Before setting intentions for what lies ahead, we always like to take a minute to reflect.
Before setting intentions for what lies ahead, we always like to take a minute to reflect.
For anyone who has watched firestorms devour entire towns; who has watched farmland wither and die for want of water, who has wondered if our current lack of water is not just temporary, but indeed the Mother of All Droughts, Claire Vaye Watkins’ debut novel, Gold Fame Citrus is familiar territory.
In a hazy future, LA-born Luz lives in “Laurelless Canyon” with her boyfriend Ray. They are squatters in a once-famous starlet’s once-elegant house where Luz spends her days dressing up in discarded ball gowns. Ray makes lists, scavenges for gasoline, food, anything worth trading for something else.
“Your people came here looking for something better,” Ray tells Luz. “Gold, fame, citrus. Mirage. They were feckless, yeah? Schemers. That’s why no one wants them now. Mojavs.”
In Vaye Watkin’s future, California is a wasteland. The rivers are dry and the underground aquifers are dust. The sun blazes and when it does rain the air is so hot the water evaporates before it reaches the ground. The state is dry as death and anyone with any money at all has long since abandoned it.
Vaye Watkins’ prose is powerful, and her narrative true. The story is as real as it is terrifying, because in a place where water has become mythic, geography is all that’s left.
“They ate crackers and ration cola and told stories about the mountains, the valley, the canyon and the beach. The whole debris scene. Because they’d vowed to never talk about the gone water, they spoke instead of earth that moved like water.”
One night, Luz and Ray go down to the bonfires, a place where the climate refugees gather to drink, dance, forget. Down among the drifters and the druggies, the drinkers and the plain dangerous, Luz finds a strange toddler who whispers in her ear that her name is Ig, and she says “Don’t tell anyone. Don’t tell, okay?” The child appears to belong to a clutch of grifters, or to no one at all. Driven by instinct she doesn’t understand, Luz picks up the child and tells Ray they’re taking her home.
Luz and her family escape Los Angeles, heading east, seeking a place more hospitable, somewhere safer, somewhere with water. Their car breaks down in the midst of a borderless sand dune so vast it spreads and grows with all the desiccated bits of earth and stone and mountain that was once the Central Valley.
They join a band of misfits led by an enigmatic leader who is either a visionary or a madman, or both. The collective lives on the edges of the dune, surviving somehow as an outpost of civilization, moving their temporary desert city as the sand shifts and threatens to swallow them alive.
Gold Fame Citrus is a complex story of connection and belonging, of outcasts and survivors, of climate change to the extreme, and about the very small scrap of nature that humanity manages to cling to, in the most adverse conditions. Part science-fiction, part cautionary parable, it is a book worth reading if ecology means anything at all in the future of the West.
Cynthia Gregory is an award-winning author who lives and writes in the Bay Area with her rescue pup, Winston The Wonder Dog. Her new book, An Inspired Journal: the Art & Soul of Creative Nonfiction, on Green Tara Press, will be available in 2016.
I gave a talk about executive coaching this week to a group of nonprofit professionals and it was crazy cool! Nonprofit execs work too many hours with too few resources, and practically no strategic support. I want to change that. This means helping nonprofit leaders be more successful — and more fulfilled. Yum!
Important note: 1) transformative change is AMAZING, and, 2) success comes with a price. Stepping into your power can be a radical act, but it can also be a thrill-ride, so if you sign on with a coach, buckle up, baby! On the other hand, if you’re sort of meh about becoming a shinier, brighter version of you, do not, under any circumstances, engage a coach. You won’t like it, not one bit.
ONE SIZE FITS ALL
WARNING! Do Not hire a coach, if you are:
Now get out there and get on with your fabulous life!
One of the greatest gifts you get from yoga is that it gives you permission to relax, to really really let everything go as you sink into a yummy pool of bliss. What’s not to love! At the gym where I practice yoga we end our sessions with a sweet period of savasna. Most times, I grab a towel to drape over my eyes because I can’t truly relax under florescent lights. What could be better than relaxing after a healthy workout. . .unless it’s being bathed in the sweet fragrance of lavender blossoms?
Our friends at Oregon Plum Brand have developed an aromatherapy eye pillow filled with a blend of lavender and flax seeds and are offering it for a limited time to our WordPress friends. Be one of the first 25 people to order an Oregon Plum all-natural lavender eye pillow, and get a deep discount on your purchase! Bonus: these make a great gift — get a jump on your holiday shopping and give the gift of relaxation. Click here to order.
It was the most amazing, powerful, insightful, fabulous Yoga and Creative Journaling Workshop for Women, well, ever! We got your Crow, your Eagle, your Down Dog. Plus, we got your expository writing to not only knock off any proverbial socks, but to actually take you to that place you’ve always wanted to go but didn’t quite know the way. Yeah, it was like that. And just to prove it, here is a little creative journaling sample: I
n my tribe I am loved, appreciated, and seen. There is no apology no room for shame, for what-ifs, if-onlys, no be seen not heards. This is a party palace, baby! This is where I am the celebrated and the celebration. I am the fireworks and the parade! But wait — is this the same as hunkering down with syrupy sychophants? Oh, no my dear. My tribe both supports me and calls me on my philosophical slight of hand, my fancy emotional tap-dancy work. My tribe loves music and animals and sustainable living. It appreciates beauty, even the most imperfect beauty. This is a tribe of passion and compassion. This tribe has good taste and isn’t afraid to use it. Oh, Tribe of my dreams, I would climb into your mouth and sleep in the shadow of your teeth. I would brush your hair 100 strokes before tucking you in for the night. I would make you hot chocolate from scratch with baby marshmallows for breakfast and I would cut all the crusts off of every piece of toast in the world for you. My tribe speaks like a Windigo from Love Medicine. My tribe has eyes so deep you could drown in them. Namaste, peeps! — Cynthia G.
We so love this video. Are you ready for a change in your life? Chances are this will resonate. Undo that block. . .and watch out what you wish for! Cheers, love.
When I meditate, the big things fall into perspective. When I sit and let my body relax, I can feel my bones and muscles, my blood and tissue, letting go of all the big ideas, the big worries, the Big Bad (as Buffy would say). My breath deepens, my shoulders drop. I would like to say that I let my worries go but it is really the other way around. When I fall into the sweet relaxation that mediation opens in me, worries let me go and my consciousness expands and rises up into the sky like a soap bubble. From that high-deep place the “big things” that occupy so much of my waking life seem as small as marbles in the dust and I wonder how they ever seemed important at all.
It took a couple of whole-day meditation retreats to reach this place. I like to think that I have meditated for years, but now I realize, I dabbled. I would do it when the timing was right or the moon was aligned or if I had not hit the snooze button and rose naturally, and meditation was a yummy doorway between dreaming and awake. But I never did it for more than 20 minutes. Tops.
I began attending a weekly Satsang in Napa and got to practice 30 minutes sessions. They were challenging, but I got the hang of it. Then, I did a couple of full day retreats at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre. These took a little more concentration, a little more physical discipline. I struggled at first, but when I stopped efforting so much. . .and when I forgot to try, it happened. The world and everything in it (including me) simply expanded and I found my mind floating in a sparkling pool of iridescent blue. I call this feeling Suspended in the Blue and it is completely, utterly, and deeply delicious. I won’t pretend that I get there every time, but now that I know how, it has become an unfolding, and I appreciate the practice as much as the experience.
Big worries? Meh. I breathe in, I breathe out. Everything else is optional.
Two weeks into my extended vacation, I am meditating. Every. Day. No more excuses, no more hitting the snooze button, blithely squeezing available meditation time down to “maybe” and “not quite enough” before dashing off to the office.
Now, I’ve got time. Lots of it. And yet, meditation can still be an illusive tease, dancing just out of reach. I’ve tried all kinds of tricks to get my mind to stop racing, to slow down enough to actually follow my breathe in, out, in, out. Sometimes a guided meditation helps. Sometimes music helps. What mostly helps. . .is just doing it. You follow the breath in, follow the breath out, and before know it, like Alice, you’re down that rabbit hole. Namaste, baby!
So there I was, planning my big, fat fundraiser, and I knew what I had to do. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that all the planning, all the wheeling, dealing, and organizational faits accompli, take a toll on body and mind. And so, into every event strategy, I insert one very important task: the post-event treat. Sometimes its a spa treatment. Sometimes it’s a couple of days away. This time, it was both. I booked myself into a yoga retreat in the breathtakingly beautiful Sierra foothills. I meditated three times a day, walked, breathed, and did a little yoga. Now I’m all calm and ready to take on a whole new adventure. PS: the event was a huge success!
Happy Earth Day, my dears. We love our lovely little planet, and we love clean water, lush forests, wetlands, and wild habitats. What does our stewardship of the planet and each other say about us? It’s all about the love.