Bliss

Vantage Points

It’s all so fragile, so precious, so delicate and enchanting. Everything, everyone around us has adventures and choices and experiences approaching. They each have occurrences, happenings, developments which will change their circumstances, alter the scenery of their paths and take them beyond our own horizons.

War, destruction, disease, shift, strain, loss, grief, hurt, conflict even now are approaching us. They’re coming, and with them they will bring metamorphosis. They’ll shake us, challenge us and test us.

My words aren’t intended to frighten or alarm, rather to remind and encourage. For now, we are still so near, so aligned, and we still have so much to offer one another, and to offer ourselves. This temporary reality is our opportunity to appreciate what is here and now, and to embrace all that surrounds us in this moment in time, in this corner of the universe. This is our chance to think and feel and connect and share. This is it. This is it. THIS. IS. IT. 

Go, do, try, dream, move, learn, build, create. There is no other time. There is no other moment. 

When those impending trials knock on our door, we will sturdy up our hearts and lean into whatever they are and whatever lessons they bring. When those tribulations arrive (and they will) our thoughts will not turn to unsent emails, work left undone, or messes yet to be cleaned. Our thoughts will linger on passionate kisses, old songs and colorful sunsets, roller coasters and home cooked meals, horseback rides and road trips, weddings, birthdays, and family pets. We’ll find solace in memories of climbing mountains, giggling babies, toes buried in the sand, dancing in dive bars, and running through tall grass. 

Life is a series of hardships punctuated by moments of pure, unadulterated bliss. And our fortitude during those inevitable hardships is determined by the quality of bliss we create. Our most enduring bliss is that which is made in love, and risk, and experience. So when hardship comes to greet us, we’ll find strength in our visions of joy, accomplishment and each humbling, awe-inspiring, breathtaking adventure.

Find your bliss, pursue it, nurture it and carry it with you wherever you go. Life is short; treasure every beautiful moment (hint: they’re all beautiful).

xoxo

hjn

“One of the lessons I’ve learned in life is that happiness lies in discovering your passions and exploring them fiercely. And passions aren’t necessarily big, grand notions. We can also find passion in a rose garden and the smell of a puppy and the writing of a first grader. Wherever they are, whatever they may be, seek out your passions and cultivate them.” – Loren Nancarrow

The Guest House

 

THE GUESTHOUSE

I’m the emotional type. On any given day (sometimes any given hour), I experience every feeling of the emotional rainbow. I might feel happy and hopeful in the morning, anxious in the afternoon, nostalgic and sentimental in the evening. There are times when I’m wrought with sorrow, other times I’m flagrantly joyous.

Some may dismiss my wide range of emotions as crazy, irrational, abnormal. I call it passion, character, soul. 

My dad always said the most ingenious writers, artists and creators are often the most tortured. He said creativity is the progeny of struggle and sorrow and of strife. And maybe that’s why I feel most creatively driven when I’m feeling most distraught, confused or rejected. When I’m happiest I don’t search for answers nor call on my faith; I float on the surface, not seeking anything deeper because happiness doesn’t demand an antidote. When I’m hurting, however, I’m inclined to seek remedies, compelled to look for truth within — therein lies my creativity, my compassion, my soulfulness.

Oftentimes we try to escape our emotions. We hide from our hurt, temper our sorrow, and medicate our anxiety. Although emotional torment can be overwhelming, even debilitating, the best thing we can do for ourselves is lean into it, feel it, embrace it. Pain exists as a teacher; pain is monumental in showing us the depths of our hearts and the expanses of our consciousness. Pain is the predecessor of creation and of awakening.

When my dad was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, he was connected with a brilliant and well-loved neurologist, Dr. Tom Chippendale. Dr. Chippendale deeply bonded with my family, encouraged and uplifted us. He sent my mom poetry for comfort; one poem was called The Guest House by Rumi.

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Rumi refers to our feelings as visitors, our lives as guest houses. However unpleasant a visitor may be, we must graciously welcome them in because each is “a guide from beyond.”

Within a few months of meeting Dr. Chippendale, he too was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and passed away three months after my dad. But like a pleasant, albeit brief, visitor in our guest house, Dr. Chippendale was a guide from beyond, and we are so grateful for his company.

Dr. Thomas Chippendale (1949 – 2014)

 

 

 

Beach Run

Beach Run
It’s 4:45am. My dog and I stand before our house of worship: Seaside Reef.
Most days running is a necessary evil for me, but not today. Today I am in tune with my body. Today I am a soul runner. Today my breath is rhythmic and instinctive. My cadence is easy like the bass line of an old country song. My strides are smooth like whipped butter. Every so often Django stops to dig in the sand, but I don’t scold or pull him. He’s enjoying this as much as I am; playing in it, basking in this salty, sunless ambiance. The waves break ethereally, nudging the shore as if to whisper “wake up”. The seagulls squawk morning tidings to one another. The train horn sounds as if only to celebrate this perfect dawn. I mimic the horn aloud to join in the celebration, because nobody is around, and even if they were, they’d make sense of it. I muster a couple halfhearted push-ups on a seaside bench with the silent understanding that the ocean doesn’t care how toned my arms are. The ocean doesn’t care whether my legs jiggle or if I weigh 2 pounds more than I did a last week. The ocean is unaffected by my earthly body — I am, however, perpetually affected by it.

Water Crystals

WATER CRYSTALS.png
Several years ago I read the New York Times Best Seller “The Hidden Messages in Water” by Masaru Emoto. Dr. Emoto claims that water can react to positive and negative thoughts and words (which was later proven to be based on bogus science). In his book, Emoto includes pictures from experiments which seemed to prove that frozen water crystals formed brilliant, complex and stunning snowflake-esque patterns when they were exposed to positive thoughts or words, contrastingly, when the water crystals appeared dull, disjointed and scattered when exposed to negative thoughts or words…allegedly.
Although I was borderline devastated to find the science behind the book debunked, I came to realize that it doesn’t really matter whether the experiments were scientifically sound; I believe in the book’s fundamental concept: every one of our thoughts, words and actions carries energy. The energy we create, whether it be positive or negative, affects our surroundings accordingly. That’s to say that our activities, circumstances and, most importantly, our relationships are reflections of the energy we create. And, as my dad said in his final blog post before he passed away, “I believe that life is energy and energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only change forms.”
Too often I get caught up in the daily hustle and I neglect my regularly scheduled dispersement of positive energy, and today I’d like to remedy that. So, I’m going to relay all the things I feel about each of you. And, I’m going to ask that, as you read, you not get hung up in doubt. I’m going to ask you to concentrate not on debunking the science, or questioning the truthfulness of the words, but rather to concentrate on submitting to your belief and faith that these thoughts are real and true and authentic. Trust in the beauty of the process, and in the healing qualities of brazenly positive energy. Here we go…

You are special. You are kind. You are playful and brilliant and courageous. You are sensitive and compassionate and graceful. You are brimming with enthusiasm and bliss. You are magnetic.

Your toes are charming, your knees are ideal, your thighs are powerful. Your hips are heavenly, your belly beautiful and your shoulders are superb. Your smile is beguiling and transcendental and mesmerizing. Your eyes enchantingly whisper the captivating stories of your soul. Your lips are lovely, your ears are precious and your hair is exquisite. You are irresistable.

Your mind is a symphony interesting ideas and creative thoughts. Your words are hypnotic and dreamlike. You’re a visionary and a creative genius. You are so fantastic and fascinating and fierce. You are exceptionally wonderful.

You are never alone. You are forever surrounded by unbridled joy and absolute admiration. You are beloved and cherished. You are wanted, appreciated and adored. The world is better because you exist.

YOU ARE IMPRESSIVE. YOU ARE IMPORTANT. YOU ARE LIGHT. YOU ARE LOVED.

xoxo

hjn

Feel the Fear

H O P
“Feel the fear and do it anyway!”
― Susan Jeffers
I’m afraid I’ve spent a lot of my life in fear. I’ve lived in fear of failure and sickness. I’ve feared pain and rejection and loss and embarrassment. I’ve lived in fear of change and loneliness, of judgment and criticism. I’ve even lived in fear of heights and the ocean, whales (WHY?) and stingrays and spiders. I’ve mostly spent time fearing things that either never happen or, when they do, aren’t as catastrophic as I’d imagined they’d be.
My fears have inhibited and entrapped me. They’ve undoubtedly kept me away from what would bring me joy but, what’s worse, my fears have stolen from me those experiences that would teach me, toughen me, shape me. And I won’t pretend that I’m only now understanding this, or that I’m suddenly having one of my grand realizations. I’ve long known how I’ve been thoroughly weakened by fear  — I’ve simply been too afraid to challenge those fears. I’ve been too afraid of the discomfort that comes with risk, and chance, and exploration. So, in an attempt to quell my fears, I’ve played it safe. I’ve planned and ritualized and ruminated. I’ve catastrophized and avoided, telling myself there’s a difference between being afraid and being pragmatic.
The prize we all seek, however, is born from challenging our fears. Each time we confront fear, take control of it, and survive whatever it is that we’re afraid of, then our fear no longer controls us. In releasing ourselves from the grip of fear, we’re able to grow, and become empowered by our bravery. That sense of empowerment is our prize.
I’ve always been the type to wait for the perfect opportunity, the sign from the heavens, the twist of fate that gives me the metaphorical green light which compels me to take action. I’ve told myself that in looking for these etherial signals, I become more in tune with my faith and with my surroundings. Maybe I do. But it doesn’t do much for me by way of courage, confidence or empowerment.
So, if you too have been looking for a sign:

HERE IT IS.

Here’s our chance to defy our fears. We’ll just do it. We won’t wait. We’ll send the email, make the call, sign up for the class, attend the seminar, climb the mountain, seek the treasure, learn the dance, take the chance, swim in the ocean, go out on the limb, take the shot, jump from the airplane, hike the trail, take the lead, ask the question, demand the answer, take the stage. We will challenge, train, try, run, RSVP, participate, sing, attend, invite, dare, risk, play, live, say “yes” and do whatever it is that we have always wanted to do, but fear prevented us from doing . After all, as Mark Twain wrote, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” And though in the past we may have been daunted and paralyzed by fear, we have not been ruined by it. Instead, we are now energized by what scares us, redirecting our fear into excitement and unabashed enthusiasm.
No matter the outcome, regardless of whether we find success or failure or elation or embarrassment, on the other side of fear we will always find empowerment — and therein lies the prize.
Ultimately, as FDR said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
xoxo
hjn

Ride for the Brand

 

RIDE FOR THE BRAND
Congregation, colony, brood, army, mob, crowd, clique, network, club, circle, team, party, group, troop, flock, gang, band, clan, herd, pack, tribe, kin, kinfolk, ohana, família.
All different names for the same thing; the collection of intertwined individuals with whom you surround yourself. Ie; familyWhatever you call it, however it’s formed, the collection of individuals with which we surround ourselves is the most influential and beautiful part of our lives.
Think about that. In a world so massive, with every possible reason to feel small and insignificant, it’s our families who offer us that significance and motivation which give our lives meaning. And family doesn’t necessarily have to be the traditional nuclear family we often imagine. Families come in all kinds of kinds. There’s no size requirement; some are big, some are small, some extended, some distant. Families don’t have race or gender or age or even species requirements. There aren’t rules or regulations on how or why families are created. Families can be the product of ancestry or location or law or necessity…or just plain happy coincidence. Whether it be platonic or romantic or a mixture of both, love is the single universal and defining attribute of a family. Families are bound by love, inspired by love, and made whole by love.
Five or six years ago I was introduced to the “Code of the West”, a list of ten principles to live by, derived from the (mostly unspoken) values of true American Cowboys:
1) Live each day with courage.
2) Take pride in your work.
3) Always finish what you start.
4) Do what has to be done.
5) Be tough, but fair.
6) When you make a promise, keep it.
7) Ride for the brand.
8) Talk less and say more.
9) Remember that some things
aren’t for sale.
10) Know where to draw the line.
While there’s merit in each, one of them speaks to me louder than the rest: RIDE FOR THE BRAND. As I understand it, a brand is the unifying symbol of a family. A brand indicates loyalty, signifying what we stand for and who we stand with. Our brand demands a responsibility to uphold and protect our family. It’s the acknowledgment that our actions are representations of our family, and their actions are representations of us. And, in riding for our brand, it’s our duty to show up, stand up, represent, contribute, campaign, and sacrifice for our family and our brand. That’s not to say we don’t treat others with respect, it’s just to say, that above all else, we honor and keep our brand and, in turn, our brand does the same for us.
I find that bond to be so special, so spiritual, and so infinite. I tear up at the very thought of it.
Families are imperfect and, in riding for the brand, we will all face our own battles and tough choices, but it’s those imperfections and trials which add strength and character to our bonds.  Most importantly, in families and in life, loyalty and love transcend all else.
xoxo
hjn

The Lighthouse

A Celebration of the Life of

When I was in fourth grade my class spent a month learning about lighthouses. I became totally fascinated by lighthouses — enthralled by their role as beacons, warning of treacherous waters, and as coastal chaperones, guiding sailors into safe harbors.

My dad always took an interest in my interests, doing everything he could to cultivate and nurture my passions. He took me to nearly every lighthouse within 100 miles. Together we admiringly circled each statuesque lamp, gazing upward, imagining how it illuminated obsidian night skies.

My interest in lighthouses dwindled when my fourth grade class moved on to California Missions; my dad, however, didn’t immediately catch on.

One of my dad’s standard Christmas gifts every year was a calendar for each of us kids, which he’d buy at a kiosk in the the mall by the T.V. station (I know this because it was tradition for us to go holiday shopping together, and he’d always head straight for the calendar kiosk, telling me to look away, as if what he was doing was any secret. Still, I played along.). For Graham, he’d usually choose an Elvis Presley calendar, for Britta a horse calendar, and for me…a lighthouse calendar.

I received a lighthouse calendar that year when I’d been so fascinated by them…and also the next year…..and the next…………..and the next. This continued for 5 or 6 Christmases until I finally got the nerve to tell my dad that my interest in lighthouses was, for the most part, isolated to one month in 1998. We both belly-laughed.

The following year for Christmas I received a lighthouse calendar. As I unwrapped it disappointedly, I looked up to scold him for not remembering the conversation we’d had one year earlier…only to see him giggling like a merry prankster, so impressed with his lighthouse calendar joke. And, even though I was a teenager who was not amused by anything, I laughed too.

I received a lighthouse calendar nearly every year after that. And though my amusement eventually wore off, my dad’s chuckles never lost an iota of enthusiasm as he watched me open a lighthouse calendar on Christmas Day for 10+ years.

It was only recently, when I stumbled on a lighthouse calendar in the grocery store, that I started thinking about lighthouses again.  I thought about their resolute elegance, their significance, and their near-extinction with the invention of GPS. I missed them. I missed him. I gazed nostalgically in realization that my dad was my lighthouse.

My dad was my beacon, illuminating my course, guiding me and encouraging me to keep moving no matter how unnerving and murky the night was, no matter how treacherous my course. When my dad became ill, I was heartsick with the thought of navigating the seas alone, without my lighthouse. I knew I could live without him, but I didn’t want to. Unfortunately, that wasn’t my choice to make.

So, there I stood in the grocery store aisle, staring, contemplating, thinking that, like lighthouses, calendars had all but become extinct in the age of technology. Like most people, I never use an actual, physical calendar anymore, and I didn’t need this lighthouse calendar. Even though I knew I could live without it, I didn’t want to. This time, it was my choice.

 

xoxo

hjn

Special Things

SPECIAL
We are a culture of things. We are driven, propelled, and compelled by our desire for things. We want new things, fancy things, shiny things, valuable things, the latest and greatest things money can buy. We acquire, collect, stock, store, and even hoard things. But there comes a time of reckoning, an occasion when we must account for all of our things. Often this reckoning comes in the form of moving.
Moving is ranked among the top 5 most stressful life events. Alongside death, divorce, major injury or illness, and losing a job, moving is one of life’s most intrinsically distressing experiences. And that is exactly what I’ve been doing for the past couple of weeks.
The home I’m moving out of has been owned and occupied by members from both sides of my family for three long generations. Perpetually inhabited by musicians, my house sings the songs of a cacophony of memories, both sweet and bitter, enlightening and burdening, remembered and forgotten. The majority of its music, though, is melancholy. Or perhaps, at some point, the sad songs began playing more loudly than the happy songs, and the house became a symphony of sorrow. I abandoned it a few weeks ago, when suddenly the music became too painful to hear any longer. I snuck back in every few days to grab clothes, and drop off boxes and packing supplies, just to give myself the feeling of actually making progress. Yesterday, though, I had to “face the music”. My mom and I set off, stalling for an hour or more at Starbucks before finally pulling into the driveway, opening the garage, and taking a big deep breath. We started sifting through our memories as if we were combing the rubble after some sort of natural disaster…and, in essence, we were.
There were so many things.
There were yearbooks and letters and faded photographs. There were keys to unknown doors, duplicates and triplicates of junk we can’t stop buying, and Halloween decorations we’d been missing for years. There were books and trinkets and the remnants of relationships past. There were also landmines; those things that carried experiences we’d consciously forgotten had existed. The things that held those harrowing memories had haunted us, bound us, smothered and imprisoned us. However, in finding them, feeling them, and finally releasing those things and their painful memories, we began making room for future blessings we still have yet to experience.
Among the various piles for donations, throwaways, and keepers, my mom set aside a separate pile she aptly referred to as her “special things”. Her pile was dwarfed by the mountains of things we planned to finally release from our stronghold. Her little collection of treasures, however, amounted to more value and importance than any of the other piles combined. Her items included sea glass and seashells, love notes, old photos, and a cross I remember her wearing around her neck when I was young. That tiny collection of special things was a symbol of life’s most cherished prizes. Some things were valuable on their face, other things anybody else might have overlooked, but to her they were all emblems of her happiest moments.
We lugged and slammed and dragged and trashed but, at the end of the day, I watched as my mom delicately picked up her basket of special things and held it close to her heart as she whisked it away from the rubble. And just like her small, unassuming treasure trove, I began to understand that life’s most important things aren’t necessarily the big, expensive things; oftentimes the most meaningful things are the tiny vestiges of fleeting moments and memories we hold within, safe from the turmoil of the outside world. And while these little things are just things, they are also memoirs of our most extraordinary experiences, carrying boundless sentimental value.
Together, my mom and I drove away from our family home, special things safely in our laps. And in that moment, fresh from releasing our grip on all those other things, we truly had every-thing.
xoxo
hjn

The Good Stuff (part 2)

THE GOOD STUFF

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Life can be rough.

We walk through spiderwebs, have run-ins with HOAs, meter maids, and speed traps. All too often we wake up to find that we have horrific zits, and wrinkles, and stretch marks, and that the cat has blatantly pooped on the floor (or maybe that’s just at my house). We’re surrounded by wars and shootings and migraines and breakups. We have car registration and rent and taxes and bills to pay. We breakdown, stress out, and mess up. Stuff happens. But I’m tired of focusing on the sad stuff, the bad stuff, and the downright crappy stuff. I want to again pay tribute to the stuff that makes us smile, the stuff that makes us grateful, the stuff that makes us LAUGH. Here’s to the good stuff (part 2)

Here’s to unseasonably warm weather, friendly strangers and the perfect haircut. To dropping your phone without it shattering, and being eligible for an upgrade when it does.  To front-row parking, front-row seating, and standing room only. To Bluetooth, Wifi, GPS, and DVR.  To online quizzes, astrology and crossword puzzles. To paddle boarding and doing yoga, and also to not paddle boarding or doing yoga. To hiking, and biking, and swimming. To relaxing, and lounging, and chilling. Here’s to Netflix and pizza and sweatpants.

Here’s to seashells, and dolphins, and salty hair. To green flashes, cold beer, and raging bonfires. To surprise parties, wine tasting, and theme parks. To karaoke, and fondue, and melted cheese in general. To frozen yogurt, and burritos, and brightly colored juices. To early mornings, late evenings, and cat naps. To dreamcatchers, cotton sheets, plush robes and sleep masks. To instant coffee, cartoons, and french toast with powdered sugar. To kittens. Just kittens. Here’s to having plans, not having plans, and when someone cancels plans you didn’t want to have.

Here’s to finally finding your keys, the open highway, and cruise control. To downtown and uptown and hometowns. To walking, and running, and standing still, and Ubering. To business trips, family vacations, and being bumped to first class.  To German Shepherds, Bulldogs, and mutts of all kinds. To Catfish: The TV Show, Law and Order: SVU, and The Office. To full batteries, and perfect internet connections. To hot showers, hot tea, hotties, and hot tubs. Here’s to guilty pleasures, healthy habits, and public displays of affection. To perseverance, and ambition, and achieving your goals. Here’s to gratitude, meditation, and faith in something more.

Here’s to dating apps, hugs, cuddling, and human connection.  To friends who hang out so much they look alike, new friends, mutual friends, and friends with benefits. To quick responses on text, emojis and, autocorrect. To putting yourself out there, swiping right instead of left, and finding “the one”. To engagements, and honeymoons, and newlyweds. To baby showers, epidurals and nuzzling a newborn. To anniversaries and birthdays, and regular ol’ Wednesdays. To being single, or being taken, or just plain being yourself. To promotions and raises, and “moving on up”.

Here’s to praying, and grinding, and realizing your dreams.

Here’s to David Bowie, Scott Weiland, Glenn Frey, Maurice White, Paul Kantner, Lemmy Kilmister, and Alan Rickman.

Here’s to San Diego, California, and The United States of America.

Here’s to sunrises, sunsets and every breath between. Here’s to the good stuff.

About Love

I love you written in the sandy beach

I had a chance to chat with a client today; she’s a really beautiful and kind lady, a 2 1/2 year cancer widow. We got to talking about Valentine’s Day and she mentioned that this year for Valentine’s Day she received a lovely bouquet of roses from a wonderful man. She was so touched and flattered but, she said, she only wished they had been from her husband. She told me her husband passed away in August, and come their anniversary that following October, she received a bouquet of roses from him. My eyes welled with tears.

That’s the thing about love…it’s so timeless, so earnest, so transcendental. And though life is fleeting — love is eternal. Love is both bliss and grief, togetherness and separation, beauty and inelegance. Love is the realization of tolerance and acceptance. Love is more than a feeling, love is an awareness of a deeper self. Love is literally everything.

So, on this Valentine’s Day, instead doing the thing where we write the holiday off as a marketing ploy by greeting card companies, let’s just make an effort to honestly and truly enjoy love. Wrap ourselves in love. Bathe in love. Pray to love. Ask for love. Honor love. Cherish love. Give love. Be love.

Whether it be love of significant others, parents, siblings, children, friends, God, or love of ourselves,  let us promise to celebrate love so entirely that we all may have and be everything we’ll ever need

I love you all.

XOXO

Hannah