November 26, 2020
Letter to Fam and Friends
In thinking about this holiday--what it used to mean, and what it has become--I want to transform its meaning for me, on a personal level. I want it to be a day just like any other, when I feel a sense of gratitude and I write those thoughts and feelings of thanks down on paper. Yeah, like with a pen, on real paper!
More importantly than what this day means to me, is letting all of you know that I am grateful for you! It sounds trite--who writes a Gratitude letter on Turkey Day? Me! Especially now, when many of you, like me, are not gathering with family and friends for the holidays. This Pandemic Holiday Season of Coron-inanity, when a family gathering for Turkey Dinner in November could mean a trip to the morgue for Christmas. This is not a Happy Holiday season for so many in the US and all over the globe. It can either be really difficult to hang on to gratitude or really easy to grasp because of all that is going on and that we are still alive, have an income, and a place to live. You know me, normally I'm abroad anyway. I'm used to celebrating holidays with new acquaintances or by myself, tucked away in some place outside the USA.
This year, I'm enjoying the view of snow-topped mountains and a yard full of white-glazed Christmas trees that rise twice as high as the cabin. Directly outside my window is a perfect scene of holiday winter, coloured in green and white. Those two colors are randomly interrupted by the nut-brown, slow motion graze of mule deer across the front acreage, or the golden eyes and body of the neighbor's Golden Lab-ish mutt, coming over to wag Good Morning and beg for a scrap.
I could live happily the rest of the winter seeing only those four colours! Sigh. I'm kind of sad to leave here, but it's time to move on and get out of my comfort zone. I'll be in Denver after the Sixth of December for one month, then... who knows.
Since my return to the US in March, the political and cultural climate cannot be ignored. I’ve been doing much research on American economic policy, cultural history (the undoctored, non-colonial, non-white versions), and foriegn relations and I’ve learned so much (I’m still trying to figure out how to get paid to read and learn-- my favourite pastime!) These studies have opened my eyes and made me so much more aware of what has been going on in the US since the “Reagan Era”. Since I’m not in the US that frequently, I haven’t paid much attention, but since my return, the collective pain and despair are inescapable! To skip a whole bunch of facts and thoughts and opinions on the current US situation, I’ll just state that it’s made me want to do something of service and assistance while I am here, stuck in these Un-united States. I’m seeking teaching positions in underserved areas, in other words. I still yearn to get out of this country and live somewhere peaceful, non-violent, and sane, but no one wants a person with a U.S. passport right now, as we are the Super Spreaders of the pandemic. The past few months I have been wishing that I never left China! It’s safer there now! Plus, I’d be gainfully employed. Yet, I know there is something better on the horizon for me and that whatever is coming my way is something good. That said, I’ll seek work here and probably end up in the US at least until next summer. But who knows?!
Each of you knows the place you hold in my heart and mind. Since I’m taking another break from the black hole of social media, I can’t keep in touch with all of you as easily. And I want to tell you all how much you mean to me. In spite of all the above, I’m glad to be back during this time. Circumstances have aligned and I’ve been able to visit many of you and it looks like I’ll be able to see those I’ve missed before I leave since I’ll be in the U.S. for a while! I’d like to be a better friend and family member; i.e., keep in touch more frequently, have authentic conversations, express my love and care for each one of you. I’m grateful for you, My Family. I’m grateful for you, My Friends. I’m grateful for You All, all the time, not just on this Commercial-based National Day of Gluttony and Consumerism. (Yeah, I had to get that one in, too!) As my age increases, as my emotional intelligence increases, as my time in solitude has increased (by choice), I think of each of you quite often. My intention is to always be working toward actionable steps: how I can evolve, how I can be a better friend/sister/cousin/aunt/niece, how I can be kinder, how I can be less selfish, how I can be of service, how I can be more self-compassionate… if any of you have a personal recommendation for any of those, let me know!
Yet, I know that the answer is found in Daily Expressions of Gratitude: Gratitude for my life, Gratitude for each of you, Gratitude for What Is. When I feel a sense of Gratitude, I should act on it. When I live in a sense of Gratitude, I reach all goals and dreams and wants toward which I stretch, while accepting that the direction of desire might also change. What I do not want to change is having known each of you, and having had the gift of each one of you in my life.
Today, tomorrow, and on all future days, I am grateful for each of you. I love you!
*Yes, I changed the spelling of my name--some of you already know this story. In India, they kept spelling my name “Jeena”; I dismissed it as the Hindi phonetic spelling. When I finally asked about it, I learned that they also have this name in Hindi, and that it has two meanings: “life” and “be happy”. I fell in love with the meaning and spelling! “Live happily” or “Life is happy” as an appellation--no, as an instruction! (It also means elevator, b
ut we are just going to ignore that one!)
#hatespeech is not #freespeech ! Facebook allows hatespeech and does not censor #raciFst #trump #boycottfacebook in July! In support of #blacklivesmatter and ending #racism I will #boycott #facebook for the month of July. Do it!
If you acknowledge that Rump is racist, and still support him, you are condoning racism, and are therefore just as bad as him; i.e., a racist. Stop the hate. #listen #unity #compassion
I love witnessing history. I think the pandemic helped feed this petri dish of social discontent and enough-is-enough feeling regarding racism, misogyny, income disparity, plutocracy, and fascism in the USA.
Tears flowed from my eyes (seriously!) as I watched coverage of the Mississippi state flag being removed! Joy! Victory!
The Confederate flag used to represent dissent and secession, but when the Klan and White Supremacists claimed it as their symbol, it became pure representation of racism, hate, and inequality. Those disgusting tenets are what it stands for, and so it should be removed from EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE!
Your Freedom of speech does NOT include hate speech or antagonizing to create an upwelling of hate and violence against other humans!
Facebook is derelict in it's duty, and so is #twitter to protect users from hate and violence. Rump's account should be deleted #votehimout #trumpisaracist
I haven't had any hope for 'Merikuh for years--but now, with protests, citizens and leaders removing monuments that stand for racism and colonization, leaders calling out the WH and police--I actually feel a sense of hope that 'Merikuh may change! There may be hope that Rump will be defeated this year; hope that racism will not only be abolished politically but no longer tolerated; hope that the political, healthcare, and education systems will change for the better...! When I listen to George Floyd's brother testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, I cry-- there may actually be justice! There may be a demilitarization of police against citizens and justice for the racist and violent tactics of police against citizens. Perhaps we can demilitarize this country and learn to work with other nations instead of assassinate, violate, and invade. There might even be hope for economic justice and greater equality in 'Merikuh. It might even become a country in which I'd want to live in; one in which I am not ashamed to originate. Maybe I can finally stop saying I'm from Canada when someone asks. Maybe there is hope for 'Merikuh and if it returns to freedom and democracy, that result will have nothing to do with the misogynistic, racist embarrassment in the WH.
Vote him out!
Black Lives Matter!
Well I really effed up this one! I forgot to switch the "power off" that shuts down my phone each night--which also disables all alarms.
Can you see where I'm going with this??
Instead of waking at 12:30am to leave at 2:45am for my 5:20am flight--for which I was completely packed and ready--I awoke at 5:00am, and in a state of utter panic, waited for my phone to reboot; which it did, and bright white numbers of 5:00 am glared at me in the dark, to which I moaned, "No...no..no!" In a somnolent daze, I immediately called the airline, and of course, they charged me a change fee and other fees. Now, I fly out at 10:30pm tonight and hope I will be able to collect my luggage in LA and check back in at the domestic terminal for my flight to VA. This means a 24 hour flight, instead of a shorter 19. Also, no night layover in a cozy airport hotel to recoup some sleep. The hotel was understanding and did not charge me a cancellation fee, and I still have window seats for both flights to the US, now a longer one flying to Brisbane, with a 5.5 hr connection instead of the nice, short 1.5 hr in Melbourne. Instead of arriving in VA rested and only vaguely jet-lagged, I get to arrive after over 30 hours of flight time. It sucks because I --quite leterally-- spent days working on flights and hotel so that the trip would be a comfortable int'l flight with a nice 24-hr layover in LA before the next morning flight to VA. UUGGGHHHH. And the nap that I sorely needed after waking in panic at 5:00am --because sleep on a plane is as possible as sleeping on the floor in the corridor of a hospital in China trying to get some help for that fever-- could never happen because I'm too terrified I won't wake up, again!
The upside is I have a car to use, so don't have to spend $120 on Uber/Didi or 3 hours of bus/train/bus/bus riding to get to the airport, although I have to arrive 5.5 hours before my flight so my friend can get her car, since she arrives back to Perth at 5:00pm. Oh, and I'd totally buy a day pass to the fancy new Virgin Australia Airport Lounge, where I could spend those 5.5 hours, but they only allow Day Pass holders in 2 hours prior to the flight, so eff that.
But I'm grateful I'm arriving on the 4th, so I can hopefully (plz pray and send vibes for me) scurry like a crazy person trying to buy the last bottle of hand-sani and a mask across LAX from the international terminal to baggage claim to the domestic terminal to check-in my bags and make it through security and board in time without a total emotional break-down and many more run-on sentences like this one.
Did I say F***********?
Where the hell is the airport bar?
View of Lotus Shrine from Mt. Kailash Nataraj Shrine, Yogaville, Virginia
Options for the March and April:
Siva Puja at Nataraj Shrine, on the hill above Chidambaram and Lotus, Yogaville, VA.
I won't know about the contract job until next week, and then it will still be iffy through Mar. 10 due to some particular variables. So if I get a hotel through the 9th, I still might end up flying to NZ after all. There are just no long-term sits starting in March in Victoria or Western Australia and my visa expires Mar. 23. With the expiration I either fly out and return for a ridiculous price, which makes no sense, or just sit elsewhere for a while. There are options in Europe; I am keeping that option open if nothing in NZ turns up. I'd like to stay in Oceania or Asia to reduce airfare costs, but if I can't find good sits, I will head elsewhere. There was a great job in Bali, but poor wifi, and another great job in Thailand, but it's burn season there where the pollution is awful and people use air filtrations systems and stay inside. No thank you!
What I'm really hoping is that I am accepted into the month-long yoga program at Yogaville; it's last minute so I may not get accepted in time, but it's my #1 choice. I don't know how well I'll be able to teach online while I'm there, but when I wrote out pros/cons, the priority of my health and well-being emerged as being most cardinal. I'm waiting to find out if I get accepted and then I'll be able to finalize my plans and decide how to proceed. If accepted, I'll fly out on Mar. 4 and either head to Buffalo and visit Janice a few days, or make a stopover in Hawaii. Believe it or not, the shortes route and cheapest flights are through Honolulu and LAX, so why not stop in HI for a day or two and adjust to the time change!!?? Then I can head to Yogaville that weekend, prior to the Monday program start!
On the other hand, if I'm not accepted (this would only be due to limited space or my late application, not because I'm "not qualified" or what-not), I'll have to pick a sit really quick and be prepared to fly to Europe, Canada, NZ or the Americas. The good side of this being I will be able to teach online the entire month, build my income and savings back up, and then head to Yogaville in April or May! Either way, I'll get to Yogaville! Either way, I will be teaching online and bringing in money again (Relief! Whew!). Either way it will turn out fantasticalicious!
I can do it!
A late night walk as Spring threatens to drive all the Chengdu grey skies and rain away. The artificially pink trees display how all the real trees will soon appear across China, Japan, and Korea - fruit tree blooms cover the lands!! Greenery will be bursting with pink- and white- and creme-colored blossoms.
I am standing cater-corner from my apartment complex, across and to the right. The godz-awful construction that has gone on all day-all night for 9 months straight, with only 1 day of silence, is on the left. This is a typical scene in Chengdu: dreary, grey, rainy, hazy -- the drawbacks of residing in an overcrowded city built in a basin, where wind cannot reach to force out fog and pollution.
So much has gone in since I returned from India mid-February! I've been in a job-search frenzy, dating whirlwind, exercise kick-up, and cooking craze! Read more...
Fruit trees blossoming at school; white tea blossoming in my tea pot; children blossoming in my class!
Energy is too dissipated... Need nourishing activities, not events that drain me further... Am grateful for recognition, even if it is rationalization to avoid a semi-stressful event... Don't need to put any energy "out there", or expend... Need to conserve and contain and build.
My resilience is really, really low of late. I've been so drained of life-energy from school, there is little left for me at day's end. I have also been experiencing conflict arising over and over again in personal and professional areas--why am I drawing these experiences to me? I HATE conflict, and try to avoid it or solve it the best I can. Obviously, there is work for me to be done in this area, or it would not keep surfacing. My termper is short, my patience is thin, and thus my reactionism peaks. I can't seem to take the necessary breath-break to gain space between the situation and my response. It seems I am bombarded on a daily basis with challenges, so that I cannot recover standing and strength from one struggle, before the next one jumps up to knock me back down. I start to get a grasp on a problem--a moment to step back and gain clarity and find solutions; a small space of time to reorganize and build my physical and emotional strength, when WHAM! I am smacked down again by some event. If it was one challenge, it would be handled. If there was time between challenges for me to heal and recover and solve the problem, but I am afforded neither reprieve. Instead, there is continual bombardment by problems, conflict, challenges, with no pause between to face and solve before the next assault.
I know what some of the solutions are, the challenge (another one!) is in implementing them--having the energy to implement them!
Fav films...no particluar order, written as they come to memory...
My school kids love the song, "Gangnam Style", so we've been learning the dance. In fact, they always request it for our Movement breaks. Although the following article is dated to 2012, when the song emerged as a major hit, it offers a critical assessment of the meaning behind the song, so that English-speaking audiences aren't confused by the video or some of the language, referring to "sexy ladies". It is not misogynistic at all, but rather a social commentary on the materialistic and over-commercialized neighborhood of Gangnam, in Seoul.