Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Spring of My Life

I have realized that my postings have strayed away from an original intention. It was my intention to not only share aspects of my external journies, but to also share with you readers (whoever you may be :) more of my internal journey as well. For, this adventure I have put myself on is as much about my inner process, my inner growth, as it is about how I spend my time engaging in the external world. Maybe I have strayed away from my original intention because it is uncomfortable to feel vulnerable in sharing some of these things with people I know both really really well, and with people I don't know very well.

And maybe, more likely, it is because of this: I know myself well enough to know that when others hold me accountable to follow through on things, I will follow through. When it is just me holding myself accountable to follow through on doing certain things with my time, I have the hardest time following through!! So, part of my realization is that by not sharing some of my thoughts and feelings about what I need to be doing to grow and learn and change, I am in a way preventing myself from being accountable! Well, here we go...I am going to change that pattern! I will share some thoughts with you, and maybe, just maybe this time I will find that motivation to follow through with myself.

This is what I wrote in my journal on the first day of spring:

Happy Spring! The seeds we planted in the garden on the new moon are starting to sprout, the leaves are budding on the trees, wild flowers are growing all around, sprinkling this monotone landscape with little rainbows. I was woken up in the middle of the night last night by a ferociously loud thunderstorm. It sounded like it was right overhead. I wanted to be back to sleep. But, it was nice to listen to the storm and to be able to follow it's movement further away through the changes in the sounds.

A week and a half has already passed since arriving back in Texas. The trip to Mexico is feeling more and more real [we are leaving April 4th!!]. I am trying to surrender to what the universe provides, and to let go of expectations and attachment to having a certain kind of experience. To be open to what is right in the moment, and to all of the possibilities.

This may be contradictory to what I just wrote, but, I have been realizing that while I have been filling my time here in Texas with all good things, I am still carrying this element/habit from the past of "waiting", waiting for the external life to bring me what I want and need. While there is a certain element to life of having to be slightly dependent on what the universe provides, I believe we also need to put effort into creating opportunities for ourselves to be able to manifest what we want. Co-creating. I know that by leaving Portland, I took a big big step in actively creating new opportunities for myself. The action can't stop there, but so far it has stalled again.

My self-will, motivation from within is needing to still find inspiration to create what I am seeking through this new phase of my life. I think for the most part I have been waiting for my trip to Mexico to do that, and thus using the waiting as another excuse to be lazy and to not take control of my own life. I don't want to wait any longer, not even for the trip to Mexico. It is time to change NOW from within. To be my own source of inspiration. To not just have ideas of how to connect action to my passions, but to acutally start to live those passions. Why do I wait? No one else will do this for me. It is up to me to share with life what I have to give.

Today is the first day of spring. It seems appropriate to be having these thoughts today. I am like the seeds that layed dormant for the long winter. We were both waiting for the right time, apparently, for enough warmth and light and nourishment in order for our inner potential to be ready to burst forth. I am glad that I allowed myself that time: to just be, to let my energy be inward, nourishing my self. It is through the quiet phaes of my life that the clarity rises up to the surface. Luckily I was, and still am, provided with this space and time to be able to enable this. And now, spring has arrived, and with it is the drive and inspiration within me to open, to share the gifts, the passions, and the potential that have been gathering together in the seed of my being over the winter. This is very possibly the spring of my life! The time to reawaken my spirit, to no longer lie dormant waiting for opportunity. It is my time to open my buds, reach for the sun, spread my seeds by nourishing and inspiring others. I will trust that the way before me will become clearer and clearer as I begin to take the baby steps into a new way of living my own life. I will trust life. I will trust my self. I will trust the sun and the land and the rain and the rest of life surrounding me -- they are all gently urging me to move outward, springing me to life again!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Luckenbach, TX: Where the Cowboys and the Bikers Roam

Luckenbach, Texas seriously would not exist if it weren't for the music. And it was the music that brought me there. This is a one-horse town with only 3 buildings downtown...the original General Store (which was established in 1849 and which also houses the post-office and the town bar), the Dance Hall, and a restroom. Next to the restroom, there is an outdoor stage. Despite it's size, Luckenbach does have some fame to it's name, AND it has helped me to develop a deep appreciation and understanding of the value of Texas!

Nestled in the beautiful Texan Hill Country along the side of a little river, Luckenbach was originally developed as a trading post, one of the only trading posts that never broke it's peace treaty with the local native peoples. Eventually, the town became nearly abandoned. "An ad in the paper offering "town — pop. 3 — for sale" led Hondo Crouch, rancher and Texas folklorist, to buy Luckenbach for $30,000 in 1970....Hondo used the town's rights as a municipality to govern the dance hall as he saw fit." Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings started hanging out in those parts, playing shows, and soon wrote a song together about Luckenbach. Most recently, this town is known for being the site of Willie Nelson's annual 4th of July shindig, which drew in numerous musicians and music lovers, and for winning a Guinness Book record for the largest number of guitarists playing together at once. And these days, Luckenbach hosts live music and spontaneous jams nearly every day of the week.

Since I have been back in Texas, I have been to Luckenbach twice to see music. It is quite amazing to see the diversity of people who gather in this town. Elders, children, teenagers, parents, bikers, cowboys, people donning a stylish city flare, couples dancing the two-step, teens learning line dances from their grandmothers, and a rancher offering to take your picture with his long-horned steer for $7. Motorcylces and pickup trucks crowd the field. Leather jackts, cowboy hats, and dusty boots dot the crowd.

In the evenings, there is a surprising amount of security folk monitering the crowd's activity, for often when cowboys and bikers and alcohol mix, things have the potential of getting a little nasty! Luckily, I was not witness to such skirmishes! But, I was thrilled that I didn't need to wait to go to Mexico to have my cultural experience! Luckenbach and it's music scene is an experience of true Texas. I love love love how the music brings together so many different kinds of people in such an unpretentious atmosphere. Everyone can be comfortable being exactly who they are, no one is out of place, and most importantly everyone enjoys the talent shared through the music. It is hard to believe that I am actually starting to really like Texas! All of my assumptions and preconceived notions are being quickly dismantled by the good people and the beautiful land of the Texan Hill Country.

Please enjoy some of the music I have seen since being in Texas:

Stephanie Urbina Jones:

Jamie Wilson:

Terri Hendrix:

The Band of Heathens:

The Tejas Brothers:

“Oh, Atlanta, I hear you calling. I’m coming back to you, one fine day…”

The last leg of my east coast excursion took me to Atlanta, where my brother Ryan and his wife Sarah live. Driving into Atlanta was so stimulating and exciting! It is a beautiful city with a multitude of things to look at and do. It sure felt good to be in a city again after being in quiet towns for so long! Despite it’s population of 5 million, the insane amount of traffic and sprawl, and it’s lack of curbside recycling, Atlanta reminded me in many other ways of Portland. Great restaurants, quality coffee and espresso, pretty city parks, and a funky young population.

Atlanta and it’s people showed me a wonderful time: Ryan’s fabulous meal from Restaurant Eugene, a day with Sarah’s family, and after my parents departed for their home in PA, more unending fun-times…

....eating so much good food including a Bangladeshi meal, exploring the Little Five Point area, drinking good beers and creative cocktails (most notably from The Brick Store (, Leon’s Full Service (, and Holeman & Finch (,

sharing an evening of food, wine, and laughter with some old Portland friends Jenn and Winston and their kids,

and of course spending great quality time with Ryan and Sarah. I absolutely had a blast with my family and friends, in this big beautiful city. I was sad to have this spontaneous and sweet family-time side-trip come to an end. (And I wish this trip could have included a visit with Mike, Chris, and Teagan!!) But, honestly, I was ready to go back to the country life of Texas and to Lucas! Yes, I am feeling more and more grateful that I finally listened to my need to no longer live in the city. For me, cities are fun to visit, but, also for me, they provide enough fun distractions that I easily stray from spending my time and money in ways that are most beneficial to me, in the ways that I really want to be spending them. The simple, quiet, healthy life is for me.

Lucas and I had a sweet reunion and have been having lots of fun adventures back in Kerrville. We took his new inflatable kayak out on the turtle-populated Guadalupe River,

planted the first spring seeds in the garden on the New Moon, started to plan our trip south a little bit more, and went to see some great music (a post dedicated to music is up and coming…). And the weather has been amazing! Sunny days in the 70’s and 80’s intermingled with thunder and lightning storms. (There is a saying in this part of Texas: If you don’t like the weather, wait an hour.) One night, on the way to rent a movie a thunderstorm started to roll in. Lucas and I decided to forego the movie and go somewhere to watch a REAL show. We tromped through the white mud and rain at the Kerrville Folkfest site to one of the stages perched up on a hill. From there we had shelter from the rain and were able to enjoy the brilliant lightning flares, with the sound of the rain and the huge, deep chimes hanging in a nearby tree as the show’s soundtrack. So fabulous!

As I wait for the perfect time to travel south, I am so grateful to have these moments in my life. By having these days free of job-related work, I am able to refabricate how I spend my time, what the tapestry of my days looks like. Because of this, my inner being is being nurtured and revitalized! I am reconnecting to parts of myself that have long been neglected and am returning to that wonderful feeling of really knowing myself deeply. I am realizing that the way I was living in Portland, spending so much time being distracted by the enticing elements of city-life, was helping me to avoid doing the things that help me grow and learn and maintain my pace on my spiritual path. I am returning to my path. The path of personal growth isn’t the easiest, but it is how I find meaning and how I source my purpose. One foot in front of the next, one step at a time. I am remembering how I want to be growing, how I want to be contributing, ways I can overcome my weaknesses and enliven my strengths. I am remembering that all of this is up to me. The motivation to grow has to come from within. I can’t expect leaving Portland to change me, nor a trip to Mexico. I can hope that these things will provide me with opportunities for growth, but without the inner motivation and the will of the spirit, these external opportunities are nothing. Most importantly, I am reminded that I can’t run away from those issues I would like to ignore. They will follow me wherever I wander to. They will continue to confront me until I look them in the eye, look directly at myself, and learn to shift what needs to be shifted…be it my attitude, my way of thinking, my assumptions, my reactions, or anything else.

"It is the loss of a living spiritual experience in daily life that, more than anything, breeds the alienation and anxiety that plague modern life. Since we have no means of transcending them (nor even the belief that it is possible to do so), we feel pressured by time, restless in space, trapped in ego. Our preoccupation with material possessions and material achievements both reflects and perpetuates our sense of spiritual emptiness. Without an experience of transcendence, the world is, as Wordsworth put it, "too much with us." In a life of getting and spending, we don't just "lay waste our powers"; we miss the wonder and bliss of what it is to be alive." ~ from 'The Tao of Abundance' by Laurence G. Boldt

Ah, yes, life IS a gift. I am grateful for every new day that gives me opportunities to love, live, and learn. I am grateful for the inner will to take advantage of these opportunities. I am grateful for the love, support, and enjoyableness of my family, friends, Lucas, and his family.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ta-ta, Florida!

My time in Florida brought me so many good things, the flora and fauna, the fish, the ocean, a quieter mind which allowed new insights of my self emerge, sunshine, and sweet time with family. Parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle, great uncle (92 and still drivin), second cousins, third cousins, and friends!

Here is a photo of (from the left) my Uncle Gary, Aunt Lucy, mom, and dad. I am blessed to have so many examples of healthy successful relationships in my family!

On the road to Atlanta, a 10 hour groves, cotton fields, forests sprinkled with magnolia trees, pecan groves, and into the big city.

The Indulged Palate

My brother Ryan Smith has the honor and hard work of being the Chef de Cuisine at Restaurant Eugene, as well as Holeman and Finch, in Atlanta, GA. (, Restaurant Eugene has a locally and organically grown, seasonal, farm-to-table, made-from-scratch, fine-dining approach. The food is absolutely AMAZING! What my brother can do in the kitchen is stunning and impressive! A beautiful mix of tradition and experimentation, his creations honor and respect the source and diversity of foods, enhancing the bountiful array and combination of flavors. I have never had such a good meal as my first meal at Restaurant Eugene on my first night in Atlanta.

We waited at the bar for our table reservation, where Nick, the bar manager, made me a delicious drink called Pine Soul (Famous Grouse, Vermouth, some kind of pine extract, and lemon). We snacked on pencil thin crackers (made by the affiliated bakery up the street)and pimento cheese dip. When we were seated, we weren't given menus. Instead, we spent the next 2 hours receiving dish after dish of surprise courses cooked by my brother's own hands in the busy kitchen. I regret not taking pictures of all of the courses!!


~ Whipped Chevre with Salt-Roasted Beets
~ House Butter with Radish (Pickled Daikon, Raw Cherry Bell, all on a Nero Chip)
~ Rutabega Soup with Pickled Pear and Cardamon

~ Cocoa and Coffee Cured Trout (sustainably raised in GA) on Fresh English Peas
~ Carmalized Fennel with Kumquat Marmalade and Sunflower Sprouts
~ English Pea Puree

~ Strawberry Pan-Seared Wild Grouper with Pickled Satsuma Orange and Octupus
~ Celeraic Puree

~ Farro with Carrots, Crisp Leeks, Soft Coddled Bamtam Egg, and Buckwheat Sprouts

~ Roasted Fiddlehead Ferns and Wild Mushrooms (Maitake, Hedgehog, Black Trumpet, Morel, Blue Oyster) with Preserved Meyer Lemon
~ Chive Puree

~ Roasted Duck Breast with Cinnamon Cap Mushrooms and Roasted Parsnips
~ Duck Egg Custard
~ Duck Liver Pate with Duck Pastrami
~ Parsnip Puree

~ Pan-Seared NY Strip Steak with Rutabega and Turnips
~ Sweetbread Gastrique
~ Foie Gras Emulsion
~ Rutabega Puree

~ White Chocolate and Grapefruit Granita with Mint Compressed Grapefruit and Mint Oil, in a Chocolate Tart Crust
~ Sugar Cookies with Blood Orange Preserves
~ Chocolate Caramel Cookies

Ryan being goofy after a long day of work:

Mom and Dad after a fantastic meal:

My sister-in-law Sarah and me: