Andrea and the Beanstalk

I am an only child, and my parents were separated / divorced by the time I was three; my Dad was living in Northern California, and I was in Huntington Beach with my Mom. Every so often I would get put on a plane to visit my Dad. The legal age for a minor to fly alone was four, so I was instructed to “just tell them you’re four if anyone asks how old you are.” Knowing my inability to fib very well, if anyone asked, I probably just told them “I’m four but really I’m only three”…
When I was visiting my Dad in the Bay Area, I would spend a considerable time alone. At least, that’s what I mostly remember. At that time my Dad worked several jobs, among other them woodworking and real estate. He would need to work on a house – I remember sitting outside in the back yard. He would work on a project in his woodshop – I would be in the corner with a pile of small boards, some small nails and a hammer. I remember always being so disappointed at how my own woodworking projects turned out, compared to his. Needless to say I never developed an interest in woodworking.
When we were at his home, on occasion it would be suggested to me that I walk down to the local library and see what was going on. It must have been close by, because I remember walking there by myself. Those trips to the library are the first memories I have of thinking “SO MANY BOOKS, WOOOOO!” I can still see all the colors of the covers, and the texture of the paper. I can still hear the thick pages as I turned them, and the smell of the books. This must have been where it all started – my love for books and writing.
As a kid I was always reading, and always writing stories. Over the years I have stopped and started reading multiple times, and basically stopped writing altogether for even longer. Now both passions are back and I don’t think they’re going anywhere anytime soon…

The library also had some sort of activity program, because one day I returned to my Dad’s home with a prize. At the library, we had cut off the bottom of a paper milk carton, filled it with a little dirt, and planted some kind of seed in it. Oh, the anticipation, what was going to happen! Finally the seed sprouted. What a miracle!
But eventually it would be time to pretend I was four again, and get back onto the plane and go home to Southern California. Someone must have decided that half a milk carton filled with dirt wasn’t the best carry-on luggage for a small child, because I really don’t know what became of my little plant – or what kind of plant it even was.
I’d like to imagine that after I left, my Dad fed and watered that seedling, maybe repotted it once or twice, and when it got big enough, he took it to his garden and planted it there. And maybe that plant is still there today. Maybe it’s a beautiful bush or tree, with lovely, fragrant flowers.

A girl can dream.

book nerd


Namaste, Nerds

I think that is going to be my 2016 mantra. Or at least one of them. And when I say Nerd, I mean that in the most loving, supportive, nerdy way possible. And of course I’m directing that at you.

So how is 2016 going for you? Is it everything you’d hoped it would be? Have all your wildest dreams come true? Are you already 10 pounds thinner, have 12 new friends, and started your art journal? If so, good on ya!
Over here, 2016 initially got off to a slow start, but is now in Full Swing. I brought the New Year in with my Dad and his family, out in SoCal. For some reason, I had imagined that I would have copious amounts of free time, and that I would be writing every day. After the third day I had to just sigh a big NOPE and let go of that expectation. I spent a lot of time with family, a fair amount of time drinking coffee, a little time with some good friends and a tiny sliver of time writing stuff. I did get A LOT of reading done though, so that was nice.

Actually, I also did a fair amount of yoga in SoCal. My Dad has given me a membership to the “YMCA of the Foothills,” right up the street from his house. This is super handy for when I’m visiting! But so far, not so handy the other 50 weeks out of the year (perhaps this is a subtle attempt at getting me to visit more often?) Anyway, I took advantage of the membership and went to yoga about every other day. On Christmas Eve, we did 108 Sun Salutations. While listening to the Beatles. It was kind of surreal – and really hard! But oh so satisfying. Even though I hurt for 3 days, it was worth it.
Each time I went, I had a different instructor. Which was pretty cool, actually, because I was able to learn a few new poses, and evaluate all the different teaching styles I saw. Why would I care about this, you ask? Because…. I just started training to become a yoga instructor!

That’s right, on May 1, 2016, Buddha willing, I will complete the 200-hour training to be a Registered Yoga Teacher. Namaste indeed!
Class started this last weekend. It’s a pretty intense schedule – we’ll have 3 weekends on, 1 off, through April. Class is 4 hours on Friday nights, 7.5 hours on Saturdays, and 4 hours on Sunday mornings. It’s not all doing yoga – it’s some lecturing, some meditating, and some teaching.
So far, everyone that I’ve mentioned my training to, has said something along the lines of “Oh that’s great, I can totally see you doing that!” Which I will take as a compliment.

Each time I get on my mat and practice yoga, I get the feeling that I’m doing the right thing, and that I’m right were I’m supposed to be. And fortunately, I had that same feeling during classes last weekend. So I know this is going to be a Good Thing for me.
I promised myself I wouldn’t become evangelical about yoga – and I don’t have any intention of doing so, even as I start learning, deepening my own practice, and teaching. But I will say this – yoga is probably the best thing to happen to me – physically, mentally and spiritually. Quitting my Day Job last year comes pretty close though…
Quitting my job last year has not only made me SO MUCH HAPPIER, it’s also given me this opportunity to find yoga and become an instructor so I can bring its benefits to others. How great is that?? 2016 is off to a fantastic start.

yoga teacher training
where i usually practice: Be Love Yoga, Broken Arrow, OK



Finishing Up and Starting New

Well, yesterday was the last day of National Novel Writing Month. And guess what – I finished a 50,000 word story in 30 days. It was definitely down to the wire, and true to my Procrastinat(ive?) Nature, I waited till the very last minute to add over 4,000 words on the last day. I had the story already finished, but hadn’t made the word count requirement. So I kept going back and adding to what was already there. I made it.
I also finished the thing while staying in Austin for a few days, so this blog post is coming at you directly from a very hipster-y coffee shop on East Cesar Chavez on the East side of town. I just saw a dude wearing powder blue coveralls with some kind of straw hat greet some other equally credible hipsters for a meeting of some sort. So I know this place is legit. And just FYI, the cappuccino isn’t too bad.

Looking Backwards
NaNoWriMo ended on November 30th (duh). Which happens to be my Mom’s birthday. Yesterday would have been her 76th birthday, and somehow it was fitting to end this particular story on this particular day. The story I wrote was about a character that showed up in my grief-addled brain after my Mom passed away in 2011. This kick-ass-superhero character was rolling around in my psyche for a while and finally found a way out thanks to NaNoWriMo. I don’t know if anyone will ever read this “novel” besides me, but that’s OK. Maybe she exists because she can do all the things that I couldn’t, I don’t know. Regardless, I told the story that needed to be told and I feel pretty good about that.
(However, my ego is insisting that I tidy it up and “fix” it and have someone read it and try to get it out there. We’ll see how that plays out…)

Thanksgiving weekend was also the first time, 4 years ago, that I came down to Austin to see some music and check out the town. I got to meet the illustrious Bruce Hughes, musician extraordinaire. He’s been kind enough to meet up with me every time I come down, and this time was no exception. Today we caught up over lunch at the Whole Foods Mothership, where we were joined for a few minutes by Scrappy Jud Newcomb, another great Austin musician. We had a good chat about Dr. Hunter S. Thompson whereby I was able to confirm that Scrappy is most definitely Good People.

bruce hughes and scrappy jud newcomb
bruce and scrappy at the saxon pub

There are tons of cool things to do and eat and drink and hear in Austin. I do like it here. But you know what? I think I like Southern California better. Maybe I should be specific and say I like Long Beach / Seal Beach / Sunset Beach better. Partly because it feels more like home to me. But also partly because it’s by the ocean, and I always feel better by the ocean. But I also like SoCal better because anything goes in SoCal. Yes it’s true that “anything goes” in Austin, but most of time I get the feeling that most people are trying really, really hard to push those boundaries. In SoCal, “anything goes” in a super laid back casual kind of way. It’s more relaxing to me, I guess. Sorry ATX.
I have this feeling that I may not be back again for a while.

November is typically a month when the focus is on gratitude or gratefulness. Ideally we strive to practice gratitude all year round, and not just when we eat pie (and I do believe we’re getting there), but it’s more on our minds this time of year as we spend time with loved ones for Thanksgiving. This Thanksgiving I spent with my good friend Dayl, in Roanoke, Texas. She’s moving to Hawaii in a few weeks, and it just worked out that she was on her own for Turkey Day, so I drove down to spend a few days with her before she takes off to write the next chapter in her awesome life. We ate turkey cutlets with tandoori spices and roasted vegetables. A little untraditional, it’s true – but it counts.
I’ve spent many Thanksgivings with friends instead of family. Because friends count as family, you know? Dayl is family to me. I’m so glad we got to spend some time together catching up, and preparing ourselves for whatever happens to be coming next. Because it feels like the start of a new chapter for me, too…
I was a little too busy to do it last month because of that dang novel, but I’ll take a minute now to express my gratitude for the people I’ve met in my life that make me want to be a better person. Or more specifically, those who teach me important lessons, and inspire me to be the best me possible. So, so, grateful.

Looking Forwards
So. December 1. The first day of the last month of 2015. Time to finish up this year’s sh*t and get ready for next year’s sh*t. I think there will be some good sh*t coming our way in 2016.
What are your 2016 plans? How about 2016 wishes? Let’s not do “resolutions” for the new year, but maybe creating some “intentions” wouldn’t be a bad idea…
So we can talk about all that later in the month, but maybe it wouldn’t be bad to start thinking about it a little.

I’m driving home to Tulsa tomorrow, a changed person. I don’t know how exactly, and right now I don’t really know what it means. But it’s different. While that scares the bejeezus out of me, I also know I wouldn’t want it any other way.


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NaNoWriMo Update – The Storytelling Edition

Well, almost halfway through National Novel Writing Month. The novel writing and the procrastination continues, and both are right on schedule! I’ve been finding more interesting ways to put off writing. Who knew procrastinating could be so darned productive?
The highlight of this week’s procrastinating was the OK, So Tulsa Story Slam.
I’ve been wanting to go for a long time, but always find an excuse not to. Well not this month! My fellow Novel Writing Buddy Breann pretty much decided we were going. So who was I to argue? I couldn’t let her down…
Usually, I can’t think of a story to tell that has anything to do with the month’s theme. But this month, the theme was “Famous” and I actually was able to come up with a story so I decided to not only attend the Story Slam, but also to participate. For better or worse…
So Breann and I get to Enso Bar downtown, and I sign up to tell my story. I know the guy who runs the event, and he was really nice and encouraging but he pretty much had to be because no one had signed up yet, and they needed people. Anyone would do. So I signed up. We then discovered that Joe, owner of the Be Love Yoga Studios here in Tulsa, and my yoga instructor / mentor was there so we hung out in the back with him. Because Joe is super nice and friendly and knows everyone, and I’m no dummy – this makes me semi-cool by association. It’s all about who you know.
Then I pretty much went mute and walked around in front of the bathrooms looking like I was about to have my appendix removed while trying to recite Hamlet. I was attempting to remember how my story went, and even though I actually practiced it all afternoon, of course once at the bar, I couldn’t remember any of it. Like, any of it. Listening to 4 people tell stories ahead of me didn’t help, either. But Breann and Joe were so nice and supportive – it was great that they were there. Then they called my  name, and announced it was my first time, too. So up I went, and told my story…

story slam, november 2015
I did manage to remember my story! And when I was done, there was actually applause and I felt so relieved. The first time was over with. And as soon as I got back to where we were sitting, a woman came up to me and told me she really liked my story and thanked me for sharing. I think I said something like “thank YOU for sharing!” or something equally dorky, I can’t remember. But she kind of stood there like she wanted to say something else or like, well, I don’t know, but it was kind of awkward somehow. Then Joe and Breann started talking to me, and she left. Maybe I need to work on my audience mingling skills…?
Actually, throughout the rest of the night quite a few people came up to me and told me I did a good job. It was pretty cool. At one point Breann said, “I think if you really weren’t any good, none of these people would be coming up to you to tell you how they liked your story.” Unless they just had that much pity for me.
I didn’t win first place, or runner up even, but I did it, and I think I did pretty well, for my first time. Considering I couldn’t see anything, have no idea whether I managed to keep the mic in front of my face when talking with my hands, and probably paced back and forth with my hand in my pocket too much.

A few minutes after I got offstage, 3 whiskey mixed drinks appeared in front of Joe. Because you know, he’s Joe. He’s so nice, with such a warm personality, and he probably knows everyone in Tulsa. The bartenders were trying to invent drinks that used whiskey, and the samples were given to Joe. So of course we all had to try them. I don’t drink, and there’s no way I would have had anything before I went onstage, but afterwards I felt such relief, I thought, what the hell. The one with grapefruit juice was pretty good! I didn’t have all that much before I started to feel it. I have a pretty low tolerance for alcohol. But now I can say I got up in front of a crowd to tell a story, survived, and had whiskey with a fellow novel writer and a yoga instructor. I like stories like that.


Grown-up Lessons: The Semantics of Being a Grown-up

I should probably consider myself grown up by now. Maybe so… but I don’t feel like a grownup. I can’t possibly be alone in this, amiright?
Some people say you don’t really become a grownup until you have kids. I don’t think this is true. First off, let me say that I don’t have kids. Second, I think this statement a ploy by people with kids who wish they didn’t have to do anyone else’s (dirty, smelly) laundry or save for college tuition. Please don’t misunderstand me – I’ve nothing against anyone who has children! In fact I’m very grateful to my parents for giving it a try. I’m just saying that I don’t think being grown-up has anything to do with having children.
So what does it really mean to be a grown-up? Does it mean you’re responsible? Does it mean you keep your sh*t together, and on many occasions, other people’s sh*t too?

Websters defines “grown-up” as:
No longer young : fully grown
Suitable for adults
Like an adult

No longer young?!?!?! Well now we have to define “young” because I’m pretty sure I don’t feel “old” but when do I have to call myself “not young” anymore? I’m not a Millennial… But I’m a heck of a lot younger than that rock in my back yard. So it’s all relative. If I delve into this secondary question any further, I’ll have to break out an Excel chart – and none of us wants to see that.
Is it good or bad to be grown-up? Does it mean you can’t have fun anymore? Or does it mean you’re simply responsible? Sometimes it has a good connotation, sometimes a negative one. It’s one of those things that, when you start thinking about it too much, becomes really complicated and you end up going down a rabbit hole that could be really difficult to find your way out of. So instead of asking any further questions, I’ll let you know what I think being grown-up is (because it’s my blog).
In my Eternal Quest to be the Ultimate Neutral Personality, or EQUNP, I think being grown-up should be a balance. It means being able to take care of whatever you need to take care of, with some grace, some finesse, and openness to learning lessons along the way. It also means being able to let go sometimes, and having some fun. It means not forgetting what it was like to be a child – doing things simply because you want to, and laughing and letting your imagination run free. It means you can go to a meeting and understand how bonds work, but you can also watch the Muppets and laugh your ass off. Being grown-up is knowing when each behavior is appropriate. Being grown-up means liking coffee, but still appreciating vanilla pudding.

So go have some vanilla pudding and jump in that puddle. Your mom says it’s OK.

grown-up lessons

What does being grown-up mean to you?