60 Days On the Mat – Day 5: Getting Connected

I arrived in Austin and went almost immediately to a 6:00 vinyasa class at Yoga Yoga. This time I actually traveled with my yoga mat on the plane.  I’m not sure why.  I never do that — but for some reason I did not want to leave it at home this time.  I sort of felt like Linus with his blanket.

It’s amazing how heightened everything becomes when you go to a new class.  It’s not like you don’t know what’s about to happen — it’s a yoga class — but new studio, new city, new teacher.  It can be hit or miss.

I did this a couple of months ago in Vienna.  I went to a yoga class at Yoga Kula.  The entire class was in German.  It was literally like taking yoga from Charlie Brown’s parents.  I took German in high school, but at this point in my life all I can really do is count and ask where the bathroom is located.  I understood nothing she said and she used no sanskrit.  But, I was so glad I did it.  It was an awakening for me to the idea of travel yoga. I think of it as the new souvenir “experience” I collect when I go places — a yoga class.

Today was not quite so complicated.  I was late because of traffic (yes, Austin has traffic!), but they were very welcoming.  The class was full, which is always a good sign.  The instructors name was Lizzie and I really liked her.  The flow was not as intense as I am used to, but it was a solid class and Lizzie was very calming.  I actually did some things I had not done before and that always feels great, unless it’s an arm balance … I have so much fear of balancing on my arms.

The most impressive thing about the day is that I met someone in the class.  I made a yoga friend in the first class at a new studio in a relatively foreign city to me.  His name was Elijah.

I so rarely connect with other people at yoga in Los Angeles.  Actually, I rarely connect with any people in Los Angles.  But today I wondered if it was Los Angeles or if it was me. Was I more open today than I am at home?  Yes.

Connection.

We are virtually connected all over the world, but making an actual connection with another human being is so rare, and often startling when it happens.

Earlier this week I started making a point to look people in the eye and smile when I was in check out lines.  Do you know how hard this is to do?  We don’t look at each other.  We don’t connect.  We stare at the ground or worse — we stare at our phones!  It makes me freaking nuts, and I do it too.  When you step away from it and just observe the interaction around you — it’s actually a little disturbing.

This week I looked at all of my check out clerks in the eye and smiled.  One woman was so overjoyed she thanked me for smiling at her.  Imagine someone thanking you for acknowledging them?  And then I thought about all the times I just went through a checkout line — completely preoccupied — without giving much regard for the person helping me.  I don’t think I was intentionally rude. I just think I was not there.

So tonight when Elijah and I talked about yoga and Austin and Los Angeles, it was nice to connect with another human being.  It’s rare for me to step outside my comfort zone, especially when I have been feeling so vulnerable and alone personally.

Connection only happens when both sides are working at it.  It will not come to you if you are staring at your phone or zoned out.  By opening myself to others, others have opened. Funny how that works.

This is why I love yoga.

by month:

by Category:

60 Days On the Mat – Day 4: It’s Raining Chaos, I’m Going To Yoga

At exactly 3:00 today I opened my travel MacBook Pro that I use to manage media and do some light video editing on the road — and the battery had exploded out the back of the computer.

On a different day a different Terry would have not gone to yoga, stressed out for at least an hour and ranted about all the reasons this is the worst thing that can possibly happen roughly 15 hours away from traveling for ten days.

It appeared to be raining chaos in my home office.  So, I went to yoga.

The result of any situation is how we react to it, and today I chose not to.  Or perhaps I was in denial.  The only witness to any of it was Boomer, so you’ll have to trust me.

I have several days to figure this out before I actually have to work.  If I forget something, there is Fed-ex.  Target and Wells Fargo are both in Austin.  American Express works almost everywhere.  Visa works everywhere.  I’ll be back in a state that knows how to cook BBQ brisket.  Best. Mexican. Food. Ever. I’m good.

I love it when you are on the mat and you feel your body changing.  Muscles moving you either never knew you had or you never thought could actually move.  Tonight, with each pose, old injuries were waking up and moving through my body.

Why do I have a picture of myself from 1986 dressed up like Tigger in Winne-the-Pooh?

1985-1986 were horrible years for my body.

My back pain started with this play.  I bounced out on stage wearing this costume without any resin on my feet and literally flipped up in the air and landed flat on my back.  I was so flat on my back, they called the ambulance.  I compressed my t-spine and spent years in so much pain.  Doctors would x-ray me, put me under all sorts of machines and tell me there was nothing wrong, just some compressed vertebrae.  Nothing to do except take some ibuprofen.  Finally, I just got used to the pain.  It was a part of me.

After that accident, I was in a car accident.  I was blind-sided by a City of Arlington truck that ran a red light without using any sirens and my peripheral vision was blocked by a van.  Being a young, inexperienced driver — I darted out into the intersection.  Manic Monday was playing on my radio on the impact.  I remember thinking how appropriate that was, since it was a Monday.  The door was wrapped around my legs.  When they put me in the ambulance I remember looking at my Mom and saying, “Mom, I actually don’t have any underwear on — I was at ballet.”

I fractured the left side of my pelvis.  I could barely walk for weeks.  I remember the doctor telling my Mom that it would probably be difficult for me to have a baby naturally.  He meant I would need a C-section because of my pelvic fracture, but I think back now and wonder if he knew something I didn’t.

I do have a point to my accident history —  tonight on the mat, my mid back moved in places I had literally never felt before.  I stretched places I didn’t know could stretch.  I opened things I did not know could open.  When I rolled down from plow some part of my spine unwound so deeply I just started crying.  I was not sad.  I am always so taken aback when that happens to me.

And then the same sorts of physical things happened in my left hip.  I felt it move in a place that almost took my breath away because it was so foreign.

These old injuries were trying to get my attention.

Physically, there was a lot going on inside of me tonight, and it brought to the forefront how important it is to nourish all the aspects of ourselves.  The physical – mental – spiritual – emotional.

Sometimes I get so caught up in one microcosm of one aspect, I lose sight of the big picture.  I get bogged down living with pain that started in 1986.  When is the statute of limitations on the Tigger injury, really?  When do you let that go?

Long ago, I tried to read and watch my way to perfection via Oprah and every self help book you can imagine.   I owned all of them.  Louise Hay.  Scott Peck.  Julia Cameron.  Sark.  And I am sure somewhere in this brain of mine a lot of it sunk in, but the only thing I really learned from that period of my life is that nothing meaningful happens in your life until you decide to live a meaningful life.  So several years ago, I donated every self-help book I owned to Goodwill.  I knew the only self-help I needed was to just help myself, not read about how to help myself.  Plus, self-help books encourage too much list making.  Which is not allowed.

It’s not lost on me that I am addicted to yoga.  I know my 60 Days On the Mat is a self-induced challenge.  A place to focus my energy, while hoping to get pregnant — instead of just waiting to get pregnant.  A way to occupy my mind and my heart, keeping them afloat — while I am in a sort of life limbo.  A place to put all the energy I would rather put somewhere else if given a choice — but instead I breathe.  Deeply.  And I hope that, perhaps on the other side of this, there will be something even greater.

by month:

by Category:

60 Days On the Mat – Day 3: Live Like You Were Dying

Live Like You Were Dying was on the radio when I got in the car on my way to yoga.  I never listen to this song on purpose because it rips me, I mean rips me — but every time I happen to hear it, no matter what I have going on, it stops me in my tracks and brings me back to what is really important.  All of us, no mater what happens today or tomorrow or the day after, will lose someone we love so much we can hardly think to breathe without them standing there — and if we’re really blessed, someone who loves us that much will lose us.

Considering I had just spent the past eight hours editing videos about cancer, it was the perfect song for the moment.  I can’t tell you how many people I have known who lived like they were dying because they were, and ultimately too many of them did.  Most of them, way too young.  It’s humbling to think about.  When I focus on it  — like I did today in the car on the way to my mat — I end up in a ball of tears, simultaneously laughing at how blessed I really am in this moment.  I learned something about life and how to live it from every one of them.  My life is so much richer for it.

Sometimes we get so worked up about the moments we can’t control, we forget about the ones we can.

The only drawback to this reflective moment with Tim McGraw and Live Like You Were Dying was the fact that the DJ chose to follow it with the songs Beer Money and Something Bout a Truck.  Beer. Trucks. Red Solo Cups.  This is why my husband hates country music. (sigh)

I experienced an epiphany when I was editing a video earlier in the day.  Oncologist, Kjell Oberg, literally beamed how happy he was to share with us information on his FAVORITE topic — neuroendocrine tumors.  Can you imagine?  I would rather watch paint dry — but how incredible is it that someone walks the earth who lives and breathes to learn everything they can about neuroendocrine tumors?  Think about that.  Think about all the great discoveries and advancements we have and will have because someone is following their passion.  Honestly, it takes my breath away.

Think how even more amazing the world would be if we all could say that with a huge smile on our face about whatever we were doing?

By the time I got to my mat, I was in rare form.  I had spent a good chunk of the day working incredibly hard, having every reason to be overwhelmed — but instead, I was marinating in gratitude.  As a result, class was mind-blowingly awesome.  Chaz was building on the theme from Monday, which prompted this whole 60 Days on the Mat — which is kinda scary, but I just keep ripping that page out of the story.  If you don’t like the story on your page, rip that page out, start a new page.  Tell the story you want to tell.

My story is getting better with each passing day.  Suddenly all the things that were breaking my heart last week, were opening it this week.  The heart is an amazing organ.

The images on the mat tonight were entertaining.  For some strange reason, after my nine millionth crescent pose, I flashed back to fourth grade.  We had a music show at Dunn Elementary and I sang Coal Miner’s Daughter with a coal mining hat on my head.  I looked ridiculous.  I never quite understood the hat.  I tried to explain to the teacher that Loretta Lynn was not a coal miner, her father was, but she heard none of it — apparently I was too literal at nine.

Again, I was laughing to myself.  I must look like a total nut.  Luckily, one of the benefits of being over 40 is you actually stop caring how nutty you may or may not look.  Life becomes more about being authentic and present and not so much about all that other stuff (aka: mishegoss) swirling around in our orbits.

Singing and writing. Singing and writing.

Always my passions.  Always.

And then I wondered what Dr. Oberg did when he was in fourth grade that led him to love learning about neuroendocrine tumors?  I’m going to ask him the next time I see him.

Class ended with a chant.  Not our ordinary chant, but Livin’ on a Prayer by Bon Jovi.

Whooah, we’re half way there
Livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand and we’ll make it – I swear
Livin’ on a prayer

Yes, we are.  And I’m grateful for it.

by month:

by Category:

60 Days On the Mat – Day 2: No Biscuit Cutter Required

I just pulled a glass out of the cabinet and started cutting the dough.  The rounds were prefect.  No biscuit cutter required.

What on earth had I been waiting for?

Tonight, I laughed out loud as I put the biscuits in the oven.  Somehow I thought there were supposed to be more steps.  More preparation. Like days.  I’ve been thinking about making biscuits forever.  It’s probably on a list somewhere.

I watched my great-grandmother (Mamaw Wines) and my Mawmaw make biscuits.  Mamaw Wines had an old metal biscuit cutter, her methods were very specific.  Everything was from scratch.

My Mawmaw, she used a glass.  She may have had a biscuit cutter, but she used a glass anyway.  Mawmaw was sort of a fly by the seat of your pants type of person, and if the biscuit cutter was not right in front of her, she would just as soon use a glass.  I never saw her measure anything.  It was all impulse.

My mother is completely the opposite, I think because she grew up in a little too much chaos — my childhood was very orderly, except for under my bed.  She is very orderly.  Everything had and still has a place.  A perfect place.  My Mom never made biscuits that I can remember, probably too messy, but she did make spectacular chicken n’ dumplings.  They were so good, I would eat the leftovers for breakfast, or in the middle of the night.

As for me, I am driven by an impulsive desire to be perfect — surrounded by lists on how to get there.  Mawmaw’s house was full of paper plates with lists on them … that should have given me some sort of warning this list thing was genetic.

I left yoga tonight feeling not only grateful, but a lot lighter — grateful for all that is beginning to open in my life and lighter because I think sometimes we hang on too tight to our faults, our scars, our warts.  All those things that make us simply human are the things we try to suppress. I’m convinced this causes more heart disease than butter, but I’m not letting Crisco off the hook — unfortunately for pie lovers, no decent pie crust was ever made without it.

As class started, Ellen had us draw a word.  Mine was adventure.  As I eased into my practice, I thought it was the perfect word for my life right now.  Adventure.  I feel like I’m on a pretty great one — even with all the mishegoss I am dealing with.  We all have our own mishegoss.  Wading through mishegoss is what makes life worth it.  I love the word mishegoss.

After class I strolled into Whole Foods to pick up some things to make vegetable soup.  My husband has decided he wants to eat lighter after Thanksgiving and his request was soup.  Simple enough.  Soup I can do, and I can shop for it without even making a list.  My basket was overflowing with vegetables and as I was getting ready to leave my eye caught some Bob’s Red Mill Buttermilk Biscuit Mix.  I stopped and looked – walked away – came back and stood there staring at it.  My first thought was, “I don’t have a biscuit cutter.”  My second thought was, “This is not light.”  My third thought was, “Who cares?”

I bought the biscuit mix.  I mixed it up, I rolled it out and I grabbed a juice glass out of the pantry and started cutting.  The biscuits were perfectly round.

I had some leftover dough — and because I wanted to keep my husband’s soup pure and light — I poured my portion into another pan, tossed in some leftover Thanksgiving turkey, rolled up the leftover dough into loose balls and dropped it in.  I made turkey n’ dumplings with a side of biscuits. My husband ate soup and biscuits.  I ate turkey n’ dumplings.  It was completely impulsive, and we both loved it.

It was in that moment when I served dinner that I felt four generations of women were standing there, each unique, each completely spectacular in her own right — and no one made biscuits exactly alike.  And you know what?  That is OK.  I think it is important to remember where we came from, but it’s also important to blaze our own trail in the process.

by month:

by Category:

60 Days On the Mat – Day 1: Get UN-Organized

Yesterday, I saw the picture to the left on Facebook.  It resonated with me because there was so much truth in it.

If you want to know where your heart is look where your mind goes when it wanders.

Where does my mind go when it wanders?

To about five-ten acres no more than 45 minutes from a major airport, with my husband, my in-laws, our kids (hopefully), our animals and a less stressful life than the one we live now.  I want to raise our family, do lots of yoga, lots of writing, sing in the shower, grow a garden and get organized.

Remember that phrase, get organized.  You’ll be hearing a lot of it.

Honestly, I don’t want much.  (insert bad laugh track here)

Tonight I walked into yoga class late (probably because I was not organized enough).  Chaz (the yoga instructor) always has a theme for the class.  Today, because I was late, I had no idea what she was referencing, but the gist of it was that we have the power to tell the story we want to tell about our lives.  We can tell the negative story or the amazing story.  What story was I telling?

Hmmm.

Today, I was telling a story of feeling completely overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed with work.  Overwhelmed (yet, completely excited) with the prospect of moving to another state, possibly even my favorite state (TeXaS!).  Overwhelmed with trying to start a family.  Heck, I was overwhelmed with the medicine schedule of my geriatric cat, Boomer.

The Story Of Overwhelmed was sitting on my nightstand, while I was in downward facing dog.

I was dripping — and I mean dripping, with sweat.  As the flow continued my thoughts began to center on one particular phrase I say all the time.  “I’ve got to get organized.”  I say this to my husband.  I say it to my mother.  I say it to just about anyone who asks me what I am doing — but the person I say it to the most is myself.

As I moved through the class for ninety minutes, I was literally laughing inside at the realization of my newfound personal mantra that had been hanging out with me, oh, for about 37 years that I can remember.  Knowing me, I was probably trying to organize something in the womb.  My mother has actually pointed this out to me before, I didn’t pay attention.  Does anyone pay attention to their mother all the time?

With each chaturanga “I’VE GOT TO GET ORGANIZED” became this giant flashing neon sign in my brain.  Images of me attempting to get organized kept popping up from all stages of my life.

When I was six, I used to take a giant yellow legal pad and pencil out to the cow pasture with my Mawmaw.  On this tablet, I wrote down the number on the tag in the cow’s ear and next to that number I provided a name for the cow.  I was determined to give these cows a name.  Only trouble was, at the time she had about 1000 cows and try as I might, and as cute as it was to watch me try, the cows were not going to answer to the name, Mr. Beasley, Mrs. Beasley, Buffy, Bob or the other 996 names I would be required to come up with to reach my goal.

I have always bitten off more than I can chew, or should chew — I was never going to organize them by name or anything else.  I was six.  They were cows.

That is my earliest memory of list making, but it continues to this day.  My husband laughs at all the organizational lists piled up on my desk or floating in some basket throughout the house.  It’s literally a comedy skit to read them out loud.  I have lists for the past, lists for the future, lists for things I need to get done I still have not done.  My lists need lists.  The biggest drawback of list making is that you live under an illusion that the perfect life is waiting for you at the end of that list.  If I actually got to the end of a list or could even find the list, I might be able to let you know if there is any truth to that.  I actually think the real story is, the list keeps you from getting to the life waiting for you.

So why is this blog titled 60 Days on the Mat – Day 1: Get UN-Organized?

Besides all of the other stuff I “listed” at the beginning of this blog, the two main places my mind goes when it wanders that are within my ability to control today are the yoga mat and the blog.  I’ve actually been doing pretty good with the yoga, which is why I think there is a surge in writing lately.  As for the blog, I have been making a list about the type of blog I want to design and run with friends for more than a year.  The fact is,  I just need to start, to do – and lately the pull to do so has been pretty intense.

For the next 60 days the only two things on the list (the list I am not making) is doing yoga and writing about it.   No thinking, planning, listing or organizing – just DOING. I am officially UN-organizing myself.

Do yoga and write every day for sixty days.  The end.  No other action required.

This does not mean I am not going to do anything else.  I have a ton of work to do, and I will get it done.  I am just not going to make a list about it.  Or even think about making a list about it.  For me, list making is a diversion tactic from the doing.  I am just going to Be and Do.

One down — 59 to go.

by month:

by Category:

Move Over, Darlin’ — Brushes With Fame — Larry Hagman

I would never get a picture.  I am not sure why.  I just didn’t want to bother them.  I have had the pleasure (some were more pleasurable than others) of meeting just about every single person I watched on television as a kid.  In a previous life, I was a talent executive.

I rarely feel compelled to talk about, much less write about this period of my life, but last night as my husband and I were driving home from dinner “Larry Hagman has died” blurted out of the radio.  I was stunned, but not completely shocked.  I knew he had been battling cancer.

This morning, while  on my yoga mat, this memory kept playing out in my mind like it was yesterday.

Move over, Darlin’,” he said, as he slid into the golf cart.

I was sitting in a golf cart on the passenger side waiting for someone who knew how to drive the thing to take me to the set at the Ewing house when J.R. himself got in and asked me to drive.  I had driven a golf cart before, but it had been a long time.  To be frank, it was not my job and I was fairly certain I was not supposed to just drive off in it, but I did.

“Do you want me to take you to the set?” I asked.

“No, let’s drive up here.  You ever been to Texas?” Larry asked.

“I’m from Texas,” I said, “but this is my first visit to Southfork.”  After all, you didn’t tour Southfork if you grew up in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, which I did.  But, I was a huge fan of the show.  In the early eighties, when you told someone not from Texas that you were from Dallas, they would often ask you if you knew J.R.  I would always roll my eyes and say something like, “Yeah, just had him for dinner on Sunday.”  I never understood why people would ask that, but they always laughed when they did.

Larry’s face lit up when I said I was from Texas.  He commented on the fact that I had no real distinguishing accent and without a beat I was in full Texan.  I told him it came out when I wanted it to or when I was drinkin’.  He laughed and said, “I used to drink.”  That made me laugh.

We went on to have a pretty funny discussion about the state of bad southern accents on television.  We agreed that Texas does have it’s own accent, not to be confused with the deep south.  He thought it was funny that I practically made a federal case out of the issue while attending The Boston Conservatory.

We drove up this long path of trees on the way to the set.  It was definitely out of the way, and I was nervous I was going to get in trouble for making him late.  I told him if someone yelled at me for roaming off with the golf cart that he was going to have to cover for me.  He said, “No one is going to yell at you for hangin’ with me.”  I knew that was probably true, so I relaxed and just let the moment play on.  He continued talking, telling me about how all of these trees were just planted when the show started.  As we drove down the dirt road, they were incredibly tall, lining the path on both sides, providing a massive amount of shade.

He talked about the history of Southfork like it was his home.  All sorts of tidbits, I can hardly remember now.  The thing I remember the most was wanting to bottle his energy and his zest for life.  It was infectious.

We drove around another stretch of land and I told him I met “Daddy”.  “Jim Davis?” he asked.  Yes, I had.  When I was about eleven or twelve I went to the wholesale mart with my grandparents.  At the time, they owned a store called Merrill’s Western Wear.  Jim Davis was at the wholesale mart walking around in a ten-gallon hat.  I have no idea why, but I went right up to him and told him J.R. needed to be spanked.  He laughed and said he thought so too.  This made Larry really laugh.

As I pointed the golf cart towards the set, we were talking about Texas.  I told him how when I left Texas I could not run fast enough, but now I just wanted to stay and smell the air.  The grass.  Watch the sun set.  Listen to the thunder.  I missed it.  Even the heat.  He said, ‘I know what you mean, but Texas is a state of mind.” He laughed and shot me that famous shit-eating grin.

I jerked us to a stop in front of the set.  He laughed again, and said, “Did you ever drive one of these things?”

“Not lately.  I’m not even supposed to be driving it.  I’m the talent executive.”

“Well, it’s a good thing,” he said, “You’re not that good at it.”  My lack of golf-cart navigation was not lost on him.  I’m glad he saw the humor.  He had a great sense of humor.

Though I met Larry several times, and had many beautiful conversations with his wife, Maj (seen over my Dad’s shoulder in the picture above), this was our only extended personal interaction.  I would not trade it for a picture.  It’s a picture I will always have in my mind.  I am quite certain he forgot about it within minutes of it ending, but I will treasure it always.  He was a class act.

The picture above is my father and Larry at the TV Land Awards when Dallas was honored.  He got a picture.  I managed to get him hooked up right next to the Dallas table.  He met Larry, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy.  He had a great time, as you can tell from the giant grin on his face.

I loved working on Dallas: The Return to Southfork with Michael Levitt and Henry Winkler.  It was a lot of fun, and honestly some of the most down to earth people I have ever met.  I have lots more stories, like Ken Kercheval taking me to eat the most awesome grilled pimento cheese sandwich ever, but today is reserved for Larry.  May he rest in peace.

 

 

by month:

by Category:

Chicken n’ Dumplings with Gratitude

If I was stranded on a desert island and only allowed one meal for the rest of my life, it would be Chicken n’ Dumplings.

No, this is not a recipe post and it’s not what’s for dinner on Thanksgiving.  But a word of advice, if you are interested in soft fluffy dumplings, always go with Bisquick. If you like doughy and dense, you should contact my Aunt Bridget in McKinney, Texas. I like them all.

I am thankful chicken n’ dumplings is her favorite food.  I am not sure why, it’s small, but for me significant.

This week I received the go ahead for the anonymous egg donor. Her eyes are blue, her hair is brown. Her favorite food is chicken n’ dumplings. She loves Fried Green Tomatoes. It’s Kismet.  At least for today.  I have learned not to get too attached to anything in this process.  One day at a time.

I’ve learned things about egg donation that are baffling.  What lengths will people go to for the perfect egg?  Did you know you can actually pay extra money to get donor eggs with high SAT scores? Can you imagine? “Hey kid, I paid an extra $500 bucks for you to get into a good college.”

If I thought for one second that would be $500 well spent, I might spend it.  But at the end of the day we are 30% genetics and 70% environment.  My mother skipped two grades in school, is an amazing artist, a dentist, a neat freak and plays three musical instruments.  I got none of it.  I got my own things, my husband got his own things and our child will have their own things.  All beautiful.  All perfect.  We’re interfering with nature enough, I think, so we’ll take our chances with someone who likes chicken n’ dumplings.  The Girl Who Likes Chicken n’ Dumplings.

When it came time to move to this phase, we basically looked at some pictures. I showed them to my husband. We sent in a list.  A beautiful young woman agreed to help us. She is a nurse. My grandmother was a nurse. My aunt is a nurse. It’s Kismet.

We will never meet her, but we will know enough to give our child a story.

The next steps are deposits and attorneys. I don’t know exactly when, but I am hoping the next phase of this journey will start very soon. In the meantime, I am learning all I can about raising children who are conceived through egg donation.  How do you teach them their story?  This video inspired me and gave me a great deal of comfort. I love how this kid talks about her own creation. I hope our child will one day have a similar story to tell.  What a gift.

On Monday I wrote this blog. It was raw, personal and oh, so scary. On one level, it was a completely uncensored (though heavily edited), authentic me. On a practical level, it was absolutely not me all. I know that makes no sense, but there is really no other way to say it.

After I hit publish, I walked away. By the time I got home from yoga that night, I had received several personal emails and Facebook messages. Many from old friends and many from people I had never met. For a blog that has two entries per year and about six readers, this was a high traffic day.

The funniest notes were from two people concerned that I still might want eight children. Ummm. No. I stopped wanting eight children after I took my four younger cousins to see Beetlejuice alone in 1985. In fact, after that, I am quite certain I went through a phase that involved the phrase, “I will NEVER have children.”  

I always said I would never have just one because I was an only child.  Another thing I have learned in this process … never say never.  At this juncture, I will be grateful to have one.

On Tuesday there was an even greater response, though one email was concerned I was worshiping George Burns. If I could bottle the kind of faith so many of my friends have, I would wake up every morning and bathe in it. I envy unwavering faith. Mine wavers. A lot. I really wish it didn’t, I would probably be less neurotic. But for the record, I am not worshiping George Burns. I simply put a George Burns mask on God because I saw George play God more than I saw the inside of the church growing up.  I did, however, sneak a relic of Jesus out of Russia in 1992. I purchased it, but it was actually illegal at the time to take religious relics out of the country. Please do not tell Vladimir Putin.

I promise all of you and our rabbi, our child will not think God is George Burns. They will, however, probably watch the movie Oh, God but not Oh, God You Devil.

The last email I received was one from someone who thought I was anti-adoption. I am not at all anti-adoption. I have so many friends with beautiful children from adoption and there is no difference in their eyes, and there would be no difference in ours.  But for me, today, it is not just about raising a baby, it’s about the experience of carrying a child. I want that experience, and right now, I am not willing to let that dream go. I am trying to honor where I am at right now and move through each phase of this journey as it comes. Adoption may come tomorrow.

My favorite message was from a young woman I used to babysit. After my cousins, who I loved like little brothers and sisters — Paige was my first baby love.  She pulled at my heart strings and turned on the biological clock that has continued to tick and tock for going on 17 years. So it was fitting that she wrote this:

… And as for children, I think YOU out of anyone I know, would be a loving, nurturing and brilliant mother. I still remember you babysitting Ryan and I like it was yesterday. Oh the fun and adventures we experienced with you; we couldn’t have possibly been more lucky. Its unfortunate how life works sometimes; things can seem unfair; it’s unfair in my eyes how such a natural-born care-giver would be deprived of having her own children without issues. But that means God is testing you, he’s throwing obstacles at you to make you stronger, because he knows you can overcome them; His goal is for you to learn from them and ultimately you will be a much wiser and stronger woman.  Don’t worry, I have faith that you will have your own little babies sooner or later; positive vibes!!!! Good luck I LOVE you!!

She is 17.  Sometimes we could all use a good attitude adjustment from a 17-year old.  After reading her note, I was in tears, but oh, so grateful.  It made me remember how absolutely blessed my life has been so far and how many wonderful people are in it.

With an enormous amount of gratitude on this Thanksgiving Day.

 

by month:

by Category:

This and THAT.

I woke up last Friday ambivalent about the fact that I had signed up for a yoga retreat. All I could think was, “I am not in the mood for forced interaction with strangers, even strangers that do yoga. If we get in a circle and start sharing anything, I might die. Why did I say yes to sharing a room with strangers? How am I going to survive this?”

The questions were swirling.

As I loaded my luggage, I flashed back to when I was four and my mother left me at daycare for the first time. I was traumatized. My mother had dared to send me into a room of strange little children. Friday morning, as I was hugging my husband goodbye, I felt like I was heading to daycare, only this time I was 43-years old, I was driving and paying for it myself.

It had been eight years since my last yoga retreat. It was an entirely different person ago. Would Terry version 4.3 be able to handle this?

Anxiety Rising.

To act out even further, I stopped at Taco Bell for a burrito and a Dr. Pepper.  Just the way to kick-off my healthy, heart-opening weekend. Eating crap in an act of complete defiance.  Terry version 3.3 would have bought a pack of cigarettes, so I considered this progress.

There was no traffic. The music blaring from the radio was puncturing my armor.  Country music can do that like no other music can.  I started to relax.  I credit part of this to the Dr. Pepper, which I have always believed has medicinal properties hidden in those 23, probably completely unnatural flavors.

The music played on.  It was as if God was playing DJ on The Highway at Sirius XM, carefully building a playlist in an effort to reach my taco-bell-eating-dr-pepper-drinking-why-the-hell-am-i- doing-this-soul.

I’m a tough nut to crack in the God department. We’ve had a lifelong love-hate relationship, but somehow I always realize if He was not around I would have no one to discuss all of the things no one else in my life wants to listen to — most especially me. I know some people call God the Universe or even like to think of Him as Her, and I say, whatever works for you — but for me, there is something comforting about a grandfatherly-type fellow with white hair and a long beard, sitting on a heavenly throne.

Depending on the conversation, I fluctuate between that and someone who looks just like George Burns.

My sunroof was open. Rain or no rain, I always love the sunroof open when I can see the ocean.  The ocean was now in view.

Kenny Chesney was singing El Cerrito Place — it was blaring through the speakers.  I found myself singing louder with each verse, as rain poured though the sunroof.

Someone said they might have seen you, where the ocean meets the land

So I’ve been out here all night lookin’ for your footprints in the sand
Did you hear the ocean singing, baby did you sing along
While you danced out in the water, to some ol’ forgotten song

Were you even here at all?

I’ve been lookin’ for you, baby. I’ve been lookin’ for you baby. I’ve been lookin’ for you baby all night long … 

Tears were streaming down my cheeks by the end of the song. It’s an absolutely beautiful song, but it was more than that. As the final note of El Cerrito Place played out, I heard a song inside my own head.

“De-Da-De-Da-De-Do”

The tears multiply and become sobs. My grandmother was in the car. Perhaps she was only in my mind, but the song and the voice was so distinct it was as if she was there.

I suddenly remembered I was supposed to bring something for the altar at the yoga retreat. I had planned to bring something that reminded me of her. I forgot. Or perhaps I just did not want to remember.

I miss her every single day, often to the point of intense sobbing, usually in the shower.  No one in my young life was more awesome to me than my Mawmaw (except possibly Donny Osmond in third grade), and I always knew she thought I was equally as fantastic. Every kid should be made to feel that absolutely perfect.

I never realized until Mawmaw was physically gone how large the hole in my heart had grown in her absence from my life while she was still here on earth. I hope she knows how important she was to me, with the way it all ended for her, I will never be certain. I know that is part of what makes remembering so painful. But on Friday, in the car, my spunky Mawmaw was singing her favorite made up song and I silenced the radio long enough to sing along with her. Out loud, with the sunroof open, as the drizzle settled on my steering wheel.

I arrived at El Capitan Canyon at exactly 3:00.

After releasing so much in the car on the drive up, I was feeling slightly more open to the weekend. Actually, I was feeling a lot more open, but still scared to death. As long as I did not have to talk about THAT.  Let’s keep THAT in the box.  Locked.

I was scheduled to share the cabin with Tatyana (someone I did know) and two women I did not. I was the first one in our cabin and I had two glorious hours of alone time, reading and taking it all in. I could not have asked for a better transition.

Our first yoga class was at 5:00. We started with a writing exercise. All I could think was, “Thank God we are not sharing in a circle.”

I started writing down everyone I was grateful for in my life. My husband. My parents. My in-laws. Ellen. Chaz. Heidi. Selma. Dr. K. Tatyana. Mawmaw. Bob. Memom. GranGran.

The list filled three columns. I had so many people to be grateful for, so why was I still feeling so incredibly sorry for myself? I hate weakness.  I hate whining. I was feeling like a weak-willed whiner.  It’s no way to start a weekend like this.

In my first down dog the tears started to roll. I knew there was no way I was going to get through this weekend without facing THAT, but not tonight. Not now.

The tears subsided and turned into sweat. I was slightly pissed off at my inability to fool myself.

The pulse of THAT grew stronger.

After dinner, Tatyana and I finally met our other cabin mates, Marsha and Laura. They were great. Easy. We all sat around the cabin, drinking wine and talking. I was able to hold back sharing anything at first, but Marsha and Laura were talking about their children.

Yes, THAT.

Children.

No, I don’t have any. I can’t have any of my own. My eggs are too old. Ironically, I’ve never felt physically better or stronger, despite the fact that I drank a Dr. Pepper this afternoon. This is one reason I am quite certain God is a man, a woman never would have made us like this.

My hiding ended when someone asked me directly about THAT.

“Do you have children?”

I spoke softly on the bottom bunk bed. I have been trying naturally and via IVF.  No success. Our next step is donor eggs. I choked up and nothing came out. Just tears.

Will they ever stop?

When I talk about THAT, my soul feels as barren as my womb. I feel empty. I feel incomplete. I feel like a bad wife. A washed up celebrity from the 70’s. A woman who needs to be returned. Expired. My husband does not put this on me, I do. I feel uncertain of what the hell I am doing here if not to pass a part of myself on. What is the fucking point?  How did this happen? There has never been a problem I could not solve until now.  How did an only child who wanted Eight is Enough (I used to name all eight of them) get to be 43 years old and childless?

These are the never-ending questions running through my mind.

This is why God and I have a love hate relationship.

Sleep was welcome. Anything to escape all of THAT.

We woke up at 7:00am on Saturday for breakfast. Yoga was from 9:30-11:30. I hit the mat again. Feeling stronger. No tears. As long as I did not have to look anyone in the eye and speak, I could get through it.

When class ended, we were getting ready to head to lunch and someone asks if we can introduce ourselves. I think to myself, “Please, God, no. Just let me eat lunch. Let me wallow in my own crap. No sharing.”

God is George Burns.  He is laughing. I am sitting in a circle. Petrified.

As the circle opens up I hear very little, except every time someone mentions THAT. Children. The word is mocking me. When it’s my turn, I introduce myself. I talk about where I take yoga. I say it’s been a really horrible year, I am trying to be grateful and I start to cry. I pass the Kleenex box. I could get nothing else out.

I could feel it stuck between my shoulder blades, right behind my heart.  Burning.

My heart. My broken heart.

Tatyana hugs me and whispers, “You will be a Mom. I know it.” In that moment, I am grateful.

After lunch all I could do was sleep until it was time for breath work at 3:30. Breath work. Am I breathing? I keep asking myself.

Before we start the breath work there is more sharing. At this point, I am just going with the flow. A sweet young woman named Hayley comes and sits on my mat. Without realizing it, I am sharing again. It turns out her step-mother had infertility issues in her early 40’s — but she ended up getting all the way to 50 without a child. She had recently started a foundation to help women in this situation to adopt older children.

My eyes glaze over when I hear this. Will I be one of those women? I want to ask about the foundation, but I can’t. I am not there yet. I am not ready to give up, despite the hopelessness I feel inside.

I retreat unable to accept the possibility that I will not carry a child. I am processing the idea of donor eggs right now, but when I hear about this foundation, I think — what if I am childless at 50?

I lie down and start breathing.

In-in-out.

In-in-out.

This goes on for a long time. I am dizzy. I am crying. The pain behind my heart is burning. I have to stop and lift my neck, trying to release it.

The instructor asks us to think about our own personal symbol. Mine was a Tiger. Mawmaw always called me Tige, short for Tigeroo.

Today I was not thinking of Terry the tiger cub, but Terry the Mama Tiger.

As the breath is pulsing through my body, warming my hands, my toes, and yes, even my heart … For the first time since this journey began, the THAT starts to scatter.

I was not childless.  I was not barren.

These few moments of allowing myself to open to the possibility starts to fill the hole in my heart.

I kept flashing back to this video I saw on YouTube of a real Mama Tiger taking care of baby piglets as fiercely as if they were her own. If a Mama Tiger can take care of an entirely different species as if they were hers then I can fully open my heart to donor eggs.

Not as a last resort, not as the end of the line, not as the result of a failure — but as a gift from God via a selfless young woman.  A mitzvah.

Breathe deeply.

After breath work we had Yin Yoga with Ellen. Ellen was the reason I was on this retreat at all, really.  Ending the day with her class was good for me.  I felt open, vulnerable and safe.

The burning behind my heart was dissipating.  Was I finally letting go?

Sometimes people come into your life at just the right moment.  Ironically, she came into my life because of Chaz.  I love how the world works sometimes.  As craptastic as 2012 had been, I can’t imagine it had I not had Ellen guiding me through it on the mat.

The evening ended with a Thanksgiving dinner in the rain.  I was so incredibly grateful for the rain.  I felt cleansed.  Scrubbed clean, ready to finish the year unafraid to talk about THAT.

Sunday morning was the final yoga class of the weekend.  I held nothing back.  I was just so incredibly grateful.  It was a great feeling to have four days before Thanksgiving.

I drive home full of gratitude.  I was glad I dropped myself off at that daycare full of strangers.  I was ready to see my husband, feeling much lighter than when I left on Friday.

My sunroof was open while blaring The Highway.  I am singing Kid Rock, Tim McGraw, Sugarland, Kenny Chesney, George Strait and so many more at the top of my lungs for 115 miles. This is something I can only do alone in the car, my husband would rather poke out his own eyes than listen to Kenny Chesney or Sugarland. I would rather poke out my own eyes than listen to sports on the radio. We generally compromise on a good mix of 70s and 80s with some Sinatra and Willie thrown in for good measure. It works for us.

In that moment I was grateful to have my own time, with my own music.

Throughout the weekend, Chaz had asked us to take a video diary of our experience.  I tried, but it was too scary.

So I write.

A little of this, a lot of THAT.

As I was driving away from El Capitan Canyon, I looked to my left and there was Hayley.  Our eyes met and she made a curve over her own belly to symbolize pregnancy and mouthed, “good luck.”

I was really grateful and for the first time in a long time, I felt open to any and all possibilities.

The Mama Tiger was ready to receive her cubs, however George Burns wants to manifest them.

 

by month:

by Category:

Boomer Wakes Up

I have a cat.  Now I know a lot of people have cats, and I am sure your cat is entertaining, as most of them are.

But I just want to show you a few things.  A few pictures of how Boomer starts his morning.

Somehow I just don’t think it is how the average cat starts their morning.

Boomer, a red tabby Persian cat, lying in bed half asleep

You Did Not Just Turn That Light On

From this picture it appears that Boomer is a late riser … given he is still in our king-size sleigh bed under 600 thread count sheets and an electric blanket (set to level 3) at 10:00am PST.

But a late riser he is not.

This is his mid-morning nap.

He first wakes up at 5:50.  Not 6:00 not 6:50 not 7:00 but 5:50AM.  His official breakfast hour.

After breakfast he comes back to bed where he proceeds to sleep in until he feels like getting up.

We wake up groggy and tired.

I know you’re thinking … he’s a cat.  Kick him out.  But seriously now, look at that face.  He’s 15.  Could you really kick him out?

Honestly, sometimes I do but then my husband makes me feel like a bad mother.  He is attached to Boomer.  I think he married me to be closer to Boomer.

There are days I really wonder.

I need to have some kids, and quick …

Boomer, a red tabby Persian cat, lying in a human bed staring at camera

Do I Look Ready to Get Up?

Once the light is on, he proceeds to stay there and stare at me as if I am interrupting something.

Then he stares at me like this …

Boomer, a red tabby Persian cat, staring at camera incredulously

I’m Irritated With You

Eventually he gets up.

And after a long stretch and an attempt at asking for an early lunch, he settles for checking his email …

Boomer, a red tabby Persian cat, sitting on a Mac laptop staring at camera

I Have People to Write, What Do You Want?

Honestly, he barely lets me make the bed.

I have to stop using the auto focus on my camera.  But I am scared there could be disaster.

Do you have a strange cat?  I would love to know.

Cheers ~

Terrilox

by month:

by Category:

A Girl Needs Her Grandmothers

I was incredibly lucky to have both of my grandmother’s for so long.

I lost my Memom just shortly after my 40th birthday in August of 2009.  At 85, she still seemed larger than life to me.  Some people seem invincible, even when you are 40.

My Mawmaw is still alive in a nursing home in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas.  She is not the Mawmaw I carry around with me — she really does not know me.  I visit her, but it will never be the same.  The fun, completely nonsensical lady on the tractor has been replaced by someone confined to a wheel chair, much less cantankerous and more obedient, but somehow content to be where she is.

The last time I visited her, I was feeding her a Sonic burger and she looked at me and said, “I used to know you when you were a little girl.”  She said it with this glimmer in her eye and for a fleeting moment I felt like she was with me.

There is something a girl gets from her grandmothers that her mother can never give.  Your Mom is just too close to you, too worried about you growing up to be a responsible human being with a strong character and the ability to take care of yourself.  Your grandmothers can just be with you.  They can be your buddy and both of mine were at different periods in my life.

I have a lifetime of stories from both my grandmothers and even a few with my great-grandmother, if you can believe it.

Me and Mawmaw, Christmas 2000

When I was a child, I spent my summers in Lead Hill, Arkansas.  Lead Hill is a small town in the northwest corner of the state, about 30 minutes from Branson, Missouri.

I loved going to Lead Hill. It was like Disneyland for me, except it was a farm with cows, dogs, tics and a 1967 Volkswagen Bug.  Yes, I said a Volkswagen Bug, the same Volkswagen Bug I came home from the hospital in when I was born in Honolulu.  How or why it ended up as Mawmaw’s farm car, I am not quite sure.  It was the first car I learned how to drive … when I was 10.  (No, my mother did not give her permission for me to drive at 10, but Mawmaw never asked permission for anything, least of all from my mother.)  Mawmaw was in complete charge of my physical well-being when I was on the farm, looking back, I often wonder how I made it out alive.

During the summers on the farm Mawmaw and Bob (like my grandfather), would bale hay.  Lots of hay.  In an effort to keep an eye on me she would fill an Igloo cooler with some Mountain Dew, pack up some Vienna sausages and crackers, and stick me under a tree with my favorite dogs, Rusty and Lassie.  I am not sure this practice would get past child protective services now.  Especially the part about the Vienna sausages … but I gobbled them up like they were something I should be happy eating.

Being six years old and full of Mountain Dew I was incapable of sitting still for the entire day so I would take off running.  I would run in circles racing the tractors around the field and Rusty and Lassie would chase me.  My overall safety was in the hands of an old, pudgy dog with a bad back and a collie.  Somehow they kept up with me and by mid-afternoon I was on a blanket under the tree fast asleep.  Trying to “race” tractors was hard work, and Rusty was always grateful when it was time to stop.

One day it was almost dark when we left the field.  Mawmaw packed me up in her truck and Bob took off with Rusty and Lassie.  We stopped at the neighbors house.  I have no idea why, but Mawmaw told me to stay in the truck.  I was six.  I had just had a nap, and probably the last of the Mountain Dew.  Sitting still was not something I was going to do for very long.  And I didn’t.

I saw her on the porch talking to the neighbor, so I decided to join her.  When I got out of the car I saw the neighbors dogs, and having no fear of dogs, I wanted to play with them.  They came over and, after sniffing me up and down, the leader of the pack settled his teeth into my left arm and would not let go.  I was screaming for Mawmaw and she came running down the hill telling the dogs to “Get out of here! Get. Get. Get.” she kept repeating it.  In her effort to put my bleeding body back in the truck, safe from their clenches, she did not escape the pack.  One of the dogs took a big chunk out of her calf.  We were both bleeding all over the place, but somehow she managed to get herself in the truck and up the hill where Bob took us to the hospital.  I am sure the neighbor was helping in all of this, but I only remember my Mawmaw.  Everything else is a blur.

By the end of the night, I had 32 stitches and a now innate fear of unfamiliar dogs.

We remember things from when we were young as much larger and more dramatic than they probably were, but I know as sure as I am sitting here that Mawmaw would have given her life to save me that night.  When we were at the hospital, she held me tight and she cried.  “I love you, Tige.  You’re my strong little, Tige.”  She just kept repeating it and rocking me back and forth in her arms.

She called me Tige my entire life.  When she stopped calling me Tige is when I knew she was gone.

She could be infuriating, especially to my Mom and my Aunt Ann.  But to me she was like the hillbilly version of Auntie Mame.  It was non-stop adventure and complete chaos, but I loved every minute of it and I will always cherish all the memories I have of my time on that farm.

by month:

by Category:

Adventures in Baking: Cinnamon Rolls

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls from Pioneer Woman

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

I did it!  I made cinnamon rolls from scratch!

My husband is in love with me all over again.  It seems to happen every time I cook. There is something true about the way to a man’s heart is his stomach statement.  I did not believe it until I started cooking.  After you’re married for awhile, a cinnamon roll might be the most exciting new move you have, right?

Last week I made The Pioneer Woman’s Parker House Rolls from scratch.  We ate these delicious rolls at Thanksgiving.  As a result, I may never be allowed to purchase a bag of rolls again.

The only problem with baking bread from scratch is how much it makes.  I made 24 rolls for seven people on Thanksgiving Day and then I came home and made an additional 20 rolls and after almost 50 rolls, I still had half of the dough left.

These recipes must be for people who live on a farm with large families and several ranch hands working in the fields or something …

The other half of the dough sat in our second refrigerator for just over a week before I dared to approach it again.   After all, I don’t want to make anyone think fresh bread is something they can expect on a regular basis.

This morning, I decided to take the Pioneer Woman’s advice and make cinnamon rolls with the other portion of the dough.  I did not have any milk or any maple flavoring, so I had to improvise.  I basically followed her icing recipe, substituting the milk for half-n-half with a little water added and vanilla flavoring for the maple.  I skipped the coffee, but  in hindsight I think it would be really good with a vanilla-coffee icing.  Next time, I will keep the coffee in the icing.  I might even try the maple.  I did cut the icing recipe in half because I only made one pan of rolls and froze the other ones.  If you want a step-by-step baking experience, head on over to ThePioneerWoman.com.

I said this last week, and I’ll say it again … kneading dough relaxes me.  As I stand there, punching out and kneading the dough in my Spanish-style kitchen, I am transported back to a time and place when LA Brea Bakery (now available at Costco) and Oroweat were not producing bread for the masses. A time when getting up and whipping up bread was just something you did to feed your family.

I think about my great-grandmother, Mamaw Wines.  I wish I had a picture of her to insert here.  I imagine I do, somewhere in the picture box, but it alludes me right now.

Mamaw Wines had eight kids and gave birth six times.  I’ll do the math for you, she had TWO sets of fraternal twins (my Mawmaw was a twin).  There were no Crock Pots, convenience foods, or ready-made meals in your grocer’s freezer section — there was no easy way to get from point A to point B.  While we have a dizzying array of options (one of them being never to cook), they had only a few, and Pillsbury was not one of them.  They simply got up, started working and kept going until their day was done. They were not finished until everyone had eaten and their chores were complete.  So, as I stop and blog this novelty moment in my life about getting up on a lazy Sunday morning and “playing” a pioneer woman, she actually was a pioneer woman.

I am humbled and no longer as impressed with my pioneering skills, but my husband thinks they are the best cinnamon rolls he has ever had, and in 2010 I cannot ask for more than that.

Go ahead, try some new moves.  Make cinnamon rolls.

Thank you Pioneer Woman and Mamaw Wines for the inspiration.

by month:

by Category:

BoomerTime: Meet Boomer the Happy Elf

Boomer, a red tabby persian, wearing an elf hat

Are you serious?

This group of photos needs little explanation.  It is simply for your viewing pleasure this evening.

He was not amused … but he did get an extra turkey snack for the effort and forgave me.

It’s BoomerTime!

Boomer, a red tabby Perisan, trying to remove and elf hat

Get this freaking thing off my head!?!

Boomer, a red tabby Persian, annoyed wearing an elf hat.

There is no blog worth this. You’re nuts! Where is my union rep?

Boomer, a red tabby Perisan cat, wearing an elf hat.

I am not going to let you look at my face. This thing is coming off!

Boomer a red-tabby Perisan is wearing an elf hat.

Are you 5? I am not a doll. You better hold my head up because that’s the only way you’re going to see me. I look ridiculous.

by month:

by Category: