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?

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.

Stonehenge, Atlantis, my Bucket List and the Monster at the End of this Blog

Yikes!  (And you know how much I hate to say “yikes”…)  But there are only 69 days left until 12/21/12.

And you know what that means.

No, I’m not talking about THAT 69 … but the monster at the end of this blog will soon reveal himself.  (And I hope he’ll be a cute little rascal like Grover .. oh wait, I forgot, if Big Bird is getting the axe, Grover probably will too.)

Seriously, the time left until 12/21/12 is speeding by, and it’s probably time to reveal where I’ll be spending the End-of-the-World/My-45th-Birthday in December.

Are you ready?

No, it’s not Belize.  In fact, after much deliberation and far too many travel quotes, it’s not even Mayan.

But before I reveal all, I have to explain just how much the first 111 days of this blog’s journey have surprised me.

When I first started this blog, it was sort of a tongue-in-cheek joke because my 45th birthday happens to coincide with what millions of doomsday freaks predict will be our last day on planet Earth.  (On the other hand, millions of New Age freaks believe 12/21/12 will usher in a new era of unprecedented peace and human evolution.)  Either way, it begged the question: if there really were only 180 days left, how should I spend them?

I didn’t know. 

But what I did know was that I was open to anything, and that we would be spending the summer solstice in Barcelona.  From there on, I was clueless.  And I couldn’t help but think of 2007’s The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman:

The Bucket List

As you likely recall, the two main characters in the movie were both dying of cancer and abandoned their families to jet set around the world, squeezing in every exotic fantasy they possibly could in their last days.  An unrealistic premise for sure, but the film was a hit worldwide because let’s face it — we all have a Bucket List.

But what was truly on mine?  More travel?  Even though I adore journeys of just about every kind, I knew from the start of this blog that simply taking a few more expensive vacations this year was unlikely to be transformative.

Unless I did things differently.

So with the exception of our starting trip in Spain (which was still a lovely way to reconnect with Hubby), each of my journeys this year has served a deeper purpose beyond simply taking another vacation: Santa Fe and Taos taught me about Zen meditation and how to apply this to writing, the Wisconsin trip helped me connect on a much deeper level with my family, traveling with our dog Tasha in the wine country reminded me of how much I have to be thankful for close to home, and the horses in Tucson taught me how to stand more confidently in my own truth.

So what’s happening in the next 69 days?

Next Tuesday we’ll be touring Stonehenge; on Wednesday I’m meeting with a travel editor in London to discuss how to develop a travel writing career.  From there Hubby and I are revisiting a quaint hotel on the Left Bank in Paris where we first traveled during our dating days — surely something will be rekindled there? 

November will be devoted to everything I love in California, with trips to San Francisco, Half-Moon Bay, Rancho Mirage and the Desert, Santa Barbara and Carmel.  I’ll also be continuing important journeys at home too, including advanced screenwriting classes with Corey Mandell in LA, and a wonderful forum with other women working on increasing our visibility and creating our “ecstatic brand” with Christina Morassi.  (Definitely more on that one to come!  So far, she’s proving much of my skepticism about gurus … um, well … wrong.)

Enough already … So what’s the big finale in December?

Here’s a clue:

Happy Dolphins

Given all I learned from the horses, I’ve decided to go swim with wild dolphins.

Remember how I wanted to end this blog with a “B” name? (“From Barcelona to B_________”)  I’ve now got three:

Bimini, Bahamas, and Bermuda Triangle. 

If the world really is going to end, I may as well go out with a bang, right?  On December 21, I’ll be on a boat somewhere over the Atlantis Energy Vortex in the Bermuda Triangle, where we’ll be  “sending out beams of 5th dimensional consciousness to the planet from this sacred site through a guided meditation.”

Did I mention I’m afraid of boats?

Plus, my least favorite movie of all times is Open Water (can I say “yikes” again?)  But the good part is we’ll be spending hours every day swimming with the wild dolphins, which should be really cool.  The only other catch?

No coffee, and no wine.

In addition to lots of meditation and yoga, the week will include a strict vegan raw food detox diet.  We’ll also be certified in Reiki I and II before the week is up.  New Agey?  For sure. Scary? You bet.

Hubby will NOT be joining me.

And I can’t say that I blame him. 

—–

Will YOU?  I’d love to have some company … Just leave a comment if you’d like more information.

Travels with Tasha (our Dog-cation in the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country)

Tasha in Santa Barbara

I’d say hello, but as you can see, my mouth is full … My name is Natasha (“Tasha”) and I’m Kate’s first guest blogger.

I’m also her dog. 

We just arrived at my favorite canine-friendly beach in Santa Barbara, right in front of my preferred hotel, the Biltmore (Four Seasons).  Unfortunately, we’re not staying here this time and the surf is so high today there’s no beach:

surfer dog

surfer dog

It’s a good thing I know how to swim.

By now you’ve heard an awful lot about my mom’s birthday (December 21).  I don’t get what the big deal is … Sure, it’s the purported End-of-the-World as well as Jane Fonda’s birthday, but my own birthday (January 27) is just as special — I share it with Mozart, Baryshnikov, and Bridget Fonda.

Why does Kate want to take another trip on 12/21 anyway? Frankly, I don’t understand why my parents ever insist on going anyplace without me … I’m an EXCELLENT travel companion.

Like on this trip.  As you can see, I am extremely useful as a navigator:

Tasha is a front seat dog

I don’t know why Kate keeps strapping me into the back seat with that harness, as I’m obviously a much better co-pilot than she is.  Besides, sitting in the back deprives me of the view:

Santa Ynez wine country

My parents don’t fully appreciate my talents as a tour guide.  I swear if I didn’t alert them with my LOUDEST BARK every time I see a cow, horse, or motorcycle, they wouldn’t notice anything.

In case you can’t tell from the picture, we’re driving through the Santa Ynez Valley wine country.  Right now we’re passing through the town where my parents adopted me in 2009:

Buellton - famous for split pea soup and mini-Australian shepherds

Buellton – famous for split pea soup and mini-Australian shepherds

Dad keeps joking about dropping me off at the breeder’s, but I don’t find this funny at all.  We finally reach our destination – a little Danish town called Solvang.  Mom calls it “kitschy” but I love it because most of the restaurants and hotels welcome dogs.

Solvang - California' town of Danish kitsch

Mom still tries to feed me dog food every morning though … can you imagine?  Of course I refuse to touch it, and hold out for omelettes, sausage, and those wine country cheese plates.

Our hotel, the Royal Copenhagen Inn, is not quite the Four Seasons.  They don’t have dog beds or toys here, and they don’t serve filet mignon for breakfast either.  But I guess not many dogs have the discriminating taste I do.  (I do live in Newport Beach, after all ...) I think it’s funny this place has a “Secret Garden” for dogs to run around in:

Tasha in the "Secret Garden" at the Royal Copenhagen Inn, Solvang

The garden isn’t bad, but they don’t let dogs in the pool.  So much for “dog friendly” — I wonder where I can file a complaint for false advertising?  They also won’t let me into the breakfast room where all those Danish pastries are.  So when Mom isn’t looking, I let myself in and run eight laps around the diners before she can catch me.

Overall I’m having fun, but I still don’t understand why they call it “wine tasting.”  Even though they let me into a couple of tasting rooms, no one offers me any wine.

Babcock Winery with Tasha

When do I get to taste the wine?

But even so, it’s been a pretty okay weekend.  More importantly, I think I can solve Kate’s problem of where to celebrate 12/21/12:  With ME, of course.

At the Biltmore Four Seasons in Santa Barbara. 

Where they know how to treat a dog well.  Plus, I’ll be sticking with this blog’s “B” theme … from Barcelona to the Biltmore?

——

What do YOU think?  Please tell Kate she really should be with her dog for the end-of-the-world.  (I would NEVER abandon HER on such an important date!)

Berlin, Beijing, Bali, Burkina Faso, Brisbane, Berkeley, Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Bora Bora, and Buellton (or, the Travel Moments that Transform Us)

From Barcelona to B_____________?

When I launched this blog on 2012’s summer solstice in Barcelona, I was searching for a great place to wrap things up for the winter solstice on 12/21/12, the infamous “End-of-the-World” (or start of a new era?).  Belize seemed the perfect choice – not only for its Mayan heritage, but for the alliteration:  “Barcelona to Belize” just has a nice ring to it.

But I still haven’t decided where to spend my last day on this planet.

This morning I started thinking about some of the other “B” places I’ve been, and what these trips have meant. The places listed in the title of this post span a travel period of 25 years; each journey has been transformative in a different way.      

Here’s what can happen if you travel to “B” places:

You may get frustrated because you can’t speak the language.  You may learn humility for the same reason.  You may diversify your palate.  You may find a second family.  You may discover Wanderlust is part of who you are.

You may witness a revolution.  You may be followed by mobs of people like a movie star. You may be disgusted by local habits (or you may join in and learn to spit).  You may spend time in a hospital without modern hygiene.  You may learn to live with cockroaches in your room. You may be given snake venom, tiger balm, and foul spelling mystery brews as medicine.  You may be surprised when this works. You may ride a bicycle everywhere and decide to paint it in bright colors after your third one is stolen.  You may learn to bribe low level officials in order to get even the simplest things done.  You may have your identity card and your allowance stolen.  You may spend endless hours on trains. You may get shoved around a lot.  You may get used to your mail being read and your room bugged.  You may wish you could afford a $12 Mai Tai in the city’s only Western hotel. 

You may find yourself breathless gazing at the beauty of a tropical ocean.  You may vow to yourself never to let corporate life stop you from seeking beauty.  You may have an affair with a much older man. 

You may have to sleep on the  ground and not be able to shower for ten days at a time.  You may get dysentery so bad you feel you might die. You may learn to attract butterflies with your mind.  You may learn to truly appreciate clean sheets for the rest of your life. You may hallucinate in the desert.  You may use your travel time to read all the classics.  You may fall in love and get married. 

You may move to the other side of the planet and start a completely new career as a “witch doctor” (naturopath).  You may learn this choice is not compatible with your decision to marry a “real” doctor.  You may learn that no matter how large an American spider is, it’s not really BIG.  You may miss ants that do not bite. May may miss central heating (and air conditioning even more). You may regret not getting that law degree.  You may miss home.  You may get divorced even though you still love the man. 

You may feel broke and broken.  You may go back to law school.  You may become roommates with a crazy French lady who talks like a poodle. 

You may miss a catastrophic tsunami by mere hours on your honeymoon with your next husband.  You may feel blessed.  You may become a lawyer. 

You may learn to tango.  You may learn to appreciate the amenities of five star resorts. 

Your vision may go spotty as you gaze upon the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen.  You may have the best sex of your life.  You may be be inspired to cut back your hours in what you’ve decided is the world’s worst profession.  You may lose your job. 

You may buy a puppy.

You may decide to write about it all.

With Hubby in Bora Bora, 2009

With Hubby in Bora Bora, 2009

The bottom line?  No journey is wasted. 

In case you didn’t recognize “Buellton” in the title of this post, it’s a small town in Santa Barbara County, right in the middle of the wine country where Sideways was filmed.  It’s where we bought our dog, Natasha, three years ago and near where we’ll be wine tasting this weekend.  Tasha adores road trips and will be coming too.  (She may even be my first guest blogger next time?)

Cheers, until then …

Hubby and our puppy at the Hitching Post in Buellton

Hubby and our puppy at the Hitching Post in Buellton

Question:  When was the last time you took a quick inventory of lessons learned in YOUR past journeys?  Do you find such exercises useful?  And if you have any ideas on where I should end this journey, I’d LOVE to hear them!