Thursday, June 30, 2016

I Killed My Cat (Was it Just a Dream?)

I dreamed last night that the fur ball I was trying to remove from the hindquarters of my faux Himalayan cat was in fact a hernia. And as I gently tugged on the mat of long white hair, I started pulling her innards out. She screeched and ran away, leaving a trail of kitty blood in her wake. Panicked, I searched for her in all of her favorite hiding spots. Instead of finding a trembling cat, I instead found pools of flesh and blood, evidence that she was leaking from the inside out. 

In my dream, I remember weeping.  

And I never found my cat. 

Care to interpret? 

Monday, June 27, 2016


Is there something you love to do, that, either due to laziness or fear, you never do?

For me its dancing. But not any kind of dancing. I love a type of dancing known as "trance dance" or its cousin, "ecstatic dance." There are no steps to memorize, and no rules to follow. There is simply deeply rhythmic music and occasional structures to help guide the dance.

Trance dance is a form of meditation for me. I nearly always dance with my eyes gently closed. It helps me shut down my consciousness and simply feel. When I'm trance dancing, my consciousness falls away and I just become a mass of body and spirit. It is deeply spiritual in a way that no sermon or Bible story or memorized prayer or mass can ever touch for me. I love this type of dancing so much, I've looked into becoming a whirling dervish, which is a sect within the mystical branch of Islam known as Sufi. 

I learned about trance dance through the magic of Kripalu Danskinetics, and its spinoffs Journey Dance and Shake Your Soul. I used to Journey Dance once a month at a Unitarian church about 30 minutes from my home.

And then I moved an additional hour away from the class.

And then the instructor moved. To Canada.

That was more than six years ago. And I haven't danced since.

I recently met a woman who leads monthly ecstatic dance sessions 90 minutes away from my home. On Friday nights. Starting at 8:00 PM. Ugh.

To get to a session I would need to:
  • Overcome the sluggishness that I put on every Friday when I get home at 3:30 PM; my typical end-of-the-week sluggishness is compounded by the fact that I get up at 4:30 in the morning to exercise before I'm due at my desk at 7:00 AM. 
  • Once I actually make it out of the house, fight weekend commuter traffic for 90 minutes to get there
  • Manage the exhaustion I predict I'd feel throughout the weekend after being active for at least 19 hours of the day (see "overcome sluggishness" note above)
  • Overcome the fear that I would put all the effort to get to the class, and it would be a bust. Either because the music or energy weren't right, or the other dancers were too handsy or geeky, or cliquey. 
Laziness? That I can overcome. But that social fear can be paralyzing. 



Take a step back.

If I can remember that the WHOLE POINT of dancing is to have the experience of being filled with the light of God. And then if I can remember that the worst that can happen is I waste an entire evening at an event that does not fill me with the light of God. And the best that can happen is I have an amazing experience and feel light enough to float home when it is over, and inspired to go back the next month. 


I can probably will the fear away. At least long enough to get myself to try. 

Luckily, Ecstatic Dance Providence has been on hiatus all summer, so I've had months to perseverate on this. The next dance is on the third Friday in October. My challenge until then? To focus on the possibility of love, rather than fear.

Wish me luck. 

Cookie Monster: An unrequited love story

I love cookies. Chocolate chip cookies to be exact. In fact, I love them so much, they made my Facebook list of 10 foods I would want with me if I were stranded on a desert island, (The others are turkey, eggs, olive oil, rice, spinach, lemons, coconut, cheddar cheese, and coffee,)

But chocolate chip cookies don't love me back.

Consider this checklist of qualities that the Kelley and Thibault model of relationship commitment, as described by Psychology Today, suggests are essential to a successful long-term relationship:  

Both consistently meet and do not frustrate our needs
FAIL. Chocolate chip cookies DO meet my needs for the delicious combination of sugar and fat, particularly when I'm feeling sad, hormonal, or have low blood sugar. HOWEVER, they do not care enough about me to minimize the way they frustrate my efforts to be fit, sleep well at night, and not feel like an out-of-control pig. 

Are more attractive than other potential relationships or ways of spending our time
FAIL. I love chocolate chip cookies. But, they have not done enough in our relationship to prevent me from cheating on them with potato chips, dark chocolate-covered anything, or commercially prepared peanut butter. And none of the Ashley Madison foods I have in my Rolodex are doing me any favors. In fact, if I were to cheat on chocolate chip cookies, I'd be better off cheating with a trip to the gym, a brisk walk, or a phone call to one of my sisters.

Would lead one to lose valuable resources if the relationship were to end
FAIL. Again, What am I going to lose if I were to leave my love affair with the chocolate chip cookie? I would guess about 15 pounds.

This checklist makes it clear that chocolate chip cookies are doing nothing but hurting me. For more than 45 years, I've continued to turn to them in times of joy, sorrow and anger, only to have my short term needs fulfilled with no promise of a fulfilling, long-term relationship

So, chocolate chip cookies, in the interest of my health, I am breaking up with you.

(Unless, of course, you'd be willing to hook up every now and again, maybe at parties or other special events. I mean, I'd be open to that.)

Friday, June 24, 2016

An Even More Perfect Union

I leave work at 3:00 on Fridays, which means instead of being getting my evening news fix from my pal Robert Siegel on NPR's All Things Considered, I'm forced tlisten to PRI's The World

Today, on my 25-minute commute, I heard global perspectives on the outcomes of yesterday's Brexit vote. 

During the drive, I stared out the front window of my station wagon thinking not about the predictable traffic and roadways between me and my home, but instead thinking about the 17 million Britons who decided yesterday to leave the EU. 

The reasons for this too complicated for me to understand and certainly too complicated for me to explain. If you don't understand the Brexit vote, I invite you to read coverage in the New York Times and The Economist for two among the thousands of media perspectives on this historic decision by the people, for the people of the United Kingdom. 

One of the rationales given for the "leave" decision was the EU's demand that member nations comply with an open borders policy, making it possible for residents and workers to easily migrate between countries to live and work. And for older, less educated Britons who, like their American counterparts are suffering professional and economically, immigration became the easy scapegoat. One commentator on The World said a "leave the EU" campaign slogan was "Make Great Britain Great Again." 

This is a familiar refrain here in the U.S.

Which got me to thinking. 

What if we simply swapped voters? 

Think about it. The "Leave the EU" voters are kindred spirits of Donald Trump's base of support, while the "Remain in the EU" voters might be compared to Hillary Clinton supporters in their rational appreciation for the benefits that come with a nation state's investment in the collective whole. 

What if we invited the "Leave the EU" people to come live in America, hassle-free, and gave the Hillary supporters the same hassle-free option to move to the UK? 

Don't think about it. Just react. If you are a Hillary supporter, would you take the free pass to Europe? I know I would. 

Post your vote in the comments section. As with Brexit, we'll figure out the details later.