Archive for category: Women’s

Sperm Shopping!!

Categories: Adventure, Conscious Living, Family, Parenting, Personal Growth, Relationships, Women's - Tags: , , , , ,

Sperm Shopping!!

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner 21st Century~~This has to be the shopping trip of my life. Just Imagine!!

Solid Partners: Mamas-To-Be

Solid Partners: Mamas-To-

After wishing, hoping, trying to find her life partner first, my beloved gay daughter met and fell in love with Kate.  And now for Ariel’s 40th Birthday, they have decided to go for it.      Since she was little, Ariel has always loved and been naturally gifted with children.  She baby sat, volunteered as a pre-teen at her own former pre-school, Hill and Dale, worked for Head Start, then received her elementary teaching credential and her Masters in Human Development and taught for years in Echo Park as a bi-lingual teacher, then earned then a certificate in Non-Violent Parenting, and is now on staff at an Echo Park non-profit that teaches and supports compassionate child-raising, working with parents, teachers, and child care providers.Heeding the ticking of her bio clock, she has finally realized if she is to become a mommy herself, now is very much the time.  And so, after consults with fertility specialists, other gay women, lots of web surfing, and charting of temperatures, some jet assists from USC Fertility Center, this amazing shopping trip!

Ariel says if she is going to be a mom, she really needs her own mom’s support, and that starts with “sperm shopping”!  So, she in her living room in L.A. and me at my desk in Santa Cruz, we’re surfing the web together.  It is amazing and moving to dive into the Lesbian owned site where hundreds and hundreds of carefully screened young men of all ethnicities, physical traits, interests and backgrounds have offered to donate their sperm for women planning alternative families.

Mama's and Daughters: Ariel & Me--Gratitude!

Mama’s and Daughters: Ariel & Me–Gratitude!

There are boxes to check eye color, hair color, hair type, skin tone, height, weight, ethnicity, education, and, most importantly “WTBK” or “willing to be known”.    We all agree that WTBK is a basic requirement. That means not only are the donors willing to be interviewed extensively on video, but they also agree to be available to meet at least once, if, when their progeny reach eighteen, they want to meet their biodaddy.

Ariel and Kate have narrowed down their search to five candidates when she invites me into the quest. It is incredible.  Almost spine-tingling, actually, to “meet” the young men on camera who may provide the sperm for my first biological grandchild!  It’s right up there from my era with Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? Way outside the conventional Pasadena white-gloved box I grew up in.  I don’t have to cook, worry about what to wear or what to talk about when I meet each “suitor”—I just listen, reflect, respond, try to keep my mouth shut until asked—and try to pull from my best clinical skills—to discern character and genotype that will provide my daughter with a wonderful baby.  For a moment, I privately muse to myself, “If I only had been this mature and conscious myself!”   (There are, however, some notable differences between twenty-something and forty-something, not to mention the 1960s vs the 21st century!)

I love their choices.  We decide that someone from a somewhat similar gene pool will give their child one less hurdle to cross, and for Ariel and Kate, heart, humor, warmth, intelligence and athleticism emerge as very important.  But “their five” appear to have all of that! I’d LOVE to cook dinner for any and all of them, and get to know them, but I will have to settle for sidelines in cyberspace and gratitude to the conscious young men who donate their sperm so gay women can raise families, and definitely, to have been invited in on the shopping trip of my life.  Trust me, it’s lot easier to pick out a pair of shoes than a sperm donor.

A Beautiful Gift of Friendship

Categories: Adventure, Buddhist Practice, Conscious Living, Endorsements, Meditation, Women's, Writing - Tags: , , , , ,

“Pulling Up Stakes: Stepping Into Freedom”–an ink and watercolor drawing by Linda Johnson Roesch

Words cannot begin to describe the surprise, amazement, delight and gratitude that I felt when I opened a large mysterious package recently.  I was agog.  I have loved our adventures and I have loved writing about them, even to the extent that writing is part of my meditation practice.  Editing and publishing my first personal book was challenging, scary and exciting.  My readership is considerably smaller than  Cheryl Strayed’s who is living the writer’s dream, whose book “Wild”, about redemption hiking the Pacific Crest Trail be selected by Oprah for her book club. www.cherylstrayed.com/wild_108676.htm

My gratification as a writer is more private, though very deep.  And I have thoroughly relished invitations to speak with readers at book clubs.  Those readers really have great questions leading to wonderful discussions, and opportunities to relive experiences and explore life lessons learned.  More than enough conditions for happiness…..

However, this surprise package thrilled me to the core.  The beautiful watercolor and ink painting arrived unbidden, created by my high school classmate, artist Linda Johnson Roesch. San Marino High School Class of 195www.smnet.org/comm_group/smhs1958/WhatAreTheyDoing/

 

Linda lives in Vermont and we have only seen each other a couple of times since high school, but she got wind of my book, Pulling Up Stakes: Stepping Into Freedom, and bless her, was so inspired reading the book, that she took up brush and watercolors and created this mosaic, listing every single place mentioned in the story–and most of the characters including each of my children, and she signed it with an ink drawing of a llama with wings, an homage to the cover art.  Without saying a word, she packed it up, shipped it west, and gave me the deepest thrill a friendship over decades and across the continent could possibly bring to an author.

Cheryl Strayed, were you any happier when Oprah called you?  I am sure  you were in bliss, but this inspired act of generosity surely nourished my bliss as well.

Together, we Step Into Freedom practicing random acts of kindness.  Thank you SO much, Linda, Dear Friend!

My Beautiful Brave Paso Fino Horse

Categories: Adventure, Animals, Conscious Living, Horses, Pets, Self-Improvement, Women's - Tags: , , ,

This story, sent to me by my Paso Fino horse-loving friend  is so inspiring to those of us who cherish our horses, I had to  share it with you.

LAKE TAHOE – Melissa Margetts and Cabo, “my beautiful brave Paso Fino

horse,” made history upon completing the Tevis Cup, the world’s hardest

and most technically difficult 100-mile endurance ride, from Lake Tahoe

to Auburn, Calif.Horse and rider have 24 hours to complete the 55-year-old race, and only
50 percent of them make it.
Melissa Margetts and Cabo Complete Fabled Tevis Cup

Cabo, a buckskin-colored Paso Fino, is the first of his breed to have
ever completed the race, in which 98 percent of the equine participants
are Arabians – their strides maybe half again as long as the stride of
the quick-stepping Paso Finos, who are known for their  smoothness.

“His natural four-beat lateral gait’s short steps make his ride so sure
footed and smooth,” Margetts says of Cabo, “but it also means he is not
as efficient as an Arab” – and that her horse “probably did 150 miles to
their 100!”

Most horse-and-rider teams are pulled out of the race because of
fatigue, or because either they or their horses are not able to because
of the technical difficulty, lameness, dehydration, metabolic imbalances
caused by the altitude and temperatures of over 100 degrees in some of
the canyons.

The trail is treacherous, narrow and rocky in places, with granite
trails especially slippery, with sheer drop-offs into the abyss.

Hardship notwithstanding, riders from all over the world apply for the
Cup a year in advance, in the hopes that they will be lucky enough to
have a spot among the maximum 210 riders that every year take on the
challenge.

This year, riders came from Australia, Japan, France, Switzerland and
the United Arab Emirates, in addition to the American riders.
International riders who do not have passports for their own horses pay
roughly $5,000 to lease a conditioned, Tevis-worthy horse for the one-
day ride. Most of the riders are from the U.S., however, and have spent
years conditioning themselves and their mounts for this ride. All riders
and all horses are required to complete hundreds of miles of documented
endurance rides either nationally, with the American Endurance Ride
Conference, or internationally with the Fédération Equestre
Internationale, headquartered in Switzerland.

“To finish is to win” is the motto in the endurance world, and to that
end the Tevis Cup offers no monetary prizes – its only prize is a much-
coveted silver belt buckle with a picture of a pony express rider at a
gallop and the words “100 miles…One Day.” The buckle is only given to
horses and riders who have proved themselves to be “fit to continue” the
grueling race and cross the finish line.

Bottom line, Margetts emphasizes, is that “it’s all about the horse, as
it should be.”

As is the case in other major world-class sports events, participants’
blood is drawn regularly to ensure no performance-enhancing drugs are
being used (or drugs to mask the pain from injuries). More than 700
volunteers and 17 top veterinarians (with 30 veterinary assistants) man
17 Vet Checks and Stops along the route.

“They couldn’t care less if the rider is dead in the saddle and held in
place with duct tape and bungee cords,” Margetts says, by way of
describing the race’s central emphasis on peak condition horses. “Your
horse had better be in fine shape every inch of the way, and they are
there to make sure that happens. At every vet check, they look at each
horse’s capillary refill, heart rate, respiration, hydration levels,
muscle tone and attitude, and check for soundness. They listen to the
horses gut sounds with their stethoscopes to make sure everything is
moving and even check ‘where the sun don’t shine’ for anal tone if your
horse looks a little off. I’ve never had such a going over myself, but I
can guarantee you Cabo has!”

All that information is then marked and recorded on the vet card riders
carry with them to the next vet check.

“Cabo got all A’s and B’s every time,” Margetts relates proudly.

Margetts herself rode with with a heart rate monitor attached to her
horse’s girth to transmit his heart rate to her watch every three
seconds, to ensure he was being kept at an aerobic pace. “You are
trotting for the entire 100 miles and are hardly ever at a walk,” she
explains, so as to not “squeeze all of the toothpaste out of the tube”
at the start.

“Another way to give both you and your horse enough energy for the whole
ride – and a better chance of finishing – is to get off the horse
wherever you can cover ground on foot just as fast as he can with you on
his back.”

To that end, Margetts says, “I ran on foot down all the steep canyons,
leading him over the rocks and holding onto his tail and one rein to let
him pull me up the really steep terrain.

“There is a lot of training and conditioning,” she emphasizes, for both
horse and rider to prepare for the Tevis Cup. “This ride is like the
Olympics, and these horses are the elite athletes. The sport is
dominated by Arabian horses who, in addition to their long and efficient
stride, have thin skin “to help dissipate heat, large nostrils for
taking in oxygen and a large lung capacity.”

Living at 9,600 ft. on Wilson Mesa and “being able to train at altitude
ranging from 10,000 to 130,000 feet gave Cabo what he needed for most of
the ride where we were climbing up over the Sierra Nevada,” Margetts
says, praising the horse for being “sure-footed and fast” in mountainous
terrain.

“We were well-conditioned” from training for the race, she says, adding
that “our biggest challenge came when we hit the canyons midday when the
temperatures reached around 105 degrees and I was running down 3,000
feet and then ‘tailing up’ the next 3,000 feet. “You are so happy to
climb out of those canyons and get into a vet check,” and meet up with
the pit crew, before descending into the next “hotter-than-Hades
canyon,” she says.

While the horses and riders guzzle water with electrolytes, the vets are
swarming all over each horse, the crew is taking off the horse’s tack
and dousing him with buckets of cool water, and buckets-full of grain,
cut-up carrots, apples and alfalfa – and then putting on a dry saddle blanket.

“Then it’s tack back on, jump in the saddle, grab an energy bar on the
fly and you’re off again.” As night falls, and horse and rider come into
the next Vet Check, glow bars are duct-taped onto the horses’ breast
collars to help them see, as headlamps and flashlights are too
disorienting. Now the rider grabs a jacket for the trail and horse and
rider take off for yet another the part of the ride showcasing the
camaraderie and teamwork between horse and rider.

“It really does take a leap of faith to trust your horse, who can see
the trail better than you can at a full trot in the pitch black,” says
Margetts. “One misstep and both horse and rider could be cartwheeling
over a cliff.”

That did happen, she adds, although it was an accident with a relatively
happy ending, as the horse was “just a little cut up, but not seriously
hurt,” and the rider broke several bones, punctured a lung, bruised his
liver and after several hours in the dark perched precariously on a
ledge, was rescued and helicoptered out.

“You spend a lot of time with your heart in your throat,” says Margetts,
who is still ebullient from the experience, “but I am always amazed how
a horse sees so much better than we do at night. You just need to trust him.

“It’s an incredible experience to ride at night, and at that pace,” she
adds. And then, “just when you are really starting to enjoy the
experience, despite the exhaustion, it comes time to swim your horse
across the American River, following a path that volunteers have marked
with glow bars on ropes attached to the rocks underwater.

“It was so beautiful!” she says.

The river’s dam is shut off (for just that one day all year) so the
Tevis riders can swim across the river without getting swept downstream
by its swift-moving current.

And then the last lap begins. “Drenched up to your thighs, you start
climbing up the very last canyon, across No-Hands Bridge and into Auburn
to the finish line and your victory lap around the stadium in the
fairgrounds – and to a cheering crowd of camera-toting fans, “food and
rest and tears of joy when you receive that coveted silver belt buckle –
and that even more special prize of burying your face in your horse’s
mane, throwing your arms around his neck and crying, knowing that the
two of you just accomplished something very special and that you both
took care of each other.”

Margetts, who recently retired after three decades as a wildlife
rehabilitator and educator, founded the Telluride region’s much-loved
Rocky Mountain Ark Wildlife Center.

She says she’s enjoying her so-called retirement – and viewing the world
from between the ears of her horse. Emphasizing that she has never in
her life owned a cowboy buckle, and has “always kind of shied away from
real cowboy attire,” she says: “You can bet yer boots I’ll be sportin’
this thing around for a while!”

So if you see Melissa Margetts around town, once you’ve recovered from
the sun flashing off of that silver buckle, tell her congratulations.

And give her an apple for Cabo.

The Zen of Book Marketing: 10 Ways To Succeed Without Losing Your Mind !

Categories: Buddhist Practice, Conscious Living, Health and Fitness, Meditation, Mindfulness, New Age, Personal Growth, Self-Improvement, Women's, Writing - Tags: , , ,

Are you like me?  You’ve always loved writing.  You dove into writing your book with relish, like a kid diving off the dock at summer camp.  It’s been a joy, a practice, a discipline and a relatively private exercise.

But then, the book is finished, and you’ve entered into a whole different realm.  Let’s say you’ve already crossed the publishing Rubicom—whether you are self-published or picked up by a publishing house.  You may have a PR firm behind you as well. But we all know that these days, marketing your book, ultimately falls upon your shoulders.

Marketing and sales are as far from the reclusive sanctuary of the writer, your head may spin, leaving you feeling flummoxed, conflicted, crazed, and overwhelmed.  I have certainly felt that way.  But I have both my 35 years of psychoanalytic practice and my Buddhist practice to draw on and share with you.

Harriet Wrye Enjoying One of MANY Book Signings on a Book Tour

So here are ten ways I have found to undertake book marketing without losing my center.  They all relate to:

a)             CREATING A SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT TO CARRY OUT YOUR PLAN;

b)             SETTING REALISTIC FINANCIAL AND TIME PARAMETERS FOR YOUR GOALS; and

c)              PRACTICING MINDFULNESS THROUGHOUT.

 

1)  First, reflect deeply on your intention.  Did you write this book primarily for your own satisfaction, or did you write it with the intent of seeing it widely read?  Unless your answer is the latter, stop worrying about marketing. If you wrote it to be widely read, keep that intention in the forefront of your mind throughout the marketing journey.

2)  Second, consider your support system.  What resources do you have or can you turn to to help you establish a game plan for marketing your book? Do you have a publisher and or a PR team helping you with your game plan?  If you do, make sure the plan makes sense to you and that you are clear about being on board with it.

3)  If you do not have a professional support team, what are your own resources?  How much time and money are you comfortable with allotting to the project of book promotion?  Develop a timeline and a budget that you can live with.

4)  Whether you are on your own or have PR support, you will need a good web site; you will also need a strong social media presence.  That means in addition to your personal Facebook page, you need a page for your book and you need to attract people to like your page; you need a twitter account to draw more followers.  You will also benefit from joining discussions on Linked in groups related to your area of interest, and sharing images and updates on Pinterest.  Another great site to create a writer’s presence is Goodreads. And finally, to enhance your web page and your online presence, consider doing what you love best, WRITING—how about writing a blog!?

The entry into social media can be very daunting to those writers of us “of a certain age” and may be the most challenging to your equanimity.   More support to follow.

5)  Consider taking courses to support you in web design, book marketing and social media.  I took a very helpful course at my local community college on book marketing and also found a great weekend course on keeping up with social media for marketing, offered by a “social media guru” through my local chamber of commerce.  I also met other people in my community to create a mini support group.

6)  In addition, look for online courses that can help you with marketing.  Informally joining support groups with others who are on the same path in these contexts can help immensely in maintaining your sanity!  For example, I have found Beth Hayden (www.bloggingwithbeth) enormously supportive and helpful in creating a successful blog presence.

Beth's Blogging Byte
eters and established your support group(s), you are ready to go!  Now comes the mindfulness practice part of your journey.  Remember the intention you set at the outset?  You want to engage in marketing your book as a practice of living engaged fully in the present moment, setting aside attachments to future outcomes and worries about your performance in the past, living equanimously in the present.  This practice can be summed up with the simple but powerful mantra: “BE HERE NOW”

8)  Make sure you frame it for yourself in a way that is fully syntonic with your personal values and ethos.  Many people find themselves very conflicted about “selling” as if they felt they were icky snake oil salesmen at a traveling circus.  As a Buddhist practitioner devoted to “Right Livlihood” and “Speaking Only Truth” I had my own initial conflicts about selling my book, PULLING UP STAKES; STEPPING INTO FREEDOM (www.pullingupstakesbook.com).  But then I realized that the book itself is an act of mindfulness, it traces a journey of gaining wisdom and insight and learning how to “let go” and live more mindfully.  So, because it is about surmounting some of life’s greatest challenges with equanimity, it is an inspiring offering. If your book is a genuine offering that you believe will benefit, illuminate, inspire and or entertain readers, and not some kind of snake oil scam, then you need to keep reminding yourself that you are offing merit not compromising your core values or behaving like a sleaze!

9)  Approach your book tour with gusto.  “This is going to be an adventure!  I’m going to have an opportunity to talk with new people about something I really care about.  My book is my baby and I’m privileged to be able to find people interested in hearing about it!”

10)  Engage in your daily routine at your computer doing your due diligence on your social media sites as a mindfulness practice!  Rather than seeing it as an odious chore, consider it as an opportunity for practicing mindfulness.  Pay attention to your posture, sitting comfortably, breathing consciously, communicating openly with your book’s potential audience as a privilege not a task.  Remember you are offering something of value, something from your heart and soul, it is an offering.

If you, like me, are a writer, “of a certain age” consider that learning all these new tools is like studying Chinese—it keeps the old brain active and engaged!  Ponce de Leon, Here We Come! Practice smiling meditation sitting there at your desk.  I do.

 

Follow Harriet Wrye’s Blog, “Madly, Kindly, Truly” at her book website: www.pullingupstakesbook.com

Catch both her zany and her meditative videos on

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwMho7Ez8Iyon6qLtWz8zJw?feature=mhee

And “Like” her book’s Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pulling-Up-Stakes-Stepping-Into-Freedom/

 

How to Score A Real Paniolo’s Boots—What a Score!

Categories: Adventure, Horses, Travel, Women's - Tags: , , , , , ,

This part of the island is a cowgirl’s paradise, vast expanses of grassy ranch land, rolling hills, rows of trees for windbreaks, valleys, cattle and beautiful horses, in the shadow of Mauna Kea crater and overlooking the Kohalo coast. And two of my best Santa Cruz cowgirl riding buddies Berta and Elise, are here this week, so we’re gonna ride!! Jim is disappointed that Brian, Berta’s husband has been unable to join us due to pressures from…..what is that distant memory? Work?

So Jim’s gamely joining the cowgirls for a day on Kahalo Ranch riding Na’alapa horses.

                                                                                   Stopping for a Drink
We drive back up toward Waimea to the Kohalo Ranch where we are greeted by the spirited Liz, a native islander who is a rockin’ cowgirl with a huge prize won rodeo belt buckle and saddle to prove it. She sizes us up and is greatly relieved to discover that we are all seasoned riders. “Can you believe it, when I see tourists getting out of their cars up here wearing stilettos and huge floppy hats, my heart sinks!”
Nope, no stilettos here. But not my usual riding garb, either. With the weight and girth of our tandem bike box, we had to pack minimally—so I’ve got on bike tights and bike shorts (not bad, actually, ‘cause they have a padded seat and no wrinkles to rub against the saddle) and the sneakers I planned to leave on the island. But Liz actually has a whole closet full of cowboy boots, heavy duty wind and rain gear and helmets, so we pick our sizes and suit up.

She carefully chooses a mount just right for each of us and I end up with Max, who is the personal horse of Kohalo Ranch owner’s granddaughter.

Jim and I Riding at Naalapa, Waimea, HI

Right away, I realize I am quadruple lucky: the weather is perfect, balmy, sunny and calm; Jim is riding today(!) with my cowgirl buddie; great horse and guide; and these well worn boots I’ve got on fit like a glove, way more comfortable even than my cowboy boots at home.The ride is a joy—the weather is clearly totally perfect and totally unusual, judging from the abundance of foul weather gear in Liz’s tack closet. We trot, we walk, we lope and we stop to gaze at the incredible views and take pictures.
And the surprise at the end, when I tell Liz I’m bonding with these old paniolo boots and so sad to take them off, she says, “Walk right on out, sister—I never saw it happen. They’ve got your name on them—and there’s plenty more at the thrift store in Waimea.” So, sad as we are for this trip to end, I’ll be walking and riding in these comfy old paniolo boots back at home before the week is out.

Saint Damien, Saint Marianne and Molokai’s Mules!

Categories: Adventure, Travel, Women's - Tags: , , , , , , ,

Molokai island today is still very quiet and comparatively undisturbed by tourism, in some ways more like unspoiled Hana, Maui in dramatic contrast to the Kanapalii side of Maui which is wall to wall hi-rise resorts. Hana, though quiet and relatively out of the way due to its’ LONG winding access road, has orchid farms, little roadside stands, a retreat center, lots of artists–and very strong aloha energy.
Molokai is something else—probably based on its dark past as the repository for those hapless victims of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) dumped, often perilously on its rocky shores in the 19th century. Molokai’s Father Damien was just canonized by Pope Benedict two years ago (deservedly for his fearless devotion to Hawaii’s ostracized lepers) — his simple small churches along our ride route yesterday stand as poignant testament to a pure Christian faith—And just today, even as we speak, we learned that in October 2012, Mother Marianne, who courageously volunteered in 1883 to come here on the remote desolate peninsula of Kalaupapa on Molokai to help him minister to the banished lepers, will also be sainted.

 

Lei Draped Statue Honoring Father Damien

The Molokai saints’  gracious energy is not present in all the island’s current inhabitants, some of whom appear to have reversed the energy and want to ward off the outside world.

Today, starting out in pre-dawn darkness we ride our tandem only a dozen miles, but with a goodly 1500 foot climb up the mountain to the Molokai Mule Barn. The plan is one of us hikes one way down the 26 switchbacks 1,500 feet down the mountain to the isolated seaside site of the leper colony for a tour and the other rides the mule, then we trade going back up. Jim is opting for me to hike up and he’ll ride the mule–he says it will save my knees to ride the mule down instead of hiking. Hmm. Probably true, but suspicious!
But, you know, Sweetheart that he is, once we are there and look at the trail (and the mules) he insists that I should honor my dramatic 20 mile emergency evacuation mule ride out of the Yangtze River tributary gorge with a round trip mule ride, and he’ll “Shanks mare” the roundtrip on foot. (It’s Scottish, dating from the eighteenth century. There was a verb, to shank or to shank it, meaning to go on foot. This is from standard English shank for the part of the leg from the knee to the ankle, which comes from Old English sceanca, the leg bone. This verb developed into shank’s naig or shank’s naigie (where the second words are local forms of nag, a horse) and later into shank’s mare. It was a wry joke: I haven’t got a horse of my own for the journey, so I’ll use Shank’s mare to get there, meaning I’ll go on my own two feet.)


Once down the 26 hairpin turns traversing the tallest sea cliffs in the world (and YES, mules do prefer the very edge) we recognize what truly heart rending isolation the victims of the near plague of leprosy, brought to the Hawaiian people by outsiders in 1840, suffered in this wild place until Father Damien arrived in 1873 as their angel. With his help, they built cottages, roads, a wharf, St. Philomena Church, a clinic and an orphanage for the children. Until he himself died of the disease 16 years later, he ministered, educated, tended the sick, built coffins and actually buried over 6,000 victims.
Sadder and wiser, we return to the steep climb, reunite with our tandem and into a rainstorm, to ride back down to Kaunakakai town for a genuine luau, a memorable sunset gathering of local musicians of all ages and sizes.

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