I've arrived at Kripalu, a place I find wonderful to be at to restore myself, and usually arrive in mid-week, but have arrived on a Sunday, when it's All Change and The World Does Yoga (apparently)...so, while usually a room is available when I arrive, this time: no.
So, I am at the cafe waiting for my room, sipping coffee, looking over a lake in the Berkshires. Even this site isn't working properly to write this post.
Mercury in retrograde anyone? Yikes!
So, here I am, listening to people who work here gossip (nicely) in the cafe...and wondering whether I should be attempting to look in or look out for the last minutes before my room becomes available.
I think I need to stop starting paragraphs with 'so'. And perhaps this would be a good moment to meditate on Expectations...
I Expected my room to be available. (Even though it's not officially available until 4pm). I Expect to have a time as special as my last one...I may or may not.
So, (there's So again!), I think I'd best consider surrendering my preconceived idea of how this 'should' go and roll with however it does go. In my experience so far in life, when I do that, things go better. Within reason.
Plus: there is coffee. My brain is returning.
Plus: bus ride was fun and I met a young woman named Rachel who lives near me in NYC and goes to the same yoga studio I do in Washington Heights.
Plus: I'm looking at freaking Lake in the Mountains and have a few days to do Whatever I Want...that is a luxury no matter what.
Plus: I don't have to make food or do dishes!
Plus: I'm inside where it's warm when it's raining and cold outside.
Plus: did I mention: there is coffee?!
So, I think I'll be just fine thank you very much. I think there is a new moon tonight, too, so I can take that as a good sign as well (ok so new moon was yesterday, but close enough for jazz?) New beginnings of all kinds. Apparently Mercury in retrograde isn't All Bad if you're not trying to get a lot of detail shit done. It's a good time to think more deeply and recalibrate. So, perhaps, it would be good to get off of the computer - once I have a room - and do that.
Note to self: Do Not Communicate with Agents or Publishers for the next few days. Allow yourself Not to worry about all the freaking details. This is a Really Bad Time for that.
Maybe: celebrate the fact - finally - that I finished draft of book and now can relax, maybe even breathe...and allow in the next stage...this is a time to be attenuated andnot muscling through to Get to the End of something...
This may be a good time to consciously unwind. However, I wish I wasn't sitting next to this conversation between two sweet-seeming but very young 20-somethings talking about best practice spirituality...
I am definitely 52.
I am definitely not in my 20s.
The 50s are not the new 20s. And for that - let me put this on record - I am extremely grateful.
I was kind of a mess in my 20s. I'm not perfect now, but at least I'm not in my 20s.
If you are reading this and you are in your 20s, don't worry. You are probably way more together than I was. You also have the benefit of a shit ton of energy. I hope you use it well. I hope you don't surrender your will and your life over to some other person who you think for Whatever reason is better than you, more spiritually evolved, smarter, Whatever. They aren't. Trust me. They are not better than you. (Also, I am allowed to say 'they' now even though I said other person singular, because even the Washington Post says that's ok, so there.)
Also, do What you Want - you people in your 20s - this is the time to do that. Don't compromise. Yes, be responsible but include in that sense of responsibility, responsibility to your own damn deeper Self. Again - see above - don't take Anyone Else's word for what that should look like. Preferably: don't get married. Wait. Believe me. Just try to wait. Unless you really want to get married, then don't listen to me, because who the fuck am I? Just some 52 year old waiting for her room at a yoga retreat in the Berkshires...
My cursor marker is behind the cursor...that's a metaphor for something...you decide.
OK, gonna go check and see if my room is available again...and it's not...so you're stuck with me for a bit longer.
I will begin to discuss another subject close to my heart - this study about how traumatic childhood experiences can impact your health - not just mental but also physical - throughout your life. While it was hard to read, it also resonates with my recent experiences with a weird series of health things popping up and my inner sense I've had for ages of being a ticking time bomb, which is the phrase used in this article to explain the bodies of adults who had these kinds of childhood experiences whose bodies then suddenly implode on them - usually in their 40s or 50s - including with heart disease and many other more minor things. So, I'm not crazy or a hypochondriac, I was just sensitive to some deep, internal stuff. Good to know. I won't go into the details because the article is so comprehensive.
However, I qualify, and my body and life experiences have acted accordingly. Apparently the best antidotes include meditation and EMDR. I have been meditating for 20 years and have to assume that plus the intense therapy and other things I have done to address core issues is the reason I'm not batshit crazy and my heart seems OK so far. The amazing thing is no matter whether people are alcoholics, addicts or clean living, these Same health effects happen to people who experienced difficult childhoods, especially if the issues were ongoing, even if not the overtly terrible. So, if you either had that kind of childhood or know someone who has, I would highly recommend reading the article. My husband was really grateful to read it, because he said it made a lot of ways I respond to things make more sense to him. This is a huge relief to me.
I didn't even know about the childhood traumas as biologically manifesting was a thing until I went to a GI doctor for first time a couple months ago and he asked me point blank, without drama, so were abused as a child? I said yes, and we talked a bit about that. He asked if I had this or that symptom and how bad. He looked perplexed. I then happened to mention that I meditated. He smiled and nodded and said, Oh, that's it! I asked, what? He said, that's why your symptoms aren't as bad as they should be. I had been a riddle to him until I mentioned the meditation.
My joke has always been 'meditate or medicate' - and now I know - it ain't no joke.
So, to whatever power/s that led me to meditate that first morning, imperfectly, for 20 minutes, with a cigarette and coffee in 1995 or 1996...and then led me to the same sofa corner again the next day and the next and the next...every day since, I am so grateful. I don't know how I've managed to be so self-disciplined about this, but it has grooved into my life like taking a shower or brushing my teeth. I don't leave home without it, as we used to say back in the day about some stupid credit card...[a moment to reflect on how fucking weird the 1970s were...again.]
The reason I think the study about physical health effects is so important, is it Finally gives the lie to the mind-body dualism and gives Western cred to the need to address the Whole patient. That GI doctor is the First doctor in my Whole life that ever asked about my childhood. Ever.
Sometimes doctors ask you about symptoms: are you depressed? Which to me is like asking how long is a length of string. I answer no because I do not intend to take antidepressants. I meditate, do yoga, take walks, make art. I don't take drugs or drink and don't intend to become a client of the pharmaceutical state. If anyone is suicidal, of course, by all means, take Whatever will get you through the night. Whatever. Because the next day will be different...somehow. But I have rarely been suicidal, and the times were brief - and solved by either getting off certain medications or changing up things in my life or calling someone I trust implicitly or - as happened in the mid-90s - meditating.
By meditate btw I don't mean esoteric woo-woo. I mean just fucking sitting there, with eyes closed or soft-focused and Not Doing Anything. That's it. Your thoughts can go anywhere they like. Just Don't Do Anything About it...and eventually they slow down, or make you sad and you cry or make you mad and you steam or make you want to jump out of your chair but you don't and... eventually... something shifts. And you feel calmer, even if for a fraction of a second - for that fraction of a second, you see that you aren't held hostage by your thoughts or feelings, but they are like clouds or weather systems...just passing by. You are the atmosphere...or sometimes, on really good days, the whole freaking cosmos (I Rarely have those days)...
And as a spiritual mentor of mine wisely told me back in the day when Reagan was still prez, "Sometimes when you have what you think of as a 'bad' meditation - meaning mind racing, etc. - you have a calm day, and after you've had a serene meditation, you can have a crappy day." Truer words were never uttered. (This same person also told me when I called her all blissed out because I'd said a prayer to some inchoate higher power and thought that had taken my menstrual pains away - "Sometimes your Higher Power doesn't take the pain away." - like I said WISE - because I remembered those words and they saved me from some pretty dire places much later in life.)
So, if you are reading this and think, I can't meditate. Oh, yes, you can. If I can meditate, trust me, so can you. I am the world's Least Likely Meditator. But I do it. Every day. I meditated in NYC on 9/11. After the Towers had come down. You can always sit for 20-25 minutes...and if you can't, try 10 minutes, and if you can't, try 5 minutes...you get the picture.
Or, don't listen to me and find what works for you - dancing, walking, drawing, writing, Whatever...but do it every day and let it allow you to hear where you are and sit with it long enough to know it won't kill you and you don't have to keep running from yourself, your emotions, your nattering voices filled with self-hatred or resentment or rage or fear...nor do you have to run from beauty and love and good feelings. It's all OK and - you don't own a damn thing.
That's the beauty part.
Am I at a yoga retreat much?
Do I act on all of the above? yes and no. I do meditate every day, but I most certainly do not carry the wisdom of that one action into my whole day. If I did, I'd probably have blown off the planet in a puff of smoke by now. I'm just another bozo on the bus as they say...
I just sit sometime during every day...and let myself become aware of who and what I am and am not.
Apparently, according the article mentioned above, this has probably saved my life.
The rain has stopped - no I didn't make that up I swear. The clouds are whisping by the mountains, green close up, blue-grey as they recede into the near horizon.
Is my room ready?
Ah, before checking, last thing - and this is going to seem hilarious as a segue - but if you know me, you'll know this is a kind of signature wheel of fortune thought process that I share with some other Gemini friends. You know who you are...
And the subject is: (drum roll please) Bernie Sanders.
Yes. Politics. because that matters, too. Oh yes it does.
Because Bernie Sanders supporters, journalists report, say to them a lot, when gathered in rallies, "Now I know I'm not alone." This is huge, because this means for the first time since probably the 1930s (during the Depression that ushered in FDR - as most of you probably know), people in This Country (USA) are beginning to understand that their financial struggles are Not Indicative of a Personal Failing!
This horse hockey - that anyone who is poor or struggling is somehow personally deficient and should just Get Their Shit Together - has been the bread and butter propaganda - spread with the advent of the Age of Reagan in 1980 by the 1% to hold the 99% in a kind of eternal Stockholm Syndrome of Shame. So that everyone believes they can Somehow Get Rich and if they aren't, They have Failed...
I think the Sanders revolution is the beginning - well in some sense the culmination of Occupy but in terms of mainstream politics the beginning - of a real shift in awareness here. That the system is rigged in a small portion of rich folks' favor and Only Group Action can undo that.
As soon as individual Americans really begin to understand that we are not alone and shed the Shame of Struggling/Poverty/Bankruptcy because of Health Issues or Going to College - there are a gonna be a lot of Really Angry People, who will be Just as Angry as Bernie...and maybe, maybe, even in or book, bought and sold electoral system, we can Vote in a change.
I won't go negative about everyone else, except to point out at that Donald Trump will get a lot of the angry people if Sanders isn't on the ballot, because people are really, really, really sick of politicians who are bought and sold by banks and other people's money. Trump is a racist, dangerous asshat, but he's a self-funded racist, dangerous (bordering on fascist) asshat, so he says whatever he wants.
Yes, I said that, too...I could go on more, but I'm checking about my room again...Hope for your sake, it is here.
Room still not here, but will end this anyway...This is what comes of a room not being available right away, and actually, I've enjoyed finally writing all this...
So, am gonna say goodbye because room will be available in 15 minutes at the latest...and I hope to begin the Nothing Doing bit...
Welcome to my blog..
"We struggle with dream figures and our blows fall on living faces." Maurice Merleau-Ponty
When I started this blog in 2011, I was in a time of transition in my life between many identities - that of Artistic Director of a company (Apocryphal Theatre) to independent writer/director/artist/teacher and also between family identity, as I discover a new family that my grandfather's name change at the request of his boss in WWII hid from view - a huge Hungarian-Slovak contingent I met in 2011. Please note in light of this the irony of the name of my recently-disbanded theatre company. This particular transition probably began in the one month period (Dec. 9, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010) in which I received a PhD, my 20 year old cat died on my father's birthday and then my father, who I barely knew, died too. I was with him when he died and nothing has been the same since. This blog is tracing the more conscious elements of this journey and attempt to fill in the blanks. I'm also writing a book about my grandmothers that features too. I'd be delighted if you joined me. (Please note if you are joining mid-route, that I assume knowledge of earlier posts in later posts, so it may be better to start at the beginning for the all singing, all dancing fun-fair ride.) In October 2011, I moved back NYC after living in London for 8 years and separated from my now ex-husband, which means unless you want your life upended entirely don't start a blog called Somewhere in Transition. In November 2011, I adopted a rescue cat named Ugo. He is lovely. As of January 2012, I began teaching an acting class at Hunter College, which is where one of my grandmothers received a scholarship to study acting, but her parents would not let her go. All things come round…I began to think it may be time to stop thinking of my life in transition when in June 2012 my stepfather Tom suddenly died. Now back in the U.S. for a bit, I notice, too, my writing is more overtly political, no longer concerned about being an expat opining about a country not my own. I moved to my own apartment in August 2012 and am a very happy resident of Inwood on the top tip of Manhattan where the skunks and the egrets roam in the last old growth forest on the island.
I am now transitioning into being married again with a new surname (Barclay-Morton). John is transitioning from Canada to NYC and as of June 2014 has a green card. So transition continues, but now from sad to happy, from loss to love...from a sense of alienation to a sense of being at home in the world.
As of September 2013 I started teaching writing (composition and rhetoric) as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, which I have discovered I love with an almost irrational passion. While felt blessed for the opportunity, after four years of this, the lack of pay combined with heavy work load stopped working, so have transferred this teaching passion to private workshops in my own apartment and working with writers one on one, which I adore. I will die a happy person if I never have to grade an assignment ever again.
I worked full time on the book thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign in May 2014 and completed it at two residencies at Vermont Studio Center and Wisdom House in summer 2015. I have done some revisions and am shopping it around to agents and publishers now, along with a new book recently completed.
I am now working full-time as a freelance writer, writing workshop leader, coach, and editor. Contact me if you are interested in any of these services.
Not sure when transition ends, if it ever does. As the saying goes, the only difference between a sad ending and a happy ending is where you stop rolling the film.
For professional information, publications, etc., go to my linked in profile and website for Barclay Morton Editorial & Design. My Twitter account is @wilhelminapitfa. You can find me on Facebook under my full name Julia Lee Barclay-Morton. More about my grandmothers' book: The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani
Recently, I started a website Our Grandmothers, Our Selves, which has stories about many people's grandmothers. Please check it out. I will be blogging there, too, now. You can also contact me through that site.