Monday, January 13, 2014

Half Moon Bay walk with Me Group Walk

I am back in Los Angeles, almost frantically looking for a job and a new apartment. Luckily, I have a very kind friend who is letting me sleep on her couch for as long as I need. And she means it…much like the first time I moved to LA and Dave said the same thing. He was astonished when I found a place in the first two weeks I was there. We shall see how things go this time around.

Nothing I write here can encompass the feelings I have now. That numbness that comes from overwhelming feelings...of fear for the future, and so much gladness for the months I had in Half Moon Bay. How I got to rest. How I got to create. 

I need to blog about the culminating Walk with Me event in Half Moon Bay! Before it slips out of my mental finger tips. I was lucky enough to get a holiday gift of a flight down to see my sister, her husband, and the main attraction, their lovely 6 month old baby boy. So for the holidays I headed to my family's house and then we flew down to my sister's house for New Years. I dyed my hair purple (!) and pink before the holiday and was quite the show at family holiday events. I loved my sister's response which was "Oh maybe I want to do that!" Which always makes me feel better when I do something considered wild to my midwestern family. 

So I got back to Half Moon Bay after a holiday with my family just days before the event. I had big plans to get a massage and to do yoga at Enso, a great place right on the beach that does lots of yoga classes. But instead I jut got ready for the event, and went about packing up my belongings at Laura's. It all went very fast! I had gotten an interview in Los Angeles and I needed to get back days after the event. 

Photo by Vicki Cormack
What was fantastic about the day of the event is that the sun came out just an hour before we were slated to meet! As I looked out at the fog when I woke up I thought….well less people will come now. So, I felt lucky when the sun burned it's way through that fog.Things went very smoothly. I must admit. Laura helped out immensely, making a sign at the beach that hung from her van. I had a videographer coming. A reporter coming. And 19 people on Facebook signed up. While not everyone on Facebook showed up we had about 20 folks there! And it felt like a victory. I have held workshops in LA, and had one person show up. I have had collaborators run workshops, FREE ONES!, and no one show up. It is a scary thing to plan events cause you never know if anyone will come. It was a magical group of folks, some people I had done individual walks with, others strangers, even one family that was too nervous to walk with a stranger but walked three astride down the beach.
I had planned on not walking but one of my favorite walkers, Linda didn't have a partner and she didn't seem disappointed by the idea of walking with me again. So after we hung out making sure no one else was strangling in. We started walking, meeting one of her friends and then we walk down the beach. 
Photo by Vicki Cormack

Instead of  talking about Linda and I's walk which was filled with lovely insight about love and disease. And about my future and going forward. I am going to put little snippets from the walker's reflections up on the blog. Along with written words the participants drew some pretty amazing images. This was the only walk I didn't take a single photo on. I just tried to be present and get through this event. Which is now emotional for me. At the time I was just a bit numb/overwhelmed but I did do a good job to connect to each participant and enjoy the day. Now, I feel the force of leaving this project to rest while I try to create a life in LA again.

Here are some themes/thoughts from the writings of our walkers. I'll keep them anonymous:

"My intention for the year is to be the best person I can be to give love to all."


"being present…now now now now…NOW. HIGHLIGHT: a kiss on the hand"

"the realization that I had to 'own' my responsibility to these [my] relationships- and how I feel about myself"

"Deep conversations about being ourselves and enjoying, being okay with Who We Are even if not everyone else is comfortable. ME IS OK."

"The holding hands energy changed as out moods, talk, changed"

"being responsible and having life filled experiences" (interesting words "life filled")

"More and more it's apparent that we are all facets of the same jewel, simply reflecting light differently.
The rhythm of walking is conducive to emergent harmony, understanding, and if it takes root, wisdom…Let us reflect the best of one another's light."
Photo by Vicki Cormack

It was interesting to notice who was comfortable talking about what they felt or said, and who focused on their partner, or those who reflected the environment back onto the page. I loved that there was a recognition of challenging times interweaved with the love of magical gratitude. That the tough times come but creativity and healthy routine mitigate some of the pain.
What I really enjoy about these reflections are how they are about connections and that taking care of yourself is a part of healthy relationships and a commitment to others. How amazing to think of one another as reflections of ourselves and that when we focus on each other we all can shine a little brighter. Being present today to shine. Enjoying the beach, the sun, the surf, the cold, whatever life throws at us can be so much more endurable with someone else's hand in yours. No questions asked. Think about how we can do this emotionally for those around us. Let's stop dreading the call from Mom, or the needy relative, the intense friend with things to tell you, your teachers, your mentors, a cute guy or lady, the nosy neighbor, the loud drunk on the street, every single one of them you can approach with non judgement. Sometimes the right move is to not pick up the phone if you will cause another pain but mostly it is time to realize we have time to be present with one another.
Photo by Linda Theroff

I have to admit sitting here on my friend's couch just a week and a day after the event, I am just keeping myself together. I am doing the crazy thing of re-entering life in LA. I am trying to get a home and a job and wow if that doesn't feel foreign and kind of awful to me. I want everything figured out YESTERDAY!  But let me tell you what. I am broke. I need a job! And that is when the energy swings and I think "Wow, wouldn't it be great to just have a job? I don't need to travel all about and be constantly changing things….wow, can that happen?" Cause what I have learned is no matter how stable we think we are things are always changing. Yeah I did an extreme thing in some people's minds, leaving my apartment, leaving my job, and leaving my life behind to go hold hands with people. But damn if I didn't learn a lot about myself. Though life is stressful, I feel grounded and real in new ways. I feel beautiful and lucky to be here. I feel sad and devastated about how our culture works and what we hold dear. But I am ready, to face it and know I can't go it alone. That my friends and family are integral parts of my success. 
Photo by Linda Theroff

Perfection is no longer my goal. I don't know the plan. I want to. I want to control the plan. But I am putting it out there. I think there is a force, many call God, that leads us along. As an academic and an artist, I have trouble talking about the ineffable. I just can't explain in any other way my amazing life. The friends that for the past 8 months have housed, fed, walked, talked, supported me. I am glad to know how strong the life force is within me through meditation and interaction. That I am on the cusp of life, enjoying the view. I hope for more connection in the future. I hope for a significant love of my life to come along. More importantly I hope I can help others love life and live more fully. I hope I find my path in creativity and healing to a more sustainable future. Sometimes I think I will end up a nomad, going from healing to healing, community to community….other times I see a home and a family…maybe it will be both. What I learned from this project is be kind to those around you, stop judging, start holding each other up, give freely, love mightily, and if you feel like no one understands or that your path is a silly stupid idea….email me, talk to me, walk with me…everyone of us holds important ideas and deeds. Be the person to listen to others passions. Be the person who stops running around in your own head and imperfectly create a world with others.

For me, know, I am giving up on knowing where I am going next. I am going to reflect on the last 8 months. I am going to open up my heart. I am going to keep eating right, exercising, smiling at others, and reaching out. I am going to try to stop condemning my love of art and embrace it. I am going to watch football and go to art openings. I am going to be open to falling in love both with myself and someone else. Sounds simple? Nah, but it is what life is made of.

As for this blog, I would like to keep it going. Will I be holding hands more? I don't know. I told Stacy the reporter in Half Moon Bay that I need a break. And well, I do. I have spent 8 months giving a bunch of energy outwards and now I need to get my shit together inwards. So I want to be open to the next round of walks but first I want to take care and get settled in LA. I am talking to someone about maybe holding hands and walking along the LA River as part of a performance series, so keep your fingers crossed on that. Otherwise I am not sure, and for now, that is ok.