Six Months After the World Ended … Have You Found Your Purpose Yet?

Non-traditional ragdoll cat in tuxedo pattern

What rapture?  I’m still here …

You may recall that this blog ended on the day the world was predicted to either end, or humanity would be propelled into a more conscious evolution — that is, on December 21, 2012 — my 45th birthday as well as the end of the Mayan long count calendar.  I spent the Winter Solstice of 2012 near the Atlantis Energy Vortex on the tiny tropical island of Bimini as my finale to a manic six months of travel.

My search for Life Purpose was officially over.

Today is the Summer Solstice, and despite this blog’s long silence most of us are still here six months after it was all supposed to end.

So what has happened these past months?  If you recall, I was having a rather high maintenance melt-down over the fact of turning forty-five, and was absolutely determined that I would find my elusive “Life Purpose” by 12/21/12 … at the LATEST.

So now that this deadline has truly come and gone, am I any closer?

Yes and no. 

The thing is, these past six months haven’t been all that different from the six months this blog was active.  We still travel (though not as frequently), I still struggle with finishing my writing projects, I still lose my cool with Hubby at least once a week, and I still (occasionally) beat myself up for no longer practicing law.  But a few things have changed:

  • I completed an Improv class (which was scary as hell, and also taught me my Purpose is clearly NOT to ever be a stand-up comedian);
  • I’ve actually been riding horses every week, rather than trying to learn my purpose from them;
  • I’ve expanded my writing network to include lots of other creative types to help offset the more materialistic influence of my OC girlfriends;
  • I have (accidentally) become a certified Reiki Master Teacher (not my purpose either … but perhaps a good story for another day); and
  • Gratitude has become a daily meditative practice for me.

The thing is, it’s taken me awhile, but:

I NO LONGER BELIEVE IN LIFE PURPOSE.

I’m not saying that life is meaningless — not at all.  But rather than drive myself crazy for the rest of my life trying to discover that “one great thing” I am destined to do, I’m taking it day by day.  The weird mosaic that is resulting is unlike anything I would have predicted – it’s messy, non-logical, seldom clearly profitable, and I’m really too close to it to see the entire picture anyway.

I bet it’s the same for you.

The journey is the purpose.  And yes, we do have some good trips planned for the rest of this year.  The question is, do I need to blog about my life in order to fully live it?  Clearly the answer to that question is NO, but:

Do YOU have any interest in following my future travels?

If so, I would love to hear from you.  I am toying with the idea of launching a new blog or travel website, but in order to do that, I need a subscriber base.  If you haven’t already done so, please fill in your email in that little box at the top of this page.

No SPAM.  Promise.  (OK, I might sell your email address for a few K.  Yeah, right.  Who do you think you are, anyway?)

Seriously, at least leave a comment.  ANY comment.  Okay, I’m begging.  Not cool.  Sorry.  But you can bitch about it in your comment, if you want.

—-

PS – I must confess the real reason I’m blogging today is that it has really been bugging me I only wrote 32 posts in 2012.  Everything else in my life is a double digit; this brings the total posts to 33.  Stupid, right?   Tell me that in your comments …

We Did It! (Saved the World, That Is … Musings from Atlantis at the End-of-This-Blog)

I wake at precisely 11:11 to crazy alien vibrations and pulsing lights streaming into my beachside cottage.  Here I am, just four days before the purported “End-of-the-World” all alone in the middle of the Atlantis Energy Vortex in the Bermuda Triangle.

And I’m Shitty Scared.

Why didn’t I bring Hubby on this trip?  The wind seemingly comes from nowhere, rattling the broken Venetian blinds in my room and immediately transporting me back to childhood alien abduction fantasies of the Whitley Strieber genre.

Communion by Whitley Strieber

Could this finally be the UFO nightmare that’s been haunting me since 1987?

It doesn’t help matters that all these New Age types I’ve been hanging with here do nothing but talk about past lives and all the strange mystical shit that transpires here regularly on this tiny island of Bimini, Bahamas.  Here is what the daytime view looks like:

Bimini tree

Gorgeous, right?  But also desolate.  And somewhat scary.  (Like, how is that tree actually growing on that rock with its roots attached to nothing?)

The spacecraft gets closer and louder. 

Its lights now shine directly into my room and I have no idea what I should do.  I have no cell service, and the others in my group are staying several miles away.  The “resort” I’m trying to sleep at is deserted; I haven’t seen another guest or even a staff member since checking in two days ago. Plus, I’m not dressed and have no make-up on.  I’m hardly in a presentable state for my first alien encounter.

Nevertheless, I brace myself and crawl over to the window.

But by the time I’m brave enough to peek out, there is nothing left to see.  Why did I elect to spend my last days here, of all places?

It’s been six months since I started this blog on the Summer Solstice in Barcelona.  At the time, even though I knew the world wouldn’t actually end on my 45th birthday (12/21/12), I wanted to examine how I would live my life if I truly did have just six months left.  In those six months, I’ve slept in twenty-four cities.  And even though many of these places were relatively close to home, both I and my travel budget are now truly exhausted.

I so want this grand finale to pay off.

So what did I hope to find here in Bimini?  A large part of my quest this year has been related to rediscovering my life purpose.  To this end I’ve studied with a Zen priestess, let horses whisper my truth back to me, journeyed to some gorgeous new places, revisited some past favorites, bought some art, drunk too much wine, read too many books, spent too much money, fought with Hubby a few too many times, and even paid a guru or two to give me their version of my best path forward.  And while I’ve certainly gained something from each experience, I’m no longer certain that I’ve even been asking the right question.

Maybe there is no such thing as a single Life Purpose?

In other words, perhaps our purpose evolves and grows just as we do.  According to ostensible prophet Edgar Cayce, those who journey to the Atlantis Energy Vortex near Bimini with a good heart will be rewarded by gaining knowledge of their spiritual goal in this incarnation.  If there’s even a chance of this being true, I still want it.

Plus, this trip promises wisdom from another source:

spotted dolphins in Bimini, Bahamas

If the wild dolphins are anything like the incredible horses I worked with in September, they have plenty to teach us.  But just like my alien encounter, things with the dolphins don’t go exactly as planned.

But before I get to the dolphins, I need to explain a little about the “energy work” our group is engaged in.  We start each day with yoga, we’re being trained in Reiki, and we eat nothing but gourmet raw vegan meals:

raw vegan salad

raw vegan cuisine

I feel light, clean, and healthier than I’ve felt for a long time.  But even so, I don’t feel so different that I would hallucinate.  At least I don’t think I would.  But here is what happens when we’re hunting for seashells at the beach:

Bimini ascension beam

Beam me up, Scotty?

The leader of our group tells us the photo shows an example of pure energy.  She reminds us that we are the holy grail; when we open our minds and hearts to fully receive, we become the chalice for the universe to fill.

My smart atheist friends say the photo is just an example of “lens flare.”  

But I didn’t show them what the beam of light left behind in the water:

The Thing that ascended in Bimii

What do you think that weird blob hovering on the right side of this photo is?  (I wish I could tell you; I have no idea.)

Strange things happen here.

But back to the dolphins.  We have no trouble finding them on our very first outing:

first dolphins we see in Bimini

But our captain is puzzled that they’re in the wrong place.  He’s been leading dolphin expeditions for fifteen years, but has never found them heading South like they were when we met them.  They are clearly in a hurry going somewhere, and take little time to play with us.

The next day, we find a single dolphin — again, very unusual, as they swim in pods — who swims directly beneath me at the bow and lets me take several pictures.  Unfortunately, right after this, my new camera is whisked off its strap and falls into the ocean.  It seems weird that the camera strap would  break so easily, and I can’t believe my bad luck.

Until one of my fellow travelers shows me this shot she captured of the same dolphin:

face of underwater goddess with dolphin

What the heck is that underwater face in the upper left corner?  (And please don’t tell me it’s lens flare ...)   My friends think whoever/whatever it is also stole my camera.

We don’t see any more dolphins after my camera goes missing, despite three more attempts.  We are hoping to travel forty miles offshore on 12/21/12 to the middle of the vortex, but the weather doesn’t cooperate and we have to be content sending positive energy to Atlantis from the shore.  So here is what we manifested — my birthday sunrise at the End-of-the-World:

Atlantis energy grid

And to me, it really doesn’t matter whether this photo is lens flare, or if we activated the ruby rays of the energy vortex and thereby helped the planet move on to the next level in its evolution.  One of my women in my group “channeled” a message from the dolphins.  Apparently they were too busy doing their own energy work with the grid beneath the sea to spend time playing with us.

Do I believe her?  Do you?

At this point, it no longer matters to me.  I have found new friendships and true beauty on this trip.  (There is much more to add, but not in a lighthearted blog such as this.)

Does this mean I’ve also found my life purpose during the course of this blog?  At least I know my purpose was NOT to go missing in the Bermuda Triangle.  I feel like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, because all my travels over the past six months have just made me realize there’s no place like home.

Bimini flight home

Leaving Bimini … There’s no place like home!

I’m now forty-five.  And I’m okay with this.  Mostly.  Well, sort of. (Okay, the Botox budget will probably just keep rising from here.)  And even if I didn’t save the planet, I am here for a reason.

And so are you.  Remember, No Journey is Wasted.

——–

THANK YOU for journeying with me on this blog!  I’m not done traveling (Tibet, Norway, and Easter Island hover near the top of my list for 2013/14), but this blog is resting for now.  If you wish to be notified of future projects (including my upcoming book and new screenplays!), please SUBSCRIBE with your email address at the top right side of the home page on this blog.

12:12:12, Double Vision, Maya Mania, and the “I AM” solution (or, unexpected wisdom from Jim Carrey?)

This is it.  It’s serious now.  Only eight days left until I go missing somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle and Goddess-only-knows what will happen to the rest of you.

So maybe it’s a 2012 thing, but for the past couple of weeks our dog has been displaying a perfect bindi over her third eye:

dog with bindi

OK, so I pasted this one on, but this is how she appears to me these days because I’ve been having a minor case of double vision myself.  Actually, Tasha looks more like this to me now:

our dog now sports a bindi

I’ve had odd and annoying MS-related vision problems numerous times in the past, but I find this episode somehow comforting.  Perhaps Tasha, too, is experiencing the “shift“?  The closer we get 12/21/12, the more willing I am to see the signs.  And they’re everywhere.

Enough to drive one mad.

Take numerology, for instance.  12/12/2012 and 12/21/2012 are purportedly special dates because they both add up to 11, a so-called “Master number”  (1+2+1+2+2+1+2=11).  Some say that noticing or seeing 11:11 everywhere is a sign one is raising her consciousness in preparation for the Big Shift.

In fact, frequently noticing double digits of any sort is supposed to be a clue that one’s DNA is either being recoded to deal with the fifth dimension we are rapidly being propelled into, or a sign to remind us “light workers” and “star seed” who we really are (i.e., weird lonely beings with supernatural skills from other galaxies).

If that’s the case, I’m screwed. 

My Life Path number is 11.  The numbers associated with one version of my full name are 11,1,1, and 11.  My birthday’s Maya Haab date is 11 Mak. (Don’t ask me to explain that one! Just yesterday (12/12/12), I happened to look at the clock at precisely 3:33, 4:44, 5:44, 6:55, 11:11, 1:44 and 3:22.  I had 222 emails in my junk folder at 9:11, 277 at 1:33, plus 22 likes and 11 comments on my new FB picture.  And I woke from a nightmare early this morning at 12:34 — not remembering what the dream was, but absolutely terrified by the sequential numbers (no double digits!) on the clock.

I’m starting to feel like Jim Carrey’s character in The Number 23:

Jim Carey in The Number 23, written by Fernley Phillips

Remember how Carrey’s obsession with that number destroyed his life?  (Incidentally, one of my screenwriting mentors, Fernley Phillips, wrote that script and pitched it to Jim Carrey upon learning the actor’s favorite number really is 23.)  But the connections get odder still.

Two days ago I watched a documentary by director Tom Shadyac called I Am.  I had never heard of the film, but for some mysterious reason the DVD appeared in my Amazon shopping cart last week when I was buying surf wear for next week’s dolphin trip.  It  was literally in my shopping cart — not my “save for later” or “wish list.”  Given my current level of openness to (desperation for?) signs from the Universe, I left it there and checked out.

I completely forgot about it until I watched it Tuesday night, 12/11/12.  

Honestly, this film can change your life if you let it.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but the movie was the perfect counterpoint to the Ecstatic Wealth event I tried to write about last week. In examining what’s wrong with our planet, Shadyac shows how excessive materialism is actually a mental disease we’ve created in our culture, not our natural state.  But the film is uplifting too, and just like another of my favorites, Samsara, it shows how we truly are all connected; even our small actions have the power to change the world.

See it if you can.  But here’s the coincidence:  Tuesday was actually Tom Shadyac’s birthday.  So in preparation for my own big birthday quest, I heard exactly the message I needed to hear on the creator’s birthday.

Neat, huh?

By the way, Shadyac is best known for making Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Bruce Almighty.  He also directed The Nutty Professor with Eddy Murphy — the script I loosely modelled one of my screenplays on last year (supervised by Fernley Phillips, The Number 23‘s author).  Okay, this is my own personal mosaic, but:

Do you see how we are all connected?

And yet I still fluctuate between wanting to believe my mystical, magical, intuitive voice and that still needed, logical, linear, lawyer’s mind.  To satisfy the latter, on Monday night I went to a lecture by Dr. Edwin Barnhart, a prominent Maya archeologist.  He basically said that all the 12/21/12 predictions (both the catastrophic and the enlightened) are crap made up by Westerners, and that the modern Maya are just like the rest of us – they’re more than willing to tell us what we want to hear, especially if this helps their 2012 tourism industry.

Fine.  But I still want to believe in the magic.  I want to swim with dolphins and become enlightened.  I want to believe, as Tom Shadyac does, that we are all connected, and that what I think and do matters.

Yes, I AM the problem.  But like the heroine in Bridesmaids, I AM also the solution:

Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids

“You are the problem, Annie. You are also the solution.”

And so are you.

——-

How do you feel about 12/12/12 and 12/21/12?  Are you using this time to become more aware of things that are/are not working in your life?  Or are these just days like any other?

Feeding My Inner Rockstar in Hollywood (or, Loosey-Goosey Magic, Roars, and Becoming a Celebrity with Christina Morassi)

“Tomorrow I will be reborn,” I say to myself as I set my iPhone alarm for 6:04 a.m. — the exact time of my birth nearly 45 years ago.  I am not in the habit of making such proclamations, nor can I remember ever having set my wakeup call for this time before.

Little did I know what was in store.

That was Monday night, and it’s just one more example of the psychic incidents I keep trying to squelch — such premonitions had no place in my previous legal life, and it’s hard to talk about them even now as an unemployed OC Housewife.  Yet it’s getting more difficult to deny the odd coincidences that happen all the time now.

Is this just a 2012 thing?

In any case, practically the first thing we did on Tuesday morning the day after my intuitive declaration was an intense “re-birthing” exercise.  Who would have expected to be born again at a business seminar?

Welcome to the world of Christina Morassi.

Christina Morassi's "Ecstatic Wealth" event in Hollywood, 2012

It’s true; despite my misgivings, I couldn’t quite manage to stay away from her “Orgasmic Money” Ecstatic Wealth event in Hollywood this week after all.  It was at The W, a kinda hip hotel at the not-so-hip intersection of Hollywood and Vine:

The W in Hollywood

Christina is hardly a typical businesswoman.  By her own account, she specializes in “loosey-goosey magic, celebrity, and ROARS” (as in lion sounds).  She related these five words (loosey and goosey must count as separate words?) were the result of an exercise she conducted to distill her iconic essence.  (Try it: quickly write a list of 100 words about you, cut it to 25, then just 5.  These are your essential traits. Mine are: Wanderlust, Chiron, hummingbird, sunshine, and imagination.)

But back to my “rebirth.” 

According to Christina, one of the many things that can hold us back from achieving our goals in life is we have never cleared our essential wounds.  In many cases, these happen during or around the time of our physical birth.  Since Christina is interested in helping women make money as quickly as possible, she wanted us to work on clearing our emotional obstacles.  To this end, she led us in a visualization where we sent healing energy and love back in time to our own births.  We were to give ourselves any and all good that was missing from the original experience.

Well and good, but based on the level of outright wailing in the room, some of my peers truly must have hated being born.  I shed a couple of tears myself, mostly because I still hold some guilt over my immaculate conception and possibly (likely) holding my mother back in life.  But Christina really wanted to stir things up.  According to her, in addition to coping with my existential angst over being born in the first place, I might also have had a “vanishing twin” – that is, my conception originally resulted in twin embryos, but only one (ME) survived.  Apparently, this is not at all uncommon: one in eight of us started out as potential twins.

I probably ate my twin.

I do share my 12/21 birthday with Josef Stalin, after all.  Plus, Mom always tells the story of how I tried to suffocate my younger brother with a pillow when I was two.  (He’s just 18 months younger, but apparently I LOVED being an only child.)  Oy veh.

Can we please just move on to the making money part?

I don’t mean to sound glib.  Or sarcastic.  (Well, maybe just a little.)  But I seem to have trouble processing some of these New Age exercises.  I DO believe we can all benefit from introspection, healing old wounds, and from trying to transform limiting or negative beliefs.  What I have a problem with is gurus manipulating people’s emotions simply to get at their money.

These three days were a pretty intense emotional rollercoaster.

Divas. Dancing. Dressing Up. Find Your Ecstatic Brand. Charge What You’re Worth.  Laser Coaching. Become a Rock Star.  See the Proof of Your Purpose in Your Own Palms.  Become Wealthy So You Can Change the World.  ROAR because it FEELS SO GREAT!   YOU ARE THE NEW CELEBRITIES.  Listen to Powerful Testimonials from Successful Business Divas Just Like You.  Invest Large Sums So You Can Do It Too.  YOU ARE WORTH IT.  YOU NEED A MENTOR.  You Cannot Do It Alone.  We are your friends.

It’s captivating and persuasive content.

Most of it felt empowering.  They even took glam photos of us to help us visualise our ecstatic futures:

Kate, becoming escstatically wealthy at the W in Hollywood

During the “Wealth Consciousness” evening, one of the ostensible Seven-Figure Divas transmitted money manifesting energy to us all in a weird shamanic dance that quite resembled going into labor.  And while no one was actually having epileptic fits on the floor, at times it was pretty darn close — almost like those writhing “saved” souls at charismatic churches.  (Meanwhile, I felt like Rod Tidwell in Jerry Maguire, wanting to just shout: “Show Me Da Money!” already …)

The maddening thing is that it worked.

Or at least it appeared to.  By now you know I love to poke holes in and make fun of things, but Hubby actually texted me in the middle of the above ritual to tell me he’d just received a very large bonus from his company … coincidence?  Hubby would surely say so.  Or maybe it was just good Feng Shui.  I did cover our garden in moneywort several months ago:

moneywort in our garden creates wealth?

More likely it was simply due to all of Hubby’s very hard work, but that’s an awfully boring explanation.  (Hey, I’ll take the money however it comes; we need it to pay for all my frivolities of the past six months)

As for me, I haven’t been able to do anything but sleep ever since Christina’s seminar.  Seriously.  I couldn’t even make it through the entire three days.  I came home on Wednesday morning (because I couldn’t process any more guru stuff?) and took a nap at 4:00, fell asleep on the couch again at 8:00, then slept a full ten hours before our cat got impatient and pounced on my back.

I guess I’m just not destined to be a Business Diva.

Or am I just sad that I’ve decided not to continue on with this particular Goddess sect?   (Excuse me — they’re called “Business Divas” this time, not the goddesses, queens, or sensual sisters of other programs.)  I‘m not sure yet.  Part of me really loved and admired all the ambitious women I met there; I can see my younger entrepreneurial self so clearly in them.

I understand loving and coveting money.  I truly do.  I live in Newport Beach, after all.  I’m also probably one of the earliest students of “The Secret” — long before the movie came out, I was involved in a personal development program where I personally “manifested” six figures in six weeks.  It seemed like I would never need to worry about money again. 

Until everything collapsed.

The thing is, even if you’re a megawatt shining business diva like Christina, only a very small percentage of people have the star power to replicate your success when you’re not actually selling a product with high inherent value. 

Eventually someone points out that the Empress is naked.

Please do not mistake this as criticism of Christina.  I’m actually really drawn to her, and admire what she has built.  But I also happen to know a fair number of wealthy people; several are family members.  None of them would ever DREAM of handing over thousands of dollars to a “guru” like Christina.  And I’m finally starting to listen to people who actually have some of the financial sense I lack.

But Christina is not targeting people who already know how to make money.  She’s after the rest of us: those of us with a dream.  And a desire to change the world that is so big it keeps us up at night.

I completely understand that.

And some of her students (YOU?) will no doubt succeed.  Brava for that!

But others will fail.

And that’s what everyone who invests in these types of programs needs to fully understand.  There are many ways to start a business.  Some people need a cheerleader and supportive community; people who buy for this reason will likely be extremely happy with this program, even if their businesses fail.  Others with a more practical bent prefer investing their money in building a great website or securing a solid inventory source.

Both methods can work.  It’s not an either/or process.  Personally, I loved Christina’s energy and enthusiasm; I would love to have her as a friend and mentor.  And frankly, I came very VERY close to signing up for her “diamond” level program because let’s face it:   I’m still searching.

But at the end of the day, Hubby’s voice was stronger.  (“That money could be half of your kitchen remodel.” Or even more persuasively, “That’s enough to pay for our Easter Island trip.”)

So did I lose my courage in saying no to Ecstatic Wealth?  Or am I finally learning that part of having a “wealth mindset” is learning to hang on to some of our money?

Now THAT would be a real re-birth!

I’m still not entirely sure that dropping out of this program was the right decision, and I do hope I’ll at least retain connections with some of the powerful women I met this week.  I really do believe we can all “Rock Our Purpose” and “Change the World” … just perhaps not all on the same path or in the same way.

—–

I would love to hear your thoughts about mentors and gurus in general.  Have you ever paid more than you felt comfortable with for a coaching program?  Were you satisfied with the results?

Only in Montecito (Or, Still Finding My Hedonist/Blowhard/Narcissist Self in California)

So I’ve been silent on this blog ever since my Thanksgiving manifesto declaring my intention to stop being such a narcissist.

But I didn’t say anything about giving up Hedonism, did I?

Thank God.

Hubby and I spent most of this week celebrating our eighth wedding anniversary (and ten years together) at the Four Seasons (Biltmore) in Santa Barbara.  It’s one of our favorite places when we decide to indulge a little — even our dog, Tasha, knows it’s far better than any Marriott.  Plus, there’s an excellent dog beach right in front:

dog beach in Santa Barbara in front of the Four Seasons

Sometimes the best breaks are close to home (two hours away in this case).  Such trips are generally easier, often cheaper, and usually safer.  You may recall that on our original honeymoon in 2004, Hubby and I managed to avoid the tsunami in Phuket by a single day simply because my brother-in-law “happened to” gift us with an extra night in Bangkok on our way there.

Luck was with us on this anniversary trip too.

Since the resort was half empty after Thanksgiving, we were able to upgrade to a suite nearly half the size of our house:

our suite at the Four Seasons, Santa Barbara

They even gave us welcome champagne and cute little anniversary treats after every meal:

anniversary treats at the Four Seasons

And don’t get me started on the food and wine … Santa Barbara is just far enough north to “get” wine country cuisine.  The sea bass at Tydes was divine.

Okay, this is starting to sound like one of those blog posts we’ve all seen too many of: “Look at me … my life is perfect.  Don’t you wish you were ME?” (There’s that blowhard narcissist voice again …) 

Speaking of which, I actually did have my first ever obligatory SoCal beachfront photo shoot while we were there.  And I have to apologize to all the models I’ve ever scoffed at; it’s nowhere near as easy as it looks:

Kate's first beachfront photo shoot in Santa Barbara

I’m also a little annoyed that I look so short next to Hubby:

Kate & Scott's eighth anniversary photo

(I’m 5’8″ but am used to wearing platform stilettos to get closer to Hubby’s 6’4.”)  But I digress yet again.

So why am I writing this?  I’ve spent eleven years in California now, and this place is as seductive as ever.  I try not to be too shallow.  I really do.  But sometimes, five star treatment really does feel nurturing and healing.  If you fully live in the moment and truly appreciate it, that is.  I sometimes have to remind myself that:

More is more, but plenty is more than enough.

A few years ago we met a very rich, very miserable woman on a Crystal Cruise.  She actually lived full-time in the boat’s presidential suite, but still kept a penthouse  residence at the Four Seasons in Sydney, even though she was never there.  In fact, she proudly informed us of the exorbitant amount of money she had once refused when Mick Jagger wanted to rent her home for a week.  Whereas many would be happy to rub shoulders with celebrity, all she could do was complain the hotel had deigned to approach her with the offer.

The more some people have, the more they bitch

I’m certainly not exactly low maintenance either, but lately I find myself getting sentimental and tearing up nearly every day over all the beauty in life.  All I feel like doing is kissing the earth I walk on and giving thanks.  Life isn’t perfect — our kitchen still needs to be renovated, I’m getting more wrinkles, I’m still childless and jobless, the budget isn’t always balanced, I still have MS, my vision is getting worse — but it’s still MY life.

And Life is a Gift.

December 21 is less than three weeks away now.  If it really were the End-of-the-World, I could honestly say I’ve lived an exquisitely beautiful life.  Indulging in places like the Four Seasons from time to time is not so much what has made this so, but I view such trips as more of an affirmation that life is here to be savored and enjoyed — even if this means stretching the budget sometimes.

In my experience, not all healing is physical.

So the photos are not so much to show you how great my life is, but to document and remind myself of this.  The shots I like the best are not even the ones people would call “pretty” but the ones where I just look happy:

Kate laughing outside the Biltmore Four Seasons in Santa Barbara

You don’t need to stay at the Four Seasons (although I recommend it!) to appreciate the little things in life.  (Like those five bottles of L’Occitane verbena lotion I lifted from our suite ...)  Notice and give thanks for the big things too:

Like going through life with the person you love.

Hubby probably needed this trip even more than I did.  He’s been traveling for 15 weeks straight now, and this is the first truly “low stress” break we’ve had for a long time. So I can’t really blame him for being slightly careless on this trip.  When we went to dinner on our last night in Montecito, he accidentally left his front car door wide open the entire time … with his iPad sitting in plain view on the driver’s seat.

Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro in Montecito

Pierre Lafond’s Wine Bistro in Montecito

This being Oprah’s hometown, no one bothered to steal it.  (Or the car, for that matter.)

Only in Montecito.

So, yes, we’re still incredibly lucky.  And spoiled.  And blessed.  And I hope you realize that SO ARE YOU.

—-

Question:  What little (or big) indulgences help you to affirm your life is beautiful?

I want a divorce!

Time is running out until 12/21/12, and I’m forcing myself to face some pretty large issues I’ve been in denial about for a very long time.  The truth is, things just aren’t working the way they used to.

I want a divorce.

I want a divorce! 

But not from my husband.  I hate to admit this, but I think it’s high time to divorce …

MYSELF.

I wish I meant this figuratively, but I’m afraid it’s literal this time.  You see, back in 2008 at one of the many personal development seminars I got caught up in, we all participated in a wedding ceremony where we actually married ourselves.  Of course this event was no different from most — 99% of the participants were single women looking to find themselves.  I suppose that’s why no one bothered to ask me if I objected to polygamy.  (Hubby was raised Mormon, so I guess he had this coming.)

But I’m tired of me.

And I want a divorce.  Today is Thanksgiving, and as I reflect on all of my many blessings I wonder what is truly going on in the personal development world.  Why all the constant striving to be, do, and have more?  Can’t we just be happy with and truly appreciate what we already have?

As Joan Ocean writes in Dolphin Connection, “So often we no longer see the planet’s beauty … the absence of gratitude in our world results in the demise of our planet.  Expressing heartfelt gratitude is one of our intrinsic purposes, a sacred responsibility.”  Speaking of which, I am extremely grateful to be where I am today, surrounded by beauty near my in-laws’ home in Rancho Mirage:

Rancho Las Palmas with Scotty and Tasha

Rancho Las Palmas with Scotty and Tasha

We even enjoyed smoked salmon and mimosas on the golf course this morning:

Mimosa and smoked salmon on the golf course

Life is good.

Darn good.

So why do I keep striving for more?  I’ve even committed to attending a workshop in Hollywood next month called Orgasmic Wealth.  (Ok, that’s not the real name, but it’s awfully close.  Just don’t want to defame anyone here.)  It’s one of those self-actualized woman things.  You know the pitch: just use your feminine powers and the Law of Attraction.  Relax, learn to receive, delegate more, work less, and the money will magically flow into your life.  Rock your purpose. Change the world.

And we’ll all be Wealthy, Wonderful, and Wise

As long as you pay $50,000 for a high vibrational mentor to “coach” you.  (Non-refundable.  Because of course if you fail, this is your fault.) 

(Shoot, there’s that pesky sarcasm again ...)

According to Debbie Lachusa we’ve become a culture of success addicts, and  narcissism rates are exploding about as fast as the obesity epidemic.  Just look at FakeBook and the proliferation of self-absorbed blogs like this one.

ME. ME. ME. ME. ME. ME. ME. ME. ME. ME. ME. ME. ME. ME. ME. ME. ME.

Even typing that last line felt icky.

So I’m off to spend time with others.  My family.  And I hope you are appreciating yours.  Yes, I’ll be back to blog about my travels soon, and maybe even give you the inside scoop on the orgasmic wealth event, but today I would really rather hear about YOU.

—–

What are doing today to celebrate Thanksgiving?  And what are you grateful for?  Do you ever feel like I do, that you just want to relax and stop trying to improve everything all the time?

Tasha, Tasha, Tasha! (Or, Why I Hate Travel — “A Lion’s Meditation” by Boris)

I feel just like Jan on the Brady Bunch.  Remember how everything was always about Marcia?

Marcia Brady

Well, around here it’s “Tasha, Tasha, Tasha!”

Tasha the herding dog

I’m so sick of that stupid dog.  Naturally she got to be Kate’s first guest blogger, even though I have lived with her far longer.  Just because that moron dog likes to go in the car, that’s supposed to make her a travel expert?

Please.

My name is Boris, and I’m Kate’s cat.  And as you can see, I am by far the best looking creature in our house:

Handsome Boris, a non-traditional ragdoll cat

And even though I like helping Mom with this blog:

[]”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””u8iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiihjnb v8888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888

(that was me, walking across the keyboard),

I HATE TRAVEL.

Even five minutes in the car makes me hyperventilate.  The only good thing about travel is that when dopey Tasha goes with them I get the house to myself.

cat and dog are not friends

Would you PLEASE leave now?

It’s not like I’m ignorant about travel, mind you.  In fact, I’m the only pet in this house who has ever flown on an airplane — First Class, no less.  Even though a casual observer might think I’m an average tuxedo cat from the shelter, I’m actually an exceptionally rare breed:  a “non-traditional” ragdoll cat, directly descended from the infamous Josephine and that alley cat (supposedly spliced with human genes) who knocked her up.  After Mom lost her favorite kitten (another non-traditional ragdoll) to cardiomyopathy, I guess she was desperate for a replacement and found me online.  (Kind of like how she found Dad online to replace her first husbandI would praise the internet for making upgrades so easy, except she found that disgusting dog online too.)

As a breed, we ragdolls are supposed to be super affectionate and almost completely resistant to pain.  I only share the first trait when I feel like it (NEVER with Tasha), and I test the latter frequently.  Dad calls me clumsy.  He claims I’m the only cat who consistently falls off things and doesn’t know how to land on his feet.  (I think he’s just angry about all the vet bills.  Well, if that idiot dog wouldn’t chase me all the time, I wouldn’t need to climb so high.)

The only part of travel I really love is when Mom brings out the suitcases.  Unlike Mom, I LOVE packing.  But doesn’t she know that suitcases are meant for sleeping in?

cat sleeping in suitcase

If it were up to me, Mom would stay at home ALL the time — with me.  Dad can travel all he wants, so long as he takes Tasha with him.  Mom clearly likes me the best anyway.  We don’t have any dog art in the house (who would want to paint a stupid dog?), but there are LOTS of felines around here.

My favorite is the life-sized bronze lion above our staircase:

Boris and bronze lion

Except when he tries to steal my food:

cat and bronze lion

Hey, I got here first!

It’s so obvious I’m the favorite around here.  Mom even bought me a souvenir from her last trip.  It’s called “Lion’s Meditation,” by Michael Parkes:

Lion's Meditation by Michael Parkes

I love it.  The artist got things right, the way life should be:

Feline plus adoring Female equals happiness. 

A lion’s meditation, indeed.  At home alone, with no loud obnoxious dingos messing things up.

Perfect.

—————-

Mom says there are only 36 days left for this blog.  I think people are sick of reading about travel anyway.  What do you think?  Will you read MY blog?  (I’m thinking something like “The adventures of Boris-the-Badass cat and Natasha-the-Nincompoop dog?”)

I Left My (WTF ??) in San Francisco …

Part of the challenge with travel is how you deal with the things that inevitably get forgotten at home (my most common: sleeping mask, headphones, toothbrush, umbrella, bandages, tampons, meds, wine opener, socks, underwear, passport, and did I mention wine opener?) or lost along the way (like my curling iron in Paris).  Without fail, the forgotten or lost item is the ONE thing that would make your present moment more comfortable.

If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you know I generally try to mitigate this situation by overpacking.

This trip is no different.  As I write this from San Francisco, I realize that even though I packed five pairs of shoes, three pair of pants, two dresses, three sweaters, and two jackets for a single long weekend, I still lack the right clothes.  (Who would predict 80 degree weather at this time of year?)  My boots and winter shoes are worthless, but at least I remembered to bring one pair of sandals.

That was a mistake, as you’ll soon see.

But let me back up to the good parts of the trip first.  We start the weekend at an oceanfront B&B at Miramar Beach in Half Moon Bay.  With possibly the world’s grumpiest front desk clerk, I wouldn’t  exactly call it five star, but the included breakfasts and happy hour wine more than make up for this. Plus, there is nothing like falling asleep to the sound of waves:

View from our room of Miramar Beach, Half Moon Bay

room with a view

The surrounding area is quaint, with pumpkin patches everywhere:

Pumpkin Patch in Half Moon Bay

I think it’s charming, but Hubby still calls this the Redneck Riviera.  We’re not that far from San Francisco, and this is possibly the only place on the planet where real estate values actually fall as you get closer to the water.  (Maybe THIS is the place I can afford that ocean view home?)  I wouldn’t mind; it’s quite stunning here:

Half Moon Bay - Montara

It’s also romantic.  We even witness a marriage proposal from our Adirondack chairs outside an old speakeasy at Moss Beach:

Moss Beach proposal

From there, it’s on to see a one-man show by my favorite magical realism artist, Michael Parkes (the one I purchased that “Gold” painting from in August).  I even sweet talk Hubby into letting me buy this:

Golden Finch by Michael Parkes

It’s all going swimmingly, until we drive back to San Francisco and check in to the lovely old St. Francis hotel on Union Square:

Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco

In contrast to the lackadaisical service in Half Moon Bay, our bellhop volunteers to upgrade our room before I can even ask.  After a fantastic caviar embellished dinner at Farallon, I immediately remember everything I miss about Northern California wine country cuisine.  (As much as I love Newport Beach, Orange County people have no clue about fine dining — with a few notable exceptions, it’s mostly still “big slab of meat on a plate.”)

So what’s the problem in San Francisco?

Nothing, until I decide to wander around the city in my sandals. 

Warning for the faint of stomach: Do NOT view the next photo.

You see, of all my “enhanced” or artificial features, there is only one I’m truly ashamed of …

I have fake toenails.

Not by choice.  Call it a casualty of growing up in Wisconsin, where my very first job at age 14 (it lasted all of three days; even then, I couldn’t handle manual labor) was detasseling corn.  Three days of sweaty drudgery in non-stop rain and God-knows-what-is-really-lurking-in-our-produce caused me to lose both big toenails.  (They occasionally grow back, but mostly not.)  I’ve probably spent thousands over the years getting new acrylic ones applied, and every time I’m still embarrassed.

So when the San Francisco “street performer” (I can’t really tell what he’s trying to do, unless this is supposed to be a performance art piece demonstrating “mayhem”) gets into a scuffle with another guy and stumbles right onto my foot, I’m mortified.  My toenail goes flying across the plaza and lands right in front of Nordstrom.

It’s not pretty:

not pretty - my missing toenail

I think about retrieving the toenail, but realize I didn’t pack any nail glue anyway.

So, I put on my best OC Housewife face and march straight back to hotel, hoping no one will look at my feet.  At least I packed boots.

And thankfully, it’s time to go home …

——

Question:  What is YOUR most embarrassing travel story?  (I wish I could say this was mine, but unfortunately it’s one of far too many …)

Pepé Le Pew in Paris and Les Braves in Normandy (or, Still High Maintenance After All These Years?)

“Are you sure you’ll be able to handle this?”

“Sure, it will be romantic.”

“I don’t know … Remember last time?”

We are in Paris, and Hubby is referring to the very first overseas trip we took together here when we had just begun dating.  (I mean really, what woman wouldn’t marry the guy who takes you to Paris on a date?)  Now he’s questioning whether I really want to stay at the same place we did ten years ago.  It was a “charming” little hotel on the Left Bank in St. Germain. Certainly not five star, but purportedly a favorite among models and artists in the know.

At least in 2002.

Had he been paying attention, Hubby (who was not yet Hubby) should have been put on notice of what a high maintenance woman I was destined to become, because even then:

I couldn’t stop myself from whining about the hotel.

Specifically, about its hair dryers.  (Or rather, hair frizzers — weird devices on a vacuum hose attached to the wall that heated up way too much and blew just the tiniest amount of air — just enough to produce a pretty good Afro, but not to actually dry your hair.  The heat also made it impossible apply makeup in the sauna of a bathroom that resulted.)  From memory, the rooms were pretty miniscule too.

But I didn’t care on this trip.  All I could really think about were the good things: our early romance, the fantastic location within walking distance of the Louvre, plus the in-house jazz lounge with live music.

It would be romantic.

And it was … sort of.  Here we are last week at one of very same bistros we visited in 2002:

French Bistro

But some things never change.

Remember Pepé Le Pew and Penelope?  You know, the French skunk constantly searching for  “l’amour” and the poor little cat who keeps running from his advances? (If you haven’t seen him action for awhile, watch this clip: “Louvre Come Back To Me.”)

Pepe Le Pew loves Penelope

These days, the networks would never allow a would-be rapist to be featured in cartoons, let alone a character who stereotypes national origin so blatantly.  (Same goes for Speedy Gonzales.)  But of course, the reason stereotypes are such fun is because they so often ring true.

I saw evidence of Pepé everywhere last week in France.

No, I was not assaulted by any French men who needed a bath …

I’m talking about l’amour!

Or rather (and sadly for Hubby), Penelope’s reaction to Pepe’s advances.  At least on our first night, I had more in common with that nay-saying cat than any Parisian sex goddess.

Butt at least I'm in Paris ... sculpture outside the Louvre

Butt at least we’re in Paris …

The truth is, a person can really only tolerate so much beauty.  Paris can be overwhelming, even if you’ve been there before.  It’s sort of like this sculpture near the Louvre … is she simply so ecstatic about being in such proximity to the Eiffel Tower that she can’t stand up?

Or is Pepé lurking somewhere nearby and she is feigning a headache?

Both are possible in Paris, especially if you’re crabby about the hair dryers.  (And no, even though our hotel is finally undergoing a complete overhaul, the hair frizzers are exactly the same.  I overheard at least half a dozen other women complain about these at breakfast.)

It’s difficult to respond to l’amour with frizzed out hair.

Fortunately, I did remember to pack a curling iron and adapter, and with the help of a little French cuisine, our last night in Paris was saved.

Kate at a bistro in St. Germain

Plus, wearing French lingerie (for once) instead of the usual we’ve-been-married-forever t-shirt didn’t hurt either.

But we must move on.  After just two nights in Paris, we drive to Normandy because Hubby is a big World War II buff and wants to visit the beaches where the Allies landed on D-Day.  As a typical Lexus Liberal who has never actually experienced war, I wasn’t exactly thrilled about this.

And I still don’t know how to write about it.

First, here is the view from our hotel room in Arromanches, overlooking Gold Beach (and you know how much I LOVE gold):

View of Gold Beach from our room in Arromanches, Normandy

The countryside and beaches in Normandy are stunning, which makes it that much harder to understand everything that happened here 68 years ago.  We visit four of the five invasion beaches: Sword, Juno, Gold, and Omaha.  Each is more difficult to view than the last.

Imagine being in your early twenties and scaling these walls at Pointe Du Hoc, knowing that if you make it up you’re likely walking straight into your own death:

Pointe Du Hoc

You can see the remains of German bunkers, fox holes, and gun stands here, and the earth still has bombed out scars everywhere.  I can’t help but be reminded of Stone Henge when I see the circular configuration of some of the former weaponry sites:

Gun stand at Pointe Du Hoc, Normandy

Gun Henge?

Fittingly, the weather is windy and rainy during our visit which makes it easier to envision what the Allies were facing.  (The original invasion date was delayed due to bad weather.)  We take shelter at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial:

American cemetary in Normandy

Thousands of veterans are buried here; most barely in their twenties when they died.  (And across town at the German cemetery, hundreds of the dead were still children, as the Nazis actively recruited 16 year olds.) 

I am particularly struck by one line in a film at the American Memorial:

“The fate of the free world once rested on their shoulders.”

And I wonder: Did they realize this?

Thank you.

Your lives were no wasted journey.

Artist Anilore Banon expresses this far better than I can with his Les Braves sculpture at Omaha Beach:

Les Braves -- Omaha beach sculpture

The memorial sculpture is meant to symbolize Hope, Freedom, and Fraternity.  Or, as Pepé Le Pew says:

“War eez fine, but zee louv eez bettah!” 

By the way, Pepé was created on January 6, 1945, just a few months after the D-Day landings.  For me, this is just a reminder that among all the other freedoms our war heros won for us, the ability to laugh is one of the most dear.

Incidentally, I accidentally left my curling iron at our tiny hotel room back in Paris.  My hair in Normandy is a flat and frizzy mess.

And for once, I don’t care.

Who Pinched My Paninni? (And What Do Druids, George Michael, Pub Food, Sunglasses, and London Bridge Have in Common?)

“Hey, who pinched her pannini?” the fry cook shouts impatiently.  We have been shivering in the wind outside Stonehenge’s one tiny concession booth for about twenty minutes, our bus back to London will leave without us any minute, and it appears that someone has stolen my sandwich.

What are we doing out here with this ancient pile of rocks anyway?  In my quest to visit anything and everything related to the Winter Solstice and December 21, 2012, I simply couldn’t skip this:

Kate -Winter Solstice stone at Stonehenge

The round boulder to the left of me in the henge’s foreground is my very own birthday stone – the “Winter Solstice Stone.”   According to one tour company, December 21 is the most important day of the year at Stonehenge because the monument and my special stone will be “carefully aligned on a sight-line that points to the winter solstice sunset.”

But today isn’t the Solstice.

It’s just a cold October afternoon with busloads of tourists jostling each other out of the way because even though no one understands the original purpose of the 7000-year-old structure, everyone thinks it’s a great photo opp:

Kate at Stonehenge

And despite the many tourists here and my stolen lunch, I must admit I do feel a special energy here.  Could it be true, as archeologist Philip Coppens speculates, that Stonehenge might be part of a larger ancient civilization modeled on the lost city of Atlantis?

Where is Harry Potter when you need him?

As cynical as I sometimes sound on this blog, I’m in the mood for some MAGIC.  Stonehenge would be a lot more interesting if the British guides didn’t insist on immediately debunking all the mythology.  How was it built?  They can’t say, but it definitely wasn’t erected by aliens.  How did the Druids manage to lift and transport all these multi-ton boulders hundreds of miles without roads?  They don’t know that either, and in fact, the very existence of Druids is questionable too; all we have about them are some spotty records written hundreds of years after the fact.  Ok, what’s wrong with the aliens theory then?  You say you’re from California?

Basically, Brits seem to think everything is a pile of rubbish. 

Except for George Michael:

George Michael is brilliant

He’s Brilliant.  (I know this because we asked random Brits emerging from his concert last week in Earl’s Court and they ALL used the same adjective to describe him.)

But it seems everything and everyone who is not George Michael are not to be trusted.  Crop circles are manmade.  According to one British journalist I chatted with about some of the other New Age topics I’ve written about on this site, even dolphins and horses are suspect.  “They only make you feel healed because they’re cute.  Plus there’s the whole anthropomorphism problem.”  (Ok, but I’ve always been curious about the reverse: What do you call it when animals assume we humans have some basic sense of intuition, and can instantly detect good and evil the way they do?)

But I digress.  Here are a few quick travel tips from our U.K. trip last week:

  • Traffic flows about a hundred times better in London than in L.A., probably because everyone takes the tube.  (But do not smile on the tube, unless you want everyone to know you’re American.)
  • Brits don’t wear sunglasses (even though it was actually sunny one day).
  • Unless you’re George Michael.  (See above … he’s brilliant.)
  • If you wear sunglasses AND smile, people will take pictures of you.
  • If you go to a pub alone and smile, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  • In fact, it’s best if you don’t smile at all.  Especially if you want to be mistaken for James Bond:

James Bond 007

He’s the one in the middle.  (No wait … that’s Hubby.)  A few more tips:

  • Westminster Abbey looks much more impressive on TV than in person. (I wonder if the same is true of Kate Middleton?)
  • Do NOT stay in Earl’s Court unless you are a backpacker.  (Possibly the worst Marriott ever?  They try to hide this by advertising it as “Kensington” but don’t be fooled, it’s totally Earl’s Court: Cold showers, injury inflicting doors, plus a bad key card … not that I’m high maintenance or anything.)

At least this trip is better than when I really was a backpacker here in 1993.  On that trip, my sole purpose was to unload $5,000 worth of papyrus some shady Egyptian guy in Cairo told me I’d be able to “double my investment” with by selling it in London (at a non-existent shop):

Kate with Egyptian scam artist in 1993

As Hubby claims, of course I will buy that bridge from you.  (And no, Hubby, I will not be naming any of those stars after you that I bought title to last year ...)  What else?

  • Harrod’s closes at 8:00.  The London Eye will likely be closed no matter when you go.
  • They won’t let you in to the Parliament Building (especially if you’re smiling and wearing sunglasses).
  • London Tower has nothing to do with London Bridge.  (But at least there’s a decent pub near the latter.)
  • Do not smile if you go into that pub alone.  (Am I repeating myself here?)

Amazingly, pub food and Wisconsin food have the exact same nutritional value:

pub food

But I must admit that dark pubs and heavy food fit the environment here perfectly.  They offer so much comfort.  So, after getting lost near the London Bridge (which has nothing to do with London Tower, where the crown jewels are kept), I duck out of the rain and into this place:

The Harlot and the Banker

I sit alone at a small table and a somewhat inebriated Brit immediately asks: “Are you meeting someone?”  I reach for my sunglasses and emphatically answer, “YES.”  He plops down next to me and smiles, “Could it be ME?”

And I can’t help but laugh, because even the cheesiest pickup lines are somehow more charming with a British accent.

But whatever happened to my pannini at Stonehenge?

“Sorry, some other blonde picked it up ten minutes ago.”

I bet she was wearing sunglasses.

Brilliant.