Do you know what I discovered today? I am back home, which may come as a surprise to my readers because you thought I was home all along during my much-announced spring break. Well . . . you see, what had happened was . . .
I started off the week with great intentions: to commune with nature while I pulled together my garden for the season. What could be better? But if you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time, you will know that in my new retirement abode, I am at war with the moles, the voles, and the deer. Everyone told me when I moved here that I would lose that war with these creatures (my home backs up to a nature preserve), but I refused to believe them. And then the pollen swirled and landed—like an apocalyptic yellow blanket causing me to sneeze my head off every time I poked my Allegra-saturated noggin out of the house to spray some animal-go-away spray at a pesky creature. Everything was covered in yellow dust, making me want to personally ring Mother Nature’s neck. So several days after I announced in my blog that I was going to spend my entire spring break working outside in my yard, I threw away the garden shovel, the Mole-b-gone, the allergy meds, and the Deer FU spray and surrendered my land to its original inhabitants and their allergy dust. (Have you ever noticed that squirrels, birds, moles, voles, and deer don’t sneeze even when they are knee deep in pollen as they devour your newly planted mole and deer resistant shrubs which have cost you hundreds of dollars? What’s up with that?)
Cartoon Used by Permission: Dave Granlund, Politicalcartoons.com
I came indoors and tried to work on my third book, but I soon lost interest because I couldn’t see through the film of allergy tears streaming down my cheeks, puffy frog-eyes, and allergy snot dripping from my nose like a broken faucet. (Apparently, pollen can still get into a hermetically sealed house—who knew?) Blowing my nose every third word became a chore, so I figured that maybe I needed a rest from both my garden and my writing and turned to that great intellectual stimulation: Facebook.
Let me make one thing clear: I hate Facebook. So you know that I have to be pretty desperate if I start trolling that colossal waste of time. Since FB changed its format by adding “like” options, I have to confess that I don’t have a clue how to use them or even if I want to use them, but I thought I’d give them that good ol’ college try and figure the system out. After fiddling around with a few of Facebook’s “like” options on some of my friends’ pages, I got bored as hell and wanted to kill myself. (How do people spend day in and day out cruising FB pages without going insane?) I swear I left 30% of my brain cells on the Altar of Zuckerman as I tried to “connect” with “friends” and saw an eternity’s worth of pictures of “the most delicious meal I’ve eaten—ever,” the greatest vacation, the most adorable babies crawling, walking, pooping, or gurgling like every other baby in the world who has done so since the beginning of time. AUUUGH!
Cartoon used by permission: Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch
And don’t even get me started on the news. When my news feed began to alternate between that demon Trump’s Neanderthal antics . . .
. . . or whether my vagina was going to be a matter of inspection by the toilet police the next time I walked into a North Carolina restroom, I almost lost it.
Cartoon used by permission: Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
This was supposed to be a time of rest for me but I was so restless—so fucking bored and agitated that I was beginning to get on even Jesus’ nerves! I mean I realized the problem was me. My equilibrium was off. The politics, the madness, and the chaos had sucked out my sense of well-being, and I didn’t know how to get it back until my sweet man (WW—“White and Wonderful”) came to the rescue. (WW always comes to the rescue when I’m like this—frazzled, overwrought, and not much good to myself or anybody else.)
WW: Hey Cutie, I know what you need—a change of scenery to foster a different mindset without any access to news or moles.
ME: I’m intrigued. Tell me more.
WW: What has seven islands, monkeys, lizards, diamonds, and lots of sea and sand? Is your passport up-to-date? Can you say rum punch three times fast without tripping up your tongue?
ME: Okay, I give up. What?
WW: A 12-day cruise to Aruba, Curacao, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Barbados, Antigua, and St. Maarten.
ME: SHUT UP!?! When do we leave?
WW: As soon as you can pack. BUT . . . you have to promise me one thing: you cannot watch any news for twelve days, and you must swear that you will retool your mind to live more in the moment.
ME: Really, Yoda, How do I do that?
WW: I have no idea, but we’re not getting any younger and life as we know it is slip-sliding away at a depressingly fast rate. How about focusing on being mindful in the moment instead of stressing out about what is going to happen tomorrow or worrying about things you can’t control? In fact, I bought you a few thousand books to consider as traveling/reading companions: Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World, Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment and Your Life, Mindfulness in Plain English, Little Book of Mindfulness: 10 minutes a day to less stress, more peace, Mindfulness: Mindfulness For Anxiety Relief—How To Use Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Meditation Exercises…, Mindfulness in Everyday Life: How to Stop Worries and Stress and Enjoy Peace and Happiness with Mindfulness and…, Wherever You Go, There You Are…
ME: Okay, okay, I get your point. I’ll go away with you and try and get my sanity back. IN THE MEANTIME I’M GOING ON A CRUISE!
CELEBRITY ECLIPSE, Photo Credit by E. Tomczyk
Along with my bathing suit, my Gucci shades, my sea-sickness bands, and the latest Adele album, I packed Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever You Go There You Are, and I began to forget all about Trump and Cruz, moles and voles, ISIS and chaos, and a Republican Party gone completely mad. I became one with my surroundings and the world became my oyster.
IGGY THE IGUANA: Photo Credit by E. Tomczyk
It didn’t take me long to get into my new state of mindfulness, and boy did my world open up when I started paying attention to what was in front of me and not what I feared would happen tomorrow or mourn over what had happened yesterday. I met a little dude called Iggy the Iguana in Curacao. He told me how much he loved a mosquito-rum cocktail and how much he hated owls and snakes. How the world would be a much better place without either of those predators, thank you very much. I tended to agree with him about the snakes.
Willemstads Harbour Curacao: Photo Credit by Mtmelendez at the English language, Wikipedia
Curacao took my breath away, and I considered moving there for a nano-second because they have no moles and voles. I swear it looked like what I had imagined heaven to be, but WW said he liked his mole/vole retirement space back in Virginia, and maybe I was taking this mindfulness thing a little too seriously.
WATER BOARD BUSINESSMAN: Photo Credit by E. Tomczyk
I became friends with a camera-shy, water-board businessman who tried to sell me two turtles for $20 (“han crafted by me own hans, darlin’, right out of volcanic rock”), which I later discovered were made in China, sold on all seven islands, and were probably worth seventy-five cents apiece. But in my new “zen state” I thought his scam was hysterical as I exclaimed to my husband: “I’m being cheated by one of the locals—isn’t life simply delightful” (said no one ever!).
GROS AND PETIT PITONS IN ST. LUCIA: Photo Credit by E. Tomczyk
I sailed past the Gros and Petit Pitons in a sailboat in total silence, and I was humbled by the realization of the power of what a volcanic eruption can do. According to Wikipedia, “at least 148 plant species have been recorded on Gros Piton, 97 on Petit Piton and the intervening ridge, among them eight rare tree species. The Gros Piton is home to some 27 bird species . . . three indigenous rodents, one opossum, three bats, eight reptiles and three amphibians.”
CATAMARAN #5: Photo Credit by E. Tomczyk
I lost count of the catamarans I went on—chillin’ with my rum punch while WW went snorkeling. IMP. NOTE: I don’t do water—anyone who knows me knows this is one diva who does not immerse herself in wet stuff. In fact, one of the captains of one of the myriad catamarans I sailed on “playfully” threatened to throw me overboard to join my husband, whether I wanted to snorkel or not. Without missing a beat, I emerged from my “mindfulness” mindset and announced to all who had ears to hear (including the angels in heaven and the fishes in the sea): “Young man, if you toss me overboard, the next thing you will be doing is singing with Jesus because I will personally kill you.” He bowed in homage to me, gave me two more rum punches, and I returned to my zen-like state of “being in tune with where I was.”
ST. MAARTEN: Photo Credit by E. Tomczyk
The Diva took a tempting stroll down diamond row in St. Maartens and almost got hooked on a cute little bracelet that was simply “to die for,” but at the last moment remembered that she had enough bling to last a lifetime, and that greed was unbecoming to her new spiritual state of just “being.”
MARVIN GAY, THE VERVENT MONKEY AND WW: Photo by E. Tomczyk
Ran into Marvin Gay in St. Kitts. He told me that he was a Vervent monkey, and he and his peeps rule that island. He said his ancestors came to St. Kitts on the slave ships from Africa in the 1600s as pets to the French. Says his great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather helped lead a Vervent monkey revolt against their owners during the local wars in 1666 between the British and the French, and that his ancestors escaped their cages and roamed the island in gangs raiding crops and causing horrendous mischief. He said if I didn’t believe him, I should check out the diary of one Father Labat, a French Priest. I told him I would do as he instructed if he promised not to shit on my husband’s head (he looked like he was contemplating just such an action). When I got back to the ship, I checked out the following essay from the library which sported the following quote about Marvin Gay’s relatives:
“Their [Vervent] frolics are mischievous, their thefts dexterous. They are subtle enemies and false friends. When pursued, they fly to the mountain and laugh at their pursuers, as they are little ashamed of a defeat as a French admiral or general. In short, they are the torment of planters; they destroy whole cane pieces in a few hours and come in troops from the mountain, whose trees afford them shelter. No methods to get the better of them has yet been found out.”—Professor Frank Ervin or a member of his team at the Behavioral Science Foundation located at Estridge Estate on St. Kitts in response to a request from the St. Christopher Heritage Society
MARVIN, THE VERVENT MONKEY: Photo by E. Tomczyk
Marvin kept his word, and I maintained my mindfulness—amazed what one can learn when one is mindful. (Who knew that iguanas and monkeys could communicate in English?)
Photo Credit: E. Tomczyk, My Man and Me doin’ the “Mindful” thing
ELEANOR’S SELAH (“AHA MOMENT”) ABOUT MINDFULNESS
I am discovering that according to Jon Kabat-Zinn the lack of mindfulness “…scavenges to fill time, conspires with my mind to keep me unconscious and lulled in a fog of numbness to a certain extent. It has me unavailable to others, missing the play of the light on the table, the smells in the room, the energies of the moment. Stillness, insight, and wisdom arise only when we can settle into being complete in this moment, without having to seek or hold on to or reject anything.”
All joking aside, I am trying to turn over a new leaf. I think this mindfulness thing is what I need at this stage. If at almost 68, I can’t settle down and smell the island flowers then I don’t know when I’m going to do so because at this point of my journey, this life is as good as it gets for me. Of course, maybe mindfulness is just learning how to pay attention—period.
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES ABOUT MINDFULNESS
“Mindfulness is about love and loving life. When you cultivate this love, it gives you clarity and compassion for life, and your actions happen in accordance with that.”— Jon Kabat-Zinn
“Mindfulness helps us freeze the frame so that we can become aware of our sensations and experiences as they are, without the distorting coloration of socially conditioned responses or habitual reactions.”—Henepola Gunaratana
“When you have children, you realize how easy it is to not see them fully, and perhaps miss all those early years. If you are not careful, you can be too absorbed in work, and they will be only too happy to tell you about it later. Being a parent is one of greatest mindfulness practices of all.”—Jon Kabat-Zinn
“I’m pretty much done with mindfulness. I’m just going to start paying attention.”—Gina Barreca
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES: www.brainyquotes.com
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR? Check out www.eleanortomczyk.com
WANT TO READ THE AUTHOR’S LATEST BOOKS? Monsters’ Throwdown and Fleeing Oz are both on sale at Amazon (hardcopy and Kindle).
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.