Fig, Bruce, Oso, Toruk, and Candace: animals that you can’t help but love

20622028_1750723021634578_689788499202032443_nSo yesterday we got to visit a lot of animals… and family! Haha but some people (and maybe some animals) may not want to be written about so… I’m still going to just write about animals.

We got to visit ‘Fig,’ the very large, voluptuous and heaving purring cat. It was very hard to stop petting Fig. He sat in his room waiting for his owner and he had the biggest yellow eyes and calico fur (that almost looked yellow in patches). Very hard to put down.

And then there was Bruce. Bruce is so big! When he wants you to pet him, he drags his claws gently but heavily across your knee, thigh, shin, arm, or anything. Then, if you rub the top of his tush, he really loves it and if you stop then he starts moving his tush back and forth, pushing his butt against your leg until you keep your hand moving.

And then there was Oso.  OH SO beautiful a dog! With a permanent look of shock on his face. Oso is oh so smart. He likes to dance and play. When our friend started to dance near him, he – being a Border Collie – started to jump up and bow down on his front legs and then jump as high as he could to herd his owner into place.

And then Toruk. The most gentle, beautiful princess of a queen that ever was. So quiet and meek. She notices everything and she goes wherever she is told to go. Faster than a puma, sleek as a jaguar, and her lithe, tan little body is dipped in chocolate brown sauce on her nose and eyelids.

And Candace. Big, muscular, calico cow-colored Candace. She has a pointy snout and big eyes and is very strong. She likes to walk by you and tempt you to pick her up. It doesn’t take much to make you pick her up. Candy Candace.


What are you in love with?


We’re all in love with something or someone. But if I had to pick something because someones sometimes come and go… I would say writing/dancing in my kitchen.

What are you in love with?

I know someone in love with talking on the phone. Another person in love with working out in the gym. Someone else in love with dirty memes. And then there’s the person in love with…

  • Being constantly on the move
  • Taking a dip in the pool
  • Walking and talking
  • Quiet moments with close friends
  • Being boldly honest and raw and direct
  • Being alone
  • Slowing down time to its minutest parts
  • Talking to strangers
  • Drama and gossip
  • Being on the cutting edge
  • Reading
  • Music
  • Handwriting
  • helping kids stay kids at heart even when they’re adults
  • and so on….
  • and what about you?


I’m writing this because…

  1. I love my family and don’t see them enough.
  2. I have lived far away from my family for a long, long time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to share the tidbits of my everyday life with them.
  3. I’m sharing this with the world, too, because I think if we all shared a bit more about ourselves with the people we care about the most then we’d all be a bit (and maybe a lot) happier for it but all too often we hide away these little tiny details because we think they’re not important. So, believe me, I’m not going to subject you to this all the time (folks who aren’t in my immediate family) but just maybe you might think I’m weird and wacky enough and silly enough that, while you’re laughing at me, you might get a wild hair up your butt and try to do something wildly weirdly loving to your family, too.

To my immediate family (immediate in love and spirit but far away in physical distance)… here are a few things that happened to me today just so we can feel a bit closer despite the distance. I’d love to know the little things (and big things) that happened to you, too. Plus, I like lists.

  1. I just realized that I used to do this as a kid. Each night before I went to bed, I would lay down and recount all of the cool things that happened to me that day. Bad things, too, for sure but I tended to focus on the good stuff. Call me ‘mushy’ and ‘do goody’ but it’s true.
  2. I have been dancing and doing ballet plies and tendus a lot the past few days and my legs already feel stronger. They’re actually sore, in fact. I can only do a partial plie before it feels like knives are cutting into my thigh muscles. Yayyy for pain!!!
  3. My finances are going to be better in 2017. Not only is this a 2017 resolution but I’m also making a bet. I’m betting myself that I will get it under control by the end of this month. If I can do it, then I’m going to splurge and reward myself somehow. I don’t know how but I will. Maybe a banana split. Maybe a massage (that’s covered by my insurance). Something!!! If I don’t do it by the end of this month, then I don’t get a banana split. No, something worse. I have to run a marathon? No, I have to sit and watch all of the Star Wars movies back to back. Hahahaha oh now I am really going to lose some readers of this blog (not that I had that many to begin with).
  4. I’m committing to at least 5 minutes a day editing my one-woman show. So far so good. Well, yesterday I did at least. Today? Tonight? There’s still time.
  5. I took our cat Willow for a check-up. She actually has NOT gained weight for three years although she FEELS fatter than ever. She was very cute and cuddly in the car. She whined and whined and then finally lay on my lap and looked up at me and purred. The ladies in the vet’s office loved her to death, too. They all started giggling and laughing and smiling and cooing at her when she waltzed in in my arms.
  6. I found a piece of our roof that had fallen off onto the grass but then I got a good idea and phoned a friend who can take a look at it tomorrow. Whew!!! Thank God!!!!
  7. My friend is a godsend. She reminds me how important it is to slow down enough and quiet down my life/mind enough to be able to hear that inner voice that reminds me of what I want/need (and stop being a people pleaser/accommodator of everyone else’s wants/needs).
  8. I love making coffee the French way. Instant espresso crystals in a bowl of warm milk.
  9. I’ve learned how to harness the power of my own voice. When things get tough, when the world starts making too many demands, I literally slow down how I speak and punctuate each syllable that I speak in order to ground what I’m saying in reality. I refuse to be rushed. I make sure I believe every word that I’m saying so that I speak with conviction. This really works well with fast food restaurants when they think that I’m a guy ordering because my voice is low and they haven’t seen me yet, so I correct them after I’ve made my order. ‘THANK YOU AND ACTUALLY, JUST SO YOU KNOW, I AM NOT A GUY. MY VOICE JUST HAPPENS TO BE LOW BECAUSE I’M A FEMALE TEACHER AND HAVING A COMMANDING VOICE HAS HELPED ME MANAGE CLASSROOMS BETTER OVER THE YEARS.’ Ok, I don’t really say ALL of that but you get the gist.
  10. I am continuing to realize that I’d rather be alone and finding time to clear my head and figure out what’s up then keep running around with too much on my plate to keep up with. I’m finally more and more at peace with ‘LESS’ going on. I’ve always dreaded the ‘alone’ thing to an extent, but I’m finally finally finally really okay with less being more. I’m being more choosy with whom and how I spend my time, in other words. And yes, I know I’m repeating myself sometimes but like a mantra or self-affirmation that works, it helps me remember what I need to do to be sane.

Voices in my head

It’s time to listen to the nice voices in your head.

We all have them. And we all have, even if it’s just a smidgeon, some not so nice voices. And it doesn’t matter how perfect or imperfect your childhood might have been, it seems that the negative is always louder than the positive (which they say is due to the fact that, instinctually, our need for self-preservation makes our minds more alert to potential threats (negative) than positivity). So…. Lard it on, people! Lard on the positivity by listening intensely to the nice voices in your head to counteract the negative tendencies.

Here’s what I like to do to cultivate the presence of nice voices in the garden of my mind. I like to….

  • Give myself little rewards whenever I can. Even if I’ve just accomplished a little thing like make that annoying phonecall to set up an appointment that I didn’t want to have to deal with. I did it so now I get something for it. Today I got a spoonful of molasses for that little annoyance.
  • I’ll dance. I’ll put on a youtube video with some new ballet moves or tap dance moves or hip hop moves and I’ll pretend I’m a virtuoso ballerina/hip hop/modern dancer and regale the animals sitting on my bed if no one else.
  • I’ll dance in the kitchen. While I’m waiting for something to warm up in the microwave, I will do plies and stretch and I’ll kick my leg up behind and in front of me in various arabesque moves and it feels good.
  • I install more mirrors. Yup. Mirrors. I forget to even stop and look at myself sometimes because I am running so much from task to task. When I see my reflection even in my computer screen, I realize that, ‘Hey! Who is that pretty lady right there? It’s me! Goddammit, it’s me! And I better start appreciating myself because god knows when anyone else will.’
  • I avoid things. Yes, avoid. I should go to the car mechanic right now. I went over a bump last night in the street and I really should go and check it out to make sure it’s ok. But then, again, why not NOT do it? I mean, the mechanic is probably going to say, ‘Well, looks alright to me.’ Or, ‘Just drive it until something breaks down on it.’ Or, ‘It’s probably nothing. Stop worrying.’ Or he’d look under it, like I did, and notice the little scratch mark on the undercarriage and say, ‘Well, it’s probably fine. But I can charge you $150 to lift it up and tell you the same thing. What do you want to do?’ So, I don’t know. I’m tempted to just drive it until it does something that warrants me taking it in. But then again, for the sake of peace of mind, I might just go in and be told simply that ‘it’s nothing.’ So I think I’ll take it in, but I’m not going to rush to take it in. I’ll take it in on my own sweet ass time because this is the first day in a long string of days that I’ve had entirely/mostly to myself so I refuse to be rushed around today. Not one fucking jot goddammit!!!
  • In order to hear the happier, less stressed out voices in my mind, I need to simply counter them with calming, soothing nice tones in my head. ‘Lara, you will be fine. Lara, there is nothing to worry about. Lara, there will always be someone worrying about something out there. Just stop worrying. Your legs work, you can breathe, you’re not hungry and your kids are ok. Stop worrying. Lara, there are people in this world who wake up every day relaxed and carefree. You used to do that as a kid. You can do it again. And they’re not even rich people who do this. There are poor people out there who are happy every/mostly goddam day. You saw it in the video on ‘Happiness’ so it has to be true. The point of that documentary was…. As long as you have a loving support system of enough people, then you can be happy no matter what. And, yes, sometimes it’s a delicate balance of how you maintain that support system because sometimes some folks can take more out of you than you even have to give but that’s why you’ve got to take care of yourself first and stop feeling selfish about it. You’re doing the world a favor by being good and kind to yourself because then you can make the rational choices you need to make to keep your sanity intact for all. Take care of yourself, goddammit, Lara! (Ooops, the voices are getting mean again…)
  • And, above all else, have a good, well functioning, fucking sense of humor for chrissakes! That’s the key to it all. At least for me. I know it is. Laugh, for fuck’s sake. Nothing fucking nothing is worth getting that bent out of shape about. Fucking laugh about it! Enjoy!!!! Life is short!!! Who the fuck needs to dwell on negative ass shit!!!! Have some fucking fun!!!!!
  • And if that doesn’t cheer me up, I don’t know what will.

ironclad will

I really wish there was someone who could make me a cup of coffee.

When I wake up in the morning and the kids are asleep, I just want to write. And I want a cup of coffee while I write. But I don’t want to disturb the quietude of my mind by doing anything in the kitchen. I don’t want to hear the coffee beans being blasted, I don’t want to wait to hear the water boiling. I want to stay in the quiet zone of my mind and just have someone bring it to me.

I know even a walk in the morning would be good before I write. But I don’t even want to go out there and be bombarded by smells that conjure up memories that make me want to write about other things. I just want to write about where I am at right now.

But I want someone to make me coffee.

I don’t want to disturb the cat who is placed right next to me and in petting distance when I get bored of writing.

I don’t want to move around in the kitchen and make noise that then invites other voices in the house to start asking for things.

I just want to stay in this mood that I’m in and write about it. but having a nice cup of joe while I’m doing this would be so perfect. That’s why I should have a coffeemaker in my room! And a little fridge even. So that I could make my coffee and have a little cream ready to go right then and there. That would be my dream. I need to make it happen.

It’s the little things…

Last night I sat in a small bar waiting for a friend to show up. When I walked in this tiny bar, there was a table full of people who all knew each other. There was cowboy dude at the bar that I knew I probably wouldn’t want to talk to (nothing against cowboys but I just wasn’t in the mood) and a woman bartender who looked chipper but also not really my type. So I decided not to sit at the bar. I sat at a table closest to the exit so that I could feel safe knowing I could leave whenever I wanted. I wasn’t totally committed to being there. I went through the usual discomfort of feeling weird that I was alone at a bar and then eventually my focus changed to observing the blues musician who was…. Okay. Honestly, it sounded like he had just learned how to play the piano last week but his enthusiasm and genuine love of playing won out and I applauded him after every song. I noticed a woman who came in. long hair. Feather tied behind her ear. Glittery white eye shadow. Eventually she and the bartender started dancing and then this other dude who had moved from the large group began to sit at the bar and watch them dance, with a lusty look in his eye. When the women would dance close and sway their hips in sync, his eye would peer sideways at them, with a hint of a smile, as if to say… hmmm, show me more ladies, show me more!

Eventually my friend arrived and I listened to her stories. I remembered this thing I had read in this silly book on creativity (which had only ‘hits’ or ‘misses’ of credible wisdom on the subject but here was a hit). The book talked about ‘why not just let yourself listen to someone totally for a change.’ Barely say a word. Just listen to the rhythm and cadence of their manner of speaking. Let it wash over you. Let their worldview penetrate your own. Let their mind take the stage. Let yourself be taken where their mind wants to go. Absorb their way of being and let it affect you. So that’s what I did. I listened. Pretty much the whole time and I was taken on a journey to South America and it was great.

And when I drove home later, I felt like I had actually gone somewhere. My body and mind had left the peninsula for a good long while.

Sometimes I have energy for people. Sometimes I don’t. when I am around people (as a teacher but also whenever), I feel like I absorb so much (like a chameleon) that it takes me a long time of being alone to remember who I am again. it’s a weird dichotomy to live. I love people. I love watching them, being surprised by them, hearing about other people’s lives that don’t remotely resemble my own. Reading people is like reading books for me. I live a thousand lives when I meet a thousand people. Maybe I’m an ‘empath’ which seems to be all the rage right now but whatever it is, I love to be transported into another person’s life. The problem is… I can too easily forget to live my own. And that is why I retreat wildly whenever I can. And I have to remember to remind myself to retreat. It’s like the difference between the teachers I see at work who can work with their office doors open and those who can’t. I can’t. I absolutely cannot. I have no earthly clue how anyone can get anything done with people constantly shuffling back and forth with comments and smiles and waves. I would have to have an ironclad will of determined effort to resist looking at all of those people and imagining their stories. I am easily distracted you might say. Or, a positive way to look at it, I am abundantly curious.

dance your ass off

So yeah.

Alone. And dancing.

I know that I’m happy when I’m dancing. But sometimes I force myself to dance so I feel happy again.

Here’s what happens when I’m dancing. It’s hard to start sometimes because I can’t think of what song I really want to dance to. When I was a little girl in 5th grade, when everyone would leave the house for a few hours, I would put on the same record. This black/white record with Mozart and Beethoven’s faces on the front of it. and I would dance. Mainly to the same song by Mozart. And I would pretend that I was a ballerina with all the inspired moves that I didn’t know the names of but they looked ballerina-ish to me. I could do that for hours and never get bored just whirling around on the wood floor in the big ole log cabin and it’s drafty big living room and cold stone fireplace that could never heat up the house but looked snazzy. And the baby grand piano in the corner (yup – my parents were a mix of opposites – log cabins and baby grand pianos) where I learned how to play little peasant songs by Bartok taught by this mousy Wesleyan college student who was sweet and had short pixieish hair. The songs were very simple but beautiful and elegant and authentically far away sounding.

That is what dancing is to me. being alone. Moving the way the music inspires you to move. Losing yourself. In a trancelike state. Not caring how weird you look or how sentimental or saucy or raucous or awkward. I think dancing is good for the soul because you take that ‘fuck it’ attitude with you wherever you go after you dance. Fuck how I look. Fuck it if I want to stick my ass out and be sexy. Fuck it if I make an ass out of myself and say something stupid. Fuck it if I want to be refined and sophisticated for a moment, too. Just fuck it.

And I feel strong. I feel my legs rising behind my ass and I feel my butt muscles tighten and my hip joints are free and loose. I make a nice line with my leg extended out in front of me. I lift my leg up high like a ballerina would and realize I’m 47 but I still can move like a 20 year old if I want to. I realize that my body is beautiful and graceful and I haven’t lost ‘it.’ and I like who I am a little bit more. Sometimes a lot more. And I look in the mirror at my body moving and realize that it’s not vanity to enjoy how you look. You’re just appreciating a work of art that has evolved from thousands and thousands of years of evolution. The human body is an amazing instrument and we’re fucking lucky that we have them and we should appreciate them and feel them and move them exercise them and take care of them and use them to their potential and not sit on our asses all the time ignoring their needs. Because if you make your body happy, it will make you happy but it’s all too easy to forget when the fucking demands of work keep you fucking changed to a chair too much. So get up and dance and take whatever breaks you can. And turn on music because there is nothing wrong with forgetting about all the shit there will always be to do. Dancing is good for the soul. To be honest, a lot of times dancers get this reputation – right? – of being airheads. It’s true. Oh you’re a dancer? You use your body? Oh, you’re not as intelligent as me. me! i! who use words and language and wit and verbal prowess. Well I’m sorry. I think dancers are some of the most intelligent people around. They’re intelligent because they use their body and their mind. Not just their mind. They’re intelligent because they listen to the instinctual urges of their body and they’ve found a way to temper them to do their mind’s bidding while the rest of us run around at the mercy of whatever our bodies tell us to do. Eat a gallon of ice cream? Ok. Live on coffee and forget to drink water? Ok. Dumb. Dum dums. That’s what I think of anyone who thinks that a dancer or dancing is dumb. Dancing is the mind in sync with the unconscious in a living, breathing art form. It’s like acting but even better. Because it’s often devoid of words and so it tells stories through pictures. Pictures created by the body. Often abstract but very real nonetheless. And it’s moving. It can be very moving. It’s literally moving but it’s emotionally moving. Like a voice in song. Like music that carries emotions to your heart without words…a body in motion carries emotions, too. Emotions that go beyond words. Pictures that evoke feelings that haven’t been named yet but the dancer calls them into being with their body. That is what dancing means to me. do you think trump can dance? Probably not. But he should learn how and if he did, the world would be in a better state than it’s in at the moment.