Thursday, April 1, 2010

Insanity - No Foolin'

It seems a little wrong to write sort of seriously about insanity on April Fools Day.  Still.  Here goes!

I was thinking the other day about the word insanity.  The word basically is used to describe people who are out of sanity not in it.  You know?  In - sanity.

This thought then morphed me to thinking about one of the definitions of insanity: doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Okay.  So none of the above seems too ground breaking.  What I felt was interesting was where my thoughts morphed to next.

It would seem to me then that when one begins to think and feel differently about life (you know like consciously deciding to affirm certain new things about them self) while somehow expecting their life will not change, would also be a definition of insanity.

Okay.  I could write more and expound on this idea.  Instead, I'll simply say, "think about it".

P.S.  I enjoyed the Wikipedia page on insanity.  I found it interesting they made the distinction that insanity is not a disease of the brain but a mind thing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sensational Soul Food

I write as the L.A. Sightseeing Examiner for examiner.com.  I basically duplicate those articles in my blog, CaliforniVacation: SoCal Style, as your SoCal gal.  The intent and content for these venues is meant to be about places to go and/or things to do in the greater Los Angeles area.

I mention this because on March 24, 2010, I visited a venue almost literally in my own backyard...that's how close it is to where I live.  This venue is South Bay Celebration Church, also the location for Teen Challenge Los Angeles.  I'm not going to take the space here to rewrite about this venue.  Instead, I'll simply provide this link, here, to the examiner.com article if you weren't already directed to this blog from there knowing this is where I share some of the soul food Sheila Raye Charles dished up in her amazing testimonial.  Ms. Charles has an autobiography, Behind the Shades, and a music CD with the same name.

I feel Ms. Charles would agree that her main dish of the evening is the message, "God sees no evil in her or any of us."  We may see evil in our self or in other brother and sister children of God.  God does not.

What does God see?  Not simply that we are good, but straight on to seeing the perfect divine love intelligence in each one of us that we were created to be.

I loved Ms. Charles' side dish message which includes speaking about her stint in federal prison when she prayed and was answered by God, who she refers to as Big Daddy.  She mentions after feeling like she'd lost everything and she means everything as she goes through the list, she was puzzled what God might possibly wish for her to give.  For indeed, God mentions God wants something from Ms. Charles.

What does God want?  God wants us to give up all of our pain to God.  God wants us to give up all of our mistaken ways we identify our self that aren't the same as the way God sees and identifies us.  Thus, in a way it is not even a matter of forgiveness.  God never has nor ever will see evil in us.  NOthing to forgive.  So give it up.

I was a little worried about what Ms. Charles mentions when it comes to homosexuals until she ended this side dish with a helping of non-judgment and loving one another.  I mean if God sees Sheila Raye without evil (even after all she had done and been through), in other words divine; what if I saw her the same way?  What would there be about Sheila Raye for me not to love?  For that matter, if God sees Sheila Raye without evil, I feel fairly certain God must see me the same way.  What would there be about me then, for me not to love? Can I?  Of course, I am capable.  Will I give up to God all the ways I currently think, feel or believe I am unlovable?  That's a whole 'nother can o'beans now isn't it?

I found it entertaining that Ms. Charles is so certain of her conversations with God and the way she regales these conversations.  It had me wondering a little about my self, (who I like to think is definitely and willingly on the path of spirituality and being the best, most divine me I feel I am able to in any given moment) since I don't feel I have such overt interactions with the Creator of all.

Surprisingly and delightfully, a thought popped into my mind that I may not identify what I "hear" as the voice of God; but, I tend to feel that thoughts of things to do or insights I feel I receive (almost as if from left field, if you know what I mean), might just as easily be considered divine messages as Ms. Charles' conversations with God.

All of these soul dishes are very powerful messages in my opinion.  One last thing Sheila Raye mentioned that really got to me was when she shared God's plan for her.  Part of that plan she mentions (while using my own words and interpretation), is people will be lured to see her because they are curious about this daughter of Ray Charles, the famous, now departed from earth, blind singer.  Once in her presence, it is the perfect opportunity for God to speak through her his message of love for all of God's children.

This Bjork must admit she was definitely sucked into the plan...appreciatively and happily so.  I enjoyed every morsel of the tasty soul food served.  We are so loved.  We are so blessed.  Message received.  Mahalo, Sheila Raye.  Gracias, Dios!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How To Turn a Parking Ticket Into a Positive

On the last day of Winter, 2010, I went to Point Dume (pronounced doo-may) hoping I just might get a glimpse of a gray whale.  Point Dume in Malibu is said to be an excellent venue for such things.

Not only did I not see any gray whales, I got a parking ticket too.

I shouldn't be too upset about the ticket I told myself.  I know better.  I parked in a known "no parking" area because I didn't want to drive back down to the parking area on Westward Beach Road.  Plus, I told myself that where I parked looked as if I wasn't the first to park there and probably wouldn't be the last.  Not to mention I wasn't staying very long.  And the myriad of all the justifications I played in my mind as to why it was okay to park in the no parking zone.

I am not too thrilled about paying the $50.  As I placed the ticket into my purse, I vowed there must be some way I can "spin" this to my advantage for the future.  How might I do that?

Ask the question. I believe the Universe loves and supports us so much that an answer always shows up.  Maybe right away.  Maybe not right away.  I feel like it happens more in the same way that you have a word on the proverbial tip of your tongue and that word make itself consciously known to you when you let go and allow it to show up perfect place/perfect time.

My answer to "how might I do that?" came in the form of "ask the question".  So I did.  How can I turn this parking ticket into a positive?

I attempt now to share the answer in a way I hope makes sense and may benefit others too.  In other words, if you are reading this I am going to assume you were directed to this blog because the words will enhance your life in some way.

Here goes.

A ticket, or citation if you will, seems to be an effective motivator for people not to do something.  You know if you do it (and get caught), you will be fined, ticketed, cited.  And if you ignore the citation, the fines pile up.  Soon what may have been alleviated by simply paying the ticket may turn into jail.

What if I used this same sort of system towards spiritual mastery?  Spiritual mastery begins with discipline and dominion over self consciousness.

Each of us is endowed with a Divine Right of Consciousness.  No one has ownership of what plays on the "screen of our mind (our consciousness)" but our self.  We have the ultimate final say over what we will allow to play on that screen.  What truths we will agree with.  What beliefs we will buy into.

You've probably heard it said before that doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.  Well, if you continue to hold the same vision on the screen of your mind yet hope for different results in your life, I put it out there that this too is insanity.  As personal creation of our life's experiences starts with what we envision on the screen of our minds, again, we have ultimate authority.

I know it sounds ominous, but every thought...every feeling matters.  We may know better.  We may feel others before us have thunk (you like that) the same thoughts and gotten away with it so to speak.  But just like a no parking sign and then parking there resulted in a citation, what if when we know thinking/feeling/visualizing our self as poor, ill, ugly, unloved, unblessed, unlucky (you get the picture I trust) only creates more of the same in our experience...well, what if we saw the result of such thoughts/feelings/visualizations as us receiving a ticket or citation with the fine being continued experience of the lies we tell our self regarding how we identify with health, wealth, beauty, blessings, well-being and so on?

Thoughts matter.  Feelings matter.  They create.

The good news is that every moment is a new opportunity to clean the slate (so to speak) of the screen of your consciousness starting fresh with new visions and feelings of your self the way you desire to create your self to be.  There is a first time for everything.

We are spirit first.  Spirit made manifest.  Spirit in form.  Thoughts made manifest.  Feelings made manifest.  Thoughts into form.  Feelings into form.  Look to your screen of consciousness and make sure it only includes thoughts, feelings and visions of you and your life that are in alignment with how you wish to create your life until this becomes the life you manifest.  The more disciplined you are with this practice, the faster the manifestation.

While technically I feel there is no punishment in God consciousness, simply interpretation of what is on the screen of our own personal consciousness (why clarity and confidence are such wonderful practictes)...if we know we (for instance) wish to create and experience unlimited abundance, the "no parking" zone for unlimited abundance would be thinking or feeling poor, poverty or scarcity.  If we park in that zone with our thoughts and feelings, the ticket or citation is that we can not experience wealth, riches or unlimited abundance we desire when we are parked in the unlimited abundance "no parking" zone.

Now if you find yourself in the unlimited abundance (to extend the metaphor) "no parking" zone, you immediately pay the fine (take responsibility and forgive yourself for this mistaken thinking/feeling/seeing) and move your vehicle to the unlimited abundance parking zone right away, the damage will be minimal.  Stay too long and pretty soon you succumb to the spiritual untruth of poverty. It is as if you have been placed in poverty prison forgetting that you are the only one with the key to release your self.

Here was a side benefit that occurred to me from this experience.  You know how many times (myself included) we find ourselves saying we can't afford something.  I've often noticed that in a way this statement is a cop out.  If I really desire something and feel justified and deserving of having it, I somehow can afford that something.  I also noticed that when it comes to paying tickets and things like that which I feel "I have to do" (mostly because I am afraid of the consequences of not paying it), somehow I find the money even if I don't necessarily admit I can afford it.  I know somehow there is a way to apply this observation in a beneficial way.  Although, maybe this observation becomes a moot point when I am disciplined about staying out of the unlimited abundance no parking zone while living joyfully and firmly in the unlimited abundance free parking lot.

Monday, February 15, 2010

What if Lent is More Than Giving Up Chocolate?

As I write this, tomorrow is Fat Tuesday aka Shrove Tuesday, 2010.  The day after that lent begins.

Almost ten years ago when the book "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz was published, I was right there buying my copy from my local bookstore, devouring its every word.  (FYI!  I am not so much trying to sell you a copy of the book as I wanted a way to legally include a copy of what the book looks like in this blog post.)



Even back then I felt that in truth, if I simply followed the first agreement, (Be impeccable with your word.  The word impeccable was defined as "without sin".) not only did the first agreement seem to incorporate the other three, but my life had to change for the better.  Why?  For the most part, we can only think one thought at a time.  Every time I thought about my self being impeccable was a moment I wasn't thinking of my self as unimpeccable.  That probably sounds like a big, "DUH!"  Yet almost ten years later I realize how many moments I thought of my self as unimpeccable in whatever way, shape or form.

Then in 2002 I made a written commitment to myself to become 100% impeccable in the way I felt was described in the book, "The Four Agreements".  I didn't really know how I would do this or how long it may take.  At the time, I also thought that I somehow would not be allowed to consider my self impeccable until I was impeccable in the physical 100% of the time.

In other words, I was functioning under the illusion that I look at the outer (physical manifestation) and review who I have been, what I've done, stuff like that.  Then in my mind if I wasn't perfect, I would not be allowed to declare my self impeccable without being a liar.

Since I've come to realize (okay and granted I have no proof and can only speak for myself.  Yet I am so much more happy now than I ever have been.  So something is working/helping.) as I stand firmly in the power of the present moment to affirm and agree with the truth of who I am in the sight of Divine Love Intelligence (and in the sight of Divine Love Intelligence I am now and always have been impeccable), this practice is what allows the Universe to make this so for me as my physical experience.

I can't say I am unimpeccable and have the universe manifest me as impeccable.

I also like to think of it like the following: You tell someone you love them and they are awesome.  You honestly feel this way and believe this with all your heart and soul.  Yet the person you share this love and sentiment with doesn't believe you are being truthful with them.  Or you love your teenager.  You know they are awesome, beautiful, smart, talented, a divine, child of God.  You know with all your heart and soul this is who they are.  Yet they just don't see it.  They just can't buy it.  It doesn't mean you are wrong about them.

There are mantras like "om namah shivaya", which means "God is in me as me".  Or quoting Rumi, "We are the ocean in the drop."  Or the Bible, "Be still and know that I AM God."  Our Creator knows we are divine, impeccable, without sin.  This is how our Creator created us, "In His Image".  This is how our Creator sees each of us.  Yet imagine if our Divine Creator was human, how it might be hurtful (and unimpeccable) every time we thought, saw, agreed, defined or identified our selves as something less than we are in Divine Truth? 

About now you may be thinking, "Bjork, what does that have to do with lent?"

I feel it is a safe statement to make that for most who still practice lent it has become a time to give up something for the lent season (in 2010 lent is 46 days ending with the celebration of Easter, Sunday, April 4th) as a way of honoring what Jesus gave up as he prepared to go through the death/resurrection prophecy.

What if through the years we stopped seeing the story of Jesus the Christ as allegory/metaphor and instead began taking it way too literally?

"Bjork, what do you mean?"

Let's say for arguments sake that the truth is we are all already 100% impeccable.  Not convinced this is the truth, when lent begins (Wednesday, February 17, 2010) we currently find our self identifying our self as impeccable about 20% of the time (to use a random number for the sake of example).  This means the other 80% of our present moments we are technically committing "self identity theft" by thinking/feeling/declaring/agreeing we are something less than the truth or om namah shivaya, God in Us as Us, Divine, the ocean in the drop.

Let's say for arguments sake that on Ash Wednesday (the first day of lent), we are fairly attached to this 80% of our identity.  Often we find ourselves saying things like, "I would never do that.  It's just not who I am."

Now if you are still with me, what if the true intent of lent was to give up during this period of time (as much as we are capable or will allow our self) our thinking/feeling/declaring/agreeing about our self in unimpeccable ways?  After 46 days of being focused on replacing unimpeccable with impeccable, in theory, our self identity must be changed from what it was when lent began.  That old ways of identifying our self would have to die and be let go of in order for our truthful, divine self to resurrect in its place in our physical manifestation experience.

I offer the following from the Catholic Encyclopedia for your consideration, "the real aim of lent is, above all else, to prepare men for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ...the better the preparation the more effective the celebration will be.  One can effectively relive the mystery only with purified mind and heart.  The purpose of lent is to provide the purification by weaning men from sin and selfishness through self-denial and prayer, by creating in them the desire to do God's will and to make His kingdom come by making it come first in all of their hearts."

What if God's will is simply for us to identify us as the amazing, blessed, beautiful, wonderful, divine, impeccable, children of God, healthy, wealthy, Well-Beings we are in truth?

What if instead of being afraid to let go of our "less than" self images feeling we have to do this or that to "get better", all we ever had to declare and agree with is the truth of who we are as Divine, impeccable children of God?  Because we declared it and agreed with it in consciousness, the laws of the Universe must make it so for us in manifestation?

I thought about all of this last lent season.  I set the intention to practice lent 2009 being more impeccable in every present moment.  I declared the image of the Laughing Buddha as my touchstone.  After all, I find it is a little bit funny or laughable that what I have been striving for I always have been.  I also thought that the Buddha, upon achieving enlightenment, had to laugh (or else he'd cry) knowing how easy enlightenment may have been had he trusted in his true self-identity.

I'll be honest, last year I didn't last all lent.  Maybe about two weeks.  And if I remember correctly, I only caught about 10% of my unimpeccable thoughts/agreements/ways I self-identified as me "less than".

I also had a simple mantra for my lent practice.

"Thank You, God, for restoring me to the impeccability from which I emanated."

It has been estimated we have about 60,000 thoughts per day.  If all you did was repeat this mantra once every ten minutes (6 X 16 = 96) of your waking hours (or six times once every hour)...well, that may just be 96 more times a day affirming, agreeing and declaring your true identity to the Universe than you had been previously.

I don't know about you, but I find it exciting to think that this practice of giving up some of your unimpeccable self for the 46 days of lent is not only harmless, but empowering.  And it won't cost you one legal tender cent.  Only time and focus to change your self consciousness.  Sounds like a win/win to me.  Sounds like a reason to celebrate my newly resurrected self-Identity when Easter comes to pass.

Now that I have presented the above amazingly brilliant and compelling arguments for practicing lent,
"What less than stellar way do you identify yourself that you may be willing to give up and replace with the truth of your identity? You are Divine.  
Always have been.  Always will be.  Unconditionally.  For there is no condition in the physical that can change this truth about your true identity.
You may believe this is not the truth about your Self and thus have this experience.  Yet, like the sun is always present even if it is momentarily obscured by clouds, your divinity is always present even if it is obscured by your momentary disbelief that divine is your true identity."

P.S.   The laughing Buddha photo is not one of my own.  To read more about it, click here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Would You Call The Police?

I was walking down Rose Avenue in Venice barely a block from the Ocean Front Walk when I noticed someone on the roof of this six-stories what looks to be residential building.  

Intrigued.  I continued to watch.  

 
Very soon I remembered I had my camera with me. I was walking around the Venice beach area to get digital images of Venice locations as seen in the movie, "I Love You, Man!"; which I felt would coincide nicely with my Best Sights L.A., Hotel California Tour and Valentine's Day I've been writing about for my CaliforniVacation Blog and sister gig, as the L.A. Sightseeing Examiner for examiner.com.

I started filming.  Video below.  Without giving it away or revealing what I did, after viewing the video I again ask, "Would you call the Police?" And I don't mean that singing trio that included Sting.  I'd love to have you share your comments.  Thank you in advance.



Sunday, January 31, 2010

More After School Special

My last blog post was about my after school experience with my buddy, Ace (not his real name), who bless his heart was game enough to help me make a video, which we agreed to title, The Totsquel.  He was also game enough to make some Rice Krispies Treats for the first time and let me film that too.  Tater Tot Hot Dish and Rice Krispies Treats.  Surely a comfort food fest.

In going back and finally looking through all the video to come up with something to upload to YouTube, I didn't remember we had almost an hours worth of just Rice Krispies Treats video.  I know, huh?  Making the treats is supposed to be easy.  And I guess for that matter it was a lot of fun; just took a little more time than I thought.  I condensed our experience to two videos.

The first video will school you all the way to when the mix is ready to be put in a pan/container.  The second is our experience getting the mix to the container.  Also, in what we had deemed, "The Bjork Experimental Kitchen", we made a second batch which we added some PB to the mix.

I left out footage of our third batch, which did include using some red and green holiday colored marshmallows.  As fun and festive as it sounded to do so, the reality was that when the two colors got melted together it looked more like some sort of brown, disgusting goo.  The only thing that might have been nice to include and I didn't was the use of some chocolate/peppermint bark that we melted in the microwave to frost some of our Rice Krispies Treats' loaves with.

As you may or may not know, chocolate has a very low temperature melting point.  It didn't take much to go from melting-the-bark-to-spread to ruining the bark because we nuked it a bit too long.  This is a great reason why if you have the equipment, using the double boiler method of melting (click here to see a video on how-to) is most likely preferable. 

Of all the different versions we experimented with, even though peanut butter and peppermint don't sound like it would be a tasty combo, my favorite was the peanut butter enhanced Rice Krispies Treats with the chocolate/peppermint bark frosted on top.



Here comes Part 2.



P.S.  We got those cute little loaf pans, which we determined as a perfect gift size (enough to give you more than one serving and yet no so much that you feel like you are going to get sick of it...always leave them wanting more, eh?) at the 99 cent store, which truth be told is actually more specifically the 99.99 cent store now (plus tax).  That said, I was discussing this with Ace the other day and he said in honor of Valentine's Day, this might be a nice little gift for your favorite Valentine.  You get heart shaped pans at the 99.99 cent store.  You make your favorite version of Rice Krispies Treats.  Then you give your Valentine a heart-shaped pan of Rice Krispies Treats you made your self.  That's such a warm feeling, it might just be enough heat to melt some butter.  And I stick by it people (just like they mention in the movie, "Julie and Julia")...just about everything is better with butter.

Isn't Ace a natural on camera?

Thanks, Ace.  This was fun.

P.S.  I'd also like to include a shout out to "The Carpenters" who have been enhancing my Holiday music experience for more years than I care to specifiy here.  Thanks.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

After School Special

Back in November I did a blog post about my adventure and subsequent video of me making Tater Tot Hot Dish (TTHD) after having Ore-Ida Tater Tots at Sharks Cove in Hermosa Beach (the "h" is silent).

Once in a while when no one else can (I'm going to assume it's not 'cuz I am the last choice but out of respect for my time and kindness), I'll pick up my buddy, Ace, from school.  Don't tell his mom, but since it is only every once in a while I enjoy us hanging out.  I let myself act more like a kid when he's with me.  We go places, play games, talk about our hopes and dreams (yes, I still have some).  In a word, we have "fun".

Sometimes Ace is a little less than truthful.  Not in a bad way.  Just sometimes I can't 100% trust that something he said he's done in the physical isn't just something he's done in his mind.  So when I shared my Tater Tot Hot Dish video with him, he shared that he'd made the dish before.  True?  Not true?  I wasn't going to let it matter.  Instead, I figured why not just enjoy making the dish together.  Ace is awesome on camera.

So....with that out of the way, let's go right to the video.



P.S.  If I didn't say, would you have noticed that in all of our excitement of combining this with making Rice Krispies Treats that we forgot to film the finished product?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sucker for Great Sax

It's interesting to me how ones mind and thoughts connect one to another.  Okay.  It's interesting to me how my mind (when I let my self think about) appears to put together certain thoughts and musings.

The other day I was thinking about how a part of Malibu you see from the PCH reminded me of Maui except "no rainbows".  That made me think of the Marshall Tucker Band song, Searchin' for a Rainbow.  That got me to thinking if there are any other groups from the 70's I hadn't listened to for a while and just loved.  Hall and Oates.  Mmmmmmm hmmmmm.  Yes.

While cyberspace appears to include just about any subject you can imagine, YouTube can't be far behind.  I checked YouTube to see what they had on Hall and Oates.  Impressive.  I started to listen.  Can I just write? Music for my soul.  Mmmmmm hmmmmm.  Yes.

Initially I was a little surprised, but pleasantly so.  Most of what appeared to be available for my listening pleasure was stuff from the 70's, in particular MusikLaden 1977 videos.  In these videos I personally felt I could sense Hall and Oates love, appreciation and joy in making music.  Fearless.  Unafraid to give a somewhat different spin on their songs so you knew they simply hadn't memorized the same version recorded on their album.  Not just live music, but music ALIVE!

Listening made me think how similar these Hall and Oates' performances were to some of Prince's music.  I saw Prince in San Diego in 2004.  The tour he said would be the last of him doing his old stuff.  The tour he mentions somewhat derisively how many music acts today have little know how of actually playing music.  Prince does.  He can jam out.  He's got more than funk in his soul, apparently it is also in his behind.  He can't help himself.

And the Saxophone (sax) on "Do What You Want. Be What You Are".  Amazing.  Made me think of how much I've always been a sucker for great sax.  I used to think I wished to play sax one day.  Yet let's take a close look at that wish?

"I wish to play saxophone one day."

Doesn't say anything about playing well or playing for more than one day.  Is it a wonder I don't play?

Then I watched the movie, "The Lovely Bones" last night.  The main character is murdered on December 6, 1973, she at the tender age of only 14.  As I was watching, I started doing the math.  OMG!  I was 14 on that day, December 6, 1973, in history.  That date isn't my actual birth date, but you know? We are 14 for a year.  I was in 9th grade at the time, Hosterman Junior High in New Hope, Minnesota.

This got me to thinking about ninth grade and how different life was.  The many experiences I've had since then I could have never predicted.  I didn't even know how to type yet.  I wouldn't learn that until 10th grade in a class where only half of us got to use electric typewriters.  The rest of us were stuck with the manual typewriters.

If you would have told me then that someday I'd be able to type so fast (without looking at the keys) that I could type just about as fast as I can think (so either I type really fast or think really slow...hmmm), I probably wouldn't have believed you.  In ninth grade the thought of it may have just been too much of a feat for me to fathom, which may have had me deciding not to attempt it.  Yet here I am.

It's as if when I play this instrument, aka the keyboard, it becomes an extension of my self.  Even my in-the-beginning, oh-so-lame and wimpy, left pinky finger has caught up and now pulls its weight equally with my other fingers.  No longer do I need to think of the individual letters to forge the particular words.  I simply think the word and my fingers somehow just seem to fashion them effortlessly.

Now when I dream of writing something yet to be written (which seems to happen a lot for me in bed or in the shower), I don't worry about the mechanics.  I simply let it flow out of my mind and through my fingers.  Whatever the combination of letters and words, it is as if I must give them expression even if they are not always as imagery evocative as say the first lines of Daryl Hall's lyrics for the song, Abandoned Luncheonette.

     They sat in an abandoned luncheonette sipping imaginary cola and drawing faces on the table-top dust.

In my mind, pure poetry.

Somehow all of this got me to thinking that if I were really to learn to play an instrument, it wouldn't be the sax.  I would wish to play blues guitar emulating Eric Clapton.  This isn't the first time I had this thought.  In fact I went so far as to buy a guitar and a DVD the House of Blues put out with instructions for beginners to play blues guitar.  I actually watched the DVD...once...while holding and strumming my guitar with what I could only characterize as some sort of relative version of fear.  How was I ever going to get from this to playing the blues like Clapton?  Too much.  Too hard.  Won't happen.  Why bother?

Now I am rethinking.  You know I figured out I've already lived over 18,000 days in this lifetime.  I pretty much expect to live about another 18,000 and not living them with a sort of waiting for my body to break down and me to die mode.  Like my friend, Keith Salender, who has walked most of the Pacific Coast from Seattle to almost San Diego by putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time and my ability to type as fast as I can think, which started with beginner lessons on a manual typewriter; I could start learning to play blues guitar this week.

I could see my self in bed at the young age of 70 pondering how way back in 2009 before I was 50, all I had was a $30 guitar I ordered on-line from Amazon (just in case, I didn't wish to make too much of a financial commitment), a $15 DVD (when I am 70, no doubt DVDs will be dinosaur technology) from the House of Blues (the one in Anaheim part of Downtown Disney) and a desire to metaphorically put one foot in front of the other--one step at a time.  As I ponder, even my left hand is on board.  I don't have to think of the individual notes.  I dream of music yet to be played anticipating the feel of the instrument, the guitar in my hands, as an extension of me.  And I must express this music.  Even if I am the only one who hears it.

The other alternative is pondering at 70 what I never started.  Yet?  For this is where I come full circle.  No regrets!  No complaining!  No explaining!  I could start at 70 and ponder at 90.  These are some of the types of ideas I have gleaned from the book, Excuses Begone!, by Dr. Wayne Dyer.

His words have inspired me to think of 2010 as my first year of really expressing my self as a WHOLE, Divine being.  A well-being.  NOthing wrong with me.  NOthing to heal.  NOthing to fix.  Now what do I wish to do?  Who I am is already taken care of...has already been determined by my Creator.  Technically unchangeable.  Divine.  Spirit.  Energy.  It got me to thinking that if the book, Excuses Begone!, were to ever have a theme song; it would have to be, "Do What You Want. Be Who You Are" by Hall and Oates.  I'd change the title just a smidge by sliding in a word.  "Do What You Want.  Be (Divine) Who You Are".

Without further ado, I include the Hall and Oates' video from YouTube with the great sax, "Do What You Want.  Be Who You Are."  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy Accidents

Do you ever have one of those days?

I planned to go to Point Dume (pronounced du-may) in Malibu to see if I could walk from the west beach to the east beach via the beach.  Rocks pepper the beach of the actual point.  So I wondered if at low tide a person could actually walk around (without getting too wet) or was that area always covered in water.  And I couldn't just ask someone.  That would be too easy, right?  I had to find out for myself.

So, I dutifully checked the low tide schedule.  I planned what time I would have to leave my home to be at Point Dume at low tide.  I made sure my camera battery was all charged up.  I was off to check it out.

Normally, I don't enjoy the 405 Highway and will choose an alternate route, but to get to Malibu it seems like the best choice.  As I was traversing the highway, my mind became lost in things I might see, what I might write about it, new ideas I might write about, blah, blah, blah.  I missed my exit.  I got back on the 405 going the other way so I could get on Highway 10 and missed that exit.  After another fifteen minutes of waiting to turn left and following signs in Santa Monica, finally...I was on the 10 and on my way.

So much for getting to Point Dume right at low tide.  No worries.  There had been warnings all day about what was going on with the ocean, which meant much higher than normal waves at the beach.  Maybe I wouldn't get to test my wonder about walking around Point Dume at beach level, but I would most likely see some excellent surfing.  If you don't know by now, I love to watch.

When I arrived at Cliffside Drive hoping to snag a parking spot, there were many vehicles hoping to do the same and the area was abuzz with surfers.  Cool!  I knew this would be some golden filming.

I went back down to park on Westward Beach Road and see what I could see.  Right away I spied a photo op.  Out came my camera and click...memory full.  What?  I knew that I had deleted everything on the card before replacing it in my camera.  What was this?  This couldn't be true.  This couldn't be happening.  So, of course, what did I do?  Try to take about five more pictures all with the same result.  Camera useless.

I didn't drive all this way though to simply get back in my car and drive home.  By now it was a good 75 minutes past optimum low-tide time.  I walked over to see how high the water was on the west beach to see if I could pass.  Way too high.  Denied. (author's note: the next day I returned to Point Dume with my camera functioning...so, I have since included some photos to highlight this blog from my next day trip)

Up the path I went making a B-line for the stairs to the east beach.  At the top of the stairs I could see at least a dozen surfers at the Point waiting to catch a wave.

I descended the stairs greeted by a rocky stretch.  The sand that had been my greeter less than 14 days ago was now covered in rocks.  Don't worry.  The rocks weren't that big and easily navigated.



Now what?

Since I didn't have use of my camera and I'd already discerned I couldn't walk around Point Dume at beach level, I decided to go left.



Oh the things I saw.  A boat motor had washed up on the shore.  Even though the tide was still fairly low, I wasn't seeing any starfish.  Were they hiding?



Then as I got close to the area (which I have circled on the photo included with this blog) I noticed a guy with a backpack and some walking sticks walking close to me.  Since I had never actually walked this far east before, I decided to ask him if he had.  "No" was the reply.  "First time."

Now while I currently don't believe that the coming together of phenomenon in a given moment can be explained by one simple contributing cause, I have since been mulling over how amazing it seems to me that this person I struck up a conversation with was in fact on a hiking trip he'd started in Seattle, Washington.  I find it especially interesting because I rarely tend to engage people I don't know in conversation.

I'm still a little in awe as I sit here at my laptop contemplating what to write next about this.  We exchanged cards.  He asked me to friend him on Facebook.

I thought of him last night sleeping wherever on the beach in his sleeping bag he'd fished from the backpack that didn't really look big enough to me to carry all the things one might feel they would need for such a journey.  Once in July I slept out in a tent and I was cold.  Something about the moisture in the air.  I just couldn't imagine.

What I loved the most is that he, Keith Salender, reminded me as we talked that in my life there have been many times when people have trusted me with their life and their possessions without a seeming reason or knowing me that well.  I know they had every reason to trust me, but I've known me for over 50 years.  And in a world where it seems we are smarter to not trust others (if you believe all the news reports), we talked about how his journey so far was proving to be more of a reason to trust people.



It made me ruminate over the teaching of the Law of Attraction.  Actually, it got me thinking about one of the stories in the book, Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda.  It's been a while, but one of his rites of passage had him being sent out with a friend on a journey to a certain destination with seemingly no resources (including financial ones).  They weren't allowed to ask for help either.  They were simply to have total trust in the Universe.

Anyway, if Keith and I never meet again, I feel blessed to have had the few minutes together we did.  Click here if you wish to be connected to his flickr presence.  He's been uploading some of the photos he's been taking along his journey.  If I remember correctly, his ultimate destination is Pennsylvania...the long way, obviously.  What's the hurry, right?

Did I mention he's doing this walking?  Walking!

I know this is getting long.  I do this as much for potential readers as for myself, especially since I had no camera on this day.

So what else did I see?

Just about the time I hadn't seen one starfish and I was thinking to myself, "hmmm, I guess no starfish sightings today."  I saw one.

I saw white heron.  I got pretty up close and personal.  They didn't seem to care.  Of course, I am no threat.

I saw a sea gull with some sort of something in its beak I can only assume it thought was food.  Try as I might I couldn't figure out what it was the sea gull had gotten a hold of.  With its beak wide open, I got to see its tongue.  My first ever sea gull tongue sighting.  It struck me as sort of funny.  Don't know why.

The portion I circled on the photo, I asked one of the surfers if this part of the beach had a name so I would know how to refer to it later when I wrote about it...what do surfers call it.  "Misstoe" was his reply.

"What?"

"Misstoe" he said again.

"Did you say misstoe?  How do you spell that?"  I asked.

Well, he didn't know.  And a thought popped in my brain.  Okay, remember the word and then look it up on Google.  So, this area is actuallly known as "Misto".

As I stood at Misto watching the surfers ride the waves, it reminded me of when I first moved back to California.  For some reason when I thought of waves surfers would want to ride, I had a picture of the big waves you find in Hawaii during winter time when the surfing contests take place.  So to me, California's waves were wimpy.



Not today at Misto.  This was the first time I could recall where the waves were high enough that you could see the surfer inside the wave and still have wave above and below the surfer.  These were some waves.

By now the sun was starting to seriously set and it was time to start back to my car.  As I was walking back I thought what could make this day any more better (my English teacher would be so proud).  Gray whales!  Wouldn't it just be the most awesome thing if I saw some gray whales now?  Nope.  I swear though, in looking I feel like I saw some dolphins.

I ascended those stairs like a pro.  What?  How does a pro ascend stairs?  Okay, there was a surfer behind me.  And let me tell you, these stairs are one-way stairs.  There is not room enough on them for a two-way passing.  So, I didn't wish to feel like I was holding up traffic.  I was doing pretty good until about half-way up at which point for the sake of my beating heart, I felt like I had to take a pause.  There.  I admitted that.

I'm about to get to the street when I see a man on a bike riding toward the beach overlook.  I swear.  He could have been Ted Danson.  I saw Mr. Danson once at LAX.  Man he is tall and thin, I thought.  Was it him?  Who knows.  I didn't have a camera to figure it out.  So I guess I'm saying it was.  Prove it wasn't. 

About the time I stopped thinking about all of this, I noticed a woman and her daughter walking the trail with their two dogs.  There are plenty of signs around that specifically state dogs are not allowed.  And so I started thinking and riffing about that.  I guess for some people signs are simply suggestions.  And before I get too judgmental, I've been known to view certain signs as suggestions, as well.



Then I started thinking that even if they are suggestions, you'd think people would be better about following the signs.  I mean I would assume Malibu didn't just for the heck of it decide to put up "no dogs allowed" signs at Point Dume.  I'd like to think they had a good reason.  No more than a beat in time later, here comes a man, woman and child walking the trail with their two dogs.  I laughed to myself.

Oh and one other thing I saw, a plastic, purple shovel.  You know...a little kid one for playing in the sand.  How can I be sure?  It's now in the back seat of my car. You know...just in case I ever need to dig my way out of something.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Feeling Bad.

Something occurred to me this 2009 holiday season, which I am unsure I can pinpoint my exact "ah ha" moment, but I think it had something to do with watching full seasons of the TV show "House" back-to-back on DVD.

If you have never seen an episode of House, as I hadn't until sometime in 2009 at which point I became almost a House junkie, but I digress...you wouldn't know that House is short for Dr. Gregory House, a highly sought after medical diagnostician who basically by most social conventions (and his staff and boss on the show) would be considered an asshole.  He appears to be able to get away with it because despite his motives (his patients and curing them are more like solving a puzzle to Dr. House than anything else) he is almost always right and saves lives.

Between watching this and all the family dynamics in my family at the holidays, I realized how much I feel like I have been programmed to feel bad about so very many things.  I don't seek to play the blame game here.  At this point in my life there are probably so many contributing factors it would most likely take the rest of my life to track them all down.

Anyway, I feel the real "ah ha" in it for me is that despite all my spirituality searching, self-help reading and seeking to apply this knowledge in my life; when it comes to feeling bad because I feel like this is the socially acceptable way I must act not to be considered a "bitch" (or probably closer to the truth...so you will like me), I appear to be a frequent flier. I seemed to be on autopilot unaware of this behavior and its effects.

If the Law of Attraction has taught me anything, it is that like attracts like.  Looking back over my life I can so see how feeling bad energetically has attracted more events in my life to feel bad about.

While the whole law of attraction thing seems to be dying down; I still feel much of what Esther Hicks as Abraham includes in her books with her hubby, Jerry, applies.  To really synthesize it beyond "like attracts like", I offer " the better you feel, the better you feel".  Conversely, the worse you feel, the worse you feel.  In the same way that no matter how many times I might want to write the word "good" by spelling it "bad" ain't gonna fly, feeling bad will never radiate an energetic vibration of attracting outer experiences to feel good about.

Plus, it seems like the rules about what a person is socially supposed to feel bad about are so subjective anyway.  It would be one thing if there was say ten commandments for what you should feel bad about and everything else you can feel good about, but there is not.

For instance, a friend had lent me a book.  While reading it I folded over the edge of one of the pages because there was something on that page I wanted to remember.  I do this in my books all the time.  It never occurred to me that someone thought so much about a $10 book that they would never dream of defacing it in anyway.  Anyway, this made my friend very angry.  So much so that she yelled at me and basically called me a moron for defacing her book.  Truth be told, I felt bad about that for quite a while.  Would House?  Would I now?  I don't think so.  How did I know?  Would feeling bad bring the book back to pristine condition?  And why would we feel that a loving friend would really desire to make their friend feel bad?  Or just because they felt it was okay for them to try to make us feel bad for our actions (which I believe technically they have the right to do) does this make me obligated to have to feel bad?  I don't feel it does.  What is funny is it seems it usually makes someone angrier when you don't give them the behavior they were expecting to illicit from you. 

For example, the dreaded "silent treatment".  This was a biggie in my family growing up.  Not as much as it was for my dad.  My dad's mother use to go weeks without talking to anyone if she got in a mood for whatever reason.  And back then what was her husband going to do, divorce her?  I don't think so.  Luckily, my current relationship is a million times less dysfunctional.  Although, I find it interesting that it is about the only way my man ever acts out, so to speak.  At least in this case, I was conditioned to be wise to this behavior.  Instead of feeling bad or giving in to the silent treatment by trying to appease him, I simply went on my merry, happy way with life behaving as if everything is fine.  Truth was he was actually in the long run punishing himself more than me.  When he was ready though, we had a very grown-up chat about it.  I mention this because he did say that it made him angrier to see me not engage in his power play.  In his mind it meant I didn't care.  I do care.  It's just that I am finally strong enough to realize I have the right to say "no" when I want to without feeling bad about it or feeling like I should be punished or feeling I've done something wrong.  He has the same right when it comes to things I ask of him.

It says something about you if you are the person engaging the silent treatment.  It says something about you if you give in to it.  It says something about you if you choose not to give into it.  And lest you think I am a saint (LOL), I used to have a bad habit of writing hate letters.  I used to think that if I wrote to someone to complain about the person I was angry with listing all the so-called horrible, awful things the person I was angry with had done to me...well, revealing this would make the person I was angry with see the error of their ways.  Result:  they'd come rushing back to me apologizing profusely for being so horrible to me.  Truth is it just really made me look psycho.

My real point in all of this is that if one can rely on things written in books by Abraham and the like, then each present moment is like a blank slate as far as the Universe is concerned.  A fresh start.  An opportunity to create anew.  An opportunity to redefine yourself and start being someone you feel good about with everything past forgiven and forgotten.  By becoming a little more aware of when we feel bad and why AND if it is really necessary or healthy, for that matter, or simply something we had always done because we thought we were supposed to; we might be able to make a choice to not feel bad.  Instead we may choose to feel good for loving our self in this way.

It seems to me we expect as a society that people are supposed to act a certain way and if they don't then we somehow have the right to make them "tow" the line, so to speak. Or we should feel bad because we don't drive a certain car or live in a certain neighborhood or wear a certain designer label or act our age or watch TV or eat certain foods or be a certain weight or not have the most current hair style or not be cool enough or have a great job or this list could go on and on.  None of this can hurt you or "make" you feel bad about your self unless you agree to allow it to make you feel bad.

Instead, if you allow yourself to feel good about being the best you (by which I mean the you that you love...and you know the difference of how it feels when you do things you love compared to doing things just 'cuz you think you should love them or to impress someone else or prove something, etc.) and making choices from that place, in my mind it is like living on the bonus plan.

The bonus:  you feeling bad less and radiate that vibration less.  You feel less like you have to do or be something you don't desire to.  You feel good because you have reclaimed your God-given right to do what you want as much as someone else who has claimed their God-given right to do what they want (not to mention, they thought it was their God-given right to make you do what they want or else you should feel bad).  AND you are enjoying your life on your terms more, living most of it being, doing and having things that feel good.  The more you feel good, the more you feel good.  The more you feel good, the less you feel the need to have another do what you do or fit in or any of those things.  You celebrate originality.  You are content.  You feel good.  And your feeling these things is not predicated on the opinion of others, which can be given or taken away at their whim.

Okay, you may lose a few friends when you take this stand.  Yet how much of a true friend were they anyway?  You may also lose a most favored status with some family members, especially parents who we have been conditioned not to say no to without fear of punishment (assuming this is your experience).  Still, you gain in peace of mind.  You gain in feeling good.  You gain in feeling good attracting more experiences in your life to feel good about.  When the heart and mind are at peace and feeling good, the health of the physical body can't help but follow.  The mind is first cause over the body.  And it has to be true if House says so.  Right?  Psycho?

Or perhaps true to my intent... Bjork's BLEEP Blog: you never know what I'll blog about next?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

People's Choice


I can't believe I did, but last night I watched the People's Choice Awards.  It was sort of a shameless commercial event...at least that is how it seemed to me.  As I watched, I wondered how much truth the recipients of the award felt as they proclaimed their gratitude and appreciation for the people...you know, because without the people they wouldn't be who they are.

The final award went to Johnny Depp.  Mr. Depp has received the most votes in the last ten years of any other artist.  Honestly, I was a bit surprised he showed up to accept the award.

So why did I wish to write about this, especially as you can see it has been almost two months since I've written a blog here?  I feel my motive is somewhat pure and somewhat self serving.

To begin I feel like part of it is we as a society want to feel like answers can come in small easy to digest packages so they are fast.  You know like our food.  That very few of us are willing to enjoy the process or wait.  We want to skip right from the first page to the last page of the story.  I think about this when I film something like people surfing.  Much of their time is spent waiting for the perfect wave just so they might ride it for a couple of seconds of bliss.  And when you see my footage of them surfing, I will have cut out the majority of the waiting time so my audience will simply get to see the good stuff, so to speak.  Yet truth is we are eternal, spiritual beings.  We have all the illusory time in the world to experience anything we desire.  There is always time and space as long as we wish to participate in this earthly 3-D experience.

I feel like my pure motive can best be explained by example.  The other day while working on the computer with the TV news on in the background, a story was being reported about how despite the bad economy this past year crime in L.A. was still at its lowest point in many years.  And then to comment was a representative of the police/law enforcement faction of my fair city, L.A., to take credit on behalf of police/law enforcement for keeping our city safe.  It got me to thinking that except for things like wearing my seat belt and certain parking of my vehicle habits so I don't get tickets, the police have little to do with whether I commit crime.  I'd like to think I am not the only one who is similar.  I am not violent because I am afraid of being punished.  I am peaceful because it is the right thing to do.  Nay!  It is who I am as a child of God.  It is how I define myself.

My point being if you blindly believed the representatives statement, you would accept that the only reason we are safe is because we have police.  While it may be nice to feel like you could put a nice little bow on the result of lower crime and attribute it all to police and law enforcement, I feel this is a disservice to all who essentially self-police because the thought of harming another intentionally is abhorrent to them.

That's where the self-serving part of this came into play.  As I was showering I was thinking about how I have been going over in my mind the different topics I gravitate towards when it comes to sightseeing L.A. and what will my "people" (and by people I mean my treasured readers of my LA Sightseeing Examiner articles or my blog post readers) think?  Will they be excited about it?  Will they love it?  Maybe I should just stop because how do I know what they'll like or what will excite them (okay unless they tell me, which at this point I dont' have that sort of feedback)?  And yet, right there on my CaliforniVacation:SoCal Style blog...hell...on this blog I mention that I write for myself.  Ars Gratia Artis!  Art for Art's Sake!  Metro Goldwyn Mayer used this as their slogan.  Complete in itself.  Get it? I write 'cuz it pleases me...the rest is gravy.

Now I have come full circle.  That's Johnny Depp's win proves my point...my choice.  In my mind the most celebrated actor of the first decade of the new millennium is the actor who would have done it the same way and would have continued to act no matter what the people thought or felt.  He isn't an actor because of the people.  He is an actor because it pleases him.  Art for the sake of Art.  I technically can't speak for Johnny Depp, but I get the sense he has acted and will continue to act as long as it pleases him.  If we love it too, great.  If not, that's okay!  (Plus, it seems to me it also proves that he doesn't owe any of us anything if we love him, buy tickets to his performances or vote for him, etc.  After all did he put a gun to our head to watch any of his performances or force us to love him or for that matter vote for him?)

I feel I would have somehow felt let down if Mr. Depp had implied that without the people he wouldn't be an actor or a great actor, which it appeared to me that some of the other recipients were somehow implying.  Maybe he wouldn't be as popular or as financially wealthy.  I'd like to think, as I write this with my rose colored glasses on, in some innate way, we the people sense and admire this about him as we enjoy his performances.

I guess what the BLEEP I'm trying to say is that if I was looking for an excuse to continue and to write about what pleases me and what I find exciting or interesting without worrying if you will love me or admire me or approve or appreciate my art, I feel I found it.

Party on, Garth!  Party on, Wayne!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tater Tot Hot Dish Bleepin' Bjork Style

I had a wonderful surprise when my oldest son and his wife-to-be flew from Minneapolis/St. Paul to LAX to visit for a quick Saturday/Sunday visit.

The Viking Fan (and not a fair weather one either) and the Packer Princess (she has a Packer Favre jersey in pink) managed to talk my man and I into going to a bar in Hermosa Beach, Sharks Cove, which caters to Steeler Fans.  In case you don't know, when a football game starts at noon in Pittsburgh, that means it starts at 9 AM in Hermosa (the "h" is silent, means beautiful en espanol) Beach.


I don't know about you, but that time of morning is usually when I enjoy eating breakfast.  Breakfast at the bar.  Just may have been a first.  Here's what I found sort of exciting.  This bar serves tater tots with its breakfast instead of hash browns.

I mention all of this 'cuz...well...do you ever have some foods from your younger days that just seem like they will always be comfort food even though they may never be considered healthy or low-cal?  For me, tater tot hot dish is just one of those said dishes.

So, with this tater tot nudge I just had to make me some tater tot hot dish and see if I would still enjoy it.  You know, or is the memory better than the reality.  And as long as I was going to take this undertaking why not video it for posterity.

P.S.  Tater Tots are a registered trademark of the Ore-Ida company, first created in 1953 and first available in 1954.  Congratulations, Ore-Ida on 55 years of the tater tot.  Mahalo!

P.P.S.  I loaded the video to my Funny or Die page 'cuz I think it is at least a couple degrees of funny.  I decided I'd test seeing what happens if I embed the video from funnyordie.com.  What do you think?  Not so sure I love it compared to YouTube.  In case you would rather watch the video from YouTube instead, here's the link.

P.P.S.S.  To my Chicago, soul sister of the same name and the same light (yes, we will meet one day), I just want to say (1) thank you and (2) I believe this recipe is gluten-free.  I'm just sayin'!


Sunday, November 1, 2009

All the Saints of the City of Los Angeles

If you didn't know, hallow is another word for saint.  Halloween intially was celebrated as the eve of All Saints Day (November 1).  You know, get your sinner on before you have to behave like a saint.

With this in mind, I decided to get my Google on and see what would come up if I searched, "saints in los angeles", assuming a list of saints would show up.  Then I could pick one to visit and write about for my blog, CaliforniVacation: SoCal Style and as the LA Sightseeing Examiner for examiner.com.

Okay, let's just take a side bar here to mention what the process for becoming a saint is.  This way you'll understand by definition a living person can't actually be a saint.

I was a little surprised to find what did show up in the top spots.  The wikipedia page for Motley Crue's Saints of Los Angeles, their ninth studio recording effort released on June 24, 2008 and a link to the official music video for the title song of said recording.

The first not Motley Crue listing was in position #28, the Home Page of All the Saints of the City of Los Angeles.  Finally!  Something I could work with...until I clicked on the link.


Even though I couldn't use this information to write my destination blog, I was so enthralled with what the author has created that I decided to BLEEPin' blog about it here.

I loved J. Michael Walker's paintings and his stories.  I found myself very easily seeing how someone might ponder the things Mr. Walker pondered and decided to document in this amazing way.

If you haven't heard about this Mr. Walker's work, I hope you just might give it a "look see".  It's my further hope you will be glad you did.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Business of Death

I write another blog, CaliforniVacation: SoCal Style, and articles as examiner.com's, L.A. Sightseeing Examiner.  I am happy to have the opportunity to do both.  The examiner gig allows me to be more journalistic while the CaliforniVacation gig allows me to be more loose and conversationalistic.  Still, both are primarily about sharing destinations and events in Southern California (SoCal).

This blog fills my void of writing about stuff that's makes me go "hmmm".  Simply I wonder about this.  Are there answers.  This seems like it might be fun.  No rhyme.  No reason.

I have this friend, also a blogger.  She is a fine photographer and a recent ex-Minnesotan.  She finds cemeteries beautiful.  She enjoys pondering what someones life may have been like to have the headstone which marks their grave represent them.  I'd never really thought of cemeteries in quite this way before.

Truth is I never really thought much about cememteries at all for most of my life.  I'm not sure you can call it luck but very few people in my life seemed to die.  At least very few close enough that I might be included in attending their funeral or their final cemetery resting place.  Now that I live in L.A. that's changed.  My dad, grandma and grandpa (and some great grandparents I don't really even remember) all have their remains residing at the same cemetery, Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.  I know.  How convenient.

My aunt's parents are also resting at Holy Cross as are her aunt, uncle and some celebrities too.  My aunt and uncle are quite dutiful about visiting all of them at least two or three times a year and bringing flowers or whatever. Bless them!  When I first moved back I admit I was a little excited and fascinated about visiting and being included in their ritual.  I was also amazed and most likely will blog about a future trip to the cemetery in about a month or so.

Why?

I guess I didn't actually ever think about it much, but the first time I saw the way Holy Cross gets decorated at Christmas time by those who visit their dearly departed, I found myself a bit in awe and a little amused.

Okay, so I can understand grief.  I can understand mourning.  But they are dead people, people.  What is left is inanimate dust more or less.  In my mind I have a better chance of connecting with my loved ones when I think of them than trekking to a cemetery to visit a slab of stone covering where their lifeless body is buried.

When you drive through the iron gate of Holy Cross Cemetery you are at the entrance of 200 acres of beautifully manicured grounds.  It really is a quiet and peaceful place.

I want to be very clear that I have nothing against Holy Cross Cemetery per se.  As far as places go, I am sort of proud to have my loved ones remains residing in such a beautiful place.

NOW!  Let's visit some of the things that make me go hmmm.....

A place for the dead.  Burying.  Won't we run out of room?

What would aliens from another planet think that we preserve a dead loved one in a coffin and bury them in the ground?  We go through all of this and yet we will never see them again with our physical eyes.  And the part of them we really remember most, isn't there anymore anyway.  Doesn't it seem silly?  And doesn't it make more of a case for simply torching our cold dead bodies to "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" then?  Or put them in an urn, which takes much less room?

About 60,000 people a year die in Los Angeles County.  Wouldn't we soon run out of room to bury them all?  If each dead person needs about 8' by 4' of real estate, how long before all the real estate is consumed by dead bodies?  I'd do the math, but I don't want to?  Might just be very, very depressing.

I also wondered about the business of all of this.  In 2006 it was estimated that the business of death was booming in at about $11 billion dollars.  Yes, that is with a B.  And the average funeral at about $6,500.

All that money.  Yet as I looked around Holy Cross Cemetery grounds I couldn't help thinking of the way they have things set up and how it seems like such a metaphor that whoever you thought you were in life; rich, poor, young, old, etc. death was a great equalizer.  None of all the this and that and crying or joy or fights with others...none of it made a lick of difference to the deceased now 'cuz they are dead.

I personally didn't want any of it and had always just assumed I would want to be creamated with my ashes thrown into the Pacific Ocean that I love so much.  Then through my visits and walks through Holy Cross Cemetery it got me thinking that at least with so much of my family already residing in the same place and with more slated to reside there as their time comes, maybe I could have my cake and eat it too.

I could still be creamated.  And perhaps like Gandhi some of my ashes could be ceremoniously strewn into the ocean and the rest could reside in an urn and placed in one of the urn spots at Holy Cross Cemetery.  I mean as long as a relative is visiting, they could stop by and visit me too.  Right?

I also muse at some of the things we think about.  I know someone who has a shared site with a spouse who is already deceased.  Now that it is over ten years later and she is ten times happier with her new man, she's not so sure she wants to spend eternity in the spot she's already secured.  Then there are those who loved each other so very, very much but the husband just didn't want to be buried in the dirt.  Too dark.  So he is in the masoleum and she is in the ground.

That was the other thing that struck me as I walked around.  How do you decide where on the grounds you would want to be buried assuming you want to be buried?  If you don't want to be buried, how do you decide where in the masoleum you want to spend eternity?  Do you want the stone that is big or do you want the small one.  How much do you want written on the stone?  Which color stone?  Do you want to be by the rest of your family or should you wait?  Would you rather have an urn spot?  Do you want one you can see in or one you can't?

This particular cemetery is catholic-based and opened in 1939.  Back in the day did you have to be catholic or they turned you away?  Did you have to be white?  Have the parameters changed over the years to "get in"? Does it matter now?

And the more I pondered and walked around, the more all of this seemed to make a case for reincarnation and the like.  Is this really all there is?  Is this really where my remains will stay for all eternity?

It seems like some of the things us humans come up with that eventually become acceptable and the norm, why don't we question them more?

And I don't really have any answers for you.  According to the article I found on the Business of Death, it would appear that much of what is driving the $11 billion industry is that individuals want to have lavish and personalized funerals as a sort of last hurrah.  So as silly as it all seems to me, who am I to say what is or is not silly to you.

One of the residents at Holy Cross Cemetery is Bela Lugosi, the original movie Dracula, who was buried in his Dracula cape.  We have to take this on faith 'cuz we can't see into his coffin or tell from his quite plain grave marker whether this is really true or folk legend.  If that is how he wanted to go or if you want to be buried with your golf clubs, who am I to say?

And with that, that is all the BLEEP I wish to blog about today.

Oh yeah!  Happy Halloween.