Monday, December 31, 2012

Running away to find Home...

Beware, I'm in a bit of a writing mood.

The end of year always brings out my inner writer, so be prepared for a lot of posts this week.  After the silence of the past month or so,  I did not want to overwhelm you or have you go into shock, so there's my public service announcement.  POSTS ARE COMING... Lots of them..

Like the this one...
Running away to find home.

I got an invitation about a year ago to join Ann, my Bonus (a nicer term than stepmom),  at a week long yoga retreat in Mexico.   She had attended in 2011 and the day she got home, she called and said they were doing it again in 2012 and she thought I would love it.  I looked at the website; I looked at my finances; I looked and the calendar; and then I decided yes!!!

I made the decision to go in February and paid my first deposit.
Life went crazy.

I made my second deposit in June..
Life went beserk.

I made my final payments in August and October...
Heaven help me....

I booked my airfare....
I lost all confidence about going.

I started to prepare for the trip...
I trip and end up leaving for the retreat with a swollen wounded ankle and a skinned up knee.

Why do I bring all of this up?  You need a clear understanding of my mental, physical and emotional state when I boarded my flight that left at 5:55 am on December 8th to understand the transformation that occurred.   I've come to the realization that I needed to be at a low point to be open to what happened.

What did happen, you ask?
I found home.

I'll explain that in detail later, but first some details about the trip....

December 8th, I flew from SLC to LA to Puerta Vallerta, Mexico.  I made all of my connections and my luggage made my flights.  Off to a good start.  :)  I left Salt Lake in below freezing temps, landed in LA in fog (could not see more than 50 feet out the plane's window), and at my final destination....
85 degrees...  my idea of perfection.

Haramara Retreat the resort where I was heading, is about 30 miles north of Puerta Vallerta, so I waited for a few of my fellow yogis, including Ann to fly in.  We loaded up our shuttle and headed out.  A little information about the retreat.  It was planned and organized by a yoga studio, Flow Yoga, in Hood River Oregon and attended by yogis from all over the country.   On my shuttle, Utah, Georgia, Minnesota and Wisconsin were represented with Oregon, Washington, California, Ohio and Alaska joining in later.

Just a glimpse of the resort...
a walkway thru the resort
Haramara was built without any heavy machinery and is designed to get you back to nature.  There are no phones in your casitas.  No power either... you use candles and kerosene lamps.  Cell phones don't really work there.  The quiet is stunning and powerful.  By the end of the week, you are waking with the sun and going to bed following the rhythm of light and dark.

my room, notice the mosquito netting you would pull around your bed at night

The schedule for the week went like this...
7am wakeup...
throw on yoga clothes and head to breakfast
8:30  Chanting and meditation
9-10:30  morning yoga
break time (for non yoga teachers like me)
12-1 AMAZING LUNCH (3 courses)
break time (for non yoga teachers like me)
4:45-6 afternoon yoga
6-7 Oh, my heavens yummy dinner (I could write a whole post about the food)
7-9 Satsang..... Eastern Philosphy, Meditation and discussion
9 bedtime...

As you can tell, yoga would be one of the major focuses of my week.  Were you paying attention at the beginning when I told you that my ankle was wounded?  Well, it was.. a nice shade of technicolor with some swelling to boot.  No strength for balancing poses at all... Great!...my strength, pun intended, in yoga has always been my strength....flexibility is an ongoing challenge and goal.  For two times a day, I was going to have to accept my limitation and let my yoga practice be exactly as it was for the day.  AAAAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!  Not my greatest strength, I'll tell you.  If I've done a pose before, I will do it again.  My competitive nature just doesn't let me back up in progress without some grief.  Learning and acceptance would have to occur for my sanity to remain intact.

During my freetime, I would read (The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle), hang out on the the beach and dip my toes in the warm waters of the ocean, or go into the town of Sayulita, a 2 mile walk from the resort.  On one of my adventures into town, I did an item off my bucket list..I attempted to learn to surf.  :)

Haramara's beach
Surfing lesson, pre water...tip of the day..if you learn to surf, try and do it when you don't have a hurt right ankle and a skinned left knee.. (it really gets in the way)

Evening Satsang proved to be exclamation mark on the day.  It would reinforce all of the things that had happened during the day.  The main focus of the talks would was the idea of 'being in the moment'.  Sometimes, Adi, our discussion leader, would say something that was almost a direct quote from the book was I reading.  It was like the universe making sure I got it.

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, I turned inward.  I spent a lot of time alone during freetime reading, journaling and thinking about the patterns and behaviors of my life.  It wasn't anti social, it was just a quiet space I desperately needed.  I worked thru some things, I had not dared to do before and some other stuff that I thought I had....  I'm not sure that I would of done the work without the peace and quiet of Haramara.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I found my bliss.  I started to spend my free time with the other retreaters.  Conversations varied; some deep, some light...  My yoga practice started to turn around, not physically, my ankle was still giving me grief, but the true reason of yoga..the mental side.  My mind began to quite down.

Friday night at Satsang, we started talking about going to home and the hustle and noise of life, when Adi simply stated, 'You are home'.

Alarm bells ringing, fireworks going off, and the deep realization that he was right.

I was home.

I was no where near anything familiar, but I was home.

Not a physical address...
but that place deep inside of you that knows without question that you are all that you need.

I was home....

Saturday afternoon, I left Haramara and returned to Salt Lake.  My ankle was still a little swollen and my knee still a little banged up, but my mind and soul were in such a better place.

I was home.

Melissa



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Interwoven Stories

For the past year or so, I have been scanning old slides and photographs onto my computer, and I've become intrigued by the photos of my grandparents, parents and other relatives when they were younger and of the lives they led before they became the title I have for them.

My paternal Grandmother passed away when my Dad was in college.  I have her name and her coloring, but have never seen a photograph of her.

My paternal Grandfather, Pop as everyone called him, passed when I was 5.  I have fleeting memories of sitting in his lap and how big he was.
Pop, after a bird hunt


My maternal Grandfather passed away when my Mom was a child.  In reading old letters and seeing pictures of him, I have his eye coloring and his dry sense of humor.

A photograph that I had never seen until I started scanning of my maternal Grandfather

My maternal Grandmother passed away before I was six.  I remember eating bread and milk out of these great aluminum glasses, pink peppermint candies, and the cepachol mouthwash in her bathroom.
My maternal Grandmother, Amy

In scanning the photographs, I have seen more pictures of my Grandparents that I even knew existed.  Sure, they were in albums ready for my viewing at any time or in slides, but I never really took the time to see them.  For me, history is boring if it's dates and charts of names and birthdates, but give me a personal memory, a photograph or a journal and I'll dive right in.  The reason why I started scanning...no one had a slide viewer anymore and we were going to lose the memories.  The snowball started with that, so I then looked at old photo albums and realized, we were losing the pictures as well, due to age.

After learning more about my Grandparents, I started in on my parents photos.  We enter our parents lives with their stories well in progress.  If we're lucky, we learn about the stories that lead them to the points were we enter their lives.  The trouble they got into as kids; their achievements; their disappointments; and their dreams.

My Mom grew up in Orderville, Utah, graduated from college at the age of 40, taught First Grade for 27 years, and fostered my love of reading.  Girls, I think, are more apt to have journals and scrapbooks, so I have been going through my mom's.  I have learned things that I would of never have known by scanning them.  Memories have been brought back for her and I've met the child, teenager and young adult that she was.  It's been really amazing.

My Mom, back in the day

My Dad grew up in Pine Mountain, Georgia,  graduated from Georgia Tech, was in Army, blew a lot of stuff up in his career, and can build anything you ask him for.  I asked him not too long ago, if he had any old photos or things of the like from his childhood and he told me that there wasn't anything to do.....nothing remained or he did have them.  It dang near broke my heart, because in learning about his past, I would of learned even more about him...
My Dad, back in the day
My parents divorced when I was 16....
it took a long time for me to realize that while they were not right for each other,
they are the perfect parents for me.

I am not done scanning photos and old documents of my parents and now I've even started on the photographs I've taken of friends and my life throughout the years.  I don't want to lose these memories and it is my privilege to save them.

A little introspective,
Melissa



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Carving out Tradition

I've been scanning old photos and slides for a while now and have another post coming about legacies and heritage, but an unexpected surprise surfaces in old photo albums--pictures of the pumpkins I've carved thru out the years.  Some of which, I did not believe I had anymore.  :)

If you're interested in how I started carving and my once a year art skills, read about it here...

So, without further ado, a photo retrospective of my pumpkins.




Beast, the one who started it all..not the best photo  :(



Bullseye, from Toy Story 2

Star Wars fans, please forgive me, it's Jar Jar Binks.  He's on the left.

Stitch, from Disney's Lilo and Stitch

Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh.

Simba, the Lion King

Flounder, you Guppy


not a great photo, but it's Huggly (a Children's book character)
The Princess and the Frog
Remy 
So, how many years have I been doing this...
The big hair, the rolled shorts...behold the 90's
See you soon,
Melissa

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Bit from Bacall

Me, after the scary narrows.
First of all,  I would like to introduce myself.  My name is Bacall Murphy.  I have a nickname of 'BitBit', because when I was first adopted, I was a little bit.  I was small for my age and breed.  I'm adorable, a little shy and have a great low howl, like my namesake.

Now, the reason I am writing--this so called adventure I was dragged on this past weekend.

Complaint #1....

Goblin Valley at night.  No fun.  Monsters everywhere.  Shadows and eerie light.  Not cool.
See all of the shadows where danger lurks?  Me too!
Complaint #2

Goblin Valley does not have any trails in it.  You just explore and then when you are ready to go, you just head back to the stairs that led you into the valley.  My stubborn owner (hey Bacall, not nice!) would not listen to me for directions and we would get lost.  It turns out I was always right when getting back to the stairs.  I have a superior sense of direction!  Just listen to me, humans.

Complaint #3

It turns out I have a severe case of claustrophobia!!!  When the canyon walls started closing in on our hike in Little Wild Horse Canyon, I sort of freaked out.  My tail went between my legs.  I was an unhappy camper, and when we finally turned around,  I had to back up 10 feet before I had enough space to turn around (it really, really, really scared me).  I had a freaked out look on my face at that point.  After getting turned around and headed back down the canyon, I was soo much more relaxed.
TOO NARROW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Complaint #4

The length of our hikes.  Little Wild Horse Canyon is a death march.  Do not believe the lies that it is easy and short.  It is long!  Especially with my little legs.



Poor Tortured Me.... I am exhausted.
My brother, Humphrey, still recovering hours later.
I think I'll end my tales of woe now.  I normally really love my life, but if you see my human, can you please talk to her and tell her to knock off the bad stuff...

Bacall
(as transcribed by Melissa)







Upon Meeting Goblins and Wild Horses....

Goblin Valley State Park
Goblin Valley State Park, near Hanksville, Utah, is one of those places that I had always thought I had been to before, but upon visiting it this past weekend....it turns out, I had not.  Now, I can not believe that it took me this long to visit.  I tried to visit in May, read about it here, but it was not to be...

Bacall keeping vigil over the tent
However, on September 29th, I arrived in Goblin Valley.  Just a note, Campsite #19, rocks!!  The campground is very, VERY open.  There is not one tree in the campground, so there is not a lot of separation and seclusion.  Except for #19, it is around a little rock wall and the last site before the yurts.  If you are wondering why I wanted to go on the 29th, one simple answer:  a full moon.  Goblin Valley is known for its full moon adventure.  You do not even need a flashlight to explore due to the light of a full moon.

a full moon shot!!!

Just a little note, on this photograph,  it was taken at 11 pm.  I used a long exposure to show how light it really was at night.  It was very, very eerie, but very, very cool.

In addition to exploring Goblin Valley, the other thing I wanted to do was hike Little Wild Horse Canyon.  It is only 5 miles away from the entrance of the park and is a famous slot canyon.  It's 3 miles to the top and you can either hike back the same way you went in or loop and hook up with Bell canyon.  It is a fairly easy hike, with only a few obstacles that are a little difficult to get over.  (Especially if you are hiking with Basset Hounds)  The first one is the hardest and if you follow this one simple tip, you can avoid the bruises and scraped knuckles I got.  When you see this.....
the largest obstacle you'll encounter.

 KEEP TO THE LEFT!!!!!!!  It occurs right as the trail narrows for the first time.  There are little signals of little rock towers to mark the easy way!  You can not actually see the path in this photo, it is just out of view on the left.  See those ledges on the rock right in the middle of the photo?  That's what I had to lift my dogs on to.  My light (HAHAHAHAHA) basset hounds up to the 2nd ledge.  There was some slight resistance.   Take my advice, do not miss the easy way--on our way out, I watched people, just walk with no problem over an area that about turned us back before we ever really started.  That would of been a HUGE mistake.


this is as narrow as it gets....
but most of the time is fairly wide

and absolutely stunning.

My dogs are getting a little older and for some reason every time I go camping, the weather is unseasonably warm, and as a result, we did not go all the way to the top, but it was still worth the distance we did.  The other reason we did not make it, it turns out my basset, Bacall, is a little claustrophobic and DID NOT LIKE IT when the canyon walls closed in.  In fact, we got to a barrier and the trail was so narrow that I could not help them over, so we had to turn around.  I turned around just fine, but the dogs had to back pedal for about 10 feet until they got to a spot that was wide enough for them to turn around.  Humphrey did just fine, but Bacall was not happy.

This was my second time camping this year and every time I get home, I can not wait to go again.

Melissa




Saturday, September 8, 2012

What happens while you're busy doing other things...



If you were one of the few who managed to speak to me during the month of August, you'll know already that it was not the greatest month.  If it could go wrong, it did.  Work was crazy; the heat was overwhelming; an ongoing earache about drove me nuts; and nothing went according to plan.

Ugh.

While I was dealing with all of the drama, my garden however was having a banner season.

just a few of the tomatoes I picked the last week of August

The peppers are coming, The peppers are coming!

I have a pumpkin!!!!

multiple pumpkins!!!  I've never had success with them before!
these lovely little goodies are sweet and tasty!!
Eggplant Parm is in my future and past thanks to an insane recipe!

and then there are my cucumbers, I have never ever ever had so many!
During all of my craziness, I neglected my garden.  I did nothing more than watering.  I forgot to do one of the scheduled fertilizer application.  Not one weed was picked.

It just goes to show that when life is crazy, at the end of the tunnel, a little beauty is waiting for you.

Melissa

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Revel in the Normal...

I often write an entry when I've done something major, had a creative adventure, or have a plan to announce, but today I thought I would do something a bit different.

Revel in the Normal,
the mundane,
the routine....

Shocking, I know, but life is mostly the normal, everyday things that we do.
Work.
Cleaning.
Exercise.
Friends.
Making dinner.
Trying to figure out what to make for dinner.
Running errands.
Staying cool in the heat.
Planning.
Organizing.
Killing time.
Trying to find time.
etc.
etc.
etc.

The list of what we all do on a regular basis could go on forever and instead of saying, 'How boring!' or 'Why me?'

Let's start celebrating it.

This morning, I woke up, took my dogs on a walk, watered the garden, found out a client had cancelled and kept going on to the next item on the things that need to accomplished today.

Sometimes, at the end of a long one, it's all about how you look at it....

My dog's walks get me out of bed when I still want to sleep.
My garden is a heck of a lot of work.
My planning of meals drives me crazy to find new stuff to eat.
The cancelled client means my planning of the day just got shot.

or

My dog's walks gets me up, before the heat of the day becomes unbearable.
My garden provides yummy food to eat.
My planning of meals allows me to be creative on a daily basis.
The cancellation allows me to have a bit of unexpected free time to write.

It's all in the perspective of it all.  I'm not saying that I enjoy all of the stuff I do on a regular basis, or that I revel in it, but I think if we don't celebrate the everyday,
you won't enjoy your life.

Ya Me!!!
Ya You!!  for accomplishing all of the things you do on a daily basis that makes life run on.

And on those days that you just can not celebrate the mundane, the routine, and the normal,
remember that you are not alone.
Everyone, at some time or another, needs a little Calgon, Take me Away!!!

M.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Like the Musical Stylings of A Flock of Seagulls...

If you grew up in the 80's, 'I Ran' just popped into your head with that blog title, and this past weekend that's exactly what I did.

I signed up to run my first 5K at the Run Through the Lavender race that's held in Mona, Utah.  If you've ever driven I-15 in Juab county, you've probably seen the purple fields of lavender on the west side of the freeway, and that is what I ran through on Saturday.

the runner in the center is me!  running thru the lavender


On Monday, I got a little anxious.  On Tuesday, I was a little nauseated.  On Wednesday, my hamstring tightened up on me.  On Thursday, I melted (it was 104 F).  On Friday, I threatened to move to Canada, so I wouldn't have to run on Saturday.  On Saturday, I wondered why I had signed up to voluntarily run 3.1 miles, but I went to the start line anyway.

I have to talk a little about the weather.  If you live in Utah, the 4 days before my race where above 100 F temperatures.  UGH!!  On Friday, however, a rain storm went through most of Northern Utah and cooled the temps off.  YEAH!!!  Saturday morning, it was in the mid 60's and not rainy or windy.  Perfection for runners!

While waiting for the starting gun, I was talking to other runners about the course and the hill that makes up the first 1.4 mile of the race and how steep it was and strategies for the surge at the beginning.  It was a chip race, which meant your time did not start until you crossed the timer at the start line and ended when you went over the finish line, so you could wait for the surge of people at the beginning and still make your goal time.

I had enough adrenaline when that starting gun went off to run a marathon, but it quickly evaporated when I started and realized that dogging walkers and groups of 3 wide runners and ruts in the dirt road and the occasional mud puddle and thinking about my pace takes up a lot of energy.  Then the hill came.  197 feet elevation addition in 1.4 miles, have mercy.  It wasn't overly steep, but it went on FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!  After the race, while getting water and a snack, all of the runners were saying that their first mile was their slowest mile by far.  I was in that group.  I had to take a few 10 deep breaths breaks on that hill.

Once I turned the corner off of the uphill, my race plan started to gel.  I found a comfy running pace, my breathing evened out and I felt good.

On a side note, about this time, I'm guessing about 15 minutes in, the 1st place runner crossed the finish line in 16:21, averaging a 5:12 mile.

me, pushing to the finish line




 At about 2 1/2 miles, you could really see the finish line and the spectators could see you.  Talk about motivation to keep running!  My plan, about 3 weeks before the race, was to finish under 30 minutes, but then my running kind of fell apart, so I adjusted it to under 35 minutes, and guess what?  I made it.

My time  33:21!

Not the fastest time in the world, but out of the 1000 runners, I came in 382 place, 18th in my age division!  For my first 5K!

The promised land of no more running

If you want to run the Run Through the Lavender 5K, or they also have a Half Marathon as well, go for it.  It was a well organized and thoughtfully planned out race, and as an added benefit they give you a ton of gifts for signing up.  A technical running shirt, essential lavender oil, lavender stress relief roll on, a medal for finishing and a lavender plant!  Just do some hill training to help with that first 1.4 mile.  I did some, but not near enough and they were not long enough.

A sweaty, happy 5K finisher!!!!


Here's the kicker, I've already planned my next 5K.  It's in October!!!!
I started this adventure as a New Year's Resolution in January and it has taken me places I had not expected, but I am so glad that I did!!!!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Thundering Herd....

If you own a Basset hound or two, like I do, at some point in time or multiple times, you will be sent this link...

50 Bassets Running

You will laugh and think 'yep, my dog looks like that too when he runs.'

If you also own a camera and are a budding photography geek, you will then round up your dogs and head to the local park and try to recreate the pictures.

At the park, you will quickly realize that Bassets while not great runners are even worse at stopping before crashing into said photographer.  They also get sidetracked on the way to you because they saw someone who might want to tickle their belly.   They will also get tired of running to you just so you can get the perfect shot with the perfect lighting and not do it anymore.

So, after making them run around, you will get the preppy dog shirts you found at Old Navy for $3 a piece and throw them on the dogs and take more pictures.  People will walk by laughing at the goofy dogs in the goofy shirts and then ask if they can come pet them.  It will make your day, but more importantly it will make your dog's day.

Without further ado,
here are Humphrey and Bacall running

                                                 Nice start, Bacall!!!

  Brakes would be good... (about 1/2 second later, I was cleaning slobber off my lens)
                                              Alright, Humphrey.... your turn
                            Keep going, Humphrey, you're not done running yet!  :)
               And now, the Thundering Herd of Basset Hounds are on their way!
                          Don't you hope, that you don't look like this while running?
                                           Whew, we made it!!!  No more running.
                               Can someone, please please please, tickle my belly now?
                                                     Or even just pet me?
              And if you have a cat, she will stay home and think
                                        Dogs drool and Cats Rule!