as hell wouldn't want someone else in control of it!
Today, I respectfully lay my grandmothers burden to rest. And I stand up for myself. And simply love my family for who they are. There lives are there own and not for me to worry about or control. I am simply going to love.Without the burden of feeling guilty, pressured, or obligation. The other messages that my grandmother shared with me, the ones that have early been forgotten. I remember them now. Thank you Grandma, I am proud of me too!
My mother has always been a strong woman. And I know that she is in full control of her own destiny! Mom, you are a beautiful woman, whose generosity and love for her family is greater than her own love of self! I hope that one day you can see how amazing you are, with nothing left to prove or accomplish, being you is the best thing you could ever do for anyone else. Especially yourself!
My light is mine, mine to keep and mine to share. Respectfully!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

D is for Drive, Dedication, Determination and most importantly DONE!

Congratulations Jason! My love of almost 3 years has finally graduation from Paul Mitchell! He is DONE! It will be so nice to have him home in the evenings. Rather than waiting till 10:00 pm every night to have dinner and try to spend quality time together. In fact, last night was his first official night off of school and he had dinner ready and waiting for me! I could get used to this!

I am extremely proud of Jason for his Drive! There have been many challenges that could have very easily swayed Jason away from doing hair. But because of his determination, he pushed through it all. And I learned something from Jason while I watched him over come these obstacles. I learned that patience can be a valuable tool for overcoming obstacles. Sometimes you simply just need to take a step back and let time do its thing. No need to rush it. Just let it be. So, while some people would say that it took a long time for Jason to get through school, I think he did it in his time and it's what worked for him. So what if he has a Doctorate in Hair now. At least he has graduated!

I am certain that Jason will do very well with his new trade! His dedication to always doing the best job will bring much success! Just you wait and see.

Jason, your energy and skill will attract many people to you! Like a lighthouse drawing boats in to a safe harbor. Your light is warm and welcoming! Thank you for making me feel safe with you!