RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: May 2012

A yogi packin’……

Today, when I opened my e-mail, I got a notification that someone named David had sent me a gift from Groupon. David bought me a gift? How exciting! I too have bought us a few things on Groupon when an irresistible deal came along that offered entertainment for a song; a day of bowling, putt put golf, a weekend at a bed and breakfast, a full day’s boat rental. Recently, I even got us 30 bales of pine straw mulch for the yard. I opened the e-mail to see what he had bought, expecting a dinner out at a nice restaurant perhaps, or a day of paddle boarding. The message said:
Voucher for One-Year Gun Range Membership and One Day of Range Time with Safety Gear, Two Targets, One Box of Ammo, and Gun Rental from Take Aim Gun Range.

You know your boyfriend trusts you and is planning to treat you well if he is willing to put a gun in your hands with ammo and a year of training to assure you’ll be a good aim!

I found this gift more than a little funny. David is the most compassionate and graceful man I’ve ever met. He is environmentally conscientious, deeply considerate, a humanitarian, a stalwart liberal, and a true yogi. He lives by the teachings of the yoga sutras with Ahimsa (do no harm) at the core of his every choice and action. I simply can’t imagine this man with a gun in his hand any more than I can imagine him torturing small animals. He’s the kind of man who will get up without pausing in the conversation to swiftly grab a wayward bug on the porch and put the creature outside the door rather than step on it. Let me mention that he has also read (and line edited) my book, which includes a full chapter on my feelings and attitudes about guns, (and for the record, I’m rather vehemently opposed to them).

Yet knowing all this, David’s idea of a fun date for us is heading off to the shooting range to plow a few rounds into a target? Hummm…… 

I said, “Thanks for the gun membership, Honey. Um….. what possessed you to purchase such a thing? Do we have plans I don’t yet know about to take out an annoying neighbor? You thinking we might want to prepare for a Bonnie and Clyde impersonation so we can knock off a bank and retire sooner rather than later? Then there’s the fact that I’ve been pretty mad at my ex lately… do you really think it’s wise to put a gun in my hand, all things considered? ”

“I thought you’d enjoy shooting a gun as a new experience. I wasn’t looking at it as a political or humanistic statement, but more as an interesting chance to learn something new –you and I both love learning new things – so when I saw the groupon and the great deal offered, I thought, “Why not?”  Guns are really nothing more than another technology thing. Like all technology, they’re only dangerous if put in the wrong hands.”

He also reminded me that one of the primary customers he designs computer program marketing for happens to be the biggest firearm distributor around, and it wouldn’t hurt for him to understand the company’s product experientially rather than academically. He said that almost everyone around his office has gone to the shooting range and they all say it is a remarkable experience.
He added, “There’s also the fact that knowing how to shoot a gun, experiencing the power and sound and noting your emotional response, will no doubt give you something compelling to write about.  Last but not least, learning to handle a firearm is an important skill. The fact is, if we are ever going out on an overnight trip on a boat or if we ever choose to live somewhere remote, we will want to have a gun just in case. Knowing how to use one properly is important for your safety.  But mostly, I was just thinking it would be fun and different.”

Well, fun and different is certainly important…. and the fact that I’m with someone who worries about and constantly considers my health and safety always touches me deeply. 

So this summer, in addition to taking a drawing class and learning to play guitar, I’m gonna be a yogi packin’. Leave it to David to take something that could be aggressive,  invasive, or politically questionable, and turn it into yet another opportunity to reinforcing my feelings that, with him, I’ll always be loved, cherished and protected.

Thanks to David’s sense of adventure, summer will be a blast…. if I don’t shoot myself in the foot.


A life you can savor…

  Yesterday I was feeling overworked and nostalgic for a bit of country living, so I decided to pause and give myself what I was craving. I drove out to Huntsader farms (only a quick 20 minutes up the road) where they currently offer a variety of u-pick produce and everyone says you can get a big bag of tomatoes for only a dollar. When I got there, everything seemed sadly familiar –  the stand was quaint and authentically country like the places I loved in Georgia– and I couldn’t bear to go out to the u-pick fields myself. I decided instead to come back with Neva and David later to enjoy an afternoon in the sun among the growing plants. (A good decision since when I picked up Neva from school her eyebrows shot up and she said, “You did NOT go to u-pick without me…” I assured her I was waiting until we could all go together.)  But since I didn’t want to waste the drive, I picked up tomatoes for only 6.00 a case.

     In Georgia, I grew my own veggies but if I wanted to make a big batch of canned sauce, I needed to purchase a load of extra tomatoes, so I would go to the flea market and purchase tomatoes that didn’t because the fruit was starting to turn. I was lucky if I got them for 20.00 a box. Here, I can get tomatoes that are fresh, perfect and only 6.00? Wow. I bought two cases.
   I also picked up some onions, squash, beans and cantaloupe. After loading my car, I sipped a bit of cider and walked around enjoying the ambiance. I visited the goats and the barn and thought of both my happy and not so happy memories of Georgia. I ran a hand over a tractor parked on the gravel road, and talked to a kind woman in the store who talked about what produce was going to be available next month.

     I used to visit this farm once a year, on our annual preschool outing for the pumpkin fest. Meanwhile, I pined for our annual trip to Georgia to see fall leaves and enjoy the quaint ambiance of the country. I could have had a taste of country anytime, if I just got in the car and drove a few minutes. I wasted so many years living in this diverse, opportunity laden place while living such a narrow life where all I experienced was work and an occational visit to the mall. For some reason, Mark and I believed we had to leave the region to have fun. We were so short sighted. 

    Today, I spent the morning cooking fresh marinara sauce. I blanched and peeled a case of the tomatoes, and cooked them down with other veggies and spices I gathered, along with more tomatoes, from my own garden. As I chopped and pealed the sauce bubbled. Music blared through the house. I danced and sang as I cooked, hit with a swell of happiness.

     When I drove away from Georgia on the fateful day I moved back to Sarasota, I was devastated, believing I was leaving all my dreams and everything I loved behind. For two years, I felt so empty I couldn’t imagine a happy life much less muster the energy to pursue one. But one by one, the passions of my life are returning to me, and my dreams seem more real and attainable now than ever before – I was up against impenetrable obstacles back then, even while I had more resources than most people ever have in a lifetime. Now, on the surface it looks as if I have less opportunity to create the life of my design, but the truth is,  I’ve never felt closer to achieving the kind of life I can be proud of and contented with.

     David sent me an e-mail yesterday. He wanted me to see a listing for a ten acre piece of land that is horse and airplane friendly. The lot is situated a short drive from my studio in a community where people have gardens and chickens and pools and many have private planes in hangers – there’s a small runway too. Thanks to the economy having lowered land prices, gorgeous tracks of land like this are available now, close enough to Sarasota to continue working here, yet remarkably affordable for anyone willing to drive a bit. Some of these lots have older houses on them that we could remodel, or we could buy land only and build a Zen-sort of house ourselves (if I can get past my panic at the idea of letting the man I love ever build a house again.)


    David said, “We might really be ready to try for something like this in about a year if we stay on track with our life recovery plan (we are both working like dogs to build a life and make up for huge setbacks due to our past mistakes, and slowly our hard work is moving us the right direction.) “But you would have to be OK with the twenty minute drive.”

    Are you kidding, I thought. In Georgia I drove 45 minutes a day just to get milk or take my daughter to school. It took an entire day to go to Atlanta if I wanted to be exposed to culture or professional services….  Things cost more, and there were very few options for work or embellishing a life. A twenty minutes trek to live in a personal paradise where I could raise with bees and have a wine cellar for homemade wine, and keep chickens and maybe even a horse or two, and where David can have a workshop and together we can work, him at a job and me running a business with serious potential, and perhaps have a project boat for the occational weekend on the water – all in a place where we can enjoy the culture and enrichment of a sophisticated town as well, is too good to be true.

    I stood in my kitchen happily squeezing the juice out of my tomatoes thinking that I’ve spent more time in canoes and kayaks enjoying nature in the last two months here in Florida than my entire 5 years in Georgia – I enjoyed taking classes in folk crafts at the Campbell school there, but classes like that had been available here all along – I just never ventured out of my narrow existence to partake. Since returning to Florida I’ve discovered classes in art and craft subjects at the local college, in art galleries, in speciality pottery and bead stgores and in art centers. I’m signed up for a drawing class this summer (to help me with art journaling) and Neva and I are thinking of taking a language class together this summer too. Neva signed up for a cupcake making class at the Publix cooking school recently.  I’ve stumbled upon beading, boating, literature and pottery classes, writing groups and horseback riding, running and scuba clubs. My list of “gonna do one of these days when I carve out the time”, is growing.  I have an amazing library for when I need to do research, wholefoods or the farmer’s market for stocking up on organic fare, art festivals and live music, and beaches and quaint shops down by the shore for entertainment. I have museums, movies and concerts and an airport only a five minute drive away. The only thing I’m missing from my former life is the Georgia mud. And what’s most important is now I appreciate the wealth of opportunity and paths to personal growth that are all around me now.  Nature abounds… you just have to drive past the mall to one of the national parks nearby, or to the florida country farms, or to the seashore, or the swamps…..

    When I lived here before, I thought Sarasota was primarily shopping, restaurants and concrete. I thought the people were demanding and stressed and had their priorities out of order. Georgia seemed a beacon of peace –  but rather than retiring in the quiet, happy world I expected, what I landed in was a place of ignorance, lonliness, and more stress, disappointment and loss than I ever had to deal with here.
   My Georgia adventure taught me that that what we feel inwardly is simply a reflection of what we project outwardly. People in Sarasota didn’t have priorities out of line as we supposed  – Mark and I simply lived a life out of balance and we projected our discontent on others. We missed out on all the beauty and opportunity of Sarasota because we were too set in a narrow grove of habit to embrace the joys, entertainment and discovery that was right before us. We ran off to Disney or drove to Georgia seeking relief from our problems, when all along what needed to change was our own attitude and perception of the world. Ah well, I have a new perspective now, and thanks to that, life here is different this time around.  


  A few minutes ago, I went out and checked my lovebirds to see if the eggs have hatched. My curious, beloved dog wagged his tail at my feet and I smiled thinking that animal adventures come in all sizes.

I walked out to my garden to get some parsley and basil for my sauce and checked the blooms on my pepper plants, eager to see the promise a new crop. I took the remains of cut up veggies to my huge smoldering compost heap out back and tapped the oriental chimes in the trees to cause them to softly fill the air with music. Then, I came inside to check my e-mail to find a message from the editor of a local magazine who is running an article I wrote that will be published next month.. I looked to see if I’d gotten a response from the agent who requested my book – sigh, not yet – but hey, I’m writing again, enjoying what for me is an artistic outlet that gives life clarity. I also read a message from a writing student who is throwing a party this weekend to celebrate the book he wrote (inspired from essays he wrote in my class) that he just self-published. While my sauce is cooking, I will spend some time reading his manuscript so I can fully appreciate his celebration on Sunday.  Tonight, my daughter is having a friend over, a child I consider a wonderful influence because when they are together they always make cupcakes or cards rather than holing up in a room on a computer….. We will all go to the dollar movie theater and have a great night out for only 10 bucks- proving that life here is economically better, as well filled with opportunity to be productive and/or give back to others.
   Tomorrow, at work, I’m scheduled to interview two people interested in yoga teacher training this summer. I will start the day with yoga then I will teach dance to students I love. In between I’ll laugh with my staff, a group of positive, talented and committed individuals who appreciate and value me as their “fearless leader”. Oh how I missed the down to earth kidding of my dance peeps going crazy at recital time.

    Today I’m thinking of how rich my life is. I have a lovely home that reflects my personality, a very happy, well-adjusted child I can hug at will, and a business that is growing roots, building, providing me with the opportunity to do what I love. Every day I meet amazing people.   I am healthier than I’ve been in years – emotionally and physically. I am loved and appreciated by an amazing man who shares my life values, work ethic, personal interests, and long term vision for a life of substance. He is a true partner, sharing in the work, decisions, and efforts required to make our life unfold in the best of ways. We will spend the weekend balancing work and friends. We will eat homemade sauce for dinner and talk about how lovely it is to eat organic food grown in our own garden. He’ll share what happened in his work day, and I’ll talk about making sauce and the great call I had from my son.  Perhaps my birds will hatch. Perhaps that agent will write. Perhaps I’ll win the lottery. Ha. Perhaps I already have.  

     There is a Buddhist saying – you must lose everything to gain the world.

    A year ago, I kept reading that over and over, certain it couldn’t possibly be true for me. The devastation I felt over the loss of my family and the life I anticipated and worked for for years and years, but never reached, was more than I could bear.

    Now, I feel differently. All of life is perspective and the juxtaposition of my former life, with all its drama and dissapointment, next to my life now, which may not be easy, but is loving and filled with hope and respect and small pleasures, reminds me that finding happiness requires a person to be pro-active. It isn’t about chasing the things that you assume will make you happy “if only…” Happiness doesn’t come “later” when all your ducks are in a row. Happiness is being wise enough to recognize the things that truly make a person happy are all around you and if you can’t embrace them now, you never will. Our job, each and every one of us, is to honor and celebrate the subtle gifts that life bestows.  


New Brighter color….
The color Mother Nature (who is supposed to know best) likes…..

  Everyone wants me to be a redhead. My staff, my friends, my fiancé, my daughter, my mother (most of all) – everyone.

    Everyone except Mother Nature, that is, because she’s decided it’s time for the old girl to fade into the land of blond-ish red. Despite my best intentions and sincere efforts to keep my hair color true to its former (younger) red splendor, the sun and my older textured hair just won’t get with the program. I can color my hair any shade of red I want, but within a few days, its back to the natural strawberry blonde shade as if my pillow is made of bleach. When I garden or do anything outdoors, I instantly lean to blonde. Meanwhile, people are convinced I’m lightening up on purpose, going for some funky platinum, streaked look. 
   They all say, “The strawberry color is beautiful, but really, I miss the red. The brighter color suits you best.”

    I will never understand how a color from a bottle “suits me” better than the natural evolution of my hair as age settles in. Ah well. I guess when you are an authentic redhead all your life, people associate the color to your personality and anything quieter seems a bit off base.

    I’ve been spending time outdoors with gardening, our retreat and such, so my hair has gotten very light lately. And everyone has mentioned it. They drop subtle (or not so subtle) hints that I’m blonder than I should be. Frankly, I like my hair red too, but I’m all for letting my hair do what it wants naturally. I rather not get too wrapped up in fighting the natural process of ageing – to me there is nothing more unbecoming than a woman in her 50’s acting like she’s some  20 something wannabe, wearing jeans and clogs and trying to be sophisticated-cool in her speech and manner. I rather celebrate my age with class (not to be confused with becoming dowdy or lacking style…) Let me work with nature and grow older with my own attractive style, rather than be in desperate self-denial where, because I’m not fat and I throw on a 70’s jeans jacket, I believe my 50 looks like 35 to everyone else. (People that believe they look much younger than they are always seem naïve to me. People tell me that I look 40, or that I haven’t changed at all since they saw me ten years ago, all the time, but I don’t buy it. Our skin, our eyes, and our wisdom reveal our maturity, no matter what we wear or how we manage to exercise, tuck, or dye parts of us to keep the status quo on the surface.)

    I’d say at least 50% of the people I know my age all believe they look younger than everyone else their age – but what I believe is happening is we all look younger than our parents looked at this age. Our generation is so hung up on youth we ACT younger and live less conservative lifestyles, and this convinces us that our 50 is like 35. Ha. We might look well-preserved and great for our age, and we may cling to a bit of immaturity so our world doesn’t don’t resemble our conservative parents, but still, we all look our age –we just look 50 for what a 50 year old in 2012 looks like…

Despite that speech, I also realize that if so many people mention that I should be red, there might be something to it and perhaps, I should listen – at least a bit.

Yesterday I decided to listen.

    Albertsons, the grocery store closest to my home, is going out of business. Everything in the store is 50% off. David keeps stopping by on the way home from work to get things he finds at bargain prices that he thinks we can’t live without – real necessities, like a dozen cans of clams or 600 wooden skewers for shishkabobs – we now have enough skewers to last the rest of our lives – and boy am I relived I’ll never have to worry about sishkabob deficiency.

   Yesterday, he told me he picked me up some hair color too.

    I said, “YOU picked up hair color for ME? How do you know what kind or color to get?”

    He said, “I’ve seen the box after you’ve colored your hair, so of course I know what brand and color you use. That stuff can add up and since all the hair products are on clearance, I figured you might want to stock up. I got you the color you use, and also the color you’re supposed to be.”

    “What do you mean the color I’m supposed to be? Do you mean the color you want me to be? ”

    I have never heard David say an offensive thing to or about anyone – he is a model of class and respect for others, so he was quick to back pedal and assure me that he loves me as I am and always will – blonde, red, gray, or bald…. He was only trying to help out by picking up hair color for me. (Of course, I knew that. I was only teasing him.)

    He shrugged innocently. “Remember, I see you where the sun don’t shine, so I know the true color of your hair, or at least the color God designed for you, so I thought it would be natural to go back to that color. It’s your authentic state, so why not…..”


    Now, I know from experience that if I go with any of the copper or bright red dyes, my very porous hair will come out looking like I took a magic marker to it. It will be bright. Really bright. But only for a day or two, because then it will turn back to strawberry blond, like it or not. So it is not like I’m taking some risk of ruining my hair if I color it bright red on a whim. I keep telling my mother, my staff and others that for all I know they want me red, give it up. It’s a losing battle. But today I thought what the heck…. I marched into the bathroom with David’s L’Oreal copper red hair color and did the deed just to make everyone happy. I figure I’ll be the redhead they all know and love for a few days, and when my hair returns to its equilibrium color, I can show them all that my being blond-ish isn’t because I’m not responsive to their preferences.

    As expected, my hair came out bright with some areas flashing copper and others seeming more auburn.

    When I picked Neva up from school, she lifted her eyebrows and said, “Wow, Mom. You’re red. It’s crazy sexy looking. It doesn’t seem right….. Moms are not supposed to be sexy…..”

     “Never fear, I’ll be back to strawberry blonde in about three days.”

     “It’s streaky. Wildly red in some areas, more normal in others. What is that all about?”

    “That is how my hair responds to really bright red dye. I can put the product on equally, but drier areas suck the color in and other areas, where the gray is starting to show, are resistant. Takes a day or two for the color to settle. By next week, I’ll be back to my all over blond-ish red.”

      “David is gonna love it. You look dramatic and younger and … actually, I really like it…. In fact, you should keep it that way,”

    Of course she feels that way. She’s used to kids at her school with purple hair or tuti fruity stripes. “Couldn’t even if I wanted to…”

    “People are going to be surprised when they see it at the studio today… You are really RED! Like a movie star. “

    “You don’t think I’m going to work like this. I’m putting it up.”
     She laughed. “Yea, I don’t blame you.”

     I sent David a picture. Of course, he responded favorably. One of the loveliest things about him is that he is genuinely happy when I make even the smallest gesture to please him. He appreciates appreciation, if that makes any sense. And I swear, all men share a fantasy about lusty, passionate redheads… they say blondes have more fun, but it’s the redheads that get the male second-take looks. And just to prove it – I’ll add a picture that was sent to me by an artist I dated before meeting David. This was his perception of how I look (or the way he liked to imagine me….)
 after he color corrected a picture he took from my facebook page.

    Anyway, the hair color incident isn’t at all about me trying to please others, or proving a point, or trying to look exotic or fighting Mother Nature. 

     I just keep imagining David in the hair product aisle, picking up different boxes of color and contemplating which ones he thinks I’ll appreciate and use, then spending his own money on the product to help me stretch my very tight budget. I imagine what went through his mind as he pictured me with each color, and his thoughts as he left the product on my sink, the chance he took that, instead of appreciating his gesture, I might have twisted the meaning into his wanting me to change, rather than proof he is a man who constantly takes giving and consideration to a whole new level.  

My hair will fade overnight, but my awareness and the marvel of David’s genuine and endless acts of caring are permanent……..



I received a very special gift from David on mother’s day, two colorful lovebirds that are sitting on 5 eggs. The babies are due to hatch in about 10 days. I can’t wait! It’s been a long time since I’ve had what I will call “exploratory fun with nature”. Oh, how I miss the simple joy of interacting with nature as it unfolds under my observation and care. My time in Georgia had plenty of sadness on the personal level, but at my barn, as I raised a baby horse, a baby llama, hatched peacocks and ducks by hand, learned about chickens and goats, cared for my donkey, and tried training horses etc…… I was touched in ways that changed me forever. My anticipation of hand feeding baby lovebirds brushes against that authentic place inside that  makes me feel deeply alive and connected to the world.
     Every day I come face to face with evidence that a person doesn’t have to be retired or living on 50 acres to have a rich, natural life.  I feel such a sense of promise as I realize I can feel the amazing sense of contribution I get from building a business at what I love, can provide an quality life for my daughter (and myself) in a place that offers art, opportunity and diversity AND my life also can include animals and gardening and hiking and kayaking and the sea and open country, and cooking and writing… David can build things and follow his interests and at the same time, he continues to work and plan for our future. We are busy and overworked and worried about money, but still, each day we ease closer to the life I’ve always known was possible if a person just recognized and appreciated the vast opportunity available in a diverse place like Sarasota. The point is, as my life takes shape again, I couldn’t be happier to see just how expansive and fulfilling can, and will, be.

I suppose an explanation of how we came to find brooding birds should be shared.

I currently have a beloved Hahns Macaw pet. He is the smallest breed of Macaw parrot, and the brightest. A tad bigger than a conure, these birds are not loud or obnoxious and they are easily trained and gentle by nature, so they are sought after as pets. I began looking for a bird to adopt from bird rescue months before taking the plunge. I often browsed the internet just for the entertainment of it – dreaming –  wanting a new pet – but I knew I should hold off until I got out of my small apartment and could afford to care for the bird properly. For fun, I perused craigslist to view the tons of amazing deals there for rehoming birds. Parrots live anywhere from 30-99 years so, of course many people find themselves in situations where they their lifestyle no longer is conducive to a bird. Because they are attached to their pet, they sell the bird for enough money to assure only a responsible, established person can afford to take them on. Still, they let the birds go for much less than a pet store would charge. After months of looking (when I knew I was finally moving to a house) I started shopping in earnest. I was leaning towards an African Grey and was negotiating to buy one when I saw the ad for the Hahns Macaw. I liked the idea of a smaller, smarter bird, and unlike regular Macaws, Cockatoo’s or Amazon parrots, finding a Hahns Macaw on Craig’s list was rare. So, I drove to Tampa to get my bird. He only cost me fewer than 200, when normally these breeds are between 600-700 dollars – a great deal.  (And there is a poignant story behind how and why I bought a bird at all, but I will save that for another time.) 

Anyway, I named the bird Whynot, and I adore him.
The thing is, I work often and I worry that some days he is lonely, so when I have free time, I browse Craig’s list just to see what is out there thinking that someday, when the right bird is available, I might just take the plunge again and get him a companion.  I’ve been looking at sun conures since that breed is close in size to my mini, knowing it is unlikely I’ll find another Hahns macaw. Since it is fun to window-shop, I started looking at lovebirds too, and low and behold, the other day I see that a man right near me is selling two fisher lovebirds with their cage and five eggs they are sitting on – all for  only 75.00! Of course, it is the eggs that pulled at my heart strings.

Naturally, I was curious about how people go about raising lovebirds, so I watched some YouTube videos of lovebird hatchings and saw how to train, feed and care for lovebirds. I read about raising and breeding lovebirds to see how much sleep a person would lose if a mother bird didn’t do her job, and I wondered if a person did or did not have to hand feed them. Once I had enough information to understand what breeding lovebirds involved, (they take care of themselves if you choose not to get involved – kinda like chickens) I started thinking how much I would love a new project like that.

I mentioned how interesting it all seemed and how the idea of raising baby birds again awakened this primal feeling of happiness that I lost when I left my dreams behind in Georgia, and David  instantly said, “Let me buy them for you as a mother’s day present. It will be fun.”

He had already taken Neva and I out to lunch. He cleaned my car (twice thanks to a trip we made to visit his Mom and the lovebugs that were in our path). He bought me a beautiful card and we were all going to a movie later that night for Mother’s day, so he certainly didn’t need to do anything else to make the day wonderful. But, unable to resist the offer , I made the call. Ten minutes later, we were at the seller’s very interesting home to pick up the birds. The seller looked to be in his 50’s, and seemed extremely nice. He is in a band and he had about 16 guitars, (some vintage, collector’s items, and some state of the art, common guitars) hanging all over his walls. His home was eclectic and artistic with a big Tikki bar on the porch designed with bird perches and a beer keg running right through the wall of his home to an indoor fridge. I could see David’s mind spinning as he ran his hands along the lacquered top and checked out how the inviting bar was made, viewing the roof and supports and reengineering it in his mind. (We have some big aspirations for our home and often discuss the many directions we want to go to make our outdoor living space more inviting and conducive to entertaining….)

 The man had a big amazon parrot in one corner, the lovebirds were in another. He explained that he gotten the lovebirds two years earlier on Father’s day (so passing them to a mother on mother’s day seemed perfect).  They are called Leila and Paco. Since the beginning, he let his birds roam free. Recently, they were missing, and he found them under a shelf on a bookcase nearby sitting on a nest they had built. The female had laid 5 eggs and was brooding.The guy said he would love seeing babies hatch, but he was not up for the responsibility, so he put them on craigslist that day because he thought it best to let them go to someone who would be into the project. He was thrilled to hear my history with raising birds, even though I admitted I had zero parrot experience so he probably shouldn’t be so quick to trust me with this responsibility. We talked a while about what might happen if we moved the eggs, but finding them a new home seemed in the best interest of both the birds and the humans involved, so we loaded the nest into a shoebox that we hoped would assimilate her current breeding space and loaded the birds into my car.

The man not only gave us the birds and cage, but threw in a bird stand for the porch – something David was just getting ready to build for Whynot this week (and still might since his version will no doubt be more involved).Within ten minutes we were home and the new birds were fully set up on the porch. It couldn’t have been easier.

Sure enough, the mother and father both were curious about their new situation, so they came out of the nest to explore. I waited with bated breath, hoping they would return to their job of caring for the eggs. I’d feel horrible if, by moving them, 5 potential baby lovebirds didn’t make it. Neva wanted me to force the mother to stay in the nest, but I assured her that instinct would kick in (of course, I wasn’t sure, just praying…)

About ten minutes later, the mom went into her shoebox for the night. Bingo! We went to the movie, confident that all was in order, and when we returned, both the mom and dad bird were in the nest, caring for the eggs.    

Now, I have a few weeks to learn about lovebirds. I plan to let the mom & dad feed the babies for three weeks until the young birds feather and are substantial enough to be handled easily, and then I will take over the hand feeding for the next three weeks to be sure the birds are very people friendly and trainable. I look forward to getting Neva involved too. The longer she is here, the more her interest in nature and the environment is rekindled. She often visits my garden now. She has taken a serious interest in photographing wildlife, and she has even asked me if I’m up for a new bunny. (Umm…..not at this time.) Together, we are reclaiming the joys and connections that we shared during our wonderful years in Georgia together. There are a million reasons why this means the world to me – primarily because I see my daughter growing up with expansive interests and an awareness in ecology and the environment once again. She is becoming a woman of substance who is interesting and aware and curious about the world, and I couldn’t be prouder. 

So, here we go… we are wading into the shallow waters of a new animal adventure… I’m going to raise lovebirds. David and Neva are on board. Fun! 

Meanwhile, it is going to rain today. Hard. I went out and harvested some veggies from my garden this morning and deadheaded my flowers so the rain can nurture the best of the plant. Growth is everywhere….. in the garden and beyond. (But from this picture, obviously, not in the grass…. um… that is another project on the “to do” list…..). But today is for making soup, sitting on the porch with coffee to watch the new birds peek out of their nest, and to enjoy the rain while I do some business planning on a yellow pad. Nice to have some quiet time at home before going in to teach later…. 
Life is all about balance…..

Retreating into my work…..

(If reading about my business interests doesn’t appeal to you, consider skipping to the end to enjoy the fun pictures of last week’s retreat!)

 The most wonderful element of my work is that my business feels like a living, ever-expanding, creative entity.  New doors are constantly being opened as I heed inspiration and explore new ideas for growth in an effort to diversify and become solvent as a new, struggling enterprize. I keep reminding myself that my most successful endeavors began as nothing more than the seed of an idea, that tended with a bit of research, muscle and focused effort, flowered into a fascinating limb of my overall work life. In my former business, the preschool, the newsletter of Creative Dance Concepts, Kiddance teacher’s training & the syllabus , aftercare programs, buses, Children’s Dance Center, etc… were all born of small ideas that I couldn’t help but pursue, hoping they would manifest into something that would make a contribution to our overall professional survival. Seeking new, creative means to keep us financially solvent enough to raise a family of five on a little dance school income led to consistent growth and change, which meant there was always a new challenge and learning curve to deal with. At least we never felt stagnant or trapped in the same dull circle of business activity. I always have and always will love the endless potential for personal and professional growth that comes with owning a business.
      My current dance/yoga studio has provided me with the same sort of endless possibilities for creativity as I enjoyed in the past. I’ve done what I can to keep the positive elements of my former dance program intact, but I’ve added Yoga to the dance mix this time around. Yoga has opened amazing new doors, leading to aerial yoga and teacher’s training. I’m still trying to create a hybrid program of yoga and dance for young people to meet the needs of our changing society, and I dream of creating young artists who are as emotionally balanced as they are well trained. But dance has been hard to get off the ground this time around. I have quite a few young dancers, and  the numbers are growing. Eventually, my young program students will grow to be dynamic dancers, but it will take time.Most people are resistant to change and they challenge any new approach to training because they don’t trust the unfamiliar. 
    This same resistance was the case with my children’s program. When we first introduced the commercially driven creative movement program everyone said, “That’s not real dance. Dance schools have always taught little children’s classes differently and your way isn’t traditional, so it must certainly be wrong.” I was ostracized for the music, the syllabus, and the theatrical effects that were part of the program . But results speak for themselves, and in time, no one was denying the merit of the program. Now, years later, everyone is using the system and the method is considered mainstream. Sometimes I envy the people who ease into business in the wake or those who were the forerunner of new ideas – but I guess, given a choice, I prefer the struggles of being a leader rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s vision.
   Anyway, diversifying my business is a little like throwing darts and seeing what hits. Adding new programs or services means I’m always investing IN my school rather than taking anything OUT, which I can little afford to do in my position, but pursuing many threads makes every day at work fascinating and filled with possibilities for the future.
  Still, there are only so many hours in a day and only so much energy in a body. So I’ve been carefully trying to expand the reach of my business to include areas that will provide income without it being as draining of time or physical energy as teaching can be . 
     I found a company in Bali to make me yoga swings with the ReFlex label which I sell at my aerial training workshops, in my studio and on e-bay. I’m working on developing an aerial yoga training website with David where people can get on-line aerial yoga certification – this project involves a huge amount of effort upfront, but would be something that would give back later without huge demands of time or physical energy. I figure the more my work life balances out with extra sources of income, the more I can devote myself to the things I love that don’t make money – such as offering scholarship dance programs or working with special needs kids or giving workshops to aspiring writers. And I still crave time to write my own books or garden or to do whatever calls to my heart while providing for my family financially – so I need to balance the needs of my work-life with my private life.
   The other day, while handing David his morning cup of coffee, and I said, “Honey, I know we are stressed for time and energy, but I’m thinking of creating an import business on the side of my current business. I would love to create an entire on-line store with yoga accessories (beyond aerial swings), with mats, jewelry and original t-shirts and other things. I don’t have cash to invest up front, but if I keep rolling everything I make on swings into new products, over time I ‘ll have a full store. It means hard work and sacrifice now, but less work & sacrifice later. How do you feel about that?”
    I expected him to sigh and be annoyed, because the concept will no doubt create work for him since he helps me with website design and bookkeeping and all things technical (which is the bulk of setting up this idea). He has a full time job and yet teaches a few yoga classes for me in the early mornings and he helps with my accounting & studio maintenance too. The man has dreams and special interests of his own, so I’m deeply aware that every time he devotes time to one of my projects, he’s stealing time from his own. I fret over this because my ex used to be totally put out and resentful when I pushed the envelope of our business. The man loved the financial rewards of my ambition, but hated having to contribute to the work required to put ideas and concepts into action , and years of his complaining and acccusing me of creating work for him has me conditioned to feel guilty and apologize whenever I want to do something that requires help in any way. Luckily, David’s reaction to my ideas is totally different.
   He just smiled and said, “I think that would be fantastic. I can set up drop shipping and create a secure website. I’ll look into the cost of warehouses in the area if you want to do any of the shipping from here. I’d love to design some aerial shirts to sell on the site. And maybe after we get an online store going, we can do a trip to Asian to set up some import contracts in person. This will be a
big project and it will take some time, but once it’s set up, we could live anywhere and maintain the site, so if life throws us any curveballs regarding your studio surviving or my job not being secure, or if we ever want to retire to a desert island or something, we’ll always have this side business to contribute to livelihood. I love the way your mind works.”
      I let out a sigh of relief.    Building my business used to be like swimming upstream against a powerful current. With David, hard work is still hard work, but building a business feels more like I’m floating with the current. The ride is choppy, often I feel one step away from drowning, but at least I don’t have to feel badly about wanting to pursue opportunities to build a future, and hopefully retire someday. Huge difference when it comes to my being able to work happily. 
     Anyway, now, I am diving in, heart first, into yet another project. Retreats. I have always wanted to travel. I love teaching yoga and meditation. And I absolutely love teaching writing & journaling (been diligently putting my MFA to use by offering free classes and workshops for two years now at the Friendship Center, and small low cost writing courses at ReFlex and St. Pete Yoga to hone my skills as a writing teacher. I’ve developed into quite a good writing mentor, or so I’m told by some very appreciative students.) 
  Anyway, putting together retreats means I can combine everything I love (and everything I’m well trained to do) into one wonderful week of teaching and travel. So, I’ve been doing research, crunching numbers, studying successful retreats on the market, and thinking through the pros and cons of putting together a writing/yoga retreat that will be unique from others due to the various experience and talents David and I can bring to the table. I’ve found some amazing locations (one in Costa Rica, one in Belize, and one in Ireland) and I’m currently working on a business budget, researching marketing avenues and all the other details that must be attended to in order for the dream to manifest into something tangible and realistic.

As I work on business plans, I send them to David for feedback. He takes the ball and runs with it, sending me his research on the foreign exchange rates, cultural issues I might want to consider, seasonal weather, or travel details – He is enthusiastic – willing and ready to be a part of retreats as both a teacher and coordinator. His enthusiasm and positive energy spurs me on. We both love travel, exploring different cultures, writing and yoga. Retreats are a way we can have shared adventures while working in an areas we love, and we get the bonus of interacting with wonderful people too.  And he makes me feel appreciated and admired for my efforts to contribute to our financial situation, and positive reinforcement like that always takes the frustration out of working hard.  

Anyway, as I began working to design a week long retreat in a foreign country, it occurred to me everything I’m planning is theoretical rather than based in experience, and that is risky. It would be smart to do some test runs here at home to play with ideas so I have evidence of what works and what doesn’t.  A few one day retreats at home would allow me to explore what it is like to work with David too. If we want to pull off an event together, we need to know how tasks will be divided and see if we can work in harmony under pressure. It is easy to sit on a couch and talk about grand ideas – another thing altogether to test if each of us can make the sacrifices and share the stress and effort involved. So, with only two weeks’ notice, I told David I was planning a retreat, and I outlined the things I hoped he’d contribute. I created a flyer, found a location, did some marketing, rented a pavilion at Myakka & boats, planned a day of activities, and put the event “out there” to see what would happen.

Twenty people joined us (Well, only 17 because you can’t count David, me and Neva). The people who attended had a great time, got much needed inspiration and rest, and David and I learned everything we needed regarding how we work together. I’m now planning four more day retreats at ReFlex in the coming year, as well as some long weekend retreats at a few Florida destinations, and perhaps even a night retreat to star gaze. Yoga under the moon, a bon fire, good conversations… I imagine an evening retreat when Florida is too hot to do yoga outdoors during the daytime would be great fun.

Sometimes you open a door and step through and it leads you someplace wonderful with a thousand new options to explore. Other times, you find a door leads you to nothing but a closet and you feel trapped, so you get out there pronto. Retreats look to become a door to many more doors.   

I will share a few pictures of our first retreat– because, as they say, a picture says more than a thousand words. The event was hard work, we only broke even, and it took a great deal out of us considering we were beginning from scratch and supplies had to be bought, made or collected– but it was worth the time and effort. We took notes regarding how we’d do things differently and created a “retreat trunk” filled with materials we now have to use for ll future retreats. Our first retreat was a research project, and the first of building blocks to many future events.
      If you have to work like crazy (which circumstances have made necessary for me at this stage of life), nothing compares to working outside in beautiful nature and doing what you love with people you love. I’m grateful for the opportunities I have to live a creative life. And I’m grateful that I’m not alone in the endeavor to rebuild my life. 

So… here is my retreat pix ……We began with outdoor practice to the sounds of birds and early morning breezes.

We set up a table with art supplies and nature & art journaling books (I have dozens). I hoped people would browse a bit, but the actually poured over the materials and tried their hand at leaf rubbings an nature art, then perused my 30 pages of journling prompts (I have been compiling these materials for a while now.)  and they went to small corners of the park to write, contemplate or try the exercises. It was so lovely….
We set up aerial swings on the grounds and decorated the area with inspirational signs with quotes from Throeau and Emerson. I had readings prepared from moving transcendental literature for guided meditation. David designed a rope system that protects the trees  and makes it simple to hang swings from any height. We can take them anywhere now….

After David barbecued veggie burgers for our all vegetarian cleansing lunch (I made pasta salad, a salad bar, fruit, nuts, granola bars, sun tea etc… we all explored the park. Some enjoyed photographing the grounds or found nooks for quiet contemplation.  Everyone visited the canopy walkway to enjoy the view 75 feet above the forest.  

In the afternoon, we all met at the lake for a canoe lesson from David. He taught paddling as a metaphor for life (you must work with your partner, expecially when the current
makes the trip temporarily tough . There was beauty all around, laughter … and alligators!



But the most fun, was our Buddha trail. My daughter and a yoga teacher friend went into the woods and hid 13 buddhas in the trees and underbrush of a hiking trail. Our guests walked  the trail for a mindful exercise, seeking buddha in nature. They paused to write or draw what they witnessed. And others hiking Myyaka enjoyed the Buddha trail too and thanked us for the fun. It was memorable…

Peace and wisdom is easy to find if you just train yourself to see clearly and pause to appreciate the small things that make you smile. As I say to my yoga students all the time….. that is a lesson you can take off the mat and into your life! 

My Dharma -Yoga Teacher’s Training

This weekend (after a few morning classes at the studio on Saturday) will be the first I’ve had off in months. My weekends have been tied up with  yoga training, begining my own training in a yearlong 500 hour program that I had to juggle along with weekends devoted to the first RYT-200 program I taught at ReFlex (a killer schedule). When that was over, I immediately jumped into teaching my second RYT-200 program. My 2nd batch of beautiful yoga students graduated this week so at long last, I have 8 weekends off before my next summer immersion session (which involves 20 hour 3-day weekends EVERY weekend for ten weeks.) Meanwhile, on the rare weekends I might have had off, I’ve hosted three aerial yoga training weekends. I’m preparing now to add Chair yoga training to my offerings this summer. But Sundays are free now, even though I have to direct my attention to my upcoming recital now. Even so, I will be able to fit in a bit of beach time or kayak time, or writing. Sundays will be for personal pleasure for a while! Yea!
     But I’m not complaining. I absolutely love my work. People who want to get more involved in yoga are amazing, and these weekends, while long, are filled with poignancy, laughter, health, insight and meaningful conversation. Every time I guide a discussion, I learn as much as I teach, and studying yoga philosophy and physiology continuously continues to lead me deeper into self-understanding and wisdom.  Top that off with the fact that I feel a deep sense of contribution in my work and it is no wonder I’m willing to lose my weekends to live my personal dharma. People tell me the program alters their world and causes huge paradigm shifts in their life. I am deeply proud of that. Yoga is life altering –I’m the perfect case in point.

From the moment I decided to take teaching yoga seriously, I knew I’d wind up involved in teacher’s training. I’ve been teaching teachers in the dance field for years, and people have long told me I have a gift for inspiring others and putting information in easy to understand ways. Since putting together educational programs is a part of how my brain is hardwired, I spent the bulk of my time in my own yoga training assessing the program, thinking about worked and didn’t (for me) and what I would do differently. And when I sat down to consider designing a teacher’s training program of my own, I spent hours considering all the weaknesses in my own yoga education and I tried to come up with solutions to help others come out feeling more prepared to tackle the huge subject of yoga.

So I studied. I took classes, read a million books, got my higher certification, asked for guidance from a seasoned professional regarding how to handle the red tape of Yoga Alliance accreditation, struggled over a defined syllabus preparation, and 9 months later , was ready to dive in as director of ReFlex’s first program. It took all I have in me to keep ahead of the students and not fail them in any way, but the work paid off. I am deeply proud of the program at ReFlex, which is swiftly gaining a great reputation. My enrollment is bigger than the RYT program at schools who have been established for many years in this area and I’m just getting started.

My approach to yoga training is very down to earth, takes a broad view of yoga and is in many ways unique, though due to the stringent guidelines of Yoga Alliance, I cover all the traditional material. Wanting to circle the elephant to get a strong understanding,  I begin with a study of what yoga is (myth verses science) and then we study yoga history and the commercialism of yoga and how its popularity impacts the purity of the practice. We also study yoga styles in a comparison analysis so my teachers have a broad understanding of yoga in its many forms. We learn about Kundalini, Bikram, Ashtanga, Iyengar,  Anusara, and we explore hot yoga, yin yoga, restorative yoga and other popular classes.  Then we move  on to anatomy (thank God for David, because he and my dear , amazing friend, Cinde Carroll, cover this subject with slide shows, skeletons and lectures & practice (since I couldn’t possibly do the job decently) in a 20 hour workshop that covers bones, muscles, lymph system, physiology and theory. It is ten times more involved than what I received in my own training, an amazing study of the science of yoga.. Every experienced yoga teacher who works for me agrees, because every one of us feel our education in the area of anatomy was thrown out there too quickly to digest.) After we understand the body we begin breaking down every yoga pose so teachers learn not just how to do a pose correctly, but why, when and who should do it, as we study the cause and effect in the body. My students also study the Chakras, get Reiki trained (level 1) and spend hours studying and discussing the yoga sutras and personal intentions. Then I try to throw in fun extras, such as a 3 hour journaling course, a evening of Kirtan music and chanting, a meditation day, an outdoor retreat day and one weekend devoted to aerial yoga certification. There is no down time or busy work in my program. It’s all information overload and experimental learning! And at the end, the students each teach a (free to the public) class that they have to prepare themselves, and I give them feedback and an assessment.  As I write this I think it’s no wonder I’m tired. I cram more into one training course than most aspiring teachers could get in years of study.
  Anyway, the program continues to get more defined as it evolves to become what I consider a strong foundation for a yoga teacher.
  And now, I’m working on accrediting the school and thinking through a more involved program so I can offer a RYT 500 program for more advanced studies next year. I already have people waiting and eager to take the next level course, but before I will be  ready to do justice to the job– there is more to learn and plan. I am studying prenatal yoga and yoga therapy and ayurveda etc…  Small steps, ya know. And of course, I’m hot on the trail of preparing and offering a children’s yoga training course. It’s a natural fit considering my dance background and Guidance etc……… If only there were more hours in a day….

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few pictures of my yoga training activities…. The bet way to see what the training is like is to view our 7 minute slideshow. (David prepares one of each session to show at the graduation ceremony. It’s a great way to see not only our activities, but the great personalities and focused attention of some dynamic students.) I still love teaching dance and working with children. That always has been and always will be a very important element of my life – and I deeply love and appreciate my dance students, but I have discovered deep, poignant connections to the self-actualized adults who take on yoga teacher training. They are not just students, but friends, and people I expect to remain in touch with for the rest of my days.

Here is a link to one of the slide shows…

In conclusion: Even hard work can enrich your life if you are willing to make sacrifices to stay in a field that is authentic and uplifting. Anyway, somedays I feel I work way harder than anyone my age should have to and I don’t make much money for the time and effort involved, but I love the path I’m on even so….  But despite this glowing description…. STILL I’m looking forward to a few much needed weekends off…. 

Aerial Training

Chakra Studies (My students always do an alter to set the mood for their presentation, and they put 110% into it -he artistry and diversity is totally fun and noteworthy, but here, I’m just showing an example….)  
Reiki and Anatomy

Posture focus & study

Outdoor day – yoga outside, meditation, journaling, & paddling as a metaphor for life!
Yep… it is a full course  …. and by the end, we get tired. 

Competence is Sexy!

  “Do you know how sexy you are to me right now?” I said to David the other day.

    He lifted one eyebrow and opened his hands as if to surrender himself to further, ruthless teasing. He was wearing jeans and sandals and a faded shirt with his college nickname, Zombie, on it.

   “I’m not kidding,” I said.

   “Right. I’ve had this faded shirt since college, my hands are full of grease, and I didn’t take a shower this morning. My hair is sticking up funny and I forgot to bring my hat. I’m definitely a sex symbol.” 

     We had been up late the night before, working on our new house and we were tired. We’d made arrangements to purchase a baker’s rack on craigslist to hold jars of pasta and baskets of potatoes and onions in our kitchen because our pantry is too small to hold anything much, and the only time the seller could meet us was at 8am on a Wednesday – the only window of opportunity the man had for getting into the storage facility, or so he claimed.  David took half a day off from work to make this exchange. So, we rolled out of bed, tired and sore, unloaded the stuff in David’s pickup and met the seller at an abandoned apartment complex downtown (which explained the man’s inability to access the place at will).

    While going up the abandoned service elevator, the man shared the story of why the 20 plus story tower was evacuated. The foundation had begun to sink and stability was threatened and owners and city commissioners were in a legal battle about what to do or how to solve the complicated dilemma. People who owned condos in the building were forced out and now couldn’t sell their property for what it was formerly worth, and foreign investors have begun swooping in to purchase the real estate for a song, knowing that the building might be torn down and something else will eventually be built there – which makes sense considering the amazing view of the bay.

     Anyway, David had had a lengthy conversation about building structures and stress equations and the financial implications – a conversation touching on all kinds of things that his mechanical engineering background qualifies him to understand and give an opinion on. As usual, I was impressed with his body of knowledge.  

    When we got upstairs, the baker’s rack was as nice as we hoped from the picture, but it was heavy and too big to move, so David pulled some tools out of his pocket and began dismantling it, discussing the most efficient way to get the cumbersome structure downstairs and packed into his truck. On the way, he discussed another problem regarding the inefficient elevator and for no other reason than because his mind is always circling efficiency and creative ways of improving things, he threw out a few ideas about how he would fix that if he were in charge.

    I offered to help move the furniture, but David grinned and said, “We’ve got it handled.”  – He is not one to expect a woman to take on burdens that are traditionally a man’s task if her help isn’t absolutely necessary. So he maneuvered that heavy furniture on his own. And once we were in the garage, he smoothly loaded the baker’s rack into his truck with blankets that he thought to bring to protect the finish, and he tied everything down and paid the man with cash and opened the car door for me, forever the gentleman, and bent over to give me a kiss before he drove us off to a restaurant where we planned to have a nice breakfast to steal a few moments together before life demands took over again  …..

. . . And at that moment, I thought it would be nice to get more than a kiss from my boyfriend, because he just seemed really sexy in that faded college shirt and jeans and his old Indiana Jones hat and sweat collecting on his forehead. I saw him not as a scruffy, tired guy, but a man with a head so full of knowledge, and a heart so full of grace he was simply beautiful …. So I made the sexy comment, which seemed a joke, but wasn’t.

   “I know this sounds really stupid, but for me, competence is sexy.” I explained. “And everything about you is competent and smart. In the simple, everyday moments it hits me. What can I say? It turns me on, Babe.”

      “Well, I’m all yours, sweat and all,” he said.

      We went to Firstwatch for breakfast and the subject was dropped, but that night when we were in bed he rolled over in the dark and said, “You awake?”


     He’d been thinking about what I said, rolling the day about in his mind as he tends to do when he finally gets the chance to sink into the sheets after a long day. A mind like his stays active even when his body is ready to cave.

   “I know what you mean when you say competence is sexy. I feel the same way about you. I’ve never been with a woman who not only gets things done, but does everything so well. You contribute so much to building our life together. Every woman I’ve ever been with before has acted like it’s my responsibility to be the provider and the one taking care of every aspect of a functioning life simply because I’m the guy. They all wanted a good life, but they didn’t dig in to help make it happen. You are different. You clean the house, make me a lovely lunch to take to work every morning, do the laundry, garden and work outside, AND you work diligently to build a business too. You take financial responsibility for as much as you can and you have ambition and an incredible work ethic. On top of that you volunteer your time to less fortunate people, and in your spare time, you write books that move me to the pit of my soul. The other day you rearranged the entire living room while I was at work. I’ve never dated a woman who imagined herself strong or healthy enough to do something like that, much less one who would be willing to work that hard herself rather than wait for me to get home so she could order me to do her bidding.  You have business sense and common sense and yet you are nurturing, loving and you wake up with a cheerful attitude and you maintain a positive outlook even when times are tough. You appreciate me – and you have no idea how much I appreciate that you appreciate me. In short, you are extremely competent. So, I know exactly what you meant today. Competence IS sexy.”

    (So is having a lover make a flattering speech about you like that, but I didn’t make a point of it – at least not verbally.)

     From that day on, “Competence is Sexy” has been our catch phrase. When I painted the front door one afternoon, David took all the hardware off and installed a new doorknob. Rather than purchase a bunch of new keys, he rekeyed the system himself. In the middle of the job, he paused, looked over his shoulder and said, “In case you didn’t notice, I am not only installing a great new doorknob but I am following the directions on this complicated rekeying device in the most competent way….. Control yourself, Honey; I know that watching me handle this screwdriver efficiently is bound to make you overcome with desire…..”
      When my blow dryer kept blowing out the fuse in the bathroom, David went to the garage to reset the fuse.He was gone for ten minutes.

     “What took so long?”  I asked.

     “I just rewired the plug and altered the electrical hook ups so we didn’t have so much energy running through that outlet. Whoever wired this house really didn’t think through things…. But never fear, I fixed it. Just another day in the life of a competent boyfriend….” (and he held his hands out as if to welcome the hug and kisses he assumed I’d want to shower him with…)
     One day I complained that my finger hurt because, even though I couldn’t see it, I was convinced I had a tiny splinter from a cactus I picked up while gardening. When I came out from the bedroom, David had set up his nifty microscope, and he put my finger under the viewfinder to locate the invisible splinter. He showed me the miniscule thorns that kept it embedded in my skin and carefully removed the offending spike. For fun, he took the opportunity to teach me some interesting things about science while we had our morning coffee. Only a competent man thinks to pull out a microscope just because his girlfriend’s finger has a nagging sore spot…. and it felt so lovely, sexy in fact, that he cared enough to go to the trouble.    

     For all that this sounds silly, competence IS sexy, and I often feel compelled to let him know how much I admire his ability and willingness to do anything and everything he can to make our life “work”. Every day, every hour, I marvel at the productivity and efficiency of the man I’ve chosen to marry. There is a saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none….” But in David’s case, he is a master of all trades.  

    When I act impressed or appreciative, David, master of humility (as well as all trades), insists that the reason he knows so much is simply that he’s lived so long. (He is 59.) “Anyone who has been around as long as me is bound to have some life experience to draw from,” he says with a shy shrug.

     I appreciate that he has such a lack of ego that despite his having an amazingly high IQ and a wealth of accomplishments, he doesn’t broadcast his experience or demand respect from others simply because of his past accomplishments. He earns his respect daily with every choice he makes. He is a quiet man, but oh, what an amazing one. And while he is not self depreciating and he well knows he is more intelligent than the average man, he has a quiet stregnth about him that makes it unnecessary to boast or showoff.
    In fact, he has a sense of humor about his own mental appitude. One day I said, “I’m afraid to kiss you for fear your brain is so overloaded with knowledge that one day it is going to explode and splat all over the walls and take me out !”
      He said, “No fear. Until my bulging brain pushes every folicle of hair out of my head, you don’t have to worry.” And he ran a hand along his balding head and added, “You’re safe. For awhile yet, at least….”
   The longer I live with him, the more I understand how he became the renaissance man he is today. He deeply curious about the world and has a fascination with learning. Most importantly, he never makes excuses and I’ve never seen him shy from a challenge. David digs in and takes control of life’s problems and challenges when they come up. If the most practical solution involves getting a degree, training or learning something new, he doesn’t hesitate. I guess, when you tackle life in that way, you’re bound to end up a productive and accomplished person.   

    Anyway rather than tell a hundred stories about David’s history and background to explain how and why he can do so much so well, I will share the highlights of what he’s learned in 59 years. Most people couldn’t do half as much in a lifetime.  Amazingly, I continue to discover new things about him as time goes on….. It will take a lifetime to understand the full diversity of this man’s gifts. Good thing for me that he plans to be around that long…

IN a nutshell, David’s Life Skills include (but are not exclusive of…):

  • Licensed Mechanical Engineer

  • Licensed Electrical Engineer

  • Certificate of marine corrosion (or something like that) which is a part of water engineer competence (for working in fields involving boats)

  • Degree and advanced skills in Computer Programing. (doing this now for work)

  • Has a truck license (for towing his boats etc..) and he can trailer and park any size vehicle anywhere with remarkable accuracy    

  • Speaks Spanish fluently
  • Plays guitar, piano, and the sitar (Indian string instrument.) He is musical and artistic, as well as scientific. Knows theater, (lived with an talented actress, model, singer at one time) so he “gets” my crowd and many of my theatrical friends. 

  • Commercial Pilots license (and plenty of flying experience)

  • Sea plane flight license (And plenty of experience)

  • Hot air balloon pilot (flew in the Olympics in 1984)

  • He’s built a plane himself, owned hot air balloons and has pursued other flight hobby interests. Works on designing aeronautic improvements for sea craft as a consultant after his current “day job” tasks are done.

  • Interesting hobbyist. Spent 4 months building a big model clipper ship that is striking- now under glass in our study. Owns a motorcycle but it is not in Florida as yet…. Taught motorcycle safety courses.

  • Loves the water. Accomplished sailor with two sailboats, one 26 feet and one 42 feet – both for sale if you know anyone.

  • Won awards from many paddling competitions on a canoe competitive team for years.

  • Hiker, long distance runner, long distance champion swimmer, biker (has both a speed bike and collapsible mountain bike.)

  • Builder – has remodeled and built homes that are not only ascetically amazing, but did this for remarkably little investment. He plans well. Budgets. He can build anything, use a lathe, and has done some blacksmithing too. Great at landscaping. Planning a water feature for our home now. Can fix anything – from small mechanical appliances to cars.

  • Accomplished writer with one book finished and he is hoping to work on screenplays next. Planning to get an MFA himself when our life evens out a bit. (Writes the best love letter I ever had the good fortune to receive.) His artistic side is evident in his drawing, his love of watercolors, his art appreciation, and his poetry. He even journals.

  • Fantastic cook. Puts me to shame. Great with a barbecue too.

  • Loves animals – my bird loves him more than me…. So does my dog. (the traitor)

  • Enjoys and is good at horseback riding, bowling, sequence & ping pong.

  • He is a Master Gardener (certificate from North Carolina… he says he needs to study Florida gardening to really garden successfully in this area.)

  • RYT-200 Certified yoga teacher now (having been through my 4 month program) Also certified in Aerial yoga. He teaches two mornings at 6:30am at my school now. Might pick up an aerial yoga class one night a week.  Excellent yoga teacher)

  • He is a Reiki healer (also from my program) but only Level 1. We are soon going to complete levels 2-4 together. David has an open mind, deep spirituality, and authentic sensitivity.

  • Formerly worked as a paramedic and has all kinds of knowledge of the body and medicine. He’s taken over the 20 hour anatomy portion of my yoga teacher training and is a remarkable lecturer. Now helps me train future yoga teachers.

  • Ran an engineer design business successfully for 20 years. Is a devoted father, devoted son, and has a close, loving and respectful relationship with his family.

  • Has a gift for loving his significant other with such intensity and tenderness it takes my breath away daily.

Yep. He’s competent and competence is sexy.

He’s a keeper.