Monday, January 28, 2008

Getting Real With the Real

They call it Spa Brain. It’s hard to get outside your self after being so into yourself trying to improve the ruffles and rumps to turn yourself from a biscuit into a rock. Walk outside the bronze golden doors at dawn as the skies throw down cauldrons of much needed rain and not so needed winds and the world turns. Once my luggage (one bag) and carry on were settled, the driver ( a New Zealander) began asking questions to fire up some sort of chatter, and all I did was a Harrumph. I wanted to read Eat, Pray, Love since everyone insisted I do that since those three words reflect the active verbs of my life (add laugh.) So I hugged myself into the corner of the back seat as the driver promised to get me to the airport in LA in an hour and a half. That would be "fabulous", to use a California word, and a half hour sooner than planned. The heavily forecasted floods of rain and wind seemed to dissipate - and the blue sky worked it’s way through like a ball on a pinball machine.

Quickly my mind flashed back to DeeJay in our Tai Chi class. The things that push your buttons are You, not other people. Swallow it. Let it Go. See what is about you that allows you such irritation, anger, impatience, negativity. The other person - whom you blame for disturbing your suave mental state, jumping on your unreality - is not the cause of your harrumph. So I took a deep breath and realized Dee Jay had been for me a real Guru, (I didn’t have to go to an India Ashram) bringing me from darkness to light in a week of Tai Chi and Qi Gong and meditation walks so that I can keep my blood pressure at a good level and not judge other people who stir me up. It’s not an easy assignment. We like judging because we like control, to issue opinions and have it be accepted, to have it our way as we get back at the tigers growling at us. I must honor the place in you as well as the place in me so we can all be in this thing together. This question about life, this answer about life, this result of life they are hanging in front of me like oranges on its tree.

Each week at the door, there is a final celebration dinner. Many of the guests have already been released back in the world mess and TV news. But those of us still hanging in until Sunday morn put our white Japanese kimono robes (cotton) over our thinner clothes, while still comfortable in cross-training footwear, and toast good thoughts with real wine. Some guests order a case of California’s wealth from the great outside (I just wanted Godiva chocolate pearls) and pass a happy night with new friends from as far as Hawaii, Montreal and New Hampshire. Five awards (recognition certificates) are given out with tongue in cheek to guests who got the attention of the fitness crew. I was stunned that I had been chosen G.I. Jane of the week because I never tired in my exercise exuberance. (Little did they know why I fell in bed at 7 every night.) And best, my friend Ginny won Muscle Mama from her weight lifting work in the gym. It put a humorous cap on a heady week when we were able to push ourselves beyond the edge and not fall off. For me, it was being in an environment where a few dozen women and staff cared that I was about to embark on the cancer train. And I know there’ll be so many giving me a spot of prayer Tuesday morning and the scalpel invades.
Photo: Ginny and I with our Golden Door awards

What a surprise today that there was no traffic jam on the LA freeways, even though my novice driver lost his way. (You live by Freeway numbers like 5, 91,110,405, 105 - the biggies while I can’t remember the two or three that cross Memphis.) What a surprise that check-in and security were a breeze (Don’t we all fear major airports like Los Angeles?) What a surprise - I ran to the Starbucks to coddle like gold a coffee light frapaccino and couldn’t resist the moist looking key lime crumb coffee cake (They don’t have that in Memphis) . Well, just one won’t hurt after a week as a hungry skinny vegetarian on 1100 calories per day and pounding off about 1000 extra calories per day. Now if I can just get in control, center my spirit on my core, do a few facial exercises (one you imitate a frog, and another move Groucho Marx) and breathe the not so healthy air deep into my abdomen I can soar.

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